Singled Out is a new feature for XLR8R's Gear section in which we ask artists to pull back the curtain of their work and highlight a specific element of a recent production, discussing what equipment and processes yielded the sonic component and offering readers a chance to hear and download the sound separate from the rest of the track.
Berlin transplant Benjamin Damage has not shown any signs of slowing down in 2013. Beginning the year with the XLR8R Pick'd Heliosphere LP, the 50Weapons regular has kept himself busy, capping his impressive run this week with 4600, an EP fashioned as a homage to the rare ETI 4600 synthesizer that recently rejoined Damage's arsenal after 18 months of repairs. Interestingly enough, for the first edition of Singled Out, the producer has chosen to highlight a different synthesizer, the Roland Juno 60, which he used to record the bed of lush chords that would eventually serve as the base of the new EP's most hypnotic effort, "Nebula."
Benjamin Damage: These synth lines for "Nebula" were recorded quite a few years ago when I was in London. I had a bedroom studio in 50 Beck Road, East London, where Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV used to live. (We used to get mail for the Temple ov Psychick Youth, but no one ever came back to collect it.) While there, I'd borrowed a Juno 60 from a friend, but I didn't warm to it at first—it had harsh, noisy digital oscillators and the presets were generally awful, though it did have nice envelopes, a great filter, and the noisy chorus section added a lot.
After a while, I found that there really is something magical about the Juno, even though its just this crappy, old cheap synth. The layout is perfect and the warm filter and cold digital oscillators actually work together really well and sound unique with the chorus on top. I eventually made a patch I liked a lot and came up with a synth line. The Juno was retrofitted with a Kenton MIDI kit, so I could record the pitch bend and octave changes live while the notes were playing through MIDI. I really liked what I recorded, but at the time, it didn't come together into a coherent bit of music and so it was just left unfinished.
While working on the EP, I stumbled upon those recordings on an old hard drive and felt a bit nostalgic about my time in London, so I ran that audio and started up my ETI 4600 synth, which was just back from a two-year repair job. Using that, I recorded some noise loops over the original Juno sounds. There was a lot of depth to the original recordings, and it had a very different atmosphere when played at different speeds, which turned into two different tracks—one a lot darker and slower. I couldn't let go of either, so I linked them together by slowing it down to half speed in the second half of "Nebula."
The solo'd Juno 60 lines from Benjamin Damage's "Nebula" can be streamed and downloaded below