Veteran German electronic artist Arovane has teamed with Joe McBride’s Synkro for a collaborative EP on R&S sub-label Apollo Records.
Exploring their shared love of broken beats and dreamy soundscapes, Refractive (Index) arrives in the form of four tracks that shift between drifting IDM and shuffling half-step pressure.
The pair connected through their affection for the Qy700, Yamaha’s venerable handheld sequencer, with Arovane becoming intrigued by Synkro’s work after spotting the sequencer in a photo of his studio. The Berlin sound designer states that they “share the same wavelength when it come to breakbeats, musical taste and melodies…this EP is the beginning of something special!”
With that in mind we took a trip to each of their studios, taking a detailed look at their set-ups, and the machines central to their creation process…
1. Tascam M-2600
This 24 channel mixing desk is the heart of my studio where all the analogue audio signals come together. It is a work horse that is built like a tank with good pre-amps, eq‘s and flexible routing options.
2. Access Virus Indigo2
I love this synth, it‘s knobby, intuitive, sounds very good and has beautiful blue led‘s. This thing is very easy to program, the sound is versatile, from wavetables to FM classics. You can hear that heavy aluminium baby on some of my productions.
3. Ableton Push 2
This is a dedicated hardware controller for Ableton live, my daw platform. Push allows me an excellent workflow in the studio.
4. Akai MPC Live
The MPC Live is a black beat monolith, I love to work with this thing as it is very straightforward. Sample sounds, slice beats, arrange it on the fly, play beats & sequences. The cool thing is I can use it with or without the computer. I have used it for many productions like for the collaborations with Synkro on the Refractive (Index) EP for Apollo / R&S.
5. Hologram Infinite Jets Resynthesizer
Is it a synthesizer? Is it a stomp box? Is it a filter? Is it infinite? yes, it is! This little white metal box with knobs is magic, sometimes it sounds granular, it mangles and smudges sounds in a very musical way & can add drive and a little extra to the music.
6. Clavia Nord Modular G2
This synth is stellar, it‘s a toolbox of joy & only your imagination is the horizon. I love to program synthesizer structures with it & the concept is ingenious. A piece of hardware with dsp’s and fantastic endless dials & led rings, and software to program the synthesizer. It‘s a sound designers dream. You want 12 lfo‘s? no prob‘! You want to drive a sequencer into audio range? you can!
7. EMU E4XT
This sampler sounds so good, the filters, the modulation matrix, resampling, convolution and the beat mangling function. I own another one, the e5000 ultra, i used that to death in the 2000‘s in combination with my Yamaha QY700 sequencer.
8. Genelec 8050‘s
What can i say. linear sound, defined bass, excellent stereo image.
9. Apple iPad pro
This thing is smooth and powerful, i love the borderlands granular app. To be honest, that was the reason i bought the tablet.
1. Alpha Juno 1 & IPG800 app
I use this combination a lot in all of my production, the Alpha Juno 1 is an amazing synth but its quite complicated to edit the sounds as it only has one slider & a tiny screen but with the help of my Ipad mini & the IPG800 app its really east to edit & manipulate all of the parameters. The IPG app also works with a bunch of other synths that use SysEx, highly recommended studio tool.
2. SH-101 & Kenton Pro Solo
The SH-101 is probably one of the most used synths in my studio & has been on nearly every record I have made since getting it from Five G in Japan back in 2014. I use the Kenton Pro Solo MK2 to program via midi & my QY700 to sequence. I used this for bass sounds, leads & noise effects in the Refractive (Index) EP with Arovane.
3. Roland Juno-6 & JX8P
These two are absolute beasts & are heavily used in all of my productions mainly for pad sounds. The Juno-6 has no midi or memory so I like to just jam on it over the top of tracks & I also use the IPG800 for programming the JX8P. The new roland boutiqe series are cool but I like the originals.
4. Yamaha QY700
This is a strange bit of gear but is really usefull & I have it infront of me in the studio as its linked to most of my analog synths. I use it as a midi hub for my whole studio but also like to use the Genral Midi sounds in there too as there’s some really nice choir pads & drum sounds. There are some pretty cool effects on board & a few secrets that make it a really special machine, this is one of the first talking points with Arovane that led to our collaborations as he used it a lot in his early work.
5. Tascam Porta02 & Eagle Reel cassettes
This is a really simple way to make anything sound super warm & gritty, it works great with drums & pads. With the addition of these metal reel to reel cassettes it adds even more analog sweetness. I have recently made an ambient EP with my Juno & JX8P going straight into the 4track with a loop tape that should be surfacing later in the year.
6. Akai MPK & Korg nanoKontrol
Nothing special here but really essential bits of gear in my studio & live. These have been though a lot as you can see & have travelled with me all over the world but still have a place in my studio. I have ableton Push & a full sized midi keyboard but these get more use than either as they fit nicely on my desk & are very easy to use, great for recording automation & getting ideas down quickly in the studio, I should probably get some new controllers but these still work fine after all the years of abuse.
Refractive (Index) is out June 29 on Apollo Records.
Preorder it here.