How To Make Abstract Pop Like Bjork

We show you how to make Abstract Pop like Bjork. 


In our latest 'Creating The Sounds of Series' let's take a deep dive into the sonic world of Bjork. Showcasing sounds from our Electric Nights pack, we explore the rich FX options on show in Ableton 11, how to process those eclectic beats, create Arca Style subs & so much more.


Repeat Chaos

Let's kick off with some repeating FX to create rhythm and transitions. On your drum track (or group if you have multiple drum and perc tracks) we've added an 'Auto Pan',Chorus-Ensemble' and the 'Beat Repeat' preset 'Airpusher'. When all three of these trigger at the same time the end of a phrase or section of a track, they create a randomised and chaotic set of movements that almost resemble a computer crashing or an radio that's loosing its signal. Very cool! 

Note: Experiment with different grid sizes and depths on all three FX to find the feel you're looking for! 

Another highly chaotic effect is preset 'Pitch Trails' within the 'Spectral Time' FX. This adds some musicality to our processing by pitch shifting our repeats in a granular way (unlike Beat Repeat, which is more grid based)


808 Distortion

Next, check out the sub. Low 808 type sounds can often loose their definition and impact when in very low octave, and can disappear all together on smaller speakers. Let try and offset that with some distortion! A small amount of 'Redux' effect can add clarity to the top end, giving it some presence. Using Ableton's 'Saturator' can add some more classic distortion, increasing the notes harmonic depth and again, helping it cut through a mix.

Note: not using Ableton? Try Logic X's 'Bit Crusher', or go even deeper with D16's 'Decimort 2'.

Ethereal Leads

Let's move into more melodic territory. In the video we've created a ethereal pad sound out of a simple bell sample. It's triggered by a 'Arpeggiator' on random mode, keeping our theme of controlled chaos from out drums through to our musical content. The 'Pad' quality of the sound is using a stack of various FX; some more distortion from again 'Redux' and also 'Overdrive', keeping our sound harmonically rich and present. 'Hybrid Reverb' softens the transients of the sample, as well as adding colour and depth. Finally, some simple EQ help control the very highs and lows that can start to appear when using such a long FX chain!

We can also layer up our pad tracks with something more human, and nothing will achieve that quicker than using a vocal sample. Here I've used my own voice ran through the same chain, and you can hear the colour, texture and variation doing so adds to the track! 

Note: Ableton has a range of distortion FX that offer different results: 'Pedal', 'Amp', 'OTT' are just a few! 

Unique Hi Hat Textures

Next, let's look at some hi-hat lines. It's tempting to reach for classic drum machine hat sounds (we've created hundreds over the years), but another option is to use more human sounds like hand claps and foley. Loading these more randomised and textured sounds into drum-rack and sequencing them as shown below can give you something familiar, but also super unique! 

Note: make sure to add some compression to the track to keep all your sounds the same volume, and some simple EQ can stop any unwanted low end build up when using so many raw recordings.

Gated reverb

Finally, as shown in the video, we can 'chop' into the reverb of our percussion sounds with a 'Gate'. The 'Short Cut' preset is a great place to start, and simply adjust the Threshold, Attack, hold and Release to 'cut' the reverb tails out when they fall below the set threshold. At high tempos with more sounds, this can help clean up lots of tracks that are starting to sound washed out, but is also a cool effect looking for something more unique.


Hopefully this is a useful and fun way to add something new to your productions. Again, all these sounds are taken from our 'Electric Nights' sample pack!