### nanobeckstrom EP: a collection of tracks created over a weekend using nanoloop for iOS ###
# download the nanoloop project files here:
An intense Summer thunderstorm knocked out our power! We hung out at my wife's parents' house while our freezer slowly melted, waiting for the power to come back on. Most of my musical toys live at home and require power; there was not much to do other than read, eat, and play with our mobile devices.
Saturday morning, reading an interview online I was reminded of a gem of an app called nanoloop. I remember playing with it years ago (it's quite old!) but I'd forgotten about it. I decided to download it again and see what it could do.
# ABOUT NANOLOOP
nanoloop is a quirky iOS app that you can program to make music.
nanoloop is an 8-track sequencer for iOS (and other devices) equipped with a simple square wave (with PWM) voice, a simple 2-operator FM voice, a noise voice, and a sampler. The sequencer itself is a cross between MPC-like squares organized in rows of 4 and a tracker-like "song" interface.
Basically, it's a simple but powerful music creation application inspired by chiptunes (video game music). I am smitten with its combination of lo-fi digital synthesizers, the creativity-inducing gritty 16 bit sampler, and the various limitations in workflow.
NOTE: The good folks behind nanoloop did not pay me to make this, nor did they give me anything for free, nor do they necessarily have any idea this EP exists. I just really like the software and thought it would be a fun challenge to use it on this project.
I always find that limitations spark creativity, and I decided to see if I could make a handful of songs primarily using nanoloop- before our power came back on.
Other challenges: my sample library was at home, on my unpowered computer. I had no samples, so if I wanted any audio in my tracks I had to sample new material with my phone or portable recorder.
In other words, I was bored so I made an EP with this app and things I found around the house.
For each of these tracks, I came up with most everything on my iPad in nanoloop, then recorded it through an analog mixer into the computer. Once the tracks were done, I recorded the whole thing to cassette tape, recorded that back into the computer, then cut it up into tracks.
# TRACK NOTES
"John's Brush Dub" - My in-laws have a magnificent-sounding tiled shower. Any noise that happens inside the shower is quickly enveloped in a fantastic reverberation. I used this in two ways: I recorded myself clapping, which became the clap in this track, and I also used the clap sound in a convolution reverb device. This effectively allowed me to use the reverb of the shower on other sounds. Near the shower was my father-in-law's brush, which sounded great when I hit it with a comb. I sampled that and pitched everything way up until it became digital noise - and that's the sound you hear throughout this dub-techno-ish track. The keyboard sound comes from Korg Gadget on my iPhone, sampled through the tiny iPad mic.
"Baking Show" - Back at home after our power was restored, we were watching TV when I thought it would be interesting to sample a random portion of the TV show and use that to create a track. This track is built using a 6-second sample of a certain British baking show sampled through my cheap earbuds mic. I sequenced a "song" in nanoloop, and when I played it back to record into the computer, I manipulated the instruments.
"Quant. Error" - This track also uses only one sample, the Korg Gadget keyboard sound from earlier. Cascades of chords roll around until they disintegrate into clouds of glitching digital noise.
"nanobeckstrom" - A straightforward techno (or house?) track with swung 16th notes. In nanoloop I prepared a 1 bar loop played by 8 intruments. When I recorded it into the computer, I played nanoloop to create variation - muting/unmuting, transposing, adding more notes, subtracting notes, etc.
"Clipping" - A strange track built from many different nanoloop sounds; I used as many sounds as I could (which is 8, nanoloop's limit). The sequence in nanoloop is 16 measures, but when I played it back into the computer I manipulated the tempo. Sometimes it plays back at 60 BPM, sometimes 120 BPM, and other times anywhere between 4 BPM and 52400 BPM. Near the end my iPad actually chokes trying to play everything that quickly, but it eventually figures it out and makes some glitchy sounds. As an experiment, I also recorded this at a very high volume level, intentionally clipping the signal.
# ARTISTS THAT INFLUENCED THIS MUSIC
King Tubby, J Dilla, Tim Hecker, Richard Devine, Steevio, Edgar Varese, Milton Babbit, Tyondai Braxton