Song Sifting: Rev8617

  • Post category:Song Sifting
Song: Rev8617
Artist: Skee Mask
Album: Compro
Year: 2018

Rev8617 opens with a low-pass filter engaged. Only the heavy sub bass elements push through. Soon, a synth line fizzles into awareness. Skittering hi hats follow. The drums are choppy and fluid at once. Fast, but not frantic. Instead, fluttering and laid back. To me, it sounds like a drum break as been sliced to oblivion. Perhaps by using a tremolo effect. Then he added a big bass drum and crisp, rim hit snare to provide a foundation. Otherwise, the beat would be too fragile to hold together.

The main synth line has a similar fragility. The notes evolve constantly, as if changed by the act of our hearing them. The whole song is based off this one motif. And yet, it never plays back the same way twice. It’s center panned, which leaves room spatial effects to the left and right. Listen between the instruments. Hear the space they inhabit. The richness of that space is what sets this song apart.

The reverb is lush and immersive. A delay effect propels each note outward. Each echo morphs it’s way through the space. Sometimes swirling, sometimes reversing midway and bouncing back. The result is an organic atmosphere, where the instruments are living, breathing entities.

Here’s an example of the space itself evolving: At 1:12, the end of the melody line reverses. From underneath, a flanging effect comes in. The echos sound like they’re passing through thin tubes. The drums stop to let you hear the new texture. Hear the note at 1:20? It sounds like a droplet of water. It’s the only moment in the song that sounds that way. So this is what I mean. The track is 3:44 long and is based on one 4 second motif. But you never hear it the same way twice.

The last 40 seconds mirror the songs beginning. To start, we heard the lumbering bass make a close approach. Now, the sounds are thin and distant. Skee Mask gracefully completes the circle.

Try this at home:
1. Experiment with tremolo effect on a drum break. Does this recreate the fluttering effect or lead somewhere else entirely?
2. Try using multiple delays on a lead line. Use automation to trade off between them.
3. Embrace minimalism. How many different ways can you express one motif?

P.S.  Here’s what I mean by Song Sifting, in case it wasn’t clear