The Octatrack can be quite granular-esque [example inside]

hi all. so i told myself that i wouldn’t get any new gear until i learned my current gear to a much higher level. well, that hasn’t been easy with the recent release of the mutable instruments elements and clouds, which have me jonesing for a modular quite a bit. luckily, those modules aren’t readily available. so i swallowed my gear lust and fired up the octatrack with a loose goal of making some sort of evolving, granular piece while i played my guitar. sort of a la frippertronics, but not going for the exact looping technique.

it turns out that the octatrack can be very granular with the live recording and sampling plus the effect sections. here’s an example i came up with this sunday evening:

full link:

this is a guitar into an octatrack, and that’s it really, save for a simple arpeggio from the analog four into a thru machine. the octatrack is recording and playing back the guitar in two different ways, live i might add, with one track playing back a recorded, and of course, mangled guitar sample. there’s also one more thru machine passing the guitar straight through into an effects chain.


What an excellent idea! And it sounds great, too. Thanks for the tip. I look forward to trying something similar.

…yup…great scapes…the live guitar could be less…:wink:

hail to the most homgenic granular messup machine on the planet…
no matter how much you destroy something, it always ends up still sonically and musically…


Sounds really cool.

I’d love to read a bit more, if you have the time to elaborate a bit on the ways the audio is processed in the OT.

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nice! I like how that turned out

Sounds great! I’m also trying to keep the urge to build a mutable instruments modular at bay atm. Got my Virus Snow (of all things) to sound quite like Elements by modulating the wavetables. Will post a clip in another post if there is any interest.

Would also like to hear details on how uou set up the OT to do this.

thanks to everyone for the kind words. :slight_smile:

a few mentioned they would like a few more details, so here it goes. everything was done with 1 bar = 16 steps at 120 bpm. the setup was my eleven rack into input a of the octatrack and my analog four into input b. no p-locks were used. the crossfader wasn’t used in this recording.

it’s actually a very simple setup which speaks to the power of the octatrack. it’s just me hitting play on the octatrack then playing my guitar. i started with everything but track 1 muted, which creates the initial ambience, then i brought in the drone and arpeggio and finally the live but heavily modulated guitar portions.

track 1 [flex]: records 1 full bar of the guitar input with a recording trig on step 1. has various playback trigs. main modulations are pitch and rate plus filter and dark reverb effects. this is what provides the evolving atmosphere, heard by itself at the beginning.

track 2 [thru]: thru machine on the guitar input with filter and lo-fi effects. the lo-fi had distortion, sample rate reduction, and heavy amplitude modulation, which is what provides the tremolo effect. the filter effect is modulated with an LFO, which is what provides the swelling live guitar.

track 3 [neighbor]: effect chaining reverb onto track 2. mix set at about 3 o’clock or 70% which reduces the live guitar’s influence on the sound.

track 4 [flex]: plays back a single note sample of the guitar. pitch shifted and rate set at negative. effects are a filter and heavy reverb, with the reverb again set at around 70% mix. you here this come in at around 0:22. it’s the drone in the background.

track 5 [thru]: thru machine for the simple analog four arpeggio you hear in the background that comes in at 0:17. the arpeggio is played by a pretty nice bell patch. it’s given some resonance through the octatrack filter and lots of delay.

track 6 [neighbor]: another filter and some reverb on the arpeggio.

track 7 [flex]: plays back the recording buffer in recording 1, which is the buffer that track 1 is recording and playing back as well. i reduced the rate and added some delay, which is what provides the slightly delayed and octaved guitar in the background.

track 8 [master]: more dark reverb because why not?

the only processing i did was some basic equalizing in garageband to remove some overwhelming bass. i left everything else alone.


Thanks nikofeyn, so cool you took the time to do the writeup – I’ll get on this at home and see where the Octa takes me :slight_smile:

not a problem! writing it up drove home the point of how simple the setup actually was. it was just very basic use of the octatrack’s machines, with no parameter locks, no scenes, and no switching of patterns.

all the technology for this particularly sound lies in track 1, which i’m still a little confused about what’s going on. :slight_smile: understanding the recorders and their relationships with tracks are the single most confusing thing about the octatrack for me. it’s difficult to visualize what’s happening since things are buried in many places: track settings, recorder settings, and even project settings for the memory. i need to get back to the manual, as i had actually gone a couple weeks without messing with my octatrack before making this sketch, so i have forgotten some of the subtleties.

@nikofeyn - great results. thanks for sharing them & hope you’ll keep exploring this approach!

Wow! That sounds amazing! I remember playing around with reverse reverbs and shit with a mate of mine. He is a fantastic guitarist but I was always more into the computer music side. Anyway, we spent a day arsing around with his guitar and then layering with reverb and things. All took far too much time - wish I had the OT back on those days!

Really enjoyed that though Nikofeyn. I keep meaning to do something similar with vocals. Just simple “ahs” and “ohs” with OT tracks doing their thing. The missus is out on Friday to get an eye full of the 50 Shades movie so might give it a bash then with your settings.

It’s something I’ve learned to live with with the OT. Not a bad thing really, it makes happy accidents happen all the time. I sometimes get frustrated when I approach the OT with a clear goal in mind as Im having to force my computer DAW trained brain to think differently so much prefer mucking about and not paying close attention to what I’m doing!

thanks so much. i actually applied a similar technique to fourfiveseconds by rihanna, kanye, and paul last night. it was pretty fun.

thank you the compliments. it’s very much appreciated.

that sounds like a lot of fun with your mate and his guitar. you should definitely do something with vocals! i started remixing fourfiveseconds last night with a similar technique, and it’s a lot of fun.

the main thing i like about hardware is that it’s just so fun to tweak, and it seems within a thirty minute time period, i can almost always come up with something interesting. i am not really a daw person, and i just can’t get a workflow on the computer.

Nice demo and explanations!

I’m inspired to experiment more with recorder trig and playback trigs on the same flex machine track, among other things.

So gave this a shot with vocals at the front rather than guitar and it is a lot of fun. I couldn’t do anything “serious” as my five year old (and my three year old for that matter) couldn’t get to sleep with my moaning into the mic so he came in and sang along to a bit of it live - he does the bit that sounds like a cat screaming… (the Octatrack is more to blame for that!!!).

Anyway, not exactly something you can enjoy until perhap the second half when I bring the AK and AR to give it a bit more tunefulness and rhythm. Anyway, just gives an idea for the noobs among us (still including me) of what the OT can do. Everything other than the bass, appregiated synth and drums comes from the OT. The image of the cat was obviously picked by the wee man!

Ps - my vocals are shite too by the way but stuff it.


that was pretty wild! I actually liked the reverb heavy vocal portion at the beginning best. But the other parts showed off lots of mangling. thanks for sharing

Wind your neck in J0n35y :slight_smile:
Enjoyed this from the start!

Yea me to, good job nikofeyn :slight_smile:

Thanks guys! I honestly thought it was some throw away piece as was being distracted by the kids and had an eye on the football so was very much just mucking about. And I think when you don’t sing much (nearly never) then listening back to your voice is very cringeworthy!

It has given me some ideas of what I’d like to try in future though. In fact, with Overbridge dealing with the mixing/recording of AK/AR then that frees up inputs and at least one track for more mangling. Would be pretty cool to use the OT as a vocal mangler along with some sample playback. Like the potential in that.