Remix: Tomcraft – Like A Roller

This was another remix that I was unsure of how to start. Sometimes I go into these things knowing exactly what I want to do to a track: what I want to change, what sounds I’d like to use, how to arrange it, and so on. This time around I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it until I once again broke out the trusty Alligator filter to start reshaping the bassline. The bass track was actually a mixture of a couple synths, the bass and a higher pitched synth line that I ended up EQing and filtering out, leaving just the low-end content humming and throbbing along. Using only the lowpass filter section of the Alligator, I programmed a pattern that chopped the original bassline into something that would sound at home in a psytrance track. Conversely, I filtered all the bass out of the bass stem leaving only a dubby sort of synth stab, which I promptly drowned in echo. This became an intro and part of a breakdown later on as I started moving sections and loops here and there.

The drums, at least a rough sketch of them, came next. Initially more time was spent shaping kickdrums and filtering snares than actually arranging or programming loops.  I put down a plain four-on-the-floor kick loop and layered the doofy kick with another subbier-sounding synthesized bass drum to give it a little more oomph, then loaded up a couple 909-ish snares, synthesized a clicky hi-hat, and a 909 hat to round out the basic kit. On top of this I started playing a stuttery drum & bass loop to add some energy, and a highpassed house loop with a weird oscillating filter effect that added a lot of movement to the sampled hi-hats. Aside from arrangement and fills, the drums were more or less how I wanted them.

I started playing around with the bass again, adding a phaser to try to emulate the sound in the Voyager remix of Aria’s One, but nothing I did sounded quite right. Instead of giving up completely on the idea, I duplicated the track, shifted it up an octave, ran it through a huge pile of distortion, then put the phaser on it, and ended up with something a bit reminiscent of Lost Tribe’s classic Gamemaster, which was a very pleasing result. I processed another track similarly, with the pile of distortion and phaser. The track itself was a short section of one of the included vocal tracks which was some sort of glitchy noise that I looped and repeated to create another staccato rhythm. To go with these two, I created another patterned and phased track with moderately elaborate routing to split up the bands with different effects and panning, taking a section of the bassline that was very thick and fuzzy, which I also used elsewhere as a sort of heavy guitar sound.

Somewhere around this point I started to arrange things, starting the intro with the little dubby sounds, gradually adding drums and my phasey synths. I then pulled in some of the vocal tracks, adding a delay to one of them. I hadn’t used it yet for anything, but my delay effect has a breakout for insert effects that would only be applied to the delayed signal, so I patched in a slew of effects and a unit that would quickly alternate amongst them, randomly jumping from a shuffling of the sounds, to a sixteenth note stutter, to a tape stop, to a reverse, to a flanger, to a bitcrusher, to a phaser, and to a filter with a midrange cutoff and a bit of resonance, all at quarter note intervals. At a 40% wet/dry balance, the original vocal track was clear and audible, but with evidence of weird processing as it echoed.

At some point I ran what was marked as the main theme of the song through distortion (I seem to be favoring distortion units lately, between them and filters, I can carve a recorded sound into something completely different,) and another pattern filter/gate, cranking up the resonance on all the filters and playing with the envelopes to give it an acidy sort of sound, then EQing it all to hell because it was too fuzzy without a little fine-tuning. This only shows up for a few bars near the middle of the song as the vocals glitch out before a short break introducing the third patterned/phased synth line described above.

Interspersed here and there are passages of an arpeggiated line tuned to the vocals, programmed with Korg’s gorgeous-sounding Polysix synth (in Reason rack extension format.) Sometimes I find myself adding a lot to songs, writing in additional synth and bass lines and throwing out whole sections of the original, but in this case I couldn’t write too much into it, I was enjoying manipulating all the original sounds with various effects units and editing.

The last part that I worked a lot on was the breakdown. I wanted to return to the echoey, dubby thing that I’d used for the intro, so I stopped everything after a big buildup and dropped a really basic dub drumloop in the middle of things and crafted a slower bassline to fit in with it. On top of this I added the vocal line, slowed down to half-speed, a brief glitchy drumloop, and my intro synth stabs, and let the whole thing lurch on for a little while before returning to the original frenetic pace, breaking down the track piece by piece until it was just a drumloop and the bass.

If you’ve made it this far, give things a listen below!


For comparison, here’s the original:


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