MUSIC, AMBIENCE AND SOUND ART > Music Gearheads Tech Talk

I am trying to imagine...

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Ekstasis:
Right now when I listen to Steve Roach's masterpiece album "Labyrinth" I really try to imagine what these soundworlds what sounds like WITHOUT the all the effects and reverbs etc, I am simply interested to know what the sourcesounds sounds like...75% of the sound is the expression of effects especially reverbs..I know he use kind of old analogue equipment that I imagine sounds very bad or nothing similar without heavy use of digital effects such as a good amount of reverb...

I want to know how it sounds like under the surface... Mainly I want to know this to improve my own ability to create soundworlds in future...

Also does anyone have a list of the instruments and tools he use to create music ? Reverbs ? Effect Processors ? Ooscillators ? Pitch shifters ?
And have there been any interviews that more in depth describe the process of how he makes music.
I am interested to learn anything, to me Steve Roach soundworlds are SUPERIOR to anything else in the ambient music genre.

Altus:
You bring up the exact same thoughts I've had.  And after doing much testing on my own, I discovered you can take the cheesiest sounding synth and make it sound awesome with effects (for me, that almost always reverb with little to no dry signal going through).  There's obvious tweaking required, especially in the EQ department, but I'm sure you'll agree a good reverb will take you a long way in helping create the soundworlds you're looking for.

I'd also love to hear a "dry" Steve Roach to hear what's going on before the effects.  ;D

Ekstasis:
Yes for sure, you are right. The synths on their own sounds probably very bad, he don't use sample based synths he use waveforms through many ooscillators, LFOS, and and many more modulation layers. It would indeed be interesting to see the whole chain he use to create his soundworlds, I am sure his chain is very long and complex.

Would be fantastic to see how the whole chain evolve step by step, and how the sound does develop...through each step of the chain..that would indeed bring much understanding how he creates the sound...

But as I understand it, he morph the sounds mostly in real-time, besides the mixing process...I also know he really likes to use a traditional mixer board a lot, I think he uses about 20+ layers or so, that is another key to his sound as I understand that, the tremendous amount of layers.

Some more info I found with an dicussion with Loren Nerell.



--- Quote ---I really appreciate you taking a moment to try and answer some questions. I've been working on getting that Timeroom vibe in some of my recordings. I'm getting closer, but I've still got a lot to learn. I know some of the questions about workflow and stuff are just personal preferences and may not apply to me, but I'm still curious how you guys do it.

1) What is your personal workflow like when laying down tracks? Do you spend much time trying to decide which percussion and synth sounds to use before you start or do you just dive in and start layering things kind of freeform and tweaking it later? Is it different when you collaborate with Steve Roach? Does he have a different approach with different artists he works with? Is his personal workflow much different than yours?

We work quite differently, Steve tends to record things in groups, with effects. I tend to record things seperate and dry, then add effects later. Both ways of working are fine its really up to you how you like to work. As far as what to start with, its the idea that drives that at least for me. Sounds can also send you off into new directions. Tweaking, layering, freeform all can play a part. When we work together its usually in his studio so we work his way, I'm not sure how much he differs with different artists, I know some of the work he did with Vidna Obmana that they worked almost live at times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plaid_emu
2) In the two Timeroom photos I've noticed a few things. I saw an Akai MPC and of course a computer. Also a nice old Soundcraft desk in there. Do you guys do most of the MIDI sequencing with hardware or software? Do you record into the computer and mix inside software or do you run the final mix through the console in real time??

First a word of advice about Steve's gear, its in a constant flux. As I said in that thread he's changed quite a bit of gear since I took that picture including that old Soundcraft. He's always trying new things so its never the same whenever I visit.

Again we work differently. In my studio I use a Mac computer running Logic and that is my central work station, I don't even use a mixer anymore as I have a sound card wit about 40 inputs so my computer is my mixer now. Midi and audio all work from one system. Steve treats midi and audio seperate. Midi does its own thing and then he records the audio from his midi instruments into his PC as audio tracks. He then sends things out of his PC back out to the board where he can process stuff and then record it back in the computer. When we mixed Terraform we did it in the box, we tried an out of the box mix but we didn't like it as much. Steve really likes to have a mixer, he's very hands on. When he came to my studio a couple years ago he felt very lost. He told me just last week it was like walking into a bathroom with no toiletpaper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plaid_emu3)
I noticed a rack full of Eventide and Lexicon stuff. I just recently purchased an Eclipse as my main effects source in my small studio because of it's high quality and versatility for the price. I know in the Liner notes of David Hudson's "Woolunda" Steve mentions his affinity for the Lexicon PCM-70 for creating the "soundspace". Does he mainly use the Lexicons for reverb and the Eventide for pitch shifting etc.? The reverbs on the Eclipse sound great, but I'm afraid I might also have to buy a PCM-91 or 96 to really nail that unbelievable spatial ambience sound. Any merit to this line of thought?

For years now Steve has been a Lexicon user for reverbs, he has lots of different models from them. But recently he's also started using Eventides quite a bit as well. In truth he's always trying out different things its just the Lexicon stuff is his main verbs. For what its worth I have reverbs by Roland, Sony, and TC Electronics in my studio and they've always played a part in my sound and sometimes make a guest appearance on the work I do with Steve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plaid_emu
1)Now I have just a couple suggestions maybe you could pass along to him.

I know Steve offers workshops, which tragically I can't attend. I can't really afford to travel cross country or get that kind of time off from my employer. I would love it if he offered some kind of alternative for those who can't make it. Videos or online tutorials or something like that would be awesome. Hell, I'd even pay just to watch him dick around the studio with no narration or anything.

You guys desperately need to collaborate with cEvin Key and his crew at Subconscious Studios. s u b c o n s c i o u s s t u d i o s Any work that came from those sessions would be destined for greatness. Talk about the recordings of the century! I can only imagine.

I will pass that on but the thing with the workshops is he can tailor them around what you need, he can see how you work and show you how to get around any problems you have. Videos or online tutorials have to be very general so you miss that hands on experience which is what he's really selling and is his strong point.

A collaborate with cEvin Key would be interesting. I'm not sure how aware the two are of each other though. I'll send Steve a link to cEvin's website and see what he says.
--- End quote ---

jkn:
Way too many thoughts on this running through my head to type on my blackberry... but a couple of quick thoughts:

Definitely notice Loren's comments that Steve is shifting gear fairly frequently - there's no one way.   I think this is true with all (or at least almost all) artists.  Explore!  Try things out on your own.  Do things the "wrong" way from time to time.

Reverb reverb reverb...  That can be the amazing thing that makes a sound (or soundworld) come to life - or bury it in the murk.   It's all about experimenting and learning and growing.  I don't know Steve personally - but I know he's tried creating his music from many different paths - from synths to modular synths to ethnic instruments to guitar, etc...

Great discussion!

Seren:
The use of effects and sound manipulation is an art in itself, and to paraphrase JKN it can create an amazing and interesting pallette or a washed out brown of sound.

As to what the album would be like without the effects i can only say if its anything like some of mine you'd be listening to all sorts of things including wine glasses, CDs being broken, my own singing, pipes being blown, card being ripped etc etc with some gaps between later filled with reverb and effects..........as in I use these things,not Steve.....

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