Artist Tips: Evol Intent

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Sure, everyone’s been wowed by Propellerhead Reason’s rear-view: all simulated dangling patch cords that allow you to mix and match instruments, samplers, and EQs to your heart’s content. But there’s much more going on inside this fantastic all-in-one virtual workstation. Atlanta-based IDM/drum & bass heads Evol Intent, whose latest album, Era of Diversion (System), utilizes much of Reason’s deep capabilities, are superstars when it comes to pushing its limits. Here members Gigantor, Knick, and the Enemy tell us about their five favorite features in Reason 4.0.

NN-XT sampler and drums
The NN-XT sampler is excellent for making absolutely crushing drums. Our NN-XT drum technique is to load a REX drum loop into the sampler, and overlay kicks and snares with secondary drum hits to emphasize and power-up the original loop’s kick and snare. Since the NN-XT has multiple outs, we take the overlaid drum hits out on separate channels. If the main drums are on the NN-XT outs 1/2, we put our overlay kick on outs 3/4 and the overlay snare on outs 5/6, then route the hits to their own EQing/processing.

Scream 4 distortion box
We use the Scream box’s tape mode to death, which adds some very convincing phatness to almost any sound. Taking our drum example from above, we route our main loop, kick, and snare into their own scream boxes, and give everything a little analog punch and grit. The Scream is also fun when it comes to processing bass sounds and synths to put them a bit more “in the pocket.” Hit a filtered synth through the Scream on some intense settings and have fun!

MClass effects
The MClass effects were a necessary upgrade with Reason 3.0. The compressor adds sidechain capabilities, keeping drums punchy and more in the mix when faced with mastering through brickwall limiters. Also, the MClass Maximizer is a great plug-in for pushing a sound’s perceived volume. We like the “soft clip” mode. (Experiment with it while turning up the output.) The Stereo Imager is great for working with anything that goes to vinyl. You can effectively “mono out” bass frequencies, and avoid murdering your pressing. The MClass EQ is a great addition, too, especially for “pulling” frequencies (taking away sound via turning down unwanted frequencies).

The new sequencer might be a bit confusing if you’re a Reason veteran, but after getting acquainted with 4.0 it becomes much faster and more convenient than the original sequencer, especially when using key commands. Here are some features we like: control your cursor selector through the QWERTY keys; option-click on the knob or slider you want to automate, make a clip, and automate away; hit shift-tab to pull up your piano-roll view on your currently selected sequencer item. Dig into your manual or read up online to find out more and improve your workflow.

This is an awesome device that’s rather unique to Reason. It lets you stack any other devices or effects together, and control them from one sequencer item. Instead of stacking MIDI events in the sequencer and devices, you can keep everything on Combinator to design your sound. We’ve found the Combinator to be great for making insane synths, basses, and effects. The Combinator can also be quite useful for making “mini-templates” to insert on a song, and to do this you may “uncombine” the device inside your track. We use this often with mixer templates.