The melody line for this Teutonic techno classic was ripped straight out of an old Commodore 64 computer game. This is the key to recreating the sound faithfully, as deep inside the Commodore 64 lurks a surprisingly powerful synth chip known as the SID.
Zombie Nation went as far as to use the Elektron SID Station synth - which uses the SID as its sound source - for the track.
Listen: Zombie Nation - Kernkraft 400
How to get the sound
We’re going to use Rob Papen’s Blue synth for this one. The lead line is a pretty straightforward saw wave through some echo and reverb, so you can recreate that easily enough. The pumping bassline which supports it uses oscillator detuning to get that ultra wide, dark and moody vibe to it. Take two saw waves and adjust the fine-tuning on each by a few cents in opposite directions. Then mix in one more saw wave an octave down from the other two.
Now, to get that lo-fi SID sound, we need to use a bit-crushing plug-in set to 8-bit, just like the SID chip itself. Add a little bit of overdrive to get the growl and some subtle dark reverb and you’re there.