Drones

Loveless is riddled with drones, often as little add-ons after some of the tracks; a nice one is Sometimes (from 4:58 onwards):

Starting off with Logic’s Pedalboard, I’ve added the Fuzz effect to it (with the same clean fuzz sound I’ve used in previous examples) and Logic’s EQ to high-pass filter some sub frequencies, boost the signal a little around 74 Hz and 1560 Hz and remove some mud around 148 Hz.

Next I’ve disabled the track’s output to route it exclusively to two Send tracks, each with a Tremolo plugin set at different speeds (0.54 Hz and 0.44 Hz). I’m keeping both sends in mono:

The Akai sampler range was a popular addition to studios in the late eighties and early nineties. I don’t have time to go into the benefits that sampling and accessibility of it to the ordinary musician have had on the wider music industry in this article; but to cut a long story short, the sampler might be the most important invention since MIDI.

…Alan [Moulder] believes that Kevin’s guitar feedback sampling experiments were an attempt to achieve a sound which had the same qualities as those of the flute, having previously used a flute sample on the track ‘Soon’. “Kevin was into the flute,” explains Alan. “There is something organic and pure about it that he liked and the sampled feedback seemed to have a similar tone. The thing about the feedback is that it changes the longer you hold the key down, so you get all these weird changes and a bit of discordance and randomness that he liked as well.

There’s a great Akai sampler emulator by the AKAIZER Project, which you can download here. However we can get close to this with most DAWs’ built-in samplers. I’ve recorded a basic loop in Ableton Live’s Looper and added a PingPong delay (importantly with more than 50% feedback), added a Compressor to bring up the levels of the delay and finally Live’s Reverb.

I’ve hit the Freeze button on the Reverb: this makes the reverb almost endless. I’ve then resampled the result on to another audio track and cropped out a section of a continuous tone:

The drone sounds pretty good on it’s own, but let’s add it to Live’s Simpler instrument. Hit shift + cmd + t to create a new MIDI track and drag the sample on to the Clip/Device Drop Area. On the Simpler instrument, enable the Loop and Snap buttons and adjust the Fade if you’re hearing any clicks or pops on the loop.

I’m also going to adjust the Volume envelope, increasing the Attack and Release, to get a softer transitioning pad (if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of envelopes, have a read of this.)

Finally let’s enable the filter and switch it to LP24 (Low-pass with a 24dB-per-octave slope) and get some slow LFO modulation going. I’ve also added some unison spread and removed any velocity modulation:

But drones don’t have to just come from guitars and samplers. Here I’ve recorded the air conditioning coming from a cheap household fan though the in-built mic on my MacBook. Sounds pretty crappy:

However, let’s add Ableton’s Resonator (I’ve written about the interesting things you can do with Ableton’s Resonator here). I’ve tuned the root to C2 and the intervals +7 (G2), +14 (D3), -5 (G1) and -10 (D1).

Set the Filter to Low-pass (the top button) and sweep out some of the hiss from the top. Finally I’ve adjusted the gain. Now run this into your reverb of choice (Live’s native one will do) and voila!

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