Hello everyone! It’s been one heck of a year, hasn’t it? This constant “are we back yet?” has had me thinking a lot about transitions, about the liminal spaces in between eras of our lives.
There are pieces of our old selves lingering around. They weigh us down, but also remind us of where we came from. There are glimpses of a bright future ahead of us. They inspire us to be better, but also make us question who we might become in this brave new world.
And so I bring you Reel Two. This is a record that dives deep into those spaces in between. It is a record about being in the belly of a ship, leaving one home and aiming for another. What do we dream of while on that long voyage?
As with Reel One, almost all pieces were improvised and recorded in one or two takes. This was an “experimental” album for me, in the literal sense: learn about a new technique or piece of gear or something (typically via a wonderful Lines post from one of y’all), and take a stab at making music with it. As soon as it’s anything interesting at all, capture that wonderful first-time energy by recording to norns tape or the DAW. Then, either during that same session, or coming back to it a little while later: trim down to the interesting bit, and improvise another, more familiar instrument on top (typically piano).
Oh, and the album art is a film photo my spouse took of the sunset fog from the top of Twin Peaks in San Francisco
- Modular: Marbles, Plaits, Rings, Mangrove, Tides, Peaks, Ripples, Three Sisters, Lo-Fi Junky, Beads
- Norns: Cheat Codes 2, Colorwheel, Passersby, Granchild, Loom
- Software Instruments: Felt Instruments Wszystko, Toontrack Superior Drummer 3
- Instruments: Nord Stage 2, Deckard’s Dream mk2, Fender Jazz Bass, Paul Reed Smith Standard 24
- Key effects: Goodhertz Tupe, XLN Audio RC-20, Lexicon 224, Manley Vari-Mu, Ampex 102
(Use the prev/next arrows in the player above to jump to the track that interests you! Also let me know if you’d like to know anything deeper about how any track was made, this is just a sort of high-level overview )
#1 Low Strung
- This one was kicked off by trying Blisko Cello for the first time. I found the Flageolet Sustains patch and was instantly hooked
- Felt Instruments Blisko Cello; Toontrack Superior Drummer 3; Paul Reed Smith Standard 24; Fender Jazz Bass; Mangrove thru Three Sisters, Lo-Fi Junky, and Beads
- My first real foray with Cheat Codes 2 and its Music Hackspaces courses. It’s all one short loop from a Deckard’s Dream mk2 pad, used on all 3 banks. One bank is configured with a lot of highpass to accentuate the noise, and a random pad pattern. One bank is configured with a lot of volume LFOs to get a rhythmic tremolo effect (and another random pad pattern). And then finally one bank gets performed more actively with delays, random patterns, and arpeggios
- One of my first tracks with Beads. At the time I was thinking a lot about how randomized beat slicing via Cheat Codes 2 was very similar to randomized granular processes that Beads makes so easy. So I decided to try them together
- Nord Stage 2 Piano thru Cheat Codes 2 and Beads; Nord Stage 2 Piano
- This one was my first stab at using Granchild. I piped a bunch of different instruments into the buffers all in different registers to fill out the spectrum, and let it rip. Love how the player noise from Lekko turned into this creepy, squeaky door noise
- Felt Instruments Lekko, Felt Instruments Blisko Cello, and Deckard’s Dream mk2 thru Granchild; Felt Instruments Lekko
#5 The Bear
- One of my first ever tracks with Deckard’s Dream mk2. This thing is just an inspiration machine for me. So many great presets, and so easy to tweak them further to get the sound you’re going for. This one in particular was inspired by trying out the noise oscillator available in each bank.
- Deckard’s Dream mk2; Nord Stage 2 Rhodes; Fender Jazz Bass; Paul Reed Smith Standard 24; Toontrack Superior Drummer 3; drive & noise from Goodhertz Tupe & XLN Audio RC-20
- Another early DDRM-inspired one
- Toontrack Superior Drummer 3; Deckard’s Dream mk2; Nord Stage 2 Piano
#7 In the Bardo
- I had pre-release access to the new Bardzo grand piano, and made this one the day the Mallets patches came out. I loved how it was so much like and yet totally unlike a normal piano sound. Layering the Jasno for more mallet-y goodness was fun, and then gave it a bridge section with Blisko.
- Felt Instruments Bardzo, Jasno, and Blisko Lite
- Like Latitude, this one continued exploring (instrument) → Cheat Codes 2 → Beads. Honestly, it makes it so easy to make ambient beds, it feels like cheating. A long Colorwheel → Nord Stage 2 Piano performance was the raw input. Colorwheel again for the Cello bridge
- Nord Stage 2 Piano thru Cheat Codes 2 and Beads, sequenced by Colorwheel; Blisko Cello, also sequenced by Colorwheel
- This one was inspired by @boboter and folks in the wonderful Jogging House discord talking about laying down a nice noise bed (or some other sound bed!) before anything else in a track. It very quickly pulls you into a much more specific, creative state
- Felt Instruments Lekko; noise from XLN Audio RC-20
#10 Northwest Passage
- This one is one of the older ones, and grew out of the process I was mainly focused on with Reel One. When I was just getting my feet wet with generative composition in Eurorack. Marbles is the star, sequencing everything in one take.
- Rings and Mangrove (thru Three Sisters) thru Beads; Plaits thru Lo-Fi Junky and Ripples; all sequenced by Marbles
- My first stab at using Loom. It was so easy to dial in repeated short phrases with subtle variation, and lots of space in between
- Felt Instruments Helenko, sequenced by Loom; Felt Instruments Lekko
- Another much older track, when I was traveling with just norns, a grid, and a small MIDI keyboard. Passersby was definitely the star of that trip, and here it gets a solo track to close out the album