Just realised I hadn't read this thread yet. I shared up the album release in various places the day it appeared but looks like I totally missed this thread
Good work all. And props as usual to Ben for lots of hard work getting it all together.
Got a nice cup of coffee? You'll need it if you're reading on
The direct music info is pretty basic stuff, you're not likely to read anything revolutionary music-creation-wise.
From my side of the collab: Dull prose in 3...2...1...
First thing I did was go off and listen to Xenon's tracks in the LB to get a feel for what kind of stuff was likely to get shared.
Took me a few days to get around to sorting out things like dropbox. We use different DAWs so the obvious thing was to share everything as .WAVs with the greatest bit depth possible. Also there's a bit of a time difference so we were usually slightly out of sync. Not a big deal really.
Next thing was design goals. I had originally wanted to do something more noisy but figured ambient-ish, slightly Kraftwerky building into a trance type finish would likely work ok. Natch it all depended on how the flow went and what Xenon came up with. But as a starting point it was all good.
There was a quite a bit of fiddling about. It took me about 5 attempts to come up with something I was happy to share. I completely cocked up one of the attempts by accidently turning it into a complete song. At this point I realised I had to learn to stop. If it felt good, don't keep going, just share the lurve.
I sent off an MP3 to Xenon that he could play alongside and start working on some bits. In some ways I think he got the harder job. It didn't matter to me whether everything I'd sent got used as a springboard and get junked, or got built on, or was just integrated as part of different sections.
So long as something came back Thunderbirds were go.
The first thing written that is in the final track is the riff that plays throughout. It ended up being the glue for everything that happens. It plays in the intro right through to the very end. I had originally intended for it to be the first thing that plays over the ambient start but the piano part that Xenon came up with was a much better start.
There's actually two piano parts in the track. The original Xenon-part and me pretending to be Xenon. To mix it up a bit, I learned the part that Xenon had created, played it slightly differently and used that too. Gave us even more components to play around with for arrangement purposes. But Xenon gets credit for the piano because it all came from him and anything that wasn't his was a copy with minor variation.
So we started bouncing stuff back and forward. In fairness, most of what we came up with and shared got used. Its a little while ago now but I don't think there was much we shared that didn't get used.
I remember sitting thinking at one point, "Hey this whole not-having-to-do-everything-myself is really cool!"
And so my dropbox started to fill up with cool stuff. I'd work on the arrangement and some of the bits, share it with Xenon, stuff would come back. We bounced a lot of the stuff back and forward a few times before we felt it was just right. It was more like chatting than working. Very relaxed.
Every few days I'd generate a new mixdown for checking, review and new input. Real life was the main interrupting factor I think for both of us.
The bass drum. Oh man this was fun. Its a standard bassdrum from Battery. Well to start with
Its distorted and squelched to hell and back. The goal was to come up with somethng that was obviously doing what a bassdrum would do but to make it wet, farty and with more splat than seagull shite from 100 feet up. Job done. A lot of the time it sounds like its hitting twice but its only hitting once but has so much squelch (ok ok resonance), that it farts halfway through and comes back.
Sometimes it does hit twice. Good luck figuring out which is which because without loading it back up into Sonar I'm not sure myself
Aside from the main riff, the only other part that plays throughout the track is the main drum pattern. Its an odd, offbeat rythmn but because the 'straight' part of each bar is given by the bassline, its not so noticable that its off. Especially when we build into Xenon's driving bassline for the last section, its barely noticable that its somehow not-quite-right. Again, stuff like this I think gives coherence to the track because of the mixture of styles.
Most of the glitched drums are Xenon's work. I just mentioned we should include some at various points and next day Santa had dropped a bunch of stems in my dropbox. I did a few but most of the yummy glitch drums are his
Xenon's parts I felt suited the end of the song more than the post-intro pre-end. So elements like the bassline in start are mine but towards the end its Xenon's - because Xenon gave it way more drive than I did. They're not very similar at all but the drums and main riff are still there giving it continuity and so we have coherence from start to finish despite a near-complete change in sound palette and a different style.
I spent a lot of time on the arrangement. The end result appears quite simple I guess. Because we were mixing styles up, the aim was to have enough elements playing throughout that didn't make it repetitive but avoided losing cohesion.
Nobody on these forums is likely to be shocked that the ambient sounds are the original sound removed, leaving only the reverb then various components automated to give it movement. Some stuff layered on top. To be sure I'd have to go back and check. Nothing too complex though. Fun? Oh hell yes.
Naturally its entirely up to others to decide if it worked or not.
Good fun doing this, very easy to work with Xenon and cheers for letting us onto the release