Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Mole People Instrumentals

In 2012 I started producing a concept record that never materialized in the ideal fashion I would have hoped for — perhaps this was just as well. Much elaboration went into it, every track was supposed to be like a Lord of The Rings movie.

But this was too much for what we were doing at the time. We were already releasing a plethora of group and solo albums.

This project was an Ambient Abstractions quasi-thematic supergroup called the Mole People.

The idea for the Mole People came not only from the cheesy flick but also the entire idea of being underground, perhaps in a more literal sense.. as well as metaphorical.. It was to be a classic Hero's Journey, in which the protagonist (in this case the listener) goes into the underworld, meets the inhabitants, and emerges with an even greater understanding.

This was where the thinking was at the time. Sort of like AA's answer to Army of the Pharaohs. Except maybe more story driven.

A little over a year later the instrumentals were complete. By this point a couple of the original beats were scooped up and used for other purposes, but the original flow of the album remained the same.

Interest in the project simmered and fizzled for several years, and only one track actually ended up being recorded. Which is not to say that Mole People will never drop material. Only time will tell when and in what ways the Mole People will re-emerge..

For the present I decided to preserve those instrumentals here. Throughout the past 5 years I've dropped little snippets here and there, but I figured it was time to archive those tracks as they were originally recorded ("in situ" as the archaeologists would say), including some bonus flavor.

Making music in 2012 was like a lightning rod — many great things came to fruition. The Mole People was a rush idea that was too big for its britches. In an alternate universe or my own imagination it would have popped off simultaneously with everything else that was happening at the time, which in reality was an impossible task. It was simply too much to ask. Of anyone.

I hope you enjoy these beats, for whatever they're worth. The Mole People represents many things. The fear of the unfamiliar. The process of going through and integrating experience. And the undaunting courage of those willing to make the journey.

I recorded most of these beats on an MPC 1000 through a Mackie DFX series live mixer to an E-MU Systems PCIe card to Cubase 5. Minimal mixing was done. A couple beats were made on FL Studio. It was planned to incorporate further media samples from various sources (documentaries, etc.) as the songs begun to take further form, combined with effects. Madlib was an inspiration here, especially with the Quasimoto Unseen album.

No additional remastering was done.

Lastly, I dedicate this record to Lake Merritt and psychedelic mushrooms.

I sort of feel like these beats were a kind of magnum opus, at least at the time and for the period in which they were made, as "incomplete" as they are.


released May 29, 2018

Ambient Abstractions 2018

Behind The Beat Episode 2: Drunk Distance

For this episode of Behind The Beat I decided to pull up a joint I did on the MPC 1000 sampling a Herbie Mann record. I didn't quite fully breakdown how the sample chop tracks are layered but it's basically something like this:

On each track I have a couple notes playing, which when played by itself sounds like one thing, but when the delay is applied it becomes something else, all the gaps are filled in between the chops.

So I have a couple of those tracks layered then a hook part.

I don't always use the built in effects for the 1000 or 2500, but they can be versatile or cheesy sounding depending on how you rock them. I had the EB-16 effects board on the 2000 XL and used that quite a bit. The effects on the 1000 and 2500 don't sound particularly good, however if you look at it in a certain way you can basically get synthesizer-like capabilities out of MPCs by being clever. For example looping a single cycle wav and adding reverb, then setting the pads to note on..

Peep the Wrec track "Drunk Distance" here:

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Behind The Beat Episode 1: Blockhead

Behind The Beat is a new series I had the idea to do, in which I go through, analyze and dissect instrumentals. Decided to kick off the first episode by taking a look at the new Still DOE single "Blockhead." I'm thinking in the future if I do more computer-based beats I should record a screencast rather than the bootleg style (still holding it down with the basic point and shoot, might upgrade in the future to something more versataile), but time will tell. And it also depends. Sometimes I'm using hardware and the DAW at the same time.

For this series I feel like I can never run out of episodes to do. I want to try keeping each episode at between 5 and 6 minutes, which I think is not too long and not too short, just a quick breakdown and a few in-depth things. Also dropping the science on what I use to produce, some of the stuff I sample, hidden gems and secrets, mixing tips, tricks and techniques.

There's no schedule for these episodes, basically whenever I feel like filming one. It should also be interesting to load really early project files as well as more recent classics.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Still DOE - Blockhead prod. Malakai Beats

Head over to the brand new Still DOE website, stilldoe.com. On the main page look for the audio player and peep the exclusive track 'Blockhead' from the upcoming album Elevator Music For Different Dimensions.