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Case Studies


Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap

As a multi-instrumentalist and bass virtuoso, Armin Metz moves in the circles of world music, analogue electronics and adventurous solo performance. He accompanied the sound designer and pop artist Imogen Heap on two tours of Europe and the USA. He is active in the acoustic-oriented Nadishana-Trio and plays keyboard for the smooth electro-veterans Qluster.

Imogen Heap became known through her hit song "Hide and Seek" and the successful album "Speak for Yourself". Armin's multi-instrumentalist qualities brought him together with the British pop boundary breaker, who became aware of him through his remixes of her songs. Her elaborately structured and orchestrated compositions are full of surprising sound changes and dynamics. It was an inspired collaboration. Armin played bass, tablas and autoharp on sixty concerts for Imogen. For these instruments, he programmed and tailored effects and sounds that were used for live performances.

In Nadishana Trio, magical hang drum sounds meet with virtuoso jew's harp and archaic plucked and stringed instruments. The result is a life-affirming music that resonates between pulsating tempo and cheerful devotion. Their strictly cued composition allows freedom for solo improvisations. Armin plays fretless and fretted 6-string bass, which he subtly enhances with digital sounds.


Imogen Heap

Armin maxes out the balance between instrumental music and digital sound enhancement. With only a six string bass, microphone and laptop, he creates spectacular live sounds. With flawless chord tapping technique, he effortlessly fills the musical space. Although his pieces, which he calls "BassSongs", work without any electronics, Armin expands them with sounds, loops and sequences that he programmed with the audio application "Plogue Bidule". Incoming audio signals are analysed for pitch and dynamics and directly transmitted to synthesised or sampled sounds. The playing character of the instrument, in Armin's case mostly the bass, can still be felt in the resulting sound. To this he sings accompanied by his modified live loops. Everything, however, is always created live on stage without pre-produced tracks or extra recordings.

Though his analogue music works without enhancement, Armin’s interests lie particularly on the digital possibilities in the audio field. Since the early nineties, he has tested various programs and hardware and experimented with them for live use. He places special emphasis on creating the feel of natural play, for which the lowest possible latency is extremely important. Both live and in the studio, Armin relies on RME products. He uses the Fireface UC as a sound converter. His bass connects directly to the FFUC. The sound is converted in the PC, through various plug-ins and patches, which have been programmed in Bidule, before the signal comes back to the mixer. What Armin particularly appreciates is the minimum latency of only 5 ms from analogue input to analogue output. As he says, it "makes for great groove, despite massive effects. The sound is pure, honest and transparent". The structure and the design of the connectors are compact. The performance is absolutely reliable and noise is minimal. There is no need to worry about the technology when playing live. This all speaks to a musician like Armin Metz on many levels. According to Armin: "I think that FFUC has its own character, which impresses you if you work more closely with it. It is user-friendly, straightforward and elegant. It boosts nothing in an unpleasant way. At the same time, FFUC is comfortably unobtrusive. It’s nice to be able to rely on it live."