Techno producer Marc Houle has been performing live sets the world over for more than a decade. Often working with unreleased and hence unmastered material, there were times he felt his set couldn’t match up to the sheer volume and density of whatever came before him. In his quest to step up to the full-fat sound, he decided to start an experiment to “throw a little hot sauce” onto his existing live set.
“If I was following some DJs throwing out some pumping hard techno,” Houle explains, “I would follow up with my set, and a lot of my music was missing the sub bass and the layers of drums the DJs had. I decided to make a little experiment and make a bunch of sub bass lines and other beats to back up my regular set.”
This experiment became known as Buji Tek, so named after the sound of the rhythmic thrust of the subs and drums Houle was crafting to give his set extra impact. What started as a simple combination of elements rolling in the background behind his existing live set gradually gained complexity as he sought to make these embellishments more varied. Now that Houle has developed the project to a level he is happy with, he wants to share it with all Ableton Live users so that others can benefit from what he has created and push the concept further.
Buji Tek comprises channels for kick, sub bass, noise bass, snare, sound effects and hats that are loaded with a variety of audio clips. However, the set is far removed from a static collection of loops. Houle created this set of sounds to work semi- autonomously in the background while he commandeers the components of his usual live set, and therefore the clips are set up with a multitude of carefully prepared Follow Actions, meaning that the same combination of sounds will never be playing for too long.
One of the key bits of automation Houle has engineered into the project comes in the form of the Effects channel. Using the MaxforLive device Map8, he has created a range of two, four and eight bar effects fills from filter sweeps to reverb swells that can all be triggered by hitting an assigned key on the keyboard. He also created the Autopilot clip to fire off these effects clips automatically to leave him free to focus on other aspects of the performance. As well as the Effects channel, the whole sound of Buji Tek runs into a Thru channel that has a filter applied to it. Houle maps the filter to a slider on his controller as well as assigning one to the master volume and one to the bass, allowing him to control how much presence the main sonic aspects of Buji Tek have in the mix.
Another of the subtleties in the design of Buji Tek is the Sounds channel, which defaults to a Send loaded up with the Deconstruct preset in the Beat Repeat device. “I did that to alleviate the constant 5/13 snare clap issue,” Houle explains. “It adds some snare rolls here and there to change things up a bit. I think in future versions I’ll expand on this a little more.”
With future plans already in the works to expand on this version, Houle sees the potential for this project to develop beyond his own imagination as it makes its way into the wider production community and other Live users find ways to tailor the content and functionality to their own performances.
Marc Houle presents Buji Tek at Muting The Noise
Thursday 15th December at 8pm.
Muting The Noise, Blücherstr. 22 – 10961 Berlin