This time in Deconstructed, we’re putting ROBPM’s remix of Linus Quick’s techno stormer ‘Room 2 Move’ under the microscope.
ROBPM is one to watch. The Italian DJ and producer has been killing it lately with a string of top techno cuts on label Autektone. His sound combines huge, distorted kicks with ‘90s rave anthem sensibilities, with diva vocals, tearing hoovers, and snatches of melody all present and accounted for.
On label mate Linus Quick’s ‘Room 2 Move’, ROBPM reigns in the rave and keeps the hard, distorted acid line of the original in his crosshairs. This is supported by intense drums and percussion, plenty of eerie sound design, and—as this is, after all, a ROBPM remix—a hint of a melody to let a little sunshine in. Deconstructed is all about the arrangement though, so let’s adjust our lens and focus in on the techniques ROBPM uses to keep the energy levels high throughout.
ROBPM starts off ‘Room 2 Move’ with a hard kick drum and bass combo running at 133bpm. The distorted top kick sits on a wide, subby bass kick, with the two together providing both propulsion and weight for the track. The lack of other percussion lets us know right away that this track has been arranged with a DJ in mind, and will likely build in intensity until reaching a crescendo (which it certainly does). Take note of the sound design in the subtle downer at the beginning as well. He’s just started and ROBPM is already working on the tension. His 24 years of DJing are immediately apparent.
Sure enough, after eight bars ROBPM introduces the next percussive element: high hats programmed in sixteenths with an open hat on the offbeat. It’s tried and true and there’s nothing wrong with that if it keeps the juggernaut moving forward, which this most definitely does. At the end of eight bars, all of the percussion drops out for a quick snare fill, accented with reverb.
The fill brings us to bar 17, where ROBPM hits us with some unusual sound design in the form of a disembodied choral voice with a long reverb tail. It creates a sense of mood as well as space. Check your watch—is it 4 am already? The snare introduced in the fill in section two now joins the song full-on, but instead of sitting on the second and fourth beats as in house and other genres, ROBPM uses it as a second open hat. A traditional downbeat snare would only add gravity and a heaviness to the beat. Instead, the tight, high snare hits on the offbeat, pulling the groove up and creating a sense of lift. The energy is really moving now.
The sound design continues at bar 20, with a doppler-style riser that recalls a plane taking off. There’s a snippet of what might be an alarm before bar 25, and then the disembodied choral voice again. The dark and foreboding sound design continues throughout the next eight bars, building to the first breakdown.
At bar 33, ROBPM filters away the majority of the bass in the kick, heralding the breakdown. It’s a short one—only eight bars—and he packs in a lot. Almost immediately he hits us with a quick barrage of clap-like percussion, after which he fades in the hook of the track, a distorted Roland TB-303-style acid line. It’s more resonant than in the original mix, with a nasally, almost phaser-like peak to it. As the acid line builds, he rolls off more bass from the kick as a riser appears, carrying us along to the inevitable breakdown. A flurry of Roland TR-909 snares and a synth sweep barge in and strong arm us into the drop.
Tension from the breakdown is released. The bass returns to the kick, filling out the soundstage, and the acid line is allowed to really rip. There are actually two parts to the acid line now, an eighth-note pulse running on the bottom and two higher notes hitting at the end of each phrase. These higher notes have been treated with a ping-pong delay and reverb, adding stereo interest to the track.
The acid line continues to build as the off-note snares return, hoisting the groove up away from the subterranean depths of the sub-bass. Minimalism is a balancing act—too many elements will clutter the mix, but too few will leave it empty and stale. A quick fill section at bar 56 drops the bass and leaves space for ROBPM to quickly filter up the acid line.
Oh yeah, here we go. Now we’re in the meat of the mix. The hats return and are joined by fast running TR-909 rides, a staple in techno and for good reason. They really up the energy, adding a level of almost chaotic power. The acid line has gotten a boost as well, with the sixteenth notes boosted with a second acid line and the higher notes doubled by choral voices, similarly treated with effects. There’s a definite industrial vibe happening now, bolstered by the inclusion of off-beat struck percussion. This builds in intensity to bar 73, with a riser and synth sweep forcefully leading us there. The percussion momentarily drops away, two quick acid notes acting as a transition to the next section.
The acid line and top-line percussion drop out, giving us a brief cool down. This being ROBPM and hard techno, however, it’s less euphoria than bad trip. The eerie sound design returns, with a roiling background sound-bed to keep you from getting too comfortable. Jarring industrial percussion treated with delay hits occasionally as well. At bar 81 ROBPM introduce’s the track’s main melodic motif, a three-note synth line. The filter opens on the synth line as a riser and 909 snares take us into the breakdown.
ROBPM takes inspiration from classic rave tracks, and this remix is no exception. It doesn’t have his usual diva vocal samples but it does make use of synth melodies to clear the air and let the mood lighten a little. He uses the breakdown to accomplish this. Composed in the key of G, there are three main components to the breakdown melody: the three-note synth line, which continues from the previous section (now treated with delay), a galloping one-note percussive synth line that sounds like he’s rhythmically gating the choral voice, and a background synth drone that rises and falls. This builds for eight bars, helped along by a riser.
You weren’t getting comfortable, were you? I hope you didn’t think there was time to sit down and have a sip of Red Bull. Nope, ROBPM is here to yank that rug out from under you real quick. Right before bar 105, he teases us with two quick 909 snares and then it’s acid time again. As he re-introduces the acid line layers, an eighth-note snare begins to sound. At bar 113, it doubles to sixteenth notes and our kick (sans sub-bass) drops back in. As he brings the bass back in, ROBPM gives us a white noise riser and doubles the snares once more to thirty-second notes, ratcheting up the tension to unbearable levels. As in part eight, ROBPM again lets the percussion drop away and uses acid pulses to transition to the next section.
As with the first drop, the second one removes all percussion except for the kick and sub-bass kick. By building up tension in the breakdown and then dropping into a relatively sparse section, the producer is giving us a chance to catch our breath before the tension inevitably starts building again. The acid line returns as well, this time with the eighth-note line truncated into a kind of animalistic chitter. This variation keeps things from becoming too repetitive while maintaining the overall vibe of the track and making sure that it stays a remix and not an entirely new production.
Mirroring the buildup at the beginning of the song, ROBPM brings back the hats after eight bars of the drop, except this time the open hat is layered with the snare from the get-go. The riser appears, building tension, while the higher two-note acid line is accentuated with an increase in delay feedback. The producer uses the last two bars of this eight-bar section as a transition, dropping out the sub-bass, bringing back the 909 snare fills, and lastly blasting us with the alarm.
Now we’re back in the heat. Most of the main elements of the song are again unleashed, including the multiple acid lines and two-note choral voice. On the percussion side, ROBPM fires up the 909 rides to really get us moving, with the industrial off-beat percussion making a reappearance. He employs sound design as well, with the riser taking us to the end of this eight-bar section, two lone, unaccompanied squealing acid notes transitioning us to bar 153.
We can see how ROBPM continuously works the tension, ramping it up, backing it off, and ramping it up again. It’s like a well-designed roller-coaster with plenty of ups and downs and twists and turns to keep things interesting. Here he lets the energy drop again, with no percussion save the massive kicks. The synth melody is reprised, signalling that it’s OK to take a breather. However, he’s not done with us yet. A quick flurry of industrial percussion is followed by the same snare roll as in the main breakdown, increasing from eighth to thirty-second notes, with a riser and other, familiar sound design elements carrying us long.
At bar 169, we can feel that we’re coming to the end of the track. There’s no return of the acid hook, just rolling techno percussion in the form of the hats, off-beat snare and rides. The low choral voice from the beginning sighs on the first bar of every grouping of four, and the doppler riser and alarm make their final appearances. This is clearly a chance for the DJ to mix in the next song. The claps get in one last burst, and a 909 snare roll takes us to the end of the track.