House music’s fascination with plumbing the ‘deep’ remains urgent and passionate. Sustaining its hypnotic cadence, musical ‘pads’ (from sustained chordal washes to tuned atmospherics) remain front and center of the deep house form. The “deep house” vista tends toward immersive, drawing influence from dub and ambient music traditions, whilst re-imagining Motown’s indelible soul-funk heritage. Pads afford a visceral way to ‘hold space’ in a sonic environment, allowing other creative elements (from spoken or sung words to melodic devices) scope in which to sit.
Larry Heard’s original ‘deep house’ template served as a meditation and re-examination of party politics viewed through an amniotic, melancholic lense. Pads help frame our “internal” environment in a sacred and liminal light, always becoming yet never arriving.
Carl Craig’s “At Les” and Chez Damier’s “Morning Factory” are sensual, pad-driven studies in this eternal ‘nowness’, whilst left-field masterworks like Luomo’s “Syncro” effectively deconstruct the form into hypnotic fundamentals. More recently, artists like Disclosure and Kygo reinterpret ‘deep house’ aesthetics in a radio-friendly, context – brighter, bolder, yet ineffably ‘deep’.
Here are some of Native Instruments’ picks from MASSIVE‘s library of pad presets; many of which have left a defining signature on the sound of contemporary deep house, techno, and ambient music.
Descending is a stone-cold classic from MASSIVE’s library. Polished with subtle silicon sheen and crisp wavetable futurism, Descending is lush and immersive. Richly detuned choral and reverb effects permeate this digi-house classic with haunted affectation.
Bellus Blingus furthers this future-primitive vision, ringing like a mournful alien lullaby. Sustained notes acquiesce into a soothing wash of white-noise, where shorter staccato phrases maintain a soft, chime-like emphasis.
Cosy Cose is a Detroit-style chord-pad hybrid, calling to mind some of the great ‘auto chord’ functionality of the Alpha Juno series synths. Add some subtle delay to this deep, wiry pad, and you have the makings of a Morgan Geist style classic. Perfection and understatement personified.
Going to California jumps across 52 states to the US West Coast, channeling a similar harmonic sensibility, albeit one more liberally dusted with sunshine, sweat and analog warmth. Once more, this is prototypical ‘deep house’ terrain with more of a ‘tines’ style tone. Macro controls allow malleable morphing between soft and warm and bracing, organ-like articulations.
Jumping back to the 313, Going Back Home once again satiates the desire for timeless, sweeping ambiance. Programmed by Spaniard Antonia Blanca, it carries the hallmarks of the ambient dub house atmospherics so beloved by fans of Echospace Detroit.
Shimmering and mesmeric, Synthetica and In Too Deep ring with soft melancholy, reminiscent of sounds harnessed so deftly by house auteur Octo Octa. Lush, hypnotic and crystalline, they stretch into sonic eternity. In Too Deep even comes with a macro named ‘rise’, tooled for peak-time tweakability.
For fans of analog strings, Enjoyed is stunningly emotive, transistorized presence. Synth fetishists with a penchant for Juno 60 & 106 clones rejoice – this is more than a faithful clone of your favorite polysynth.
MASSIVE’s Expansions continue to re-imagine the Deep House template in the light of a new millennium…
Right Now, from the PARADISE RINSE Expansion is cut from 100% silk and tailored for machine soul. It calls to mind Ron Trent’s visions of a hazy paradise lost – layered, widescreen and penetrating.
Snapback an and Old Tape Machine follow suit, dusty garage masterpieces as charming as the hardware originals they reference.
Classicko, from Nocturnal States is fluttering and hypnagogic dub-house perfection – a soothing “back to mine” post-rave soundtrack as the sun rises. Strike a single note and sit back as it echoes beyond the event horizon.
Quivering is a mutant organ which aches with warm, liquid anticipation, whilst Hemiologica drowns in quiet, half-lit bliss.
Meanwhilst, NI’s ‘big room’ themed Expansion, Stadium Flex, taps a rich vein of contemporary pop/house crossover sonics.
Another Time and Stay Golden and First Time (all from Stadium Flex) possess names which betray their intentions. Equal parts nostalgia and reinvention, they share a beguiling and deeply sensual affectation.