Disquiet Junto: wristwatch dubstep

Project brief

Disquiet Junto Project 0056: Matter of Time

This week's project requires you to make a field recording to serve as the source audio. These are the steps:

Step 1: Locate a clock that has an audible, even if very quiet, tick to its second hand. A watch or other timepiece is also appropriate to the task.

Step 2: Record the sound of the clock for at least 30 seconds, and do so in a manner captures the sound in the greatest detail. A contact mic is highly recommended.

Step 3: Adjust and otherwise filter the recording to reveal the various noises that make up its tick. The goal is to get at the nuance of its internal mechanism.

Step 4: Create an original piece of music employing only layered loops of that sound. These layered loops can individually be transformed in any manner you choose, but at least one unaltered version of the original recording should be included in your piece.

Deadline: Monday, January 28, 2013, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be between 2 and 5 minutes long.


More on this 56th Disquiet Junto project at:


More details on the Disquiet Junto at:


Project account

Before I could begin remixing, I had to search for a timepiece.

This Fisher Price clock was the only thing I could think of in our house.

Luckily my son had been given a wristwatch recently, so it still had a battery. I experimented with different positions on my best contact microphone, settling on direct application with the clock mechanism.

There were two really good recordings in the end. I put the following one on Soundcloud and began remixing the other one, which sounded a little deeper. I can't really hear much of the mechanism but it does seem like the seconds tick with a subtle modulation that I imagine sounds like the turning wheel.

Often I'll be remixing a track and evolving the samples in a certain direction and find I get tired of it, so I'll begin again with a clearer idea of what sounds I can get from the samples. Today was one of those occasions.

The kick drum took a little bit of time to adjust the pitch and compression to get a suitable thump and then adjust Ableton Live's beatrepeat effect to get the rhythm right. Then I adjusted loops, setting their speed to varying sizes and adding beatrepeat and other modulations, reverbs and echoes.

The shape and structure was largely done when I realised I wanted a bassline to counterpoint the kick. After adjusting a short loop so two clicks sat over the beginning and end of the sample, I experimented with the Ohmboyz delay I often use for bass sounds. Then I remembered the Sinevibes plug-ins I'd bought before Christmas, settling on Reactive.

That bassline isn't just that one effect though, there are saturation and distortion effects before beatrepeat, as well as limiting, compression, delay and another filter. Anyway, once I heard that I knew the track needed more of a dubstep sorta flavour, so I mucked around with more beatrepeat and Reactive to get minor note changes and added more glitchy sorta effects, including some made by Audio Damage. Yohng's W1 Limiter is used on tracks and the master buss.