Forming Thoughts

After a month of back and forth I’ve finally got the K-Mix working.  Kudos to Evan from K.M.I. for his technical support.  Go buy his awesome Max For Live device.

So now the box looks like this:

Axoloti driven synth box

I’m still using the Macbook to run the Axoloti editor for now but hoping I won’t need it during gigs.
The Pad Kontrol is a great cheap Gumtree pickup that is perfect as a controller for the Axoloti as I can:

  • run it directly from the Axoloti USB port – no additional power supply or MIDI leads necessary;
  • edit MIDI CC and Note values on the fly for encoders and pads;
  • setup an X/Y controller for unique parameter morphing (X/Y also has an interesting roll function);
  • send program change values which curiously not many new MIDI controllers do (K-Mix included).

The fact that it sends PGM values means I can ditch the Macbook (or use it for visuals) once I work out a reliable way of creating patch-banks in the Axoloti (it’s there – just not 100% trustworthy yet).

At the moment the routing goes like this:

Inputs to K-Mix

  • 1 = SM58
  • 2 = System-1m
  • 3/4 = Nord Modular
  • 5/6 = Axoloti
  • 7/8 = Aira FX

Outputs from K-Mix

  • 1/2 = Main Outs to Desk
  • 3/4 = to Aira FX
  • 5/6 = to Nord Modular
  • 7/8 = to Axoloti

So plenty of scope for interesting routing – and then there is the modulation routing with the Quad LFO and Sys-1m.

My current direction is towards a series of improvisations with the Axoloti environment as a reloadable patching frame-work sending MIDI to the other synths.  These will be things I can setup and perform – producing multiple versions from the same template.

The first of these improvisations is at the start of this post.

Below is an improvisation with Joe using the setup (sans the K-Mix).

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One Last Gasp is out just in time for W.W.III (v5.15beta)

On hearing that Trumpy Mc Trump-face shot his load (of rockets) at a barren Syrian airfield I couldn’t help but feel that the world deserved another hour of comforting experimental music… so here it is… pay what you feel.

Using up all my CloudBounce credits I plopped this algorithmic monster out.  I figured I’d rather rely on robots to master the sounds herein for reasons perhaps obvious when you listen to it.  Analog warmth was certainly not a criteria.  I’m moving away from a “hands-on” approach to one more akin to tweaking the machine and the end result is some very odd moments that at times sound like contact-mic or field recordings, yet all is synthesised.

Tracks were generated real time and subsequently processed with Melodyne and sundry granular manipulators.  People expecting my usual chilled ambient drones may find some of it baffling but I haven’t gone full Hecker.  Learn to Fight in particular sound like robot versions of Joel Stern and I making free improvisational outdoor skronk.

I’m pretty happy with it: it’s a kind of angsty fist shake at a world I spend less and less time with given my responsibilities caring for Griffin.  My dad would have been 89 today.  I don’t imagine he’d like this much but I’m pretty sure he’d prefer it to watching shit go downhill as fast and far as it has since he’s been gone.

Hopefully someone will find this album enjoyable or therapeutic as I do.

It’s coming to the usual online streamers and sales places soon.

 

The weird and the sad

ripmarkfisher

Very sad to hear about the death of Mark Fisher.  Having read occasional K-Punk articles as well as his books Capitalist Realism and Ghosts of My Life which most eloquently express a frustration with the political and economic aspects of modernity that encourage even less-poetic souls to recoil in horror, shrinking back into a nostalgic echo chamber.

I will read his latest with an additional ache. Finding a way to artistically manifest, discuss and express your depression doesn’t make it go away.

Here is an improvisation.  It changes nothing but I appreciate the opportunity to do this.

 

 

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

screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-8-30-33-pm

screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-8-30-50-pm

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.

img_1385

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

 

Syntagmatic Relationships

I’ve just released something new to Bandcamp (coming soon to the usual online distribution centres.)

This is an EP of four ambient experimental tracks originating in multichannel improvisation recordings post-manipulated into structures.

Each track is a figure with an associated image as shown on the back cover.

back

To explain the glib attribution a burst water pipe flooded the studio in my house necessitating an urgent gear move and temporary setup.  So far it seems that nothing important has been damaged.

The “returning lights” comment refers to a return to audiovisual work after a number of years.  More details on that soon.

In recent times I also published a four track EP of improvised music with Paul Forbes Mitchell.  The primitivist aesthetic contrasts pretty well to Syntagma

 

A space for sonic contemplation

With no specific projects on the horizon it is of course time to make some.  As is always the way – I’m refining my current setup.  Regular readers may remember this picture from times past…

oldsynthtable

Well I’ve returned to this idea somewhat and managed to find a neat way to fit everything and maintain a workspace for recording and mixing with room to also work on the educational stuff that pays rent/bills.  Having a focused desk makes it easier to focus on improvisation and development without mouse tweakage.

LoopstationjustTable

All the hardware runs through the MOTU which is controlled via Push and Ableton.  V-Synth is being used as a source and a controller.  I discovered the X/Y Pad is great for modulating the System-1m filter.  3 stereo channels out from the MOTU go to the R16 for recording.  There is also a Send/Return that goes via the Aira FX, one Send that goes to the Loopstation returning as a stereo feed to the R16 and one that goes to the V-Synth for resampling of material.

gearPano

I’m going to try and keep this arrangement for a while as it seems pretty comprehensive and useful.  With the upcoming Live 9.7 features, especially the ability to select ins and outs, will make this setup even more viable.  Here is an ambient improvisation I recorded.

Catching up with Chronos

It’s been a while… managed to shift some piles of work into the “Out” tray just in time for…

NIME + Unconference

The New Interfaces for Musical Expression conference is on in Brisbane this year.

Some very exciting stuff to see / hear / talk about and I’ve been tasked with organising the Unconference at The Edge.  Amongst the guests we are blessed with DJ Sniff and the Sonic Manipulator demonstrating their approaches to performance and composition.

The Sonic Manipulator will also be performing at the showcase gig in the evening with fab local innovators, Feet Teeth, Hetleveiker and LopezDonado.

UNCSHW

Noise Wall

Joe Musgrove, Adam Sussman and I provide audiovisual support to the closing night party of Ali Bezer’s Noise Wall.  Was pretty chaotic and we ended up losing the audience war to a nearby coast music band (think somewhere between RHCP and Led Zeppelin) but overall a fun night and some unique sounds.  Here is an excerpt.

Reaktor 6

In my period of catching up I’ve been getting back to Reaktor 6, particularly messing with the Blocks now that the user library is presenting some very mature options.  Michael Hetrick’s Euro Reakt Blocks are essential as is the Instrument Browser for drag / drop time saving.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 4.40.12 pm

One thing I have found kinda irritating is the Push knobs not being available for Blocks.  Despite PrEditor making them available for most ensembles the controls aren’t always consistently added which makes sense when you consider these are discrete modules to be connected as you wish in a more temporary fashion.

The best solution i’ve found is to add a M4L CC sender patch like ControlChange8 from Robert Henke and use Reaktor’s MIDI learn.  Saves the messing around for making crazy sounds.

Loopstation

Last bit of news – a surprise firmware update for the RC505 which has been crying quietly in my cupboard for the last few months.  The key changes for me are the ability to have up to three simultaneous effects on both in and out though I’d like it more if there was a way to route certain tracks through certain effects.  There are also a bunch of additional CCs to allow external assignment (which makes the guitar players happy) and a useful ALL CLEAR function.

Most disappointing addition has to be the monitoring function.  The phone jack used to just output headphone sounds – now you can choose which track to hear but sadly it is post-gain for each looper which makes it kinda useless for monitoring in my opinion.  Would be nice to have the phones monitor the input or pre on individual tracks before making them live.  Oh well – a missed opportunity. Overall there’s enough goodness to get it out again though – I bashed out a track with it in celebration of Roland’s surprise continuing support of a device I’d assumed they’d forgotten about.