Back Track 01 _ Paul Mac _ Another Escape EP
So.. We’ll step right back in time now Paul if thats ok? What was your studio like back in 1998?
Memory is a bit hazy on the exact details of set up then but I would be confident in saying it was a hardware set-up, sequenced by an Atari running Cubase. Synth wise, there was a Casio CZ5000; which was surprisingly good. A Waldorf Pulse which was definitely the signature synth on the album for sure. There was a Novation Bass station, Yamaha Tx81z and a Quasimidi Technox, which was not a great box really, but I got strings from that for years. Pretty sure I had a Novation Drumstation and an Emu Orbit at that time, as well.as an Emu Sampler.. Though not entirely sure which models. I had a few during that time, but I’m guessing it was probably an ESI32. That little thing helped me make a lot of tracks – Ha-ha!
My Mixer was a Mackie 1604 and in terms of outboard it was very shoddy – Ha-ha! I had a couple of TLA compressors, an Alesis Multiverb an old Yamaha Multi FX model and an ART multi FX.
And what was your creative approach like..
In terms of technique.. the bulk of it was just getting basic rhythm section stuff done then moving to synth work, then just flesh out the percussion etc.. And arrangement. My stuff is generally very basic I’m not a musician at all and nearly always think in DJ terms which I admit might not be the most inventive way to approach things but works for me. The time it took to make was surprisingly quick. I checked back on the DAT’s from that time recently and was surprised to see sometimes 3 or 4 tracks from the album made in a row. Like in two days or something like that. Some are even in the playing order of the final record.
Would it be ok to talk a little about the tracks on the Another Escape EP. Any production techniques that are now declassified – Ha-ha!
Yeah sure, no problem.
A1- Mikes Super Funk. This sounds very classy Paul. It’s interesting listening to these how uncompressed everything sounds. This EP is obviously less aggressive than other techno from that time. I used to have a couple of records like this and I used to write “modern techno” on them because they seemed to be far more sophisticated than the dirtier stuff..
The title from this is from the album notes of the record I sampled. The break from that explained the drummers “Super Funk Sound” and as usual the rest of my memory from that time is a bit hazy. Listening to it now, I would guess it’s made up from Waldorf Pulse for the bassline as it really was responsible for the signature of the whole album. I remember I bought some new stuff just before I began the project and that was one of things that I got. It is such a good little Monosynth. The Kicks and most of the other percussion(apart from the sampled break) would have been all Drumstation. I had a v1 of that which didn’t handle polyphony so well and it would glitch out if you overloaded it; which could be useful on occasion. Think the Strings and Organ sounds where from the Technox. As for the lack of compression that’s mostly to do with recording things to a DAT. When you were done with the mix there was no limiter involved. When things are peaking at 0db VU instead of 0db FS, it obviously gives you a shit ton more headroom on the final mixes.
A2 – Something. There’s a great epic, swirly filtered pad in this and the groove is a refreshing sidestep to 4/4. Gorgeous strings.
The Pads I think where from the Orbit, which was a surprisingly versatile little box. Not much fun to program, but you could get a bunch of good noises from it, that’s for sure. Kick would have been Drumstation and the bassline was the Bass Station. There was a trick I used to use a lot with that synth. I’d crank the resonance to the point of self-oscillation and use that to make subs. Yeah, I really did that a lot at the time. Lead line is almost certainly the Pulse again. Percussion that comes in part way through is a loop most likely from a funk record again.. My Hip Hop background pretty much has left me a loop digger for life at this point. Strings once again from the Technox.
B1 – Once Again. When I heard one of the tracks from Ignition Key by Adam Beyer, I was reminded of this track, which predated it of course! I thought the title to be prophetically and coincidentally ironic. What was going on in this one?
All the tracks where made on the same equipment. Very little sampling used apart from straight from record or whatever, to help fill out the small parts of the mix. There were certainly no loop libraries or anything to my mind and I’m not sure they existed back then. Certainly not in the way they do now. In terms of processing, it’s only really hitting the desk EQ which on an old Mackie 1604, is pretty basic to say the least. Then maybe a little bit of the basic multi FX stuff I mentioned earlier. It was more about picking/creating the right sound in the first place rather than trying to fix it later I guess. For movement etc.. It’s all just fader jamming or knob turning other than the arrangement. I was fairly anti computer or a long time. I didn’t like the idea of it doing all the work for me, which seems like utter madness looking back at it now.
B2 – Another Escapade. This is the filthiest sounding track on the release. It’s very different from the other tracks and is the only one not included on the album. Was it made around the same time?
Yeah.. It was actually made in the same sessions. Something I have always been conscious about is trying to not get stuck in the same sound. Obviously sometimes I do – Ha-ha! There’s a fair bit of programming in it as well. Listening to it now, I can hear some stock Emu Orbit sounds. I’d guess its 50/50 programmed/ loops but the programmed stuff is very basic. I remember a review at the time calling this track “A loop soup” which sums it up pretty nicely. Not my finest hour – Ha-ha!