Meat Beat Manifesto – ScarKord Mixtape 2

Some days, you just need to listen to breakbeats. Today is one of those days, and inspired my second Meat Beat Manifesto ‘Mixtape’.

Certainly had fun chopping up and fusing the beats together. And thought I’d add a little downtempo outro at the end for those more familiar with Jack Danger’s back catalogue.

It also gave me the chance to take the new Cubase 11 SpectraLayers for a spin too and was amazed at how well it extracted the vocals from ‘Oblivion’. The mix was done in Ableton though, just because I find it quicker for this sort of thing.

And speaking of Oblivion, that segues nicely into some other news. I’ve been beta testing a new drum synthesiser plugin ‘Hex Drum’ for Oblivion Sound Lab which is now available. It’s inspired by the classic Simmons SDS series which is also the inspiration for it’s name. I even created a one of the preset kits too ‘ScarKord Sonar’. Definitely one to check out.

Custom MIDI Slider Box Part 2

Thought I’d share a picture of my finished MIDI Slider Box. Really pleased with how it came out considering the limited tools I had access to.

I did initially have a problem with the sliders, but determined the wiper and pos (+) connections were wrong. In the instructions, it shows the wiper as the more central of the two terminals, but in the photos, the wiper is the outside terminal. I switched mine around, and voila, it works perfectly now.

Abandoned (ScarKord Expansion)

Here’s an impromptu collaboration with el-bo

It started life as an idea el-bo put together for the Sound Aesthetics, Show Us Your Music challenge, but subsequently abandoned.

I really thought it had potential though, so decided to see if I could develop it further and this is the result!

Again, in the spirit of the challenge, it only features Sound Aesthetics libraries.

Despite everything else that is going on in the world, I’ve not been this productive in years!

The Climb

Had a rare free evening tonight, so created track number three using only samples from Sound Aesthetics Sampling. As it was mainly built around the ‘Mountain’ sample library, I called it ‘The Climb’.

Although it’s a been released as a ‘Jason Vine’ track rather than a ‘ScarKord’ track, there is some pretty extreme processing going on particularly to get the percussion noises. It’s been a great exercise to coax these sorts of noises and patterns out of what are primarily melodic libraries.

Custom MIDI Slider box

Time for a new project, inspired by this post on Gearslutz. A custom DIY MIDI controller featuring three full size 100mm sliders and based on a Teensy 3.2. This will be used to control MIDI CC’s for my Kontakt libraries.

I sourced components as close as I could to the original post. The Teensy was from Amazon, the sliders and case from Farnell and I’m just waiting for some black 8mm slider knobs from eBay. Was difficult to find 100mm sliders and a case with the right dimensions in the UK so I’ve posted links below.

Bourns B10k Slide Potentiometer
Takachi Plastic Enclosure 30 x 150 x 100

Cost so far is around £50, but I already had some of the components such as LED, USB connector etc. Still quite reasonable though and I’m surprised something like this doesn’t already exist in the market.

The identity crisis

Well, it’s gone full circle. After writing a second song as ‘me’, I’ve now remixed myself.

First, the original. ‘Strange Resonances‘ was once again created only using sounds from Sound Aesthetics Sampling, namely their Mountains and Talua libraries, for their Show Us Your Music promotion. It’s darker than my other Sound Aesthetics track ‘Life In Pieces‘, reminding me of Massive Attack’s soundtrack work at times.

It was still a slower, cinematic track though, so I experimented with ramping up the tempo and it worked surprisingly well some 50bpm faster. The drums needed work though, so I went with a UK Garage / 2-step style broken beat which topped things off nicely. I also added some extra strings too for the extended breakdown section.

So, where to next?

Life In Pieces

Here’s a new piece of music I wrote this evening, using only sounds from the Fragments Kontakt Library, created by Sound Aesthetics Sampling.

You may also have noticed it isn’t released under my usual ScarKord moniker, but rather my own name. I’m just having a play at being a ‘serious’ composer for a bit, so anything vaguely filmic will be posted to that Soundcloud account, leaving ScarKord for remixes and more typical electronica.

Jumparoo

Wow, music lessons seem a lot more fun than back in my day 🙂

This is a piece of music I wrote with my son, James, for one of his remote learning lessons. He had to come up with a theme for a Mario / Sonic style platform game as well as a motif to play when the level clears.

This gave me the chance to introduce him to the world of 8-bit chiptunes, and also try out some new sounds. Namely the AudioThing Minibit and Impact Soundworks Super Audio Boy.

But of course, it can’t all be nostalgia, so I gave him a couple of unused ScarKord dubstep beats to play with too.

Filter update

After some more thorough testing, I determined that the volume of the 3320 VCF was a little on the quiet side, noticeably lower than my other modules. Putting this down to the use of 100k resistors rather than the 91k specified on the circuit board, I decided to replace them and am happy to report this did the trick!

One other interesting thing I noticed is that even with the resonance turned all the way down, and cut-off all the way up, the 3320 VCF does add a little bit of colour to the incoming signal, softening the edges and (dare I use a cliché) making it sound warmer.

Resonance seems to self-oscillate nicely from about 50% onwards and seems pretty easy to tune. There are also optional solder points on the PCB for a 1v/Oct input, so I’ve no doubt it could be quite a capable oscillator too.

All in all, a great addition to my modular synth and looking forward to trying out some other Guru Gara Synth modules in the future!