Confessions of an Eno Imitator

Whenever I get new music software the first thing to explore is new presets. With synth sounds, I usually start in an orderly fashion and play around with each sound for at least 30 seconds (sometimes several minutes). At some point there will be crossing point where my interest level wanes and the musical idea I'm currently playing with takes over and I decide to go with it and make a track.

In the new Live 8 library, under Instrument Rack there's a section called Ambient and Evolving. If you like strange and wonderful pads, don't go in there. You may never come out.

No Endorphins For You came from exploring this area. I'm ambivalent about the track but I'm still not at the point in my journey where I'm willing to walk away from tracks that I don't care too deeply about. But that's a topic for another post.

If you're not interested in how the track was made, we're done here. Thanks for stopping by.

Track 1 is the Alien Riches preset. Just me slow arpeggiating a Cmin chord with the occasional Bbmaj thrown in. I just free played for 4 minutes.

Track 2 is the Melonoise preset. I also free play here accompanying myself from the first track.

Track 3 is me and my guitar. I play around with a bunch of ideas for a while and again I record a single long take. It sucks. I started off with GTRSolo, tossed that. Settled on a ridiculous chain that starts with the new Overdrive, Guitar-Rhythm Doubling, Guitar-Guitar Space, Abstract-Synced Phaseverb plus an EQ. All but the EQ started off as a preset but I twisted the knobs until I got something I liked. The guitar was sufficiently chopped up by all this that the quality of my playing was irrelevant.

Next it was time to tame the synth pads. I added some auto filter and auto pans to give them a little more movement and I EQed them so that they fit together better.

Still felt the thing was too abstract and I needed a title so after a couple minutes of thought I came up with the title. Which then led to my use of Vox Machina to capture one of the MacOS voices speaking the title. I put that through some minimal processing (preset male vocal chain plus some reverb).

Mix a little, adjust pan positions a little.

I notice that the tails on the tracks is going to be a problem. By tails I mean the sound that carries on after the recorded material ends. This could be reverb, delay repeats, whatever. The problem is that those things always get cut off when you render your track. Annoying. What I typically do is create an empty MIDI track and place an empty region at the end of the track. Then on the master track I add volume automation to fade out the track. Now when I render, Live renders to the end of the empty midi region which I've lined up with the fade out. This is pretty basic stuff but I put it here in the hope that somebody points out that I'm doing it wrong and offers up a better way.

Another new thing in Live 8 is the limiter and multiband compressor. This has made possible a bunch of new mastering presets. I tossed one of them, shockingly called Mastering Suite, onto the master track liked what I heard and rendered the track.

I wonder what Eno thinks of the ease with which his imitators can explore his sonic ideas.

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