Makro / Hetlev – an improvised duet

Ahah – so I said i’d never post here again and I lied!  Well i’m a musician not a politician!

I thought it might be appropriate to post some “liner notes” to the Makro / Hetlev release just out on Bandcamp.

Paul on the left – Lloyd on the right

Makro / Hetlev is Paul Forbes Mitchell and myself.  We’ve worked together and played live together before.  Here is our previous release and here is a powerless jam we did for Earth Hour.  The idea behind this project was to explore an improvisational format with the Nord Modular systems.

Paul’s gear consists of a Nord Micromodular, a Korg Electribe E

Paul's suitcase
Paul’s suitcase

R1, EHX Reverb and Pulsar pedals,  two Raspberry Pi modules loaded with Pure Data operated via Korg NanoKontrols, and a Zoom H1 for samples and room feedback.

In one of the jam sessions there was also a contact mic and an old Gramaphone.  Here is a closer picture of the PDPi modules.

PDPi Modules in Lego
PDPi Modules in Lego

With the NanoKontrol MIDI input he is controlling loops, filters and granulation in Pure Data patches on the tiny Raspberry Pi boards.  The Elektribe controls the Nord Modular.  I’m not real sure what how things are fed but it creates some beautiful chaos.  Here’s my stuff…

Lloyd's setup
Lloyd’s setup

My side is comparatively simpler.  I’m running the Nord Modular Editor in VMWare on my Macbook Air.  It is connected to the G1 Rack via a Roland UM-One Mk2 MIDI cable (these are fussy synths needing high-bandwidth midi for the editor controls).  In this way I can edit the patches pretty quickly while I’m playing with the Nord.  The Arturia Beatstep provides the MIDI for three separate channels in this case.  Sequencer mode outputs on MIDI channel 10, top row of pads output on MIDI ch1, bottom is MIDI ch2.  In this way I can juggle three separate patches in real-time.  The G1 sequencer channel runs to a stereo bus on the Phonic 6-Channel Mixer as does Paul’s stuff.  Mono Channels 1 and 2 feature a separate monophonic feed which can be panned as required.

Then everything gets recorded to a Zoom H4n for editing. I’ve cut down about 150mins into the chunk of 50 or so you are possibly listening to now.  A few nips and tucks, EQ, level adjustments, saturation and stereo widening but for the most part I chose the stronger tracks and just edited them down into semi-coherence.  As is the nature of improvisation it doesn’t always neatly fit into a headphone shaped stereo image so I highly recommend playing loudly through speakers.  It was great fun and I think the material demonstrates the flexibility of the Nord Modular systems (and the PDPi’s let’s be honest – how many awesome micro granular pedals are there?)

For our next project we are considering leaving the Nords at home and focusing on Arduino and Shnth for even more lo-fi improv alchemy maybe closer to the One Earth Hour piece.  Until then…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s