The Confusingly Titled Track 9 That Begins as a Quirky Little Off-Kilter Retro Night Chase Sequence and Resolves to a Fleeting Moment of Beauty and Transcendence As The Sun Comes Up And We Realise We Made It Out Aliveu-he Repro 5
So there's been a lot of Prophet 5 buzz lately with Dave's anniversary and the re-release, and some folks here will know that I share Elf's general 'not-keen'-ness of the Prophet 5, while at the same time having distinctly warm feelings about the (lovely) Pro One.
The P5 was, and is, a legendary, genuinely game-changing synth that managed to set the initial template for what a "good" polysynth should be, and it *looks* fabulous. But I never warmed to the sound - it's difficult to put into words, but when I hear people playing it, particularly dry, it has a "hard" sound (I think someone mentioned the term "grainy", which isn't right either, but I kinda know what they mean), not heavy, but somewhat unsubtle, not helped by a lot of fairly harsh classic presets, like the basses or *that* "sync" sound - particularly when the filter is open, resonance is up or there's polymod going on.
So, it seemed a good opportunity to use and explore a synth I don't really like, and see what I could do and whether perhaps I could change my opinion. u-he's excellent Repro-5 is commonly regarded as a pretty 'perfect' emulation, so that was my weapon of choice this time around. (Yes, I bought it for the Pro One emulation, the P5 was thrown in for the people that couldn't understand the point of a monosynth...)
I usually try to avoid the typical sounds that most people who associate to these synths, and I wanted to do a track that was a bit more pure synth - so no drums, and not a complicated mix job.
So, noodling around, I often gravitate for some pluck-type sounds, avoiding the harsher filter-open stuff, and came up with a little odd-meter riff which became the foundation of the track.
I liked the different ways you can perceive the beat here - you can follow the riff in 8ths (11/8) as it cycles, or just count in 4/4, so as I built out parts I'd alternately play into, or against those beats - the bass notes which lead the chord changes for instance would sometimes change on full completion of the riff, or sometimes change where the 4/4 beats are, and sometimes even *between* 4/4 beats for those who were counting that way and starting to get comfortable.
(I liked it, but in the end I changed many of those off-beat change timings to come back to being a little more conventional, so it's not quite as challenging to follow, but it still defies whatever beat you're following in various places, which was the point. Hence the "off-kilter chase" theme - I kind of imagined running around, being yanked down corridors and often quickly changing direction.)
As I started fleshing it out with pads etc, I came across a string-type sound which actually sounded quite sweet as you opened up the filter, so I decided to make that a "moment" where the track swells up, and made the parts work to support that. I blurred, widened and receded the arpeggio/sequence parts during that climax with FX and automation so it kind of feels like you're caught in the middle of this whirlpool, with the outside world out of focus spinning around you. Or something.
Then it was really a case of colouring in various parts of the track with new sounds and parts. In some cases I went after very particular sounds, and I used automation to make this things change over time, or mutate during drop outs, and build in intensity as the track progresses to it's climax to try and keep it moving.
There's actually very little compression or EQ used in the whole mix - just a bit of buss compression and a touch of "tape" on the master. So it's mainly Repro-5 (about 12 instances) and some wet FX, with various synth and FX automation.Some DAW screeniesPlugins used:
Mostly some Soundtoys stuff for delays, phaser, Softtube Tape, bit of Valhalla & u-he MFM, a bit of EQ to tame some FX returns, OzoneHave Another Listen
If you want to look into the sounds and parts in more detail, here are the stems of the individual tracks, with track FX & automation, but no buss FX. The track is at 108bpm. Do what you want with it.https://www.dropbox.com/s/d64vcjgnthk6fda/OSC_Stems_108bpm.zip?dl=1
...did this change my attitude to the Prophet 5?
Well, not really. But *any* instrument can provide good, musically useful sounds, and the Prophet is no exception. There is still a whole area of the P5 I'm not so keen on, and I don't find it that flexible a synth, or the sweet spot particularly wide for me - and while the polymod section is useful for special effects, and extends the palette of possible sounds - it's less useful imo in the context of what I want from a polysynth; I don't have a huge need for crazy widdly cross-modulated special FX sweeps. As I mostly stayed away from that stuff here, and stuck to smoother, darker sounds, I liked what I came up with.
I guess in general I'm less into the big American polysynths, and prefer the more smoother, refined character of the Japanese stuff (Roland in particular.)
But, as long as I stay away from the overly harsh stuff, the Prophet 5 has it's place.
Standing on it's end, in the corner, behind the Jupiter 8 and the Pro One, waiting for the Reverb listing to complete... ;)