Luke Hess Talks Hardware on ‘Into The Deep’

Coming of age in a mid-90’s Detroit warehouse, Luke Hess built his foundation in techno sounded by founding fathers of the genre. Landing releases on seminal labels like Omar S’ FXHE and Carl Craig’s Planet E, Hess has refined a deep techno sound reminiscent of Motor City’s raw origins. Since 2010, Hess has developed his own DeepLabs imprint around a framework of his own experiences. In this quick look, we explore the aspects of his latest release, focused on the studio hardware.

Clocking in as cat 009 on the self-build label, we linked up with Hess to hear more about the machines behind the release. Dubbed ‘Into The Deep’, the EP quickly jumps into with clean leads that we had to dig into. From tape delays to his 24 channel Soundcraft Ghost, Hess breaks down his process track by track. Classic sounds on iconic gear, this is a masterclass in techno production. Dig into the record while breaking down each track from the mix.

DeepLabs studio

The full outline of the EP starts with influences from Luke Hess himself: “Into the Deep” was written in March 2019 at DeepLabs studio in Detroit, MI.  The EP was inspired by an in-depth study of the Book of Jonah in the old testament.  The intent was to capture the feeling of the circumstances of Jonah’s life based on his decision to flee from God when called to prophecy against the wickedness of the city of Nineveh.  The feeling of the music captures the depth of our need for God & the longing for His Spirit when we are separated from His will for our lives.  God is not interested in religion – He is only interested in a deep loving relationship with His creation.

A1: Breakers

The main stabs in this track were made using a Kurzweil K2000, running through a Vermona Retroverb, RE-201 space echo tape delay, & then into another guitar pedal delay. The high & noisey stabs from the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 are mixed & stacked on top of the original stabs using a similar effects chain with the addition of the Moogerfooger Murf. All drums are from the Roland TR-909 using some light compression, delay, & reverb. The strings are from the Kurzweil K2000. Finally, the acid-line is from the Roland TB-303.  I EQ & bus all instruments using the Soundcraft Ghost mixer 24 channel. I sequence in Ableton, midi or program all synths & drums, & only record audio using no VSTs.

Yes, the SH-101 be converted into a keytar…

B1: Depths

The bassline in Depths was written using a Roland SH-101. The Dave Smith Prophet 6 is used for the main stabs with effects Vermona Retroverb, Roland RE-201 Space Echo Tape Delay, & Eventide Space Reverb. The drums are from the Roland TR- 909 & Acid Labs Miami using subtle compression. Similar to Breakers, I EQ & bus all instruments using the Soundcraft Ghost mixer 24 channel. I sequence in Ableton, midi or program all synths & drums, & only record audio using no VSTs. I also recorded many filter sweeps & noises in the mixer & sidechain these against the kick, mixed low in the background. The large pad swells are from the Juno 106 & some additional percussion elements are triggered from the original Korg MS-20 semi-modular synthesizer.

B2: Submission

The pads in Submission are from the Juno 106. The acid leads are from the Roland TB-303. I have a quicksilver midi mod on the 303, so I can program the 303 using Ableton. The stabs are from the Korg M3R using the synth card and an external hardware filter. The synth lead is from the Dave Smith Prophet 6. The drums are mostly the Acid Labs Miami & the remaining percussion is from the Kurzweil K2000. Again, I sequence in Ableton, midi or program all synths & drums. I use the EQs on the Soundcraft Ghost & completed some additional mixing, engineering, & compression on this specific track in Abelton.

All three of these tunes are dark room heaters aligned with the sound of Luke Hess’ project. Though each element is clearly a clean refinement of the gear above, an overarching industrial aspect of the mix is evidence of what makes Detroit techno great. Yet another shining example of Hess’ reflection of the past while representing a new generation of the city; ‘Into The Deep’ is a truly timeless record.

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