There’s been a lot of 90s nostalgia lately. Its time Attack throws our hat into the ring and goes back in time to the golden age of IDM as we make a drum pattern inspired by Bike, one of the many classics from Autechre’s iconic album ‘Incunabula‘
With ‘Incunabula’ – their debut album under the Autechre name – production duo Rob Brown and Sean Booth introduced the world to the intricate, emotive and highly melodic electronic music style that would go on to define the sound of 90s IDM.
Named for early texts printed before 1500, Incunabula does feel like an artifact from another time; or perhaps another dimension. Alien melodies, disembodied voices and subterranean basslines come together over frenetic drum beats that seem to constantly trip over themselves.
Perhaps the best distillation of the early Autechre sound is ‘Bike’, an eight-minute adventure of a track. In this Beat Dissected we’ll be creating a beat in the style of this IDM classic.
Here’s what we’re going to make:
And here it is in context:
Don’t forget to use click any image to enlarge it!
Want to follow along?
Step 1: Kick
Back in 1993 when Bike came out Autechre was working with hardware drum machines. We can easily recreate the sound of these groove boxes using Ableton’s Drum Rack presets.
Find the 606 Core Kit and load it on a MIDI track.
Program the below pattern four bar pattern with the 606 kick.
Step 2: Snare
The 606 snare sound is a bit too beefy for the Autechre sound. Swap the first two 606 snare hits in the drum rack out for 505 snare hits. Trim down the second one, we’ll use this as a ghost note in the pattern.
Now program the below snare pattern. The untrimmed 505 snare hits on every offbeat and the trimmed snare fills in with rolling ghost notes that are essential to the early Autechre style.
Step 3: Closed Hi-Hat
Program a closed 606 hi-hat to hit every on 16th note in a constant rolling pattern.
Autechre’s drums are very human in their sound. The unchanging velocity of the hi-hats in our current pattern doesn’t fit with their style
To add some interest and some randomness load the Velocity MIDI effect before the closed hi hat and use the preset Add Some Random.
Step 4: Toms
The ghost snare notes we previously programmed are doing a lot of work when it comes to creating that rolling feel to the beat. But we add to this rolling groove more with a few tom hits.
Program the below pattern using the high and mid toms in the 606 drum rack.
Step 5: Open Hi-Hat
Finally, we’ll add some crispy airiness with an open 808 hi-hat.
Create a new MIDI track and load the 808 core kit on the track. We want this to be on a separate track as we will be doing quite a bit of effects processing.
Program an open hat to hit on every off beat.
To give an otherworldly edge to the hats, and to soften them up, add some reverb with a decay of around 2 seconds, and place a compressor afterwards to smooth out the tail and limit the attack of the hat.
For greater movement add some delay into the chain with a 3/16th delay time. Boost the air above 1.8 kHz with an EQ.
Step 6: Group processing and swing
Finally, we’ll give the whole beat a sense of cohesion, and give it a slight 90s touch with some global effects processing.
Group the tracks together. Place a glue compressor first in your group chain. Set a fast attack, medium release and a ratio of 4:1. Aim for -5dB gain reduction with the threshold.
With EQ Eight cut the subfrequencies and scoop out the mids at around 700 Hz.
Finally, add a touch of reverb with a decay of around one second.
Finally, add the Swing 8ths 52 swing to the beat from the Groove pool.
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