Category Archives: Music

Adam Buxton – Ramble Chat (ScarKord Remix)

New remix of Adam Buxton’s Ramble Chat jingle. The only rules were that you had to use at least two of the original audio files and it had to be 1 minute or less long. Was quite surprised at how much multi-tracking was going on with the vocals so I thought it was only fair to use most of them.

https://metapop.com/scarkord/tracks/ramble-chat-scarkord-remix/172320

Acid Man (ScarKord Remix)

Happy New Year! Reflecting on the strange year that was 2020, the additional time spent at home was actually very productive for me. Certainly, I’m intending to keep the momentum going so thought I’d have a trawl through my archives to see if there were any hidden gems to share for my first post of 2021.

Here’s a previously unreleased remix of the seminal Acid House classic, ‘Acid Man’ by Jolly Roger, which I created back in 2003.

It starts with a slight Detroit influenced intro before going full-on tribal acid. All I know is that it had me bouncing in my chair this morning, which can’t be bad for something tucked away on a hard drive for 17 years!

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.

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!

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.

Out From The Cold

Day three of Ableton‘s #loopathome and it was a strange one. The challenge this time was to follow a list of instructions and see what the end result would be.

Following instructions

The first line of instructions read… “Go to the kitchen and listen to the sound of the refrigerator…”. I really wasn’t sure what to expect after that start, but I thought I’d go with it.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

Unfortunately, our fridge is really quiet so I had to resort to the freezer instead. After struggling to try and synthesise it’s noise, I decided to do an impersonation of the humming sound which turned out to be a stroke of luck as it also provided the source material for the melody lines too.

Where is this going?

By the time I got to step three of the instructions, I was contemplating giving up as I just couldn’t see how a piece of music would emerge from this. But I decided to stick with it and duly followed instructions by sampling the sound of a can of beer, a glass and some of my recently delivered graze snacks. (Or at least, that’s how I interpreted it)

Suitably refreshed, I set about editing the raw sounds and came up with some great ring-pull percussion, fizzy hi hats and a lovely bell like sound from the beer glass handle. Slamming the (empty) glass on the desk gave me the kick drum.

Once I had a basic beat laid down, it was time to add some melody lines. Taking the humming sound as my starting point, I managed to coax some beautiful glassy noises from my voice.

For the interweaving melodies, the technique I used here was to play the same note progression three times, but each time an octave higher and at an increasing tempo.

Even if I do say so myself, I was really happy with the finished track and it gave me goosebumps the first time I played it through.

So, here is ‘Out from the cold’.

What a great weekend of experimentation! And I might even have beaten the writers block I’ve been (silently) suffering with for the last couple of years. Thanks Ableton!

Radio Poland Calling

Day Two of Ableton‘s #loopathome and for today’s challenge I’ve been limited to only using sounds from the Polish Radio Experimental Studio Archive, or PRES for short.

PRES were similar in many way’s to the UK’s Radiophonics Workshop, and the sound pack Ableton supplied was a treasure trove of weird and wonderful noises.

As a new piece of music started to emerge from my experimentation, it became clear that things were moving in a dark, down-tempo direction. Perhaps most surprisingly, even with the constraints around the source material, the end result is still very much a ScarKord sounding track.

I wonder what tomorrow’s challenge will bring?

Gizmophone

Today was day one of Ableton‘s #LoopAtHome and they set a challenge to build and record your own ‘Gizmophone’ instrument. Unfortunately, I had urgent gardening to attend to (?) so only managed to hack something together at the last minute, using whatever scrap items I could find. This included an offcut of windowsill, a metal Ikea leg and some old wire I found at the end of the garden. And this is the result…

I did manage to include a Piezo condenser mic too, but it had terrible background hum, so only really worked for short percussive noises which I combined into an Ableton drum kit. I also dialled in a smattering of the Corpus effect to make the sounds ring a little more, but only at 5.5% wet.

Some sounds were actually Ok!

The revelation though was the metal Ikea leg. When tapped with a spanner, it made a high pitched bell tone that was (almost) in tune. I created a patch using Ableton’s sampler instrument, sorted out the tuning then duplicated it with slightly different filter settings before panning each version slightly left and right.

Another technique that worked really well was swirling and scraping the spanner inside the wire springs, which created a lovely rhythmic texture which I layered behind the main percussion sounds. Lots of editing of warp markers in that one, as well as some Beat Repeat to add variation, but really pleased with the end result.

I created a quick demo of my ‘instrument’ so you can hear what it sounds like. Some additional kick, snare and synth bass was added to fill the sound out.

And if you fancy having a look ‘under the bonnet’, I’ve even zipped up the Ableton project folder too!

Gizmophone Project

It only uses stock Ableton plugins, so should work fine (have tested on my Microsoft surface and iMac) – Ozone Elements is on the master channel, but you can just ignore that if you don’t have it installed yourself.