Learn About Your Stuff


…and pseudo psychedelic, not quite rave pop music.

My first piece of outboard gear was possibly the least exciting thing I could have ever got: a Drawmer DS201 noise gate. It gated noise. At least it was black. It was the beginning of 19” rack doom.

 Around about the same time there was a pretty horrible band called The Shamen on the loose who had three solid gimmicks:

1. Thinly, or not so thinly veiled songs about drugs.

2. A super geezer-ish, yet archly camp East London rapper called Mr C.

3. An invasive stuttering stabby weird synth guitar noise.

Of course, I quite liked them. Anyway, it was my first real piece of outboard gear and despite being somewhat dull didn’t stop me from trying to find out every single thing it could possibly do which is exactly what we don’t do half the time as we are so insanely spoiled for choice. A good friend of mine told me “he who reads the manual rules the world” - and he has often been proved right. Many people simply cannot be bothered to find out how you can use the HPF and LPF filters on the gate for best triggering, or... independently as filters, or even the usefulness of something so mundane as a filter, or spend hours learning how to gate things for maximum natural tone, or maximum un-natural tone turning real drums into fresh off vinyl style samples, using the wrong attack time to add a spike to the kick impact, ducking without a compressor, changing the envelope of a sound and most importantly - they won’t discover the side chain allows them to effortlessly reproduce the Shamen’s invasive stuttering stabby weird synth noise by gating a guitar track keyed off something else like the hi-hat. Maybe it’ll make a comeback now you have this knowledge, I know I was excited. What I am really trying to suggest is to take the time to exhaust every possible thing your gear - and I include plugins as gear as you might find all kinds of weird and useful things beyond what something obviously - does. This will make you a more dangerous engineer, producer, whatever you want to be - than the guy that doesn’t.

The legendary invasive stuttering stabby weird synth guitar noise:


Yes, the guy who writes this is Bald, English and mixes records at baldenglish.com