Nifty New Tricks

December 10, 2002

I've been working just a smidgen more on "Desecrate" today, with just a couple of nice new tricks.

I'm finally learning that stripping back is A Good Thing™ - each time I play the track again with fresh ears, if something doesn't sound right I tinker with it right away. Often that means ripping out the offending portion entirely. Intro sounds too bright and happy? Time to rip out the annoying high frequency riff at that part. Intro needs more variety? Just halve the length of the intro and keep what you've got - instant punchy, attention grabbing intro hook.

I'm now regularly doubling the bass kicks in my tracks - putting the same kickdrum recording on two tracks. I'd always seen it as a no-no rule, because doubling tracks can lead you to use panning or delays or anything else that muddies your mix. Most significantly it can cause phasing, which just kills the sound (though occasionally sounds cool). But for me, I need a really loud kick, the bassdrum has been too weedy in the past. And doubling it with little or no panning effects (just a little equally left/right of center, no hard left/right panning) seems to be working for me.

One last very nifty trick that I finally picked up from The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim - if you need an explosive kick that sounds bigger than it is, play a sample of some reverb at exactly the same time. Keep the kick loud and panned dead centre, then use a stereo reverb or a mono reverb panned hard-left & hard-right with a slight delay on the right channel. It doesn't matter what it's a reverb of, so long as it's percussion and you only use the wet part. Currently I'm using the reverb from a snare (as generated from Ultrafunk's fx:reverb), and in Impulse Tracker a delay of SD1, or 1 tick. Just adding reverb to the bassdrum sample is a bad idea, because you want to keep as much of the dry effect of the kick as possible. The last thing you want is to muddy the mix more.

Actually, layering effects is seeming like a better idea every day... things like playing two differently eq'd bassdrums at once, playing kicks and just the high frequencies of a snare simultaneously... adding the wet reverb from one sample to another, and so on. Just weird stuff really.