bobheads - (draft) Underground Creatures

Hi all - here's a not-quite-finished project which I would love to have feedback on from the community here. I've done some work on getting the very full sub-bass to not swamp everything out (as it was doing at first), with a bit of judicious EQ and sidechain etc, but I'm still a newbie at the whole mixing and mastering thing so any feedback would be happily received :-) How are the levels of different sounds for you? etc

Many thanks and hope you enjoy my little journey underground - I'm really into putting Herbie-Hancock-inspired MiniMoug (Obsidian preset) on everything at the moment, I think I have it on three tracks that I'm working on...!


  • Hi there @bobheads
    Cool draft so far. Right now I’m on my casual earphones and they tend to totally overkill bass frequencies(some Sony ones) but it doesn’t sound that much overpowered in bass spectrum so I guess it’s ok but I’ll have listen later on when I get home on proper headphones. There is (and this also might be because of those earphones) some sounds ( one appears @0:26 It’s a pad sound and then some hit sound) which tends to be more loud then the rest and are panned to right(that loudness might be due to that panning). Again I’ll have to listen to it again on proper headphones so really take it with heavy dose of salt like couple of bags of it:DDD

  • Cheers @cray23 - I know the sound you mean at 0:26 - I have to go away from tracks sometimes and then come back to them, to be able to notice things like that :-)
    Let me know if it is better/worse on your other headphones! This mixing malarkey is complicated stuff. Mostly this was the first time I used a very subby deep bass and it totally f*ked all the other sounds so I had to do a lot of learning and re-shaping, EQing everything, side-compressions etc and then I needed to add another bass sound because the main one didnt have any low-mid!
    So a learning process as always. It's already a lot better than when it started ;-)

  • I am not even going to touch your mixing concerns. You are all light years ahead of me on that. Compositionally why did you stop? This is really interesting stuff. That little melody alone begs for development in any number of ways. Take it apart, shake it up, change the patch, the key. That growling effect to me is really creepy and might need to go to war with the melody. Who will win? Not trying to be presumptuous. Just throwing out some thought process tricks for you, in case you need it, in hopes you will keep going because I want more.

  • Thanks @boomer ! I take on board your proposals for sure. As a performer I've spent a long time in jazz communities where solos can go on and on a bit, and everyone except the performer gets a bit bored :-) and so I think sometimes I go totally the other way on purpose, and head for extreme minimalism and repetition ( I'm also a huge fan of Steve Reich and Philip Glass, and long-form vocal looping in Circle Songs and so on - the meditative aspect of repetition is interesting to me). I'm also usually quite keen to keep my tracks pretty short and to the point, (most of my tracks are between 1:30 and 3:30 minutes) which somehow makes me want to 'go and listen to it again'.

    I'm really interested in how repetition of phrases, addition and subtraction of sonic elements can be mesmerising and interesting. I find really working all the possibilities with just one idea more interesting than adding new material all the time. But it's absolutely true that recently I've been thinking about more 'song-like' forms, with bridges and choruses etc, something I have never really been very interested in for my own electronic creations. Funny how we sometimes reject something and go as far as possible in the other direction, and then come back to where we were but with new insight and clarity about it. Now that I think about it, all my jazz/acoustic composing always has different sections. I wonder why my electronic impulse is to stay with looping ideas? I like them, so it's not an oversight !

    I sometimes get the urge to play a going-all-over-the-place solo line, and recently I've been finding myself adding a synth track in NS (usually miniMoug) just so I can play a long meandering improvisation over the top of looping grooves which I've made. It kind of depends on my mood, I guess, and it goes in phases for me. Sometimes I really really want to create something that barely changes at all, and other times I want to go crazy with a lead synth ;-)

    Thanks for your ideas, I appreciate them, and I will definitely come back to this piece and try out some different things based on what you've said.

  • @bobheads I am with you 100% on everything you just said. You obviously did not need my advice on how to develop an idea - apologies for that. I am thrilled to know there are others who struggle with exactly the same things I do! I too was a full time performer for over 20 years and have been composing here and there for over 40. And I too often can’t decide which way to go - repetitive vs adding new ideas. I can leave reality for a long time playing over a loop but I realized early on that experience is not shared by most listeners. You wonder why your electronic impulse is to stay with looping? It’s because the apps make it soooo easy. And because we like it anyway why not? I think the whole issue boils down to who are you creating it for? Yourself? That’s what I do now. If you are trying to make money from it then it becomes business and it changes the whole equation. Not saying it’s not possible to do both but it’s hard. Your tastes have to align with a large number of other people. Back to this particular piece, its making me think about the idea of a developing repetitiveness ending up in a completely different loop. Have not tried that. Makes it long by definition but if you could keep the rate of change to the loop at just the right pace it might work. Kind of Glass-like. I want to go on but I suspect we could talk for hours on the creative process. Cheers!

  • @boomer no apologies required! I am happy to receive all proposals

    Despite acknowledging to myself that I do have a lot of experience (AKA I am old 😂) and often have a lot of confidence in my own ideas, I know that those same qualities can sometimes lead to cul-de-sacs, which is why I am finding this forum such an inspiration. I can see new avenues and take the time to reconsider options that I might have rejected during the flow of composing, and it’s refreshing to be reminded to ‘open out the awareness’ after an extended period of narrower and narrower focus. A fresh set of ears, as they say.

    FWIW I make all this stuff purely for myself ;-)
    If I brought money into the equation it would change so much. Nonetheless, from somewhere within, (or without?) there is a drive to create, and to make each creation as perfect a thing as it wants to be - which sometimes requires the “fresh ears” input, to fully remove my ego from the equation :-D

    I definitely feel encouraged to go back to this and try some totally new things with it, even at the same time as feeling like it was almost finished! Thanks!

  • Nice @bobheads! I do agree with @boomer that there's a conflict (in a good way) between the sub bass and the main melodic hook - and I for one want the hook to win :)

    I suggest changing the sound of the hook up a little the last time it is played so that it is stronger and more forceful. Sometimes all this takes is a little opening up of the global filter, but you could also layer it with another more aggressive sound for that last time.

    Nice choice of sounds, too - the way they contrast is very much like a conversation.... I keep thinking of those Hans Zimmer youtube ads!

  • @Trigger_the_Monkey Thanks for your suggestions and encouragements :)

  • Just for reference I'm linking to the 'final' version I uploaded to Spotify as the Soundcloud link is no longer valid. All comments and feedback still always warmly welcomed :-)

    I think, based on this thread, that this one became this track on Spotify: Herbology

    ( I think, I posted that wrongly on another thread, apologies... I wonder now, which one the other one was... ;) )

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