I’m pleased to announce the release of Vultur Cadens, an album of improvisations featuring the Soma Lyra-8 Organismic Synthesizer.
I find that the Lyra-8 is a very dominant-sounding instrument, full and complete by itself, capable of covering all the roles of bass, chords, melodies, drones, rhythms, and noises. It also has unique and peculiar behavior under the influence of external CV. While I loved the instrument almost immediately, I was concerned that my music from that point on would be sharply divided between Lyra and non-Lyra works. After some trials and practice though, I found ways to integrate it with my hybrid Eurorack/Bitwig setup and Reface CS.
Tracks 4 and 6 were mastered by Nathan Moody at Obsidian Sound; the valuable feedback he gave me helped me raise my own mastering skills a few notches.
Having a casual scan over the release notes there’s quite a lot going on besides just straight Lyra. Is this because you found it hard to massage the raw sound of it into a slick sounding mix, or was it a case of applying a standard/familiar workflow and processing ethos to the album?
More the latter. I think it would have been pretty easy to use only the Lyra and a few software FX, but I wanted to make it part of the team.
I love the place my modular has progressed to, but I also feel conflicted attraction to a more minimal setup. It’s like the classic angel and devil on my shoulders but I don’t know which is which Knowing myself, if I sold off all my Euro I’d just fill the available space with an array of smaller devices anyway, and I suspect it’s a subversive sort of FOMO – I’m unlikely to own a Cocoquantus, an Easel etc. as long as I have my big modular but I also don’t need them.
Integrating the Lyra into what I was already using/doing was a way to fight that urge. But I also just wanted aesthetic continuity. I want my “Lyra only” music to sound a lot like my “non-Lyra” music and have them cross over in a wide “Lyra plus” area.
In more general terms re: mixing the Lyra, its major features are a really strong resonance at each oscillator’s fundamental, a lot of upper harmonic richness, the noise from the PT2399 delay, and intermodulation distortion / cross-modulation. Neither its vibrato switch nor its LFO are suited to slow and subtle movement, and of course it’s mono…
So I often find myself adding EQ notches (or auto-EQ) to tame those resonances and make it hammer the ears a bit less. Those tend to emphasize the noise a bit more, especially if the PT delay is mixed in relatively high, so some adaptive noise reduction can calm that, or a little high shelf EQ… it’s never my goal to eliminate the Lyra’s “natural” noise though.
Some modulated delay and/or reverb add enough motion to make it sound more lush (as well as turning the pitch glides that result from self-modulation into more “motion”) and help place it a little further away in space rather than right in the listener’s face.
I find I really like lo-fi tape emulations rather than just EQ to tame the top end a bit, and some saturation works well with those strong harmonics. But I admit I just like tape anyway. Also LPGs – the Lyra gives them a lot to chew on and it’s another opportunity to add rhythmic elements.