Patch Notes: The Rule of Beasts

This album is a collection of music I recorded from late December 2018 through early February 2019. Aside from “Super Blood Wolf Moon” which had a bit of inspiration from the event, the impetus behind each song was simply that I had an idea I wanted to try, and I followed where it led me. The album title may imply this sort of lack of formality, but honestly I simply liked the phrase.

This album took place as my Eurorack modular synthesizer (and its constellation of supporting devices) was in transition what I considered “version 1.1” to a more streamlined “version 2.0.” A lot of measuring and budgeting and planning was done, a bit of new equipment was preordered, and a lot more gear was sold. I began to shun a few other items to test whether I’d feel comfortable selling them too. The only new gear which arrived was the Chase Bliss Dark World pedal, Make Noise Maths which I got to replace Make Noise Function, WMD/SSF Mini Slew and Frap Tools 321), and the Sputnik 5-Step Voltage Source just in time for the final song.

Throughout the album

My DAW is Native Instruments Maschine 2.7.7, with a Maschine mk2 controller. When MIDI sequencing I use CV.OCD for MIDI to CV conversion.

My audio interface is a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40, which might be a bit outdated but I appreciate the 1U form factor, convenient headphone monitoring, 8 analog inputs and enough outputs to patch channels back out through effects or feedback loops. Too many recent audio interfaces have too few inputs for my purposes.

I regularly use ToneBoosters EQ 4 and Barricade on the master channel, and frequently on individual channels.

Almost every stereo voice from the modular uses HASound MSLR to convert from mid-side stereo, which I find easier to balance while giving me a nice wide stereo field when I want it.

Unfiltered Audio G8 is my noise gate, often necessary because my hardware is not particularly noise-free. For the most part I accept noise as a part of the character of the system and sometimes work intentionally to enhance it.

In my notes I didn’t get specific about modulation sources for the most part — but I use Mutable Instruments Stages and Tides, Make Noise Contour and Maths and occasionally Hemisphere Suite. Monome Teletype and Mutable Instruments Marbles were also used for sequencing more than specifically mentioned below.

01: Monopole

The main voice is a Korg SQ-1 sequencing a Pittsburgh Lifeforms Double Helix. Its envelope comes from the Hemisphere Suite AD EG, which is manually adjusted during the recording. It runs through Alright Devices Chronoblob delay, with a Bastl Cinnamon filter in its feedback loop and an LFO modulating Cinnamon’s cutoff frequency (giving the impression of noise sweeps). In the DAW, Valhalla Room adds some space.

The drones are from two voices of a SynthTech E370 in Cloud mode, through Rabid Elephant Natural Gate and Valhalla Plate.

02: Steadfast Stonehead

The main drone voice is E370 VCO1 being phase-modulated by VCO2, morphed by a squarewave LFO through a resonant lowpass filter. (My notes don’t specify which one, but it must have been Cinnamon, Epoch Twinpeak or Pittsburgh Lifeforms Dynamic Impulse Filter.) It runs in parallel through Make Noise Function and Instruō tanh[3], into the two channels of Natural Gate. u-he Twangström provides emulated spring reverb.

The second voice is E370 VCO2, through the folder and LPG in Double Helix, Red Panda Tensor and Zoom MS-70CDR. VCO2 is set to a harmonic multiple of VCO1’s drone frequency so it can be cleanly transposed with a knob turn; otherwise the melody line is coming from Tensor’s randomization.

The third voice is Arturia Microbrute with Valhalla Room and Klevgrand DAW LP.

03: All Owl

The main voice is The Harvestman Hertz Donut mk2 through tanh[3] and Natural Gate. The sequence is via MIDI, and the FM amount is randomized per note. An envelope from Make Noise Contour is also processed by tanh[3]. Heavily processed by my own Horse chorus VST, Native Instruments Replika delay, Twangström, Native Instruments Transient Master, and Valhalla Plate.

The main voice is secondarily processed by Unfiltered Audio Spec Ops and Camel Audio Camel Crusher.

There’s also a drone from The Harvestman Kermit through The Harvestman Tyme Sefari, Antimatter Audio Crossfold and Bastl Cinnamon, with Valhalla Plate reverb.

04: Mega Swan

Voice 1 is Microbrute through Chase Bliss Dark World with a feedback loop.

Voice 2 is Make Noise Function running at audio rate through Make Noise ModDemix, Chronoblob with Tyme Sefari and Cinnamon in its feedback loop, and the Audio Damage Ratshack Reverb plugin.

Voice 3 is Hertz Donut through Dynamic Impulse Filter, with Audio Assault Headcrusher Free.

There’s also a Sony M-100MC microcasette recording of my desk and computer case fans, resampled at two playback speeds, through Melda MSpectralDelay and Valhalla Plate.

05: Nothing In The Air

The main sequence is Mutable Instruments Marbles clocked by an unstable “drunk” clock from Monome Teletype. The main voice is Epoch Twinpeak filter pinging, with cross-feedback with Chronoblob‘s open feedback loop, with the second filter peak FM’d by an E370 voice. The feedback loops are tapped in two places for the output; one runs through Twangström while the other is through ModDemix with SpecOps, Sonic Charge Echobode, and Valhalla Plate.

The second voice is a mix of pulse and noise from Double Helix into Mutable Instruments Rings input, with a squarewave LFO driving its V/OCT input. A synced LFO modulates Rings’ position. The voice runs through Tensor for a huge time slowdown, and Valhalla Plate.

The third voice is Mutable Instruments Tides 2018 through Dark World.

There are also samples of ham radio signals, processed to enhance the clicks and pops, through PSP Pianoverb; and heavy post-processing with my Elitist VST plugin, timestretch and Valhalla Plate reverb.

06: Shadow Fabric

The main voice is two Mutable Instruments Rings in unison (sequenced by MIDI), in 4x polyphony and modal synthesis mode. Structure and position are slightly modulated by LFOs, and brightness is kept low. Processed by AudioThing FogConvolver, Transient Master, Toneboosters Barricade, DAW LP and Sonic Charge Permut8.

It’s backed up by an E370 voice in cloud mode, through Natural Gate opened by an envelope follower from Rings’ output, through Tyme Sefari and Twangström. The E370’s morph is modulated by Tyme Sefari’s wet output.

07: Super Blood Wolf Moon

The drum is E370 through Natural Gate.

The main drone is Microbrute FMd by another E370 voice, through Denis Tihanov’s OrilRiver reverb and u-he Colour Copy delay.

The higher drone part feeds the main drone through Hemisphere Suite’s VectMorph and Antimatter Crossfold, with Unfiltered Audio BYOME and Valhalla Vintage Verb.

The secondary percussion is another E370 voice through Natural Gate and Chronoblob.

The rhythm is driven by WMD/SSF Mini Slew and Make Noise Function cycling semi-independently, but with Mini Slew also triggering Function’s Both and Trigger inputs. Mini Slew drives the deeper drum while Function synchronizes Chronoblob.

08: Aeria Athenaeum

The first voice is Arturia Buchla Easel V through BYOME delay and reverb.

The second is a squarewave oscillator driving the Doepfer A-196 PLL which controls Mini Slew oscillation, mixed with that same oscillator synchronizing an E370 voice. They are mixed in Natural Gate through Dark World, Toneboosters EQ4 and OrilRiver.

The sub drone is Madrona Labs Aalto.

The fourth voice is the PLL’s pitch output driving Rings in 4x polyphony modal mode. An envelope from Tides controls Manhattan Analog DTA. Through Dynamic Impulse Filter, Transient Master, EQ4, Colour Copy and Valhalla Plate.

Whispering samples are from jgeralyn at FreeSound. Rearranged and repeated, processed with EQ, some pitch shifting, Elitist and Valhalla Plate.

09: All That You Hear Was Once Light

The main drone is two E370 VCOs through Natural Gate, modulated by the other two E370 VCOs.

The melody line is Plogue Chipspeech, Transient Master, EchoBode, and Twangström, layered with Mutable Instruments Plaits‘ “Analog Snare Drum” model through Dynamic Impulse Filter with Ratshack Reverb and Valhalla Plate.

Secondary drone is two Rings through Valhalla Room (my patch notes weren’t more specific; most likely they had noise as an input but they may have been in cross-feedback).

10: The Rule of Beasts

The main rhythm part is Plaits with its pitch, Model and Timbre all sequenced by Sputnik 5-Step Voltage Source (with Teletype providing the rhythmic control).

Secondary percussive noises are from Rings.

An additional Rings voice was recorded but edited out almost entirely in post production. Its pitch was sequenced by a 5-Step channel, and it ran through FogConvolver and D16 Fazortan.

16th note pulses are Microbrute with its filter modulated directly by Teletype, through ColourCopy and Valhalla Room.

The background whooshing and reverb were done in post-processing via multiple layers of (mostly) Valhalla Plate, Transient Master, and Elitist.