We’ve heard the new Fhloston Paradigm; here’s an up-close look at the studio setup on which it was made.

Making music can be about collecting the best, not just the newest, finding what’s inspiring to build your own tradition. Perhaps that’s why so many artists increasingly turn to vintage analog gear not just because they idolize the sound, but because it opens up working techniques that move their music forward. After all, digital emulations get better by the day at copying sounds, but it may be less a matter of old and new and more unlocking some personal creativity. In hybrid setups, each different, everything from a flea market find to a custom software patch can take on new meaning.

Two weeks ago, we heard veteran sound designer/producer/journalist Francis Prève talk about how he integrates analog gear with Ableton Live. Now, here’s King Britt showing us the rig he used to produce the sounds for his Fhloston Paradigm EP, released yesterday on Hyperdub to great acclaim.

The gear, in case you aren’t quick enough in the video, includes some very-classic vintage equipment:

(Roland) BOSS “Doctor Rhythm” DR-110 (1983)
Korg MS-20 (1978)
Korg Mono/Poly (1981)
Roland JX-3P (with Roland PG-200 programmer, 1983)

I don’t want to drive up their eBay value any higher, but it is worth noting that even these legendary synths are available for less than a modern digital flagship; some of their lesser-known counterparts are far more affordable. And they sound utterly terrific. There’s also some new equipment – one digital box from Pioneer, the rest analog from Moog Music:

Pioneer EFX-1000
Moog Music Moogerfooger MF-101 Lowpass Filter
Moog Music Moogerfooger MF-105M MIDI MuRF
Moog Music Moogerfooger MF-102 Ring Modulator

It’s a great compliment to the Moogerfooger that you’d feed even the superb sound of an MS-20 into it and be that much happier. (Side note: it’s my admiration for the EFX-1000, the one digital effect in this signal chain, that makes me enthusiastic about the new RMX-1000 from Pioneer. Non-DJ producers may not give Pioneer any love, but the company really does effects nicely.)

All of this gets piped into Ableton Live. In this video, it’s just acting as a multitrack recorder, but I know King works extensively with Live in editing, alongside effects like the Universal Audio line.

There’s something inspiring about the personality of this setup that goes well beyond just analog or digital, old or new, especially when in the hands of someone with the musical instincts King has. I should know – I spent some quality time fiddling with the rig as I waited out a hurricane/tropical storm warning in King’s Philadelphia studio in the fall. If you don’t have this particular gear, you can achieve some of the same effects, just by multitracking in audio, connecting sequencers, and avoiding too much synchronization and control, letting your instincts drive some of your music making. Heck, you can even do it in software by assigning extra external control and turning off some of the sync on effects and the like. (Let go … use the force and all that.)

And here’s what it all sounds like:

Listen to more from King and read our review of his latest:
Analog Frontiers: Listen to King Britt’s New Fhloston Paradigm EP [CDM Track Stream, FACT Mix]

And keep on creating … music.

Hyperdub release page

  • SkyRon

    Big Love to all things analog!

    But, hey, we live in the gul-darn-digital age (try Googling that phrase, then use it to write a post-Flarf poem!) – – perhaps we all need to go back to 1983 and chill out for awhile! 

    Not such a big deal, really, if one accesses one’s imagination (if born before, like, the early 1960’s). If one is of more contemporary vintage, one must dive into some 80’s-era literature (Less than Zero, White Noise, Bright Lights/Big City, Story of My Life–yes, a proclivity toward Mr. McInerney–and perhaps more recent works that still evoke that age, such as DFW’s ‘Infinite Jest’)–and then proceed, with a lovely convergence of one’s verbal and sonic sensibilities. Remember to always ‘Create Digital mCulture’!

    1983 – –  such a great moment in our history! The greatz were inventing IRCAM and C-sound . . . me? I was just playing with bowed pianos. One must embrace one’s loozer-hood . . . (http://badmindtime.wordpress.com/2009/06/27/my-bowed-piano-moment/ )

    pees, luv ‘n’ good music-slash-media,

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      CSound is about to make a comeback, too. Watch for a story later this week and another next. 😉

    • http://acampbellpayne.com/ acampbellpayne

      don’t call it a comeback!

  • brent

    really nice sounds. getting into dub techno lately (thanks for the stories on a quiet bump and qunabu). i guess this isn’t dub techno, but this sound goes nicely with that. it’s all fuzzy warm and loose. makes me want to track down some old analog gear.

    i come from software-land, so here’s a question i always have when tempted to pull the trigger. what do you do when this old gear breaks? for those of us in small towns finding local reliable repair shops could be very problematic i would think.

  • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

    Well, no, absolutely – maintenance should be part of what you consider with old gear. That’s why I note, there’s the particular value of this gear in this workflow, and then there’s simply adapting any equipment to a similar working method, which is very doable. You could actually rig up some software and assign some hardware control in a way that would work similarly… or do what Francis was suggesting and use, say, a single outboard synth or outboard effect. (It doesn’t have to be 30 years old, either — check that RMX-1000.)

    Of course, any hardware or software has some maintenance cost… this is where doing more with less is nice, in that you have fewer pieces to worry about!

  • yokomode

    Nice to see good use of the old gear….. 
    There is a lot of ‘mysticism’ being spoken around this album though; modern DAW and recording techniques are still whats being used in the capture and editing of the audio at the end of that most appetising of analogue signal chains.
    Most early to mid nineties Techno was often performed on these kinds of drum machines and synths, though often there was some midi-din sync conversion going on to keep a more ‘modern’ drum machine or two sync’ed in the mix – quite a beautiful sound to hear from a large and ‘decent’ PA system.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Well, tracking straight to four tracks isn’t necessarily a “modern” DAW technique – not until he turns on the metronome. (But he isn’t warping those tracks, either – not yet. You could just as easily substitute a multi-track reel-to-reel tape deck.) 

      But yes, I agree; I tried to differentiate my description from any “mysticism” about the old gear. I think the more important thing is having accessible controls and leaving a lot of the groove un-slaved, that is, not trying to put everything to clock or quantized MIDI. 

      And of course, King was producing in the 90s, too; this is experience, not just nostalgia.

  • KNS

    I could never work like this or even afford those things. Thank god for Propellerhead Reason.

    Big up King Britt love your tunes man. :)

  • http://twitter.com/yugen yugen

    This is such an amazing video. It’s exciting and inspiring to get a peak into a legend’s set up.

    This no-midi thing is catching and it’s really interesting to see how different artists are doing it.  I’ve seen a couple of acts recently in which multiple people are playing boxes of one kind or another without any electronic synching going on.  The results have been mixed, but all of the music that comes out of it distinctly organic for electronic music.  As an artistic decision it speaks to the degree that artists are looking to break out of the grid and explore new types of automation.  From a practical standpoint it resolves a number of issues around electronic music gear, namely, the complexity of setting up a rig to play, let alone, play with others.  By eschewing midi sync instruments can be brought into play as simply as turning them on and plugging into the mixer.

    Thanks to King Britt for sharing his secrets and to Peter for sharing the video.

  • Louper

    Peter, your musikmesse-2012-gear-report article on keyboardmag.com you reference above is showing up for me as a blank white page in Safari (5.1.2)

  • jonah

    To be clear, editing audio directly offers far more control than MIDI, not less. 

    I’m so thankful that we’ve reached a point where digital technology has made it so you don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of time to achieve the same results as splicing tape. Next we need a way to make it less visual and more hands on. What’s old is new again!