The Fat of the Land was the Prodigy’s third album, and a huge commercial success. Released in 1997, I still remember buying it on cassette and taking it home to listen to for the first time (there were no leaks or previews in those days!)

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Everybody of course remembers Smack My Bitch Up, Breathe and their hit single Firestarter but it was a track towards the end of side two, Climbatize, that caught my attention:

The album saw Liam Howlett and co take the guitar and rock influenced sounds of Music for the Jilted Generation a step further, and it was perhaps amongst all this industrial big-beat stuff that Climbatize stood out as an eerie breakbeat hardcore-era chillout number.

Let’s have a look as it’s composition.

Intro

Let’s start by making our DAWs tempo to 129 bpm. The tracks begins with an ominous twelve-bar string loop that fades in over eight bars. This is actually a sample taken from John Ottoman’s soundtrack to The Usual Suspects, a track called Kobayashi’s Domain (though it bears a striking resemblance to this Gigi D’Agostino tune, probably just a coincidence though). John recalls this about the string recording session:

Financial constraints forced me into making a little go a long way. The room in which the score was recorded was so small that we couldn’t fit the entire orchestra in all at once. So we recorded the score multiple times with each section separately. The first two days we recorded the 38 strings, whose elbows practically rubbed the walls. I was able to foster the technique of “multiple-passing” the strings (which simply meant stacking three separate performances of string parts on top of one another) in order to create an almost larger-than-life sonic experience and great mix control of the string section.”

The sample kicks in at 2.09:

After purchasing the track off of iTunes, I added it to Live and isolated the sample. I played it with the track and realised it’s pitched down two semitones:

I added the section to Live’s sampler instrument, adding the first chord to the note A#2 and the second chord to B2 (for the second chord I adjusted the root note to C# so I could trigger these chord separately without affecting the tuning of the second). I set up back and forth loops for both chords, enabled the ‘snap’ and turned the sustain loops mode to on.

Next, in the Filter/Global section I added some attack and release to help the notes bleed into each other. There’s another chord that kicks in at 0.15 seconds so I created a new zone on F#2, looped the first chord and programmed it in with this two-semitone pitch bend:

 

In case you’re interested, this is what the strings are playing. The loop is F, Bb- (2nd inversion) three times, then Db with a pitch bend up to Eb and back down again.

Next, we need to add a tambourine. After much searching I found something called ST_Tambourine130 that seemed to work (I have no idea what sample pack it’s from ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sorry!).

I looped the first quarter beat and pitched it down six semitones. Then, adding Live’s redux and Auto Filter, it sounded just about right:

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