Working towards simplicity with embedded complexity

Something new from the latest setup.  I’ve been finding it very hard to start working on music – I feel like i’m constantly dabbling and want to be producing.  So I’ve optimised my setup further towards an encouraging workflow.

Over the last couple of years i’ve tried numerous DAWs and have come to the conclusion that I’m spending far too much time learning new approaches and debugging.  “Lloyd the educator” has to use Audition and ProTools and Logic for work but these systems just don’t really work for “Lloyd the artist”.  Thinking about the systems that have provided me the best balance of creativity, complexity and ease of use I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to stick with Ableton Live + Max/MSP and Numerology 4.   For mixing and mastering I’ve found ProTools and Logic don’t offer me any major advantages over Reaper so i’m back to that as well.

More controllers / less mousing!
More controllers / less mousing!

A picture of my latest setup.

What you can’t see is my Mac Mini running Numerology 4.  Num 4 with Launchpad S is seriously the best controller to software interface i’ve come across.  The Launch Control XL adds an extra layer of playability alongside the Launchpad S.  With it I can switch between sequencer and MIDI keyboard input while also changing velocity, gate size, octave and rate on the 5 separate sequencer channels (4 monosequencers for the Nord – 1 switchable poly / chord sequencer for the Nova).   The scary looking Toshiba gets the Arturia Beatstep MIDI input and is running Nord Modular editor software and Plogue Bidule processing a stereo feed from the Nord Modular.   As the Launch Control XL has 8 immediate channels i’ve setup 3 stereo inputs – Nord / Nova / Laptop – with basic mixer controls and the ability to add FX returns.

Here is another improvisation running all 5 tracks at once.

Aside from the immediacy of this setup – without changing anything it is practical and useful in Ableton Live 9 for when I want to work on more populist stuff with loops instead of sequences.  Switching the Launch Control XL to “Factory” mode makes it like a standard Mackie control surface with the Launchpad for launching clips.

This is all rather different to my improvised noise setup:

improvised noise @ Lugg St Lounge
improvised noise @ Lugg St Lounge

Above is a shot with Paul Forbes Mitchell.  He has lots of Raspberry Pi / Pure Data modules, Makey Makey and Arduino controllers.  I’m using the Loopstation with my Shbobo Shnth and a Raspberry Pi / PD module as a granular effect (though i’m thinking of converting it into an algorithmic MIDI spitter as it currently runs for only about 10mins before crashing).  The Macbook is only providing power (and patches) for the Shnth.  I will probably bring the iPad into this setup as there is little use for it now elsewhere.

Here is a sample of the noise we make with this setup.

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