Techno veteran Albert Van Abbe has been doing his thing for a minute now. Hailing from The Netherlands, much of Albert’s material over his 15 year long career has come via his recently revived ‘No Comment‘ label.
In the period of No Comment’s absence Albert has carefully released music via tasteful outlets such as Curle Recordings and Deep Sound Channel, whilst also launching vinyl only imprint VANABBE to solely focuses on his own productions.
His debut album Champagne Palestine last year saw him combine delicate piano fragments with minimalist rhythm-led techno and ambient passages, making for a certain level of intimacy not often seen in dance music and arguably one of his most complete records to date.
This nonconformist approach to creating music is perhaps most evident in Albert’s live performances, having performed with his machines at renowned clubs such as Berghain, Awakenings and Amsterdam’s Shelter, and more recently formed a series of live A/V shows.
With a hands on approach that’s seen Albert trial and error various methods of production over the years, we requested an invite into his studio to see the tools that are central to his creation process.
First off, the device I have used extensively over the last 2 years or so is Robert Henke’s Granulator II. Everybody already knew he was a big part of developing Ableton Live and Granulator II is a Max for Live device he designed and i’m really into it.
Very simple and straightforward but super versatile. Most of the prepared piano fragments that I used on the album Champagne Palestine were recomposted with this device. You can also create great pads from it. Completely different starting point from regular synthesis but great in terms of results. The filters are really good on there as well.
It’s only lately that I’ve been getting into modular gear / synthesis and exploring all the options. I got two new cases, one with mostly Intelijel modules and one with Make Noise modules.
I think it’s a great starting point with the direct options in the Intelijel modules and the more left field functions in the Make Noise case. Next to the Metropolis and Atlantis in the Intellijel case I plan to have the Korgasmatron II and Springray II in that case as well, sadly they are still in production.
3. OBXD Synth (VST)
This plugin I used a lot in the latest EP, a great (and free) clone of the OB-X synth. It’s never easy to keep digital sounds moving as it’s always slightly more static then analog sounds but this synth sounds very organic, it’s super easy to get some rubbery sounding bass lines from it.
Definitely a tip if you don’t have loads of money to spend on music tools.
4. Plogue Bidule
For years and years I have been using this software to create effects and random sounds, it’s like Max/MSP or Pure Data but way easier. I always have some FX sounds / noises in the background of my tracks to give them more depth and make them more organic.
Loads of people use field-recordings to achieve this, whatever floats your boat, I tend to use Plogue Bidule for it although now I turn to my little modular set-up for this as well.
It’s very simple to build a generative system that creates sounds by having random midi notes triggering your VST of preference. The software also enables you to randomise all the parameters in the VST plugin which gives you great results really easily. I then have this random sounding material plugged into a recorder but also into a device that turns the audio back into midi notes (and then back into the VST).
The whole set-up is a now a feedback system and it can give really freaky sounding results. I used to just lay down and listen to the system creating compositions with my sound designs, it can sound like you opened the gates of hell or like you’re talking with aliens… big fun!
5. Elektron Analog Rytm
Great and versatile drum synthesizer that I have started to add to the new Live set together with the modular cases and some Acid lab gear.
Built like a tank and the options are endless, it’s really easy to get really gritty sound wise, a nice contrast with working software. I visited the Elektron office and factory recently, just overall a great company and crew, good times.
Feel more confident then ever playing hardware since I started performing live in 2002, quite a while ago.
NO COMMENT 9001 is out now on No Comment. Order it here.