Project: Thought Forms / Artist: Makrotulpa

A quick browse to the beginnings of this blog will show that at one stage I was focused on researching AV performance approaches.

I stopped in part because I started to feel that my goal of a performance setup where sound and image could be synthesised simultaneously in real time was being limited by rising CPU/GPU requirements and a lack of money to pay for them.  It also seemed a little ludicrous chasing the high end when my musical inspiration is more around small scale abstraction where individual perception joins the dots.

Today i’m happy to say the dream is close and I’m back experimenting with AV.  Here is an early demonstration.

I’m using Lumen, an exceptionally capable real-time visual synthesiser, that just recently received MIDI control capabilities.   I designed the Max For Live controller so that I can manipulate it from the Push, record automation and most importantly save parameters with PPTC which can store settings for any device on a per-channel basis.  So I can improvise and save the more interesting combinations.

I’m also using the Encoder Audio Max For Live sequencers quite extensively here.  Particularly the Source and Turing Machines going to the Synths and Polyrandom to Microtonic for percussion.  The Encoder Audio stuff is great to control from the Push 2 (with some fiddling) and sends mapping data to other controls which is where the AV connection will ultimately arise:  rather than doing the usual (and to me boring) envelope to opacity trick i’m more keen for sequenced modulation mapping from different elements to different elements.

All of this is early days.  It seems to be fine to play with so long as I smooth the modulations before hitting Lumen.  So far recording with Syphon has lead to a crash everytime so it’s not stable.  There is a gig in a month or so to work to and maybe some AV recordings.



Today my mother gave me a Cedar book stand that my grandfather made.

I tried setting it up with the Push – it was pretty interesting but not as useful as it looks – mainly because the angle means it can’t stand in front of the synth rack.

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So I’ve found a more interesting use for it.  I’ve got the old Ikea stand back for the Push and now I have a front facing mixing desk.

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Unconference Showcase went pretty well.  PFM sounded fabulous, Feet Teeth filled the auditorium with menacing neo-kraut-rock and the Sonic Manipulator was… well…


…undescribable?  He made everyone happy.  My intro performance with just Shnth and Loop-Station went down well also.   With the new firmware I can add compression and EQ to make it sound better in the room.

Streams and PrEditations


Black Mercury is now available on Google Play, Amazon and iTunes.  You’re still better off getting it from Bandcamp however.

Perhaps more important for the majority of potential ears it is available now on Spotify and Apple Music.

I’ve had lots of positive comments regarding this one – think it is some of my best work and appreciate any listeners.

Moving into the future I’ve no specific plans beyond the gig this Friday.  I just spent a grey rainy weekend programming parameters into PrEditor for a variety of plugins in order that they show up appropriately on the Push.

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It certainly helps with navigating – particularly with devices that seem to randomly sort their parameters like Expert Sleepers Augustus Loops – still my favourite tape loop emulation.

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As part of this process I couldn’t resist recording some audio: here is a spaced-out little jam for late-night bedroom chill-out.  It’s a one take stereo brap using the Big Kalimba (Tension) preset from Ableton Suite with Sugar Bytes Turnado and AH Effekthascher in Reaktor 6.


Oscilloscapes II: duets

The second edition of Oscillo Scape is on this weekend.  A number of duets are occurring including a myself as part of Musgrove Barrett.


We’ve done some rehearsing for the gig and here are two excerpts that probably won’t give an adequate idea of what we will sound like.

Since that rehearsal I’ve been working to streamline some things including setting up patches on the Nord and System1m and fine tuning the Live setup as i’m actually running audio through this time.

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Helping immensely is PrEditor from Sigabort / Isotonik.

With it I can customise the Push device display to only show controls I choose and reorganise them more logically.  Less aimless clicking through banks FTW!

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If you’re in Brisbane, Australia and like synth nerdery please come.

Free entry and BYO!

The perfect setup?

I’m continually posting here about how i’m working on one or maybe two releases.

Then a little while later I’ll post about some amazing new piece of gear acquired, maybe even share an experiment, a live track or jam session.

The reality is that, while my preferred setup has stabilised to a large degree, any degree of change forces a rethink of any material that is work in progress.  The reason for this:  how am I to know that what i’ve been working on won’t be improved by the new element to the setup?

It’s possible that this may always be an issue however I’ve just added a piece of gear to the home studio that manages to tie a lot of threads together very neatly.

Say hello to the Rig (R16)!


As some of you may know i’ve had a Zoom R8 kicking around for a while.  It is an eight track recorder with a stereo input, and it has been a very useful layering tool for Joe and I on our recent recordings.  In fact i’d just recently been discussing with him my need for either a USB mixer or some kind of multi input audio interface and how all the option seemed to be redundant.  This need stems from…


…the setup being now clearly delineated between producing / performing setup (shown) and mixing / mastering table.  I wanted the MOTU back in the production / performance chain as it makes it much easier to manage the separate I/Os but that removed it from my desktop Mac Mini where the other 50% of polishing occurs.

The R16 fits my requirements so perfectly:

  • I use it to record all four outputs from the rack (Sys1m, Aira FX, Nord Modular and Ableton/Push Samples) at the same time.
  • Then I switch on the the USB, set the R16 to “Storage Device” and transfer the recorded 44/24 wave files across to the desktop for mixing in Tracktion.
  • Then when the files are loaded into the edit I can use the R16 as both an audio interface and a Mackie Universal Control device to assist in mixer automation.

The original owner couldn’t work it out and has therefore barely used it.  I’ve read that the R24 has more features but it doesn’t matter to me as the Rig has the features I’m looking for.

By the way you can see Virta on the Macbook Air image above.  It’s a great addition to the setup – working as a modular vocoder / format filter for whatever samples i’m playing through it.  As far as my workflow goes I love the fact that the Ableton/Push2 axis allows some flexibility while also providing a coherent set of sounds to mix.

Everybody make some noise for… Easter Long Weekend!!!

Something new from Paul Forbes Mitchell and I:

Good Friday for suburban heathens is a pretty desolate place, especially when my partner is off at a conference for the entire weekend.
To ease my suffering Paul came around with his suitcases and we made with the dystopic noise while Griffin entertained himself with YouTube for Kids (bandwidth is now through the roof).

I’m using the same setup from the gig a fortnight ago.  Paul has upgraded his Raspberry Pi cases with some new hardware that runs Xodular Eco-System headless with help from a Korg Nano-Kontrol.  I think we’re both in fine form here.  I hope the heart-warming parental narrative related above didn’t soil the darkness too much!

Have had lots of nice comments about the Musgrove/Barrett material.  It seems the consensus is in favour of This Incessant Humming.  As that is the one Joe put together I think he is on mix duties next time (and i’ll stick to mastering).  We have been asked to duet at another gear-a-thon with the same crew from Alchemix – so we’ll have to work out a coherent way of delivering the goods without incessant feedback!

photo by Yuki Crawford
photo by Yuki Crawford
Photo by Yuki Crawford
Photo by Yuki Crawford

Finally I’ve had some motivation / inspiration to work on my own releases over the last few days.  So Black Mercury is still coming and it will quite possibly paired with an additional release.

I’ll say more when the audio is properly cooked.