Listen closely to the sound design in Imogen Heap‘s new track, Propeller Seeds.
Here’s a summary of what’s going on, via mastering engineer Ian Shepherd of the Production Advice blog, edited slightly for clarity:
The song tells the story of when Heap met the new man in her life.
Collaborator Nick Ryan and Heap spent a huge amount of care and attention sampling, sequencing and morphing all kinds of sounds, from floorboards and piano stools masquerading as tree roots through to cutlery percussion, crowd noise and Felix’s Machines – as well as making impulse response recordings (bursting balloons !) in different locations, allowing them to build convolution reverb patches of those spaces and later place Heap’s voice back inside them during the song.
In musical terms this means that as the song plays, these sounds and environments float and swirl around you – sometimes sound effects, sometimes rhythm tracks, sometimes atmospheres and flavours – and Immi’s voice moves with them, from one location’s acoustic to another, as the story unfolds.
That last sound design tactic – using impulse responses to process Heap’s voice to set it within each of these virtual environments – is especially cool.
Check it out and let us know what you think!