Makrotulpa @ Vision Gallery

Here is the live recording from last nights performance at Visions Gallery.  Opening section is a bit dull but some nice stuff starts around the 7.00 mark if you’re getting bored.  After action report beyond…

So this was overall a very awesome gig.  The venue was really nice and inspiring.  Vision Gallery is a gallery within a large warehouse complex featuring a number of photographic, craft and artistic businesses.  Overall it is a very Brooklyn vibe but the gallery is a (Pan’s) labyrinth of intriguing SF/Fantasy art by Steve Bowerman.

view from Vision Gallery

The selection of artists curated by Browning Mummery evidenced a broad spectrum of gear-lust from circuit bent Casios to a Synthi VCS3.

Xin0 and her bent setup

Musically it was nice to see (and hear) a lot of very live electronic music, walking that tightrope, occasionally falling but always getting back up.  Dust Storm Jogger opened with minimalist beatscapes conjured from a couple of samplers, a loop station and a nice sounding Yamaha synth that looked like a Korg MS20 but sounded not so brittle.  I know Chelsea wasn’t feeling it and there were a few technical issues but the audience is readily forgiving when you can conjure complex synth / drum workouts reminiscent of early Squarepusher in real time.

Dust Storm Jogger and Shane Fahey's vintage gear

Similarly, Xin0 pulled real-time magic from the aforementioned bent casios, bent drum machines and an array of pedals.  Her aesthetic was a more post-punk sounding electronica with echoes of early Wall of Voodoo or Tuxedomoon.  Really nice.

Xin0 performing

Browning Mummery is working his new gear after the disastrous Audiopollen debacle and his approach has mellowed from the scratchy low-bit-rate industrial sounds to a more melodious polyrhythmic electronica that sounds unlike anything I can really pin-point – and a step in the right direction in my opinion.  Shane Fahey on the other hand produced one of the more brutal noise sets i’ve heard in a while with some awesome resonances drawn from the combined feedback of the Synthi, an Arp Odyssey, a Korg MS20 and bunch of crossed pedals including a BigMuff, MoogerFooger delay and KP3 Kaos pad.

Shane Fahey

My own performance was a bit sloppy but on the recording it doesn’t come across as bad as I thought at the time.  I’m essentially using Launchpad to control one Polysequencer in Numerology for each slot on the Nord Modular.  The iPad was running Audiobus with Samplr running through Turnado.  I had a few samples in Samplr setup which was good because for most of the set the Nord audio was not running through the iPad.  This is why the synthesised sections are rather sparse as they are only relying on the limited Modular G1 effects or the AM8000R.  In order to not have to stare at the Macbook i’m not using to host audio plugins – only for routing and MIDI – something easily monitored off the Launchpad however I forgot to check all the routings and it turns out I had the return amplitude up in Numerology but not the send 😦

I also brought my Sennheiser HD555 headphones for monitoring which was a really stupid idea.  They are open back for starters so I had to struggle to monitor what I was doing over the volume of talking punters.  It also has really horrible bass expansion which made me think it was coming through all muddy.  Apparently it wasn’t and the HD recording is, if anything, lacking in the bass department as a result.  I didn’t really want to bring the nice AKG K702s along but I probably would have been better off just going on the room sound in this case.

Niggles aside as a first step constructing something live with a minimum of prepared material I think the current setup is a successful proof of concept.  The only other really useful addition to this is a way to not have the external Macbook at all.  I’ve been toying with the idea of adding an old MacMini to the inside of the case to run Numerology.  Another possible solution is building a sequencer with a Raspberry PI type microcomputer to run the Launchpad but that sounds like a lot of work!

The next Makrotulpa release will feature elements and variations on the material performed live here, plus a bunch of other stuff.  Its current working title is “Inner Visions” in tribute to Nevill Drury who died recently.  His books introduced me to paganism as a teenager and as an adult I appreciate the links he makes between personal cosmologies, art and experience.

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