Sylvan Esso is one of my favourite bands from the last few years. I like them in so many ways, but what I find especially interesting is the blend of folk sensibility with electronic beats – while keeping it all in the pop domain.
Nick Sanborn has been very generous with sharing some of his production techniques. And I hope to try some of them out. Today’s jam was inspired by the breathy, flutey stutter of the Sylvan Esso song Frequency. According to Sanborn it is made up from a vocal sample on the OP-1, then played as chords – and ran through his modular synth.
I didn’t really have access to that. But the sound of Frequency reminded me of pan flutes or blowing in bottles. So, that’s what I did. I filled a wine bottle with water. Recorded a snippet onto my phone. Dropped it into Ableton sampler and had the M4L-device Melodic Steps followed by some midi-fx come up with a chord-riff.
I added some drums, Minitaur-bass, rhodes with beat repeat and then there’s some “failed blowing” that I put a gate on and sidechained to the drums for percussive effect.
I didn’t really end up that close to the Sylvan Esso song. The breathy airyness that I wanted to emulate was simply a starting point. Texture-wise I was pretty satisfied. The bass…not so much hmm.