How It Was Made: Emancipator – Mountain Of Memory

Emancipator released his new album Mountain of Memory. The new LP hones in on what the Portland, Oregon producer has been putting together over the years, ranging from mid-tempo dance grooves, boom bap hip-hop beats and calm, reflective tempos. It is all held together for a unique edge with electric and acoustic guitars, classical violin, Indian dilruba, cimbaloms, finger snaps and more. Emancipator uses a wide variety of equipment to make his music, ranging from synths to guitars, drums and more.

To make this album, Emancipator sequestered himself in the woods of Mt. Hood in Oregon. There he built a studio to immerse himself in the lush Oregon woods.

“Since Baralku, I’ve relocated from the city of Portland to the woods of Mt Hood. There I built a new studio to record and produce music. A garage was renovated into my own production Shangri-La. The desk sits where a wood-fired stove once sat and the view from the green-tinted windows is strikingly similar to my first album cover. It is truly a dream come true," explains Emancipator. 

"Some of the songs on this album were started earlier than this move but they were all finished here in the quiet, lush forests of Oregon. In many ways it reminds me of my roots in Virginia, a plot of land carved out in the trees near a river. It is incredibly grounding to create in this setting and I know this sense of freedom and inspiration will be reflected in my music as long as I’m here.”

He has been deep in the woods, but for this How It Was Made feature, he brought us right into the action to show off all of the gear he used to make this album. There is a lot of it, so read on to see how everything was pieces together, organically and wit computers.

Stream Mountain Of Memory now and get your copy here.

DAW: Ableton, Plugins: UAD, FabFilter, Soundtoys, SSL

Fabfilter: Pro-Q 3 has been a game changer for me because of its slick visual interface and its Dynamic EQ feature.

DAW Plug-Ins

Soundtoys: I mostly use the Crystallizer, Decapitator, Filterfreak, Echoboy and Tremolator, but they are all fun.

Plug-Ins Soundtoys

UAD: Used heavily for both utility and creative plugins like compression (Teletronix LA-2A, Shadow Hills), saturation/tape (Thermionic Culture Vulture, Empirical Labs Distressor, Bermuda Triangle, Ampex ATR, Oxide Tape), reverb (Pure Plate, EMT-140, Lexicon 224), some EQ (Pultec), for depth and sound design (Roland Dimension-D, Precision K-Stereo) and many more.

Guitar recording station: Fender Stratocaster, Line 6 Helix Floor, Strymon Big Sky Reverb, Strymon Timeline Delay, Strymon Mobius Filter & Pioneer DJM-V10 Mixer.

Fender Stratocaster > Line 6 Helix Floor > Strymon Big Sky Reverb Pioneer DJM-V10

All the above stuff

This setup is one of the most exciting recent additions to my studio. The Helix has a ton of customizable guitar tones and effects chains. From there I go into the inimitable Strymon effects pedals and the Pioneer DJ mixer for further EQ sculpting and effects. It’s possible to create rich layers of sound from a guitar this way.

Strymon Timeline Delay > Strymon Mobius Filter

Strymon effects pedals

The Moog Voyager

A staple in my studio since 2012. Used mostly for deep bass tones. Also pictured, the Rhodes Eighty-Eight Mark II.

Moog Voyager

Moog Voyager

Rhodes Eighty-Eight Mark II

Voyager & Rhodes Eighty-Eight Mark II

Dave Smith Prophet 12: My go to for complex sci-fi synth tones. Whoever made the presets for that thing is out of their mind though.

Dave Smith Prophet 12, Nord Stage 2 Synth

Prophet 12 & Nord Stage 2

Nord Stage 2: All the classic electric piano and orchestral sounds.

Rogers Delta 1960’s drum kit: This album is the first time I recorded myself on drum kit, on the song “Dodo."

Rogers Delta Drum Kit Set

Rogers Delta 1960’s drum kit

Rupert Neve Portico II Preamps: I used these on pretty much everything I recorded with a microphone. I love the sound quality and the interface for its EQ, compression, and tone sculpting. Also pictured is the UAD-710D and Focusrite ISA-428 that I use for mic’ing up the drum kit.

Rupert Neve Portico II Preamps

Rupert Neve Portico II Preamps

Focal Twin6 Monitors: I love how they sound.

Focal Twin6 Monitors Speakers

Focal Twin6 Monitors

DJ/Sampling station: This is where I source snippets of sound from my vinyl collection or CDs ripped to WAV and then cued up in Serato DJ Pro.

DJ Sampling Station Turntable Vinyl
Turntable Serato

Microphones: Neumann TLM-107 for most plucky instruments like guitars and Kalimbas. Royer 121 ribbon mic for close, quiet sounds. AKG414’s are used for drums and pretty much anything.

Neumann TLM-107, Royer 121, AKG414 Microphones


Various Kalimbas and Percussion:

Kalimbas & Percussion

Kalimbas and percussion

Ilya Goldberg’s Violin, Oud, and Dilruba:

He played on a a bunch of songs for the album with these. The Oud and Dilruba were acquired on tour in Istanbul and India respectively. The Dilruba can be heard on tracks “Currents” and “Awakenings” and the oud on “Alligator.”

Oud and Dilruba Violin

Violin, Oud, and Dilruba