MATRIXSYNTH: "Starfield Bound" - Akai MPC X / DAWless MIDI performance

Sunday, January 23, 2022

"Starfield Bound" - Akai MPC X / DAWless MIDI performance

video upload by Patrick Manderson

"'Starfield Bound' - was recorded live early Sunday morning on January 16, 2022 using a MIDI sequencer, 4 mixers, outboard compressors and a room full of synthesizers. This music originated from a shorter music sequence that later evolved to what is here now. For several weeks I considered breaking it up into 2 separate pieces sharing the same theme and later left decided to keep it as is. I'm still not sure it was a good idea to keep it as one.

The MPC X was used to compose and arrange all the MIDI data and control all the synths during recording. Most of the modulations were made with note velocities. Many parts were controlled with continuous controller messages. This is my second piece of music composed on the Akai MPC X and despite the complexity of all the automation and modulations, working with it at this level was very easy and comfortable. Much more so than the Yamaha RS-7000.

The Oberheim Matrix 1000 and Korg Minilogue XD provided the primary sonic textures for Startfield Bound - aided by the wonderful percussion textures of the Boss DR-660. A custom kit was mapped meticulously so accomodate layering of sounds using the pitch, decay and nuance parameters. All 4 outputs were used and careful consideration on routing the sounds to each of the 4 channels on the Soundcraft GB4.

The Roland JX-08 and ASM Hydrasynth were added late in the development of the music. I am really impressed with the sound of both, especially the JX-08.

During the summer of '21 a pair of new mixers were added to the room. The Soundcraft GB4 and a Allen & Heath MixWizard WZ3 replaced my aging Mackie 1604 VLZ3 which had nothing technically wrong with it, but it drove me crazy there were no eq disable switches on the channels.

Why two mixers? I would have preferred a single larger frame (24 or 32 channel) console but I don't have the physical space for it. Two smaller mixers works out great better for the room.

The sound of this recording is *much improved* over my previous recordings. I can't get over how much better these two mixers sound over the Mackie. I've read that people describe the Soundcraft GB4 of having a transparent sound - I would agree. The MixWizard has excellent sounding EQ and saturation when driving the inputs hot. The GB4 is here for the transparancy and mute/routing options, the MixWizard is here for its character. The Prophets, Minilogues, EX-8000 and the Matrix are running through the MixWizard and bussed to the GB4.

Approximately 54 channels of audio was routed, mixed and recorded to a stereo master using 4 mixers (GB4, WZ3, Samson and Rolls line mixers).

The Behringer Cat was layered with the Novation BassStation II for parts of the music. Muting the cat was done manually on the console during the recording.

The screaming/fly-by sound effect at 10:29 was provided by the Korg MS-2000 in dual patch mode using a combination of noise, filters, distortion, delay, pitch and volume modulation and panning.

Several brass patches were used on the Prophet REV2 and Prophet 6. Each patch allowing slightly different variantions of articulations. The modulations were primarily recorded with the mod wheel but at least one patch used a envelope to get the volume, filter swells in time with the music.

Both the Roland JV-1080 and 2080 were layered, doubling notes and sharing a MIDI channel/port. These were set to different patches for the *atmospheric* embellishments throughout. The JV-2080 was set to play every other note while the JV-1080 each note.

The Warm Audio BUS-COMP is a recent piece of gear and I couldn't be happier with the results. Its placed on the master bus with its transformers *engaged*. The Drawmer 1978 is primarily the drum bus with a couple of synths ran through. The Art Pro VLA II compresses a few synths, including the Matrix 1000.

All 4 MIDI din ports were used and strategically routed to reduce MIDI latency. The Boss DR-660 had its own dedicated port for drums. A USB MIDI interface was used to drive the Oberheim Matrix 1000 directly from one of the USB ports on the MPC X. The Matrix can be temperamental when receiving lots of MIDI data, even data from other channels thus requiring its own port. In all 19 channels of MIDI data from 5 separate MIDI ports were driven by the MPC X. Approximately 141 program change messages were sent over the 316 bars.

Here is a list of program change messages for each synth.

(13) - Matrix 1000
(13) - Minilogue XD
(13) - JX-08
(13) - JV-1080/2080
(12) - MS-2000R
(12) - BassStation II
(12) - Prophet REV2
(12) - Prophet 6
(10) - XV-5080
(9) - Hydrasynth
(7) - TX81Z
(6) - Korg EX-8000
(4) - Minilogue
(3) - Wavestate
(1) - Radias
(1) - DR-660
(0) - Cat"

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