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How It Was Made: Dive Index - Refolded

Dive Index's Will Thomas breaks down the collab project's latest work.
Dive Index: Merz, Will Thomas, and Natalie Walker

Dive Index: Merz, Will Thomas, and Natalie Walker

Refolded: Waving At Airplanes Remixes is the sixth full-length album from electronic composer/producer Will Thomas’ collaborative Dive Index project. The original LP was received with critical acclaim last spring and is now been revisited by Will over lockdown, delivering an altogether darker, more atmospheric sound.

The project’s vocals alternate between trip-hop collective Daughter Darling’s Natalie Walker and revered English multi-instrumentalist Merz. The result is an intimate seven-track dialogue between the two, exploring themes pertinent to the human condition, missing connections, love lost, and political tension.

Will sourced almost everything for Waving At Airplanes from a modular synthesizer. The only exceptions were piano, acoustic guitar, and occasional extraneous sounds, including a nail gun, and a jackhammer that leaked organically into Will’s studio in Laurel Canyon. Although the original album was created within Will’s very specific and deliberate parameters, Refolded allowed for further sonic exploration, taking each of the tracks somewhere else completely. 

This sixth album project, is an intimate, thought-provoking seven-track dialogue, exploring themes pertinent to the human condition, missing connections, love lost, political tension. A perfect addition to our How It Was Made series. 

1. Roland JX3P/PG200

Roland JX3P/PG200

Roland JX3P/PG200

Made in the mid-80s, this was Roland’s first synth with midi capabilities. It’s a bit of a hidden secret because on the surface it looks like a basic ‘preset’ focus keyboard but with the PG-200 programmer attached, it’s a game-changer. You can hear this synth on the remix for "Window to Window" - it’s the chords and bass in the intro and at the end of the track. I also used it for the layered arpeggios in the track "Near Enough."

2. Roland MKS-80/MPG-80 Super Jupiter

Roland MKS-80/MPG-80 Super Jupiter

Roland MKS-80/MPG-80 Super Jupiter

Another Roland synth that I’ve had for years, this came out in the mid-80s as well and is essentially the rack mount version of the Jupiter-6/8. The MPG-80 programmer is the key to this synth’s sound creating capabilities. I used this for the bass line in "Window to Window" when the beat kicks in. As well as the thick, melodic hits in that same section. Fully analog, it sounds so great right out the box.

3. Minimoog Voyager

Minimoog Voyager

Minimoog Voyager

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This synth is from the first round of Voyagers Moog started making about 20 years ago.

For some reason, I tend to lean on this synth for bass sounds so it was used in the remix of "Say Yes to Tenderness."  It may sound like a bass guitar line because of the slides but those are actually just the pitch bend in action.

4. Fender Telecaster Deluxe

Fender Telecaster Deluxe

Fender Telecaster Deluxe

My favorite vintage guitar from 1973. I love it because of the two humbucker pickups. Apparently, Fender designed this guitar to compete with the Gibson Les Paul. It has a meatier sound than a standard telecaster. The atmospheric textures in "Say Yes to Tenderness" are this guitar run through my effect pedal chain and into a Deluxe Reverb amp.

5. Effects Pedals

Effects Pedals

Effects pedals

Almost all of my sounds travel through this chain at some point. I love outboard effects because they’re so easy to tweak on the fly and they sound great. The end of the chain is sent through my Avalon preamps and then recorded. Rather than go through every instance these effects appear in the remixes, I would just say that all the reverbs, delays, and distortion you hear on these tracks come from this effects chain.

6. Oberheim Expander

Oberheim Expander

Oberheim Expander

This synth is a beast - both physically and sonically. From the mid-80s again, this is basically a "keyboard shaped keyboard-less midi module," if that makes sense. It’s a little cumbersome to program but worth the hassle. I used this for the main melodic motif in the "Wish I Had a Pulse" remix.

7. Eurorack Modular System

Eurorack Modular System

Eurorack Modular system

For the original versions of the songs on the Waving At Airplanes album, I set up some strict parameters to use this Modular system for all the electronic and drum/percussion sounds. That along with piano and acoustic guitar. To differentiate the remixes from the originals, there was a conscious effort to not use the modular as a sound source. That said, I used it to affect the cello track that pulsates through the remix of the title track, Waving at Airplanes’. I recorded a couple of cello tracks myself and sent those through the Make Noise Morphagene then used the Malekko Varigate 8 to sequence the movement. I then invited Alison Chesley (Helen Money) to record the rest of the cellos overtop of the pulse.  

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