I wanted to do a variation on the “original” “shimmer” reverb as used by Brian Eno and others, with the gear I have. The MXR129 has made it into the Patching Workout a few times already, let’s give it another go for this one. That makes the Andromeda Shimmer Piano.
As sound source, I’m doing a variation on the clever JX10 piano patch (https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/synthesizing-acoustic-pianos-roland-jx10-1102) with the Alesis A6. It’s based on using static hard sync to shape the timbre of the “piano”. It’s really more like an electric piano, but still a pretty decent patch - good start to explore sync as well. So, on the A6, the slave is 21.5 semitones above the master, mixed more or less equally in volume. The filters are used in parallel, one to create the “bite” and one the “growl”, if that makes any sense. On the envelopes, I programmed sort of a strange release that kind of “jumps” up a bit again shortly after having released the notes. Finally, some keyboard tracking on the filters and envelopes, plus a touch of velocity on the filter and VCA envelopes. Then I manually recorded two minutes of a pretty cheesy loop to the DAW, for which you will have to excuse me :)
Then, on to the effect. I didn’t want to go completely overkill, so I decided to restrict it to two sends. The piano recording is routed out to my Midas Venice 160 mixer on an “unconnected” channel that doesn’t get sent to the master (to be able to record wet only). Then, the send 1 + 2 are used for the two effect chains. Both are routed back to the mixer for some feedback and cross-feedback (does that term exist?) action. All three channels on the Midas are EQd quite radically to shape the effect return sound.
Firstly, the “shimmer” needs a bit of modulation to wash out the effect return. I use a recently acquired Boss RCE10 Microrack chorus, set to a subtle and slow-ish modulation. That goes to the pitch shifter, set to shift an octave up, and finally to a reverb, an Alesis Quadraverb+ set to a rather long hall. I know that the pitch shifter should rather be placed after the reverb, but the old MXR has quite a bit of delay in the processing, so I take that as a free “pre-delay” before the reverb. I tried both way and found it more fun this way. The feedback using the mixer does its thing either way.
Secondly, some delay is helpful for these types of effects. For the second effect chain, I use an old Yamaha E1005 BBD delay in series with a Soviet Lell RC, rather strange box that latter one :) The E1005 does pretty straightforward delay with a tiny bit of modulation for some chorusing and the Lell a strange reverb-ish chorus type thing.
For the recording, the reverb and chorus of the first chain are there from the beginning, the second chain is muted. On the first chain, the “shimmer” is down first and I dial it in slowly using the dry / wet control on the MXR129. Then, the second delay chain comes in. In the “break” (without chords), I dial up the internal feedback on the MXR (“Regeneration”), because that is always fun. Generally, as you can easily hear, the feedback and cross-feedback on the mixer effect returns are dialled in more and more during the recording. The E1005 got me once with a bit of overdrive… Then, the whole process is repeated sending the recorded effect returns out again, doing slightly different fader actions on the mixer and with a different delay rate on the E1005. One could do this over and over again when used subtle, but it ended up rather over the top like this already :D
No actual reverb and delay from the DAW this time, I think that might be a first for the MPW. However, I had to record a Roland RE201 track over the whole thing, because it’s just too nice. That’s the delay that is there right from the start. However, some EQ and compression in Ableton to bring it up.
Hope you enjoy it, cheers!