Following earlier trips on labels like Tru Thoughts, Soul Jazz, and Fat! Records, Walder’s music was part of dubstep’s gradual change and interaction with house and techno, and by 2015 Randomer had signed off on a sound that was clearly his own. Untold’s Hemlock label presented Randomer with a rock solid platform for his hybrid forms of production, with Turbo Records and Ron Morelli’s L.I.E.S. transporting his tracks from the UK and Europe to dancefloors across the Atlantic.
Randomer’s dynamism is powered by slamming drums, detuned rave influences, and polyrhythmic percussion, along with a splash of dub. Another big facet of his productions is his musical sway: stiff but with bounce to the left and right. So what is that makes Randomer’s groove swing inside the loop? “When I create loops, I like to use a certain amount of randomness to create subtle variations,” Walder says, pun intended or not. “I usually try to write memorable hooks which are repetitive but developed in phrase structures, the same way you would do with melody,” he adds.
With a strong connection to London and UK club music, Randomer nowadays finds himself putting out records with Dekmantel, Livity Sound (via Dnuos Ytivil), and Perc Trax. When it comes to techno output, Randomer lists three 12”s with Clone’s Basement Series, a label that’s almost synonymous with this sound. Both the ‘New School’ and ‘Old School’ mixes on Stupid Things I Do, as well as the percussion workouts on the B-side, are something of a case study of Randomer’s hectic, mechanical cycles.
But how exactly does Walder keep his tracks so fresh and listenable? “I think there has to be some part of it that is unexpected,” he says. “Inserting that at the right place is probably the key.” In other words, it’s important to allow a ‘happy accident’ or anomaly into the mix. In terms of rhythmic loops, some sounds just seem to ‘click’ Walder feels: “Spending a long time experimenting with different ideas is important. Creating a polyrhythmic loop can help too. For instance, looping a phrase in 5/4 time over a 4/4 track.”
In general, Walder highlights variables like glissando time, dynamic range, sample start time, and portamento, or pitch sliding, as malleable parameters to exploit in diffusing the monotony of a fixed quantisation. But even so, how can a simple loop remain interesting for the length of an eight-minute track? Walder’s succinct response: “Simply, variation in timbre, pitch over time.”
KONTAKT, ABSYNTH and REAKTOR ensembles are Walder’s tools of the trade, among other bits of gear in his setup in Tottenham, North London. “I might use Kontakt’s external modulation sources to add randomness to the filter, note length, or delay-reverb send level,” he explains. But that’s just one way to expand a loop’s interest further. “I might use MIDI plugins to add or subtract an octave to the melody at random.” Furthermore, inside KONTAKT Walder could “modulate a parameter using ‘random unipolar’ or ‘random bipolar’ parameters,” while in ABSYNTH he’ll use an effect “to shift frequencies or ring-modulate certain parts in a loop.”
Many of the examples Walder discusses were applied on the lead track of last year’s Running Dry 12” for Dekmantel. The myriad techniques, including the octave-melody-random movements, open up the processes that went into making the loop’s production all the more brighter. “I would say most melodic phrases which make good hooks usually have an element of tension and release,” Walder says. The tropical tones which swing in harmony to a regiment of drums and percussion across the EP are the perfect testament to this.
Randomer will be speaking at Native Sessions London: Infinite Loops on Thursday August 4th. More info here.