Earlier this month, synth sound design extraordinaire Ian Boddy kicked off the new Analogue Workshop series of sample packs under his Waveforms label with the release of Distortion & Feedback. This pack is crammed with 300 samples covering everything from earth shattering drones, twisted pads, piercing modulations, weird transmissions and more.
We caught up with Ian to find out more about the new series, which pieces of his enviable collection of hardware he used, and how this new library fits in to different musical projects…
Hi Ian, first up, what prompted you to create the new Analogue Workshop series?
Well first and foremost it had been a while since my last sample library Beatalogue which was released in early 2010. I had been busy with other sound design work such as my Analogica sound pack for Camel Audio’s Alchemy and some work on Rob Papen’s Punch but I thought it was about time I created a new library of my own.
Secondly there’s so many new products coming out that I wanted time to think and create something that had it’s own personality and hopefully a unique approach to sound design. I had been steadily increasing my modular analogue system with the purchase of some lovely Serge panels which allowed me to work with feedback loops far easier than with my other equipment. These modular synths use banana plugs for patching which make it easy to stack multiple cables from one source to another or to loop back around to create really crazy feedback patches. I worked on ways of harnessing this “out of control” sound into useable samples that could be incorporated into a sample library.
Once I started focusing on this particular aspect of analogue synthesis I realised that this could be turned into a series of releases with each one concentrating on a certain aspect of the sound palette available from a modular system.
The first volume features samples created using some form of distortion, feedback and general ill treatment, what types of musical projects do you see these sounds fitting into best?
Well to quote from the promo video I created for this release “they’re not for the feint hearted”. Whilst this is slightly tongue in cheek it certainly says something about the character of the sounds. They’re not intended to be polite or necessarily easy on the ear. Having said that there are some very subtle, haunting and eerie patches especially from the feedback patch I demonstrated in the video from the VCS3.
So I can certainly see these sounds being used for cinematic and ambient soundscapes. Many of them can add a real sense of weight and drama to proceedings and some of the one shot & percussive sounds can create a real impact at a key point in such a composition. There’s lots of attitude and personality to the sounds that can kick start an idea from the atmosphere they create.
Many of the 150 one shot samples could be used to augment drum kits where the user is looking for a couple of extra voices to liven things up a bit. There are some sounds that can be used as kicks, snares or hats but by and large they’re not your regular drum sounds.
I wouldn’t necessarily restrict it to these uses though. Styles such as industrial or indeed any electronic genre could benefit from these patches and it’s always interesting to see what uses composers & musicians put my sounds too. Expect the unexpected.
What hardware was central to the production of this library and why?
Well fundamentally everything you hear was produced from either analogue modular systems or vintage synths. The latter included instruments such as my venerable old VCS3 and the Minimoog (as well as it’s modern day cousin the Voyager). The former was a collection of vintage systems such as the Roland System 100-M, modern day modules from the likes of Doepfer, Analogue Systems, Make Noise, Metasonix etc and finally what has rapidly become the centre piece of my set up a 5 panel Serge synthesiser. The last of these, the Serge, is probably not so familiar to many people as the more “traditional” subtractive so called East Coast synths of Moog, ARP & Oberheim. Rather it has a heritage from the West Coast (USA) and followed in the more experimental footsteps of the early Buchla synths. It has a more atomic approach in many of it’s modules in that they can often be multi-fucntional depending on how they are patched up. As mentioned previously they also use banana cables for connecting the modules which can lead to all sorts of strangely interactive patches that seem to live and breath all by themselves.
As I was marketing this library under the Analogue Workshop series I was very strict in restricting myself purely to these analogue synths and recording the signal as cleanly as I could through a TLA Ebony A2 front end into the MAC. No digital post production was applied to the sounds as I wanted to keep the analogue character of the sounds as much as possible.
Unlike your other Waveforms releases, this new series includes a custom designed Kontakt interface allowing users to experiment with the sounds and create their own patches. Can you give us more details about this aspect of the library?
Native Instruments Kontakt has continued to evolve since my initial Waveforms libraries and I thought it’s scripting capabilities could now offer me the opportunity of presenting the samples in a way that could lead users to experimenting in an intuitive and almost analogue way with the patches. I commissioned a very talented programmer Mario Krušelj to do the front end scripting for me based on my own design. Thus we have familiar controls such as a multi mode filter and envelopes as well as a multi waveform LFO and various other modulation sources.
I was keen to keep all the interface controls on one panel as even though Kontakt allows for multiple panes to be programmed I felt this could often complicate things unnecessarily. Thus the effects chain is to the right of the synth controls and I chose carefully amongst Kontakt’s many effects devices to include those that added and supported the analogue character of the original samples. This is especially the case with the last effect in the chain, the convolution reverb, which has a series of specially recorded impulse responses from some of my equipment and includes things such as spring reverbs and bucket brigade delays. These add some real retro analogue character to the sounds if needed. I didn’t see the point on such a product to include the more standard fair of room, hall & plate reverb as most folk have plenty of these available if they so desire in their own DAW.
There is also the option for purists to access the original samples through the folder of raw patches where all the synth and effects devices in the GUI are bypassed.
What are your personal favourite sounds from the library and why?
Now this is a tricky question as it all depends on what mood I might be in or what type of music I might be working on.
In no particular order then here are some of my favourites…
Feedback folder: this has some lovely eerie patches courtesy of the VCS3. If I had to pick one it would be Eerie Singing 02 Low Ambience. It has such a haunting quality and reminds me of some of the soundtrack by Popul Vuh of the wonderful Werner Herzog film Nosferatu.
Drones folder: Heavy Weather. This is essentially a pad and as such is tuned to be played harmonically. It is using the Serge to create all this detail in the patch using it’s Wave Multipliers that constantly seem to evolve and shimmer.
Machines: Death March 01 Tight. This one just makes me smile as it’s just mental. There’s a heck of a lot of saturation and overdrive in the sound but with a lovely warmth from the Metasonix vacuum tube modules I have.
Modulations: Shifting Sweeps. A beautiful shimmering ambient backdrop that drips with atmosphere and with some gorgeous stereo imaging courtesy of the Cwejman SPH-2 Spatial Phaser.
Transmissions: Baud Rate RS&H. This is one of those one off sounds that you can sometimes get with patching an analogue modular synth. I’ve really got no idea how I got it and I’ll probably never be able to reproduce it. Bizarrely it almost sounds digital in a reduced bandwidth sort of way.
Each title in this series is designed to focus on one aspect of analogue sound design possible on modular and vintage synthesisers. What can we expect from future releases in the series?
It’s early days on the sonic drawing board but I keep looking at my various ring modulators and strange time delay effects such as bucket brigade delays so let’s see what I can cook up in the months ahead.