rreplay – lucid dream

Third installment of the weekly track series. Quiet sweet guitar and bass. One of Rich’s favs.

To Tahrir

To Tahrir (music link – opens in new window).  It is a toast, or a direction we could or should be heading, or a love letter, or a dedication, or an address.  As a piece of program music, it reflects the various times when it looked like the people might be stopped, but they came back stronger each time. Tahrir

Actually I originally called it “Spectral Youth,” and when Monisha heard it, she suggested “To Egypt” because of the youth there, and I pitched in with “To Tahrir,” which of course means “to liberation.” Eric and I recorded it last June so there is an element of time travel and anachronism that is difficult for me as a historian, but Monisha said to just tell them a sociologist did it.

There is precedent for program music being made before the program was decided upon. When I was an undergrad, one of my music professors said he spoke with Krzysztof Penderecki about his famous piece, Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. My prof told him that the piece evoked the event beautifully, it really gave him a new and deeper understanding of the travails of the people of Hiroshima. He then went into detailed descriptions of which part of it aligned which what portions of the events.  Penderecki then informed my crestfallen prof that he wrote the piece before he came up with the name, originally calling it just 8’37”.

What I was trying to do was get a Sonic Youth-ish thing going, with a thrashy Thurston Moor-ish guitar line modifed by a Lee Renaldo-ish feedbacky thing. The cool thing about it is that the sound is on a bunch of different variable axes at once. There is the regular vaguely acoustic sound of the chugging rhythm, and the loudness of the playing sets the tone on a spectral gate, which has a chimey sound. The location of where I was playing on the string sets the sweep of the filter (the whooshy, wah wah sounds) while the time between notes sets the delay time which creates the chirping echo effects. As always, Eric immediately grokked the situation and provided a spot on perfect bass line. Plus we did not forget to stop, so it does not go on for a half hour.

As usual, Facebook people, if you got this far, you might have to come to http://way.net/waymusic for the links and the music.


Two new experimental tracks from rreplay are available.  Pop the player out in the background here and come back to read while you give them a listen.

They are from the more experimental end of our stuff.  I think I was having a hard drive problem and had to use a bunch of stuff I don’t normally use for jamming, and we had no drum loops.  The first, short piece is modem and dial tone sounds worked through a sampler that I played via my guitar.  The second uses chipsounds and something called scanned synthesis.  One of the big breakthroughs in the 1980s synth scene was wavetable synthesis, where you could construct one cycle of  a sound wave of any shape you desired, load it into memory,  and then play it at any pitch.  While it opened up new possibilities for synthesis, it also had its limits, the most telling being that the wavetable is  static, while the timbre and thus waveshape of acoustic instruments varies over time.  Scanned synthesis (pdf) attacks this problem by having the wavetable change over time using  shifts to the wavetable so that the sound evolves.  The shifts are slow vibrations that vary over time,  modelled on struck, plucked, and bowed vibrating objects (like a string, for example), and lately on multi-dimensional creations that exist in more than four dimensions.  The result is much livelier, natural sounding synth where the tone evolves with the playing.  Strings are actually a lively area of math and theoretical physics work right now, and I think some of the concepts from string theory are working their way into the synthesis method (pdf).

As usual, lots more to listen too at way.music.  Please give us a listen.

2 more with Chris Dixon and crew

Here are two more tracks from a jam with Chris Dixon of Slimpocket (rapping), Alison Hearn (keyboards), Jake (rapping and sax – sorry never got his last name), Eric Parker (bass) and me (laptop guitar and beats). The first one has a cool two bass thing happening. The second is “Catch me on the Streets.”  These and the ones from the other day are all recorded on a pocket digital recorder stuck over by the PA.  Not too bad for low rent recording tech.  FB people might need to come to http://waymusic.way.net to hear.

Chris Dixon and crew

I promised FB friends a link to the music I’ve been doing lately…bassist Eric Parker and I (i.e. rreplay) jammed 3 different times with rapper Chris Dixon (check him out at slimpocket.com) and keyboard player Alison Hearn.  Here is a cut from that session.  The second time I forgot my laptop AC chord and so just played straight through an amp in the room with no fx for a change after the battery ran out.  One cut came out a little like a digital underground throwback with some conscious rapping [edit: maybe a little by way of NYC No Wavers the Contortions :)]  Chris was unfortunately drowned out this session (maybe because we had live drums), but here the link gives a sense of the music and a little bit of rapping.  That session we were joined by Jake, a sax player/rapper/beatmaker guy and drummer Justin.  Did not catch their last names.  Jake came back for an encore the third night and we got a few more good tracks.   I’ll go through them and post an excerpt.  rreplay is also recording some more, and hopefully we’ll finally get to mix our second album while I’m here in Boston.  As usual, FB people may have to come to the blog at http://waymusic.way.net to hear stuff…never sure how that is going to work.

rreplay – rrepertoire now available on iTunes and Amazon

Just like it says on the tin, rreplay’s first album, rrepertoire, is now available as a CD From Amazonor for download from iTunes.  Still waiting on the mp3s from Amazon, but it is a start.  Even if you don’t buy it, check it out…I just think its cool that its there.


Eric Parker from rreplay has a new Boston thing going…check out the music at his blog, theriex.

Went to hear Ozomatli and an East LA band that I had not heard of before, Upground.  Both were great.  Ozomatli was one of the best live gigs I’ve ever heard.  More later, once I get done with some of my real job.

cough cough sputter gasp up for air

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.

Working on new rreplay album

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.

arcDev noise industries

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.