Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bored of Canada?

(Props to 'funkyappledog' for pointing out this technique many years ago in this thread...)

In case you've been living in a cave for the past decade or so, Boards of Canada are two Scottish brothers who have forged one of the most interesting and identifiable sounds in electronic music in recent memory. Some have claimed the music reminds them of their childhood and the warped educational films they used to see in school. Personally, I always thought their music was the closest anyone had come to capturing an acid trip in audio form. Not that I would know anything about that. Ahem.

Part of the the fuzzy, psychedelic quality of their music comes from their process of recording instruments to old, beat up tape machines, which gives the music a warped, slightly seasick quality. As often happens in electronic music, people pretty much immediately latched onto this sound and wondered how they could reproduce it without having to forge in Grandpa's attic to track down a tape machine of their own. Fortunately, if you work in Logic, you already have a plug-in that will reproduce this effect quite readily: Tape Delay. Here's how you do it.

1. Call up the track you wish to warp and apply a Tape Delay to the insert.
2. In the upper lefthand corner of the Tape Delay window, make sure Sync is turned off, and adjust the Delay value to around 10ms.
3. In the Output section, turned the Dry level all the way down, and the Wet level all the way up so you are only getting the effected sound.
3. Adjust the LFO rate to taste (.54Hz works nicely). Push up the LFO depth as well (73% will do fine).
4. Now adjust your Flutter rate (something toward the low end) and Flutter Intensity to taste (try around 65%).

If you've done everything correctly, you should end up with something that sounds not unlike this little example I threw together quickly...


kent said...

I have a lot of old tape recorders (which, btw, seem to always come with some really cracked-out tape, like 2 hours of the Harmonicats) and none of them have enough 'wow' to get that effect. The BOC wooze sounds like a record with an off-center spindle hole.

I suspect they're using something like the Yamaha E1010
which is a BBD Analog delay with a delay time modulator. I grabbed one of those somewhere and they're absolutely the shit. I'd like to find a second (or third!) one for more delay time and sweet sweet BBD noise and high frequency attenuation.

Tom said...

Yeah, BOC are one of those acts like Aphex Twin where they don't give a lot of interviews or make public appearances, and I think it leads to a sort of mythology around them and their techniques, a lot of which is probably B.S.

I can attest, though, that you can really get those types of effects from a reel to reel by using your finger to resist the motor. When I used to make work in advertising, at first we recorded all our voiceovers on a reel to reel and I used to be quite fond of messing with the recordings by doing that when I should've been working. heh

Anonymous said...

I did not know them until you posted, Tom. And I really liked!!!

Tom said...

Boreli - Go to your local record store and buy a copy of 'Geogaddi' now! ; )

Anonymous said...

Tom, I´ll have to order online the same way I do with A23 albuns... ;)

Bob's Country Bunker said...

Here's two free ones with much more detailed control ...only for the dark side.

E-Phonic Retrodelay --LFO>delay time

Wow & Flutter --need i say more?

Anonymous said...

to enhance the 'wow' effect on your a-little-too-nice tape recorder (I have a fairly quality yamaha hi-fi deck from the early 90s):

* sample your track (if not a sample already)
* record sample to tape, but play the sample 2-4 times original speed (an octave or two up, or more!)
* sample the tape playback back into your rig, and pitch down octave or whatever to get original pitch.

it should now have fairly emphasized wow and flutter, not to mention different harmonic balance caused by the tape's frequency response at higher frequencies. of course this may sound nothing like BoC, but like anything, experimentation can lead to cool results :) ...try pitching sample down instead for different harmonic munging, record many different pitches at once to expedite the process.

Anonymous said...

Cool little demo there,maybe a little to much clarity and reverb on the drums to be exactly BoC. Now I've got to figure out how to do this on reason. When I do I'll post it up.

Anonymous said...

hey, what kind of patch/sound did you use for that example?

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Sean said...

I know this blog is dead, but I was reading over older stuff. I use the Roland SP-555 phrase sampler to get warbley stuff like the guitar in BOC - Chromakey Dreamcoat. I use the "tape delay" effect. I don't think they did everything with a reel-to-reel on actual tape. The older Roland groovebox samplers may have done it or various guitar pedals..

Sean said...

Haven't used my sp-555 in a while, but can do it with the "vinyl" effect as well. It has a wow/flutter control. Those and the lofi compressor effect is probably why I keep it around.