The Livity 12 has a much more organic sound to it, a contrast from the somewhat clinical or 'in the box' sound of his earlier work. Looking around his studio I see a digital sound recorder next to his mixing desk. Do field recordings feature a lot in your music now, I ask?
'No, I do like doing sound design, though. I’m always looking for new plugings. Some people say 'I like to limit my palette', but I like to get as many weird plugins as I can, and sound design stuff, and just sit down sometimes and make sounds rather than making a track.
I think that’s what I probably enjoy most, just making sounds and then running them through bits of hardware. That’s the best bit about hardware – just that hands on feel of manipulating the sound.'
'Over the years,' he continues, 'I've got more into over processing sounds rather than just taking them straight out of a sample pack. It’s very rare that I’ll do that now, it might just be a case of drastic Eking or gating or taking little snippets, but for the most part I think my samples are tailored to me.' With 'Too Much Time Has Passed' there’s a 909 hat in there and the kick is two 909 kicks pitched differently but its still quite tailored, that’s why it takes me so long to finish tracks I think.'
His passion for experimenting with sound is made clear and he becomes very animated as he explains his working process, opening a huge folder of recordings and feverishly flicking through them. 'I usually just record long passages of sound… This one is one and a half minutes long. This one is a synth sound that’s been filtered and vocoded, I just put some midi notes in and let it play for a bit, basically. Things like that, it might crop up in a tune at some point, it might not…
‘This is the sort of stuff where my drone work has sprung from, just doing these big long takes and messing around with granular synthesis.'
Looking in the corner of his studio I see a pile of what looks like discarded hardware, including a guitar amp. I had hazy recollections of him mentioning to me a while ago that he'd played a synth through a broken guitar amp as an experiment, and that the resulting sounds feature as percussion on 'Sister'…
'Yeah that’s right', he says, as he loads up another sound recording, 'This is the dry pad sound, and I ran it through that Marshall Amp over there in the corner.' He presses play and after a few piercing screeches of feedback, the playhead scrolls over the screen to reveal waveforms that look vaguely like drum or percussive sounds. Slowly, out of the feedback and phasing, the instantly recognisable 'plink' sound that is the signature of ‘Sister’ comes through the monitors, and it all becomes clear just how much depth his music has.
This is just one example of the sound design experiments permeating his tracks. There are many others, recordings so deeply buried or chopped that you could easily miss them on first listen. The attention to detail in these tracks is not far from the intricate micro house experiments that Villalobos pioneered.
'Another example would be this, he continues, opening another large folder of sound recordings. ‘There’s loads of stuff that I recorded, granular synthesis stuff, then I copied and pasted bits into this one sound file. You'll hear it, it's quite choppy…
Heavily textured sheets of white noise fill the studio. Gradually, they start to sound like valves releasing bursts of steam. 'None of this was edited in fruity loops, it was all edited in Sound Forge,' he continues. 'I reverse things and pitch things differently. This is the kind of thing I’m finding myself gravitating towards now.
'I’m still making Techno bits but I’ve found over the course of time that I've been making music that after a certain amount of time listening to the same kinds of music you get bored listening to the same old thing, I’m sure it's the same for a lot of people…But I don't know, some producers, like some Drum N Bass producers and certain Techno producers, they've been doing the same thing for 15 years, and it’s like, don't you get bored?
‘So yeah, I think that'll be the next prominent thing that I do…’
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