Brother Nebula is the pseudonym of a well-known house producer who is currently choosing to keep his identity secret. His new album ‘The Physical World’ came out last month and is a quality collection of high octane breaks and futuristic 4/4. We got the mysterious Brother Nebula to talk us through it, Track By Track.

Suspended In A Sunbeam

I did this intro – and the other interlude for the album – at the end of the process. I’ve always liked interludes; I’m guessing this comes from listening to hip hop with loads of skits and things. Either way, I think it helps break the album up. The main chord sound in this appears in a lot of my songs, as I tend to find sounds and then use them over and over. With this sound, I recorded a long sustained middle C from an XV-5080 pad sound, then recorded it to VHS tape on an old VCR, and finally bounced it back to the Logic Pro sampler. I love the way VCR’s sound; it compresses it heavily and has lots of wow, flutter and artefacts. All things I’m a big fan of.  

The other sound is a recorded pass of Korg Mono/Poly doing what it does – sounding tripped out, and I laid it over some crickets, noise, and other found sounds. I really love sampling noise and background stuff and peppering it into songs. I guess I like my music to have a sonic film over them. I don’t think sounds should happen in a vacuum… they definitely don’t in the real world.  

The Physical World

The title track from the album – I thought this one really summed up the feeling of what I was trying to convey across the record, so I used it as the title track. I’ve always liked tunes that use a beat and bass line that are very repetitive, and the song slowly changes around it. You’ll see that on all my music; I don’t usually use a lot fills or turnarounds. Obviously that’s a general theme in electronic music, but I actually thought about artists like Spaceman 3, Wooden Ships or other psych-rock style bands that vamp on grooves for ages with it morphing and changing.  

The VCR chord sound from the intro is layered with a couple of other sounds, like the plug in Korg M1, and the bass and bleeps are the Mono/Poly again.

A Question

This song is one of the rare moments when I set out to do a specific thing, and feel like I pretty much got there. I’m a massive Aphex Twin fan – obvs – and I’m always studying how he does his bass and top line sequences. I didn’t get anywhere close to one of his lines with crazy midi cc and program changes, etc, but I do like the bass line here, and it’s very inspired by that. Again, it’s from the Mono/Poly. I have the Mody/Poly mod that gives it midi, so I have a little Korg Kontrol that I can control the filter, modulation speed, and a couple other parameters over midi.  

This is one of my favourites on the record; I think the sound and feel of it are really cool. I love the push and pull between super clean and ultra dirty sounds, I’m always playing with that. Oh there’s a little piano sample in there too, 50 points if you can figure out what it is…  

Clairvoyant 

This track basically took me two years to complete. I started it by chopping up some sampled sounds from the Mono/Poly, but I wasn’t happy with the beat. It was always going to be some form of 909, but I had a clean programmed version that was too sterile, so I finally found basically the worst 909 samples I could find – dirty with tonnes of record noise, etc – and they worked great. I played this for Nick Höppner and he told me he loved how childish and basically crap the beat sounded. I totally understood what he meant, so it was “great, job done”.  

A Snake In Paradise

Obviously massively influenced by Soul ll Soul on the beat on this one. There also may or may not be a drum break used in a famous Tribe track. 25 points, as it’s low hanging fruit… Anyway, I love the little, err, snaking top line – it’s a Korg Mono/Poly sound, but the plug-in this time. I don’t use that plug in a tonne these days, but it’s great and really useful for pretty much anything. I doubled it and panned it a bit L-R and did slightly different modulation so it gives extra ear candy across the stereo field. I did two final mixes of the track, as I couldn’t decide if the ‘snake’ should be more bedded in, but something just felt right about it being quite loud and in your face. 

Connected

Just a little something to break the album up a bit. The resonant filter sweeps are the Akai MFC filter, up in the self-oscillating zone, and some guy talking about something. 

The Big If

My version of a banger, which admittedly is still not particularly banging. I’m genetically wired to put chords on everything that I do; not sure why. I guess I’m  non-harmonically challenged, or something.  

This is the first track that I’ve ever used a pure 303 acid line in. I’ve always used other instruments for acid textures, so it sounded different – the Mono/Poly can do a good one cv’d to an Arturia Beatstep Pro – but for this one I had to go for the real deal. Well, a clone of the real deal, anyway.  

Simulation Theory

This one is basically all Mono/Poly, bar the drums, obviously. Most of the time I come up with little lines, then record a few minute pass, then edit it all down, and that’s what I did here. In my head this is a homage to Chicago Relief records era stuff, put through the BN filter. 

Living With It

Yet another one that took me about 2 years to complete. I tend to run things into the ground when working on them, then I can’t listen to it for 6 months or so. Then I can come back to it fresh. Surely not the most efficient way of doing things, but it’s a way nonetheless.  

My biggest sticking point was the bridge; I couldn’t decide whether the chords should be a different sound or not. I ended up going with the same sound after much too-ing and fro-ing, but it works well. A good lesson in just leaving things alone… The bass line is my trusty old Roland JD-800 – the thing barely works and fully has a mind of its own, but I still love the cold digital sound of it. The snaking top line is a Yamaha TX81Z. There is a freeware plug in called Ctrlr that lets you control its parameters over SYSEX, which I highly recommend. Unless you like pulling your hair out to program things, of course. 

Natural Causes

This was the last track I completed for the album, and it came together very quickly. That’s the nature of these things; some take two days, and some take two years. The bass line is Korg Monologue, which is such an amazing synth for the price. I chopped the bass with the beats, so it almost sounds like they where recorded together… OK, ten points if you could name the beat I cut up. If you don’t know it, well, get to work.  

I recorded all the final masters to NOS Maxell ll cassette tape on a three-head Nakamichi tape deck that I scored (from my wife’s dad – he’s got good taste in gear). That thing gives the album a nice patina; makes it feel like it’s been hanging in a museum for a while. Again, nothing (on Earth) happens in a vacuum. 

The Physical World by Brother Nebula is available via Bandcamp.

13th January, 2021

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You currently have an ad blocker installed

Attack Magazine is funded by advertising revenue. To help support our original content, please consider whitelisting Attack in your ad blocker software.

Find out how

x

A WEEKLY SELECTION OF OUR BEST ARTICLES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX