Author Ean Golden recreated Gui Boratto's "master glitch" effect from Ableton Live for you to try. In Live, apply the effect on the master channel and assign a fader to the first Macro. Click here to download the GUI_master_glitch.adg Ableton Live effect file (you may need to right-click or Ctrl-click on a Mac).
This is a great job; there is no denying it. Running around the world learning new things about the industry you love just can't get any better. January found me taking sanctuary in the warm belly of a blazing Brazilian summer. Passing through São Paulo, I met up with the equally blazing hot producer Gui Boratto, whose brand new album, Chromophobia (Kompakt, 2007), is set to blow up and introduce his exquisite minimal sound to the rest of the world. As many of you already know, good producer chops rarely guarantee interesting DJ material, especially not in the bleeding-edge digital world. Fortunately, Boratto's approach to live performance is equally interesting, as are his productions. More of a live montage than a DJ set, Boratto mixes together original and edited versions of his productions with drum loops, synth samples and a splash of live instrumentation. Although his performances are decidedly live P.A., the tools are universally applicable, and his techniques and application of some common controllers (Faderfox, Evolution) and not-so common controllers (Monome, Nintendo DS) can easily be applied to your own sets (live or DJ).
WHAT IS A DJ?
“I'm not a DJ,” Boratto readily confesses. Instead, he uses Ableton Live to layer samples, loops and prerecorded synth lines on top of his original tracks, which include original versions, edits and stripped-down mixes. Although that may not be pure DJing, the lines these days between DJ and live P.A. are becoming so blurry that I am inclined to disagree. Every piece of audio used in his set is preloaded in the clip window and grouped into seven channels. The amount of audio and effects in an overall session is surprisingly sparse, but in its context, the minimal techno sounds lush.
There are three audio channels dedicated to original tracks, each armed with a highpass filter, delay send and a single EQ for mid frequencies at about 2 kHz. “Many club sound systems are poorly tuned, and the low end tends to wash out the important synth and vocal sections,” Boratto says. “So I regularly use this to balance my songs for each sound system. If more customization is needed, I prefer the outboard Allen & Heath EQs.”
The other four channels in Boratto's setup are dedicated to the additional loop layering that gives each track its own special live sound. Boratto has one thing, for instance, that he always adds to “Like You,” one of his most popular releases, which features his wife singing the hypnotic hook. “I always layer a 1-bar sample of the beat from [Michael Jackson's] ‘Billy Jean.’ It fits perfectly and gives the track just a little extra bump in the club.” Not something you would expect from a minimal producer.
One other important technique that Boratto regularly incorporates into his sets — and an often-overlooked aspect of DJing — is global-swing control. Many folks, (myself included — gasp!) never even touch the global-swing control in Live, but as Boratto points out, it is a very important detail. “Almost all minimal these days is written with a lot of 16th-note swing, so if you want to mix in an older techno track, compensating for that lack of swing is crucial for a clean mix. Several of the songs I play live have varying feels, so at the end of one of the more rigid songs, I slowly bring up the swing factor until it fits the next song I want to bring in.”
There are a few Live features you need to be familiar with in order to take his advice. First, make sure the clip you're playing has Warp mode on. Boratto recommends the Beats warp for this technique, but he adds, “Other than correcting swing, I always use repitch for time-stretching. Everything else just does not sound good enough.” Remember to set the Beat warp grid to 16th and the clips groove to 16th swing. Now you can bring up the amount of global swing (the mysterious “0” two boxes over from global tempo) and smooth out any strange transitions.
As far as controllers go, Boratto has four pieces in his arsenal. He uses a Faderfox LV1 and an M-Audio Evolution UC-33e for mixing, EQ and effects. The Monome takes on the role of a versatile drum trigger and step sequencer. Although traditional step sequencing is not natively possible in Live, Boratto uses an open-source program within the program called Lstep8 (http://hornquist.se/monome).
Meanwhile, the hacked Nintendo DS is admittedly more for show than serious performance applications, but I was surprised at the amount of functionality packed into the little thing. The fact that it is wireless has also gotten Boratto out of a few jams as well: “It's really useful for launching or silencing groups of clips. Sometimes the mixer is too far from the computer, and I need to quickly launch a clip or create a breakdown while mixing; the Wi-Fi card is great for that!” Boratto was able to record his voice directly into the DS using an internal microphone, then play it back wirelessly through the Live audio engine. The onboard sampler allowed for further sample manipulation, such as pitch and start point, using the PDA-like pen interface. The DS easily connects to his laptop via a shared wireless network for remote MIDI control.
Finally, one simple trick that employs the UC-33e was effective for micro fills. Boratto connected one of the faders to a beat-repeat/delay combo on the master channel. The duo was programmed to affect only the upper-mid frequency range and proved very fun to play. I have duplicated the effect for you all to download from the Remix Website. Just put it on the master channel, assign a fader to the first Macro, and you will be sounding like Boratto in no time!
To download Boratto's beat-repeat/delay effect, go toremixmag.com.