A Return to Form

Yes, this little fiend will be performing, too.

I’ve been saying I’d do this for a while, but I finally just sat down and got all the pieces working so that I could do it. Next week, I will attempt to live stream an industrial/ambient performance via Twitch (https://twitch.tv/NoiseTheorem) and subject you all to what it is I do when I’m home alone and going slowly stir crazy.

I’m still putting together exactly what I plan to do, but I’ve got the basics. I know its going to be, mainly, the Akai Force running the show with a little help from the Korg WaveState and DSI Pro 2. I also moved the Roland TR-8s over to the work area, so expect it to be involved (Playing back samples taken from the DrumBrute).

I don’t know how long I will play for, but I’m going to shoot for 30 to 40 minutes. We will see if I can actually do that after so long having been away from long form improv. I don’t expect a huge audience for this, and I think I’d be amazed if more than a handful of people appreciate it. I miss doing this sort of thing, though, so….why the fuck not do it?

Here is the facebook event link, and a link to may page..just in case:

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/503416553870713/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NoiseTheorem/

EDIT: Since someone asked who refuses to use FaceBook, the broadcast is planned for Saturday, April 11 @10 p.m. CDT.

The Quarantine Project

While stuck, like everyone else, in semi-quarantine-work-from-home-bullshit, I decided to do what all good drone musicians do and prepare a live stream for you to quietly ignore. I’ve been picking the gear, collecting sounds, and just generally fucking around every chance I get (which is a lot of chances lately).

At first, the rig was going to be the WaveState, MPC One and Behringer DeepMind 12. After some discussions on social media, a lot of people said they wanted to see what the Force could do more than the One so I swapped that out. Not sure that’s the best choice for me, and maybe that says something about where I should put my focus in the future, but for now the Force will be the center piece.

After a few sessions, I decided the broadcast rig needed to be a bit more weird than the DM12 could get me, so I swapped it for the DSI Pro 2. it will also be better if both synths have their own keyboards for MIDI routing reasons. If I can figure out where to put it, having the DM12 in the rig would still be really nice in case I need some NOT super weird analog sounds in there (which is likely). Unfortunately, the Ikea shelf I made this stand table out of is only so long.

After a day playing with it, this is a scary powerful setup.

The Akai Force is an interesting beast to work with. It doesn’t have quite the same flow as the MPC despite running very similar operating systems. It does have some *very* nice conveniences the MPC doesn’t have, though (like a SELECT button that lets you select a pad to edit without also triggering it to play – essential in a live context) and those make up for it. It’s physically HUGE playing surface takes getting used to.

The Pro 2 is an obvious choice because of it’s almost modular nature. 4 oscillators, 2 filters, 4 LFO’s and a modulation step sequencer. It’s as close to a portable modular with patch memory as you can get

The WaveState is on another level from the DSI. Being so new, I still don’t fully get all that it can do, but it’s DEEP. Contrary to popular belief, it’s anything but a one-trick pony, since you can also use it as a straight S+S rompler or vector synthesizer. The pads that fall out of it are very, very good.

The last thing I need to work out with this rig is mixing. Right now, the big Mackie is on the otherside of the studio along with my Axe FX III and Lexicon Reverb. I may have to move that rack closer somehow, but I don’t know where it will fit. Maybe a small format stereo line mixer for the rack next to me is in order. I could use the Mackie 1402 and just not use the bum channels, but that’s a lot of desk space I don’t have. I will have to ponder further.

I am hoping to be set with material for a performance sometime within the next week. Once I’m set on the material, Ill setup an event on my NoiseTheorem facebook page for it (also need to figure out the platform…possibly Twitch). More details to come.

…But other than that Mrs. Lincoln…

So. I could talk about it, but I’m not going to. You’ve probaby heard enough about it and, like me, could use a little break. So lets talk about something else.

Now that I am, like many of you, living in a state-imposed social distancing exercise, I thought it would be time to get back to that internet streaming thing I did way back that was so fun and even somewhat successful. What form this will take or what service I’ll use I’m not sure yet. Twitch maybe? Everyone talks about twitch…

The first question to be answered will be the choice of tools. I’ll almost definitely be using the Korg Wavestate and recently reacquired Sequential Pro 2 . I should really pick only one of either the Akai MPC One or Force….but that’s a damn hard choice for a number of reasons (evidenced by my still having both despite their obvious overlap). The modular will be there…and the Axe FX.

For this exercise, I’m going to need some sounds. I put out a call on facebook, but didn’t get much. I might go running around the house tonight making (quiet) noises into my field recorder and go with that. Or maybe I should get back to my roots and lift every sound effect out of a classic Sci-Fi movie. So many choices.

Because they say you should involve your audience to drive engagement, here is a list of the gear I could use. Which one would you most like to hear:

  • Korg Wavestate
  • DSI Pro2
  • Korg Prophecy
  • DSI PolyEvolver
  • Akai Force
  • Akai MPC One
  • Roland TR-8s
  • Waldorf Blofeld
  • Behringer DeepMind 12

If I knew how to create a poll, I’d do that…but I don’t. So put your suggestions in the comments.

Inspired

Working, working, working

Lately, I’ve been on a creative tear. I’ve committed 5 songs to my next album over the period of mid January until now (late February). Only one of those tracks was written before that. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I hope I can keep the momentum a while.

I’ll of this is leading towards my next album, which I’ve got the title for. I’ve also found the perfect album cover for it, though I need to wait on licensing information before I can be sure it will be what I want. For that, I’m waiting on NASA, and it just brings me so much joy to write those words.

At the rate I’m working, I’m expecting a late March or early April release. That’s amazing to me. And I really LOVE the work. Hopefully, you will too.

New Release: Graveyard of forgotten gods

So…I think I forgot to tell all (4) of you that I finished and released a short 3 song EP. I had to get it out and get it done so I could move past it. I mean…8 years between albums is not a rate of release I am happy about. These three songs have literally been hanging around for *years* waiting to get out.

Releasing an album is not an easy thing to do. It brings up all of the insecurities and anxieties that come with being an artist. When you listen to it, you only hear the finished work. When I hear it, I hear all the things it could have been, but that I didn’t have the skills, will, or tools to make it happen. But its out there now, and it is what it is. I hope you enjoy it.

Quick Shot: Behringer Neutron

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I’d never really played with an analog modular synth until I had a trifecta of amazing instruments in my studio on-loan from a friend while he lived in Europe. These synths were the Cwejman S1 mk2, Macbeth M5 and an Evenfall Minimodular. (I’d had both Clavia modulars, but they are very different experience). 
 
Of the three, oddly, the one that left the most impression was the Evenfall. It was small and light and just fun to play with. I spent hours making drone patches on it that I’d just let play in the background while I worked at my desk.
 
The Behringer Neutron reminds me a LOT of that experience. Its also small and light, but has far more on offer than the Evenfall did.   Its fun to just setup on it’s own and let it drone on for a bit, let it surprise you as it modulates away.  
I’ll echo what other have said, that the oscillators are very nice and worth the price by themselves.   The Filter is also really good and unique.    I don’t generally care for Overdrive and so I’ve mostly bybassed it (which you will want to do if you’re not using it).  The Delay is OK.
I’d also like to comment on its build quality.  Everyone seems to have it in their head that Behringer makes cheap crap that is made to fall apart.   I’m not so sure that’s the case here.  The knobs and switches feel as good as any I’ve played on any of my other eurorack modules (better, in some cases).  Do I think it will last 100 years? No…but what built in 2019 IS built to last that long?  It feels more rubust than the Minibrute 2S which is sitting next to it.
So, I’m excited to work with this little thing.  At a low cost, it gave me a lot more modular muscle to play with, and will integret seemlessly with the big rig.   I love it. Go get one.

Studio Blog, 2019-11-14

The STG Envelope Generator. Deep, yet accessible.

Tonight’s studio time was split between putting the Rubicon II through its paces and attempting to put together and play a set of live music. It was a good night, all in all. I’m really looking forward to putting it all together.

As I’ve commented before, I am not a fan of the way some Eurorack manufactures have decided to attack the second hand market by releasing MKII and even MKIII versions of their products. This has an effect of devaluing their earlier versions on the second hand market and making it near impossible to sell a MKI version unless you let it go at a ridiculous price. This is shortsighted, I think, because while the manufacture gets new product buzz with minimal effort, it also sticks a lot of users of the old version with the old piece and they may not be willing to dump at a low price to upgrade.

I’m mentioning this because the module I was testing tonight is the Rubicon II, which has been out for a while. I had the original Intellijel Rubicon, and it’s in the top 5 as far as eurorack oscillators go, in my opinion. I hesitated to sell it to get the Rubicon II for a long, long time because, well…see all I stated above. The over night depreciation caused by the Rubicon II meant I wanted to get more time out of my investment before flipping it at that kind of a loss. So now, a couple years after the Rubicon II was released, I finally bit the bullet and bought it.

Overall, I really like the Rubicon II, except for one really annoying ‘feature’. Instead of having a continuous course pitch knob, they have implemented an octave switch and a course knob that gives over about an octave or so range. I *hate* this arrangement. I can see its convenience for some, but being able to sweep the pitch by hand is something I actually do when I’m performing on the modular.

Aside from that, the things they added are nice. I haven’t gotten to deep dive into the more esoteric corners of its capabilities, but I can say it sounds damn good and the panel layout makes sense.

…But I’m still not sure I’ll sell the Rubicon I.

Live set.

The second part of the evening was spent trying to run through a live set on the MPC Live and Force. For the most part, it went pretty smoothly. I identified problems in the second track, and I’ll probably try to go for a fourth. I’m not sure I need to bring the modular/satellite rig after all, since the MPC and Force seem to have plenty to keep the ears interested. I am considering trying to take a track or two from the Dust album and see I can find a way to perform them that makes sense.

The first track is, right now, the best of the set. It was the first in the series that I wrote on the MPC Live, and it’s one of my stronger pieces.

I am trying to figure out what it is this second track needs. I keep thinking ‘voices’ as the answer, but I am not sure what form those should take. The song as a title and a theme, so I’d have to find something consistent with that them (and, as usually, my theme is dark and obscure).

The third track is written entirely on the Force and I’m not sure how well it goes with the first two. It’s much more structured and ‘industrial’ sounding. I need to pair that one down a bit. I think it runs the risk of being to…composed..if that’s the right word. My work sounds best to me when I focus on the interplay of sounds rather than try to construct sophisticated melodies. I need work with that strength and stay focused.

Over the weekend, I’m going to sit down and think about how to make the second two tracks better. Maybe I should go dust off my bass?