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Matt Kwid
Matt Kwid's picture
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 17:05
"Passive Listener" - caustic album postmortem

"Passive Listener" - the finished album released 11/05/2013

Stream Songs Here -  The Music Videos Here



*Free Album Download Here*



I would like to share some stuff I had experienced trying to put out my first release primarily using Caustic to create instrumental electronic music.

1) Song sketching with Caustic - the ability to whip out my phone/tablet and a set of earbuds and start experimenting with sounds and beats is priceless.  I think I have put some of my best work being in environments when I was just completely bored to death but remembered I had this application installed on my phone.  There is some sort of magic with the way the application works too with the pattern blocks, when you are working on a song and have a few measures, as you continue to create and have the app in "pattern" mode, some of your patterns will get played back with each other in unexpected and interesting ways and this can spark a lot of new ideas as your ideas sort of get remixed on the fly.  The application sort of jams along with you.  Also, take the time to learn how the piano roll feature works.  This will save you from working yourself into a corner later on.

2) Using Caustic with a DAW - I needed the use of a Digital Audio Workstation that could handle recording audio from my guitar so I picked up Reason and started exporting my tracks from Caustic into it.  I had some glitchy midi issues exporting midi data from Caustic 2.0 but nothing that took more than ten minutes to fix up and which have seemed to have been fixed in Caustic 3.  I initially thought I needed to export the midi only and then substitute "real" synthesized instrumentation from the DAW that I just paid money for - not so.  It took me a while to become convinced that a lot of the synthesized sounds from Caustic are at least as good (occasionally better) than the sounds I was after in my DAW.  The only thing for me now has become making music in Caustic that is slightly off the grid.  One song I have is predominantly played behind the beat and a lot of the notes were placed by pure feel or live performance which is not something I can currently do in Caustic.

3) Music Theory - At some point I realized I needed more understanding of music theory to help me gain a more complexed palette of colors and building blocks to work with when writing songs.  I wanted to make my demo songs more interesting and to figure out what sorts of options I might have to add things that sound "musical" or sound like they go along with the ideas I am currently working with.  This also gave me the tool to improvise over my working ideas and sort of be able to jam out with myself.  I have included links to a chart that I have compiled along with point by point instructions on how to use it.  With this understanding you will be able to turn on the radio and literally improvise over and play along with any song that comes on.  Taking time to explore this theory was invaluable and I hope you hear it in my music.

The Modes Chart
The Modes Chart Info

4) Soundcloud/Bandcamp - Once you have created a tune you feel good about, you are going to want to share it straight away.  I know for myself that after I work on the song for an extended period of time, I truly cannot give it an objective listening until some time has passed.  My new perspective is to give the song a waiting period.  You cannot go back in time and erase someone's first impression of your music.  I remember most specifically that there was some high frequency hiss that I had created using a maximizer on one of my instruments.  I could not hear it after spending so many hours on the track however another person pointed it out to me and I felt fortunate I did not post it prior to addressing this issue.  Also, look for Soundcloud style appropriate groups to post your song to so you can get more exposure if that is something you want and don't forget Youtube as a resource for sharing music.

5) The Loudness War - I had attempted to master the album myself at one point which requires the ability to loudness match tracks, work a dynamic mutliband compressor as well as limit and harmonically excite and configure dithering but I realized I just did not have the skills to confidently do this and know the recording was going to sound the best that it can.  I mean I put all this time and effort into writing and recording these songs, I wanted the end result to sound as good as possible.  I then had to make a decision, did I want it to be really loud and have some of the dynamics compressed out of it or did I want a richer sound but at a lower volume level.  I went back and forth about this for a while and read on up on the Loudness War in commercial music.  My final verdict was that since it was my initial release and many of my tracks were not going to be listened through all the way (they tend to be long) that I had to go loud.  

In my opinion, if you want to get heard and build any type of audience, there is nothing worse than your audience listening to other music and then your track comes on and it sounds quiet.  To many who do not have much trained listening experience (this includes myself) louder = better quality (though of course this is not true).  It honestly took me a little time to hear the negative impacts of heavy limiting on music and you shouldn't expect most of your listeners to hear the difference.  My suggestion is to personally master every track using the Caustic mastering tools but if you decide to release and album, have a professional do it and A/B it with your version to make sure you hear what you are paying for.  David Klug was able to make my drums have more snap and removed a lot of the low end muddiness that I never even knew existed until I heard his masters.

6) Official Release - This is where you have your all your shiny mastered tracks and a high-res version of your album art and you want to make it available in some online retail stores.  For this album I did everything in 44.1k sample rate and 16-bit CD quality resolution.  This is sort of the standard that all these online stores will sell and the format they expect to receive your music in.  I used DB Music Converter to edit the ID-Tag info to create the 320kbps Constant Bitrate mp3s for uploads for the CD Baby music service (there is also Tunecore and some others).  I went with what I felt was most convenient to just get my music out there and available to buy.  It is now available for licensing and it is in all of the big online stores - iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and many more.  Do I expect to make a cent? No. Then why did I do it?  It is a starting point.  A proof of concept.  I have now gone through the entire process once.  I have seen it from start to finish and if I want to continue and pursue it, I now have clear view of the entire process.

(enlightenedID-Tag info refers to the name, credit and image attached to your mp3 file so it gets displayed properly when it gets played in an mp3 player.  It is meta data.)

Just to finish up here, Cuastic is awesome.  It is not just a tiny app you can only use on your phone or tablet.  You can use it as a sketch pad, a synthesizer rack for another DAW, a drum machine,  an audio workstation, and stuff sounds really good exported from it.  I even had my guitar hooked up to it last week :)  If this was a $50 app, I would buy it without a second thought. Period. End of story. 

Cheers yes,


My demos for comparison:

mike's picture
Joined: 12/18/2011 - 15:53
I read everything, you are a

I read everything, you are a pioneer here man. Thanks for your very well written summary of the new generation artist.

I truly believe in the next 20 years, musicians like yourself will at the very least have a chance to be heard by 1000's. Maybe not make a cent as you put it but, isn't music all about being heard? Telling your story to others using music as the language?

I know one of my "dreams" is creating a Caustic core app that allows subscribers, a sort of live music radio show except it is using caustic realtime. To be able to perform to the internet with Caustic.

I have played in front of a 1000+ audience and there is nothing like it, I want that to be available to users of Caustic someday. Maybe I will squeak it out, maybe I am just deluded....

Omission, nice intro. I need to record some guitar for you people to hear. I have a sad sound as well. wink

Nice work Matt, I hope you stick around, can see your aura in this music for sure.


bojeroo's picture
Joined: 06/08/2012 - 17:25
Thanks Matt, this was a

Thanks Matt, this was a really interesting read, and as Mike said, very pioneering. Just about to download the album!

EDIT: I've now had the chance to listen to the album fully end-to-end, and I have to say you ought to be really proud of this Matt! Your creativity really shines through and I really like the final mastered sound. The guitar sections are beautifully done and really make the tracks stand out. It reminds of a fusion of Boards of Canada, with some Thomas Newman and others thrown in, which combines to give you a really good style. I wish you all the best with this...

Jason's picture
Joined: 03/23/2012 - 21:32
Nice work, and such a variety

Nice work, and such a variety of tone and moods you created here.  Omission is my favorite, hands down..... I would love to get my hands on that Song File and get you a mastered type sound..... but your finished product came out quite nice, with what you did there.

Nice work.


HerveB's picture
Joined: 11/10/2013 - 05:06
Many thanks Matt for sharing

Many thanks Matt for sharing your experience. Sure it helps to keep a "clear view of the entire process" yes

SoundCloud | Facebook
Dont't forget to play guitar ! tablatures-guitare.net

Joined: 12/02/2012 - 12:04
Really nice reading and

Really nice reading and interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing your experience Matt :-)

Rej - Dev
Rej - Dev's picture
Joined: 12/18/2011 - 15:52
Thanks for the write-up Matt,

Thanks for the write-up Matt, I'm sure many others will benefit from this, I've linked your post on the front page.

danjdob's picture
Joined: 12/15/2012 - 21:11
great work, great article..

great work, great article...very informative.

Jason's picture
Joined: 03/23/2012 - 21:32
Awesome work here...

I listened to the tracks in the album earlier, but just now I watched the videos; and they give the music a new meaning.... This is good work here, very very well done

yescool EIPSO Thumbs Up


Matt Kwid
Matt Kwid's picture
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 17:05
I am really glad you guys to

I am really glad you guys took the time to read the marathon post and I appreciate the comments on the music. yes

Mike: Again we are on the same page.  It is about sharing something created and the connection and satisfaction you get when someone understands or "feels" your work.

Rej - I very much appreciate your support and the repost on the homepage.  I hope you find some stuff you like on the album as well.  I am rockin' the "cheap rhodes" and the Subsynth "bells" with your 909 beatbox and bassline machine right out of the gate. :)

Jblann - I actually had you on my list to contact when the idea of mastering first came up as I know you do good sound work.  I am glad you checked out the videos.  I have had a lot of similar responses from family members that were like "Ohhh I get it now!".  The videos seem to help fully bring across the feel of what I was after in the music.  I would like to make videos for every song but I am not sure if I have the time. It would be really nice to meet someone who enjoys making videos like this.

danjob/Pan/Herve/boojeroo - Thanks again for taking the time to listen.  I will be trying to do the same for the rest of the community.

Looking forward to the Caustic 3 official release.  I have been working with the new alot these days.



subshift's picture
Joined: 09/02/2012 - 14:41
Amazing work! I'm especially

Amazing work! I'm especially grateful that you've posted both the demos and the final product. It's very interesting to listen and analyze the differences. Has the final remastering done with Caustic as well?

Spinneysc's picture
Joined: 09/28/2012 - 13:22
I like your points 4 and 5

I like your points 4 and 5 especially. A cooling off period is a great idea (hard to do). Interesting to read your discussion about volume.

Matt Kwid
Matt Kwid's picture
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 17:05
subshift - the final master

subshift - the final master was done by a friend who had some nice analog mastering equipment.

Spinneysc - if you listen to my demos, I had figured they were complete and the best I could do at that point until I read up on some theory and took another pass at them to give it my best shot.  Even now that the tracks are released as finished, I could probably do another pass on them and more specifically polish them up with some sound design and some better effects processing. For example, layered, compressed/maximized drum sounds with a touch of some gated reverb to make them sound larger and more modern or splitting the stereo width of my bass of the upper and lower frequencies to still maintain a wide sound but make more room for other instruments in the mix. 

I hope when I find some time to write some new tunes I am able to apply more of this kinda stuff.

GrimShades's picture
Joined: 11/11/2013 - 06:47
Great work.....and insightful

Great work.....and insightful thoughts on caustic and the process....

Rusted81's picture
Joined: 09/23/2013 - 20:50
Very informative and filled

Very informative and filled with solid tips for us to start learning about production process. Very nice sounds too! Is not generic techno/house/electronic, the songs have nice depth on it. Thanks for sharing and keep it up!

drb's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012 - 09:06
Fantastic stuff. What makes

Fantastic stuff. What makes it better is that you have actually been through the process from begining to end, and been decent enough to give some advice here.

I have a distinct lack of patience about these things and am to keen to put stuff out. When I get a chance I will look at the videos. 


DjSadhu's picture
Joined: 11/05/2013 - 08:19
Thanks for posting your

Thanks for posting your 'intel' and insights. Appreciate the music :-D

kylewalz's picture
Joined: 06/30/2013 - 13:07
Good write up and I like the

Good write up and I like the ambient-ness of the music.  I like getting the artist-eye-view of what you did during the creation process.  

haskdx's picture
Joined: 10/13/2013 - 07:44
An awensome Sounds i loved

An awensome Sounds i loved this "Hipnotic" Sound

you are so talented :)


i like a lot the track Omission :)


Matt Kwid
Matt Kwid's picture
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 17:05
Grimshades, Rusted81, drb,

Grimshades, Rusted81, drb, DjSadhu, kylewalz, haskdx, I appreciate you taking the time out for a listen, a read and posting some feedback.

haskdx, Omission was built differently than all the other tracks.  The focus was on how it "felt".  Most of the notes are played behind the beat and the tempo even slows down right in the middle to add more drama.  The slow down is right at about 1:45.

The demo was ignored for a few weeks until I relistened to it in the right mood.  That track is special.  Glad you like it. :)


Smurf's picture
Joined: 10/08/2013 - 01:24
Good music & Good videos, we

Good music & Good videos, we enjoyed that a lot!

And you have a good, basic workflow that applies to purly acoustic music also.


Thank You for sharing all your first-timer insight, it was a GREAT Read & a Fantastic Listen To & Watch!cool


It has occurred to me that there are fewer years ahead than there are behind....

Saving for the new tab.....

Matt Kwid
Matt Kwid's picture
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 17:05
Thanks Smurf 

Thanks Smurf yes

I truly appreciate the positive feedback.

spyroks's picture
Joined: 06/09/2012 - 10:19
(No subject)


K.Boog's picture
Joined: 07/23/2013 - 07:22
A.Maz.Ing!  Matt this is some

A.Maz.Ing! yes Matt this is some Brilliant work you got here. The vid you have for Waiting Room is cool!!!yes goes with the music... Listening to "Drift" right! Wow!!! Man thanks for sharing your music and offering the free downloaded album! And the article you wrote abou.. Hold on!!! Damn!!! "Mekanism" is Bad Ass!!! Ok!!! Now,the article you wrote was cool,lots of tips and interesting news for the older & new Caustic members. Anyways' great job man! I'm a bout to download this, Right now!!!!  wink

Matt Kwid
Matt Kwid's picture
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 17:05
Hey K.Boog,

Hey K.Boog,

Beautiful daughter you got there!  Thanks for the really nice comments.  Very much appreciated :)


James's picture
Joined: 01/21/2013 - 07:09
I love the contrast between

I love the contrast between your methodical scholarly approach to the project and the emotion and melancholy that pours out of your music.

Matt Kwid
Matt Kwid's picture
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 17:05
Thank you very much James.

Thank you very much James.  Nice to have the emotional part of the music be noticed.  

On a side note, I just ordered the 3-octave, USB Powered Korg midi controller that Jblann was demoing in some of his videos (my other one broke).  I can't wait to write some new music with it using Caustic 3!

Time to check out what others have been doing around here...



Joined: 12/27/2013 - 18:44
Great read! I'm so happy to

Great read! I'm so happy to see that so many people here support each other and I haven't even seen "RTFM" once yet!!! I'm trying to get all of my audio buddies to get this app and come hang out here.

One thing I will say- the theory part is easier to come by on some instruments vs others, and I'm definitely impressed that you picked it up and figured it out on your own. I've taken a healthy bit of theory and found that to me, I was doing weird stuff all along with notes that I thought sounded cool, and then I found out I was doing stuff in this mode or that mode. It's awesome to know, but also awesome that at the end of the day you've got 12 pitches and you can do whatever sounds good to you with 'em!

Matt Kwid
Matt Kwid's picture
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 17:05


The theory stuff came from a desire to move from Penatonic riff based songwriting on my guitar to creating music driven by melody and harmony.  

What I did to make it as simple as possible when starting out was only use the major scale - one scale -  then move it around so I did not have to memorize a bunch of patterns.  This was where the birth of the chart came from.  The K.I.S.S. method.

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