Mono-log

A daily upload project that began in 2012 with the Nord Modular G1.

505

August 29th, 2016

One synthesiser I used extensively back in 2000 was the Nord Rack 2. At the time I was still sequencing my gear with the Atari STE running Cubase, and the Nord Rack got explored in depth due to midi control on everything. I didn’t switch to audio based software, initially on Windows 98, until a little bit later. I remember the transition to a more computer based approach being a difficult one for me. The Nord Rack 2 slowly got put aside during the computer phase, being used less and less until it almost got sold along with my Nord Modular. Luckily my girlfriend at the time threatened to leave me if I sold either. That girlfriend is now my wife. Lucky guy.

Image

Back at the end of 2013 I brought the Atari STE and Cubase back into my studio, but unlike back in the 90’s, this Cubase come with a manual, a big binder in-fact.

I tend not to read manuals all that much, and typically for me I tend to miss some pretty obvious stuff sometimes. I often find myself wishing a piece of equipment does something I believe it can’t, until I think this long enough to double check in the manual, often realising I was wrong.

This has happened again.

While flicking through the Cubase manual for keyboard shortcuts, I stumbled upon a module I had pretty much forgot about called ‘The MIDI Processor’. I vaguely remember playing about with it as a teenager, but typically for me at that time, anything that required dipping into computers was incredibly boring. It has only been through a combination of choice and necessity that I have ended up not only using computers more, but earn a living coding on one.

I know many of the uploads on this blog come from the Nord Modular, but if I had to pick a favourite of the two, it would be the Nord Rack 2 for sure. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Nord Modular, but it’s always struck me as a sort of intense and intelligent friend, that although you love them dearly, sometimes, not even all the caffeine in the world can get you in the mood for that conversation.

Today’s upload explores the MIDI Processor, partnered with an old friend I can relax with, and one I know we will be hearing more from, the Nord Rack 2.

504

August 23rd, 2016

Since learning the Space Echo can produce a entirely wet signal (plugging in a dummy jack), I have been wanting to experiment with this using only the tape as a live fx. I’ve found the delay can be short enough if the rate is as fast as it goes. Suprisingly what delay there is still present competes quite well with computer buffer delay issues, which has some ironry.

Image

I am finding more and more there is a need to leave the laptop out of the studio unless totally essential. Taking it to the studio was becoming a habbit, and preventing me from creating music. For me, it just gets in the way and has unsuable issues occuring far to often. As a result I have resorted back to DAT tape, which is great. I am not sure why I stopped using it, I suppose habbit and illusions of convenience. I may look more at the new digital recorder by Tascam, but i’m startiong to feel my Tascam DAT is doing a good enough job, and will do fine for now. I am quite looking forward to experiencing once again the affects in recording that tape delivers, like having to finish a track as not wanting to waste tape, or the feeling of seeing a shelf full of tapes, oh no, all that space will be used…pfft. Somehow, seeing an actual tape and not a file burried in a hardrive, gives me a definite assurance and result of action. The forgettable or hidden file on the computer just doesn’t seem to give me the same sense of satisfaction and progress. It’s always a ‘work in progress’. How I tire of things being left undone.

Today’s upload is exploring tape saturation on the Roland Space Echo, and is sequenced by the Phrase Synth on the Atari’s Cubase software. I love tapping those atari keys, something solid and definite about them, like the computer had yet to really be more than a few functions, and as a result it seems to have a solid purpose, as apposed to the variety of functions and endless confirgurations today’s slimline and light weight machines have.

I know what I need in the studio, and it’s not more options.

503

July 14th, 2016

Recently I bought the latest version of the software Reaktor, and very good it is too. It seems I was probably later to the game than others, and perhaps this has been due to NI taking a rather grinding approach with some aspects of their marketing in the past. “Do you wanna make dope beatz…with machine?”.

However, their new direction seems to fit closer to my taste or perhps it’s I haven’t seen an annoying commercial recently, but with a clearly inspired software development angle, with a focus on ever deeper levels of play and experimentation, and cleaner interface, and the new Blocks Wired thrown in, well, it’s excellent value and sounds pretty special too.

Image

The very useable and analogue sound of Blocks Wired, with it’s huge range of Blocks consisting of some excellent sounding filters and oscillators, partnered with its endless routing possibilties comparable to the Nord Modular, Audio Mulch, Bidule, Max etc makes it for very handy in the studio for both quick sketches or more complex modulation and connecting. It’s definitely a win for me, and for someone still using the Atari STE, that’s a nice win to be on the receiving end of.

I did have some issues with my soundcard, but then what software does play well with some Motu’s these days. One of the main reasons to purchase Reaktor, as odd as it might seem, was to be able to quickly route my soundcard and record out whatever I am playing, be it internal, external from the mix or a combination of both. Reaktor includes a very hady Tape Recorder right there in the main screen, which takes me right back to Audio Mulch ease. Annoyingly though for me, this glitches on record when using the Motu, which is typical. A quick work around using Motu’s own free AudioDesk DAW is doable but for someone like myself who dislikes having tons of software open on my computer when making music, it’s not ideal, but not NI fault, this one sits at the feet of Motu.

Today’s upload is a sketch I did a few weeks ago whilst in the midst of web design and coding choas, and perhaps that is why this sounds the way it does. A manic Robert Hood-esque interlaced 101 style pattern, moving through some scratchy filtering and horrible distortion on the reverb, reminding me of those days RDJ didn’t care so much for his funky production and made excellent tracks instead, such as Tamphex.

Actually, don’t bother listening to my upload, just listen to Tamphex at the link above, it’s obviously much better. “Why stop when the period starts” :)

502

July 13th, 2016

The Moog Mother 32 is a machine that seems able to insist on the turning of its frequency dial. “Sweep me up and down”, “mouth my frequency”. Resist, resist.

Other notable machines that cause similar traits of insiting on how they are used, are iconic machines such as the TB-303, TR-909, TR-808 the SH-101 and the list goes on.

Image

The Moog world of synthesis is one that I have had little experience or interest in when coming to my own music making. This is arguably due to never having used a Moog, or perhaps being able to afford anything branding the Moog logo. So when Moog began presenting a more affordable range of synthesizers, it’s not unreasonable to think my interest would grow. It didn’t.

When Moog annouced their Moog Mother 32, presenting a collection of beautiful demonstrations, something changed.

I am still working out what exactly changed for me from not being interested to owning a Mother 32, but I believe it is based on those key decisions made by a company in the production and marketing of a synth. The videos linked above are one such example, but also what specifically is on offer, how much or in my case, how little are aspects that I think sway me to click buy, or my wife to click buy as in the case of the Mothers :)

The Moog Mother 32 has just enough patching and sonic capabilities to keep you wanting more, and ensures a level of statisfaction that makes it both a joy and a challenge to work with.

The sequencer, although not immediately intuiative for a lazy type like me, does begin to make sense the more you play. Although the manual is incredibly clear, it’s playing that really helps with almost every aspect of this synth.

Today’s upload was a result of lots of exporation before settling on something very basic, tweaking that frequency dial like it wants me to. Although it could have easily gone into screaming frequency sweeping… that ain’t my thing. Manic frequency dial tweaking always sounds like lead guitarist solo-syndrome to me, and that’s not good or everyone except the man in the mirror.

501

June 29th, 2016

Today’s upload is from the Kawai K1 running through some reverb on the DP4. The K1 might be a poor mans Korg M1 to some, but an amazing synth for anyone who has dug into the editing. Those waves are extreme.

Image

I remember owning a Kawai K1 back when I was a kid, my older brother kindly gave it to me. I must have been barely in my early teens, and generally back then editing was pretty confusing. I understood some basics but rarely could understand what I had done when getting something good, which wasn’t often.

Much like most young kids with a keyboard at their finger-tips, I would spend most of my time playing it, mostly pads and repeated notes. I think even then John Carpenter was probably in my mind from enjoying various horror films I was lucky enough to watch with my older brother.

Alas, the synth didn’t stay long in my possession, mere weeks it seemed. It was replaced with an Amiga 500, again from my brother, who attempted to convince that this was always the deal. It wasn’t, but who was I to complain.

500

June 27th, 2016

Today’s upload is subtle shifting bass and resonant pulsation coming from two Moog Mother 32’s.

After hours of patching and exploring ways in getting them synced, I ended up pulling out all the patch cords and creating something basic that simply sounded ok.

Image

Complex patching or programming that sounds not nearly as interesting as it looks, is one of the biggest banes of modular synthesis and similar music making approaches. It is very easy to get lost in visual and conceptual complexity, and miss what sounds good.

There is the obvious desire to understand how something works, and the want to record something, but I find this is often based more out of a sense of acheivement, than it sounding good. Overtime I find that odd parts, abstract sounds, nothing substantial is recorded, and it becomes hard to recall or appreciate what has been learned over this time, possibly through the lack of not being able to listen back to good things.

To try and combat that feeling of slow pogress, or nothign to show when learning, I have been trying to remember to split my studio time into more parts, or at the very least be sure that in some form every part gets a slot. After long periods of time exerimenting, I find it’s worth recording something that is less a representation of what was being experimented with, and more something that is a result of studio time in general.

Overtime, recordings build up, tracks have been made, progress has been documented, without that feeling of nothing good to show for it.

499

June 23rd, 2016

Today’s upload is experimenting with patterns, drum sounds and fx, as much of what I do is. This one comes with a little bit of jamming on the desk, although only a small Mackie I am borrowing while I wait for the Soundcraft PSU to be fixed. The Mackie has dials instead of sliders, which I struggle with, but it’s yeilding some interesting results having limitations such as this.

Image

The patterns are coming from Supercollider, which is driving the Akai sampler full of 808 sounds, and the 101 is used just for that extra bass kick. Fx are, as always, the DP4.

There isn’t much going on, and nor should there be honestly, but I did find something interesting while recording this, as is often the case, so hopefully it is interesting to hear how that all comes together.

Enjoy.

Prev