December 9th, 2013

Remember the things that make you smile.


I am happy.

Today I picked up something that I have been pondering over buying for a little while now. And while the thought was there, it was for something that I’m not really in a position to afford at the moment. Still, I said to myself I am only buying it if it’s very cheap, quite convinced I probably wouldn’t be so lucky. Well, luck was on my side.

So the Atari 1040 STE has finally found a home back in my studio. I first owned one many years ago, back in my teens. First I had the STE which was replaced with the Mega STE. This machine was what I created most of my music on, in a period that was filled with music writing. ‘The grid’ as I used to call it, would slowly play havoc with my mind, after hours and hours, day after day creating music. Although, having said that, this was also a time I found coffee.

So for todays upload, I very quickly knocked together a little groove, something very, very simple, but already I feel I can hear that sound I have missed for a long time. You might be mistaken in thinking you know what that sound is, but I am not so sure. I am not so sure it is all that audible, if at all. It is something about the using the Atari that allows sounds to be heard differently while creating with them.

I have had these thoughts of how machines influence our creativity, and how machines have been massively reduced or abstracted over the years, what with the introduction of more software based products. For sure, Cubase is certainly the beginning of this phase, being also software based. Although for some reason, a software, this specific software, this specific version, is associated with the Atari STE. For this reason I personally see them as a machine. A combination of components working in perfection.

This idea of perfection is often thought of in that things should be perfect, i.e. faultless. I think that although this is true, the problem here reveals how we feel about faults, or what we consider faults at all.

I have sat with the Atari this evening, hour after hour passed trying to get a version of Cubase to work so I could bring you something special tonight. Hours of messing around with formatting disks, programmes not working, bombing (now that shows how geeky you are) until eventually it works. But still, there is more to do. I have to move it into the studio, a massive space is required and so moving everything around and it’s in. But still, no there is more. I have to fell my way around this software again. The cursor is slow, the edits don’t move right, the mouse seems to need miles. I add notes and they appear somewhere else, I forget every time I add a new track it increase the midi channel, leaving my confused when I can’t get sound in the edit screen. Everything is so simple, so clunky. The mouse itself is a brick, connected by a wire no less.


And yet, it is perfect.

I have to slow down, I have to consider, I can spend that time listening. And if nothing else but the sound of that space bar, bringing a smile to my face… that is what it’s all about. That is was makes music sound great. That relationship, that purpose in machinery.

I have a big yellowing box that takes up more space on my desk that almost anything else, and yet it does what it does, perfectly.

Remember what makes you smile, and cling on to it for dear life, as to be honest, life isn’t worth living if you are dodging your happiness.

Lastly, tonights upload. A quick tweak of my 808 kit, sequenced and jammed on the Atari, muted sequencing here, stopping with that ‘sexy bar of space’ (now that’s a track title). Anyway, let’s get it up before midnight. Enjoy.