Modular Analog Over The Digital Revolution
In 2002, Reznor became enamored with virtual and analog-modeled synths, but he
rarely touches them now with the exception of some Native Instruments (NI)
apps. Ive gotten a lot more into real modular analog and just the kind
of garage-y imperfection and the unpredictability of it and the inability to ever
save a patch, explains Reznor.
These accidents happen where Im not sure why some
things sound the way they do, he says. And that has really inspired us to pretty much become the
main focus of this album. Monophonic analog synths are the main instruments much
more than the guitars this time, much more than the layered things. We
tried to make a garage-y type album with a mix of software and analog stuff that
still has some kind of freshness to it and has a spirit of what rock should be
about, in my opinion.
Ross adds, It became more of that spirit of performance thing. Its got to reflect
a personality, rather than a quantized performance. Despite the
technological revolution thats been going on over the past few years, its
not like were sitting around saying, Wow... much better records are being
|photo: rob sheridan
Reznor agrees and then comments, Ive
always kind of envied real bands with real people playing real things and
Ive tried to get that. But Ive realized that I can stumble onto things working
by myself and Im not afraid to do that anymore. Yet that doesnt mean that
everything has to be assembled in a kind of cut and paste factory. I think a
lot of composition software whether it be Pro Tools, Logic or any sequencer
it can make you work a certain way that I think can sometimes suck the life
out of tracks. And you can turn the radio on and find a million examples of that.
Native Instruments Apps Have Teeth
I think it is an excellent time right now from a sound and sonic
point of view where the dark ages are past, says Reznor.
Theres a limitless palate of interesting stuff coming out
software-wise. I mean, Reaktor alone. Its great to have additive and
granular synthesis at your fingertips, and the spectral stuff. Im excited
because there are several new software apps that Ive got and some hardware
that I havent even scratched the
I find that exciting from a sound design point of view new ways
to treat things, ways to evoke emotions out of certain things, he explains. At the top of my list
would be pretty much everything Native
Instruments makes. From Reaktor
to Vokator and Battery for drums. Ive messed around with Kontakt a bit and
Absynth is great.
Aside from NI, Reznor attests to a few more plug-ins. The Waldorf Attack is a
good little thing to use a lot. He also deployed the use of the previously PC-only
Trash plug-in extensively for With Teeth. But dont even try using Trash on a Mac without saving your song first, he cautions.
Back To Hardware
Reznor and Ross used a stockpile of analog
subtractive synths for processing and sequencing. The analog world has
provided limitless amounts of inspiration and its fun because you have to
have a lot of brain to signal path your way through it, says Reznor.
And rarely does it not yield some kind of unexpected kind of result, he adds. I
would find myself in the world of software a lot of times randomizing or starting
with patches and fucking with them until something cool comes out rather than
starting from scratch and putting sounds together. Its
been surprisingly inspirational to the point where I cant believe I
havent stumbled into it earlier.
Next page: The new face of Nine Inch Nails With Teeth
Nine Inch Nails
Learning Live and Reaktor
I dont use Live that much, but when I have popped it up for a couple of
things, I dont think Im using it the way they intend you to, says Reznor. I dont know if
thats good or bad, but it is useful for certain things. There was a day, when on the first album, I
had three pieces of gear and I knew every possible in and out. I could make
an Emax sound like an orchestra if I wanted to, because thats all I had.
the money in the world that I had was in an Emax, he says And now, I know less
than 5 percent of all the gear in my studio because I dont have time to master it
all. Mastering Reaktor alone could take a whole lifetime. And I wish I could
do that, but my job and my real thing I should be doing and want to do is be
producing and writing music.
In fact, one of the most complicated drum tracks on the record
started with me sending some stuff that Trent had programmed, through a Kaoss
Pad using the little sampler in it to capture and re trigger while it was playing, attests
Reznor Tries Traktor
work on something like Traktor DJ studio, its not the type of music I make, but its been something interesting to learn from a
hobbyist point of view, says Reznor. I can think, What if we tried using it in a
way that it wasnt intended to be used? Its got a cool way to crossfade in
and out of stuff, and you can automate. And then its like, Wow, Ive got a new tool to
automate stuff with!
We were trying to work on a kind of more remix-oriented track where
its just a linear thing with 50 different parts, and we were going
How are we going to cut in and out on this? and everything we tried
was sounding thought out.
were cool but they didnt add up to the right thing. So by messing around in
Live and Traktor, things popped out, adds Reznor. Wed have never thought to work that
way and thats what I think is really great about whats happening
right now there are so many great tools and things coming out. Its
a very inspiring time.
Continued on next page