I Went To An Abandoned NSA Spy Station Built on the Ruins of Pre-War Berlin and All I Got Was This Weird Sample Library

IMG_5809It’s a perfect day in summer.  You’re walking along the slope of a beautiful mountain on the wooded outskirts of Berlin; when you look down you see that this is not a mountain at all.  It’s the biggest rubble pile ever created.  Bits of ReBar and concrete stick up through the dirt, the remains of 400,000 buildings leveled in the last weeks of WWII.  And then.  Atop the hill.  An enormous, impossible structure that is built literally and figuratively, on top of decades of conflict, fear, and terror. Teufelsberg.

IMG_5807Click the link if you want the story. It’s too much information for me to relate and it’s been told many times by better tellers.  But.  Suffice to say: I paid the seven Euro bribe to the squatters who de facto control it now and it was well worth the 2-donor-kebab’s worth of weird shit I saw.  And recorded.  And I give those recordings to you now, edited, EQd, and ready to drop into yr timeline.

DOWNLOAD: Devils_Mountain_Hits_2444

I don’t know who the “vocalist” you hear is, so I can’t grant you any rights to that particular sample, but feel free to use the other samples as you like.  Enjoy, and while I can’t recommend that you go dig around in this place, I can tell you that it def ain’t gonna be there much longer, and it’s much harder to find than people in Berlin will tell you.

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Vestax MR44 recording #2 – now with DBX

IMG_6429I just couldn’t keep offa the damn thing.  Here’s another similar compostion made on the Vestax MR44 – only diff is that I used the DBX this time.  I also played a whole lotta really hi-endy stuff (sleigh bells, tibetan bowls, tambo, shaker) on the 2nd set of passes in order to see how the DBX handles the high end.   I’m impressed with the sound!  Def some tape hiss there, and some weird low-freq bump going on, but it sounds presentable. This piece is 7 tracks – i played the wha gtr into the bounce of the nylon gtr/bass/low percs so that’s 4 into one plus the next 3 (hi percs, Hohner Pianet, and Recorder are first-gen). Oh yea and the reverb this time is that cheapy lil boss pedal rather than the Eventide.  Again, this is all live, played into and mixed exclusively on the MR44.

Vestax MR44 4-track tape machine

IMG_6428I can’t stop buying these oddball ‘hi-end’ cassette 4-track machines.  At this point, I’m up to 5 of them.  This Vestax 44 was about $100 on ebay; it needed a power supply (which entailed adding a conventional p/s jack, since the Vestax one is super weird), but other than that it worked right away. Strange set of features, but it has zero return, DBX, and high speed, and the best part is the form factor: it’s ideally suited for my ‘desktop’ style composing station, with its shallow rackmount chassis and all i/o on the front.

I had a chance to really try it out today and make a track using it exclusively.  For this first experiment I used no DBX, and type II Maxell tape.  This is a 6-voice piece. I started with a metronome on 1, and then bounced Ac Gtr, bass, and handdrums over to 1, adding some eventide reverb; track 2 was Organelle doing a mellotron kinda thing with a lil sample of my voice, 3 is my Moeck Alto recorder thru the yamaha E1010, and 4 is my old les paul with a wha wha.

I figured what with the inevitable tape hiss I should try something old school – went for a 70s euro-horror feel.  “It was the goat all along….”

When I have a sec I’ll try another onna these with DBX and using a compressor on the instruments on the way in –  see how much diff it makes in terms of fidelity.  Pretty happy w this tho.

Click here for my earlier demo of the Yamaha MT44 4-track machine.