Made In Japan Retrospective-Track 12 “Kultara”

Kultara was the track with the most input from other people. The track is driven by this plinky repeating 4 bar melody which originally was recorded on my op-1 in Japan. That version however was a little to simplistic, I loved the jilted rhythm and the melody but the actual sound of the synth I had chosen on the op-1 was a bit too ridged.

To get around the recorded simplicity from the OP-1 I put the waveform into ableton and then mapped it out by hand in a MIDI file to keep its odd tempo. I then sent that MIDI into my modular and tried to replicate a sound as close to the original as I could. Once I had a close replication of the sound of the OP-1 on the modular I had the advantage of being able to adjust many different parameters in my modular to shift the sound slightly in varying directions. I set up a recording and slowly adjusted the synth for half an hour to give myself a large collection of the same melody slowly shifting over time. I selected a section of this recording and ran it permanently throughout the piece whilst I worked on other elements.

Most of the elements on the track were recorded In my studio rather than in Japan with the only exception being the vocal pad sound which was taken from another section of the Geisha recording I have used several times up to now.

The guitars were an interesting part of the track. I used a funk guitar sample library and treated it with distortion to create a really jagged sound. Originally the intent was to replace this with a real guitarist. I spent a few days recording with my good friend and collaborator Adam Wheeldon on guitar trying to track a guitar sound close to the original recording but every version lost that robotic feel that the original version had. Adam finally said “you should just use the original I like it the way it is” and that gave me the confidence to leave the sampled version in the track.

I’d like to thank Adam for his help over the years and on this piece. It takes a lot for someone to spend a couple of days on something and be willing to relinquish that work for the overall feel of the track. That’s the kind of person he is and I will always be grateful for his friendship and insight.

My Favorite part of the track is the string section at 2:50. I have played with string samples over the years in large sample libraries but they always take a long time and a foresight to program articulations and make them sound real. During working on this album though I downloaded the Ipad app ThumbJam which by name may sound like a bit of a toy, but it’s a fantastic players instrument in its own right. The Touch screen on the ipad allows you to make fairly realistic vibrato changes with ease which really enhance a far more simplistic string sample library then the deep and complex ones I have on my computer. I recorded several layers of cello to make the section you hear on the track.

The end of the track finishes where it began with the modular sequence and the sound of a field recording of my footsteps on gravel outside of the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Kultara was the last piece I started on the album and one of the most ambitious but I also think it’s slightly hampered by some musical and technical limitations of the project. Therefore it’s the track I’d most like to revisit in the future.

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