New approaches, new perspectives

If you’ve read previous blog posts, you’ll know I’m fairly minimal in terms of my ‘studio’.  And that suits me very well, I’m more than adequately equipped to make the sort of music I want to make.
But sometimes, it’s good to take a new perspective on your ways of working.
I recently saw an opportunity from Dr Existenz (@13lfo on twitter) to create a song purely by improvising to be included on his I Improvised 2 album (#II2). The idea was that this was meant to be all about the performance, no post production or processing allowed.
As usual I was late to the party but there was still time, or so I thought. I principally use Caustic for all my creation and production and whilst it is brilliant, it’s not really geared up for live recording. So I thought I’d give Ableton live lite 8 a proper go. I’ve not really used it for song creation before and quickly found the 4 vst limit crippling.
However, the overall experience was very liberating. I’ve not recorded like that since the days when I owned a 4 track tape recorder and it was great to be able to be spontaneous and improvise instead of creating a song from patterns. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I really enjoy that too. But it shows that a change of approach can be a great way to try new ideas and open up loads of new sounds and possibilities. And it also highlighted two issues:
1- I need to practice a lot, and I mean a lot more to do it justice
2 – my studio needs an upgrade
Both of these present some significant challenges. The practicing is quite tricky because I have a M-Audio Oxygen 25 keyboard chosen for sequencing rather than playing and secondly I realised that I need a fully fledged DAW for this sort of recording. My first thought was this is going to be expensive and I can’t afford the full version of Ableton or any other similar product come to think of it. But then I remembered about Reaper.
Reaper is a fully fledged DAW but much, much cheaper than alternative versions costing 60 euros for a licence (other licenses are available but I think this would be the appropriate licence for most people in this situation). It’s very early days but so far I’ve had it up and running without reading the instructions which is always a good sign. I do need to sort out the recording inputs, although it plays the vst perfectly ok, when recording it seems to use the onboard mic and not just the vst. Hopefully this is very straightforward to resolve.
So it’s still very early days but showing a lot of promise. It means I can record performances and improvisations using all the same vsts I already use and in keeping with my minimal approach means it doesn’t cost a fortune.
It’s also lead to me looking at other ways of creating sounds for performances.  Apps like saucillator, Yellofier and virtual ANS open up new and interesting sound creation and manipulation opportunities.
It also means hardware options are more viable, a Kaossillator looks very tempting right now…
You can check out Dr Existenz on twitter and also his blog
Incidentally, the I Improvised 2 album was launched on Tracey’s EOP show on mixcloud
It is also available for free download from Bandcamp