Against the Clock Discussion


Since the videos have the comments disabled, I thought to start a thread to discuss them here.
IN CASE you haven’t heard about AGAINST THE CLOCK it’s a video series run by FACT mag on utube. The featured artist has ten minutes to create a track.

The comment section of these videos were disabled to to negative feedback from viewers. Most of the time people were unhappy with how the artist went about using their time.

While most artists did adhere to the “rules” (creating a track) some basically did a live jam for the viewers to enjoy.

I figured I’d link two different examples of their videos ei (track creation/jamming) (jamming) (daw creation)

maybe you all could link your favorites/least favorites and discuss workflows


The bit were hector shows us his crash cymbal that has a bunch of mini cymbals is pretty neat.


Citation needed.

The main problem that the FACT ATC comments had, and had for some time, was that almost every female producer would receive a string of derogatory, disparaging, sexist and/or lewd comments, in the same way that any female DJ / artist still does on their Boiler Room videos.

I think it was not long after Claire Lobenfeld became managing editor that the comments got switched off, and I’m all for it. They were not ok and I don’t see how Fact, as a music publication strongly at the liberal/arts end of things, could have continued to be ok with them.

There were of course also many cases where a male artist’s ATC had a lot of negative comments from bedroom “producers”/keyboard warriors, but those never crossed into personal attacks / comments about appearance / sexism / etc etc. and I certainly don’t think those were the reason the comments were nuked.

Ok, back to the discussion…


Some of my favourites:




I have to say, I love watching these videos and have been following them for some time now.

I love watching how people make music and its fascinating seeing the workflow…

I know musical appreciation and subsequent tastes can be very subjective, but some of the videos are very uninspiring and the workflow so uninteresting that I wonder on what basis they pick some of these artists.


I don’t think they know what they’re going to get half the time.


Albert Van Abbe has been releasing gritty, atmospheric techno for over a decade on underground labels like Semantica and his own No Comment imprint, so we figured he’d know his way around a synth well enough to make a track in 10 minutes for our Against The Clock series.

However, we were completely unprepared for what we got when we caught up with him at the Willem Twee studios in the Dutch city of 's-Hertogenbosch. There, he opted to make his track on a giant wall of oscilloscopes, pulse generators and filters from the 1950s and '60s along with an ARP 2500. Eurorack this is not.


Also hard to beat Danny L Harle’s one for entertainment.


I appreciate that - its part of the appeal and I love Alby and all this crazy hardware…
Sitting down to watch someone on a laptop “make a track” by playing around with a few loops from their sample library is boring and uninspiring (for me) - I am not dissing those that work in the box… but anyone can come up with a groove by copy/pasting samples on a timeline… zzzz…


I enjoy the series. more-so when people come up with something from scratch than when they just jam with stuff they already had going. I used to get annoyed with the latter, but then I realized it’s still them being creative and it’s exposure for them, plus not every artist works well under that kind of pressure. and if nothing else, as fellow musicians, you may still learn something from their approach. still better than just reading an interview in a magazine, anyway.

favorites for me would be the Steffi one shown above, as well as these three:


I forgot that Benjamin Damage one. That was brilliant.

Ansome hits hard too:


I absolutely LOVED the comments section of ATC - I’m actually a bit sad that my own ‘against the clock’ vid only has one nasty comment so far :sweat_smile:

last week I started a subreddit for discussing ATC episodes but I haven’t done anything with it because it’s a pretty low priority - if anyone wants to take over I am happy to mod you :smile:

3 of my all-time favorite ATC episodes -


That Cid Rim one is the shit.



I like to alternate between Against the Clock and Mass Appeal’s Rhythm Roulette.


Just wanted to voice very strong agreement with you here.


good call. the Bintus and Novo Line ones are both quite good.


I care far less about the ATC episodes now that there aren’t comments, and I watch them for a much shorter period of time. From a strictly business/YouTube standpoint it’s actually hurting the visibility/exposure of the ATC episodes to turn off the comments, as they are important part of how the YT algorithm determines which videos’ thumbnails and titles get the most impressions on the platform. My own personal experience leads me to believe disabling comments also leads to lower watch times overall, further hurting the ranking of the videos on the platform - I often will scroll down to the comments when something happens in the video that I wonder if anyone has commented on, or I just get bored and start reading comments while I listen. If people are actively commenting about various aspects of the video I will watch and re-watch those portions to understand their thoughts. Often I would also be directed to particular gems within the video that I might have missed due to lack of attention span - these things all serve to increase average watch time

the most rational business decision would be to moderate/filter comments


I thought this Kiefer one was really on point. Looks like he could have done the 5 times over and still come up with some fresh beats.


Steffi’s is just fkn awesome :smiley:

I love this series. I love seeing these amazing artists put under silly time pressure and (in most cases) just lovin it. I love seeing all these completely different setups. Some use a tiny midi keyboard and a laptop. Some use entire rooms full of individual machines per sound. It makes electronic music making feel so real and so approachable and so friendly.

(Thanks too for writing about the backstory about the disabled comment sections. I had always avoided them like the plague anyway, because whenever I’d glanced at them, they were indeed full of awful misogynistic sexist abusive stuff. I’m really glad they’ve shut that platform down! It’s hard enough putting yourself out there like that without having to deal with abuse in the comments.)

There is just one thing I don’t like about the series … the animation at the start!!! The poor clock :(:(:(:frowning: