Monday, October 23, 2017

Rhythm Roulette: Malakai Beats

I figured it was time to challenge myself the Rhythm Roulette way. The only real thing that sort of made it deviate from the original gameplan was that I didn't go to a record store, for a few reasons. First the ride is on the fritz. Second there's no real good digging spots locally that would make it worth it. I've already scoured the shelves at every conceivable place here. Third I came up with the idea on the spot and grabbed a camera and just started filming. I ended up using a 8mm camcorder since the only other camera I have only shoots in 20 minute chunks. I sort of explain the situation at the beginning. If I only had keepers it would be kind of fake style, but in my case I have basically a ton of clearance grabs, random stuff, and everything just impossibly mixed up anyway so I figured that should be good enough. I used the three records grabbed and no other sounds. What I found worked best was my pitch shifting technique (I drop a couple more hints and gems of knowledge in the video also). Basically it's bits of my process on display.

Also I relearned the lesson of not judging a book by its cover. I grabbed a Red Callender album without knowing it was 50s jazz thinking it was going to be some marching band shit or something. I go through different variations of different things copped from the records until I find the right chops and put together layered patterns. I sort of didn't have a cameraperson so it was mostly on a tripod but I tried to make the video more interesting through editing. I had something like an hour and a half of footage, most of it chopping various samples. So that part is boring. I highlight what the beat could have been at a couple points before deciding on what it eventually became. The sounds seemed to work perfect, especially in the low end range. Overall I actually found this exercise a good way to spark creativity. Picking records at random and even if you can't find obvious dope samples or loops you can imagine how you can manipulate the sounds to make them completely different and unrecognizable from the records they came from. Maybe in the future I'll do a more proper example by actually going to a record store.

Still DOE - Stoned Fingers prod. Malakai Beats

Out of nowhere comes the return of Still DOE! The new album on deck is entitled Elevator Music For Different Dimensions. Watch the feeds for updates and subscribe to the Still DOE SoundCloud & shoot him a Like on the Facebooks.

Magus The Great - Some Days feat. Timbo prod. Malakai Beats

Magus The Great is working on an entirely new album. I've been listening to an advance copy and this is definitely an album that will be in heavy rotation. I can't give too much info other than point to the direction of two other tracks on that same Bandcamp. Watch out for future flavor.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

MPC 1000 Files / Thoughts on the 2000XL & Live Beat Making

In the late 90s - early 2000s I was using software to compose tunes, at this time mostly early versions of FL Studio & various tracker programs (Impulse Tracker, etc.). Before even that I was a latchkey kid with tape recorders, a record player, and a good ear for reproducing things heard on TV onto the piano. In terms of hardware, I've pretty much always been a MPC dude. Never dabbled with SPs or MVs, although if I were to make a grand switch it would probably be the MV. RZA switched early and rocked the hell out of that thing.

This is a small collection of MPC 1000 beats. No doubt there's a lot more on there..

After rocking the 1000 for about a decade or so I switched over to the 2000XL for a little while, to get a feel for much more limited and old school hip-hop production methods. I can say a lot about this. My first impression of the 2000XL was that it was like an old ass slot machine. Trusty, but funky and still works. For the 2000s generally the MIDI timing is on point. You have to preview a sound before you load it in, and loading takes time.. In terms of raw sound however the 2000 series is a tad punchier than later MPC models. May or may not have something to do with Roger Linn leaving the company during this time, as Akai was acquired by Numark, who basically didn't really care much in terms of quality and devotion to legacy. I never tried the 60 or 3000, but I respect those machines greatly. If anything if I were to "go old school again" it would probably be the 4000. For the time being more or less indefinitely at this point, I'm happy with the 1000/2500 platform, especially with JJOS

So I was using the 2000XL for about a year pretty intensively. When suddenly the machine just flat out died, or at least the screen did. No lines or anything... It just straight up gave out. Rather than copping a new screen from MPC Stuff I decided instead to just sell it off and use the money to buy a decent 2500 with the new XLCD screen. I sort of had the precognition that heads would get tired of the DAW controller MPCs that eventually unfolded. However it doesn't seem the be the case as much as I thought it would. Nevertheless you won't see me rocking a Ren or a Touch or a Live, or whatever newfangled touchscreen things they have at Guitar Center these days. There's a lot of romance floating about how the 2000s don't jam. In my personal experience this wasn't the case. I've never had the 1000 or 2500 jam on me once.. Not even getting into the horrible pad sensor design on these models, there's much more to read about that elsewhere. And if you know you know..

I've more or less equally been about straight composition versus sampling loops (not even cutting). So my beats from even the early days have been either/or/or a cross in-between. And it will no doubt continue to be this way.

I can't front. Computers and software have gotten to the point where it's so much easier and faster and cheaper to just lay stuff out in a DAW. I only work this way entirely about 20% of the time at most. The majority of DAW use is mixing. I still use the MPC, and I got a second audio interface to basically use as a digital converter for adding VST instruments to the mix on productions, so it's all good and I've finally gotten to the stage where I'm entirely 200% comfortable with how I'm rocking shit. It's a decent hybrid mix of analog and digital. I got a dirty scratchy-ass Ramsa mixer and plenty of things to plug into it.

I do want to start filming some beats making videos, and do live streams and all that, but that's been a struggle for the past couple years. I don't even have a smartphone.. My instagram account only has like 3 pictures as of now and it was all because I was able to use a relative's smart device. So there's that. I did try on at least two occasions to stream a beatmaking session, but each time there were some issues preventing me from filming. I'm tempted to pull out the old VHS or 8MM recorder and just do it that way.. But it wouldn't be live. Time will tell. It might have to be pre-recorded and semi-unedited. But I would like to stream live on the spot sessions. Maybe even some Rhythm Roulette style sessions pulling records out randomly. Tune in to be hip to whatever happens..