Hailing from Perth, Scotland, Liam Robertson and Calum Macleod of CLOUDS have been making music before they could even go to the club. Nonetheless their sound design and reference palette speaks of careful study of past, present, and future – and the duo has steadily set about revitalizing the “underground” techno scene with releases on Turbo Recordings, Opal Tapes, Speedy J’s Electric Deluxe and their own Headstrong label with Randomer, which is devoted to “Hardcore Dynamic Clubsounds with true Rave-Peak strength.” CLOUDS music is full of wild ideas and nods to influences from hardstyle, jungle, and electro-house to ’90s IDM greats like Autechre and Aphex Twin; it somehow hits that sweet spot of being wild and rowdy but not corny, cool without being overly serious.
CLOUDS are able to pull off this sound with a bit of production mastery and a lot of tricks up their sleeves, as Calum shows in this Sketches video, where he builds a futuristic techno-breaks track in Ableton Live from scratch using the full gamut of KOMPLETE instruments and effects. Calum shows a unique technique for deriving new percussive elements by generating loops and capturing audio with MASSIVE X and MOLEKULAR (a modular effects system for REAKTOR), as well as building melodic elements and atmospheric soundscapes using the FORM synthesizer and altered KONTAKT samples. You’ll also learn more about the importance of transients and different ways to shape and effect sound using REPLIKA XT, GUITAR RIG 6, the NI Crush Pack: BITE, DRIVER, and FREAK.
Watch the video to learn some new sound design techniques and tips, and read on afterwards for a step-by-step breakdown of how to replicate his technique with MASSIVE X and MOLEKULAR in your own DAW.
Click here to enter the Metapop competition – remix Clouds’ track for Sketches and win Native Instruments prizes.
NI products used: MASSIVE X, MOLEKULAR, FORM, REAKTOR, KONTAKT, KOMPLETE
Check out all of our SKETCHES series here.
If you’re interested in replicating Calum’s technique from the Sketches video above – using MASSIVE X’s wild LFOs with MOLEKULAR’s creative effects and looping functions – here’s a step-by-step guide. It’s written for Ableton Live but this will work in any DAW, as long as you know how to route your audio source to record in a new channel.
- Open an instance of MASSIVE X on a new MIDI channel in Live
- Choose a MASSIVE X preset
- Add a bunch of random LFO’s and LFO switches to different parameters in Massive X to give the preset an interesting rhythmic movement
- Record a MIDI pattern using MASSIVE X
- Add an instance of REAKTOR 6 FX after MASSIVE X and load MOLEKULAR
- Choose an interesting effect preset (MOLEKULAR has a lot of creative sounding effects)
- Add another instance of REAKTOR 6 FX after your first instance of MOLEKULAR and load another MOLEKULAR
- Click the preset name and then select Embedded, Single DSP, and then Freezer
- Create a new audio channel in Live
- Change the input on that channel to Resampling
- Arm the audio track and press record