Asbjoern Andersen

Jason Cushing and the team at SoundMorph have just released Doom Drones, an all-new sound effect library created in collaboration with German electronic musician Arovane. It features 120 dark and unsettling 30-60+ second loops, and I spoke with Jason about the making of the library, the collaboration – and how you capture the sound of darkness:


What’s Doom Drones all about?

Doom Drones is all about enhancing moods of darkness, eerie-ness, mystery, and gloom.

The idea behind it was to provide sound layers with these emotions present, that could be used as a background layer for film, games, and music. A good amount of field recording was done by me, and then Arovane took a more studio approach with his collection of synths and some field recording as well.

We were interested in exploring the use of these for both sound designers and musicians, so a collaboration between myself and the amazing electronic musician Arovane was a good way to explore this combination.

What’s included in the library?

Each of us created 60 loops for a total of 120 loops ranging from 30 seconds to over a minute long each. Arovane created three banks of 20 each called “Amorph”, “Stream”, and “Statiq”, all possessing a slightly different approach and focused on studio gear and synthesizers.

Mine are all in one folder and focus more on field recordings and processed field recordings.

I love recording ambiences, and this gave me a chance to seek out some darker tones such as tunnels, subways, industrial areas, abandoned buildings and whatnot. happy places! ;)

The library is created with electronic musician Arovane. How did this collaboration come into place – and how did you work together on the project?

Actually Arovane contacted us wanting to work with us. I hadn’t heard his music before, but when he sent me a few of his albums I really liked them, and thought he would be perfect to work with in this style. He was very nice, communicated well, and just was super passionate about creating some soundscapes together. So seemed like a good match!

Jason Cushing goes underground

The hunt for sinister sounds goes underground

How did you create the sounds for Doom Drones? Are they mostly generated, or did you use real recordings as well?

Most all of the sounds I created on the SoundMorph side of things were from field recordings I had done over the last few months. I did process a few of them to enhance certain elements of them, but for the most part I tried to leave them as is.

I really believe finding and recording good source material is key in good ambiences, so messing with them too much after that takes some control away from the customer. But this is also kind of a themed soundpack, so some were altered a bit.

As far as Arovane’s approach, he sent me this list as some gear he used in the making of:

“Live9 and Audacity, using a lot of plug’s like Spectrumworx, Spectral sampler, the Granulator, Mangle, Reaktor etc. and my hardware: EMU 4xt ultra, nord modular g2, Access Virus TI and Indigo2, Kawai k5000s, nord rack2, Waldorf Q and XT. For the sound design I used sampled synthesized sounds and field recordings as source material. In several steps I’ve created basic tracks in Live9 and Audacity, alienated with tons of plug ins.”

What goes into creating a sinister sound?

I just try to find something that feels like it fits that mood. So no major tones, focusing more on minor resonances in regards to the tonality. For field recording, it’s mostly just about listening through your headphones, waving the blimp around, until you hit some ear ‘gold’ like “ahhh, that sounds great! That’s what I’m looking for!”

There’s no wrong way to do it really, well, I mean unless there is some happy kids screaming in the background. That might ruin it… or maybe it would be creepy too – haha! Also things like bowed metal would work well, but I didn’t really get to that on this library. It’s funny how certain rooms or air tones just sound creepy. That’s mostly what I was looking for.

In general, what components should a dark, eerie soundscape contain, in your opinion?

That’s a pretty tricky one to answer. Certain frequencies, resonances, and objects just create that feeling. I didn’t really record this for this library, but for instance, creaking wood or just creeks in general – it’s used a lot to create tension and haunting feelings.

Creeks imply something is happening, something is moving, but you don’t really see it. It causes a person to feel uneasy, and for them to expect something to happen, but you don’t know when. It’s a classic way to create that feeling.

That’s why I love drones so much too. They really can effect the mood of something you are watching or listening to – it vastly changes the emotion of a moment.

What were the field recording sessions like for this project?

Since I spend SO much time behind a computer as a sound designer, it really is a pleasure to get out and do field recordings. It’s a time to turn off the over-analyzing and creative aspects of sound designing 8+ hours a day, plus work life, and just LISTEN to the world around us. It’s almost like therapy in a way.

For this library, I just knew I wanted the tones and ambiences to sound haunting, dark, and eerie. So I just walked around for hours with my field recording gear and headphones on, listened, and picked a few locations I thought might have some good tones. It’s not a complicated approach at all, it’s simple! :)

But you do learn what is going to work well, and what gear you like to use doing this.

Only other thing I would say is sometimes putting a slight touch of a reverb on the recordings would help bring out certain moods I was looking for. So on some that were processed, I used 2cAudio’s ‘B2″ reverb, I love it because it’s algorithmic and has a very ‘sound design’ feel to it – and when used in a subtle way on this library, it worked very nicely.

How did you know when a sound you were creating was spot-on?

It’s all about experimentation. I often ask myself all the time with sound design. How does it make me feel? Then beyond that, is that feeling perfect for this moment? If the answer is “yes!”, then I know I’ve done it right. If the answer is “well, yeah kinda, but not quite right..”, then I go back to the drawing board!

Thanks to Jason Cushing for taking the time for this Q&A!

Hear the sound preview below, and grab the full library for $39 here.


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