Monday, 15 October 2018

Curry Satisfaction

Yeah, I got the curry desires which weren't satisfied last weekend in Sheffield. Finally sorted them this evening - but it was a strange encounter with my only openly Brexiteer friend. We simply didn't discuss it or I think it would have been like when religion comes up with a certain other friend. Jeez. Very weird.

I can't help wondering if that's going to be the way of it in future though. Epic self-harm is brought about by misinformation and belligerence. Instead of dealing with it, sorting out the details and ramifications, we don't discuss it at all.

The curry was nice though. It's Monday morning and I've just bid it a fond farewell. Trying to get in the mood to go to the gym but the mood eludes me.
Things to do this week: fix Les's studio problem, check mum's OK, see John for tea and cake, get some shrooms, tackle at least one of the trees in the garden, do the Marbles review, start the Medusa review (assuming firmware update comes).

The last photo from a session we did just off the motorway. I say 'we' but I didn't participate. There's probably a link somewhere from Divkid's Youtube page.

I didn't talk about Synthfest did I? Well, in short, it was fab. I got to play a Grandmother and realise I don't need one. I would probably have bought an Odyssey desktop but they didn't bring any. I was left with a desire for a GR-1. Saw Dean's band and they were fab, hung out with some cool people and talked until my voice was a croak.

I realise that's not much of a summary. Oh, it was weird driving Kim's left hand automatic there and back but not excessively so. I probably grumbled about the traffic cos that's what I do.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Odd & Odder

Wednesday. Yeah, an odd day. First I noticed I'd forgotten to pay last month's credit card bill and then I was proved wrong on a spelling matter (faun, fawn) after a visit to a museum in Bolton. I will console myself this afternoon by polishing off some review stuff, or at least progressing it.

Sunday evening and Dean just sent through a new track that absolutely rocks, I love it. Different from the others perhaps but equally marvellous. I don't know how they do it but makes me very happy.

Did some housekeeping stuff - sending dry individual drums from tt-606 for another track, messed with review gear and did a few nice patterns, made copious notes, did simple test of a module with poor tracking to hopefully demo to creators. Used the not-exactly-perfect tonestar as reference.

Novel 'fantasy section' begun. Have most of it in my head, might need a writing binge to get it out in a short burst.

It's all good!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Morpheus almost fixed?

In one of my long-term projects, I thought I got the Morpheus working today. Fitted new battery, explored the diagnostic menu but kept getting MIDI failure. Thought that perhaps needed an out to in connection though. It was giving MIDI comms errors on the V-Synth when using its thru, suggesting the Morph's MIDI in was suspect (I'm guessing the thru is hardware but should verify).

Anyway, have got it working - but I remember my initial errors were MIDI-related, with it crashing when I played too many notes. Will do some tunes with it and see how it goes - but would be sweet to have it fully operational. Sadly I failed to back up any of my patches, many of which used poly AT. Oh well.

Should polish off a review or two but I have some novel ideas to progress.

Well, the novel ideas went well. I'm now much further ahead and ready to go back and comb a few chapters in order to progress. Good how things I had previously hinted at are coming through, almost as if there was a plan. I also managed to combine some LOTR satire with some social media nonsense and end up with a coherent version of Hell.

New tracks with Don and Dean, sounding fabulous. One of my original sequences badly recorded though, some bleed from one of the aux effects (I think) but fortunately Dean can fix anything.

Cirklon testing going well. New feature slipped in today that finally nails the Steve Reich thing and does it with rare elegance using Track Values. I think this update is gonna be a killer.

Seems the Morpheus not totally well. I'm getting some strange noises from it if I use its MIDI thru. Think it's going to have to go to Tony but may well be a goner. Replacement could be a second Blofeld, we'll see.

Hmm, can't even remember when I started this entry. Lots I could add - album progressing incredibly well, watching the art of production and seeing there's more magic in it than Ali Bongo's underpants.

I was persuaded to do another full length review. Actually it didn't take much as it's a thing Howard dragged me to see at Superbooth cos he knew it was up my street. Must get those Erica reviews done and I think I promised one of the MI ones too, although it has to be said I've promised it before. Time, where is it going????

Yep, it's that time of year again...

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Cirklon Days

Well, I have some more tracks to do for Don and did a couple today. Really digging into Cirklon patterns, something I've not done enough but for drums really enjoying them. New loop functions are handy and discovered it does a 'double & copy' which I'd never seen before. I should do a song-making video with some of the examples of scene-length patterns with the drums done specifically anticipating the next scene or playing a hit just once at the start. I have my Ck in permanent P3 Chain mode but want it permanent.

Two tracks finished, one is structured and the other performed - actually the other was done just as I was about to power off - decided to do a quickie putting the first ideas into action without thought. It's basic but has something, may refine tomorrow afternoon when getting hammered.

The new mixer is fab. Hadn't quite realised that the Control Room buttons not working meant the level LEDs also don't work, but coping fine. The extra auxes put to good use - instead of devoting the DD-20 to Blofeld it's now on Aux 4. Aux 3 is the internal effects and much better than the later model, weirdly enough. There's an ambience reverb I like and a couple of others I'll use. Extra bonus is I realised I can put the RC-505 on a bus and use it as an effects unit as well as a looper. Works a treat. Might be nice to use a bus output at some point too but we'll see how it goes. The two tracks I recorded today sound good. Still loving that TT-606 - just what I needed.

Jasper seeming pretty happy today. Waiting for lab results and hoping he's OK.

Monday, 10 September 2018


I admit to being excited about the current project with Don and Dean. Ordinarily I don't voice my excitement but this material is sounding so good I want to shout about it already. My simplistic sequencer patterns become magical songs once Don works on them, and they edge towards masterpiece territory when Dean gets his hands on them. From humble beginnings eh?

Tomorrow I'll be starting a new one, enthused and eager.

I started a 7 day b&w twitter challenge. Not my best work but mind on other things.

Well, it's been a good week. I finished the Erica Drum Sequencer review, made real progress with Cirklon patterns thanks to the new loop function and ability to set odd lengths at last. I also got past a sticking point in the novel which should sustain me now, although I'll have to rework a lot of the material I'd sketched out for the final third. Happy with how it's all looking, even if it got rather serious and will probably keep getting darker now until the end. It's also a proper ending to Future Art Factory, which I doubt many will see coming. Many isn't a word I can apply to my readers, of course.

Jasper is off to the vet tomorrow. Slightly worried as he's old and we didn't really want him knocked out, but no way to avoid it. I think more teeth need to come out and his nose needs looking into. 

Now I'm working with the improved Cirklon patterns I'm starting to think of interesting MIDI polysynths again. I have plenty of Euro now, enough to keep me going for a long time.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Summer's End

OK not today but in a day or so. Actually the sun seems to have returned, which is just as well as a builder is 'speed-pointing' the whole house. It's been a messy business though as his Henry died and was unable to suck. Hughie next door is away but I know he'll be unhappy when he sees how much dust has sprayed onto his walls - will try and clean some tomorrow if we can work out how.

It'll soon be shrooming season, perhaps already. A task for weekend methinks.

Cool box of modules turned up today from Erica Synths, spent a short time getting acquainted but looking forward to much more over the coming days. I really like the box too.

Oh, the book is done. I got up at 6am the other morning to do a last quick read through as much as possible. Spotted a few last minute things, relieved to have Diana on board as she is far better at that kind of thing than I am. My contributions were minor this time but the result will be absolutely fine and probably more generally popular than the first one because of the subject matter.

Slug problem in library persists. Some trails evident on Electribe this morning. Not happy. I guess the pointing won't fix it because they're getting in somewhere, the feckers.

Good Ck update - my shortcuts now apply to Ck patterns too and Colin has finally tried and likes them. Hopefully the start of adding more of that kind of thing. New beta has a couple of useful features but Colin clearly needs a proper master keyboard.

Almost nothing happened today. I sussed out the Drum Sequencer though, progressed the beta, replaced JV-2080 battery and cleaned Hughie's wall. Fair to say it's probably not a day I'd store away in the Golden Vaults but then again the sun came out, I had a nice walk with Jasper and Pat made some lovely pasta/sausage/pesto creation for tea (which I overindulged in). The tuner arrived, which should mean I don't struggle so much to tune the modular. Still seem stupid that so many modules just have these large tuning knobs that are only good for goofy sweeps and which half the time I try never to touch.

Tomorrow is unlikely to be a traditional Friday as I reckon the pointing will take most of the day. Will work on review instead and play with Cirklon.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Some modular tips and general old man moans

Well, the work on the modular book is almost complete, just tweaking an interview this morning before my Friday afternoon indulgence. I wrote some tips at the outset, just in case they were needed, but seems they won't be. Mine are more generic than those appearing anyway so I'll paste them here for no very good reason.
I also just knocked up a sort of P3 Playlist discussion document that I should put somewhere too, since the potential of playlists seems to have passed most people by.
I bought another bandcamp download - from a guy who has got 'Michael Hoenig sequencing' nailed. Unfortunately, he forgot that Departure From The Northern Wastelands was composed, varied and had a lot more going for it than simply repeating the formula on 4 long tracks. It's rather headache-inducing but arguably as interesting as 'Early Water' ;)

Can't decide whether to make today a 'program the Blofeld' day or more explorations of Marbles and Stages.

Oh, I cancelled my Moog Grandmother. They are now saying another couple of months and since I paid up in May, thought I'd get the money back and have it sit in my account. I may eventually get one but then again I may not. Nice to see Gordon's review as being the only one so far to make a point of mentioning the filter being different. He did the usual Keith Emerson thing, of course, so I still don't know if I could do TD-type sequences with it. Enjoyed reading reviews by Simon and Rory, means I can happily slide into the background and not leave a gap. Splendid!

A pleasant day droning produced this on the Synthi, Perfourmer and Morphagene:

Modular Tips #1

Creative use of panning
Remember that panning need not be reserved for moving audio around the stereo spectrum. It can be a means of moving it smoothly between different processing options. A panning module with a CV input will allow you to use dynamics, an envelope, randomness etc. to determine the processing your signal receives - and simple ideas such as morphing between reverb or delay are only the start.

You can never have too many...
Envelopes - especially if they have a complex or voltage-controllable shape. Try triggering them randomly, sparsely or in quirky patterns to modify tone, generate sudden flurries of modulation or unexpected accelerandos of delay time.
After a while you might consider planning more complex trigger conditions for them, varying their gate lengths or nicking the Krell's technique of randomizing envelope times. Envelope-sourced pixie dust is usually less predictable than the LFO-sourced variety and can generate pleasant surprises to punctuate any manual performance or sequence.

Re-use modulation sources
One of the great temptations in a growing modular system is to use all your modulation sources most of the time. Yes, you can add movement, unpredictability and wild variation if you patch in every LFO you've got. However, this can have the same effect as filling a pallete with every colour then pretending you really wanted another variation on 'filthy brown'.
Fewer modulation sources creatively spread around (e.g. inverted, attenuated, multiplied and generally repeated) can add clarity and identity to your patches. Knowing when a patch is 'done' keeps the brown at bay and is a true sign of modular mastery.

Floating Multiples
I bought too many of these once then realised how useful it is to have lots around. Not only are they always in the right place, unlike regular multiples, but they serve as brilliant cable extenders. Having a lot of them means you can almost treat them like stackables, those ununsed holes want to be used. Helps with the previous tip.

Which leads to...

Use fewer modules but interact with them more.
It's wonderful to spend an afternoon patching up a monster drone to evolve over several ice ages without being touched and without repeating - let's keep doing that, obviously! But hands-on interaction and resistance to over-patching leads to a better rapport with your modules and a deeper grasp of their range and personality. Then, when you do turn to external modulation, you'll have a more instinctive grasp of what to expect.

Remember: for the price of a 4-channel Eurorack mixer module with token CV control but limited functionality otherwise, consider buying a decent 12-16 track external mixer with EQ, multiple auxes and buses, maybe internal effects and, of course, large friendly sliders. One day someone will make one that's fine-tuned for Eurorack levels and connectivity.


Try things that make no sense.
Like electing Trump or voting for Brexit. Admittedly, you might be speeding up the Global Apocalypse. But maybe after all the pain something good will spontaneously happen that those cautious, boring, whining, sane people never predicted.