Essential Pieces: The Cyclist Shares Five of His Favorite Studio Bits
The release of last year’s ‘Bones in Motion’ LP immediately shot The Cyclist (a.k.a. Andrew […]
The release of last year’s ‘Bones in Motion’ LP immediately shot The Cyclist (a.k.a. Andrew Morrison) onto the electronic music world’s collective radar, and now, the young Irish producer (and former Bubblin’ Up subject) is back with another full-length effort. Entitled ‘Flourish,’ the album is being issued by the All-City label and finds Morrison piecing together a collection of slightly distorted house cuts with a distinctly handcrafted feel. Curious to find out more about what sort of equipment is involved in the creation of his decidedly unpolished tunes, we asked Morrison to select five of the most essential pieces from his studio set-up and tell us a bit about each one.
I will say first that Ableton Live does play a big part in how I process sounds and finish tracks and would be a vital part of this list if I wasn’t only restricting this to hardware.
This is a particularly important piece of gear to me. My brother bought it back around 2007 and I just started to mess with it constantly, making tape loops full of random sound effects by pressing my fingers against the reels and messing with the tape speed. I regularly record things to tape loops and then sample and re-process the sounds until they come out a whole new level of mangled. The track “Stove” from Bones in Motion is a good example of this technique, where I sampled and cut up a four-track tape loop of me singing in harmony and a bass drum sound made by banging a badminton racket against a microphone.
This is a lovely cheap ’90s sampler, which is capable of both top-quality sample rates as well as proper gritty lo-fi digital sampling. It uses floppy disks, which are goddamn slow though, so it’s not really a viable live option. Most of the time I use the worst samples I can find, like a bad vinyl rip of some organ sounds or some 808 drums from an old cassette mix on YouTube, and then sequence it with the MIDI from a drum machine till I’ve got something good going. Afterwards, I’ll process the crap out of it until I have the right level of grit and usability. “Tape Grunge Rave” was made nearly entirely with this.
You might laugh, but this is an actual badass of a keyboard which I got when when I was like 15 (around 2007) for £20. It has shown up in most of the tracks I’ve released so far and even on most of the tracks on Flourish. It actually distorts whenever more than one note is being played, and a lot of its buttons actually don’t do what they say, so I have markings on it to remind me what they actually do. It even plays random extra notes when you play certain chords. But for some reason, I keep using its noisy, punky sounds, like its rave piano and heavy organ sounds. It also has a very rudimentary mono sequencer that wrongly records the rhythm played, which is very fun to experiment with when covered in echo.
My first proper synth and still an important one to me. It’s digital, but it’s got this warmth to it. When you record it to tape, it sounds like the synth equivalent of a toasty blanket. I used this extensively on Bones in Motion (e.g. the mad bass sequencer halfway through the title track) and on a fair few of the tracks on Flourish (e.g. the intro synth sound on “Break Through”).
I bought this more recently, but fell in love with it straight away. I’m always sampling 909 and 808 sounds and then messing with those, but it’s just great to be able to mess around with the original sounds. It’s also become an important and incredibly fun live tool for beefing up the drums. I feel it’s important to have something stable going along with all the mess to hold it together!