Aug 272012
 

The following are guidelines for the upcoming Studio Wormbone sound pack label remix contest.  The contestants will create a musical song using only the sound files within a digitally downloadable (as yet unreleased) Studio Wormbone sound library product.  Every musician who enters will be given a complimentary copy of the product to use for the purpose of this contest, and is allowed to continue to use it royalty free in their own musical productions outside of the contest.  The winning song will be used as the demo track for the sound pack product advertising, and the wining artist will receive written songwriting credit in the product description.  Product demo songs of this kind recieve a huge number of online plays and the product launch will also be announced through promotional newsletter emails which are sent to tens of thousands of recipients.  This is a great chance to gain exposure as an artist.

Musical submissions must use ONLY the files included in the sound pack.  (For an overview of these sounds read the product description below.)  Additional processing like minor EQ, pitch, compression, reverb and editing are allowed but should be kept to a minimum.  The purpose of the song is to display the sounds as they already exist.  Overuse of additional processing will detract from the possibility of being selected as the winner.

Entries need to be between 2-4 minutes in length.

The genre, style, and mood are entirely up to the artist.

The geographical range of the contest is worldwide.

All remixes are and will remain the property of the artists.

Contestants must follow the terms of the Studio Wormbone license agreement (as do all users of Studio Wormbone products).  Submittal of a remix for consideration assumes that the contestant has read and understood these terms in the included PDF agreement, which states that Studio Wormbone sound files can be used in musical compositions only – not for resale – and is legally binding by the laws of the USA.

The file format for this release is WAV.

To enter, contact info(at)studiowormbone(dot)com for instructions on downloading the source material.

Multiple song submissions per artist will be accepted.  Final submissions should be emailed one at a time to remix(at)studiowormbone(dot)com in high resolution MP3 format.  MP3 files should be named as follows:

Degenerate Synthesis Demo (artist name) remix 01

The deadline for entry will be midnight US Pacific Standard Time on Sunday October 14, 2012.  Songs received after this time will be invalid to enter.

The final selection will be made by Studio Wormbone within one week after the entry deadline and the winning artist will be notified by email at that time.  The sound pack product will be officially launched within one week of the competition’s end.

You can hear demo songs for previously released Studio Wormbone sound packs here – http://www.producerloops.com/Studio-Wormbone/

For more info about Studio Wormbone go to http://studiowormbone.com/

Good Luck!

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Degenerate Synthesis Product Description

Degenerate Synthesis is a blatant abuse of the techno art form.  This package is a robust construction kit of blatantly bold bass lines, barely recognizable post apocalyptic synths, sociopathic drums, violently cutting edge one shot hits, unhinged FX loops, and blunt force samples.  The warped minds at Studio Wormbone have pushed technology well into crisis mode for your pleasure with this release.  It achieves a culmination of sick creativity and punishing brutality.  There’s no turning back now, people.

Uncontrollable idiosyncratic analogs, serial compressor slamming, daisy chained multi-band distortions, modulated de-resolutions, glitching stacked on glitching . . . this is nothing short of the Inquisition for electronic instruments.  Torture them until they reveal their deepest confessions, their dirty secrets.  There is beauty in ugliness and truth in trauma.  Modern music never sounded so vividly disconcerting!

Product Contents:
30 Mis-calibrated Drum Loops
30 Brash Bass Loops
30 Heinous FX Loops
100 Decrepit One Shot Hits
30  Bedraggled Samples
30 Actively Decomposing Synth Loops

All loops are 130BPM.  There are also many ‘companion files’ within this product, meaning that two (or more) loops with a similar file name will already musically fit together for construction kit style layering.  For instance Mind Melting Drum Loop in the drum folder would already be matched for key and rhythmic feel to playback cooperatively with the file Mind Melting Synth Loop in the synth folder.  These are intended as song layer suggestions.

Processing:
Extensive use of exotic cutting edge hardware and software went into the development of these sounds to make your next project inventive, far-sighted, and mind-blisteringly innovative.

Formats:
Files are provided in WAV 24-Bit/44.1kHz resolution, and are of course Royalty-Free.  Where appropriate the tempo and key center are listed in the file name for easy integration into your favorite DAW.
Every sample has been professionally recorded, edited, sliced, and mastered with the utmost care and is usable with every major audio software program (Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, Sonar, FL Studio, Sony Acid, Garageband, Ableton Live, Reason). All sounds are compatible cross-platform with either Mac or PC.

About The Creator:
Studio Wormbone is a compact and efficient state-of-the-art recording and production facility located in a quiet forest setting just outside the Emerald City of Seattle Washington, USA. Owned and managed by sound designer/producer Trevor Dutton, its resources specialise in all aspects of electronic music and cutting-edge audio production.

Demo Song:
The demo song for this product was skillfully provided by (artist name).

Aug 222012
 

The following is a recent remix of the song Fire Curtain by the electro pop band Jupe Jupe.  The original song (from their second album Reduction In Drag) is presented first, followed by the newly re-imagined version.  Below the remix are some explanatory notes on the production process for this particular remix.

Original song:

 

New Version:

 

Notes:

- To begin with, one of the motivations for this project was to make it an exercise in dubstep production so that drove the decision to set the new tempo at 140.  As can be heard, the original song is about 15BPM slower.  If the tempo difference had been any greater the guitar and vocal tracks would have been noticeably warped.

- Almost all of the synth lines were re-voiced in the new version for variety’s sake.  I’d been wanting for some time to do a song arrangement using the fantastic sounding fretless basses and chapman stick in Spectrasonic’s Trilian softsynth, so this finally seemed to be a good opportunity to utilize them.  The sub bass track is a mellow fretless and there’s also some doubling in a few sections with a more active mid-rangey, slightly over driven fretless voice.  The second fretless also covers the chords during the bridge.  The percussiveness of the chapman stick was a good fit for the main staccato melody line and I switched things up a bit by having it change octaves around the other instruments in some sections.  The octave changes also helped give the overall song more forward momentum.

- The vocal effect in the verse is a layered submix of about six tracks of Sonic Charge’s Bitspeek effect.  Each of these effect tracks used different settings and sounded great when solo’d, but due to the nature of the plugin each also had some momentary pitch irregularities.  So stacking six slightly different versions strengthened the overall pitch so as not to distract from the original vocal performance.  It also thickened the effect texture.  Reverb and delay were kept minimal on the verse vocal to maintain an intimate feel.

- Drums were performed on the Alternate Mode Trapkat in a typical dubstep reggae beat and the timing of the performance was slightly tightened (about 40%) using Cubase’s iterative quantizing.  This gave it the accuracy of a pro drummer while still maintaining it’s humanness.  The midi file was then edited to move embellishments and fills around the song to taste.  The sounds were a stacked combination of Native Instruments’ Battery and Kore, and probably given some parallel compression to glue it all together and add kidney punching impact.

- The wobble bass in the first instrumental section of the verse was done by running the mellow fretless track through the Fabfilter Volcano plugin with a steep sloped lowpass and assigning the cutoff to an LFO.  Then the LFO frequency was automated to change speed roughly every two beats.  These speed settings were somewhat random at first and then refined manually after repeated listening passes.  Next the bass was sent through Cubase’s stock bit crushing plugin and both the bit depth and frequency were automated independently using the same technique as the filter’s cutoff LFO, but with more varied ramps and sweeps as opposed to the square stepped ‘downbeat only’ LFO changes.  After refining the effects on this track over the course of a few days it was then given a drastic low cut filter at about 200Hz with UA’s Cambridge EQ (my go-to surgical EQ) to remove all sub bass.  Then it was bounced as audio (printed to disk) and mixed back in on it’s own track on top of the existing mellow fretless sub bass track.  The Cambridge low cut filter ensured these two bass tracks wouldn’t phase cancel each other at the bottom end of the spectrum or ‘mud-ify’ the mix.

- Because of the faster tempo of this new version the overall song felt a little rushed.  Several of the song’s sections passed by too quickly and some breathing room was needed.  So the first instrumental verse and the bridge got extended.  This also opened up some real estate so that the two guitar parts in the instrumental verse could each have their own four bar section (to rock out with the wobble bass) instead of being on top of each other.

- The original song had a Roland Jupiter 6 playing the chords in the chorus.  I wanted to substitute that patch and lately I’ve been wild over the vocoder in Native Instruments’ Razor synth.  (Yes I’m aware at this point that I sound like a product rep for NI!  What can I say – their stuff just tickles my fancy.)  It has an uber future sheen that is very present but takes up very little bandwidth.  So using the main vocal track as the carrier and the midi chords for pitch, Razor it was for stating the chorus chords.  It ended up being more subtle than I envisioned but provides some background ‘outer space’ character to the choruses.

- After the first chorus there’s another instrumental verse break but instead of repeating the guitar parts as in the original, I stumbled on a new lead part for this section.  This was done using the original melody line carved apart by a high threshold noise gate to reduce the amount and duration of the notes for a rhythmic variation emphasizing the accents.  This also pulls the timbre of the original ‘dulcitone’ voice (which I really liked a lot) into the remix as a featured instrument.

- As mentioned before, the bridge felt too fast at the new tempo.  So this whole section got extended in length and the chords were held longer.  Doing that opened up the need for a new lead sound.  This seemed like a good time to try a technique for programming jazzy style flourish runs that I recently stumbled across.  Doing this in Cubase ended up using different methods and tools than the video tutorial I picked it up from but the result was similar.  If anything the method I discovered was easier: set up a midi track with a ‘force to scale’ filter set to the song section’s key and mode.  (in this case there were two chords so I set up a different midi track for each.)  Then use the line draw tool in the piano roll of the midi editor to layout some semi-randomized steep zigzagging peaks and valleys of notes, adjusting the quantized note length for speed/density.  Do some trial and error until finding some workable lines.  Then refine them manually by nudging notes around in time, duration, and pitch.  Cut and paste these together into a cohesive ‘solo’ whole.  I also found that layering several of these note runs to collide with each other simultaneously using a synth in monophonic mode forced the machine to decide which note it would play if the notes happened to fall as chords.  Some interesting random results came out of that and were also refined by hand.  A bell/harp type sound in NI’s FM8 fit the bill for timbre.  I felt that simplicity with a hint of spookiness was called for here.  And FM8 always cuts to the front of a mix nicely.  As with most of my synth programming the sound was chosen as a ballpark preset of what I was looking for and then tweaked to suit the context and my liking.

- The acoustic rhythm guitar in the bridge was the only instrument in the song that didn’t sound natural when time compressed to the new tempo.  So I took the liberty of glitching the bejeezus out of it using the plugin called . . . well . . . Glitch of course.  The gritty drop at the end of the bridge was a gratuitous use of a sample from the latest Studio Wormbone sound pack – a decrescendo slide of layered synths.

- The oh-my-god-the-song-sounds-like-it-just-got-momentarily-deconstructed fill at the end of the bridge was done by running the entire song through the Twisted Tools Buffeater plugin for about half a beat.  I also experimented a lot with glitching longer durations of the full track using Buffeater but only this tiny embellishment slice seemed appropriate.  I toyed with many other vocal effects throughout the song too but they all just ended up detracting and ended up on the cutting room floor.

- Toward the end of the tune I inserted a bar of lone chapman stick in a low octave to provide some breathing space before the final big push of the last chorus.  The wobble bass layer gets slyly reintroduced at low volume in the second half of the last chorus and continues to the end of the song.  The gated dulcitone melody lead also gets restated in the outro, and the drums switch to a ‘grand finale’ beat.

- Reverb and compression were applied judiciously throughout.  I shan’t bore you with those details here.

- Overall this remix was a pleasure to undertake.  I wasn’t watching the clock at the time but I’m guessing I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 hours diddling and tweaking on it, including lots of exploratory tangents.  The strength of the song writing is evident so the challenge was to give it a new direction without tweaking the structure too much.  *Big thanks to Jupe Jupe for letting me steal your intellec-chal property!*

Aug 132012
 

Here at the ‘Bone we’ve been working for the past week straight with the newly released program called S-Layer from Twisted Tools.  Let me just say at the outset that this is an absolutely fantastic bit of software wizardry!  This post isn’t intended as a tutorial (there’s already one available here) or a full review, but rather a summary of first impressions.

The idea behind S-layer is one shot sample layering – hence the name.  At first glance this sounds static and unappealing.  But this NI Reaktor ensemble takes the notion to radical extremes by providing a wide variety of synthesis control options.  The result is a wildly creative way to simultaneously meld, mold, and modulate new one shot samples comprised of up to eight stacked individual source samples.  A generous amount of features are available for making the end results come alive.

Because of the complexity of what S-Layer is capable of, the interface takes a few hours to get comfortable with and a few sessions to get fluent with.  (Having prior exposure to other Twisted Tools programs definitely helps to figure things out since all of their programs tend to be consistent with design and layout, thankfully.)  I was able to establish an understanding of almost everything before having to open the user guide to figure out a few remaining questions.

Perhaps the strongest aspect of this program is it’s functionality for harnessing serendipitous chaos.  Most of it’s settings are able to be left to chance with individual function and/or global randomization options.  This means that it can be told to find inventive new combinations of sounds without having to be tediously programmed.  This is accompanied by a user definable range per setting so that there is an appropriate amount of ‘steering’ the results in any desired direction.  So what you end up with is a wonderfully usable balance between creative control and rolling the dice to see what fate hands you.  The randomization allows enough user input for the results to feel gratifyingly personalized to the user’s own taste.

So which one is it – a sampler, an effect plugin, or a softsynth?  Well the short answer is . . . yes!  It embodies attributes of all of these.  It’s main intent isn’t for use as a tonal instrument for writing chord progressions or noodling out melodies or basslines.  But if you feed it pitched samples and turn on the transpose button then it can be used in that fashion.  What it excels at however is quickly generating new theme and variation versions for synthetic style drum kits, colossal cinematic impacts, and liquid technological sci-fi robot mechanization sound effects.  It can also manipulate loops and generate rich ambiances.

After working with it for a week I’m only getting warmed up to all of it’s possibilities.  The presets are quite usable.  But admittedly after only hearing a handful of them I was immediately inspired to launch off into conceive-your-own-sounds territory, and haven’t looked back since.   I’ve already stockpiled a metric ton of recorded one shot sample hits to be edited and sorted for future musical applications.  Soon I’ll be loading in my own samples in order to create new content for sound pack releases akin to Cybernetic, Animal Robotix, and Droid Artworkx.

If you’re a sound designer that’s into drastically warping existing sound files into exotic and bizarre new flavors with every minor knob tweak and slider nudge, then S-Layer should become your next Twisted Tool!

 

 

Aug 082012
 

OK here’s a wonderfully weird animation involving dolls banging their heads on drums.  It’s a bit interactive in the beginning requiring a few clicks of encouragement to get started.  It also requires setting your ADHD aside for a few seconds while the plot unfolds, but believe me it’s well worth the wait.  Simple and subversive, mysterious yet in-your-face.

http://www.tokyoplastic.com/dm.html

Aug 032012
 

Here’s a demo video of Dave Smith pimping the latest DSI synth release – Mopho X4.

Take this next bit with a grain of salt since Studio Wormbone is wildly fanatical about pretty much any product that Dave Smith has had his hand in.  But I have to question at this point whether most of the synths since the highly successful Evolver line have just been essentially the Evolver repackaged . . .  Call me a blaspheme if you must, but I’d be far more inclined to invest in a new piece of hardware if it were, well, different than what’s been done (and done well) before.  I thing it’s fair to say that I’m longing for the next paradigm in musical technology.