Australian drum n’ bass with a metal edge
PENDULUM HAS managed to recast the face of hardcore dance music in their own image, grafting strands of emo rock and industrial metal onto live drum ’n bass beats for a charttopping amalgam that is as evident as ever on Immersion (Ear Storm/Atlantic), their latest studio effort.
Lead singer Rob Swire uses Steinberg Nuendo to record and mix, with Avid Pro Tools serving to align drums and quantize vocal lines. “We don’t actually use a mixing desk in the studio, since I learned how to do it all digitally with a mouse,” Swire explains. “Everything is recorded through API or Great River mic pres, and goes through Lynx Aurora converters. I used to be on Logic about ten years ago, but I felt like I needed a program that was more of a blank canvas. Nuendo is definitely not as full of features as Pro Tools, but it’s a lot easier to use on the fly, especially when you’re editing tracks.”
Swire uses a Brauner VMA mic, which comes with two switchable capsules—one for a flat, full-frequency clean sound reminiscent of the original VM1, and the other for a vintage-sounding emulation of the Neumann U47. For more rocked-out tracks like “Crush,” he’ll choose the latter, going into an Empirical Labs Distressor before hitting the converters. For the rest, he’ll go clean, compressing after A/D conversion with a UA Blue Stripe 1176.
Immersion is steeped throughout in synthesis and signal processing. “Watercolour” surges with live horns (recorded on multiple takes through a Royer R-121 ribbon mic, then detuned and stacked), Swire’s brassy synth line (generated with the U-he Zebra 2 wireless modular), and lead vocals processed with Nuendo’s Vocoder plug-in. “Comprachicos” taps into a Nine Inch Nails mood, with stabs of McGrillen’s bass getting cut up, deconstructed and destroyed, while the synth solo in the second part of “The Island” follows a frenetically bent step sequence composed in Native Instruments’ Massive, twisting and rising like a wacky amusement ride.
“Our music is based in the electronic world,” Swire observes, “so we’re constantly adjusting parts of the mix from the minute we start a track. But we’re also a band, and that’s where the second stage of mixing comes in. In the end, you have to restore the balance between instruments that might have been lost during all that processing.”