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Billy Corgan-The Future Embrace Drum Machines & Samplers
Old 12th February 2011
  #1
Gear Head
 

Billy Corgan-The Future Embrace

What equipment would get the kind of drum beats and synth sounds he has on that album.I'm in no way trying to cop a sound,i'm just curious as to what equipment can produce those sounds.I actually use to hate his solo album until i finally gave it another go and spent some time really listening to how he used the guitar more as color. Thanks for any info!
Old 13th February 2011
  #2
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shaft9000's Avatar
 

i know that Corgan has a big-ass system of Mattson Mini-Modular(s) but how much is on that record is questionable.
listening to "love somebody" now, it sounds like he's been studying mid-80's Cocteau Twins and Ivo Watts' techniques. 4AD records sound: tons of Roland jazz chorus, BBD delays and tape delay played on hollowbody 6-string electrics. drums were sometimes played on simmons or programmed using whatever Linn, DMX or early digital drumbox was lying about (the key is the 8-bit samples as the programming is rudimentary to nearly any digital drum machine)
Old 13th February 2011
  #3
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Acid Hazard's Avatar
Billy has a rather large collection of vintage gear, so it's a guessing game on what could have been used. Not sure when this album was made, so can't really say if Ichabod was used.
Old 13th February 2011
  #4
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lestermagneto's Avatar
well i worked on this record, so ask me anything... It was quite the process!
Billy has a tremendous amount of vintage analog synths, drum machines, fx, etc that we were using. And the house rules were pretty strict. We could use anything in the room, were not allowed to use samples (from outside sources, we could resample what we had), because he had a real demand for authenticity.
A bulk of the sounds on the record were made with a custom huge Doepfer modular, which Bon Harris put together, and programmed like noone else you have ever seen. I think he is the eddie van halen of programmers, esp. on modular stuff, and i cannot give him enough credit for his taste, production, and patience in teaching matt walker and myself how to program on those beasts.
We had four different setups, bon with most of the modulars in one corner, and matt walker and myself with use of everything from the whole roland jupiter line, to all the crumars, solina's, oberheims, moogs, etc you can imagine. No digital hardware synths were used at all.
Billy was setup in the control room (we were in the live room, since we weren't using "real" drums, and only a portion of the live room was set up for billy's vocal and guitar rig.
It was fortunate for matt walker at the time that ALL the drums were programmed, as he had just torn his acl in an onstage accident, and was in a total leg brace for most of the recording sessions. We used every drum machine made up until about 1985, and the bass sounds mainly came from the doepfer, roland system 100, some came from minimoogs or oberheim xpanders, etc... most of which were then amped and recorded in a room through a variety of amps, if memory serves, the ampeg got the majority of the work.
bjorn thorsrud did a great job meticuously recording this project, as with so many different contributions from different workstations, all being thrown in the pot, it could get to be quite a nightmare, but he held it all together. Most of the synths if i remember, were either amped and recorded back into our DAWS, usually through millenial, neve, or the ssl.

the guitar sounds were painstakingly worked on. Billy is the best guitar player i have ever worked with, and his attention to detail and sound sculpting abilities were labored over with love, as every song has only ONE take of guitar, with one sound, and one pass only. If he made a mistake, rewind, start over from the beginning. It made for some late nights.
I am not sure if he wants me to divulge his signal path right now, but to give clue, it was pretty much made out of one device, and on occassion we threw one of his huge huge collection of vintage pedals. He, Bjorn and I would sometimes spend a whole day making one guitar sound, tweaking until our ears bled, but it was a fun adventure.

there is so much of the process on this record that i can talk about, but whatever, ask me anything, and i will answer as best as memory serves!
Old 13th February 2011
  #5
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Acid Hazard's Avatar
There you have it folks!

=o]

Does Billy have the Crumar Spirit?
Old 13th February 2011
  #6
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lestermagneto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acid Hazard View Post
There you have it folks!

=o]

Does Billy have the Crumar Spirit?
No, he doesn't or didn't have a spirit at that time.... though the crumar performer was used extensively.... we were listening to a lot of early cure, sisters of mercy, new order at the time, kind of a technological tip of the hat to our post punk brethren in the early 80's....

also, this was all before he got ichabod....
Old 13th February 2011
  #7
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Simonator's Avatar
 

I didn't even know this project existed... going to have a listen now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Binaural2010 View Post
listening to how he used the guitar more as color.
I love how Siamese Dream has solid walls of thrash guitar... but in context they don't really come across that way:

Old 13th February 2011
  #8
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Heathfinnie's Avatar
 

Did my old RMI Harmonic Synthesizer end up on it anywhere?
Old 13th February 2011
  #9
Gear Head
 

Thanks so much Lestermagneto!!! In a recent interview i was reading(from around the time of the solo album) and in the interview Corgan had said

"I also learned a whole new way to write songs, which I won't divulge; it's a good secret. That yielded different results too - a different production result, a different sonic result. Slowly, a new picture started to emerge from all of this, largely because I had yet to record the guitar parts. I wanted to make songs work without any guitar, and then put a single essential guitar part into each of them based on what was already there. On every song but the last, there is just one guitar track; the last song has no guitar at all." -Billy Corgan

What is that new way of writing songs that he won't say? How did the initial tracks get started? I really love the drum sound on that album! If there was one drum machine that figured prominently,what would it be? I've always wanted to know how that album was done,so any more info you can give the more i can jump for joy.
Old 13th February 2011
  #10
Gear Head
 

What was that one device? I'm more interested in the bass and drum sounds,although Corgan was right when he said the guitar playing would blow your mind.I've always had a huge interest in Corgan's songwriting process.
Old 13th February 2011
  #11
Gear Head
 

On "A 100" at 0:23 something really badass kicks in and i LOVE IT!
Old 14th February 2011
  #12
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lestermagneto's Avatar
sorry, been running errands all day, so let me get to some of these questions:

on a100, around :23, the sound that kicks in is either billy's guitar, or a processed/amped version of the bassline, from which the name of the song came, the a100 doepfer, and i think this riff was created upon receiving the unit.....

as far as the RMI harmonic synth, I don't remember seeing this around at the time, it might have been purchased post record, for there was no reason it wouldn't have been around....

main drum machine? there wasn't really one, but the 606's, 909's drumtraks, linns, and drumulator probably got the most love.... the sounds were mixed and matched as there were many contributing to the drum sounds, so whatever worked best, and billy chose on,.... bon also made a lot of drum sounds from the doepfer... a lot of the synth toms etc came from that.... we spent a lot of time with that,.... and then would further process sounds through a myriad of outboard gear, from vocoders to pedals etc.... there was a real luxury given to creating new sounds, and billy was really open to ideas as long as they did not originate from anyone else's loops or sounds etc.

i sent billy a message asking whether or not i could describe his methodology at that point, (i have to respect the man's privacy if he hasn't discussed it yet !), so will get back on that one...

but i think after years of pumpkins and zwan etc, he wanted to try a different approach, and as you can hear on siamese dream, he can easily produce the "boston" layered sound quite handily, so he wanted to see what he could eek out of one performance and one sound, and not have 32 plus tracks of guitar etc... he really wanted a different angle to come from and challenge himself with, and as typically before synths weren't part of his sonic wheelhouse per se, he spent a lot of time understanding them, and had quite a preternatural ability to coax the parts out of them.

the songs would change a lot from day to day, as billy is tremendously prolific, and would often rewrite songs upon waking up in the morning or walking to the studio, which would sometimes result in scrapping days of work.... and sometimes just popping up a certain synth would steer the songs in different directions....
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSC02474.JPG (1.18 MB, 1288 views)
Old 14th February 2011
  #13
Gear Head
 

Thanks soooooo much! That picture is soooo awesome.Thank's for taking the time to email him,I'd love to know how he went about that new way of writing.My friend and i always joke about how Corgan is a songwriting machine.I remember around Siamese Dream he talked about having writer's block and i wonder what he did to get over it,cause he sure in the hell hasn't had a problem writing since. heh
Old 14th February 2011
  #14
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lestermagneto's Avatar
...i know what you are talking about.... billy IS a songwriting machine, seriously, on the tour bus his incidental musings on a guitar (on the way to soundcheck etc..) would be better then most artists output for the year, and i will(am) going on record as saying that. there is so much he hasn't released, from the recording of the future embrace, as well as stuff outside, that will one day see the light of day hopefully,... because it is really frigging good. he really can do whatever he wants when he wants to, and despite his reputation for being a dictator etc. in the studio, far from it, he just is usually, if not always, better then anyone else in the room.
Old 14th February 2011
  #15
Gear Head
 

Approximately how many songs were recorded for The Future Embrace? The whole reason i asked about his methodology was bc i'm always looking for new ways to go about songwriting,And i love the work he's done.The more i listen to TFE the more subtle things i hear-different little "riffs" going in and out of a song,double vocals,different drums on the same song at different points...etc. etc.
Old 14th February 2011
  #16
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beaumont's Avatar
 

Im gonna have to pick this up. Super intrigued. Always been a fan of Billy's work.
Old 14th February 2011
  #17
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lestermagneto's Avatar
hey binaural!, there were probably around 20 songs that were "finished" for the record, a lot of my favorites actually didn't make the cut!, but there were probably around 50ish ideas floating around from the origin.... when billy first contacted me about working on the record he was more into a gary numanesque vibe, of doing something different then he had in the past, ... using vintage synths in the stead of his normal placeholders sonically, ... he and bon and bjorn had spent a lot of time with a process and pretty much brought matt walker and myself in for new blood and a fresh perspective, take it or leave it....i went in one afternoon and ended up staying for 4 or more months of at least 12 hour days, 7 days a week. I think at one point we worked 56 days in a row without a day off.... talk about immersion!
i'm glad you have taken the time to listen to the record, because there was a lot of attention paid to what you are talking about. we would discuss often how in hiphop for example, even the simplest pattern would gain more importance by dropping out one hit in the expression, like losing one snare in what was perceived as a 4 bar loop etc, or effecting one differently... and as far as riffs go, billy rarely repeats himself twice in the same way and has a way on constructing what seems like the same pattern over the course of a song. he is in no way cut and paste. i don't think he can even think that way. it organically would make no sense to him.
as far as methodology goes, one thing billy has always said has helped him was focusing on the book "the artist's way" by julia cameron, and the exercises contained within....
Old 14th February 2011
  #18
Gear Head
 

WOW! When that album initially came out, for some ignorant reason i just couldn't stand it.Then a few months ago i gave it another listen and it just blew me away.I've actually learned alot from it,some of the stuff you said,like losing one snare..etc.I've met Billy a few times but i never had a real chance to ask him about songwriting/creativity and the different ways to get the magic flowing.Your a very lucky man! That would've been a dream come true to work with him and get a look "behind the wizard's curtain".The record really did change the way i look at using the guitar.That slithering bass on "The Camera Eye" is tops.
Old 14th February 2011
  #19
Gear Head
 

Was the "The Artist's Way" Corgan's new way of writing-that he wouldn't say and you couldn't divulge?
Old 14th February 2011
  #20
Gear Head
 

Were the songs built around the rhythm tracks and then added to? Did Corgan write the lyrics around the music/Groove,or a little of both ways? I'm just now starting to mess around with programming,so thats why i ask.I would imagine its a pretty tedious task to sit at a computer and mess with so many options,not including all the other musical equipment around.
Old 14th February 2011
  #21
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lestermagneto's Avatar
ha! no, the artists way was not the methodology..... it was more orchestral in nature philosophically....
camera eye: that was one of the tough ones on the record, the slithering bass you are referring too was probably guitar, bon and i had a tough time getting what billy wanted on that one.
it was one of those songs, where i took his demo guitar, and analyzed the rhythm, generated a groove template on, and applied to the synths, because his right hand is his own, and any kind of quantized synth would throw it all out of wonk. so it had to be to "his" template.
billy is always an amazing guy to work with. he is demanding, but makes you way better at what you do and who you are as an artist. sadly in this industry there are few as intelligent, introspective and involved with everything as he.
it's cool you are asking these questions, cause i haven't listened to the record in ages, and just put it on... btw, alan moulder did a great job mixing what was a tough record to peg. it wasn't sonically cogent or aware of what else was going on in the world at that time....
Old 14th February 2011
  #22
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lestermagneto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Binaural2010 View Post
Were the songs built around the rhythm tracks and then added to? Did Corgan write the lyrics around the music/Groove,or a little of both ways? I'm just now starting to mess around with programming,so thats why i ask.I would imagine its a pretty tedious task to sit at a computer and mess with so many options,not including all the other musical equipment around.
no, all the songs were built around billy's chord structures.... and sometimes he would deviously hide melodic intent in a way that would surprise us all at the end.... i'm sure the sounds influenced certain things melodically/thematically, but chordal structures etc were thought out well in advance of any kick drum....
and yes, options suck.... it was way easier when you could only do a few things, but now that you can take a macbook and apply lexicons and modular emulators in the box, it gets a little bit combinatoraly overwhelming. it's best to know what your tools can do...
Old 14th February 2011
  #23
Gear Head
 

I like hearing how the songs were done and appreciate you taking the time out to talk about it like the way you did below.It sounds like the guitar on the album has this super-distortion/delay/chorus tone going on,It kind of has that shimmer to it that the Machina album has going on. which i really like.In the "Camera Eye" i can hear this (good) buzzing at 1:09-1:10.For the longest time i thought that was a bass that opens the song.I really like that super-distorted part at 1:28.Then at 1:59 and at 2:05 it sounds like some lord only knows what.What program was used to record and arrange the drums? Who sings back-up vocals on "To love somebody"? It sounds like another guy(Robert Smith?) Of course "A100" is just plain bad*ss!!!!,At 2:00-2:05 it sounds like a monster coming alive.Did Corgan give ya an answer on the methodology? LOL..."DIA" has the most natural drum sounds on the album,to my ears at least.It's also harder for me to pick things out.Please excuse my ignorance with the recording questions as i'm just now starting out.I'm not sure of all the "Terms" used.I tend to like what seems like the simple songs like "Now(and then).The drum really has a shuffle/shake to it.Some major effects of the guitar.






Quote:
Originally Posted by lestermagneto View Post
ha! no, the artists way was not the methodology..... it was more orchestral in nature philosophically....
camera eye: that was one of the tough ones on the record, the slithering bass you are referring too was probably guitar, bon and i had a tough time getting what billy wanted on that one.
it was one of those songs, where i took his demo guitar, and analyzed the rhythm, generated a groove template on, and applied to the synths, because his right hand is his own, and any kind of quantized synth would throw it all out of wonk. so it had to be to "his" template.
billy is always an amazing guy to work with. he is demanding, but makes you way better at what you do and who you are as an artist. sadly in this industry there are few as intelligent, introspective and involved with everything as he.
it's cool you are asking these questions, cause i haven't listened to the record in ages, and just put it on... btw, alan moulder did a great job mixing what was a tough record to peg. it wasn't sonically cogent or aware of what else was going on in the world at that time....
Old 14th February 2011
  #24
Gear Head
 

So Corgan had all his chord structures written out while working on things and then built upon the initial structure? Interesting, as it seems like the songs are so rhythm oriented. Do you have anymore pics from the session that your "allowed" to show? What was your favorite part of working on the album? How is it that he's so prolific? Does he have a process he goes through to produce results?
Old 14th February 2011
  #25
Gear Head
 

Even if Corgan did tell his method,the results i or anyone else got would be totally different,and there's not many people as talented or prolific as he is.
Old 14th February 2011
  #26
Gear Head
 

"Tilt" is probably my favorite song out of the TFE songs i've heard.There's some cool stuff going on in that song that i can't pin-point.I wish he would release the other songs from the session.If they're anything like "Tilt" they should be released.The solo at 3:28 is nice.
Old 14th February 2011
  #27
Lives for gear
 

guys, the future embrace came out in like 2005.
this was significantly before his mattson and rmi harmonic synthesizer purchases so no, these did not end up on the album.
lester, thanks for sharing.
in my opinion, TFE is an excellent, highly underrated album.
there's a video with remixed versions of album tracks where the synths were way more pronounced that sounded freaking amazing.
mini
Old 15th February 2011
  #28
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lestermagneto's Avatar
hey, sorry, working in the studio right now, but just spoke to billy, and got the full go ahead to talk about whatever, so will reply more soon when i have time!
Old 15th February 2011
  #29
Gear Head
 

SWEET! Can't wait to hear about it!
Old 15th February 2011
  #30
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lestermagneto's Avatar
"Who sings back-up vocals on "To love somebody"? It sounds like another guy(Robert Smith?)":

it IS in fact robert smith of the cure, he graciously lent his vocals and a guitar solo to the song, and he was the most amazing guy to drink with on tour.

"Now(and then).The drum really has a shuffle/shake to it.":

i think the majority of the drum sounds on that song were 909 and processed, there were some optigan parts as well that were processed….

""Tilt" is probably my favorite song out of the TFE songs i've heard.There's some cool stuff going on in that song that i can't pin-point.I wish he would release the other songs from the session.If they're anything like "Tilt" they should be released.The solo at 3:28 is nice.":

TILT is one of my favorites as well, i was not sure that was released, it wasn't on the american domestic. that one is bon harris genius in terms of synth programming, the time signature changes on that song were a bit insane to program to, more on that later…

this was significantly before his mattson and rmi harmonic synthesizer purchases so no, these did not end up on the album.
lester, thanks for sharing.
in my opinion, TFE is an excellent, highly underrated album.
there's a video with remixed versions of album tracks where the synths were way more pronounced that sounded freaking amazing.
mini:

would love to see those videos, if you know where they are, point me to them…. in general, a lot of the synth majesty was overwhelmed by the guitar, which i will again get to more later, but so it goes, it was billy's solo record, so a new order record it was not going to be! The guitar ate up so much sonic room, that it kind of sandblasted the intimacy of some of the synths etc, but it was the nature of the beast. the guitar ALWAYS came last in the process, which i will go into more depth later…

ok, more in a bit!
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