Recently, Ali X teamed up with Mexico's Ximena for a wild and funky cut of electro fueled goodness titled "Low Vibrations." It's a hard track to nail down to just one genre, weaving together bits of techno, house, funk, and Latin rap. We love these cross-pollinations, so we invited them to break down Low Vibrations for another installment of our How It Was Made series. To accompany the track, the equally strange video features footage of some very interesting individuals feeling some type of way.
Words and photos by Ali X & Ximena
We recorded the parts of Low Vibrations" over the course of a day and night, starting with the drums and bass, moving into the synths, then the vocoders, and finally the live vocals.
Elektron Analog Rhythm
The kick, snare, hi-hat, and bass are off this box, which we use as a sampler and simple sequencer, not for its internal drum synthesis. It can get pretty gritty and chunky and has a nice flow for doing live manipulations of sound and patterns.
Roland TR 808
My original 1981 Japanese market issue has been on every record I’ve made since 2008 when I acquired her - either as drums or as a trigger box for other units. And don’t forget the zapppppp of the trigger for outs into audio ins.
Gotta plug your gear into hot boxes… class A transformer heaviness. We use Vintech, UA, Retro Audio, and API as our front ends.
We record hot and processed, so after the pre’s, we run into EQs by Neve (1064s), Heritage Audio (1073s), Urei, Orban, compression from Daking (FET III), UA (2-1176), Retro (176), Art, Warm - favorite gate is the Aphex logic-controlled modules. Can’t get enough of the classic FX on the Eventide Harmonizers either, which you hear I’ll over the record.
Apogee, MOTU, Waves, nice classic AD/DA for the punchy warm sound we like, and mix bus processing for our final mixes: my home-made SSL buss comp, modded Meyer CP10 eq, Waves Maxx BCL.
Multi-reference monitoring: the main pair Amphion One18s which are super dynamic and really honest. They force you to work hard but the results are worth it. We use Focal CM65s, Tannoy 802s, and a little mono paper cone speaker and A 1000 watt 18” sub as various references.
The SH101 provided the carrier for the vocoder which was the free Tal Roland clone plugin, and also did the sub-bass drops, if we remember correctly the TB 303 did some tidbit noodling in there somewhere.
The coldest of the big classic Roland boards, icy. All manner of the sweeping synth patches were cooked up on the Jupe, run through the Eventides, and spaced out more with some plugs.
Here we have Ximena dropping knowledge into our early 70s Neumann U87, of which we have a matching pair. The mic pre is a Phoenix Audio DRS Q4 mkii (not pictured). I’ve been through original and repro u47s, 49s, c12s, but these u87s (which did all the Azari & iii tracks as well) are just very magical and usually win out. You cannot really hear it at work here however as the vocals are either vocoded or heavily murked out with FX
We run on an old school rig, pretty much the only thing of this century is the Mac and the software. We mix in the box 99% of the time as we record with huge doses of analog on the front end, though we run the stereo mix out through a mix bus chain for final passes.
Ali runs a boutique mastering lab called AXM Audio Mastering, which has its proprietary methods on the final master.