Pond Synth Sounds

pond synth sounds

This article was originally two separate posts, “Paint Me Silver Synths” and “Sweep Me Off My Feet Synths”. Here I’ve combined both posts into one article.

Sweep Me Off My Feet

Sweep Me Off My Feet by Australian psychedelic band Pond is a spacey synthpop song from upcoming album This Weather. It features heavily layered synths to underscore Pond frontman Nick Allbrook’s fantastic vocal performance. In this tutorial I’ll look at all the individual layers that make up the song!

The song starts with a thick sounding deep bass, I tried a couple of synths and the Prophet was the one that got me closest to this bass sound. The Moog was too dirty and the Juno was too clean but any Prophet-type synth will really nail this sound. Set OSC B an octave below OSC A and set the volume so that it’s a little quieter and blends well with OSC A. 

Raise the cutoff and sustain up to max for a big full sound, then turn on legato and set the glide to roughly the right time (below it’s set to 450ms). The Prophet synths have a really distinctive sound when used for bass, I’ve used Arturia Prophet V but for a free alternative check out TAL-Elek7ro, a great free software synth to learn on and great for bass sounds.

pong sweep me off my feet prophet synth 2
  • Sweep Me Off My Feet Bass 00:00

The next most prominent sound in Sweep Me off My Feet is the wobbly sounding synth line. The most important elements here are using both filters to get it sounding thin and using the LFO to create a vibrato effect. I’ve used a Juno type synth because it has a Delay parameter on the LFO, so the vibrato doesn’t come in immediately. Turn the glide on and set the glide time to halfway.

  • Sweep Me Off My Feet Vibrato Lead 00:00
pong sweep me off my feet juno synth

Doubling the lead synth is a simple glockenspiel mallet sound. These are a great way to add childlike wonder to a track and are easy to recreate without mic’ing up a glockenspiel. I’m using the great (and free!) Boscomac Twinkle, a Reaktor ensemble that is easy to use and sounds great.

  • Sweep Me Off My Feet Glockenspiel 00:00
pong sweep me off my feet tinkle

There’s a great classic String Machine synth in the mix too, it comes in at 00:57 and while most string patches will do, the one I found to sound closest is the ARP Omni, a classic string machine most famously used for the lead line of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart. I’ve used GForce Virtual String Machine with a patch that uses detuning for a really thick sound. For some free alternatives check out this list.

  • Sweep Me Off My Feet Strings 00:00
pong sweep me off my feet string machine

Last up is a quiet synth-brass patch that’s slightly buried in the mix but helps thicken out the sound. It comes in at the start and is easiest to hear at the end of the phrase. I used Arturia Prophet V again and took the filter cutoff right down to get it sounding nice and dull. Use the filter Env Amt and ADSR to shape the sound to where it’s sound brass-y and you’ll get a suitable patch.

  • Sweep Me Off My Feet Brass 00:00
pong sweep me off my feet prophet synth

Now you can listened to all the synths layered together, notice how each element compliments the others; some are big sounding and others are dull or light-sounding. They also cover all the frequencies from deep bass to high strings which is important when layering. I’ve also added some quick drums from Toontrack Superior Drummer so you can see how they all sound in a full-band context.

  • Organ 1 // Organ 2 00:00

Paint Me Silver

Pond recently released their seventh studio album The Weather, and after my Sweep Me Off My Feet tutorial I’ve had a couple of requests for the synths in Paint Me Silver. What a lot of people don’t know is that the main hook is based on a Todd Rundgren & Utopia song called Cosmic Convoy. Although Paint Me Silver starts out with a direct sample from Cosmic Convoy, the main hook is based on the lead lick later in the song overdubbed by the Pond members. 

I was lucky enough to see Pond on their recent tour and their live synth setup consisted of a Moog Sub Phatty, a Korg Poly-800 and a Dave Smith Prophet 08. They mostly used the Moog for basses and the Korg for chorused pad chords, and for Paint Me Silver they used guitar for the lead, so it’s hard to tell what was used for the studio recording. I played with some differents synths and think that the lead is either the Korg Poly-800 or a Roland Juno-106, which they also use regularly.

Tell me about your new album… There’s this new song you played that has a repeating riff, I loved that. It was sort of hip-hop-y. Jay: That song is a sample of a Todd Rundgren song, really slowed down, sort of like G-Funk and hip-hop. Nick: Not so much the G-Funk, but more flamboyant southern sort of stuff, like Kanye flamboyant. Coachella Interview

To get an idea of where Paint Me Silver started I’ll try playing around with the Cosmic Convoy sample a little. To get from Cosmic Convoy to Paint Me Silver we need to lower both the tempo and the pitch, and we can lower both at the same time with Repitch sampling. Put your sampler into Repitch mode and lower the tempo from 133bpm to 88.8bpm and the pitch will drop at the same rate as the tempo. This gives an immediate vaporwave vibe:

  • Original Sample 00:00
  • Timestretched Sample 00:00
pond paint me silver sample

As mentioned previously the lead synth line was likely created with either Pond’s Roland Juno-106 or a Korg Poly-800. It’s a simple sawtooth patch with some thick chorus and pitch-bending for the melody. I’m using a TAL U-NO-LX patch with just a sawtooth wave and the Low-Pass Filter pulled down a little. 

I’ve got Chorus I on and the pitch-bend range set to 2 semitones. To make the lead sound a little less sterile, add some LFO vibrato to the DCO and keep the amount small, the rate fast and delay the vibrato a little to keep the initial sound in tune.

As with a lot of Pond’s music, the effects play a huge part in shaping the sound. After TAL U-NO-LX I’m running the sound into a delay, compression, saturation and reverb. The compression after delay is the most important element as it creates a smearing effect across the notes, I’m specifically using an analogue style delay and compressor to keep the effects element dark and driven.

  • Pain My Silver Dry Lead 00:00
  • Pain My Silver Lead w/FX 00:00
pond paint me lead

The pad chords in Paint Me Silver are again from the Juno-106, making use of the Juno’s built in chorus effect and some additional phaser effects to get a swirling effect. I’m using TAL U-NO-LX again and I’m using the ADSR envelope to slowly open the Filter. To do this, take the cutoff frequency almost all the way down, raise the ENV amount to halfway and set the ADSR with a long, slow attack. 

Set Chorus I on and change the VCA mode from GATE to ENV so that the volume rises along with the filter frequency. For a Phaser I’m using my trusty EHX Small Stone Phaser pedal on low colour mode. For software options, every guitar amp sim seems to have a Small Stone emulation built in.

  • Pain My Silver Chords 00:00
pond paint me synth

I’ve covered the two main synth patches used in the song, some additional tracks are some guitar layering, bass guitar and processed drums. To get the sample to sit better in the mix I’ve EQed it to make it brighter and add more treble to it. I’ve then added some bass guitar and sampled drums from Superior Drummer, listen to the different mixes below:

  • Pain My Silver Full 00:00

Pond Synth Presets

Thanks for reading, hopefully the section about sampling has given you some insight into the process behind this kind of songwriting, check out the TAL U-NO-LX patches below and use them in your own songs.

The Pond synth presets from this article are also included in the Synth Sounds Collection, a free preset pack collecting the synth presets from all of my articles in one download.

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Comments on Pond Synth Sounds

17 thoughts on “Pond Synth Sounds”

  1. Have you heard the song Silver by Caribou? There’s this crazy bass synth going on that I’d love to know how they made! Thanks for another great article!

    1. The first thing is to make sure you’re getting the most out of the plugins in your DAW. If you need more than your DAW offers and you have the budget then my favourites are Soundtoys Bundle and the ValhallaDSP reverbs.

  2. When you run it through delay and compression is that another software tool or is it external pedals? hope that made sense haha

    1. Usually software plugins, like the DAWs plugins, Live’s Filter Delay and Glue Compressor are really good. Sometimes I use guitar pedals because there’s a few I really like the sound of. With them I use my audio interfaces outputs and inputs.

  3. Awesome! Also, you can download the bios for both consoles, extract and convert the sounds to .wav with PSound if you ever want to take a closer look at them.

  4. Thank you very much! I actually come to this website everyday to check if there’s any new tutorials. xD
    Great job!

    1. Thanks! Some of the articles take a while because I like to do my research and get things sounding as close as I can. Should be 2 more articles out in the next week.

      1. I’ll be sure to return im the next week then!
        Also, I’m not sure if you’re into video-games. I had a PlayStation 1 and 2 a few years ago and by doing a little research I found out that the boot sequence sound is actually sampled from synths. The PS1 one is sampled from a Roland D-50, a slightly modified patch called “Spacious Sweep”.

        PlayStation 2, however, is some kind of a pad, I wanted to recreate that kind of sound however I’m a complete synth noob and I don’t know where to start. Here’s the sample: https://youtu.be/XW-_7PxEqyM?t=8s

        And again, thank you. I’ve been trying to recreate the lead in Paint Me Silver for a few weeks now. 😀

        1. Yeah I love those old PlayStation startup noises, I’ll look them up but I’m sure it’s one of those things where you really need the original hardware to pull it off, so I’ll keep an eye on eBay for them.

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