ASSESSMENT TASK 1 – FLUME

MODULE GUIDE DETAILS:

1st production “free of stylistic constraints”, original OR cover:

Based on your research into how production styles have developed over time in response to technology and in response to aesthetic goals – produce an exploratory recording of 3 – 6 minutes, which  investigates, experiments with and is influenced by a range of recording and production scenarios that you’ve discovered.

It’s important that you’re not constrained by any particular style, so think of this more as a stimulating exercise in preparation for the very specific production emulation requirement of assessment 2.

 

The recording may be in any genre and the combination of instruments and/or voices recorded is entirely up to you.

As a suggestion you might include:

drums, bass, guitar/piano, voice

woodwind, brass, strings, percussion, synths

TREATMENT / BOUNCE:

use anything that you feel compliments your recordings in producing the best possible sounding outcome

limit to below 0 dB – typically -0.2 / -0.3 or -1 dB if you’re paying attention to the ‘Mastered for iTunes‘ recommendations

Produce a 24 bit wav (to be supplied on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM)

 

FLUME COMPRESSION TECHNIQUE:

Flume is one of my favourite artists, blending electronic sounds with more organic tones. He’s known for using an exaggerated heavy side-chain compression technique, which I would like to emulate in my first task. A good example would be in Flume’s remix of You & Me by Disclosure.

Or his original, Take a Chance Ft. Little Dragon.

Flume’s overall aesthetic within his tracks mostly includes huge wave poly synths, with sweeping chord patterns carrying the track forward. They normally follow the drop, and Flume is also known for manipulating stereo silence to add more depth to the track. The following (Collarbones – Turning (Flume Remix)) is a great example of both of these.

Further analysis of the tracks indicates that the Compression is triggered by the kick, with samples chosen specifically for their fat and boomy texture – allowing for a longer release.

RESEARCH SURROUNDING FLUME’S SIDE-CHAIN COMPRESSION:

I looked around YouTube first for some videos highlighting Flume’s production Techniques. I remember hearing on a radio interview that he only uses one compressor which is side-chained to his kick, as he believes that “less is more” in most cases. Normally I’d use a range of different compressors on my pads and synths, but the first piece of evidence I found for his standard DAW setup was in Ableton. (1:50 shows the session view displaying the ‘master’ kick track at the top which is set up already to sidechain an auxiliary with the rest of the synths being fed through.)

I used the following interview to try and get a production perspective on how Flume achieves his aesthetic in his tracks.

[3:30] – In this video, Howard talks about getting ahold of independent plugins from small coders/devs. After rooting around I managed to find the ‘russian woodchopper guy’s’ website and the arpeggiators and various VSTs he had developed. I downloaded a couple that worked inside AudioMulch, but I couldn’t get them to run on OSX so that was out of the question. An interesting find nonetheless. Mark Francombe is the software developer for these open access synths: http://www.markfrancombe.com/wordpress/vst-plugins/

A direct quote from ProducerDJ mag confirms Flume’s single compression technique –

“I use Sylenth, one compressor, Ableton Live and its basic effects. I like to keep it super simple. It’s actually pretty boring but it works for me and it keeps me making music.” Gates, I. (2014). FLUME: WHY YOU DON’T NEED GEAR [online] Available at: https://producerdj.com/2014/06/flume-dont-need-gear-via-musicradar/ [Accessed December 1st 2016]

REPLICATING THE TECHNIQUE:

The first step was to create a drum line which would be split into various parts. The kick, which would be the solid foundation for the compression technique would have its own UltraBeat line, and the snare would have another. The hihats and rolls with FX would have their own separate track. Setting separate tracks for the different drumline components would make it easier for centring the sidechain signal around the kick, rather than having the compressor triggered by other low frequencies.

Though it looks confusing, the kick is literally the only thing being sent into the bus for the compressor auxiliary channel:

screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-16-29-56

Here you can see the two main wavetable synths being sent into another bus:

screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-16-32-34

The two synths end up in the auxiliary channel as a combined signal. I put my single compressor on this channel, and set the receive trigger as bus 1 (the send for the kick signal). After experimenting I realised that the effect was closer to the original when increasing the threshold and the ratio by a large margin, after all Flume’s compression technique is very prominent. Note the long release – this makes the ‘crushing’ aesthetic a lot more prominent too.

Screen Shot 2016-12-11 at 16.35.13.png

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