After a very busy couple of months, finally a little post. Just finished mixing rreplay’s dnb piece “multigrain serial tiller.” Give it a listen! I have lots to write, just no time to write it. There are some great developments on the DIY scene, bringing multitouch to the masses. I have to post some of my soundscapes from last summer’s trip to Kolkata. One of my favorite bands, deerhunter, has a new album out…soon come, byem bye writem.
Eric and I are slowly sorting through our collection to find candidates for the next album. I’ll post a couple of mine for right now because I haven’t gotten to remixing Eric’s mixes, as he only has Garageband and the mp3s sound kind of fizzy when processed by it. As always, it’s just Eric on bass and me on guitar and laptop. No overdubs, all live. First up is “cutter” — the mix of the day with a lead in the middle that sounds to me like very acidy Beatles. “Sizzle” is a bomping one-note workout. The hosebeast, one of arcDev‘s creations turned all into a single note with lots of different tones. But its a great note. “Cubanecho” vaguely recalls exile-era Stones trying to play a Latin groove from the bottom of a swimming pool. Ksshuck emulates ZZ top playing disco with a whomping bass drum…watch yr woofers. As always, leave comments if you listen…we’d love to hear from you.
Another plugin maker who makes cool music is Skye Klein from Australia, who plays under the moniker of Terminal Sound System along with a bunch of other projects. His music, in TSS anyway, is dubby, minimalist, occasionally bordering on ambient but at other times moving towards industrial glitching. His latest album is Compressor, and another, Constructing Towers, is due out soon You can hear the latest music at the TSS site. His older stuff is all downloadable from Embryo Records. Among my favorites from the old stuff are minimal tolerance to injected errata, deep trauma, and tomorrow will not come, though I have not really listened to the whole catalogue yet.
His plugin and software site is arcDev Noise Industries, which has a frustratingly cool web interface that evokes some alien version of DOS or the ancient gopher net protocol. Type ‘help’ if you can’t figure it out.
I use two of his plugins a lot. The first is the aptly named hosebeast, which you can hear in action on rreplay‘s sizzle. Hosebeast is a “5-part fx processor for noisy, lofi, glitchy and general audio mayhem” with a filter, granulator, warper, bitcrusher, and ring modulator in any combination, including multiples of the same. In other words a FSU device.
The other great arcDev plugin is arcDev’s entry in the 2007 KVR Developers’ Challenge plugin contest, Ellipsis. It, along with mdsp‘s livecut, which I’ll discuss in its own post some time, are responsible for the drums in cubanecho and f it from rreplay. Cubanecho also relies on mdsp’s entry in the 2006 KVR Developers’ Challenge, fire. If you take a guitar and set it standing up with the strings against a tabletop, then pull it away a little and let go, then the strings will bounce on the edge of the tabletop ever more rapidly, just so: Booooooooing Booooing Boooing Boing Bng Bn bn bnbnbnbnbn (I take no responsibility for any damage to guitars or furniture this may cause). Mdsp has figured out how to mathematically model that warping speed change using delays in fire.
The way Ellipsis works is that you load ten samples into it, most usefully, drum loops that will more or less go together. You have to tweak the settings a bit to make the drums play at the right (or wrong!) speed. Then when you hit a corresponding note on your midi controller (usually a keyboard, but I use a footboard), it triggers the loop. You can set it for any BPM and it will speed up or slow down your loop accordingly, or sync it to your plugin host. If you only like the last half or the first quarter of the loop, you can play just that, or play it in reverse. One useful way to set it is to put the same drum loop in several times and play different portions of it frontwards or backwards to give some variation to the drums.
So that’s it for today. I couldn’t find any of mdsp’s music to play for you, but I hope you enjoy rreplay and Terminal Sound System.
So, all these people making vst plugins, it seems they do it first so that they can get some sound or another from inside their head out into the world, or lacking that they try to just see how badly they can fuck with it, mangle it, stretch it, scratch it, chebyshev it, stomp it, or otherwise apply some arcane equation to hear what happens themselves and if it is anything interesting or they actually get the sound they hear in their heads out into the world, then the coolest of them release them unto the world with it sometimes becoming a business, and there are some amazing plugins that are worth parting with a few bucks, but mostly I suspect its about the sound.
So I have been listening a little to the music of plugin or bidule writers to hear what they are doing with their own inventions. Let me start with Jerry Smith, who makes what are called “groups” for plogue bidule. These are like plugins, but because they remain within bidule they don’t crash, which is a lovely thing. Not that crashes aren’t sometimes lovely. Sometimes. Jerry and his wife Sonsherée Giles collaborate on multimedia performances. Sonsherée is a dancer and Jerry does sound installations/music for her performances. I don’t know anything about dance but enjoyed the pieces, but I’ll keep the details of what I enjoyed to myself so as to cover up for some of said ignorance. The soundscapes/music are textural, you can practically feel them (tactilely rather than emotionally is what I mean here). David Toop, in writing about the experimental music scene in one of his books (either Haunted Weather or Oceans of Sound can’t remember which, but they are both great) , talks about how musicians are playing with very short and long times, and exploring very quiet sounds. The quiet sounds are the stuff of the textures here, and one of Toop’s points is that it makes people listen if not more attentively then closer. I have not been through the whole site yet, but a good example of this is the first piece, “opening” for the dance piece performed by Sonsherée, Music for
One Breath is an Ocean for a Wooden Heart. While this piece is entirely texture without notes, when the notes do come they are sparse and placed carefully. No pyrotechnics here, something much better. Consider “theme 3: Collapse” or “Sad Ending” for examples.
Jerry, who travels under the moniker jersmi on the plogue bidule forums, helped me out on the one group I’ve worked on, called the rhythmecho, and has provided a bunch more help to anyone trying to figure out the workings of bidule. To hear an example of one of his groups, called J-BGran-X, a granulator if you know what that is, along with the rhythmecho and several others (all referred to in the title somehow or another…no time to unpack the whole thing now) check out my newest, awkwardly named crackly kerrstinn granulated double lama (fixed corrupted file. 8/6).
Gotta run to the airport, so that’s it for now.
I finally broke down and bought Oli Larkin‘s great dronebox and polycomb VSTs. I’ve been using an old demo version of dronebox for a while, but when I figured out how to run midi notes out of my guitar into the polycomb filter, the results were too cool so I straightened up and bought it. Dronebox is a set of six or seven resonant comb filters with all sorts of tweakable settings. You tune each one to a note, and when the corresponding note gets fed through, it resonates like a sympathetic string. I use it as the wash in these two ambient pieces: “ambient 040328” and “ambient 040428“. The loop is recorded live with the elogoxa Elottronix plugin, which has a great filter section you can hear tweaked in both pieces. A bit more rocking, this song combines the dronebox with another of my favorite plugs, Krakli’s TrAmp, in a song suitably named “dronebox tramp.” This time the looper is loopy llama or mobius, can’t remember which. Both are great…I’ve generally gone with loopy llama lately ‘cuz its simpler and uses less resources. You can hear it a lot in rreplay, where TrAmp, Dronebox, and DK+ drums, all get worked out regularly in plogue bidule. Mobius is a spot-on emulation of the Gibson echoplex. You can use the same manual for most of the controls. Oh, except mobius is like having 8 echoplexes. Oh, and with unlimited loop length. Oh, and its free instead of about a thousand bucks.
And now back to Oli’s plugins. If you want to know what polycomb will do to guitar, check out this freshly recorded piece, polycombatose, where I am just working through all the presets. The looper is loopy llama this time, recording just the bass (the trusty Hohner slammer run through an electri-Q eq and ruby tube tube emulator). Missing Eric on the bass… The drums on both dronebox tramp and polycombatose are from nusofting’s most excellent DK+ drum machine, this time imitating an ancient Acetone rhythm box. In order to get midi notes out of the guitar, I use G-Tune (which besides being a strobe-accurate tuner, converts the signal it reads to a midi note) and then run its midi out to a maple midi port. Of course, everything is played and recorded in one take via the ever-amazing plogue bidule.
Leave a comment if you wish, would love to know if you are listening.
Ahh well, Eric has gone back to Boston, thus ending for now one of the funnest musical projects I’ve had in a while. rreplay recorded our last-for-now session on July 1. It was a bit out there for a number of reasons on my part. First, I had not regularly practiced in a month while I was away in Kolkata and Japan (more on the sounds from there later…), so the ideas were bubbling up but the fingers were a bit sluggish. Second, I had just returned from Tokyo, where Monisha and I stayed a few extra days so I could catch the avant gard Japanese experimental guitar festival (also about which more later). So what’s to listen to? My favorite for weird factor is “squelch.” What is not bass is manipulated guitar echo. “drip grind” has a cool wash thing going that mutates over time. I think my favorite is “nothing to declare,” though “spider camp” and “flow control” are kinda cool in an experimentalist sort of way…all three are in the key of z. That leaves “low town twilight” where I was trying too hard to evoke a particular mood instead of just going with it, and “neither flotsam nor jetsam.” Not bad all in all. I’ll certainly miss rreplay-ing. We’ll put together an album or two more from it…if you find anything in the rrepository particularly compelling, in part or in whole, let us know in the comments here!
Just a couple more weeks to go and I leave for India and Eric goes back to Boston. For last week’s session, go to the rrepository and look for files dated 080505 at the bottom of the list. My favorite for the moment is Hoffman’s bicycle ride [fixed link, 5/14/08]. Besides some timing issues here and there the whole session came out well so check out the other eight cuts too.
The last three rreplay sessions are online in the rrepository, for April 14, April 25, and April 28. Let’s see, from the April 14 session, I kinda like cello panetta for its faux strings (all mangled guitar, btw), steel driver for its beat, and round the perimeter for the synth line following the guitar around. From the 25th, aoomph takes a while to get started but then closes out with some sicko guitar-following synth stuff. This one will probably turn up again in edited fashion. There is also convolution blues, which tries to go straight, but ends up, ummm, convoluted. A couple more blues, this time with slide, start off the April 28 session. Here’s one, and here is the other. The rest I need to listen to a little more before making a recommendation, but you can check ’em out in the rrepository, along with most everything else we’ve recorded. WHy so much blues? Maybe just got back from Chicago….
rreplay ventured into the public ear for the first time this past Sunday evening, hauling our gear down to Ong King‘s open mike. In case you don’t know about it, Ong King is as combo gallery/multimedia/music/event space, probably the coolest place in town. We played a short set after a smoking jam from Quadraphonix, Drummer/percussionist/vocalist Shazam, and awesome ukulele player Taimane Gardener. Jonathan Heraux, Quadraphonix’ (awesome) drummer, owner of Ong King, and mc for the open mic commented “that’s a lot of wires” once we were set up. He also said that when he got the cd he popped it on in his car, and by the time he reached his destination, he was on the phone to us to see if we would come down for open mike as a sort of proof of concept…I guess a few other times laptop oriented bands would come for gigs and not be able to get the software running, so he wanted to see if we could do what we do live. We could, cuz basically everything we’ve recorded is live, just minus the audience…no overdubs or post-processing other some “mastering polish.” We did our thing, it seemed well received. It sounded like us but louder than usual, going through their PA, people clapped, it was fun. Taimane Gardener then followed with an awesome set showing a voice to match the uke chops. Good company we got to keep!
Hopefully it will lead to some gigs before I leave for India and Eric has to go back to Boston. Gotta book this incarnation before mid-May, if anyone is interested. The leader of a dance troupe heard one of the pieces and is planning on choreographing a performance to it…either “amazonia dub” or “pilaf,” not sure which….hmmm maybe they’d do something with us live? Have to find out who it is first though. We were so busy setting up I didn’t get a chance to exchange numbers. I forgot to press the record button on my computer, so don’t have a digital recording of the event, but Eric got it on his mini recorder, so if that came out, we’ll post it later this week.
One more tune from the mess . . . actually let’s see, more like eight…see if you can name them all. This has one of my favorite “wall of squall” moments in it, where for about fifteen seconds we ran everything on eleven and a half before returning to your regularly scheduled programming.
As always, If you were around when the mess was playing, drop me a line either from the way.net contact page, or to rath [at] way [dot] net or leave a comment. If you do the latter, I have no other way of responding than commenting back, so you might want to subscribe to the rss feed (over in the right column).