Wednesday, 28 October 2020

JD / P3 / Electribe Sampler

 Turns out the P3 is a perfect MIDI mixer for the JD-XA. It can supply sequences if I want to program old-style too. Had a good old romp with it this afternoon. Tomorrow I think I'll go back to the Digitone setup - fancy sampling some theremin. 
I think I agreed to write the GR-1 review. Probably good for me to do something, plus some people will be like me and really appreciate it. 

Nice Friday photo of Jasper. That's his tail by the way. 

Good sesh doing mellow dubby tunes. That was Friday. Saturday I sat and wrote 2,000 words about the GR-1. Another sesh should give me most of the review - then it should just be filling in a few details and a conclusion and it'll not be far off done. 

Got another Talk Talk CD. There's a track on it that has a very similar feel/vibe/groove/whatever to a track I did in 1981 called 'Going On'. This is better though. A band I feel bad for not knowing much about, typical me.

Went for a brief shrooming trip and found a promising site. Back novel pottering and contemplating stuff aimlessly. Grand!

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Mid-week suppressed shriek

 We should have gone walking yesterday by the look of things. Instead I finally got round to fitting the JD-XA replacement mod wheel. 

Interesting that the synth is literally divided into two - the green digital board and red analogue. Now it's all working, I have no excuse not to start programming sounds on it. I dearly wish I'd kept the sounds I made when reviewing it as I did quite a lot of atmospheric paddy stuff, as well as using the analogue section for the usual basses, solos and wibbles. I've programmed just a handful of basic things on it since getting it - I mean to address that because the sounds that are in it truly suck. There are lots of banks online but I think I'll avoid those unless I run out of ideas. 

I bought the entire catalogue of a guy called State Azure - very polished, beautifully-produced and thoroughly crafted music. I sometimes discover people like this and it makes me wish I'd adopted an entirely different work ethic decades ago. This whole 'effectus super absolutionem' thing could easily be seen not as some artistic statement about being in the moment but more like stoner laziness. Oh well, not to worry. ;)
Edit: OK, I've listened to maybe half a dozen of the albums and the perfection is starting to grate. It's becoming almost as hard to sit through as that vampire thing I tried to watch (the Originals), in which every cast member was a perfect example of human beauty. It's not that I crave ugliness or imperfection, but I sure do need the whole range if I'm to feel anything. Sure it will be fine as long as I don't listen to too much in one go. 

Oh good. We removed the seat cover because Jasper wiped his arse on it. Sneaky sod has sat on the coverless chair and wiped his arse on that too. This arse thing is not going to go away. I could have taken a photo but I spared you that. 

Have to say I had fun this afternoon. JD-XA partners with Electribe Sampler perfectly. The two together, the JD as master remembering all the tempii are enough to be a setup by itself. Deliberately not bolting it onto the Octatrack-based rig which is next to it. Sequencer is fine for beaty Berlin; the 8 internal parts cover this adequately. Still a couple of issues - e.g. I sometimes find it confusing muting tracks when you really wanted to mute sequencer output. Maybe Elektron and Sequentix have spoilt me there. You don't get the natural decays which is a pain and when muted you can't then play the part from the keyboard (unless I miss something). Also hard to differentiate visually which parts are muted and which are selected to be played on keyboard due to way colours are handled. The mute seems to trump the green flash of sequencer play. Oh well. 

Um, anyway. I'm getting back into it and the things I like about it. Also, the arpeggiator works properly - doesn't stop when sequencer stops, doesn't need sequencer running for it to work, you can start sequencer to join in with it etc. All the stuff many companies are clueless about.

Today was meant to be an ascent of Pendle but it's raining so we decided to slob. Leaves me another noodly afternoon so time to go shopping for beer, dog food, sushi...

Had a weird extended dream last night in which I had murdered someone (an old colleague from F.Arts days) and, five years later, the car I'd hidden, maybe with the body in it, had come to light. Quite intense and believable; each time I woke up I was asking myself whether I had really done it and, if so, what I'd done with the body. Each time I drifted off, the dream continued from where it had left off. 

Someone pointed me to a Youtube version of an old track - but with a cover I don't recall seeing before. Had forgotten this has an official release actually. 

Whereas this one I do remember... one of my early oil paintings on the cover. 

Monday, 19 October 2020

Friday again

I know. What I don't know is how it keeps happening.

Today was very lovely. I did three variations on a piece that could form the basis of a full piece. Really loving that you store the last temp you did in the Digitone. Being able to switch to a new pattern that's 1BPM faster is really cool. Recorded loops in CS, GR-1 which I added to a Digitone piece. 

Saturday morning and I'm thinking I drank both of my Desperados yesterday. Today I might not drink. Caspian (Pat's horse) has Cushings. This is a disease of the pituitary gland and, while manageable to an extent, is progressive and incurable. Vet gives him between 2 and 5 years. So that's a downer, but slightly better than the earlier possibilities. 
At least Jasper's arse worked well today. The steroid plus occasional paracetamol (crushed then mixed with milk and squirted in via a syringe is the optimum way to get this in) should hopefully keep him going. Animals eh?

Missed seeing my mum on Sunday but gave her a lift to the hospital today. It was another farce though - waited for an hour then they just looked at her and said to come back in a month. Makes you wonder what was the point of the first doctor looking and sending her for the treatment. While there I took a photo of myself reflected in the gearstick. Yeah. 

Think we're going up Pendle this week. Need a good workout. In the meantime, here's a photo or two from yesterday...

Thursday, 15 October 2020

BlackBox, Reface CS, a small move-around

 Decided I was too reliant on the P3 and maybe getting set in my ways. So I moved it out for a while and put the Digitone in - as both sound module and MIDI sequencer. Keep forgetting its ability to sequence and, while it's no P3, it's different. 

My new little setup might kick out the Electribe in order to be more mellow and less groove-oriented. Adding grooves is always so easy and I tire of them. Just attempting to work a bit differently for a while. The Reface CS can be the controlling synth and be sequenced, along with the JX03 and possibly the 0-coast. Will keep the little modular case with Mageneto in it, plus the BlackBox for ambient captures. Oh and the GR-1. Heh it's not such a small setup after all I suppose. The 101 is still close by ready for its sequences to be captured too.

Some BB support guy got in touch and I've emailed some more details, plus I repeated the exercise and kept both before and after projects in case they want to repeat the exercise too. Experienced a big slow-down in saving yesterday which someone else had reported too. Fingers crossed this ain't gonna turn out to be a turkey...

A worthwhile afternoon passed by. Set up the Digitone to sequence four things (0-Coast, JX, GR-1 and CS) and even set up 8 CCs of the CS to be sequenced too, modulated by the LFO and conditionally trigged. Going to be very effective. When I get a good thing, I can grab a loop - gotta be in even bar numbers if it's to be a looping clip. Not so bad though and means I can get some fairly exotic stuff captured to sync up with Digitone. Probably would only use MIDI tracks to create audio loops then mute, to keep it simple. All rather splendid really - got some mad sequenced sounds from the CS by using the synced Digitone LFO to do stuff to parameters its LFO doesn't touch. 

Our walk this week was the Tolkien Trail around Hurst Green. Much shorter than the walk book suggested and very muddy. Got back really early and didn't quite know what to do with myself. Pat's horse appears to have a neurological problem, possibly caused by a blow to the head. Doesn't look good. What with Jasper's arse and Caspian's head, our old animals are starting to look rather shaky. Heartbreaking and somewhat depressing. 

Dear old Robson Green and his extreme fishing continue to pay me reliably. This quarter there's almost 60% of my PRS income from overseas. I should get a decent pair of binoculars since there's no music gear I can think of right now. 

A different selection to the ones on farcebook

Starting to think of the music I might make with my little minimal setup. Working with the Blackbox is turning me more towards playing long audio parts and reducing the role of the sequencer - gonna see what I can do with the Digitone for drifting chords and more natural playing, even if I record its audio into the BB. Maybe the Tolkien Trail inspired me after all but I'm definitely drifting towards the High Elf vibe.

Monday, 12 October 2020

Friday frolics

 This is me toonised on top of being toonised. No excuse, I know.

Beer and ambient mush and trying the song mode today. Not touching 'clean' again. No response on the forum yet which is disappointing. OK, it's Sunday now and someone responded - but didn't appear to understand any of what I'd said. Sorta confirms the BlackBox is for the app generation. 

I did get the song mode to record starting and stopping of sequences. It doesn't appear to record the hitting of pads though to trigger clips, so if you want that you need to have a sequence do it. Problem with that is you then lose the toggle mode for manual playing. Still not totally sure how/if I'm gonna incorporate sequences at all. They're useful in some contexts - but maybe not for the generally ambient / drone use I have mostly planned. 
I did really like slicing up long samples yesterday though. I sliced a 128 bar 101 solo into pieces then had a sequence play bits of it back using the 'random' method. Given you can put slices where you want, it's almost like what the V-Synth does in terms of stepping through waveforms. Suspect that will be very useful. Need to try it on even longer recordings and see if it's fast enough to cope selecting random start points in, say, a 30 min section. 

Back to Jasper having a swollen arse this weekend and him waddling around for ages trying to shit. Starting to fear this could be his life from now on and questioning whether that's fair. Not easy. Upping his steroids, gave him some paracetamol and will contact vet in morning. 

Here's a lousy photo of a rainbow. Yeah, not been out much this week. 

It's Monday, PRS is up and - yet again - a good one. I can't understand it but perhaps all these repeats will keep my old programmes going round and round. Wild huh?
I felt a bit at a loose end not having any writing to do - so I started with more tweaks and edits to the novel. I could probably do it forever. 

Thursday, 8 October 2020


 Well, it is. Pat's on a horse thing in some remote place for a few days and she's left me enough food so I don't even need to go out if I don't want to. Actually I'll need dog food and beer so just watching for the rain to ease. 

I think the Blackbox arrives today although it's not tracked so who knows. Woulda got from Rubadub as they use DPD but was out of stock there. 

Oh, here's me in my nice new cardie. Pat's been working on it for ages as her thumbs are really sore these days. It's an awesome labour of love. 

Well, I was getting into the Blackbox when the power went out. Yep, so we'll see what it saved tomorrow when I power up again. Seeming pretty good so far though, easily grabbed a long ambient loop from the GR-1 then various ambient mulch recordings. Connected to bus 3/4 of the mixer so I can grab all sorta of fun stuff and assemble into something. 
The Akai Force finally got its Arrange window update today. Looks really comprehensive - still waiting for the long audio file streaming though, as far as I can tell. 

Pat away, I can play. Looked on BB card - some decent loops actually and some field recordings. Lots of the usual shite but good to find anything I am drawn to. Long recordings worked and saved. Will suss more tomorrow but optimistic. 

It's Thursday now. Yesterday did quite a bit of cool stuff - then lost it to a seemingly buggy 'clean' process which wiped not only the wavs not being used but also half a dozen that were. Felt a bit despondent and gave up for a bit. Was also struggling with tightly syncing loops - there always seems to be a bit of a delay when recording them which, when they loop, introduces definite flamming when played against the source. That and the fixation with 4/4 might mean I only use it for more ambient stuff. 

That's me 'toonised'. No, I have no idea why either. Friday tomorrow. Will either suss out some shit or I won't. Still faffing with basics on BB so haven't tried song mode yet. 

Friday, 2 October 2020


 Bandcamp Friday and we put out the new Headshock

I expect it won't appeal to the people who generally like my stuff since it's live jams made in 2016 when exploring the TR8 and Minilogue. Mastering by Dean is fab and Tim did a very cool cover image so perhaps it'll be a grower. So far my old tossed-out 'The Path' is selling a few, which is weird as I put it up for pay-only-if-you-really-insist. 

Had some shocking news from a friend the other day which was another dreadful episode in his life this year. Alas too far away for actual hugs and writing text reveals as many limitations in me as in the medium. Hope he's OK. 

Osmose looks like not being available this year after all. And with PRS due I might indulge in a 1010music Blackbox. As a repository of the audio I'm generating on the GR-1 actually but keep thinking there will be something better along, hopefully with full-sized jacks. It's the same price as an Akai MPC too but I suspect the focus on streaming long audio files will suit me better. A simpler thing so tis.

Gonna do some noodling this afternoon. I moved Tony's analogue chorus so it mushes up the GR-1 (now being processed by that, the Xone analogue filter, Tony's delay, two DD-20s and the OTO BAM). You can tell that's where my focus lies. I also moved in the Microsampler so I can start sampling bits of it to arrange in its sequencer. In that context the Blackbox would seem to make a lot of sense.

One of our better covers, courtesy Mr Rafferty.

Jasper arse not great in the evening. Yesterday evening he shat and I lay next to it without realising. Not Covid, just a generally shit sense of smell.

The sky just now (Friday, 17:30)

I think I did a new ambient GR-1 album. Best leave it on ice for a bit.