“It must be a Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.” -Arthur Dent, in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy
If you’re having any issue getting through your Thursday, it’s tough to beat some proper, good techno – the kind of techno anyone can love, even if they keep shouting about how they “hate” it.
Techno pioneer Carl Craig is still going strong, the kind of artist whose work seems to flow freely. He’s got the roots, having begun with Derrick May in Detroit, but he’s remained a font of new work and invention since, mixing his work with live and jazz music and even endeavoring to introduce young people to new music through a self-started not-for-profit. (Check the cat’s bio.) If you haven’t checked in with him lately, he’s touring … well, nearly everywhere, and is keeping the new sounds going through his Planet E label. Planet E turned ten earlier this year, accompanied by new a full-length and remix EPs, but here’s a quick test of what’s coming out of this label via SoundCloud.
I have Carl on the brain partly because I’ve learned King Britt (Saturn Never Sleeps) has new music with him. I owe King and SNS’ Rucyl Mills a good weekend hiding out during Tropical Storm Irene, where I got in to see King’s workflow – mixing MIDI with CV triggers, Mono/Poly with Maschine, analog sequencing with Ableton Live. (We maintained power through the storm. Can I please evacuate to a chilled-out studio session more often? I’m a very, very blessed person, and believe me, I’m grateful for those gifts, those moments.)
The resulting sound represents the best, most organic feel of the different generations we’ve seen of this music. Whereas once production was laborious, we now get to cherry-pick the most comfy tools, the looseness of live playing and analog gear twiddling and sequencing with the speed of a Maschine or Ableton setup on a laptop. And it comes out, with tracks that are improvisatory, relaxed, and naturally grooving. I think you can hear it in Carl’s new stuff, and I know I can hear it in King’s, having listened in and jammed as some things were made.
Remember handing burned CDs to DJs? In this case, Carl got hold of King’s tracks and King of Carl via email and Twitter.
For a glimpse, see the informal video. (I shot some video of King, too, but want to wait to get his and Rucyl’s word on their collaboration. Oh, and I need to, like, upload it. I’ll just ask my extensive video production department to– doh!)
Give King’s upcoming tracks on Planet E a listen.
Here’s a look inside the session (and yes, that is a KORG vocoder):
King’s been doing this a long while, and his craft I feel is razor sharp, which lets him keep those tracks feel as loose as they do. He talks about how he tunes tracks in the mastering process on the Universal Audio blog. He definitely lets his UA fan side show, but he also gets loads of mileage out of some specific UA plugs – and the basic techniques here you can easily apply to any mastering plug-ins you like. (Readers recently brought up the excellent and underrated Samplitude, which is also a good choice with its integrated mastering tools.)
Give King talking UA and mastering workflow a read:
King Britt on Mixing “Bit by Bit,” by Saturn Never Sleeps [Universal Audio Producers' Corner]
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