Octatrack Experiments #01: Tape Machine


I started thinking about ways to use the Octatrack as a tape machine of sorts, mainly to explore the idea of degrading loops. For this I started looking into pick up machines whic I’ve never used before.

First try

I set up two PU machines in T1 and T2, a flex on T5 pointing to Track recorder 1 and one on T6 pointing to the next one. T1 is set to record for 64 steps, and T5 has sliced audio and linear triggers assigned. Similar setup for T2 and T6 but only 32 steps, starting on bar 2. Scenes 9 and 10 control the modulation amount of a random LFO to the slice parameter plus the Transition Trick. Different effects are set for each track and IN AB is set to 127 to monitor what’s being recorded.

I realize this isn’t very close to what a tape machine does and is just looping and mangling, but figuring out how pick up machines worked took more than I expected so I’m calling this step 1.


For flavor I set a static machine on T6 and sliced the Montana ringing rocks sample by Richard Devine, placed a couple of triggers and a random LFO modulating the slice parameter.

General idea was to have some kind of high pitch clean tone with minor movement on T1, as background, and some slow lead type of sound with much reverb on T2. Then record over T1 to get a thicker background and work some kind of progression over the second loop.

The better tries didn’t get recorded and I’m left with this one, which is certainly no great artistic statement.

In this instance, I had some trouble sticking with the concept since I struggled to find the sweet spots I wanted. More planning would have been necessary if I wanted consistency between tries but at this point I was a little frustrated after losing previous recordings and I’d rather just keep moving.

Going forward

Slicing both tracks is most likely excessive, which makes me question the need for two flex machines entirely unless I find more uses for them.

One possibility would be to set T5 to record from CUE and route some amount of T1 and T5 itself there, something along the lines of 100/60. That way, each time a new sample is made in T1 I get a new recording in T5 where the previous recordings are present at lower volumes, actually approximating the behavior of tape. Levels could take some messing around to get right, but would actually get me where I wanted to be. A similar setup could be made on the T2 – T6 pair, and triggering the recording without input would push the sample back. This seems like a good way to go forward.


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