Soundcloud – Two New Free Tracks Available

Hi everyone.

Apologies for neglecting this poor blog recently, but to make up for it here’s a post about not one but two new collaborations on Soundcloud that you can listen to and download for free. I thought I’d give you a little insight into what’s going on in these tracks and also highlight the amount of free software used to create them. People always think that setting up a recording system is expensive, and it can be , but these days there are loads of great free, or very cheap, pieces of software that can give you some great results.

All my multi-track recording these days is done using Reaper, an amazingly powerful audio and MIDI workstation. The small business/personal licence is really cheap compared to other studio packages and, even better, the demo is fully functional and never expires so you can try it for free as long as you like. I found myself using it so much that I bought the licence, but there are no restrictions on trying it out to make sure you like it before you pay anything.

Slow Puncture

The first track is a remix of “Slow Puncture” by Laura Kidd aka She Makes War

This is the third She Makes War track I have remixed, and probably the most commercial one I’ve done so far.

I started off by stripping everything away from the original except the main acoustic guitar and the vocals. Originally I wanted to make a trip hop style track which is where the stuttery editing and pitchshifting (from one of Reaper’s built in effects)on the guitar came from, but as I listened to it more I decided that maybe I would add some strings and it started to take on a different persona. The guitar, incidentally, was run through a free guitar amp simulator, AmpLionFree, to make it a little janglier than the original as I wanted it to be a little more grungy than the original.

For this track, I used quite a few soundfonts rather than samples, and they worked pretty well in my opinion. The xylophone, synth bass and the flutes in the middle section are all soundfonts (and free!) Sadly the drums and strings were not free. For the drums I used EZDrummer and the Vintage Rock expansion pack and the strings are multiple layered sounds from IK Multimedia’s Miroslav Philharmonik software. I doubled the midi string track and fed each track to four different string patches to make a thicker more colourful sound than you would get just using the one sound.

To “glue” the track together I did a couple of things. Firstly, the drums, xylophone and strings were all run through the same reverb ( another freebie – Lexicon’s M30 plug in) in an attempt to make the sound like they were all recorded in the same room. I also found the vocals stuck out a bit so added a bit of dirt with the free mda Degrade plug in, mixed in with the original vocal ( I also used the same effect on the intro guitar).

And that’s basically it 🙂 Hope you enjoy it, and i you do don’t forget to check out Laura’s site and the original version of the track, it’s fantastic 🙂

The Mason Wright

This was a fun project to do – rather than a remix,this one was a case of adding to a pre-existing rhythm track. Tom Emmons (who I knew as @napadude on Twitter) had created a track as a tribute to Pink Floyd and invited musicians to use it as a basis for their own creations.

I have previously recorded a couple of Floyd-ish pastiches ( see below) so thought it would be something I’d enjoy doing… and I was right!

I started by dropping the bassless mix of Tom’s track into Reaper and busking along on my trusty Cort Curbow 6 string bass. I actually intended on using my Squier Jazz for a more 70s tone but the Curbow, palm muted and played with a pick, sounded OK so after a couple of takes I had a usable track. My original plan was to create a dark, slightly gritty, Roger Waters type sound but as I experimented I ended up with something inbetween Roger Glover and John Wetton!

The bass tone was again created with a feast of freebies 🙂 The key to is Reaper’s 3 band splitter and joiner plug ins. These allow you to split any audio track into three separate frequency bands ( lows, mids and highs set to whatever crossover frequencies you choose) and then process each one seperately. This is a godsend for bass tracks as you can keep the low fundamentals untouched while sprinkling fairy dust on the upper frequencies. so effectively the bass sound is made up of three effects chains:

Lows – squashed through the free Plektron WTComp tube compressor plug in
Mids – Run through the Ampeg B15 simulation from Line 6’s excellent PodFarmFree suite
Highs – Run through PodFarm’s Marshall JCM800 guitar amp simulation

At one point I also added some octave up harmoniser ( from Reaper’s built in ReaPitch)to the high frequencies, which gave a very convincing Kings X style 12 string bass sound,but it was so huge it was eating up the whole mix!

The final step on the bass track was to squash it drastically with Tone Boosters’ Barricade limiter (another fine freebie demo). I don’t normally do a lot of brickwall limiting but it added a nice punch and consistency on this occasion.

For the guitar, I used my trusty Mexican Fender Telecaster and again just plugged in and started playing. I think the track on the recording is the second or third take, with a couple of dropped in phrases here and there.

For the sound, I started with the Fender Twin simulation from the free GuitarSuite set of plugins ( the amusingly titled “Rednef”)and then added a pile of PodFarm effects – their Tubescreamer pedal simulation for some extra overdrive plus a digital delay and spring reverb. Finally I added another WTComp for some valvey compression and final some of Reaper’s presence Eq to add a little high end lost in the delays and reverbs.

The final challenge was to get the tones to blend with the backing track. For this I did something else I rarely do and used Reaper’s expressbus Bus Compressor on the main outputs which added just enough subtle “glue” to make it sound coherent.

Another freebie I should mention, used on both tracks, is ToneBooster’s Isone plug in which creates simulations of various listening environments and is really helpful if you have to, as I do , mix on headphones.

Hopefully that give some insight into what goes into these tracks and, more importantly, demonstrated some of the great free resources that are available these days.

As you’ve managed to read this far, here are some bonus tracks to listen to. These are the Floyd-esque tracks I mentioned earlier. Firstly, here’s my contribution to last year’s “Big Calm” project which starts off with some blatant ripping off…

And secondly, here’s the closing track from the album “Moo(sic)” which again had a very Floydy intro..

Take care and I promise to attempt to not wait another 6 months before the next post….probably!


2 Responses to “Soundcloud – Two New Free Tracks Available”

  1. Excellent post, Alun! I really dig your SheMakesWar remix and your version of The Mason Wright. Also- I’ve been using Reaper for two years and agree that it’s a Great DAW! Thanks for the three-way split mention. I’m-a hafta try that one! 🙂

  2. Right on, Alun. What a great description.

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