The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

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The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by RASP » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:21 pm

So I have a question about the lead synth line in this song:
Chemlab - Pyromance

I'm pretty adept when it comes to programming but this particular lead sound has alluded me for sometime. All I really know is that the album came out in 1993 and I "think" they used a Kurzweil K2000, which is likely, given the fact that the K2000 was first introduced in 1991. But, I could be wrong about this assumption.

Anyway, here is some information about the album: Burn Out at the Hydrogen Bar

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Re: The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by adhmzaiusz » Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:11 pm

sounds to me like a dx7

My band might be opening for them in Toronto coming soon, so i'll ask them if you want
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Re: The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by Shanesaw » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:15 am

Sorry I can't help with your synth question but this is the first time I've heard Chem Lab mentioned in a long time and I had to comment. I saw them along with Skrew at The Insect Club in Virginia around '91/'92 I guess - really cool show and loads of energy these guys have. It's cool to hear that there still around as I kinda lost touch with their music. I got in trouble once sporting a t-shirts they sold at that show. The front simply said "Chem Lab" but the back said "f**k art let kill" - I was wearing it at the enlisted club at the base I was stationed at while in the military.
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Re: The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by stikygum » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:09 am

Why does that lead sound remind me of early NIN. I wonder if he also used Turbosynth. I remember for the longest time I had no idea what one of the signature sounds were in the PHM album and it was a EMU sampler's Wood Block sample pitch shifted and processed with Turbosynth. So in other words, I have no clue what that sound could be, but my lesson was that I found out it was a combo of things instead of an actual onboard synth sound/patch that you can just dial up.
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Re: The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by Computer Controlled » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:53 am

I've wondered this too. Chemlab is one of my fave bands. But there's pretty much no documentation of what they used for gear. I think Dylan was the main music man, and Jared just did the vocals. But i might be wrong. I'd really love to get a listing of all the gear used on their albums. All i know is a lot of ESM was done at Trax in Chicago. Maybe they used Al's Fairlight? =o]
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Re: The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by Joey » Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:44 am

yeah that sounds like early NIN stuff... Prophet VS, Waldorf Microwave, or something like that... Could easily be turbosynth as well. Reminds me a bit of the lead sound on the solo of the becoming.
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Re: The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by adhmzaiusz » Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:28 am

Yea just got confirmation that I'm opening for them, whos the main synth guy for chemlab?
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Re: The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by Shanesaw » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:01 am

Dylan Thomas More
"There was never a notion that a synthesizer would be used by itself for anything" - Robert Moog (1934-2005)

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Re: The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by RASP » Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:06 pm

Yeah, I saw them recently, the singer has a bunch ov younger guys in the band now.

A wavetable synth that has been processed by something like turbosynth seems likely. I've heard that the K2000 has some sampling capabilities that are similar to turbosynth.

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Re: The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by celebutante » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:09 pm

They were big Emax users, which is why some of their sounds have a PHM-like rasp- that's the signature Emax sound, especially when you set the sample rate low and the high end turns into aliasing loveliness. You can get plenty of that without busting out Turbosynth :) My good friend John Whatley did a lot of that back in "the day" with his band Insight 23, if anyone remembers them (they shared a record label with Chem Lab).

We all found out about Chem Lab when they were opening for NIN on the PHM tour circa '91. Damn I feel old :(
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Re: The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by RASP » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:28 pm

Cool, thank you celebutante. I will give it a try. I figured it was something easy, I can't imagine a coldwave industrial band going through too much trouble to achieve a specific sound. I'll give it a try.

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Re: The lead line in "Pyromance" by Chemlab???

Post by RASP » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:34 pm

Here it is, from the horse's mouth:
SC: What gear do you use and how do you go about creating your sound?
Dylan Thomas: I've got a bunch of samplers. I've got an Akai S1000 and for the old album we had a bunch of Emax's. I got the Akai to upgrade my sounds, since it's better quality.

The way we approached it, though, i had the guitar player play hours and hours of stuff on DAT. Just effects, whatever he wanted and same thing for the drummer. The I took tapes of it all and reformed snippets into melodies. And then sampled all that and played sequences of that in the studio and then had them come back in and play the live melodies that i had made up from them playing. Then i combined them both, so its a nice live sound, but its also got a sequenced sound to it. So its not quite the live rock thing, but its also not the kind of Front Line Assemblyish.

SC: For the purely artificial sounds, do you mostly use sample based techniques or do you do any synthesis?

DT: I had a bunch of Moogs and Arps and s**t. I just made up my own stuff and sampled it. Some of the sounds you hear on the albums have filter sweeps and changes that go through the sequence and those were live keyboards where i'm changing the dials. It's something i like to do and i wish i could do more of. The new keyboards don't let you do that.

SC: Yeah, except for the K2000...

DT: I just got one of those like five six months ago.

SC: Do you use its capabilties, or is it just a sample player during the shows?

DT: I've been making up sounds on the synthesis program of it. I haven't gotten too deep into it, though. I still have ways to go before i have whole banks of my own sounds. But its a nice board, it's got everything. SC: What kind of gear do you use for your sequencing?

DT: I use a Macintosh. I had this long talk with this English guy, who wanted me to use Atari. But i like to do graphics programs and other things and the Atari just doesn't let you do that. And the Mac's got a lot of Harddisk recording capability.

I used Master Tracks Pro, but i'm trying to get updated when we get the budget for the next album. I'm trying to get something like a Mac Quadra, cause i've been using an LC which is garbage.

SC: For harddisk recording it doesn't quite cut it.

DT: It doesn't even cut it for sequencing, but i'm trying get a Quadra system and maybe Cubase Audio. And maybe something like ProTools or SoundTools. I have an ADAT right now and Steinberg makes an interface for Cubase and the ADAT so that you don't have to use a track for SMPTE. So i could actually have 16 tracks digital for a quarter of the price of what 16 tracks digital normally costs.

SC: When you went to Chicago to do the album, did you do most of the processing in the production phase, or were the sounds already processed?

DT: A lot of the samples were sampled with effects. Some Boss predals and i had a harmonizer at home. I try to sample with effects, the only thing is once you do that, you limit it to that. So sometimes i'd sample the same sample twice, one clean and one with all the effects for when i'm at home writting. When i get to the studio, they've got four harmonizers and like twelve thousand dollar EQs. So i can sit there for a couple of hours and screw around. We just did a plethora of everything, there was no set way. Plus we learned a lot when we went into the studio. We went in kinda half knowing what we wanted to do and half not knowing how to do it.

SC: I read in Nexus6 that Critter Newell had you use some of his sample libraries.

DT: Well, Critter has worked with Ministry and those guys and has done like a million remixes. The only sample library we got from him was like, we went to Blockbuster and rented like ten hours worth of movies. It was kind of stupid. We spent about a thousand dollars watching ten hours of movies. But we went through and we would say which samples he would pull out. So we made a little library of our own that way.

SC: Is that mostly soundbytes or movie sounds?

DT: Mostly sounds, no talking. Like electronic noises or clanks and percussive sounds. [Critter] was the producer and engineer, but more engineer. He didn't change the music or add any sounds. I'm definetely not into using other people's sounds. I've taken some sounds from CDs and stuff, but i'm definetely not into taking an obvious sample from someone--hey, there's a Skinny Puppy sound, i've got to have that.

SC: When you use the ADAT for live work, who triggers it?

DT: I trigger it all. I have a big rack with my samplers, the K2000, a mixer and the ADAT.I can start it with a remote. It doesn't let me control what order of songs i play, which is kind of unfortunate. We've trying to cut down what we use on tape for the last three tours now adn we're getting less and less. A lot of the tracks or only for us on stage, not for the house. It's a lot of click-track stuff, like kick and snare we keep on tape but it's for us on the monitor instead of a click-track. Because click-tracks sound like clicks and you can get that bleed into the audience. The drummer has a separate click track that comes in before each song so he can count of.

We're trying to cut it down even more so that the drummer triggers loops from his drum kit, that we would have on tape, so that there is nothing on tape. That way we're going to be able to do any song we like, but that's going to take a lot more equipment. We're trying to get away from being a DAT band, but it's ineviatable in this kind of music, unless you have like four keyboard players. I don't mind tape, i do mind being stuck to a certain set. We've thought of sequencing on stage but that antoehr problem in itself.

SC: The DX7s are used only as controllers, right?

DT: We use them because they are built like houses. They're heavy and metal and i dropped them a million times and they work fine. The new keyboards are plastic and too expensive. So everything else is rackmounted.

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