LAYERS: Pulling Apart The Pieces Of Mumbai Science's "Unite"
This may be the very first straight up club track we’ve ever featured on LAYERS, and it’s about time we got a little insight into what makes one of these bangers turn drunk people into veritable dancing GIFs of the Dude. And who better to ask than a couple of four-to-the-floor-loving Belgians?
Yes, despite the implications of their name, Mumbai Science is the creative title for a pair of white dudes (Maarten Elen and Jonas Kiesekoms), and not the name of a course my uncle is currently teaching at CalTech (Calcutta Technical Institute). For the last couple of years, they’ve had a slew of singles and remixes that have been effective dance floor catalysts, but with their explanation of their newest single “Unite,” we learned that there’s some good, raw nerd in their inspirational space. Envisioning a summit of intergalactic senators, the guys put together this track following a bout of what you’d call “producer’s block.” Let’s hear the story straight from them.
Just a heads up, the format for this week’s LAYERS is slightly different, with groups of sounds compiled together in subsets.
Maarten Elen: “Unite” must be the simplest song we’ve ever made. In fact, we made it in just one afternoon. A couple of months ago, Jonas [Kiesekoms] and I were struggling with some other track we were working on. We made one version after the other, worked on it for weeks, but were never really satisfied. The label, on the other hand, was really enthusiastic about the track and wanted to release it, but we just couldn’t find a way to make it work for us.
So we were sitting in our studio, trying to figure out what to do, when we decided to just throw the whole thing away and make something new. A couple hours later, “Unite” was born. It’s a straightforward club track and its arrangement is pretty typical in dance music: intro – break 1 – drop 1 – break 2 – drop 2 – outro. The intro and outro are nothing special, just some percussion so DJ’s can easily mix it in or out during their sets.
FX and Vox
The white noise are samples. The vocal is made with a “text to speech” tool (you can find these online). There’s some bitcrusher and echo on the vocal as well.
Not a lot of percussion in this break. Most of the percussion is made with the 808 and 909 kits in Kontakt. The clap has some weird echo and flanger on it to make it a bit spacy and weird.
As you can hear, the track revolves around one synth hook. It’s always the same hook that’s being played, but by different synths. This break has two different synths in it. I think they’re both made with the Arturia Jupiter plugin, which simulates the real Roland Jupiter. I like the “call and response” in this break, as if the synths communicate with each other.
FX and vox
Same effects as in the break.
Again, this is really basic “kick – hihat – snare – hihat – kick”-stuff. We wanted it to be as simple as possible.
Synth2 kicks in when the intergalactic discussion gets really heated. The atmosphere changes and things get serious all of a sudden!
It’s just the same phrase, played by different instances of the Arturia Jupiter plugin. I think there are eight synths in total, some of them are layered over each other. Some of them have some echo and/or reverb over them, so they sound further away. It’s like all the synths are talking to each other. When making this track, we imagined an intergalactic meeting where different alien races were discussing who could conquer earth first.
Uh oh! Blorghlarz from the planet Celianor:5 has drawn his weapon first. The space senators end up in an intergalactic laser gun standoff. Who will fire first? The eldest senator calls for peace but his voice gets lost in all the fighting. What will happen? Who will survive? Will they find a solution?
Find out how this epic tale ends in the full track below. You can pick up the full release on Beatport.