After producer Gustaf Fjelstrom purchased a Moog Mother-32, he decided to put the analog semi-modular synthesizer through its paces by pairing it with OUTPUT’s digital delay and time-based FX plugin MOVEMENT. After recording eight separate synth tracks, all using the Mother-32, Fjelstrom brings in MOVEMENT to give each part more depth and character.
“Output’s been doing some really cool stuff with their instruments — REV, SIGNAL, and EXHALE — but this is their first plugin,” he says. “I was super excited to try it out, and it definitely did not disappoint.”
Coming to us from his San Jose studio, Fjelstrom demonstrates how even flipping through MOVEMENT’s built-in presets can transform the most basic-sounding patch into a captivating sonic texture. Follow along as he explains how each effect shapes and morphs the sounds of the Mother-32.
The Mother-32 is a monophonic synthesizer, which means that it’s only capable of playing one note at a time. This is part of the reason why Fjelstrom uses multiple takes from the synth. By layering individual notes, he builds chords and harmonies.
The resulting dry melody line is nice but rather plain. When he engages MOVEMENT, it springs to life.
Fjelstrom uses Preset 029: Cosmic Radio for the melody FX. “I’m just adding some filters and some delays and a little bit of reverb, and then modulating those parameters,” he explains. MOVEMENT is being used as an insert plugin on the track, meaning he can also control the amount of the effect via a dry/wet knob on the plugin itself.
It’s generally a bad idea to put time-based FX on a kick drum because you want your kicks to cut through a mix clearly without things getting muddy or inconsistent. Fjelstrom knows this, of course, and opts to keep MOVEMENT disengaged on the kick.
The snare is a different story. “The snare drum is just a simple noise pattern that I played on the Mother-32,” he explains before engaging the plugin with Preset 297: Skool Me. MOVEMENT’s filters cut out some of the snare’s lower frequencies, while the distortion module crunches up some of the high end.
At another point, Fjelstrom uses that same preset on a rudimentary synth pluck sound to turn it into a noisy, synthesized-sounding drum pattern. “I wanted to see how far I could mangle it in MOVEMENT,” he says.
“Everyone knows what you do with synth arpeggios,” Fjelstrom says matter-of-factly. “You give them a crapload of delay.” Here, he opts for no preset and builds his own stereo delay using MOVEMENT’s two built-in rhythm engines. For all the zany FX you can achieve, sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. On its own, the arp sounds rudimentary; with the delay, it sounds ready to soundtrack the next season of Stranger Things.
Placing MOVEMENT on the drone sound from the Mother-32 demonstrates one of Fjelstrom’s most impactful uses of the plugin. With Preset 106: Dancifier, he takes the slow-moving, “lonely”-sounding line and gives it a more dramatic, propulsive feeling. “This one is modulating some volume and some pan, and it’s adding in some distortion, some delay, and some reverb,” he explains.
The modulating volume setting gives us the sense that the drone is fluttering in and out of the atmosphere, breathing more dynamic life into itself. The longer delay time means that when the drone part changes, the echoing tail of the sound lingers a little longer afterward. This can all be accomplished within MOVEMENT without the need for other plugins. As Fjelstrom succinctly puts it: “Pretty cool stuff.”
Take a listen to Fjelstrom’s finished song, “Mother Movement,” below.
For another music-making rabbit hole, check out our guide to making lo-fi hip-hop using ARCADE and SUBSTANCE.