For his second Sounds.com release, titled COLORS, Carrell worked with Denver-based visual artist Thomas Evans, also known as Detour, on a rather conceptual approach to sample pack creation: Essentially, the two brought one of Detour’s wall-sized murals to life, musically.
Using special conductive paint, Evans connected color-sensing touch sensors to a computer; when those sensors would touch a particular color of paint, they’d play back a specific MIDI note, which would in turn trigger a sample created by Carrell. “It’s like if you took a [MIDI keyboard] and broke out all the keys, and spread them across a painting,” explains Carrell. “This pretty much allows you to play the mural.”
The process was organic, the result of experimentation and finding the right feel for the painting and its various components, musically. “I went over there to collaborate with him for a couple of days, and just started playing with sounds and connecting the dots to colors,” Carrell says of the process. “There were things I wanted to focus on — to make some of the brighter colors a bit louder, and apply some effects on the darker colors, and stuff like that. It was a pretty abstract process, but I’m really happy with where we landed.”
Not that the process was without its challenges. “The main thing is that when you’re using this conductive paint, there’s no pressure sensitivity — you need to treat [the paint] as a trigger,” Carrell says. “That said, you can manipulate that by leaving your hand on the trigger, and then adding effects like delay and reverb to make it sound like its sustaining — which is exactly what I did.”
The sounds that came to represent the piece came from a wide range of sources, including a resampled MicroKORG, a Roland Juno, Arp 2600 samples, and some sampled percussion loops — most of which had an effects layer on top, including, in his words, “plenty of distortion — I wanted to make the sounds feel alive, and give them plenty of texture.”
Carrell is currently at work on two more Sounds.com pack releases, both of which he hopes to have finished by the end of the summer, and which he says will be more synthesizer- and keyboard-oriented. In the meantime? “I’m just excited to get COLORS out there, and see what people’s reaction is,” he says. “It was fun to make, and it should be fun to use.”
Check out COLORS here.