Noise Engineering

Get out of the box -- and back in

Noise Engineering is a Eurorack and 5U modular synthesizer manufacturer based in Los Angeles, California. 

Matt Lange talks life and modules and makes a cool patch

This is part of a series of guest-post tutorials from Noise Engineering users showing off various tips for NE modules, modular use in general, or how they integrate modular into their workflow.

Have someone you think would be great to write a guest post? Have a modular tip you want to submit for us to create a video around? Let us know!

We recently did a reddit AMA and were reminded by an astute reader that we hadn’t had our pal Matt Lange on the blog in a while. Long-time readers may remember that Matt was part of the inspiration behind the Manis Iteritas, but he’s also a NE beta tester, one of my favorite artists, and a really close friend of ours.  I took the suggestion as an excuse to invite Matt over with his modular case, play with some (new…) modules, argue over features on future modules, and have a beverage or two (obviously). Maybe not in that order.

KK: Welcome back, love. For those who aren’t familiar, tell us who you are.

Matt Lange: I’m a music producer, composer, artist, sound designer, dj, and cat wrangler, amongst other things I can’t remember.  I wear a ton of different hats which can often change day to day as it’s very common now to have your fingers in a ton of different pies to make ends meet as a self-employed musician in the current environment.  Stephen and Kris are also very close friends of mine and often coerce me with expensive wine to say that their modules are the best ever. They are smart people.

KK: What’s your training/background like?

ML: My musical background really started on the piano at a very early age, but didn’t take priority really until I joined a boy’s choir.  After my voice changed, I picked up the electric guitar and it was basically all downhill from there. Playing in a band in high school had me interested in music production so that I could record demos to bring to the band, who naturally rejected them because I had written everything for them already and it was no longer collaborative, so to speak. Long story short, the computer stayed and the band kicked the bucket. This lead me to Berklee in Boston where I majored in music production and 4 years later I was out working in DC under another producer and composer. 11 years later, I’ve produced numerous other artists' albums, released 4 of my own, countless singles and remixes, toured extensively, have placed music into dozens in films and their promotional campaigns (Deadpool being a personal favorite), and I’m still going… (I’ve also acquired a few more guitars in the process… not to mention the modular).

KK: and a piano, and a cello...and…[Matt’s music is extremely diverse and ranges from dance to rock to cinematic and lovely…]  hahaha.

But modular. Given the range of music you make, what role do you see modular synths playing in your creative process?

ML: The modular fills a gap that none of my other instruments can. It’s bizarre, untraditional, and so incredibly inspiring. I think this came from a conversation with Richard Devine a number of years ago, but the best way to describe working with a modular synth is that instead of playing it, you’re having a conversation back and forth with the machine. Consequently, the modular has been responsible for countless musical ideas that I doubt I would’ve come up with in any other way. My good friend Anthony Baldino is responsible for ultimately sending me down the modular abyss when he brought one of his early systems over to my first LA apartment about 6 years ago. The first hit is always free...

KK: now that you’ve taken the plunge (and have been a pretty avid user for a while), what do you find yourself using a lot of or wanting more of?

ML: Having more and more sequencers is a need I seemingly always have, and the Noise Engineering Mimetic Digitalis solves a lot issues with this since they pack so much punch in a rather small amount of real estate. I get a ton of use out of modules that tend to have their own VCA’s built it, so I consequently use the Noise Engineering various Iteritae constantly. This solves the issues of constantly needing more VCA’s, and with a finite amount of case space available, the more bang for the space, the better. If I had an extra row space in this case, inevitably it would be filled rather quickly with more sequencers such as the Tip Top Circadian Rhythms and inexorably more distortion. (Kris and Stephen teased me a little bit after we filmed this with something coming later that was very tantalizing in that regard.)

KK: Muahahahahaa. Soon, my pretties.

Ok, let’s talk about the main event -- the patch you put together for us. What’s going on here?

ML: The main rhythmic elements that are a bit more complicated are sequenced by the Pioneer Squid sequencer. This would include the kick (made with a Make Noise DPO, with Maths into the exponential FM input), and the glitchy rhythm. I had a few different patterns programmed into the Squid and that allowed a more dynamic rhythmic “performance” so to speak. The glitchy rhythm sound was based on an idea I had a couple weeks ago and this was the first time it was put into practice. Using the QuBit Nebulae (or in my case NebuLange… for real.  <3 QuBit) I time stretched a distorted drum loop of mine pretty intensely to the point of where it sounded extremely granular, sent both outputs to VCAs and then gated the VCAs rather tightly with another channel of Maths, using rhythms coming out of the Squid. The wide stereo field of it is the direct result of a some stereo file literally being pulled apart, and every spacial difference being accentuated. There are moments where I open up the decay of the hits every now and then and you can hear how granular it actually is. There are some little blippy percussion sounds and those come directly out of the Noise Engineering BIA, sequenced by the Noise Engineering Mimetic Digitalis. A hi hat functioning sound is created by the Noise Engineering Mattis Iteritas [ed note: not a typo], and then being EQ’d rather extremely by a Mutable Instruments Shelves to retain basically only the very high end. This is sequenced by the Make Noise Rene. The decay of the MI hat also gets played with as the patch progresses. There are also two snares happening as well. The first is an old-school Noise Engineering Basimilus Iteritas getting sent into a Mutable Instruments Clouds for both some added gain and a granular reverb. The other is a second Noise Engineering Manis Iteritas. Both snares are sequenced by different CV outs of my two Mimetic Digitalae that I use pretty extensively for everything from triggers to modulation.  To get 4 channels of triggers per MD I simply use the regular CV outs but with a high enough voltage to act as a trigger. The bass sound that is obnoxiously loud in the beginning started off in the Mutable Instruments Braids, then hits Mutable Instruments Ripples as a LPF, and then gets absolutely crushed with distortion by the Noise Engineering Terci Ruina. And lastly, the little melody is the Noise Engineering Ataraxic Iteritas, sequenced by the Make Noise Rene, into a Cwejman MMF1S functioning as both a filter and a VCA, and that goes out of the case to an Eventide Space pedal, naturally living in its Blackhole setting, and the wet/dry of the reverb is played with.

KK: I love the AI lead on this -- it’s such a great use of the module.  It can get so aggressive, but you tame it perfectly and it fits in here so well. I think Daisy approves.

ML: It should be noted that Daisy was my anchor during this recording...and thanks Stephen and Kris for everything.

www.mattlange.net

instagram.com/matt_lange

www.twitter.com/mattlange

More blog:

Matt Lange on BIA modulation

Manis Iteritas

Rheyne on LIP and DFAM

Noise Engineering is proudly located in Los Angeles, CA