The Broken Divide: Instrumentation

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Music, Subscribers, The Broken Divide

Something I’ve always been quite keen on in electronic music is the fusion of organic instrumentation with electronic instrumentation. There’s an oddly humanising feel or grounded sensation to be had when combining precisely sequenced synths with recorded/performed instrumentation. It’s something I’ve really strived for since Lightfields in particular – in that instance, I was fusing live instrumentation with electronics to give a more energetic, spontaneous feel to the album. With The Broken Divide, I thought it’d be interesting to use some non-traditional instruments and sound sources to aid with the sound of something recognisable and inviting, yet unusual and kind of unfamiliar at the same time.

The first track (“The Beginning And The End”) is a good example of this. There are guitars buried in the mix, about 2/3rds of the track make use of a piano – which is heavily processed at times, the percussion is formed from a mixture of drum synths and odd recordings, and there are field recordings all over the track. Even the frantic synth-type sound used during the crazier part of the track (you’ll know which part I mean if you give it a listen) was based on a recording of me sticking my finger on the end of an amped up cable. The recorded percussion is a mixture of rubbing hands, clicking batteries, scissors, shakers… I really wanted to give the percussion a strangely loose, human feel to it underneath the precisely timed electronic kit.

Of course, this is just one track. Although there are plenty of guitars and pianos across the album, I decided to avoid using strings and orchestral elements. Although I’ve used orchestral elements extensively in my work before (and still do!), I felt like there’s such a strong automatic association between orchestral instrumentation and “cinematic” music that wasn’t really representative of what I was shooting for with this particular album… I didn’t really want to invite that comparison through my choice of instrumentation, so I decided to avoid it entirely for The Broken Divide. I was incredibly tempted to use some strings in the penultimate track (“Time To Go”), but decided against it in the end. I think it was the right call, as the fusion of sparse electronics and piano/vocals complements what I was going for with the track on an emotional level. The only time I decided to use anything approaching orchestral instrumentation was in the title track, which uses a heavily processed and frantically bowed (read: abused) violin layered up with a stretched version of itself to give an ethereal-yet-familiar sound to it.

I guess one of the key reasons for my decision to avoid orchestral instrumentation was that I wanted the instrumentation & production to be in service of the music and emotional component itself, and not the other way around. There’s one track on the album where I used the sound of rattling keys to signify a transition, running with the theme of travel and unfamiliarity I was basing the song around. There’s another track that makes use of my first acoustic guitar (which is an old, battered thing I picked up from a charity shop that I’ve been meaning to give away for years) which tied in quite nicely to the memory referenced in that particular track, which really complements the personal connection I was going for.

There was a certain point during the creation of the album where I started to think “this is probably going to be an instrumental album. I need to focus on writing some vocal tracks to round it out, or just add vocals to the stuff I’ve already got written”. In hindsight, this was a really stupid idea. I started to make the mistake of comparing The Broken Divide as it was with my previously released albums, trying to fulfill some kind of audience-expectation quota with regards to vocal tracks rather than just letting it happen naturally. The vast majority of the instrumental tracks on the album just didn’t click when I started experimenting with adding vocals to them and, consequently, took away from the underlying memory or emotional state that I was trying to convey. That said, as I started working on the final third of the album or so, I ended up writing a few vocal tracks that fit the overall mood of the album pretty much perfectly. I also ended up writing one vocal track that didn’t fit the mood of the album, but I thought it was a really nice track… so I decided to include that with the extended version of The Broken Divide (which is exclusive to Bandcamp subscribers). In fact… thinking about it, the main hurdles I seemed to encounter when putting the album together were when I started to do things that went against the nature of the album as it was shaping up, or other things that simply didn’t fit the natural flow that ran throughout the production process. Lesson learned!

I guess that’s quite indicative of the album in general, really. The entire production process seemed to come quite naturally once I stopped trying to force it. Although I wanted to keep things interesting from a production and sound design point of view, trying to force it toward a particular direction was distracting at best, and contradictory to the album I wanted to write at worst… and I think the instrumentation is quite indicative of that. Every layer has a particular purpose and a particular role to play, and it was nice to be able to serve the emotional flow and theme of the album through the instrumentation itself.

The Broken Divide is available NOW through Bandcamp. You can listen to it in its entirety and download it from my Bandcamp page. Bandcamp subscribers also get access to an exclusive audiophile master, along with bonus tracks and instrumentals.

The Broken Divide: What’s in a name?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Music, The Broken Divide

The Broken Divide is something I’ve been working on for a few years now, and it’s an incredibly personal body of work. I thought it would be kind of interesting to talk a bit about what exactly I mean by that, and where the name itself actually came from… sort of.

In keeping with tradition, the first track I worked on and had in a more-or-less complete state for The Broken Divide was the title track. The title track was written and produced in October 2013, and was my first proper foray back into writing solo material since the release of Icarus earlier in the year. There’s something very refreshing about working with a completely blank slate, and – as happy as I was (and still am!) with Icarus as a musical work – I knew I wanted to try something different. So that’s exactly what I did.

The Broken Divide, v1
The Broken Divide, v1

I had been thinking a lot about events and memories from the past decade or so when I started writing The Broken Divide. The more I worked on it, the more I seemed to get sucked into this mindset of drawing strong emotional connections to events and places that I hadn’t really considered for an awfully long time. Even the very act of developing an album focussed primarily around memory and nostalgia began to feed back into the album itself. I’ve frequently thought of nostalgia as a means of looking back without really getting a true sense of how the pieces fit, and – as things panned out – there are certain parts of the album that explore how beautiful-yet-disparate that kind of fixation can be.

As for the actual title track itself – and, by extension, the name of the album – it was written about a very particular place, close to where I grew up. I never really thought much about it as a kid, but in recent years when I’ve gone back to this place I’ve realised that it’s both an aesthetically wonderful and conceptually bizarre place – at times calm and peaceful, and at other times loud and terrifying… and often times both at the same time. I thought it was interesting that I’d have such a strong nostalgic connection to a place like that, and it really got me thinking about how our own recollections and experiences alter our interpretations of the world around us. The Broken Divide is a reference both to that particular place, and the divide between recollection and reality. Memory is a fragile thing, especially in a constantly shifting world. Without really realising it back in 2013, I’d found my underlying concept. It’s a concept I’ve flirted with before now, but never to such a direct extent.

Now… I realise that a lot of this probably sounds more than a little self-indulgent and, hey, I guess you’d be totally correct in that observation! Generally speaking, when I’m working on a new track or solo project, I’ll tend to come up with a vague idea of a scene or story while I’m working on a particular musical idea. Sometimes I’ll come up with an idea beforehand. These “scenes” can range from quite detailed ideas to a somewhat more abstract playing-out of events. The Broken Divide is the first collection of music where all of these “scenes” and ideas came entirely from my own personal experiences, along with the memories and frequent mental gymnastics associated with them.

I must admit to being incredibly tempted to posting a detailed explanation of where all of the track ideas and names came from, along with the particular thoughts and memories associated with them. I actually ended up typing up the inspirations associated with each track once the album was completed, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised how counter-productive it would be to post that. In retrospect, putting this album together was almost an attempt to make some sort of sense out of some of my memories and recollections – the things that make me who I am. That said – while I might have a particularly strong connection to these memories and “scenes” – the emotional connection and recollection of these memories is something I wanted to express in the music itself, rather than the exact “scene” associated with it… and the wonderful thing about music is that it’s generally completely open to interpretation.

I understand that for some people that this might seem like a complete cop-out, but I don’t want it to seem like there is only one “correct” way of interpreting this album. Despite it being an incredibly personal work, I don’t really feel like it would benefit the album in any way for me to explain the story behind each individual track in detail. In fact, in some cases, having these particular ideas associated with the individual tracks might even take away from your own interpretation and enjoyment of the music. And that’d be kinda crap, right?

“So why bother with this post, then?”, you might be wondering. Fair question! While I might not think it necessary to explain in detail what the story is behind every single track, the fact is that it is still an incredibly personal body of work (I might have mentioned that once or twice, you know). Having a vague idea of the concept behind the album might give you a better sense of what I was shooting for without force-feeding my own interpretations and expectations of the music itself.

…plus, y’know, I thought it’d be kind of cool to explain where the name came from.

The Broken Divide is available NOW through Bandcamp. You can listen to it in its entirety and download it from my Bandcamp page. Bandcamp subscribers also get access to an exclusive audiophile master, along with bonus tracks and instrumentals.

“The Broken Divide” – the new album, out 5th May

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Music, The Broken Divide

UK-based musician & producer Adam Fielding returns with his latest solo album proper in the form of “The Broken Divide”, written & recorded during 2013-2016, and released in May 2016.

“The Broken Divide” is a riveting fusion of Fielding’s intricate electronic production style and deeply personal songwriting, with themes of wonderment and beauty contrasted against deep introspection and chaos. Based around a series of fragile memories and personal journeys, “The Broken Divide” makes for an emotionally charged and strikingly vulnerable listen as Fielding weaves his way through a wide range of musical styles and moods.

Opening with the contrastingly beautiful and frenzied layers of “The Beginning And The End”, the stage is set for moments of reverence and heady contemplation, such as the explosive “Defining Moments” and mournful “Time To Go”. As a whole, the album revels in emotion, atmosphere and expression, retaining Fielding’s signature blend of lush electronics and organic instrumentation.

With “The Broken Divide”, Fielding has crafted a uniquely expressive and intense work, sure to reward listeners seeking both substance and style.

As it says – on the 5th May I’ll be releasing my newest album, The Broken Divide, over on my Bandcamp page and through all major digital music retailers. I’ll be updating this site with samples and information leading up to the release. As has been the case over the past two years, The Broken Divide will be available freely via Bandcamp, with exclusive bonuses available to Bandcamp subscribers. In a similar manner to Pieces, these bonuses are…

  • An extended version of The Broken Divide containing additional tunes cut from the main release and instrumental versions of all vocal tracks. The removal of these bonus tracks from the main release is no reflection of my own perceived quality of the tracks, but I felt that they didn’t really fit the overall feel of the album itself. The instrumental versions provide an interesting alternative to their more vocal-centric counterparts.
  • An “audiophile” master of The Broken Divide. This was an idea I had while releasing Pieces, and some people really seemed to appreciate the additional choice of an alternative master… so I decided to do it again! If you are unfamiliar with the concept, then it’s a similar idea to Nine Inch Nails’ Hesitation Marks audiophile release. For most people, the regular master of The Broken Divide will be the preferred listening experience. For those with high-end equipment and a dedicated listening space, the audiophile master of The Broken Divide may offer a preferable listen. Although the regular master is compressed to what I feel is a tasteful level, the audiophile master eases up on the compression (resulting in a less “loud” master) quite considerably, features slightly altered mixes, and has a wider perceived dynamic range across the board for those who are into that kind of thing.

Again, as was the case with Pieces, although I think these bonuses are really, really (really!) neat for subscribers, I’d like to re-emphasise the fact that the main free release of The Broken Divide was written, produced, mastered, and compiled in exactly the way I wanted it to be. The free release is in no way compromised from my original vision of this album… but I felt that this was a nice way to thank people for supporting me by subscribing.

Updates will come throughout the month, including a series of posts related to the creation and release of The Broken Divide. I’m really, really looking forward to finally being able to share this album with you as it’s been quite a long time coming, and it is without a doubt my most personal record to date.

You can pre-order The Broken Divide from Bandcamp and get immediate access to two pre-release tracks.

http://adamfielding.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-divide

Live-streaming and trailer placements, ahoy!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Livestream, Production music, Reason, Tutorials

So – about that live-stream I mentioned last time? Well… I had a blast! Thanks so much to everyone who turned up, and for those of you who missed it… here’s a link to the archived version on Youtube.

Unfortunately, due to some encoding issues on my end (at least, I’m presuming that’s the case), the video gets pretty garbled at points during the second half. The audio remains fine throughout, but I hope to have this problem sorted for next time.

(For anyone interested: I was streaming to Twitch using OBS – I decided to try using the Apple Hardware x264 encoder (because hardware encoding = better, right? RIGHT?!), only to realise that hardware encoding with an integrated video processor was a really dumb choice. I’ve since switched to the “vanilla” x264 encoder and set the profile to “veryfast”, and tested it under a similar CPU load which performed without any hitches… so hopefully that’ll do the trick)

For anyone who just wants to check out the result of this two hour music making session – look no further!

Also – I was careful during the creation process not to use a huge amount of external samples or protected sounds, outside of some lovely free drums from Samplephonics and a patch from Tom Pritchard’s Vast Refill (which is an outright STEAL for $9.99, in my honest opinion). I got in touch with both guys to double-check that I’d be ok to post the project file, and they both gave me the go ahead so… if you’re a Reason 8 user, here’s the project file! Please note that it uses a few Rack Extensions, so you’re likely to end up with at least a few RE placeholders in there.

I fully intend to make live-streaming a regular thing, and I’ve got a few ideas in mind for what I’d like to do next. I won’t be writing a new song live every week (because, yeah, realistically that might be a bit much), but I’d love to dive into some old songs to examine techniques, talk about sound design, and generally open the floor up to discussing stuff while I’m in my studio. I’m tentatively slating the same time next Wednesday (24th Feb, 7pm GMT) for a “dissection” session (where I’ll examine one or more old tunes, open to requests), so we’ll see how it goes! I’ll post a confirmation once I’ve had some time to think about it.

If you want to join me for the next session, head over to my Twitch channel and be sure to subscribe!

SO. While I was busy waffling on and insulting my audience during my live-stream (still not entirely sure what possessed me to insinuate that part of my audience may have been dicks but, hey, there we go), I got a rather interesting e-mail confirming that one of my trailer cues from last year had been placed in a trailer for a film called Identicals. You can check out the trailer below – my music starts right around the studio logo at 0:24, and continues throughout.

So… yeah, you know. No big deal.

*shakes uncontrollably*

Live stream tonight, new Neffle, and new subscriber goodies!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Apparitions, Collaboration, General, Music, Neffle, Reason, Subscribers, Tom Pritchard, Traces, Tutorials

Hey all, just figured I’d post a quick update here to let you know that I’ll be doing a live-stream TONIGHT (17th Feb) at 7pm GMT over on Twitch. My plan is to write a quick & rough song, so come on over and feel free to pester me in the chat while I’m making some noise 🙂

Watch live video from adfielding on www.twitch.tv

Also, there’s another Bandcamp subscriber-exclusive goodie out there – ApparitionsApparitions is a series of abstract ambient sketches written during January this year, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Always nice to start the year off in a productive manner, I feel! You can listen to a few tracks from Apparitions here:

If you like what you hear, feel free to susbcribe to my Bandcamp page. There are currently TWO releases (Apparitions and Traces) available exclusively to subscribers, with more to come later in the year.

….aaaaaaand there’s a new Neffle release, called Assistance which is available to download RIGHT NOW. Neffle, as you may or may not know, is my ongoing hardware jam-collaborative project with Tom Pritchard, and we’ve been sitting on this one for a little while now. After much deliberation, we finally agreed to release Assistance in its current form. I hope some of you enjoy it!

Hopefully I’ll see some of you over on Twitch later on. Should be fun!

Traces: Origins

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in General, Reason, Subscribers, Traces

Thanks to everyone who’s been listening to Traces, and thanks to everyone who’s decided to subscribe! I just hope that you’ll enjoy what else I’ve got in store for the rest of the year 🙂

I figured now would be an opportune moment to go into a little bit of depth as to the origin of each of the tracks, both for my own sake (I think getting everything down in one place would be a good thing) and so you can have a better understanding of where all of these tracks came from.

I’m normally a little loathe to talk about the exact meaning behind my music, but in this case – being primarily made up of production tracks – I think it makes sense to talk a bit about each track individually.

So, let’s start from the beginning- track 1!

You Can See The End From Here (2014)
This is actually the newest track on the record, and was written for a pretty charged pivotal moment in a short film with a sci-fi twist. I actually wrote a couple of revisions, but this is the one I preferred. Unfortunately, it didn’t click with the film-makers for whatever reason and it went unused… hence its appearance as the opener here.

Insignificance (2009)
In late 2009 I had only recently finished university and I hit a bit of a creative funk. To counter this, I started a practice which has become a regular trend for me. I decided to try writing one “sketch” per day, just to run with any idea as it formed regardless of my own perceived satisfaction. This is the first such sketch, written after a night of stargazing and feeling a little insignificant (hence the title).

Midnight Spirit (2011)
I’d only recently started working on music as a full-time venture at this point, and was in the process of writing production music as a means to sharpen my skills a bit. I was trying lots of different ideas and genres, and figured I should have an attempt at something with a more atmospheric, almost dubstep-y feel to it. I liked the idea of pitching my vocals down a bit to see what would happen, and was delighted with how un-cheesy it sounded!

Survival (2013)
An acquaintance of mine was studying video game design at university and needed to make a pitch of his game concept to some industry heads. It was a cool idea, and I thought it’d be a unique way to get my music heard by some people in the gaming biz (and I love me some video games), so I decided to write some music for it. I ended up with two tracks – this is the first…

Beneath The Surface (2013)
…and this is the second. While Survival was more of a thematic piece, I wanted this track to be a more atmospheric/background piece. In retrospect, it’s a little more overbearing than I had first anticipated, but I was really happy with both of these tracks. They never really found a home outside of the initial pitch – and now they have. Nice!

Behold (2011)
This was written during the same burst as Midnight Spirit. After writing a fair amount of downtempo/atmospheric music to try and beef up my output a bit, I figured a change was in order. I wanted to write something production-friendly with a more dramatic flair to it, and this is what popped out.

Tread Carefully (2009)
An unusual one, this. I had recently finished my university degree and was due to graduate in a month, so I decided to visit my parents at the other side of the country. I’d brought my laptop with me and this popped out while goofing around in the living room one day. I seem to recall playing quite a bit of F.E.A.R. at the time, so I guess that explains the ominous mood.

The Old Tower (2012)
I was working on a production album with a focus on really chilled, downtempo numbers – all of the tracks I wrote for that project were picked up, except for this one. I suspect it may have been a little too ominous for their tastes, but it’s always been one of my favourites from that project so it’s nice to give it a bit of attention here.

Sweeping Junk (2011)
Yet another track from my 2011 production music binge, I’d recently picked up some nice acoustic drum loops and thought it’d be fun to chop them up and play with silence in my music a little bit more… hence the stop/start/stuttering nature of the drums. This one was a lot of fun to work on!

Counterbalance (2012)
In 2012 I wrote a lot of music with a view to using it as production music, though a good chunk of it would later end up on what would become Pieces. This track didn’t really sit well with me in either camp – it was too scatter-shot to work as production music, and didn’t seem to fit the flow of Pieces… but I really liked it, so I thought it deserved a proper place on Traces.

Traces (2009)
Ahh yes, the title track – and a continuation from my sketch-a-day session which spawned Insignificance. I really felt like I hit upon the central theme of my 2009 sketches with this particular track, which is why I thought it was particularly fitting for the title of the entire release. The entire sketch-a-day sessions form a very personal diary-of-sorts for me, as it was written at a particularly pivotal moment in my life. In many ways this track represents the introverted precipice before a particularly joyous point in my life.

Picking Up Where We Left Off (2010)
This is another continuation of my sketch-a-day exercise started in 2009 with Insignificance. I had a break over the Christmas season, and came back to it in 2010 for a brief spell. This was the first track from the second session, hence the title – I was trying to re-connect with the feeling I had during the first session, despite a lot of things having changed for me in that interim. It was nice to re-connect and, well, to pick up where I left off.

Communication (2009)
This is an odd one. A friend of mine was running for student union president at university at the time, and was focussing on a neat digital campaign. He asked me to write a track and overlay some audio from an interview over it, and this sort of popped out. After the campaign was over I removed the speech, sent it to a few non-exclusive libraries and it got a bit of use. Which was rather nice, actually!

Another Yesterday (2011)
The final track written during my great 2011 production music writing binge. Structurally it’s very simple, but I wanted something that just built up to a really nice finish, and I think this is a nice showcase of a lot of my habits (good and bad) of late 2011, so I thought it would make a fitting end to Traces.

…and that’s it! If there’s anything you’d like me to explain in more detail or anything, feel free to drop me a comment or send me a message 🙂 Don’t forget that you can still grab Traces by subscribing to my Bandcamp page here.

Traces: Out Now

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Music, Production music, Subscribers, Traces

Traces, my first Bandcamp subscriber-exclusive release of 2016, has just been released. If you’re already a subscriber, you can download it immediately.

Traces is a mixture of previously unreleased production music and other collected works written during 2008 – 2014.

Naturally, Traces is available to download in your format of choice via Bandcamp. If you’re still on the fence about the whole subscription thing, I’ve put together a mix containing clips from Traces which should give you a good taste of what Traces has to offer.

I’ll be bumping up the price of subscriptions on the 10th January, so you’ve still got a chance to get an early-bird subscription in for the rest of 2016 if you’re interested in hearing what other exclusive goodies I’ve got in store for the rest of the year.

Bandcamp subscriptions

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in AdFi, Distant Activity, From Out Of Nowhere, General, Lightfields, Music, Obscurer, Pieces, Production music, Subscribers

So… I realise it’s been quite a while since I last posted a proper update here.

To be perfectly honest, I had been planning on waiting until I gave this site a complete overhaul, but I figured it had been such a long time since my last update that I should probably elucidate some of the ideas I’ve got for next year. So – here goes!

2015-12-17 17.03.21

Starting in 2016, I’m going to be using Bandcamp subscriptions. Basically, what this means is that – for an annual flat fee – you’ll have access to the following.

  • Immediate access to my entire Bandcamp back catalogue, including all bonus extras. This means that you’ll get access to my independent solo albums (including Distant Activity, Lightfields, Pieces, and Obscurer), along with all the tasty bonuses – i.e. for now, the audiophile & extended versions of Pieces.
  • Full access to all future Bandcamp releases (including all extra bonuses) while your subscription is active. As soon as I release anything, you’ll be notified and will receive full and immediate access to the music in your format of choice.

“But Adam!”, I hear you say. “All of your Bandcamp music is Pay-What-You-Want! Why would I pay for an annual subscription when I can already download your music for free?“.

That’s a fair question – and I guess besides the obvious “I like money and I need your support to sustain my extravagant Fabergé egg addiction“, I should probably throw in something extra… which leads me nicely onto:

  • Access to an ongoing series of SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE releases.

“But Adam!”, I hear you say. “What the hell. Why are you going to lock future releases behind a paywall?”.

That’s another fair question – again, I guess besides the obvious “I like money and I need your support to sustain the lifestyle to which my cat has become accustomed”, I should probably explain what sort of thing I have in mind for these exclusive releases, and what that means for my future album releases.

First up: All of my future “main” albums/EPs will still be available as PWYW releases to all non-subscribers. The extra content (bonus tracks, alt. masters, instrumentals, etc.) will be subscriber only, but the main meat of the albums/EPs will still be available in the exact same manner as before.

The reason for making this bonus content subscriber-exclusive is two-fold: obviously, there’s the aforementioned “I like money” angle. Also, my current process of manually e-mailing out codes to people is pretty archaic, and it’s only going to get worse as I release more bonus content (which I absolutely assuredly will be doing). By doing this, it’ll automate the entire process. For anyone who’s received a dodgy code or couldn’t get the bonus content to download properly, this will probably come as a welcome relief.

Secondly: I should probably explain what sort of thing I have in mind for “subscriber exclusive” releases. Here are some of the ideas I’m working on:

  • Previously unreleased production music
  • Unreleased, re-mixed/re-mastered archive material
  • Music from my “October sessions”
  • Hardware jams and extended sessions

…and so on. Basically – music that I’m really, really, really happy with, but wouldn’t fit into a “standard” release.

I understand that, right now, it sounds like this requires a bit like a leap of faith as there is no guarantee of the kind of material I’m going to be releasing as exclusive content. That’s totally fair. What I will say is that I have at least three releases planned for next year, two of which are going to be subscriber exclusive. As soon as I release some sort of exclusive content, I’ll make it available for non-subscribers to stream so you can at least get a taste of what to expect.

Onto the pricing: Annual subscriptions are going to be set at £15, but until the first exclusive release I’m going to enable early-bird annual subscriptions at £10. The first exclusive release will be coming in January. So.., right now, grab yourself a nice Christmas treat 😉

On a personal note, this is all a bit of an experiment for me – much like the unorthodox release of Pieces, I want to try something new out. I want to make sure I’m not standing in the way of people who want to listen to my music, but I want to say “thank you” to people who choose to support me. For most people, the appeal of Bandcamp subscriptions is in gaining access to a musician’s entire back catalogue – and I guess that’s still the case here… but I really like the idea of sharing my less heavily publicised output with people who really want to check it out. So, that’s the plan.

You can check out my Bandcamp subscription page here.

Obscurer: Out Now

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in General, Music, Obscurer

Obscurer, my album of melodic hardware experimentation, is out right now. You know the drill – it’s completely free, and you can grab it from here!

“Obscurer” is an instrumental album by UK-based electronic musician Adam Fielding, written and recorded in 2014 and released in February 2015.

In a departure from his more densely layered approach to production, “Obscurer” was largely produced using a modest selection of live recorded analog synthesisers & drum machines. This stripped back approach to production results in a deeply atmospheric listen wrapped around an intensely emotive core, reminiscent of Fielding’s earlier works.

From the deeply comforting embrace of “Safety” through to the dark playfulness of the title track itself, “Obscurer” is an album that revels in reflection and introspection.

Obscurer is available to download in your format of choice, thanks to the good folks of Bandcamp. In a similar way to Pieces before it, I’ve written a few short pieces on the creation of Obscurer if you’re interested in knowing a little more about the creative process and ideas behind it.

Once again, I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered Obscurer – with this being such an experimental release it really means a lot to know that people are interested in taking a chance on something a little different, and your support means a great deal to me. Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy the finished album! Cheers!

Obscurer: Setting Up & Recording

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in Geekery, General, Music, Obscurer, Reason

Obscurer was intentionally written using a rather minimal set of instruments. Those instruments and effects include a couple of Volcas, a couple of MFB drum machines, an AKAI drum machine pad/sampler thing, a Mini-KP, a delay pedal, and a Monotribe. One thing I also wanted to avoid with Obscurer was to allow myself to mix everything as part of a separate process, so all of that stuff went through a little mixer.

The mixer itself was a little budget thing that had a whopping single aux send channel. Naturally, this meant I’d have to be careful about what I wanted to use as an aux send – did I want a little bit of reverb, or did I want to use some ping-pong delay to widen the stereo field a little? Or should I record everything I want reverb on first, then switch to delay for other elements? Or should I just use the delay as an insert on one channel? It was always fun figuring out what would work best on a particular song and, while this sounds like it would require a degree of meticulous planning, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t more or less just decide what I was going to do as I went along.

After dialling in some simple EQ settings on the channels and getting a rough mix I could work with, I decided to keep my setup relatively unchanged for the next six months or so while I recorded all of the songs that would comprise Obscurer. Even though I’d recently recorded Neffle material prior to working on Obscurer tracks, I decided pretty early on that in order to get the same full sound and level of control as me & Tom did with Neffle that I would have to bring software into the equation.

As a result, I ended up using Reason to sequence most of the parts. Not only did this help to give me a better idea of what I was going to end up with before hitting record, but it also let me use temporary placeholder synths if I wanted to layer up one or two of the outboard synths. As I mentioned already, though, I was keen to keep the mixing mostly out of the box. Not only would this stop me from obsessing over the final mix, but it also meant I could record several parts at once which was a) way more fun, and b) invited me to be more spontaneous during the recording process.

While some of that sounds like it flies in the face of my more “minimal” approach, there were plenty of occasions where I really wanted to give the song I was working on an extra push which layering synths afforded me. I was still keen to not go too crazy with layering up synths and effects (which, due to the mix I’d already set-up, would have just resulted in a horribly crowded result), but it was nice to have the option of artificially expanding my little set-up if I needed to.

Generally speaking, when it came to recording I would record the different elements in anywhere from two to four passes. So, for example, taking the first track “Renew” as an example – that was recorded in three stages that went something along the lines of…

Lead/Bass/Drums -> Additional Synth/Percussion -> End Synth

So, as you can see, most of the track was recorded during the first pass. You can hear the results of that single pass below.

In this instance, I recorded the first pass and then wrote some additional synth parts over the top of that using a placeholder. When I had something I was happy with, I recorded another pass using the actual synth and would tweak it on the fly – ditto with the third pass. In certain instances I’d record the main percussion as the first pass which would allow me to tweak the drums a little more while recording, and then record the main synth parts as the second pass and, if I wanted to, add more parts during the third pass. That would give me a little bit of flexibility with regards to the final mix, but not too much.

While this was a great approach for the most part, there were definitely times when I’d record what I thought was a good idea only for it to end up sounding out of place or not sitting right with me after the fact. Sometimes, in that situation, I’d go back and re-record everything if I had a good idea of what needed fixing. In other instances, I simply decided to let the idea go and focus on something new. There was only ever really one instance where I thought “nah, this isn’t working” and stopped before I had a complete recording. Here’s an example of one of these complete-yet-rejected recordings – I liked it, but something about it just didn’t sit with the rest of the Obscurer tracks.

Every week I’d set a decent chunk of time aside to record an idea or two, though the way I had everything set-up did mean I could still record material using the built-in step-sequencers on the synths/drum machines I was using, so every now and then I’d record a quick little jam. As I mentioned before, Obscurer was really all about having an extra outlet to get ideas down. It was important to me that it should be enjoyable to work on, and every now and then that meant not staring at a screen and just messing about and jamming live.

This routine continued for about six months, and during that time my external set-up remained relatively untouched. This gave all of my recordings a nice coherence, which is how I was able to compile the results as an album following completion.

…of course, I’ve bought more toys since I finished recording Obscurer