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I'm a longtime fan of warped and mashed drums and I'd like to know more about how to make them! I have two points of reference: this Squarepusher song (for example, the drum part between 2:00 and 3:15) and this song by Andy Stott (drums start at 3:05). To my ear, it sounds like a mix between samples (played both backwards and forwards) and sequenced drum machines, but I'm not sure exactly how it's done.

My question is: which is the most efficient way of creating these kinds of drum patterns? Is there some plugin/program that is better – or is it just a matter of rolling up the sleeves and getting on with the meticulous sequencing work ahead?

I'm a Reason user, so answers relating to the functions there would of course be preferable, but any input on the subject would be interesting.

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The fills in the Squarepusher sample are just composed of clips that are cut off so they end abruptly. There are several ways to duplicate this depending on whether you want this sound in a studio or a live situation:

  • When sequencing or playing back a sample, shorten the note duration to clip off the decaying part of the sample.
  • In a software editor select the decay and delete it cleanly (squarely).
  • You can use a noise gate effect on the drum signal. A gate works like an automatic sound engineer who keeps the output volume turned down while the input is below the (configurable) threshold, and automatically turns the output volume up only while the input level is above the threshold. Specifically, in this example you would use a relatively high threshold and low hold value.

The Andy Stott sample has moments of gating similar to the above, but also has some minor volume swells. To do this you can:

  • Record the swells when you collect the original sample by riding faders.
  • Shape the volume of the envelope in your sequencer.
  • In a software editor create a submix that has a volume swell, and cut and paste to create your beat loop.
  • There is at least one effect that automates volume swells, the Boss SG-1 Slow Gear. It's not in production anymore, but can be found used if you really want to go this route.
  • Thank you for a very thorough answer! Some of this stuff was a bit above my head, but I also had a feeling that there was no magic bullet to creating these kinds of drums..I'll have to look closer into gating and the other stuff you mentioned. I did, though, have some success in slicing/reversing/distorting a sample using Dr.OctoRex loop module in Reason 8 - there's a good introduction to it here. – Martin Snåål Apr 27 '16 at 7:48

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