For this loop I decided to take the opposite approach to producing. The “Costanza Method” of recording, if you will. As I’m sure most of you already know, effects and audio processing are typically applied during the mixing process, after all of the tracks are recorded. However, for this session, I applied a variety of sonic sculpting tools to the master bus BEFORE recording a single note. Sure, I checked the levels to make sure everything was copacetic, but I wanted this random stack of effects to play a leading role in the creation of my loop.
What you hear in the mp3 below is the exact same thing I heard in my headphones as I was recording and ultimately, dictated what I played. The signal chain; absurd amounts of compression->massive Whitesnake-style reverb->super fast and tight gating->crazy stereo delay with pitch-shifting.
What sounds like a pretty busy groove (and a bad acid trip from the 80’s), is really just me playing a very minimal 4 bar phrase with a tom fill at the end. It’s the 16th note delay that fills up the rest of the track, precisely bouncing around the stereo spectrum due to the abundance of gating applied to the entire track. Had no gates been used, this loop would be messier than a groupie at a Monsters of Rock festival.
I’m not referring to the lame Sting song (ok ok, I admit I like it… relax), I’m talking about the seven days I just spent on vacation in Mexico. Without going into too many details (most of which, I can’t really remember anyway), my wife and I just returned from a much needed getaway to Tulum. A place where the sun is hot, the beer is cold and the tacos are cheap. In other words, my Heaven.
To celebrate the return from my seven day vacation, I decided it would be appropriate to record a series of loops in 7/8. Here’s a two measure snippet from today’s session, the rest of which, will be made available to my loyal and extremely good-looking subscribers on April 1st (not a joke).
I know, I know. There’s been a serious lack of loop postings recently. This isn’t because I haven’t been keeping busy in the studio. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. For the past month or so, I’ve been burning the midnight oil, cranking away at something so big, so revolutionary, that it needs its own URL. It’s a project that’s been a plan of mine for years and finally, technology has caught up to my vision, enabling me to pull it all off. More details to be released soon. Stay tuned.
And for whatever reason, I’ve recently found myself watching a lot of the trainwreck-on-tv known as “The Jersey Shore”. I can’t really tell you how or why I started to tune into this hugely entertaining yet morally, ethically, and intellectually inept MTV series (can I blame it on my wife?), but regardless, I find it fascinating. My favorite part of the show is when the cast goes out clubbing (which is apparently every night), the house music starts thumping, and the guys start fist pumping to the beat.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you already know how I feel about dance music. Perhaps The Jersey Shore is starting to change my stance? Nah, it isn’t. But from watching some serious fist pumping on a weekly basis, I’ve been inspired to record another beat suitable for the Snooki in everyone.
Before using today’s loop, make sure you get juiced-up, hit the gym, spend at least 25 minutes in a tanning bed, put on your favorite Ed Hardy t-shirt, and apply at least 7 oz of hair product to your dome. My pumped-up house beats will take care of the rest.
I just realized I’ve posted 116 different loops on this site but not a single one has been a shuffle. What the hell is wrong with me? Some of my favorite songs are shuffles. Pride And Joy, Sweet Home Chicago, Moanin’…. I could go on and on. From jazz, to blues to rock, the shuffle is one of the few grooves that can find a home in almost any genre (except for Viking metal or perhaps Psychobilly).
For today’s first loop request, I make my foray into the grimey world of Dubstep. A half time feel with some extra thick bass and a crunchy, gated snare, it sits right in the 139 BPM sweet spot of your garage. I’ll be including the rest of the loops from this session in Volume 7.
Like I mentioned in my previous post, I just upgraded my studio to Logic 9 and have been busy checking out all of its new features. From a user interface point of view, not much has changed. It still looks and feels much like its predecessor, but there are some new editing tools that peaked my interest as a drummer. Specifically, Flex Time and the drum replacement/doubling tool.
I decided to test out the Flex Time tool by playing a straight pop beat to see how well it picked up the transients. It did a rather remarkable job of latching onto every percussive attack. So good, in fact, it took everthing I played and easily (almost too easily) lined everything up in perfectly quantized 16th notes. Yep, it sucked the Gruss right out of it… but then it begged for some electronic layering to keep the kids happy on the dance floor. So, with the drum replacer (Apple’s own version of Drumagog) I doubled several tracks with an extra-beefy kick and a heavily-gated snare.
The result? I’m still not sure exactly… but if The Postal Service was around in the 80’s and they were asked to write the theme music to Miami Vice, I’m pretty sure Logic 9 would have come in handy.
Yes yes, I know I haven’t been cranking out the free loops on a “daily” basis this week. A full refund is in the mail. I promise. You see, things are pretty crazy around “Casa del Gruss” at the moment. We’re currently looking for some new digs (something a little more drummer friendly.. you know, ideally with a barn and a 48 channel Neve console) and I’m finishing up Volume II of Gruss Loops… to be released next week! But fear not, here’s a loop to keep you cheap bastards entertained in the meantime.
Today’s loop is a good old, “drop it on top of whatever” type of dance beat. You can’t go wrong with a nice bell pattern on the ride, a straight 4/4 beat between the kick and snare and a hefty amount of filtering.
And what a birthday it’s been. All kinds of presents, cards, emails, phone calls and tweets. To top that off, my wife took me out for a surprise gourmet dinner at Chuck E. Cheese’s. The highlight of which, was sitting in with their famed house band. The drummer, Pasqually, was kind enough to let me take over the throne while he put a few pizzas in the oven.
Anyway, enough about me. I wanted to thank everyone who has subscribed to the “Members Only” section. The response has been amazing and I can’t wait to hear what everyone creates with the loop packs. I’m already deep in the editing process for Volume 2 and there’s a lot of cool stuff to come. There will be even more jazz and experimental sounds on top of the more mainstream rock/pop grooves.
In keeping with the birthday theme, today’s loop is inspired by The Beatles’“Birthday” song. I took Ringo’s “soul beat” breakdown, which includes a driving snare on all fours and some tambourine overdubs, and tried to capture a nice, natural sound with the overheads and room mics.
The Roland 808. It’s the drum machine sound I grew up on. Round, blippy sounding toms. A kick drum loaded with enough sub-bass to shake an entire roller rink. From hip-hop to pop music, the 808 dominated the programmed drum sound of the early to mid 80’s. You can even hear the 808 on Marvin Gaye’s 1982 hit slow jam, “Sexual Healing”.
Today I decided to go for that old 808 sound on my acoustic kit… and then some. To get the classic, “round” tom effect, I grabbed my trusty pile of dirty t-shirts, laid them across the head of each drum and de-tuned one lug to get some pitch bend. The rest is in the mix. Lots of gating, a ton of compression, some heavy panning, a dash of sub-bass and the entire bus mix ran through an amp simulator. Yep, that’s a lot of digital plugins just to recreate an analog machine from 1980.