My Sodium Memories by Dave Campbell

Hello friends!

Not long ago we discovered the music of Hi-Ryze due to his new releases as Hi-Ryze and 62nd Cell. And like always in jaus.co we are interested a lot in electronic music recordings, gear and stories. So we contacted Mr. Dave Campbell aka Hi-Ryze and asked him about the recording of his 1995 album Sodium. And he was very kind and not just sent the gear-list but told us the following story:

When Viv Beaton left Ubik/ Hi-Ryze in 1993, I signed a deal with the GPR label for which I recorded and produced 2 Eps:

  • Progress, 4x track ep catalog GENP(X)15
  • Last Rites, 4x track ep catalog GENP(X)20

Wayne Archibold, label Owner of GPR, was very happy with them and so commissioned an album telling me to ‘Go away and make me a fantastic album’ ……. a wonderful thing to be told! I also received an advance big enough to purchase some new equipment:

  • Yamaha SY85 Workstation keyboard that I still use today. It had a 4Mb(!) built-in sample space for user samples, and 2 built-in Fx processors and resonant filters which you could apply to your own samples. (Loaded in with the incredibly tedious MSD midi sample dump standard.)
  • Yamaha RM50 Drum module with built-in sample space of 1Mb! (Same as the SY you load samples in over midi)
  • Roland SRV2000 Digital Reverb

The other gear I had then was:

  •  Yamaha TG33 Sound module
  •  Roland D110 module
  •  Sequential Six-Trak Synthesiser
  •  Yamaha DX100 Keyboard
  •  Akai S900 Sampler with 1Mb Ram
  •  Tascam Portastudio 4 Track Cassette multitracker
  •  Atari 1040 expanded to 4Mb(!) Ram
  •  Hybrid Arts Smpte Track Gold Sequencer software and a cracked copy of Cubase for Atari.

I had just moved to a new studio space north side of Vauxhall bridge. Hyped-up with new equipment and Wayne’s good words, I locked myself in to make sketches of tunes. I then put rough versions on cassettes to send off to Wayne who then helped to select enough tracks to make the album. I then worked more on the selected tracks till we were all happy. The whole process took about a year.

Final track list:

  • 01 AMR Intro.(named after my Egyptian friend, Amr)
  • 02 T2 (one of my first forays into the lush sound of the SY85)
  • 03 Terminé
  • 04 Richies deep
  • 05 Encounter named after a Flora Purim album
  • 06 DMU Selt
  • 07 Koala Sundae
  • 08 In The Night Kitchen
  • 09 Vox Filt. (named after a custom-made Sy85 patch)
  • 10 Drum n’ bass
  • 11 T’Hip added to selection at the 11th hour

The entire album makes extensive use of a feature in Cubase for Atari called ‘IPS’ (Interactive Phrase Synthesiser) that I believe, only made it to a couple of iterations of the Mac version. You could load a single Midi part into it, and it would playback from keyboard triggers and you could modify the phrase generating new midi parts.

Dave Campbell and Tom Withers used to make Drum n' Bass together in the same era that Campbell did the Sodium album.

Dave Campbell a.k.a. Hi-Ryze (Left) and Tom Withers a.k.a Klute (Right) used to make Drum n’ Bass together in the same era that Campbell recorded the Sodium album.

To this date, I am still interested in machine generated musical parts as i feel it helps remove the ego from the creative and decision making process. In track 08 “In the night kitchen”, the IPS feature is used in every part except the drum tracks.

  • Track 01 Amr. After a visit from my Egyptian friend Amr, I recorded this 2 minute-long ambient intro made with sounds from the TG33 triggering by the IPS and put through lots of reverb.
  • Track 02 T2 starts with a super long intro that I wouldn’t do today! The IPS triggers the SY85 with me playing chords on top along RM50 drums. I Was ready for a techno trip.
  • Track 03 a fave of mine, Termineé starts with sample sounds from S900. Then parts played on SY85. The sliding whining guitars are from the Sequential Six-traks. RM50 drums.
  • Track 04 Riches Deep made full use of the TG33 using its 16 part Multi-Timbral capacity. With RM50 drums, the baseline is generated with IPS, also using Portamento sliding riffs from the Sequential Six-Traks. It was hell of a track to finish, felt like a mental breakdown, I could never get the mix so i was happy with it.
  • Track 05 Encounter, named after a Flora Purim album. It’s a brief interlude using the Sequential Six-traks and SY85.
  • Track 06 DMU Selt. I have no recollection of where this cryptic title comes from! Using the Rolland D110 and RM50. The main baseline is a random pattern from IPS. Most of it is the same phrase generated at different speeds. The D110 module is working full on with all my custom sounds made with it.
  • Track 07 Koala Sundae is a really sweet melodic track. A rest in between the chaos! An IPS baseline, some D110 chords with a SY85 ‘happy’ tune and TG33 parts.
  • Track 08 In the night kitchen. I got stopped by police under SUS laws for this one! With my mate Rob visiting, we got stopped and searched on a rizla trip to the all-night gas station. The track starts with samples from the SY85 and IPS triggering a pick guitar loop. Then drums with RM50
  • Track 09 Vox Filt. Named after custom made SY85 vocal filter patch. There’s an IPS sequence with 2 sounds and the TG33 for the melody part. It’s all SY85 and TG33. There’s a feeling of freedom here.
  • Track 10 Drum n’ bass. I was listening to the jazz fusion band Weather Report. All the parts are played on the SY85 and layered together over RM50 drums.
  • Track 11 T’Hip. SY85 Start, some sequential Six-Track then RM50

Recording and Mixdown:
As far as mixing goes, remember that in 1994 we didn’t have home computer digital multi-track recording yet, only stereo DAT recorders for recording the mixdown. All tracks were run live using midi to control the instruments from the Atari. Using a midi box with multiple midi out ports enabled me to have many many tracks running. With 16 part multi-Timbral synth modules (Effectively 16 synths in one box!) I had:

 

  • 16 channels on S900
  • 16 channels on SY85
  • 16 channels of drums (RM50)
  • 16 channels of Roland D110
  • 6 channels of sequential 6 trax
  • 1 channel DX100

Total simultaneous channels of music 71!

I didn’t have much of a mixing desk though – a 12 Channel Soundcraft Spirit mixer and my Tascam Portastudio which was plugged into the stereo in of the Spirit giving me about 18 channels total.
I would then assign outputs of the modules to make best use of the channels, making sure, for example, that kick drum and bass and important sounds had their own channels, everything else using stereo outputs.

  • 1 Kick
  • 2 Snare
  • 3 RM50 L
  • 4 RM50 R
  • 5 SY85 out 1 L
  • 6 SY85 out 1 R
  • 7 SY85 out 2 L
  • 8 SY85 out 2 R
  • 9 TG33
  • 10 TG33
  • 11 D110 L
  • 12 D110 R
  • 13 D110 3 or whatever
  • 14 D110 4 or whatever
  • 15 6-Trax
  • 16 DX 100
  • 17 SRV-2000 L
  • 18 SRV-2000 R

Monitoring was on my trusty AR18 near-field monitors and my bigger 1970′s Rogers LS3/6 Export Monitors and mixed down onto Sony Dat.

Hi-Ryze Sodium LP, 1995 – GPR Records.
Catalogue GPR/CD/10.
Recorded and produced in 1993/4, London, Vauxhall Bridge Road.

hi-ryze_sodium