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Little Dragon’s ‘Butterflies In The Clouds’

The members of Little Dragon record in the group’s studio in their hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, and they rarely allow outside involvement in their process. However, the band did allow James Ford in for some co-production and mixing on their latest album, Season High, with the group’s Håkan Wirenstrand also doing some of the mixing, including the standout track “Butterflies.”

The group records to Cubase, but Wirenstrand’s curiosity about analog gear brought him to a 1978 MCI 24-channel tape machine and MCI 428B mixer; Wirenstrand updat.ed the mixer by replacing its op amp with one from Sage Electronics, and he used the 428B to mix “Butterflies.”

Wirenstrand employed a Mutable Instruments Clouds granular audio processor on Yukimi Nagano’s voice. “For the intro I sampled a piece of the vocal, froze, and scrolled back and forth on that sample with Clouds, making kind of a vocal sound,” explains Wirenstrand. “For the end, the ambient stringy sounds are a sample of the brassy chord sound already recorded in the project. I froze that in Clouds and scrolled back and forth, making this really nice atmospheric sound.

“Clouds takes pieces of the sample, or grains, and reorganizes them a bit, to smear them out. It also makes them pseudo stereo by taking grains and placing them in the stereo field. It’s a great way of finding new sounds. It also has inputs to modulate parameters. The vocal effects on the chorus are Clouds real-time sampling the vocals and spreading the grains in the stereo field. I modulated the pitch with an LFO to get that extreme vibrato so it sounds like a ghost choir.”