That’s right, aside from one post last week, I’ve been on vacation. Most of the reason I hadn’t been posting is because I…er…was…working. That’s right, I spend my time off work painting houses. Believe it or not, it was quite relaxing, AND I got paid to do it. This was worth it to me because I could use the extra money(couldn’t we all?).

Since I’ve been away, there have been a couple of releases, I’ve made minor progress with my Hard/Soft Option set up and I have big news pertaining to an album release. I will be bringing everyone up to speed on the latest, right after I bring myself up to speed.

First off, I’d like to share with you a project that I of which I am involved, along with Chris Ritchie and Nathan Shaffer. We identify ourselves under the moniker, Aural Lab. Come August 5th, our collaborative release, Dirty Jazz will hit many of your favorite digital download sites.

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I’m sharing this here, on a site mainly dedicated to apps for the iPad because this album was composed entirely on the iPad. All the songs were created using synthesizers, effects, DAWs and amp modelers. Each of us had something to bring to the table and we managed to produce music that was complex and beautiful. I call the style in which we worked Ambient Groove. I used several synth apps and effects to create ethereal sounds, along side sequences and pulses of sound, while Chris would add beats and other sounds to augment the tracks I would send him.

Something else that makes this release special to me is the way in which Chris and I would work. Both Chris and Nathan live in England, different parts of England, mind you, while I live in the Midwestern United States. When Chris and I decided to collaborate, we had to work out a workflow that would make production happen. We spent a lot of time discussing tracks over Facebook Messenger and What’s App. Communication was the key, as well as trust in each other’s content and ability. We would share tracks across Dropbox.

It took us a little coordinating at first, as he and I used different DAWs; Chris used Cubasis and I used Auria(although I’m not sure if he ended up using Auria and any given point). Upon our first outing, we had some sync issues, which we assumed that working across two different DAW apps may have caused the problem, but after discussing a method in which would label our file folders in Dropbox, we had that issue resolved. We would make sure to include tempo and the key of the song; this way, whenever one of us would open the files, most of the guesswork was removed. The majority of the workflow consisted of me sending initial sequences and synth tracks, using Fugue Machine to keep things in line and in key, then I’d load the tracks into a shared folder to Dropbox and then let him know they were there. Chris would then take my tracks, create beats, add his flair to them with his apps of choice(I don’t know what all he used), then he’d send me a rough mix and let me know what he felt the track additionally needed. I would load up the rough mix, add the suggested parts, usually a guitar track or miscellaneous synths, and then send him the added tracks, which he would then line up in his DAW, and then send a rough mix to Nathan to add vocals. Nat would add his vocal tracks, and send them back to Chris for further mixing. Once everything was finished, Chris would send me a more refined mix for approval, in which I would critique and he’d make adjustments as needed. When all the criteria were met, the track was finished.

As you may have gathered, Chris was pretty much the hub in which we centered our work. He was the guy who would make sure everything was precise and sounded the way it should(I let him do that, because his mixing skills are superior to mine). Chris and I started maybe eight or nine tracks in the beginning, but ultimately, focused on one track at a time in order to keep from having several unfinished tracks a year later. Our final release came down to four tracks. I then suggested that he and I each should make an interlude track, not necessarily music, but more of a sonic pastiche. This brought the track total to six, Thus making Dirty Jazz an EP instead of an LP, although with most of the tracks hitting the 6 minute mark, it runs nearly the length of an LP. To top it all off, the man responsible for mastering our album(thinds) did a remix of one of the tracks, bringing the total to seven.

We collectively used a myriad of apps to create this album. We used so many, in fact, that I can’t really remember all of them, and I can only remember a couple that Chris used. The apps I can remember were used on almost every track or were stand out apps(because they were either new or unique in what they provided). As stated above, we each used Auria and Cubasis as DAWs. The utility apps were as follows:

Dropbox, Facebook Messenger, What’s App were used to communicate and pass files.

Audiobus, Audioshare, Audio Copy, AUM were used to facilitate using all the audio apps in a cohesive way.

This pretty much covered the utilities, and now I will attempt to cover as many audio apps as I can remember. They are as follows:

Fugue Machine, Animoog, Super Manetron, Borderlands Granular, Thor, iMS20, iM1, iPolysix, Gadget, Model 15, Fieldscaper, moodscaper, and iVCS3.

That’s all I could think of at the moment, and I have no idea what Chris used on his end, though I’m sure he used some similar apps as me…although I’m thinking Patterning was used for beats(how do you like them apples? I don’t even know what all apps my collaborator used).

I do know that we worked very hard on this, yet, we enjoyed the process. We enjoyed it so much, that what started as a one-time collaboration(mainly to help me out of a rut) turned into a full-time entity and also developed an international friendship. Even though we are just days away from the release of Dirty Jazz, we are already beginning work on our second release. I’m looking forward to working on new music and changing things up a bit, as Nathan will be contributing more in the way of performances as well as vocals. I too will be stepping it up, by playing more live takes, as opposed to sequences. We are taking liberties with sound sources, as I have acquired the Volca line of products and want to feature some of their sounds. Mind you, a vast majority of the work will still be iOS based, so we will be using plenty of synths and effects.

Well, that about wraps up today’s installment. Later this week, I’ll be doing a review of Electro-Harmonix’ app debut in the Micro Synth, another installment of The Hard/Soft Option, where I start detailing the build of the cabinets that house the Volcas and using Korg Gadget and Modstep extensively to fuel the Volcas with sequences, and other goings-on.

As always, thanks for reading and happy apping!