So back to my roots again, after vearing off in a different direction with my previous track (H19) I produced a Drum n Bass track again.

Once I had completed the sound design and general structure of the song, I had a real battle with mixing this track. I wanted the drums to sound clear, and the snare to be prominent in the mix, sharing its space with the distorted lead sound. To achieve this I really had to concentrate on the drum elements, applying EQ, amplitude envelopes, transient shapers and compression to both the Kick and Snare’s, followed by a Drum Bus containing further EQ, reverb & compression. I am still loving Cytomics ‘The Glue’ compressor for the majority of my buss compression duties,  this thing is so nice, has a good SSL vibe, glues thing’s together nicely and gives the sound a bit of gloss/sheen.

Brainworx BX-Limiter

Brainworx BX-Limiter

A new plugin I used on a lot of my tracks to shave off some pesky peaks is the Brainworx BX_limiter. I find this to be transparent if used in this way, and not too hungry on the CPU.

On a similar theme, I also found ‘KClip’ by Kazrog to be a real good clipper on the master buss, to bring the levels up a bit, prior to limiting. Yet again, like the BX_Limiter I find this tool to be transparent when used lightly, but you need to have it set to 16x oversampling which takes a bit of CPU resources up. It would be nice if this plugin had some form of meters on it, but hey, I suppose it forces me to use my ears!!

Anyway, enough of my babbling, onto the tune!!

My first tune to incorporate my modular synth!! And yes, it is House, not Drum & Bass. I fancied a bit of a change, and to be honest, the modular does lend itself to House & Techno styles, and I just found it great fun to do!!

For the synth heads out there (if not your thing, skip this bit), the modular sound (the bouncy sound at the beginning of the tune) is produced using 2 No. Tiptop Z3000’s Oscillators going through a Tiptop Z2040 Low Pass filter, which is heavily modulated via some LFO’s, synched via a 4MS QCD and Audio Damage Sequencer 1. This is then further processed within the DAW with a delay, another filter (cutoff tempo synched), a bit of distortion, compression, EQ & finally some soft clipping. The sound is duplicated onto another track, with different processing to provide the mid and low frequencies. This was a real pain to get right, as I wanted some depth a points, but also I did not want the sound to get too muddy.

Anyway, onto other aspects of the production!!

This track totally veered off from my original vision. I wanted the result to be much harder, but I played around with some chords, that ended up becoming the main arpeggiated lead, that I could not resist to use. This resulted in a much more laid back and chilled track. With this basis, I then used the same root note and chords for the violins.

I have used “Cytomic – The Glue” a fair bit on this tune, which has to be honest become my “go to” compressor. I just love the SSL sound, and I have got used to the way it works on the transients, and like how the attack & decay work. I have used “The Glue” on quite of few individual channels, from Violins to tame down some of the high frequencies, to the arpeggiated chords. I love this compressor on the 2-bus it’s just got this lovely “sheen” to it.

The mix down was a long drawn out process, but to be honest, there was some learning on the way that slowed things down, I’m sure a pro could have mixed this in a 10th of the time I have. I used a few new tools this time, mainly “KRK KNS-8400” Headphones that helped me shape the bottom end and Kick (Even with extensive treatment, I cannot trust my room 100%), and they also are a good second reference. I also used the Elysia Museq EQ. Wow, is all I can say about this plugin. It is so transparent, and you can really push some gain without it sounding harsh. I would not use it for clinical chopping, it’s not for that, but to just bring them violins out a bit, and to do wonders on the Master Buss it’s great.

Another new first, was using soft clipping techniques, to clip the transients on the snare and on the Master Buss (amongst others). This allowed me to bring the overall volume of the track up in a more transparent way, than say a compressor, prior to some final limiting.

Samplemagic AB was another great plug-in I have started to rely on, so that I can easily compare my track to commercial releases. I’m still working on getting them to sound as good as the commercial releases though ;-p

Anyway, now this tune is finished I can go back to my modular for further inspiration. Mmmm damn, that means more nights lost in the deep deep hole of the modular world 🙂

I have been busy lately delving into that deep dark place called modular synthesis.

I must admit I was apprehensive at first, as all that I seemed to find on youtube was guys making, ummm, well, bleeps and bleeps and more bleeps. It was a revelation to find some  videos with people using modulars for techno and electro house, including Deadmau5. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to make bleeps and drones, that’s fine, everyone to themselves, but this was not the direction I wanted to go in.

It took a lot of research, but finally I have built a system, that at first seems like a standard synth. But with the addition of a Make Noise Rene sequencer, some Ginksythesis LFO’s and the awesome expert sleepers ES-3 module, I have been able to work in a different way and produce different sounds and melodies than I normal would.

The modular synth

The modular synth

The ES-3 module together with the TipTop Z3000 VCA’s allow me to keep to musical scales and synch everything up perfectly with my DAW. I have more modules planned, including a wave shaper to give me more sonic possibilities.

I have got to say, that even though I cannot save presets, something that worried me when I first thought about getting into modulars, it is more than compensated for, with the programming and sound shaping possibilities. Another thing to mention is that the modular synth community is full of really helpful & friendly people, with the forums having less trolls than other ones I have visited in the past.

So what am I going to do with this? I really fancy trying out some electro house style music, giving me a break from the DnB, so stay tuned!!!


This project seemed to be never ending, but finally I have published my latest tune “Born amongst the Darkness”.

It is not for the light hearted, with fast heavy beats and distorted twisted neurofunk lines. It took some time to process the twisted sounds, but I think it was worth it.

One day I may post up the samples I used to make the evil sounding voices, as the original samples sound totally different.

So, its all been a bit quiet here lately on my blog. This has been due to a couple of things, mainly changing jobs and also the photography course I have been doing for the last 6 months (still got more ahead of me).

I have though put my new photography & photoshop skills to good use and made a Destination B image for my music.

My latest tune is basically finished, so just need to get around to sorting out the final mix. So I hope the wait has been worth it, in the meantime here is my Destination B image. Do you like it?? If so leave a comment 🙂


Due to the complex nature of the bass lines I write,  I often use soft synths such as Native Instruments Massive. The soft synth realm allows you to modulate and twist up sounds to your hearts content, with DAW’s such as Ableton Live providing ultra flexibility. So I surprised myself, just over a year ago when I bought my first hardware synth, the Moog Slim Phatty.

I was in my local synth store (Production Room, Leeds) and one of the guys said “Hey Keith, check this out, you will love it”, and there it was, a Moog Slim Phatty. I must admit at first I was thinking “Are these guys nuts, it’s a Moog, it’s just for prog rock guys, have you forgot that I do dnb?”. Once I played it though, and the speaker cones started shaking, I was like “Wow I need one of these!!!”.

So now back to the current time line, I want to share with you my experience with this synth for Modern Electronic Dance Music production.  Read the rest of this entry »

In most forms of modern music compression is of great importance, especially dance music, where it is often used as an effect in addition to being used for traditional compression.

In the past, I have tried out compressor plug-ins, but had never got the “wow” factor, certainly not enough “wow” to make me spend $99. But this has changed with, Cytomic The Glue. I had one of them rare moments, when suddenly your productions improve through the introduction of a new toy.

A quick introCytomic The Glue

The Glue is based on the SSL Bus Compressor, so the first thing you will want to know is, does it sound like a real one? Well I have to admit, I have not got a clue, as I don’t own a hardware SSL Bus Compressor, but I can say that it does impart some very pleasing warmth to your productions and has a magic ability to balance things out nicely, but more on that later.

As it is based on Hardware, the user interface is laid out in a nice easy to understand classic design. This also means that unlike with some modern software compressors, you are a bit more limited with your settings, for example set release times. But I found this not to be a problem, as the  settings seem to have nice sweet spots. (I’m sure this is the same with the hardware). I also found the display showing the gain reduction to be nice and clear.

In Use  Read the rest of this entry »

At last, after a nice break in Dusseldorf I am back in the UK & back on track for my next tune.

The track is heading down the Neurofunk/Darkstep sub-genre of Drum & Bass, and is definatley going to be on the darker side of things. I am currently developing some patches in the Native Instruments Massive Synth and collecting some samples, both vocal snippets & dark textures.

As mentioned, Native Instruments Massive is going to provide the basis of the twisted sounds, that will be then bounced down into Audio and further processed. But, as I also love the analog sound, I may try to include into the tune some sounds from either my Moog Slim Phatty or the amazing soft synth U-he Diva.

Talking about the Diva synth, I downloaded this a couple of weeks ago & I have got to say that it eats up your CPU, but it is worth it for the sound. This is the first soft synth that I have heard that sounds like real analog to me. I have put similar settings into my Moog as the Diva, and it is hard to tell the difference, as Diva does sound very analog. U-he does seem to have got the algorythms right on Diva, you really get the analog drifting effect. After I have spent plenty of time with Diva I will write a thorough review on it. The full review may be some time yet though, as I will only review something once I have used it for a good length of time, which means in the future there will also be reviews on Focal Solo Studio Monitors (I’m loving them), Cytomic The Glue Compressor and my Moog Slim Phatty.


My creative juices now seem to be flowing again, although I am still locked into sound design mode. I suppose though this is one of the great things about Electronic Music, if you are stuck in a rut in production, then move to sound design, to keep things fresh, never a boring moment.

Talking about boring moments, I have been trying to write some dubstep beats, but so far am just not enjoying writing them. I fancied doing some dubstep hoping that it will allow me greater creative freedom, not with the beats, but with the rest of the composition. But I am missing than DnB feel of the beats, I am sure I will get around to doing a pure dubstep tune at some point, but for now, the time is just not right (that may change tomorrow though, lol).

I went to the peace in the park festival at Sheffield over the weekend (a great free festival for charity ) , which was great, and it certainly gave me a bit of a kick to want to play music in a live scenario, so I had better buckle up and get writing some tunes!!!

So if you are a producer, do you flirt between sound design & song arrangement mode?

Since my last tune Frozen, I have had a creative block, so instead of making music, I have been spending my time messing around setting up my new pair of speakers.

After listening to some tunes in the car, I decided perhaps I should play around with some Dubstep for a change, so started making some beats. But things were still not flowing, so I changed tactic, back to Sound Design.

Over the last week I have been trying out different ideas on sound design ranging from Trance Chords to Screaming Dubstep leads, in fact describing the patch as “screaming” does not do it justice, it is better described as downright filthy!!

I was thinking, this time it will be different, I fancy a change, lets do some Dubstep, but semi chilled (for me that is) with some Trance, but it seems that this lead patch may be taking control and leading me down the dirty path again (I just cant stop myself).

So what music food shall I serve you up, a Happy Meal or Mc Filthy??? Or are you greedy and want a serving of both??