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Daniel Lesden Blog

Music, technologies, and human experience from a Russian music producer and A&R manager based in Israel.
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Aug 29   Gigs   Greece   Video

Track of the week: Lucid Logic

You probably haven’t heard the names of Fonarev nor Second Sine before, but in Russia, they are well-known producers and DJs. Fonarev has pioneered the Russian Trance scene since the 90’s and considered one of the most influenced DJ, while Second Sine is an upcoming producer with a fantastic production that already proved his skills with releases on credible labels.

This collaboration floats in between Progressive Psy and the regular Trance worlds, and this why I like it so much.

Artist Fonarev & Second Sine
Title Lucid Logic (Original Mix)
Label JOOF Mantra
Year 2016
BPM 136
Key Gm

Creating a weird psychedelic lead

How to emulate a typical psychedelic glitchy sound you hear in tracks from the artists like Imagine Mars, Tristan, Ajja, etc?

Zahaan

Zahaan, I don’t know for sure how these guys making their sounds, but I’ll share my thoughts on how to achieve something similar.

Formally speaking, this sound is very simple and it’s made of two key components: a bandpass filter and an LFO with a “Sample and Hold” waveform, all the rest is a processing. Special thanks to my colleague Evgeniy Dolgih for hinting that specific LFO type, I probably wouldn’t figure it out myself.

Let’s try to recreate it from scratch. I going to use Sylenth1, but you can use any other synthesiser you have as long as it has an LFO.

Recommended synths

Initial preset. Single oscillator with Saw wave and one voice. Filter bandpass filter type and assign modulation envelopes to the filter cut off.

You should get something like this:

Initial preset with a few tweaks in the filter and envelopes sections

Now in the LFO section, assign it to the filter cut off and choose “Sample and Hold” waveform in the dropdown menu. Tweak rate and gain knobs up to your taste.

Here is what we’ve got:

Choosing LFO waveform in the dropdown menu

That’s pretty much it. You can play around with the LFO rate, add distortion, reverb, frequency shifter, or any other audio processing effects.

After spending a couple of minutes tweaking it, I’ve come up with this really weird sound:

And here’s how it sounds like in context:

Effects processing chain

Have fun tweaking yours!

P.S. I had a personal chat with Zahaan sharing these tips, and he eventually made the following sound using an extra phaser and distortion:

Well done!

Track of the week: 3D

Artist Xerox & Illumination
Title 3D (Original Mix)
Release Temporary Insanity
Label HomMega Productions
Year 2004
BPM 145
Key Fm

My Ableton setup explained

Vlog pilot episode

Many people find my humble advice blog useful and I’m happy to hear that. However, the number one request that I get asked all the time is to make videos, not just articles in the written form. I find myself watching more and more YouTube channels lately, so I totally get that.

Well, you asked — you get it. In fact, I’m thinking to make this whole vlog thing on a regular basis, although I’m not entirely sure yet. Think about this video as a pilot episode.

I know some people prefer to watch a video on Facebook, so I’ll put that link here as well.

Three fun facts. I had to cut almost half of the content from this video, otherwise it would be 40 minutes long. This video took me about 20 hours to make, not including time spent on a couple of failed attempts. Since it was the first montage I made in Final Cut Pro X ever, I’ve watched 70 video lessons alongside with making it.

Track of the week: Broken Promise

Sometimes I enjoy listening to music that doesn’t has gated leads, acid riffs, twisted squelches, and cinematic effects. Just some cheesy and straightforward tunes in an old-fashioned way. For the occasions like this, Shanti is perfect for me.

His music doesn’t fit to any particular genre, you can hear something from Balearic House, Euro-Trance, and Full-on. Maybe “Ibiza Full-on”? I’m still not sure, but I’ll put the Full-on tag down below.

Artist Shanti
Title Broken Promise (Original Mix)
Release FutuRetro
Label United Beats Records
Year 2015
BPM 138
Key G

Psytrance Guide FAQ

With the introduction of Psytrance Guide, I get asked a lot of question and most of them repeat. To make things easier both for you and myself, I’ll put answers to some of the most frequently asked questions here. This section will be updated over time, so please come back later as well.

1. What the logic behind all genre names?
Since most of those subgenres have no “official” names, everything on that site is a subject of my personal vision and experience in the Psy scene. However, I did my best and researched a bunch of niche community websites to make sure that I’m not alone in that thinking, and I will keep continuing making it more accurate.

2. Why do you call Psychedelic and Psytrance different subgenres? Isn’t it is the same? Are you mad?
Well, it’s just the way I’ve been tagging my DJ collection for years: all 144—148 BPM I call either “Psychedelic” or “Uptempo Psy” (e. g. like some tracks of Braincell or Tristan), and 138—142 BPM I call simply “Psytrance” (e. g. like some tracks of Relativ or Sonic Species). I know it might sound confusing, but somehow it feels right to me. If you have a better suggestion, feel free to contribute.

3. I’m an artist and I don’t see my name mentioned there. Do you think I’m worth it?!
This guide is a styles overview with a couple of references for those who’d like to find more, not A to Z catalogue of artists or labels. Sorry if I wasn’t clear about that in the first place. I’ll definitely add more names over time, but there’s no space to mention everyone, it’s not the site purpose. PsyDB and Discogs work just fine with that.

4. I’m a label representative and you mentioned our label name only in Psytrance while we also release Full-on, Psychedelic, and Dark Psy. Can you add our label to all of these genres to make it more accurate?
No. Most labels release music in few different subgenres, some even in 4-5. Mentioning the same label multiple times would create too many duplicated links, and I wouldn’t like to do that. However, I can move your label from one subgenre to another one or just don’t mention it at all, if you want to.

5. Artists mentioned in the Psytrance aren’t accurate, Lyktum, Vertical Mode, Lifeforms, Relativ etc. are all Progressive!
Not really. Please take a read my thoughts on Progressive music, or why Progressive Psy tracks you know are probably not Progressive at all.

6. Where is 200+ BPM Psycore?
At this moment, Psycore is mentioned in the Hi-Tech section. I know it’s not quite correct, so I’ll definitely separate these two in the near future.

7. Where is Dark Progressive?
Dark Progressive aka Zenonsque is currently mentioned in the Minimal Psy section, however, adding it as a separate subgenre is on my future plans list.

8. I don’t like the way you named all these genres!
I’m sorry to hear that. I’m open for suggestions and willing to make this guide more accurate, so if you have some constructive criticism feel free to drop me a line.

9. I would like to propose a correction / I have an idea how to make the guide better, how can I contribute?
Please send it to mail@daniellesden.com.

To be continued.

Aug 10   Psytrance Guide

What is Progressive

Or why Progressive Psy tracks you know are probably not Progressive at all

A few days ago I introduced Psytrance Guide and got tons of feedback. Most people are happy with subgenre names, some few are pissed-off. That’s fine.

But what’s interesting is that quite a lot of people were saying that the audio samples I’ve put in the Psytrance subgenre are actually Progressive Psy and not Psytrance. It’s not the first time when I see this misconception, so today I’d like to talk more about this and explain why this is wrong.

What does Progressive mean

First things first, the word “progressive” is an adjective that gives some quality characteristics to the noun. In music, the words like this were introduced to describe a certain mood of the genre, for example:

Deep House
Hard Techno
Uplifting Trance
Progressive Psy

Eventually, these words became part of the genre names, but their original meaning hasn’t changed.

Talking about progressive specifically, it gives a sense of... well, you guessed it, — progression. Whereas in some other genres you just want to skip forward and finally listen to “that drop”, in Progressive music that sense of progression and immersive building-up is the goal itself. It’s very consistent, often with no climax or big emotional peaks which other genres typically have.

And the difference is not only in aesthetic. In progressive music, a sequence (whether it be a melody or, let’s say, a pad) lasts much longer, sometimes it can go pretty much the entire track duration as the opposite to non-progressive music which typically changes sequences every 16 or 32 bars.

In House and Trance

Before we get into Progressive Psy, let’s take a look at some progressive examples in other genres first.

This is a proper Progressive House:

See how smooth and straightforward these tracks are? If you just scrabble through you might think that nothing really happens in these tracks, it’s just the same loop keep going. But if you listen carefully from start to finish, you’ll notice how one layers builds-up over another, how it all sums up together in a mesmerising experience. This is what Progressive is all about.

Now let’s take a look at more trancy examples:

I intentionally put so different tracks here. As you can hear they vary in tempo and rhythmic patterns, however, each of these tracks has a clear sense of progression and slow build-up over time.

In Psytrance

As we approaching Psytrance territory, let’s take a listen to some older iconic tracks that widely considered as the roots of the Progressive Psy subgenre:

And here is some proper Progressive Psy of the present days:

As you can hear, the production quality certainly get better over the past decade, and Progressive Psy as a subgenre has evolved becoming more dancefloor-focused. But the thing is, it still has the same smooth and straightworad progression just like the older Progressive Psy of the 00’s and just like both Progressive House and Progressive Trance. And that’s the key point.

On a contrast, here is what many people tend to believe Progressive Psy is:

You probably realise by now that this is not Progressive despite it share a similar tempo range and even the same driving bassline. The last track above might be especially tricky because it’s a remix of a Progressive tune, but don’t get confused: that climax by the end clearly puts it out of the Progressive territory.

Psytrance like this usually has much more prominent leads and overall more “occupied” sound spectrum with filtered leads, textures, acid riffs, one-shots, and special effects. Also, Psytrance typically has more beat interruptions, transitions, and breakdowns; one lead can start and in 16 bars after a totally different lead might come instead.

I hope now you see the difference that simply because a track has 136 to 138 BPM it doesn’t automatically put it into Progressive area.

I call everyone to love music regardless of its genre name, but since we have to use some names for our verbal and written communication with each other to describe music, let’s use the right names then.

Introducing Psytrance Guide

A great place to discover Psychedelic music

Dear fellows, I’m pleased to introduce you the Psytrance Guide:

Backstory

If you are a millennial, you probably remember the Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music. How awesome it was! As a music lover and a person who like when things are organised nicely, I used to spend hours on that site.

I was always thinking, too bad that guide is abandoned, outdated, and hence no longer reflect the variety of genres we have today, in Psytrance in particular. But then I realised: I can do it myself. I can do a website that probably won’t be that cool and fancy like the Ishkur’s guide, but fun and informative enough especially for those who are new to Psytrance.

And in fact, I did.

What is this, exactly

PsytranceGuide.com is the ultimate, up-to-date guide to Psytrance music genres. It covers twenty sugenres and I’m planning to keep it relevant through the time. Each subgenre includes several audio previews that have been carefully selected, a typical BPM range, a little description, and lists of some noticeable artists and labels that worth checking out if you like some particular subgenre.

Keep in mind that most of those subgenres have no “official” names. Everything on that site is a subject of my personal vision and experience in the Psy scene. However, I did my best and researched a bunch of niche community websites to make sure that I’m not alone in that thinking, and I will keep continuing making it more accurate.

Who is this for

Basically, for everyone. If you are new to Psytrance or if you have a friend whom you’d like to introduce Psytrance to, it’s a great place to discover the whole variety of music spectrum that Psytrance have today. However, if you are an experienced trancer, I’m sure you’ll find a lot of fun too, just like I did when I was making that guide.

A special note to DJs. If you have a large Psytrance DJ collection, but everything from Astral Projection to Zen Mechanics tagged simply as “Psytrance”, use PsytranceGuide.com as a reference to update your ID3 tags properly. This is something I use for 12000-tracks collection and it works great.

Feedback

If you found a bug, or if would like to contribute in any way, or if you have some feedback or just want to say hello, don’t hesitate to drop me a line at mail@daniellesden.com.

Version log

It’s amazing how many feedback I received just on the launch day! I’ve already made a couple of minor tweaks and I will keep tracking all further changes in this section.

v.1.0.6 The FAQ has been added. Please take a read.
v.1.0.5 Updated various text descriptions. Many thanks to Robin Trassard for the contribution.
v.1.0.4 Replaced Twilight title for Night Full-on, updated noticeable artists and labels. As turned out, there are some ongoing debates in the community on whether Night Full-on and Twilight are different subgenres or not, but in the current guide I’ll keep it like this for now. Thanks to Manuel J Marti Valls for the contribution.
v.1.0.3 Fixed an issue that might cause a slow loading in Chrome browser.
v.1.0.2 Turned out, Hi-Tech and Psycore are quite different things despite they typically share the same space on the events. I changed the description of Psycore and added a new audio sample, probably will split Psycore and Hi-Tech into two categories later. Many thanks to Attila Béli for the contribution.
v.1.0.1 I totally forgot about Looney Moon and Bom Shanka, old good labels I like a lot. Thanks to Nishan S for the reminder! Added them to Psychedelic.
v.1.0 Initial guide launch.

Future plans

Here is the list of some upcoming changes I’m planning to make, based on your feedback. No specific dates, though. Once implemented, these changes will be moved to the version log above.

  • Split Hi-Tech and Psycore as two separate subgenres.
  • Probably, add Zenonsque (Psygressive, Dark Progressive) as a new subgenre. It’s currently mentioned in the Minimal Psy section.
  • Probably, split Night Full-on and Twilight ast wo separate subgenres. Gonna gather more feedback on that.
Aug 7   Psy scene

Upcoming gig: PLUR Festival 2017

🇬🇷 Greece, August 26, 2017

Next stop — Greece! I’m thrilled to be playing at PLUR Festival this month with such an incredible lineup: Atacama, Burn In Noise, Brainiac, Darma, Ectima, Lyktum, Suduaya, Sonic Species, Via Axis, Zyce just to name a few.

Tickets pre-sale and more info available on the official website and Facebook event page:

Aug 6   Gigs   Greece
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