Notes: Closing Our Eyes and Pretending It Makes Infinity Go Away


I started recording for this album with a different idea, but in my experience, music does what it wants and everything goes more smoothly if I just follow where it leads. At some point I just started calling it “new stuff.” And then this XKCD comic seemed to capture the mood:


I don’t use the DAW’s piano roll sequencing, nor any sort of sequencing based on song structure — each track is improvised and recorded live. Any sequences are loops or generative, and everything else is manually controlled. I record live in stereo (not multitracking/stems) with the mix levels and effects baked in. In many cases I will record additional parts and dub them in, one at a time, in a destructive editing process. I prefer to commit everything in the moment rather than second-guessing myself and making lots of little changes.

In the notes below, software is in bold like this and hardware in bold italics like this. For software that hosts its own plugins/modules, I use brackets and [blue highlighting]. Samples reused from previous sessions are highlighted in pink. Not all utilities and EQ, compression, etc. were noted. Controllers are Tesseract Sweet Sixteen, Roli Seaboard Block, Make Noise 0-Ctrl, Intellijel Planar2, Gliss, and Line6 FBV Express. DAW is Bitwig Studio and audio editor is Magix Sound Forge.

NE: Noise Engineering
NI: Native Instruments
MI: Mutable Instruments
MN: Make Noise
TE: Teenage Engineering

1: No Harm

  • VCV Rack [wavetable LFO driving Tancor, NLC 4Seq sequencing Rings, Supercell]. iZotope De-Click and Bitwig Transient Control to remove attacks. Bitwig Harmonic Split to strip away everything but the fundamental, NE Ruina to distort that. Bitwig Peak Limiter clamped down very hard, Dreadbox Hypnosis, DDMF MagicDeathEye, Valhalla Supermassive.
  • Four separate takes with Audiolatry Mel/Lofi (not to be confused with Arturia Tape Mel-Lofi, which is an effect rather than a sample player). Individual layers of violins, cello, bassoon and a highpass filtered tenor sax, each through Ujam UFX-Reverb (bassoon also through Phonolyth Velvet Machine).
  • Hadean ukulele bass through Aegean Pitchproof, NI Supercharger GT, Arturia Plate-140, FXpansion Maul, u-he Runciter, u-he Presswerk and UFX Reverb.

2: Guidance

  • Ukulele bass recorded during the “No Harm” session.
  • Rhythmic ticks are The Harvestman Kermit through both channels of Doepfer A150-1, with New Systems Instruments Harmonic Shift Oscillator mixed with an envelope into the CV inputs for crudely switched amplitude modulation, then through NE Imitor. Sequence is from MI Marbles.
  • A drone from MN Strega and Arturia Minibrute 2S patched together (as I frequently do) through Hypnosis, with feedback through all three. At the start of this part there’s some reverse Supermassive.
  • Mel-Lofi sax part from “No Harm”, pitched down an octave (it’s subtle).
  • Cymbals and flyby FX from NE Ataraxic Iteritas through NE Ruina Versio, sampled and pitch shifted. Valhalla Vintage Verb and the delay in Magix Sound Forge.
  • Squeal & drone from Xaoc Devices Odessa, modulated by two LFOs and an envelope, through FabFilter Saturn 2 and Imitor.
  • Drone from an Eastrock electric kalimba through Hypnosis with a long sustained feedback loop, sampled and pitched down.
  • More squeals are from Ataraxic Iteritas through Jroo Loop and NE Lacrima Versio, using the same modulation sources as the Odessa part. Through Inphonik PCM2612 Retro Decimator and NE Librae to enhance subtle stereo differences.

3: Secret Third Thing

  • Drone from VCV Rack [2x Surge XT Alias VCOs with one acting as a modulator, through two CF100 filters in stereo]
  • Drum parts:
    ● Bass pulse: Bitwig E-Kick, Imitor, Soundspot Ravage, MagicDeathEye, Plate-140
    ● Kick: Toy Box Audio Thump One, Ruina
    ● Hi-hats: After Later Audio Alan clocked by Schlappi Engineering Interstellar Radio, Xaoc Katowice, Xaoc Koszalin, Bitwig Grid patch [AD envelope/VCA, Chebyshev folder, highpass filter and allpass], Bitwig Bit-8
    ● Ride bell: NE Basimilus Iteritas, CraveDSP Crave EQ modulated by an LFO, Arturia Filter MS-20, Imitor
    ● Snare: Basimilus Iteritas, PCM2612, Mod Sound More, Melda MAGC, Plate-140
  • “Lead” voice is Harmonic Shift Oscillator through Rabid Elephant Natural Gate, MI Beads, and Valhalla Delay, played on 0-Ctrl.
  • (L): Intellijel Shapeshifter & (R): Shapeshifter through MI Rings, through Xaoc Tallin, MN Mimeophon, United Plugins Retronaut, Hypnosis
  • Cymbal/flyby from “Guidance” (subtle)
  • violin from “No Harm” (subtle)
  • Mannequins Just Friends outputs mixed in Planar. Through Xaoc Drezno, Katowice and NI Raum.
  • Noise from Strega/Minibrute 2S.

4: Counterspell

  • drone from Bitwig Grid [pink noise, Sallen-Key LPF and simple HPF, delay with high feedback slowly and subtly modulated] through Saturn 2
  • drone from Minibrute 2S
  • “chatter” is from After Later Alan clocked by Harmonic Shift Oscillator, with the Enigma expander feeding back to HSO’s FM. Two outputs from the Morcom expander are mixed. This is sampled, then patched through MN Spectraphon in SAM mode with its FM ratio modulated by Alan, and sampled a second time. Both samples are looped in Bitwig Grid [the first through a lowpass filter modulated by an envelope follower that tracks the second]. The mix is through Moog MF-103s Phaser, MF-102s Ringmod, and Valhalla Delay.
  • Strega through Minibrute 2S.
  • Rings in FM mode, controlled by 0-Ctrl, through Strega/Minibrute.
  • Cymbals: VCV Rack [Noise Plethora, Rampage, VCA], sampled with two different settings. One is through XLN Audio RC-20 Retro Color, the other through Ravage and Sinevibes Droplet; both through Imitor and MF-101S filter.
  • Ataraxic Iteritas sequenced by Alan/Enigma, through Cosmotronic Peradam, MI Blades, Bitwig Peak Limiter, Minimal Audio Rift.
  • Both sides of Kermit AMing each other, through NE Roucha Legio, Hypnosis. Filter cutoff controlled by Bela Gliss.

5: Rock in the Stream

  • a handful of recordings from my Noise Project (samples of different self-patched Eurorack modules generating noise), crossfaded randomly in a Bitwig Grid patch, through Unfiltered Audio SpecOps, Velvet Machine, Bitwig Freq Split [different choruses/flangers applied to each band], Hypnosis.
  • MÜB Miezo bass guitar through Jam Origin MIDI Bass, Overloud Gem Mod, Bitwig Harmonic Split [Pitchproof & Cherry Audio Stardust 201 on odd harmonics, Melda MUnison and NI Raum on evens], Hypnosis
  • VCV Rack drone [E340, 2x CF100 filter, Plateau, 2x Wasp Filter, matrix mixer]
  • VCV Rack noise [2x Pip Slope, MCO, 2x VCAs, Plateau], two instances of MUnison serially, Plate-140

6: Silver Rod

  • Ataraxic Iteritas (synced to Shapeshifter), Katowice, Peradam, Mimeophon, Melotus Versio, Audiothing Lines, Runciter. Modulation of Katowice levels and Ataraxic paramters from Just Friends; JF’s Curve and Mimeophon’s u-rate modulated by Kermit.
  • Strega/Minibrute 2S, Cascade, Raum
  • Cherry Audio Harmonia, Audiothing Miniverb
  • Mix of the above through Spectraphon, Sound Radix SurferEQ (to reduce the harmonic partials and leave noisy material behind) and Hypnosis. Mixed low and subtle.
  • Bitwig E-Hat, Desmodus, HY-ESG, a second instance of Desmodus, Bitwig Transient Split [PCM2612 on the transients, CraveEQ on tones], Saturn 2
  • cymbals from “Counterspell” resampled
  • VCV Rack drone [Warp Core & Alias VCO, CF100 and Ripples filters] through Beads.

7: Closing Our Eyes and Pretending it Makes Infinity Go Away

  • VCV Rack [2x Noise Plethora, crossfaders modulated by wavetable LFOs and 2D Rotation, Plateau]
  • Pink noise from Bitwig Grid, heavily lowpass filtered in Blades, Valhalla Vintage Verb
  • Two voices played with Roli Seaboard Block tuned by Entonal Studio, crossfaded with Planar:
    ● Dawesome Kult
    ● (via NE Univer Inter) Shapeshifter, Blades, Natural Gate, Melotus Versio
  • Interstellar Radio, Blades, Beads, Cascade

8: Cracking the Shell

  • cymbal (reverse/forward): Basimilus Iteritas, Audiority Xenoverb
  • drone: ALM Busy Circuits Akemie’s Castle A output through Lacrima Versio, Bitwig Sallen-Key filter. B output through Drezno, Audio Damage Ratshack Reverb.
  • drone: Odessa through Strega
  • drone: Interstellar Radio, Katowice, Tallin, Beads
  • “brass” played on 0-Ctrl: Shapeshifter, Melotus Versio, Natural Gate, Hypnosis
  • Minibrute 2S noise & triangle through Blades. Modulation is MN Function with S&H and slew from MI Stages, split into two routes:
    ● through Spectraphon & Xenoverb
    ● through Bitwig comb filter & Xenoverb
  • Plogue Chipsounds, Filter MS-20, Valhalla Room

9: An Accord

  • Madrona Aalto, Miniverb, Librae, Lines
  • Both Akemie’s Castle outputs through Blades, Wavesfactory Echo Cat, Librae. Drone controlled with FBV Express expression pedal, filter cutoff with Gliss.
  • The Harvestman Zorlon Cannon mk2‘s 4 outputs (two through Koszalin, one filtered by Function), crossfaded in Planar. Beads, Runciter, Valhalla Delay.
  • Harmonia through Minibrute/Strega (metalizer, delay, both filters), MF-104s delay, Sonible Purelimit
  • Manis Iteritas, 2x BPB Dirty Filter in parallel, Bitwig Harmonic Split (to enhance noise over harmonic partials), Raum.
  • cymbals from “Counterspell” shifted down
  • ride bell from “Secret Third Thing” processed in Sound Forge (subtle)
  • uke bass from “No Harm” (attack slowed, subtle)
  • TE EP-133 K.O. II (default cymbal sample stretched and filtered), Melotus Versio
  • VCV Rack drone [Loom, modulated by several wavetable LFOs and phase mod from two mixed sine VCOs]
  • tail: the end of the above mix, played through headphones and sampled with K.O. II‘s internal mic, through Xenoverb.