Heart Trip Breakdown & Welcome!

posted in: Music, Releases | 3

Hello and welcome! Glad you’ve come here to read about the ‘Heart Trip’ EP, the topic for this legendary first episode of my very own blog. From now on I’ll use this platform to talk about anything I want to. Vast majority of the entries will of course be related to music. Whether it’s about production, creative thinking, performing, gear or software.

There will also be artist spotlights, album showcases, news about my own projects or product recommendations.

I’ll try to come up with a new episode every week. I know, it’s a very tough task but there are so many ideas filling up my mind that it at least won’t be a problem to find new topics to talk about.

For those who don’t really know whose nonsense they’re reading right now, go visit the ‘About Me’ section of this website where you can find out more about my background, what my passions are and what I actually do when not writing stuff like this text right here.

And as I don’t want to start this without delivering any content, I’m going to give you a sweet little (and as rough as can be) breakdown of my freshly released EP called ‘Heart Trip‘!

Usually I make instrumental, experimental and dark music. But at some point last year I just felt like making some more mellow and lighthearted tracks.

So here we are, Heart Trip!

Track 1 – Tendresse

First track on the list is ‘Tendresse’, an instrumental project I started using Native Instruments Maschine* and its corresponding software. Later in the production process I switched to Reaper as I always do when coming up with something in the Maschine software.

This whole track is very much inspired by ‘C Y G N‘, a french artist whose works I’m a real big fan of. His extremely unique sound and the soft atmosphere of his tracks make me almost instantly distinguish them from anything else.

And whereas I’ll probably never be able to replicate that level of uniqueness, I did my best to imitate some of that sound whilst also (involuntarily) adding my own twist. Especially the short and minimal drum sounds go in that direction.

The synth bell sound which carries on throughout the whole song plays a big part as well.

In the second half you’ll find that I varied the bass pattern a bit and introduced a hang drum instrument.

Fun fact: Although I own a little tongue drum by Idiopan, which I easily could have used to make that sound, I opted for perhaps the only usable hang drum VST out there – Cloudrum by Ample Sound.

I don’t even know why I did that, but it worked just fine.

It’s also funny that it took me months to make substantial progress on Tendresse despite it being one of the more simple tracks.

Track 2 – Gleam

Track 2 is called ‘Gleam’. It’s more like a filler beat/track with a length of merely two and a half minutes. But generally songs are getting shorter and shorter anyway right?

So Gleam is pretty short but it still features some interesting stuff. And no it’s definitely not that plain ass trap beat I used. Rather pay attention to the kalimba solo at ~1:20. I played it myself! That’s right, I played it. On a Midi keyboard of course. Actually the sound isn’t even just a kalimba but there are two basic synth layers as well. Still cool, I guess.

The pluck playing a little progression right before the solo on the other hand is the only useful musical thing I ever accomplished working outside. I was sitting by the water with my laptop and actually got something done, imagine that! Here it is:

Midi notes to Gleam from Heart Trip
Gleam Midi notes

Another fun fact: Gleam was inspired by a minute-long sample pack demo track I really loved by an artist called ‘inimicvs’.

Track 3 – First collab in Heart Trip

On to track 3! ‘Message’ is the first collaboration of the EP featuring ‘Magicka’, a Canadian singer and producer.

The way she presents my lyrics with that staggering vocal performance is just mind boggling and epic. It was also her idea to add the three voice part you can hear in the bridge before the second main part.

Message developed from a spontaneous jam I had one night with a few instruments. I played the drums on Maschine, the bass on the Mininova* by Novation and later added an improvised tongue drum performance on my ‘Lunabell’ model as well as a small bit from the Theremin* I own.

When it comes to musical complexity, the song is probably the most simple one, as there is literally not one chord apart from the three voice vocal part. Bass and drums almost don’t change at all and the structure is also a pretty simple one.

Track 4 – Spark

‘Spark’ is kind of a byproduct of a challenge I did with several other artists (for example Vicar in a Tutu, Nate McManus) on Instagram. It was called ‘dailytunechallenge‘ and basically just demanded that over the course of one week, everyday we’d all post a one minute long tune. To start the challenge off I posted what more or less ended up being the first minute to Spark.

So as you can see, just some simple piano chords, basic drums and a couple of little synth melodies. In this song it really is more about painting an atmosphere and setting a mood rather than creating the eternal pinnacle of musical complexity. Musically it only gets interesting in that one random drop near the end.

It’s a pretty chaotic arrangement of many different sounds such as a water droplet, a laser beam sound and some Crotales (small bronze or brass cymbals, I had to google it too). The two main sounds play some kind of call and response game throughout the part. You will find that they almost never play at the same time and as one is located pretty central and the other one is heavily panned to the sides they are creating a neat contrast within the stereo field.

Track 5 – Beloved Past

Track 5 is the second of three collaborations of the EP. For this one I brought in two friends of mine who like to call themselves ‘station talk’.

The dreamy vocal performance accompanies the mellow electric piano sound really well. And MAN do I love how these two voices fit together perfectly!

I won’t get into detail about the exact progression played by the piano and the guitar but – to cut a long story short – there are plenty of chord extensions to achieve that sweet RnB sound.

Lyrically the song is about the past. To be more precise it’s about whether the past is worth holding on to. It draws a contrast between wanting to remember all the good memories whilst also wanting to forget bad things that happened.

But our memories of past events are sometimes also more positive than the events actually were, making our current situation seem worse in contrast to the past although this is not the case at all. This is what I try to emphasize with the following line: ‘An everyday delusion we live, thinking of now and bygone, that ago meant splendid utopia’.

Track 6 – My Heart Trip favourite

So now, to top off this breakdown, let’s have a look at the last track of Heart Trip, called ‘Race Against Love’. This track is the third collaboration, this time with Joséphine Fröhlich, another great vocalist friend of mine.

Again I wanted to go into a C Y G N direction here, just as in Tendresse.

This track is probably my favorite of Heart Trip, just because of the overall sound. It sounds so otherworldly but also soothing. I never ever could have imagined myself to actually accomplish that in any way.

I suppose this is probably because of several little things.

First of all it’s of course another flawless vocal performance which just shows Joséphines incredible feeling. Really, it’s so amazing.

But there are also some important aspects regarding sound design. For example every sound has this mellow reverb and no flashy highs. The piano in the chorus has an instance of iZotopes ‘Vinyl’ as part of the fx chain, using the warp feature to make it sound a bit more vintage. In fact both chord-playing synth sounds (actually self-made) also sound very clean with no gnarly artifacts in between.

Very straight forward, just with a massive delay from time to time. On the vocals I made use of a trick I learned from no other than the man himself, Andrew Huang.
The vocal track is layered with another version of itself, tuned one octave down. I then played around with the formant settings to fine tune the sound of this lower octave.

Overall there are tons of fx layers in the vocal fx chain. Before setting up the main reverb I used the ‘Ambience’ feature in ‘epicverb‘ by Variety Of Sound to create an atmosphere around the sound without adding any actual reverb with a decay time.

These are just some of the things that make track 6 of Heart Trip my slight favorite.

Thank you for tuning in!

Nevertheless, maybe you have a different favorite? Did you like Heart Trip at all?

Go ahead, feel free to tell me, slide in my dms 😉

To sum this up, I hope that first episode of my blog wasn’t too boring for you, I just always wanted to give insight on some of my music and finally I did it!

Until next week, when we will talk about a very, very special way to make music!

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3 Responses

  1. Jorge Duque
    | Reply

    This first blog entry is great! Nice little insight into every track, very inspiring. Thank you for sharing! 😃

    • Lars Grages
      | Reply

      Thank you very much for being the first ever comment and for the nice words!!

  2. […] that you tuned in again! Make sure to read the first blog post from last week as well […]

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