Production help - "Monolake"

Hi, I have been inspired by ambient and dark rythmic electronica for some time now.

I’m listening lately to Monolake and it serves as a template for the sound I’m aiming for… at first glance the songs may seem very simple and repetitive, but there is a lot of movement, both in terms of atmosphere, and the use of percussion which I think are mostly fond sounds/recordings of live objects.


So…I have been struggling with my creativity on the Octa for some time, but I’m thinking its the perfect tool for this kind of live setup. I’m aiming fairly low, for some 4 tracks, 20 minute-ish demo to send around.

So, the question becomes more of a general one… is octatrack suitable for such productions? from scratch? There are a lot of modulation capabilities, filtering, eq, lowfi, etc on Octa, but these usually result in a very digital sounds which often reminds me of the Machinedrum - but from listening to the song above, the modulations seem not in the digital effects, but rather different recordings of the same percussive instrument (very “hi fi”)… so in order to emulate this, I would need very big & high quality sample chains with multiple copies of such percussive instruments?

Any thoughts on how to progress here on a more general level… or maybe suggestions to sample collections, dunno…I’m stuck :neutral_face:

Not really answers your question about the octa i don’t have one. But Monolake use ableton, they are ableton as in they made it. I think Robert henke creates most, if not all of his sounds with it. At least he did at some point. Check out his monodeck Controller its awesome.

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Hi… I’m aware of his ties to Ableton… however, I was hoping to solve this “the hardware” way… :slight_smile: Just a preference really, might not be effective though…

He uses Ableton and has indeed created full albums using only abe but also uses lots of real acoustic sounds and found sound. Recording in different spaces which I think is important for the organic atmospheres in his music.

Octatrack would be perfect for that type of stuff I think tho for complex live stuff Ableton would probably be a big aid.

Seen this? I love his apartment and modest insights on his creative process

EDIT - granular type synthesis with his own samples is key I think… Also he reveals stuff on his Facebook acount like his new synth purchases, and ideas.

i would also say definitely possible with the OT - in general.

Though i think the OT´s Effect section is definately NOT capable of giving you that kind of brilliant ambience. Even the lately added “dark reverb” still is lightyears away from what a strymon or an eventide could do.

Hi, thanks for all the responses - it’s looking like a bit on the side of Octatrack strengths…

I’m not sure about an external reverb right now, but it might be one way of approaching it…as long as I can be sure its going to be a good investment. Bigsky seems great… possibly Erbe Verb w/modular…

I’ll try with some fond samples off “loopmasters”, and it if fails… may have to get me one of them…compurters

The Octatrack is perfect for this kind of music. You will get out of it what you put in. If you put in loopmasters, it will sound like loopmasters. If it’s natural organic sound you would like, then I would recommend spending money on decent microphones and a digital recorder. Capture unique and interesting sounds. Edit these either in daw of choice or directly in the OT and go from there. Hardware reverb is awesome but for my money you won’t find anything better than Altiverb.

This is at least in part the kind of thing Henke was doing with the Monolake stuff. As was said already, he was/is a big contributor to ableton and builds most of his stuff himself. A few of his max4live devices can give you a bit of insight into his ideas. Hard to say what he’s doing after that. Clearly he puts a lot of hard work in to what he does. Saw something he did with lasers. Was awesome. I’ll see if I can dig it up

i’m not sure i understand your question quite well but here’s what i did that might be up your alley.

i made a 2 track recording on sp-404 of a multitracked hardware improvisation with live effect “juggling” of sp-404. Then i “played” the track on the sampler thru its effects again, varying tweaks/fx selection , even adding reverb over first round of reverb gives a sense of depth/cutting edge modulations. The second pass was recorded in a standalone recorder.

The sp-404 has 1 button for fx selection and 1 button for parameter tweaking. So it’s two pass of fast fx improvisation. The kaosspad is of course a more capable processor.

If i recall my monolake cds from late 90’s, (to be honest his later work got pretty repetitive) his work is mainly based on field recordings and granular synthesis. So i would samplechain field recs and use flex recorders for pseudo-granular effects. Or even prepare long files in audiomulch beforehand.

Gonna see him in a couple of weeks, I’ll be sure to ask him what his opinion of the OT is!
There’s no doubt in my mind that you could cover a lot of this ground. Separate midi controller would give you more hands on like he has & yeah processing is not going to be as flexible but I don’t see that being a major factor, certainly for the majority of listeners.

i haven’t read through the other responses yet, but i wanted to make something very clear. there is nothing about the octatrack that makes it sound digital. of everything i’ve made on it, nothing has a cold digital sound. the filter (which i think may even be actually analog) and other effects have a very nice sound to them.

i have a machinedrum, and the octatrack sounds completely different. on top of that, it is a sampler at heart. so there is nothing making it sound digital or analog or whatever. it takes whatever you feed it.

as to your original question, i think the octatrack is perfect for ambient and organic sounds. it can do them very easily. see my post here: The Octatrack can be quite granular-esque [example inside]

you can hear some sound samples at my soundcloud, this one in particular:

Hi, could you please ask him to release an OT version and template of/for the Monodeck II :+1:

Thank you

Have fun.

the bigsky and erbe-verb are completely different reverbs. the erbe-verb is a very textural reverb not really suited to huge, lush reverbs. at least i have never heard anything like the valhalla reverbs out of it. the bigsky is nice, but is a very colorizing reverb.

I once had the opportunity to watch him play a liveset on radio. I was sitting behind Robert as he played, so I got to see everything he did. As a long time Ableton fan it was pretty eyeopening.

He improvises a lot when he plays, he used Operator a lot, including his percussion sounds. And programmed his patches on the fly. I think FM is a big part of his sound, especially around that era 2002-2004ish

Judging from his website he likes old weird digital synths too, like the Prophet VS and the Synclavier.

yes you’re right i remember listening to my fs1r having monolake vibes