Saturday, November 30, 2013

Digital Single: Isotopes For All

The second in my series of free singles is Isotopes For All Parts 1&2. These two tracks date from earlier in the recording sessions than Electro Magnetic, and are a little more indicative of what to expect from the rest of the album.

Bandcamp player:

Isotopes For All - Part 1 was inspired in part by the works of Atomic Shadow. (If you haven't already, I urge you to give him a listen. He has a new album out called City of Chrome and Glass, which is very good). Further inspiration, including the monologue heard in the track, came from a 1953 educational(?) film called A Is For Atom. The naive and alarming nature of the film, juxtaposed as it is with the cute Disney-esque animation, prompted me to re-purpose it in a way that highlights the more disturbing elements of 1950's atomic-age thinking.

Snippets of the soundtrack were copied to cassette tape and the pitch modified manually with my Marantz PMD201 tape recorder. To my mind this further enhanced both the disturbing and comical nature of the monologue. Forming the basis of the music is some quirky synthesized percussion, rendered using the TAL U-No-LX softsynth. Weaving in and out of the track is a bassline constructed on the Korg Monotribe, and an arpeggio from the K-Station. In between the narrated sections, the Roland HS-60 adds some interesting sounds and the K-Station provides a second bassline.



Isotopes For All - Part 2 evolved out of a desire to see how the music would sound with a more conventional beat. It was initially a three-minute recording (this became the 'single edit') of Monotribe bassline and K-Station arpeggio with parameters such as filter-cutoff manipulated in real-time, to which the instrumental parts and drums were added. An early version used the Monotribe's analogue drum sounds, but I found they muddied the mix. An 808 kit from the Boss DR-550 left room in the mix for some phased strings courtesy of the Crumar Performer run through a Small Stone phaser.

After receiving the demo, my friend Jimmy sent me an extended mix of the track he'd put together for fun. I liked it so much that I decided to make a longer version myself, and that's how it ended up two-and-a-half minutes longer. By this time the bass patch on the Monotribe (which has no patch memory) was long-since gone. I came close to replicating it, but it didn't have quite the edge of the original, so I used a mix of the original recording and the new.

Video (single edit):

Audio (album version):

96.1Mhz, an experimental 'atmosphere' was included on the e.p. to break up the two different versions of Isotopes Part 2. It consists of a recording of radio interference augmented by sound effects from the Korg Monotribe.

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