Monday, September 26, 2011

PAD Challenge: 5 New Tracks From Nikolai Bonamente

I poked a little fun at Nikolai Bonamente (formerly 1.44 MB) during one of my recent Challenge update posts, because during last year's Challenge he managed to produce two tracks, while everyone else worked feverishly to come up with just one. My joke was that even if no one else creates a track for the challenge, we'd no doubt have a couple of tracks from Nikolai to fill our ears and time.

Well, as it turns out, not only did Nikolai manage to surpass his output from last year, but he completely blew my good-natured prediction out of the water, writing a whopping FIVE tracks during the week. This is what Nikolai had to say about his efforts over the last week:

Each song was put together roughly over the course of a weekday evening after work with a beer (or two) and a cat climbing over everything. The production isn't fabulous but as I usually compose and then try to spend some time away from the track to lose familiarity before going back to calm everything down that wasn't going to happen in the tome allowed. Most tracks were put together with Robb's PADs and standard Reason soundbank patches - with the exception of the beats on a couple of tracks being from the Rebirth 808 / 909 refill.... oh and I used Peff's fantastic square bass (free from his site) on a couple as well. Each track up on the soundcloud site has track notes regarding which PAD's were included.

Nikolai's trick of inserting comments where each patch from Reason Patch A Day appears is actually really clever and makes listening along a lot of fun.

Here's his first track, Nomad....

2011 PAD challenge NOMAD by Nikolai Bonamente

As you can see from his Comment "signposts," Nikolai used the Chimera - Thor, Nomad - subtractor PAD, and Reductio Ad Absurdum - Malstrom patches in Nomad. Nikolai wrote the following about his track:

This is the last one that was put together on Friday and I think is my favorite of the bunch - it achieves the feel I was going for early this year with Thorong-La and Glide-Plane . While both of these tracks headed off into embellishment land Nomad stays fairly minimal with lots of space and has a sort of lazy drifting lilt that it's name suggests.

2011 PAD challenge NERVE AGENT by Nikolai Bonamente

His second track, Nerve Agent, used the following patches: Ironic is Iconic - Subtractor, Newcomer - Malstrom, Peanut Snap - Sample, Rebop HiHat 6 - Kong, Rebop Snare 4 - Kong, Reductio Ad Absurdum - Malstrom, and Starpower - Thor.

Nikolai had this to say about his track:

An attempt to tweak some acid out of Robbs pads - I've been tooling around with the rebirth refills lately so I wanted something in that general area. This track shows examples of Robb's PADs after a fair degree of tweaking, some nice airly reverb layer percussion and my desire to try sounds that grate a little around the edges in otherwise fairly commercial sounding tracks.

2011 PAD challenge COVER PRICE by Nikolai Bonamente

Again, as you can see from Nikolai's carefully placed comments, the patches Brush - Malstrom, Peanut Snap - Sample, Rebop HiHat 6 - Kong, Rebop Snare 4 - Kong, and Secret Door - Thor (processed through the Veiled effects combinator) make an appearance in Cover Price.

This one came out of nowhere - I think I was a little um tipsy when I knocked it up. In the past I've not been a big beat head, but I'm getting closer so this track again shows experimentation with some of Robb's latest Kong patches.

2011 PAD challenge INFINITE RIM SHOT (short cut to sanity remix) by Nikolai Bonamente

Acrimony - Malstrom, Rebop Kick1 - Kong, Rebop Rimshot 3 - Kong, and Rebop Snare 3 - Kong all make an appearance in Infinite Rim Shot (Short Cut to Sanity Remix).

Nikolai had this to say about Infinite Rim Shot:

The result of 20 minutes playing with the rebop rimshot and delay and reverb - I almost did a minimal track with just that oscillating around for 7 minutes. After a while I thought some more percussion and another screeching PAD would go nicely.

2011 PAD challenge MILKWEED KEEPSAKE by Nikolai Bonamente

And lastly, Milkweed Keepsake uses the following patches: Keepsake - Malstrom, Milkweed - Malstrom, and Rebop Tom 2 - Kong, among others.

Of his song Milkweek Keepsake, Nikolai wrote:

This was heading in the direction ambient drum and bass but then took a big swing elsewhere - another attempt to make spooky left field ambient pads dancable.

A truly Herculean effort, Nikolai! The best part is that we all have five new tunes to listen to because of it, so thanks for submitting all of these to the Challenge.

If anyone has any constructive criticism for Nikolai, please be sure to post a comment or two on his tracks via Soundcloud or leave a message for him in the comments section here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

PAD Challenge: "Original Console Generation" by DJ Mad Wax

DJ Mad Wax, fellow Denverite Reason user and blogger, left a message stating that he'd be unable to put together a new track for this year's Challenge, but he wanted to share a song he put together a while back that he felt fit the requirements.

Original Console Generation - by vocoderecords

As DJ Mad Wax explained, "Original Console Generation" uses a number of PAD sounds in his track. If he has a moment to let me know which patches he used, I'll post the list here, but this is what he had to say about the track:

I've had zero time to work on this due to work life and family stuff :/ plus my laptop is on the fritz and Reason 5 kept crashing. so I have an alternative if amenable - I'm submitting a song I did last year, but

  1. it was finished and completed in 4 hours, one session
  2. mastered on another day in a two hour session, no changes to the original
  3. it uses almost exclusively Reasonpatchaday sounds, except for the drums and the main bass line.

As always, be sure to check out what DJ Mad Wax is up to over on the excellent City of Bass blog.

PAD Challenge: "Postprandial Somnolence"

Hopefully it gets better from here. "Postprandial Somnolence" is my entry into this year's PAD Challenge, a dark, beat-heavy tune that gets a decent grove going, but ultimately doesn't really go anywhere.

Postprandial Somnolence by Reason Patch A Day

I have that problem, occasionally. I develop what I think it going to be a good track, then can't figure out what to do with it, once I get it together. Still, despite my disappointment in the track, I am glad to have finished something in time for the Challenge, something I wasn't sure was going to happen. At the very least, I have something I can tweak and polish.

As with most of the tracks I've shared, "Postprandial Somnolence" is comprised almost exclusively of patches and effects that can be found here on Reason Patch A Day. I used the following patches:

Instrument Patches: Bushwhacked, Coiled - Cowbell (not shared here on the blog), Coiled - HiHat 4, Coiled - Wood Block 2, Croup, das Andere, Dull - Bass Drum, Keepsake, Mantis Prayers, Neptune's Rings - Galle Ring, Niche - Snare 4, Norse Gods - Hnoss, Noise FX1 (not shared here on the blog), Rebop - Rim 3, Spectacles, Spectral Winds, Subterranean,

Effect Patches: Atmosphere, Borealis, Drone Chorus, Drum Box - Trip-Hop, Familiar Dream, Interesting, Shimmering, Simple Bass Enhance, Simple Mastering, Simple Pad Enhance, Soulful, Stereo Delay, Subtle Wide

I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone else has come up with, so if you have tracks that you were hoping to share, please get them to me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Well, I certainly didn't see that coming.

I've been promising to post my thoughts about the Reason 6 upgrade for a couple of months now, but for some reason, haven't been able to find the time I've needed to sit down and articulate my opinion. I think it boils down to a confusing mix of excitement and disappointment.

On the one hand, I've been wanting an advanced delay unit in Reason for a few years now. The DDL-1 is probably the most used effect unit in my own tracks, but having access to others delay plug-ins via VSTs or AUs in Logic or Renoise, I've found the trusty, half-rack device wanting at times. Of course, with Reasons rack wiring, you should be able to create any sort of delay you want, but I'll still be welcoming The Echo with wide-open arms come September 30th.

The Alligator Triple Filtered Gate looks interesting and profoundly powerful, but looking at the video, I'm confident that I won't truly "get it" until I have it in my rack and I've twisted a few virtual knobs.

The Pulveriser Demolution Unit looks like a lot of fun, so it should be an interesting upgrade, as well.

Still, there are aspects of the upgrade that make me shake my head a little, specifically the merging of Record with Reason, a product that I've enjoyed quite a bit and I feel wasn't really given time to prove itself.

Its a smart decision, of course. The field of music production software is already confusing, so selling two programs that in many ways feel identical probably wasn't the best tactic for increasing brand awareness or possibly even brand loyalty. Many people felt that Record's biggest feature, the ability to record and edit audio, should have just been included in Reason and with Reason 6 they're getting their wish. But, for those of us who bought into Record and its aluminum dongle, it does feel a little bit like I paid money to be a beta tester.

That probably sounds a little more melodramatic than I intend, but in this case, those skeptical few who didn't purchase Record are actually being rewarded for their patience. The upgrade to Reason 6 for non-Record users, while a bit more expensive than the upgrade path for Reason/Record, saves them money over the path I took, which was to purchase Record (for Reason Users) when it was released. Of course, its not a huge amount, but principal often gets stuck in the throat worse than specifics.

I know, I know, I've had more time to enjoy the Record devices, so maybe that was worth the extra few dollars I paid to the folks at Propellerheads. I've paid them money for things I didn't need in the past (the Electro-Mechanical Refill disc is a great example, considering I already downloaded it for free when I purchased it), so I guess this shouldn't be any different, but I'm still somewhat disappointed in the death of Record.

Maybe that's why the recent announcement put a smile on my face. Don't get me wrong, I'll likely pay at least as much as I would have for the physical upgrade, but having the option to change that, to get back those few dollars I lost in chasing them down the tangled path of unsupported software, is a profound act of goodwill on the part of our fearless, Swedish software leaders. It feels a little like an apology, but even more, feels like a thank you, which is why I applaud Propellerheads' Pay What You Want scheme.

I suppose my only real conflict now stems from whether or not I want the box. If I'm going to pay the same price for a download as I would for yet another box, do I actually want the box on my shelf? Given that I have all of my other Reason boxes, volumes 1 through 5, on the shelf, along with Record and Recycle, it almost seems like a shame not to get a box for the latest release, even if it is a little less eco-friendly.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Countdown Has Begun....

The 2nd Annual PAD Challenge has begun! Start those tracks and get them to me. You have have one week!

The deadline is Sunday, September 25th!

Monday, September 12, 2011

2nd Annual PAD Challenge: 2nd Update

We have a couple of additional participants in this year's PAD Challenge who have volunteered:

  • Nikolai
  • DJ Mad Wax
  • THP808
  • robbneu (me)

Thanks for joining in on the fun, guys. I'm really looking forward to your songs!

I think what we'll do is set the deadline for signing up for this Friday, September 16th. So, if you're reading this now and think you might be interested, you're still welcome to join in. Drop a note in the comments or send me an email. Following that, you'll have one week to create something new, so get me your completed songs by September 23rd.

As I stated, and Nikolai reiterated in his comment, this should be a low stakes, low stress experience, with some good natured encouragement and hopefully some constructive criticism when its all over. At worst, you'll come away from it with a completed song. At best, you'll come away from it with a completed song you're proud of. The goal is just to jump in with both feet and accomplish something.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The 2nd Annual PAD Challenge... Update

So, I originally said the deadline for the PAD Challenge was the weekend, but that deadline has come and gone, with just Nikolai tossing his hat into the ring. While I have no doubt that Nikolai will manage to create enough songs in a week to fill several challenges, I thought I'd leave the window open for a little while longer.

So, check in if you want to join this year's Challenge!