2016 – you bastard!

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If you open your eyes to social media it would seem that 2016 was an especially awful year. This could be believed if you managed to sleep through 2015 and plan to cryogenically freeze yourself for the next four years at least. Still – desperate times call for intense art so frankly i’m happy to not be in the real estate business.

From the perspective of my art it has been a better year than I’ve had for some time. I completed and released Black Mercury in June and for once I’m proud and satisfied that it features everything I represent in a manner acceptably advanced from Remnants and Mise En Scene.  It features experimental aesthetics but doesn’t overload, references popular music occasionally and doesn’t sound like Tim Hecker or Autechre.

I’ve also played at some great gigs (particularly at the Lindsay Crawford curated Oscilloscapes) with some strong improvisatory turns that I will hopefully nurture and extend into 2017.  For one I’m excited about the impending return of Small Black Box under the curatorship of David Loose, the best engineer for experimental music i’ve ever worked with.

After 15 years of collaboration Joe Musgrove and I have settled into an electro-acoustic improv rhythm that summarises our influences well as can be heard at our Bandcamp.  We seem to both be moving away from our elitist tendencies and even managed to make some ambient techno.

Likewise my collaboration with Paul Forbes-Mitchell is becoming more than the sum of noisy parts as we both develop our various hardware setups and improvisatory chops towards building levels of structure within the (necessary) chaos.

I also managed some interesting collaborations on the Ambient Online comps.


Midway through the year it became clear to me that the major work changes predicted were happening to Stacey rather than I.
Work as a sessional academic remains something I enjoy doing but the diminishing hours and lack of security is not great for family life.  For this reason it is great that my partner is finding satisfying ways to re-enter the workplace to ensure we aren’t slipping into the new year with the possibility of homelessness.  In 2017 I need to learn how to more effectively manage my home time split between family and art.

Major projects for 2017 continue to be financially unviable but hopefully include further development of the  Thought Forms audio-visual performance project (and potentially a return to the thesis) and work on some more structured, perhaps even song-like material that will hopefully contribute, however minimally, to a balancing of the world’s axis.

Be well.

Lloyd W Barrett

2016

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Fun with Python, current build and distribution.

Managed to not record adequate video to convey the house gig / debut of “Thought-Forms” material from a couple of weekends back.  Here is all I got…

I felt the experience was positive and received some great feedback that set my mind into motion towards further refinement of the approach.  As always the balance of complexity, depth, playability and fun needs some tweaking.

This week an inspiring post from Tom Whitwell (creator of the Turing Machine modular sequencer) got me temporarily back into coding.  For those who’d rather not click – the gist of it is a python script that creates a Cagean set of directions for composition building.

I’ve modified Tom’s template to focus on descriptive text and Oblique Strategies for Audio and Video as this helps me build up an improvisatory framework for each “Thought Form”.   Here is my variation.screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-8-27-40-pm

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If you’re not familiar with Python (which i’m not overly) Tom provided some instructions which i’ve amended below:

To run the script on a Mac (or another computer with Python installed):
Click ‘Download .zip’ and copy the file ‘thtfrms.py’ into a folder somewhere.
Open Terminal, type ‘cd’ and a space. Then drag the folder containing ‘thtfrms.py’ into the Terminal window and hit return. You’re now in that folder.
Now type: ‘python thtfrms.py’
If you look in the folder, you’ll find a text file with a made up name like ‘Qoyatenu.txt’. This is the complete score for your new album, entitled Qoyatenu.

The current hardware build has changed a bit since I last posted.

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After much back and forth I sold the RC-505 to Hhaarrpp in order to open up for some new approaches.

Just prior to the aforementioned gig I picked up a K-Mix (bottom right) which I’m using to replace the MOTU Ultralite (which takes up the display port required for a projector adapter.)  One of the most impressive things about it is how flexible it can be for different setups.  While initially I thought i’d use it as an audio-interface it’s currently working as a mixer (with 3*stereo send channels!!) and MIDI controller allowing me to focus all of the computer CPU on visuals.1 It will also be useful for getting back to live surround processing (if I can find a situation that warrants it.)

The Kaoss Pad returns to my setup as a performative send FX (a bargain Gumtree find – I can’t believe how much they go for new these days).  It is synced to the Novation Circuit which will add sequencer arrangement “glue” to the more abstract droning from the other synths.  So far my experience with the Circuit has been good.  It can make some quirky bass and pad sounds and the ability to load samples on it will ultimately prove useful when I can get around to making interesting percussion sounds to replace the default lame ones.  I am most impressed with the ability to work with it in bed, on public transport or wherever due to the battery function.

Another thing to point out – the Lemur template pictured is cobbled together especially for Lumen.  It features all controls mapped with some automatable controls for the LFOs, Oscillator Skew and X/Y pad.  It can be downloaded from here.

Work on Thought-Forms will progress over the summer holidays here in Australia. Will hopefully have some material to release and gigs to do though i’m still struggling to find an appropriate case for the Nord / Sys1m / Aira rack.  It is too wide for any suitcases i’ve found so far.

Finally – my recent EP Syntagma is out digitally at the usual places for download and streaming.

1 I was finding the Push 2 setup becoming quite laggy while running Lumen