Welcome back to another edition of our exclusive series, "How It Was Made". Each installment features one of your favorite artists from around the world, who walks us through the tools and processes they used to create their latest work. This time, we are joined by Kneaded Pains artist Dysart, who's latest offering on the label, titled 'No Acid', perfectly showcases the tough and gritty sound he's become known for. 'Dark Metal', the B-side of No Acid, is peak-time techno heat, with pounding drums and aggressive synth work. Below, he breaks down how it came to be, showcasing that simplicity is key.
Pulling this feature together I would love to be waxing lyrical about the depth of modular jamming and outboard synth programming and miles on miles of fx chain processing, but unfortunately, on this occasion, I can’t (sorry). Dark Metal, the B side from my recent Kneaded Pains EP, ended up being the perfect in the “Less is more” end result. Less in this record’s case meaning a total of 15 tracks. Re-visiting the project for this feature, I’m still amazed it works so well.
My (DYSART) productions, especially the releases on Kneaded Pains are renowned (not by me) for delivering a raw stripped back techno sound. However, IMO, it’s really hard to make good unique sounding Techno music that doesn’t comprise of loads elements. It’s a real skill and there are people out there who have made a career from it and I take my hat off to them. Looking at the sparse nature of the project vs what’s coming out of the Speakers especially when you have so few elements in the mix brings an extremely satisfying (almost bewildering) joy.
Additional to this, for me, writing tracks completely inside the box, hardly ever happens. There’s always a part created on a piece of hardware, especially synth parts or external FX processing however on this occasion it was just that and inside job. So, here are some of the elements & processing techniques used to create it.
A big chunk of the DYSART signature sound (Dark Metal included) is the saturation, this takes various forms, but here I’m using one of my go-to plugins Trash 2. Some of the presets with this little beast out are out of this world (not always in a good way). In this instance, it really gives the grit and colour to the kick, bass, and hats which sets the tone for the rest of the track and gives it that organic feel. This grit is also helped along the way with the inclusion of a Neve 88RS channel strip by UAD (Universal Audio) for some additional warmth. This is a software emulation of the 88 Analog console desks used in the dreamy high-end recording studios. Famous for its depth and clarity the guys at UAD are world-renowned for their software emulations these days, so there are no surprises here that this just helps enhance the depth and clarity of the final mix.
The toms nicely offset from the percussion and low end are utilising the Ableton live onboard delay and saturator. The Ableton saturator is usually a go-to tool when I’m creating or jamming to see if an element will “fit”. I’ll always switch between the 3 settings soft, medium and hard to see how the early sound transients behave on a given sound. There’s never a rule to say which is going to work best it just depends, I’ve learned to trust my ears with what works at the time. However, later when I’m getting deeper into the production process, I may well switch the saturation out for something else like the UAD Ibanez Tube Screamer or use other external processing pedals.
Reaktor !! This awesome synth from Native Instruments never disappoints, it gives you so much scope for sound design, idea generation – you can get into it as much or as little as you want. I’m by no means an advanced user but it always seems to give you the type of inspiration you get from using external hardware. The inclusion of Reaktor blocks has also really helped with creativity when you’re jamming in-studio sessions. The accompaniment line in Dark Metal is Reaktor with the track relying on 2 main synth parts and a third sitting further back in the mix keeps things interesting.
It’s all about the Delay
Another one of my favourite plugins is the Waves H Delay which has featured on a number of tracks including Lightspeed. Keeping the synth chirp synth stabs on Dark Metal interesting is reliant on the H-delay keeping the groove elements fluid as the track progresses.
Delays are really important for creating depth of sound in the mix, I really love dub delays, including the Dubstation which can generate some crazy feedback effects.
Another is Soundtoys Echo Boy, which is really cool because there are loads of tape delay emulations to choose from which are all generally good for creating something interesting