LAYERS: Traversing The Atmosphere Of LOL Boys' "Mind's Clouded"
Earlier this summer, I got hooked on LOL Boys’ crowdsourced video for the immensely addictive “Changes” and since haven’t been able to shake the tune, or the weird voyeuristic kick you get from watching a host of people using Photobooth. That track was packed with so much juice that some of it spilled over into other LOL Boys tracks. On this edition of LAYERS, we delve into one of these tracks, “Mind’s Clouded,” which features some vocals from Heart Streets that didn’t make it onto “Changes.” Coupled with some amazing, playful production, “Mind’s Clouded” has all the addictive power of “Changes” with a different amalgamation of that distinctly kickin’ LOL Boys dance beat.
Let’s do it.
Heart Streets sent over stems for vocals, which were primarily used on the lead single “Changes.” The vocal here is cut from a section that wasn’t used in “Changes.” The repeated “Mind’s Clouded” is atonal and quite dry, so it comes off a bit spoken word, which seemed unique. The other vocal, “Thinking I knew wrong from right,” is pitched down five cents and “Thinking I knew” eight cents for the rest of the phrase. That whole phrase is drenched in some of Ableton’s built-in reverb. There are a lot of great reverb plugins, but sometimes Ableton’s built in effects can be really nice, and for a really ambient/wide reverb, the built in one did the trick.
All the drum sounds (except the crashes) on this song are sampled from old vinyl. These percussion hits are from a record called Drums A Gogo that has plenty of open drum samples. There is a varying amount of ping-pong delay on all of these hits, which is a delay that can definitely create a nice texture and atmosphere with certain sounds.
The kick and the snare here are sampled from an old two-step record. The original BPM was 135 so those first two kicks you hear are actually at 135 BPM technically, but the snare falls on the two and four at 119 BPM, giving it that off-grid groove in the intro. The kick has a tiny high frequency layered with the low need, which always sounds nice and cuts through in songs. The cymbals here are from one of Goldbaby’s 808 tape packs.
The hi-hats and hits are sampled from another two-step record. The hits are modeled after a swing pattern in one of Todd Edwards’ records. Todd is an absolute legend and a complete innovator, and that shuffle IS him—there’s just no one else who does it like that. The tambourine is from the classic “Think” break. There’s a bit of crush on it here and it’s the isolated tambourine as opposed to the full break, which is much more common.
Hearing this isolated is a bit annoying, haha. This is just a sound made with the Novation V-Station, which is a really straightforward soft synth. There is a lot of side-chain compression to the kick on it. This sound only happens at the final “movement” of the song. The super high frequency cuts through everything but is also quite subtle and made the song sound complete.
If you’re on laptop speakers, you probably can’t hear this clip. This sub was made with the Korg MS-20 soft synth and then using the MS-20 FX Low Boost. Obviously you can make a great sub bass with just a sine wave, but I like the control on the MS-20 and there seems to be a nice warmth in it, even if that is just false perception.
These chords were made with the Korg Polysix soft synth. Also used the Ableton built-in reverb on this sound. There’s a kind of haunting vibe of this song in part built by the sounds drenched in reverb. I’ve read some people hating on reverb as a simple trick to create atmosphere, but reverb is beautiful and often necessary for certain elements.
This sound was made with a “secret weapon” soft synth. It’s called Glass Viper, check it out. It has a beautiful built in reverb and delay.
Put it all together and here’s what you get. “Mind’s Clouded” by LOL Boys.