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How We Did It

How we did it: Part 9 - Patrick Pulsinger

Studio Talk with Patrick Pulsinger about Impassive Skies

After his first solo techno releases on Disko B in the early and mid 90`s Patrick Pulsinger developed a great variety in style. His research in analogue recording techniques, improvised music and the exchange of musical ideas with jazz musicians have dominated his music in the last decade. Patrick Pulsinger's 4th studio album "Impassive Skies" on Disko B draws the attention back to the dancefloor. Here are Patrick's words on the production process of "Impassive Skies":
From the moment when i started to fool around with the basic sequences fort he beatz and noises, i was clear that this could totally be an interesting opener for the record. I played around with a 8 bit hardware sampler, that was customized to accept external trigger input for playback and record. After i hooked up the sampler a hardware sequencer, the basic rythm was there within a couple of minutes. I used no drum boxes or drum sounds, only sequenced noise and modular synthesizer sounds. Since it was a very delicate balance between playing around and loosing the cool groove. I recorded immediate around 20 minutes of jam.I did not listen back to it for a couple of weeks. When Franz Hautzinger called me one day and told he was coming over to the studio right now, i was hoping he would have his trumpet with him and would have a go on a couple of sketches i had made lately.
First thing was the unedited session i had made with the sampler and Franz just sat down and delivered what you hear on the track now.
He uses an effect pedal and small amp for his trumpet. So I recorded the direct signal and the amp plus a room microphone. That way I could have the quiet percussive noises he was making, as well as the big crescendos.
I thought that it worked brilliant and it gave me a new impulse to finish the track.
Since i had about 20 minutes of trumpet recorded over the whole track, i made the decision to arrange the rest of the elements around the trumpet, keeping most of the actual performance.
I ended up doing 3 different versions of the track with 3 different arrangements around different parts of the trumpet. The one on the album was selected on the day of the final mixing session.

A TO Z feat. Teresa Rotschopf
This was one of the last tracks i did for the record. When I had the idea for the track, it was not really intended to go on the album. Most of the song was done with moog and my system formant modular synthesizer. Drums are all classic 606 and some little Akai MPC action, pretty basic.
Most of the work went into the tonal progressions of the synth elements.
Since all analogue gear has the tendency to drift in tune, it is a big surprise when trying to convert a fun layout into a proper song. Teresa Rotschopf, who is singer of a band called “Bunny Lake” came to my mind first. She agreed on doing it after hearing a more that rough demo version, I was thrilled to have her on board for it.
When it was time to get parts arranged for Teresa to write some lyrics for it, I realized that the whole track was a bit out of the usual tuning, hard to find any synth lines on top of it.
I got stuck with what I had and everything I tried to put into it sounded strangely artificial.
So I just doubled and blow up the elements I had and re-amped some of the synthlines to get a bit more colour.
When we started to work on the lyrics and recorded some vocal ideas, I found out that it was actually pretty cool and gave the song a bit of a punk new wave feel, rather than full on electro pop.
So we went into that direction and largely built the track around the vocals.
We stacked up to 6 vocal takes on top of each other and tried to get as much harmonizing takes as possible. I wanted a slightly overproduced sounding underground feel for it.
Since I refuse to use autotune or melodyne for the vocals, mot of the work goes into selecting, arranging and editing the vocal parts.
Since I only work outboard and hardly use any soft synths or plug ins, had to record certain vocal parts whenever i had a great balance and effect between the voices. I do a lot of extreme equalisation when stacking voices on top if each other, so better take it when it sounds good!!
The final mix was done in the end phase of the album when it became clear that the record would be more diverse that I had thought in the first place.

I wanted to work with Christian Fennesz for some time.
Even living in the same city and knowing each other for more that a decade, it never did really happen.
When I browsed through the tons of material I had recorded for the album over some years, I really got into the first layout of the track, which was about 30 minutes long and seemed to be perfect for further research:
Basic 808 beat, recorded clapping crowd, couple of drum glitches and the hook and bass line recorded using a modified KORG 800 DV.
This DV is pretty rare and usually does not have midi or external control inputs.
Without a way to sequence it, it was hard to make great use of the killer sound it was able to produce. The trick is, that it is dualphonic. One melody is played by two independent synthesizer sections and you have smart ways to modulate between the individual parts of the synth. Great fun and intuitive to use.
The best part of the piece is a repeat button, that lets you offset the actual sequence by a couple of fixed rates and presets that work like an extra internal clock. That really swings it.
So far so good, nice bouncy feel, but Fennesz would transform it ito something else.
One afternoon we had about 3 hours of time in the studio.
I wanted hin to have a go on at least 3 songs. It took him 10 minutes to get his gear going, laptop, some effects, custom made stomp boxes. I hooked up a guitar amp in one of the recording rooms and recorded the amp signal with two individual mics, plus the line output of his effect array. This really had a great effect and gave the whole thing an amazing depth.
Christain played over the whole length of the layout and tried and recorded  a couple of fader moves on the board.
We did 2 other songs that afternoon, future back is on the album but the other was so different in style that is is still waiting on my hard drive to be awakened some other time.
Again, I tried to keep the most of his original performance and arranged the track around his scapes.
The other important part of the song is the grand piano played by Martin Knorz, young keyboard whiz, who was happen to study in Vienna for one year and became a regular visitor and musician in my studio.
I played him the recording of fennesz first without the other elements and beats.
I wanted him to play the piano like he would perform an abstract piece. Not too rhythmical, not to stale.
After I had him play a full round wih just the soundscapes in his headphones, I treated the piano sound different, tight compression and a percussive tone and had him go over the whole thing again with beats and all.
That gave me the opportunity to switch the mood of the whole track from dark and dense to funky and bouncing with the same kinds of instruments.
The automation data I had recorded earlier in the recording session with Fennesz stayed in and did transfere the original idea of the session onto the finished version.
I guess this is one of my favorites of the album and a great last track!
14.07.2010 - 11:15 – by Maki Miura / maki@wordandsound.net

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