Hey mate, sorry for late reply ( Xmas and all ) Yeah that's a nice track, really trippy. I'm generally more into deep house myself but I obviously listen to other stuff too.
It is quiet here lately but there is still a great deal of useful stuff stored on the pages of this forum and its worth going through.....Ok, here's the difficult bit............
Making music by ear is fine and I do it too, I don't think 'theory', never but the problem is, when you're trying to communicate music information, you have to talk theory as a way of getting that information across and it can't be any other way because hat you're describing in this track is about chords and harmonic structure.
Like I was saying before, the pad sound ( there's not just 1 ) is more to do with chords than the sound itself. If you had the pad sound/s yourself and played single notes, it would become obvious pretty quickly that there was nothing remarkable at all about them. often a low pass filter combined with some resonance or a gentle LFO over the filter and/or resonance is enough for subtle movement but something else also contributes to it a lot and that is called voicing. Often with large chords ( by large I mean extended chords like major & minor 7ths, 9ths, 11ths and sus chords ) the way you voice them has a dramatic effect on the timbre of the sound. Here's an example below:
Take a minor 9th chord and play it on 'C', you have these notes: C/Eb/G/Bb/D That's a nice chord as it is but what we can do is to invert the chord which means we 'voice' it differently, it's still the same chord but it sounds different. A classic inversion of this chord is to play it like this: C/Bb/D/Eb/G. Inverting large chords in this type of way creates a bunch of notes in the centre ( the D & the Eb in this case ) which 'beat' against each other creating a nice sense of depth and resonance and the chord is surrounded by a C & a G which are a perfect 5th apart. ( If you are unsure what Eb & Bb are, the 'b' means flat, those notes can also be called D sharp & A sharp or D# & A# )
The point of this? Just to illustrate how much the chord itself has to do with the sound of pads as oppose to just the sound itself. If you want to have a play around with some chords and you're not a keyboardist, you should use the chord device in Ableton.
Here's some settings you can try out, I'll name the chord and name the intervals to set, you can save these as presets.
1. Minor 9th chord: +3, +7, +10, +14
1b. Inverted minor 9th chord: +10, +14, +15, + 19
2. Major 7th: +4, +7, +11
2b. Inv major 7th: +4, +5, +9
3. Minor 11th: +3, +7, +10, +14, +17
4. Major 11th: +4, +7, +11, +14
5. 7sus: +5, +7, +10
Ok, there's a fe chord types you can try out on Abletons chord device so you can play them 1 finger. Load a synth, find a sound that is polyphonic and see what you come up with, you'll see that the chords lend more to the sound that is first realised, turn the chord device off, play a single note and see how unremarkable it is.