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Making of Dark Entity

On April 12, Dark Entity will be released — a new track that we’ve made together with Kirill Enlusion. Not only the result is interesting, but also the path we took. With Kirill’s permission, I am sharing the process of creating the track (and even two!) with dozens of iterations, controversial moments, and behind-the-scenes details.

Overview of the project in Ableton. Not quite a “feng shui” look, but the main thing is the result

It all began when on September 23, 2020, I offered Kirill to make a track together. In the best traditions of producer humour, I asked: “Collab, bro?”, which almost made him choke :-)

And this was the first sketch I sent:

Kirill approved it and really felt the melody. Needless to say, there will be nothing left of it at the end. But that’s for later, and for now, we got to work.

I’m figuring out how this lead would look in a sort of Techno’ish environment and sketch out a basic arrangement:

I listen to it again and realize that it’s too “cheesy”, too melodic. I tell Kirill that I want something darker. He agrees and sends me this new lead:

I approve, he continues:

I like the rhythmic elements, but the vibe as a whole isn’t working. I want it to be darker. So I remove almost everything and make a foundation from scratch:

Kirill likes it. That’s it, we stick with this one as the core. On the next step, Kirill is trying different pads and melodies, and also improving the low end along the way:

As I listen to it, I think it’s too melodic. I would have liked the pads more as a texture rather than a melody.

Kirill builds the intro, adds stabs and  changes pads:

Then he continues and adds a breakdown:

And then he adds Sasha’esq arps, BXR-style snares in the drop and put it all together:

By this time, it was the middle of October. At the same time, I was finishing off my new studio, so I was extremely busy. Then the move, the hustle and bustle, and soon enough it turns out to be Winter already!

On December 11, burning with embarrassment of such delay, I return to the track. I listen carefully to the last version and realize that the stabs, the pads and the lead don’t work for me. I like the breakdown, overall, but to me it misses some emotional character, some big moment.

So I decide to keep the core, but almost completely redone the leads and the pads, and remove a lot of things to give the track more “air” — in particular, at the build-up in the first half of the track. I also extend the breakdown and add some unexpected musical moments. Well, and some more little things.

Comparing before and after:

I have to give Kirill a credit that he didn’t tell me to screw off, but he agreed that this was a step in the right direction, even though I had cut out a lot of his past iterations. Let’s keep working!

In the last Kirill’s iteration there was a second breakdown (↑), which I wanted to diversify in some way.

Trying something crazy:

Kirill: “Crazy lead? Hold my beer!”, and sends his version:

Whoa-whoa! We both agree that this was a bit too much. We’re thinking about a breakdown.

Another week goes by. I say that I have a gig coming up, and soon I’ll be able to test the track on the dance floor, which means we need to speed up and finish it faster. I also suggest speeding up the track itself from 128 to 130 BPM. Kirill supports it.

Meanwhile, I keep iterating on the second breakdown, completely reworking the melody and the timbre:

Kirill likes the sound of the timbre but is bothered by a few notes. Changes them, and it gets really better.

We put all the pieces together, fix some things, and send it off for mastering.

The result:

It remains to test the track on the dance floor:

A fragment of my set at Skazka Rave

Great feedback! We leave the track as is and finish the work on it. Done!

Alternate version

March 2, 2021. Just over a month until the release date. We are waiting for the remixers to send the release to the distributor. All of a sudden, I’m writing to Kirill: “Okay, there might be the fifth track in the release, hold on. I have an idea.”

Kirill: «о_О».

Suddenly I get the idea to make an alternative mix of the original, something like a heads-down stripped b-Side version: with no breakdown, no vocal samples, less melodies.

On heads-down tracks in my DJ collection

And I send a rough draft I sketched out at 1 AM:

And two more variations, just in case:

Kirill approves the idea in general, and out of the three options, he prefers the trance bassline. And immediately develops the timeline of almost the whole track:

The next day I soberly evaluate all the options and realize that everything is not quite right. It needs to be darker, more toned-down, and that trance bassline is too perky.

I propose to make the bassline gallop like in psytrance. Kirill says it won’t work that way. I argue.

In the end, I’m doing the alternate version practically from scratch, with a completely different rhythm, galloping bassline and dark atmosphere:

Snob Kirill is satisfied. Yay, we’re moving on.

Kirill takes the initiative and continues:

I like it on the whole, but in some moments I have doubts:

Me: Why did you remove the toms?
Kirill: They were disrupting the rhythm.

Comparing

Hmm, there really is something wrong. Changing the pattern:

Me: How about this?
Kirill: Yeah, that’s the best way.

Moving on. After the breakdown, I insert the acid line and trying the lead from the second drop, but with a different timbre:

Kirill, meanwhile, is working on the breakdown in an interesting way:

We put all the pieces together, fix some things, and send it off for mastering.

The result:

Kirill, thanks for the awesome work we did!

The release with both versions and remixes by Cosmithex, Facade and Fuenka will be released on April 12 and is already available for pre-order:

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