Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Atari Fever : Recording "Nowhere Near"

Lately I've been working on a new song called "Nowhere Near". Eighties-style, synthpop, bouncy thing. Lots of Moog.

I've been tracking female backing vocals yesterday, and the song is almost done.

Last thing I wanted to do is a 16bit computer outro. Now, let me state that I am NOT into chiptune music. BUT the song itself had a little retro vibe to it, with somewhat nostalgic lyrics, so it felt right to end it up with a little Atari ST tune.

Not being crazy enough to bring back my old Atari (if it would work anyway), I've used the next best thing, that is, the excellent ymVST emulation (HERE).

The following excerpt from "Nowhere Near" is the "Atari ST" arrangement submix.


Monday, December 27, 2010

The Hungarian Wave (II)

Prog Korg soloing, crazy saxophones and Eastern Europe pop craft.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Soundtrack Life : Recording “Voight Kampff” part1

So, I'm working on the soundtrack to a thriller/scifi short film by Thomas Lesourd.

Here's a little tutorial on the making of the main action cue, "Voight Kampff".

This particular track was actually recorded before I was able to see any footage of the short film. Hell, none had even been shot at the time! I was told by the filmmaker that the film would need some fast-paced, street chasing music.

I decided to go for a tight, urban sound, built around a fat and biting Moog groove.The tempo is relatively slow, because I was expecting to create a sort of musical momentum, beginning with an almost hiphop-styled groove, Mellotron strings, a quiet break, then full-on electric and industrial madness, with nasty guitars and crazy electronic bleeps.

Whether it’s a song or an instrumental, and unless I’m 100% sure that there won’t be any beat and that the track won’t need any fixed tempo, my first step is always to program one, at the very least to provide a tempo guide for recording.

Method-wise, there’s a big difference between recording a song and an instrumental. I will almost always start the former with a completed song. On the other hand, building up the latter is pure improvisation, in that I simply have no idea what the track will be until I push Record and improvise something that I’ll then expand upon.

So, I’ve started by programming a first beat, with the Drums Overkill plugin as main source. This is an excellent database, using the Kontakt engine. Not only does it feature almost every vintage drum machine ever built, but also a clever sample collection arranged in sections such as “hiphop”, “drum and bass”, “experimental”. All in all, a very useful source that provides a large variety of drum sounds that you can tweak within Kontakt.

This particular beat also features a couple of “natural” sounds, that is, a gunshot and a falling bullet shell, both from a huge database of movie sounds I have assembled over the years. Mixing-wise, I’ve juxtaposed two layers of the same beat. The first one has a 6dB boost at 64Hz.

The second one is squashed to death by a compressor, then radically EQd to cut most bass and high frequencies, and boost the mids (EQ deep cut below 150Hz and at 16Khz, boost between 1Khz and 10Khz). This is pretty much a variation on what it’s called parallel compression of New York compression : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_compression.
I then programmed a second beat, which comes midway to reinforce the rhythmic section. This one was treated in pretty much the same way.

Voight Beat (MP3) 

Now that a basic rhythmic foundation is in place, my second task is to lay down some instrumental part that will define what the chord progression (if any) will be, and what the overall tune will be. I would usually play piano or possibly some synth pad, but for this particular track, since it’s meant to be very rhythmic, I’ve chosen to sketch out a bass groove.

Gear-wise, bass to me means MOOG!

A little bit of experimentation here as well : the Moog Little Phatty is plugged to the UA 710 preamp, with a blend of 50-50 solid-state and tube signal, and a fair amount of gain to make it distort. That little trick provides a bit of additional grit to the bass sound. There are 3 Moog layers involved here.

I then proceeded to add some more harmonic parts around that beat/bass core.The Prophet 08 was to put to use there.

Voight Prophet (MP3) 

Now the track was coming together but it still needed a fuller sound. A couple of electric guitars, playing the fundamental note over and over, would fit it nicely.
It’s often a good idea to record the exact same guitar part twice, and pan one on the extreme left and the other on the extreme right. That’s what I did, and I should add that the slightly off-key, grungey guitar sound was obtained in two way : tuning the first string one step down and passing it through a Small Clone chorus.

Some EQ there too : light boost at 1Khz, cut at 10Khz and big cut 16Khz.

Voight Guitar (MP3) 

Finally, I knew at this point that there’d be a quieter, breathing space in the middle before the electric onslaught, so I thought about adding little pseudo-orchestral transition, to get a little harmonic build-up before the break.

There’s a lot of orchestral software out there, but I do prefer to create little weird, retro chamber orchestras using Gforce’s M-Tron, and now M-Tron Pro, plugins.

The Mellotron of course is very limited, which fits my idea totally. A little arrangement of Mellotron cellos, violas and violins gives a vintage, off-beat strings flavor which has far more character than any realistic emulation of orchestra would give.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Soundtrack Life

Lately I've been quite busy recording new songs and also working on the score for a new movie by film maker Thomas Lesourd.

I've already seen an impressive preliminary cut and did a couple of cues.

One of them, "Voight Kampff", is a fast-paced industrial track filled with analog synth drones and fuzz guitars.

I'll post a making-of this week, dissecting the track and explaining the methods involved.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Live Unplugged

Tonight's setlist:

1) End of Words
2) The Element of Blank
3) Fell the Dog
4) Nixonia
5) Empty the Boat
6) Endless summer
7) Helen of Troy
8) Walking on the Moon
9) Beat It
10) Your Bittersweet Fall
11) Nowhere Near
12) Huck's Tune
13) Broken Sails
14) Roadmaps for the Bugs
15) Can't Think of Words
16) Life on the Outside
17) Ghosts of my Enemies

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One Link to the Chain : UA 710 Twin-Finity

I was getting very frustrated this last couple of years with my Joemeek ThreeQ preamp and finally got to upgrade this crucial part of the audio chain.

Here comes the fantastic 710 Twin-Finity from Universal Audio.

When it comes to preamps, you can either get a solid-state or a tube unit.

Solid-state delivers a clean, crisp, accurate sound. Tube provides a warmer, fuzzier sound, with a "musical" distorsion (if you push it) 

The 710 is both a solid-state and a tube preamp : the two circuits are running simultaneously, so that the signal is continually variable between 100% tube and 100% solid-state.

It ain't no gimmick, I tells you.

On vocals, you might want to use pretty much the tube circuit alone, but on guitars, a 12 o'clock gives you solid-state clarity with a hint of tube warmth.

The flexibility is even more spectacular on synths. Plugging the Moog and toying around with the amount of gain and solide-state/tube mix produced a great variety of tones from a single source, all very musical.

All in all, I'd say the 710 is a great, versatile preamp.

It's great on vocals but also serves as an excellent guitar/bass DI. I'm playing acoustic gigs these days, and I'm not using any guitar amp. The electro-acoustic guitar is plugged directly to the 710, which is plugged to the soundboard. Nice, warm, open sound, actually better than with my old old Fender amp.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Hungarian Wave


Who were they?

Where did they go?

What the hell is going on here?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lo-Fi Rehearsal

The all-powerful Casiotone MT-11.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Looking Back : Machines are your Friends

Now that was a nice instrumental tune from may 2009.

I sort of tried from time to time to turn into a song, but I guess it works best as instrumental. 

Oh well, I might try again, it's  somewhat catchy.

Moog Little Phatty and Juno-1.
Drums : Electribe EMX passing through the Moog filter.

Download MP3

Friday, December 10, 2010

On the Horizon

Well, turns out the short film I was talking about yesterday won't be seen on the web until july 2011!

In the meantime, I've realised I had already posted the instrumental cue on september 15th! It's an epic, almost cheezy score based on the tune for "The Fortune Song", off the "Broken Sails" EP.

Hey, let's post it again, I say.

The Pursuit of Fortune by khoral

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Film Music

I wrote the score to a nice short film by Simon Dronet.

The film is on screens now, but as far as I know, not yet available online. I'll update that when it is, and I'll post the music as well these days.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Looking Back : Funkotron

Here's a post from march 2009 that deserves to rise again.

I'm a lover of all things vintage synth, and these last years I've been collecting quite a lot of obscure, 70's to early 80's cheezy, Moog-ish, funny stuff, and well, thought I might just compile some of my favorite music for you to enjoy...

I've deliberately avoided the more well-known artists, like Moroder or Space. This is mostly not-so-well-known crazy retro funky-disco mumbojumbo, ending with more laidback ambient music.

Complete track list :

1. Harry Thumann - Sphinx (5:20)
2. Silicon Teens - State Of Shock (3:11)
3. Alex Cima - Eight Seven Seven (5:51)
4. Bernard Fèvre - Weekee Way (1:59)
5. Tony Carey - Radio Tokyo (3:21)
6. Doris Norton - Personal Computer (4:38)
7. James Saunders - Axial (2:17)
8. Piero Umiliani - Centrali Termiche (2:24)
9. Alex Cima - Rocket's Cat (4:16)
10. I Signori Della Galassia - Proxima Centauri (8:31)
11. Frédéric Mercier - Spirit (7:44)
12. Roger Roger & Nino Nardini - Eery Dream (2:14)
13. Automat - Ultraviolet (6:19)
14. Teddy Lasry - Quasar (7:09)

And the zip files, in two parts because Mediafire only allows 100Mb uploads at a time
My artwork and MP3 player icon included!

Part 1

Part 2

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

RIP Frank

Ha, there goes one of my favorite people ever!

Time to watch the complete "Police Squad" TV series all over again (muuuuch better than the movies, check it out).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Going Solo

Nice solo unplugged gig tonight, good crowd, different material than usual.

The setlist was : 

1) End of Words
2) Broken Sails
3) Roadmaps for the Bugs
4) Toys
5) Nixonia
6) Endless summer
7) Opium Spider
8) Days of Constant Sorrow
9) Hard Times Killing Floor
10) Song to the Siren
11) The Origami Song
12) Hard Times
13) Can't Think of Words

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Blog (The Sequel)

My my, times flies... 

I just realised that this blog just celebrated his 2 year anniversary!

So many thanks to everyone who paid a visit from all around the world (mostly from the US, so cheers to my American friends) (and a special shoutout to Matrixsynth who's been nicely supportive of the site).

I'll  put up a little retrospective of the past year's finest bloggiest moments.

A Couple More Shots

From last saturday's gig. Less quality, but there you go...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November Acoustic

More on that later on, but I've just purchased a brand new preamp, that is, the fantastic Universal Audio Twin-Finity 710.

Here's a couple of acoustic renditions made with that preamp, both from the upcoming "Up the River" album.

November Acoustic by khoral

Monday, November 22, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Single du Jour : "1980"

Brand new little tune.

Moog Little Phatty and Dark Energy Doepfer for the synths.

"Funny how fortune bids us pause

And smooth the frowns of war

Let us cross over river, and rest under the sun

And sleep away my love

Happiness is thriving on the floor

Tonight the wine of life is drawn

Your face is a book

Of peaceful words

Where all the sorrow’s gone

I am not sorry

For, in my sense, tis happiness to die when you’re away 

 This is the way it always ends

That which should accompany old age,

As honour and friends

Who gives a damn?

Does nobody understand?"

Download MP3

1980 by khoral

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cover du Jour : "Mother Stands for Comfort"

This was initially done for the Cover Series, but I couldn't get a couple other tracks to work, so I'm putting this one up.
Both songs come from the outstanding "Hounds of Love" from one of my favorite artists ever.

More on the Cover Series, see : 

- Cover Series 1 : The Police

- Cover Series 2 : Queen

- Cover Series 3 : Bob Dylan

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Next Gig December 3th

The poster for the december 3th unplugged concert.

And the setlist.

1)      Opium Spider

2)      End of Words

3)      The Element of Blank

4)      Endless summer

5)      Nixonia

6)      Helen of Troy

7)      Your Bittersweet Fall

8)      Beat It

9)      Can't Think of Words

10)   Empty the Boat

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Next Gig November 20th

We'll be playing at La Rotonde in Nantes on November 20th 2 rue Louis Blanc. 9PM.

The concert will be followed in december by another more intimate, acoustic performance at L'absence.

More details to come.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Some Semi-New Stuff Coming Up

I'm still working now and then on the "Up the River" album, but I took some time to heavily remix the 1975 cover song from this post.

So expect some nice exotic pop this week...

Oh, and I bought Moog's new iPod app, stay tuned on that as well!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

More Zelda Music

And what about this one?

Again, a Prophet 08 tune using a Zelda MIDI file.

Sanctuary Theme

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Link to the Past

This blog's past, that is...

Browsing the first batch of posts back in late 2008, I ran across these Prophet 08 tracks I had totally forgotten about.

Both tunes were done feeding MIDI files to the outstanding Prophet 08 analog synth.

Zelda 3 Lost Woods Theme

From the classic Nintendo game, Zelda : Link to the Past. Written by Kōji Kondō. 

Speedball Theme

Another old school hit on the Amiga (booo) and Atari ST (yeaa) home computers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Slim Phatty : All you Need is Moog

What do you know, it finally happened! This has been requested since day one on the official boards, a Little Phatty rack.

As an avid Phatty owner (I use it on EVERY track, no matter the genre), I can only say that this might be the best analog buy you do this year.

The oh-so-famous Moog sound in a convenient and affordable package, shame on you if you haven't already got one.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Unplugged du Jour : "Nixonia"

New recording - piano and guitar.
Unplugged take from upcoming "Up the River" album.

"One bored Saturday morning 
With your good dog the evil boys went hunting
Through the darkened woods
Through the rain
I lost track of time, empty, nothing
Summer was black and flowers were droning
Through the darkened woods
Through the rain
By Saddle River, struck by self-pity
An old man stood, quietly weeping
“Sad men long for fortune and glory”
One of the boy tripped and fell down on me
I lost my temper and tried to hurt him
Instinct reigned free and he kicked me so mean
I saw a black hole in a tree
A black hole in a tree
A swarm of fear came to me
They knew I was gone but no-one would search
This poor dog’s eyes were swelled shut
I jumped in the river and slept on the bank
Back home I wished you were here
I brought myself down and know I was weak
I gave them the sword and they stuck it in
Back home I wished you were here
You’d raise your finger and say failure’s a sin
You’d say unless you hate them they don’t win"

Nixonia (Unplugged) by khoral

Monday, October 11, 2010

More Electro-Harmonix Playing

If you're interested in Electro-Harmonix guitar pedals, here's some audio clips : Download MP3

First, dry guitar sound (Vintage V100 Les Paul), then : 

0.16 : Small Clone (chorus)

1.16 : Stereo Pulsar (tremolo)

2.07 : Stereo Electric Mistress (flanger/chorus)

3.00 : Memory Boy (delay)

3.50 : Big Muff (fuzz)

5.10 : Several of 'em 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

These are the Times

Pure improvisation : the monophonic synthesizer Doepfer Dark Energy is plugged into a Boss RC20 loop station, which is plugged into a Lexicon reverb unit.

One single live take.

These are the Times by khoral

Sunday, October 3, 2010

MicroMoorg (Quick) Mod Tutorial

So, I was asked how this mod was done.

I'm afraid I can't explain in too much detail because:

- I've picked up the mod half done in the first place, thus did only see the result of the early work.

- I then gave it to a third party to finish it up.

BUT, what I can do, is provide a general account on the process for people who might consider modifying their Microkorg.

I) The early stages

On this older post, you can see the state I first got the MicroMoorg in : http://khoral.blogspot.com/2010/05/introducing-micromoorg.html

The owner had cut the plastic at the junction, using a very good saw, just between the keyboard section and the board section. Needless to say, this has to be done very carefully in order not to damage the circuit laying down below.

At this point, the board was totally independent from the keyboard, because once you unscrew the original wood parts and the junction is severed, nothing but the keyboard cables stand between the two sections.

That is why you can lift up the board like it is on the photograph, but if you were to look behind the mod, you'd see that there's just a void, all circuits are open to the air.

That's why you have to add a back panel. 

II) The new wood panels

On the above pics, you can see the finished mod, with measures.

Please notes that the measures are in millimeters. You may use http://www.convertunits.com/from/inches/to/mm to convert.

The side panel is composed of two different pieces, which assembled look somewhat like a Little Phatty side panel. You can obviously create a single pieced panel, but this was assembled from various spare wood parts.

The back panel is also composed of two pieces, and here you may see that it isn't varnished yet like the other parts. Then again, a single piece is possible.

The screws in the wood panels then go through the plastic casing on the inside, without touching the circuits.

You can see a hinge is running along the junction on the front. That's because the original plan was to have the board able to move down  à la Minimoog. This proved a bit  difficult, and here the more modest solution of a still board was chosen, à la Little Phatty.

On the inside, the cables going from the circuit board to the keyboard were changed for longer one, so that the added distance wouldn't stress the original ones.

That's the basics of it, if you plan to do a mod like that, please keep me posted! 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Coming : MicroMoorg Tutorial

On request from a reader, I'll soon post a more detailed account on how this nice mod was made, with new pics and specs for the various wood panels.

Stay tuned!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Programming Wavesequences on the Wavestation

The Wavesequencing system is possibly the very best feature of the Korg Wavestation and yet is also the most overlooked by players, since programming wavesequences can be somewhat intimidating.

Here’s a simple step-by-step tutorial on how to program wavesequences.

In EDIT PERFORMANCE, choose a Patch.

In EDIT PATCH, press Init to reset the Patch.

Choose an oscillator, then press WAVES to choose the waveform.

On the ROM, waveforms 0 to 31 are wavesequences you can use for a Patch, but not modify.

On the RAM1 and RAM2, you’ll only find wavesequences, which you can alter. When you’re selecting a wavesequence, the WAVESEQ function should appear on the bottom right of the screen.

Please note that alterations to these wavesequences is instantly written to RAM, there’s no need to save and you’d better back up a wavesequence on another slot beforehand.

Press WAVESEQ to enter programming mode for the wavesquence.

If there are already steps in the wavesequence, just press DELETE to get start from scratch.

Then INSERT to add new steps.

By default, the result on the screen should be something like : 

 1 ROM 32 Soft EP 0 0 99 24 24

2 ROM 32 Soft EP 0 0 99 24 24

3 ROM 32 Soft EP 0 0 99 24 24

4 ROM 32 Soft EP 0 0 99 24 24

As you can see, each step is a waveform.

First thing you should do is set up different waveforms for each step.

For instance:

1 ROM 32 Soft EP    0 0 99 24 24

2 ROM 41 Organ 1   0 0 99 24 24

3 ROM 53 MuteGtr1 0 0 99 24 24

4 ROM 32 Sybass1  0 0 99 24 24


A bit of explanation for the values here :

 The first 0 (Semi) transposes the pitch (-24 to +24).

The second 0 (Fine) allows for fine pitch tuning.

The 99 (Lev) changes the volume of the waveform.

The 24 (Dur) represents the length of each step (1 to 499... small values produce very rhythmic sequences, big values allow for more evolving sounds)

The last 24 (Xfd) impacts the transition between step, that is the cross-fading (0 will produce little clicks between steps, the transition becoming smoother as you raise the value)


Finally on the bottom of the screen :

Loop Dir indicates the way steps are played  : FOR means Forward, B/F means Back&Forth

Repts indicates the number of times the whole wavesequence is repeated (by default, INF for Infinite).


That’s the basics of the system.

You should now be able to create your own wavesequences. Have fun!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Photek for President

Now here's a hero of mine, from the late nineties when I would listen to drum&bass all the time.

Then drum&bass stopped moving on, and I lost interest, but Photek is pretty much the only musician of the era I still listen to on a regular basis.

Nice interview about the process.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Test Mode : Big Muff + Mini Q-Tron

Here's some riffs trying out a combination of badass Electro Harmonix pedals.

Download MP3

The oh-so-famous Big Muff Pi (fuzz) and the aforementioned Mini Q-Tron (envelop filter).

Vintage V100 guitar with clean sound at the beginning.

The Big Muff kicks in at 0.05.

The Mini Q-Tron is added at 0.20.

Then I'm switching between Big Muff alone and Big Muff/Q-Tron.

All in all, an outstanding pairing for some fuzzy, warm, nasty tones.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Introducing the Mini Q-Tron

Here's a nice envelop filter pedal I bought yesterday for a ridiculously low price.

It has three different filters, Low Pass, Band Pass and High Pass, modulated with one Drive knob (controlling the width of the filter’s sweep range) and one Q knob (controlling the frequency peak of the filter).

Using the different filter modes, the sound can be beefy and rich, with a warm sweeping texture, or thin and bright, for a funkier tone that cuts through the mix.

I'll post some samples later on, but let's just say now that it's one excellent pedal (well, aren't all EHX pedals?)