Expedition 2017
an ongoing exploration of electronic music


2017 Q22017 Q1Interstitial2016


#DateTitleTimeDescription
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68Apr 2 An Undiscipline of Sorts
(MP3) (YouTube)
6:06 It's the second quarter of 2017! Time for a little website update and another track.

Here's what's in my current modular rack (ModularGrid screenshot here, not a sudden improvement in my photography). There's a Harvestman Kermit on its way (I believe it's named for the basketball player who nearly killed another player with one punch in a fight during a game, not the much more peaceful frog), and I also intend to get an EMW Arcade Noise. That's all I have planned for this rack right now; it's functionally complete and the collection phase is pretty much over.
The basis of this rack has been exploration of new sonic territory. Having located a particular landmass I wish to explore further, I'm plotting a second, smaller rack that "officially" I'll begin setting up in 7-8 months (though the Kermit is destined for that one and there may be other migrations). Its theme is West Coast synthesis, with a digital and industrial edge.

Voice 1A: Disting's FMable VCO, with Rings as the source. Rings' structure is sequenced separately from the pitch. Disting's saw output is lowpass filtered by Three Sisters and mixed with its sine output. O_C envelopes over VCAs for Rings I/O, the overall output, and Three Sisters frequency. MTransformer, Replika and ValhallaPlate VSTs.

Voice 1B: Branching out from the above, this is just the Even output from Rings. Pitchproof, DubStation and Replika VSTs.

Voice 2A: Microbrute through SpaceModulator VST.

Voice 2B: Tides using 2A's pitch, with smoothness modulated by O_C looping envelope, into 0-Coast input. 0-Coast dynamics are controlled by Microbrute (but it's basically a drone anyway). 0-Coast is under a separate pitch sequence, and self-syncs its slope generator for extra character. It runs through a different instance of SpaceModulator.
69Apr 2 Stir
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:03 A spring breeze brings freshness and promise... and maybe change.

Voice 1: Rings, modal mode. Rather than sequencing, pitches come from Tides, through Disting S&H and then O_C Quantermain. Triggers are sequenced, and since Tides is cyclic the interaction of two time scales creates a pattern. Rings brightness and FM offset are sequenced, structure modulated a tiny bit by Tides without the other processing, and RIngs Position modulated by a second Quantermain channel with different rules.

Rings is in 4x polyphonic mode, so it alternates notes between its two outputs. One goes through Pitchproof, Dubstation and ValhallaRoom VSTs; the other MTransformer and DubStation.

Voice 2: 0-Coast vs. Warps internal sine oscillator with bit mangling mode. 0-Coast slope generator cycles quickly and its EOC modulates the FM input, for the growly effect. Through Replika VST.

Voice 3: Microbrute, with Synchrodyne's 2-pole output modulating its filter for some extra howling and wailing. TB Flx VST to stop it from getting out of hand, and space360 to place it behind the listener a bit.
70Apr 2 Rudimentary Lathe
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:50 A couple of very different layered takes of a generative patch where a Rings output influences Synchrodyne's frequency, and Synchrodyne drives Rings' frequency in return. Since sudden changes in Rings' input frequency are interpreted as new notes to play, nothing else was required to generate triggers or provide modulation. The reverb is Rings' own in blinking red mode.
71Apr 3 Giga Mesh
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:05 I'm re-reading "Snow Crash" with its blend of skater punk, cyberpunk, and Babylonian mythology and I guess that's what inspired the punny name. There is definitely some noise here among the audible pixels, but the chances that it encodes the Nam-Shub of Asheara are pretty slim.

I'm giving my new Kermit module a workout. At first I wasn't sure I was going to love it -- it behaves very differently from most things and definitely has a noisy digital vibe to it. It's kind of like a bag full of cotton balls and razor blades -- so softly fuzzy sometimes that you wonder where the reputation of this company now calling itself Industrial Music Electronics comes from. But then you find an edge, and it is sharp indeed.

In this track we have digital and analog BZZZZ in roughly equal measures.

The Kermit voice is both of its oscillators modulating each other, one with AM and one with wavetable morphing, no external modulation. Through DPLPG controlled by O_C envelope. Another O_C envelope shapes a trigger going into Disting in Precision Adder mode, giving the Kermit a twitch of higher octave at the start of each distinct note. A bit of Valhalla Plate VST.

The 0-Coast voice has slope synced to its squarewave, with slope time modulated by an external LFO. This pumps pulses of varying widths out of the slope's EOC, which drives the Multiply circuit. No external oscillators needed, but there's some warbly detuned delay in SerumFX VST.

The Synchrodyne voice decouples the PLL from the VCO, instead syncing to 8th note triggers, with PLL damping stopping it from being static and sane. Sometimes it slips its leash and tries to do things I never told it to. It goes through Decimort VST whose filter is sequenced on a slower time scale.

The last voice is my ByteBeater VST, completely unfiltered with a bit of ET-301 delay. It complements the Kermit to a surprising degree, I think.
72Apr 5 Klunk 134
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:01 The name of this comes from a researcher's attempt to train a neural network with the names of varieties of fruit. Lots of good name possibilities in there, but some disturbing foods. I make a point of never eating "Brown Soften" apples, and "Pork Gala" sounds like it's probably Spam chunks and celery suspended in Jello.

While it's 104bpm rather than 134, it is in 3/4 time so I figure that, by the Law of Fives, the given Klunk Number was still correct.

This one consumed nearly all my patch cables again. But in fairness, I did weed out a few right-angle cables that get in the way in tight spaces.

Voice 1: Microbrute, FMd by Kermit, through DubStation VST.

Voice 2: Tides, FMd by Warps, through Three Sisters lowpass and DPLPG. Spirit Reverb VST.

Voice 3: Synchrodyne 4-pole into Rings input, Rings back into SD input and out through VCA. Rings is in sympathetic strings mode and is FMd by Kermit. SD's resonance is controleld by Mini Slew envelope.

Voice 4: 0-Coast, with its multiplier modulated by voice 1's Kermit channel through a VCA controlled by O_C envelope. Lots of self-AM going on in there. SerumFX and Valhalla Vintage Verb.
73Apr 6 Zuby Glong
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:41 Someone named "Bigsteak" on a forum asked about "West Coast style FM with Tides and Warps together with the waveshaper," so I thought, "why not?"

I brought Tides back to factory firmware for this, which is something I was thinking about doing anyway for ease of tuning.

2hp LFO provides the clock; Kermit provides the shape of the melody-thing as well as envelope shape; O_C CopierMaschine quantizes it and serves it to Tides pitch and slope, and Warps pitch and fold amount. Tides is the modulator, Warps the carrier, DPLPG is the output stage and Valhalla Room is the reverb. Some manual wiggling of Kermit's waveshape.
74Apr 8 A Ton of Feathers
(MP3) (YouTube)
6:14 Not a 2-part drone, but a 4-part drone! Celebrating the new analog-to-SPDIF converter I finally added to open up two more inputs on my audio interface, and finally making use of the little mixer I've had for a while.

Voice 1 is Kermit ch1 through Synchrodyne's 4-pole output. Kermit ch2 at LFO rate modulates ch1's waveshape and Synchrodyne's frequency.

Voice 2 is just Kermit ch2, with amplitude modulation from ch1 making it audible. The LFO shape makes it thumpy; NI Transient Master makes it a little less so.

Voice 3 is Tides FMing Warps, into Rings in sympathetic strings mode. A looping envelope modulates Tides' level, and its EOC triggers Rings' strum; a triggered envelope on a slower cycle raises Tides' pitch.

Voice 4 is the three voices of Three Sisters self-oscillating. Span is modulated at audio rate by Mini Slew, which is itself modulated by the LFO that triggers voice 3's pitch envelope. Sisters goes into 0-Coast's input and its Multiply CV; 0-Coast's slope generator cycles at low audio rates and FMs its main oscillator.
75Apr 8 Moregall
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:54 Sometimes I feel an elusive and surprising recognition when listening to my own work -- a sense that "that was a Starthief moment." I can't always pin down what it was, but here I suspect it's something about Tides' sound, the line it's playing and the harmony with other parts.

The name seems quite Celtic but it's another one of those neural network fruit varieties. Surely some sort of apple from the Highlands, small and sweet but very tart, named wistfully after a lass the farmer was pining for. I wanted to call it "Planxty Moregall" but I'm not entirely sure what a Planxty is or why it's so galling.

Voice 1: Kermit, with waveshape and VCA controlled by two Piqued envelopes.

Voice 2: The other Kermit channel, with waveshape and VCA controlled by the other two Piqued envelopes. The output is multed to Mini Slew Cycle input, where it gets harmonically divided and mixed back in. Using Cycle instead of Trigger was a trick mentioned on a forum. Fault VST for some sample-reduced delay.

Voice 3: Tides. Bi output is multed to Warps, where it is ring-modulated against the first Kermit channel. An envelope controls the level, and crossfades from Tides to Warps as the envelope level falls, increasing the noisiness of the sound's tail.

Voice 4: 0-Coast. Triangle output runs through Synchrodyne, which is modulated by the 0-Coast's contour, and into the 0-Coast's input. Slope is synced to square and modulates Multiply. Univibe, SupaPhaser and ValhallaRoom VSTs.
76Apr 9 Hoarse Chestnut
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:52 Sometimes you should just let machines be machines.

Everything here was done with Kermit ch1 creating a rhythmic loop, modulating ch2. Ch2 output is multed to Mini Slew cycle input an another input (FM, shape, rise etc.) for harmonic division, which provides most of the melodic variation since I kept the Kermit freqeuncies constant in most cases. Sometimes Ch1 is also multed to a Mini Slew CV input. Ch2 output and Mini Slew Vari-Out or EOR are mixed. I repatched and tweaked a little to create some different loops. No effects other than Barricade.
77Apr 13 Tin, At Least
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:44 I got an EMW Arcade Noise yesterday, and spent a bunch of time squeezing a variety of drones, rumbles, chippy basslines and chaotic generative patches out of it. I recorded one of the latter and then didn't like my performance of it, so I repatched and wrote a little sequence and it started to sound a little bit like metal-ish guitar chugs.

The Arcade Noise module is an 80s arcade-style noise generator (linear feedback shift register) -- think about shots and explosions in "Defender" as a classic example, though many early games had similar sound technology. Using one of these to make something like rock made me think of slightly later video games from my childhood, when Marble Madness and Reaktor had Yamaha YM2151 chips and played over-the-top fake guitar licks that I thought were the most incredible thing ever. That was the inspiration for adding a couple of FM patches to this. The first one imitates some of the other range of sounds the Arcade Noise can make, and the second is more clangy and wild than 80s games tended to employ.

Voice 1a: FMetal, Bitsonic Recovery, Diode1 and WOW2 VSTs.
Voice 1b: EMW Arcade Noise, with audio rate reset from EON squarewaves, Tap CV modulated by O_C envelope, through Sputnik QVCFA in LPG mode, and Gozinta for distortion.
Voice 1a and 1b run together through Presswerk and ValhallaRoom.

Voice 2: Warps sine osc and wavefolder, FMd by Tides, through another QVCFA LPG channel. Tides frequency and Warps fold amount modulated by clock-synced Kermit LFOs. Permut8 VST.

Voice 3: 0-Coast with its square divided by Mini Slew, and Microbrute. Through MWaveFolder and ValhallaPlate VSTs.

Another new toy -- not a Eurorack module though -- arrived yesterday. I will save its debut for another track.
78Apr 13 Toast Apprentice
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:10 I'd like to propose... an apprenticeship phase between being merely an amateur toaster and a Toastmaster.

This track seemed doubly toasty, in that several of the channels are pretty heavily toasted with distortion, and that one of my percussive sounds is not unlike tapping on a wine glass to get people's attention. Also it was 87 degrees today, despite being mid-April.

Noise drums: EMW Arcade Noise through Sputnik QVCFA LPG. Incoming "pitch" CV switches between 2-tap and 4-tap mode and adjusts the speed of the clock rate envelope.

More drums: Maschine Drumsynth Grit Kick, Fractal Percussion & Shaker.

Attention please: Rings through Megaphone and +Decimate VSTs.

Sub: 0-Coast.

Voice 1: Microbrute, heavy on the Brute Force knob, with Ultrasaw CV modulated by Kermit LFO, through my own ReBurn VST (a sort of hybrid distortion/reverb).

Voice 2: Kermit through Synchrodyne. Zlob Dual VCA controlled by Tides envelope (I think this is the first time I've used Tides as a volume envelope in a recording; usually I have it doing less mundane things). Valhalla Plate & Space Modulator.
79Apr 14 Gondola
(MP3) (YouTube)
6:12 "Gondola" is a fun word. So are "funicular", "defenestrate", "plectrum" and "impeach."

"Timbre" is not a fun word. The correct pronunciation is just so grating.

Voice 1: Kermit, AM'd by Arcade Noise, through Sputnik QVCFA LPG.

Arcade's tap CV is modulated by random CVs from Disting (another shift register!), and AN's output also modulates the time on an EON looping envelope. EON's gate clocks the Disting, and its envelope (gated by the sequencer) feeds Synthrotek DLY's input. DLY's output controls the LPG. Also the sequencer's gate boosts feedback on the DLY.

That runs through ET-301 and Valhalla VintageVerb VSTs.

Voice 2: 0-Coast with Kastle. They share a pitch CV; 0C's slope modulates Kastle's timbre (there's that word) and the Kastle's LFO flips its algorithm. Kastle output into 0C's audio and balance inputs. Through Valhalla Plate.
80Apr 14 Candy-Coated
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:14 I had this running for a while as I went off to another room to do some stuff, and when I came back I recorded it -- but I really just wanted to let it run forever and do its thing. Perhaps it's not the most amazing drone ever but I was into it, and it doesn't seem like it should have a beginning or an ending. Two minutes is probably too short, but ten was also too short, so what the heck.

Arcade Noise with tap CV modulated by Kermit, and Kermit's other channel modulated by Arcade Noise. Both into Warps in bit mangling mode, with reverb and a Paulstretch layer and other stuff applied in the box.

I'm approaching the limits of what Kermit's available waveshapes can do for me on their own as the main contour driving generative music. Combining them with each other or other sources, folding them, quantizing and holding them, and so forth will get me much further.
81Apr 15 Has Sprung
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:51 What better way to celebrate Spring than with actual springs (and Rings?) Whether you're a human or a cat, making springs go "boing" is one of life's little joys.

Crank Sturgeon Perpetual Spring Device, Xenytx Q502 mixer, Disting tape delay algorithm. Split to Rings and Mini Slew inputs. Mini Slew acts as envelope follower, modulating Rings position. Rings in Modal, monophonic mode. EQ and compression in the box, plus PSP PianoVerb on sub frequencies. Recorded in one take.
82Apr 16 From Below
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:23 This one goes up to 11... 11/4 time, anyway. I like odd time signatures but I don't usually go that far.

Voice 1: 0-Coast, FM'd by Kermit, with the balance turned very close to full triangle. The bass on this thing is momentous. Valhalla UberMod VST.

Voice 2: ArcSyn, which is one of my favorite VST synths for sound design, with Valhalla Vintage Verb.

Voice 3: Rings in inharmonic string mode, through Sputnik QVCFA in VCA mode for once. Its input is Arcade Noise through Sputnik QVCFA in filter mode. Tides modulates Arcade Noise clock rate and Rings structure. Output paralleled with Three Sisters in formant mode, with modulation from the other Kermit channel. Valhalla Plate VST.

With the arrival of blank panels yesterday, the last gap is closed and I'm "freezing" my modular system -- no new stuff until Knobcon in September. Seems like a good time for another photo.
83Apr 16 Stock Footage
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:57 In case you're seeing this on YouTube: no, this contains no stock footage, that's just the name of the song. I can't explain why other than I liked the phrase, and when you make as much music as I do you tend to accept reasons like that. It's either that or "Expedition, Part LXXXIII" and frankly trying to read Super Bowl numbers and copyright dates done in this pretentious way is annoying enough. Besides, screw the Roman Empire anyway. What did they ever do for Western civilization?

And if you're seeing this on my website in MP3 form, well, it's still the name of the song and I've just complicated things.

Voice 1: the hum from my desk fan, picked up by Perpetual Spring Device, through Valhalla Room. This started as an accident but I liked it.

Voice 2a: Kermit ch1 through Rings in sympathetic string mode, with frequency set very low to act as a delay.
Voice 2b: Rings output is multed to Kermit ch2's AM input, and to Mini Slew as envelope follower to control the LPG ch2 runs through.

Voice 3: Tides, mixed into the same input (and reverb) as the fan hum. Smoothness and level modulated by O_C envelopes.

Voice 4: Microbrute with its highpass filter set to high resonance and Brute Factor. Depending on what compression and your sound reproduction equipment do to the signal, and your own high frequency hearing, this may be pretty annoying or completely unnoticeable. It sounded pretty nifty to me though, and I hate excessive shrill stuff in glitchy and noisy music.

Voice 5: PlastiCZ VST through Vandelay.
84Apr 19 Dot Product
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:15 And now for something at least a little different.

Voice 1: Waverazor VST.

Voice 2a: Waverazor VST.
Voice 2b: Waverazor VST.

Voice 3: Waverazor VST.

Some Transient Master and SerumFX on the master channel.

That's right, no modular this time, just unapologetic digital weirdness from the new kid. I think the sound engine has a lot of potential, the features left out of the early bird version (to be completed later) are pretty important synth staples, and the interface needs to be buried at a crossroads. But that sound engine would have made a nice, crazy modular oscillator that would feel at home between Harvestman and Beast-Tek gear. It doesn't *have* to be harsh and weird, but the sweet spots are tiny archipelagoes in a vast sea of Z*XCYVIUWE#GFIWUGSZTXDXPXMXDSX.

It's a busy animal for sure -- the first 30 seconds of this track are a single instance. The rhythm and bassline mostly comes from slowing the rate at which it cycles through its sub-oscillators, which normally happens at audio rates. I set the song tempo to match that rate and started writing. The variation from one bar to the next comes from modulating a single parameter.

I look forward to the updates in the finished version, but I still figure this will make drones and noise for me. I'd like to try using it as a (generally less harsh) complex oscillator, and feeding it into an LPG in my modular -- I bet it'll shine for that task.
85Apr 20 Gdnarle
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:20 I have been thinking about West Coast synthesis a lot, of course, and the imagery of long-haired hippie artist-professors and their weird instruments with stylized eagle-shaped touchplates and brightly colored knobs started to fade to 80s surfer dudes. I guess this is an appropriate direction for thoughts to take on 4/20, though I don't partake. (If I did, I might have tried to make the song one minute longer.)

Radical... tubular... gnarly. Buchla didn't use tubes in his synths, but he was kind of radical in his art, and "gnarly" really is a fine word to describe the sound of analog FM, wavefolding and LPGs and mild to severe disdain of Western musical dogma that defines the form.

As this track developed, I found myself wanting to get away from the "vactrol bongo" (or bonk, as I think of it) sound a bit. I've been leaning on it quite a lot lately. So I used a slower attack time with a sine shape on voice 2a and added the extra layers of 2b and 2c, and combined two envelopes in voice 3.

Voice 0: Field recordings of an automated checkout lane made by sticking a pair of earbuds into the Mic port of a Rio Carbon MP3 player. (Yeah, that was a while ago.) A whole bunch of them are played simultaneously in a cluster, with distortion and filtering in Waldorf D-Pole, tremolo in ShaperBox, and Valhalla Room until it's a chorus of ghostly whispers.

Voice 1a/b: Two instances of Waverazor, one of which is a plain sine, the other of which takes 1/4 of the sine and plays it at the wrong frequency to turn it into an inharmonic drone. Through the same tremolo/reverb used for voice 0.

Voice 2a: Kermit ch2 through Synchrodyne, through Three Sisters bandpass, through Sputnik VCA. Synchrodyne's sawtooth output modulates Sisters FM.
Voice 2b: Kermit ch1 through Sputnik VCA; envelope is set to 2 in 7 Euclidean pattern.
Voice 2c: Kermit ch1, but through Mini Slew as a divider, and Sputnik LPG (same envelope as 2b).
These three play in unison. An effects send runs through DubStation, dBlue Clipper, ValhallaRoom and Maul; the send and the mix both go through Valhalla Vintage Verb.

Voice 3a: 0-Coast, using Slope for the Multiply CV and mixing Slope + Contour for dynamics control.
Voice 3b: another Waverazor instance into 0-Coast input -- notes are sequenced separately but 0C controls the dynamics.
Both into DubStation for a faster delay and Echobode for a slower, more diffuse delay.
86Apr 21 Thunderstorms Will Continue
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:03 The title is a notification I frequently see from my weather app, but it often strikes me as some kind of statement about life, nature, politics or whatever; it's definitely open to interpretation.

Pretty happy with this one overall. I feel like I accidentally made it rock.

voice 1: 0-Coast & Synchrodyne. Same pitch sequence; SD 4-pole output into 0C audio input and SD saw output to 0C linear FM. 0C contour controls balance. FX send with Replika VST through ShaperBox tremolo.

Drums: Maschine Harsh Kit through Permut8 and Megaphone.

Voice 2: Microbrute FMd by Kermit.

Voice 3: Waverazor through Spirit Reverb.

Voice 4: Waverazor.
87Apr 22 Sporkupine
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:17 I woke up in the middle of the night and started this, and managed to finish the song but not the post-processing and uploading until after I'd gone back to bed. No other story behind it, really.

Voice 1: Rings through Microbrute. Rings is in inharmonic string mode and 4x polyphony, and damping is set long so each "note" the Microbrute articulates contains the four most recent frequencies played. With some overdrive and resonant filtering, it gets pretty clangorous. MWaveFolder, Ratshack Reverb and ET-301 delay VSTs.

Voice 2: Warps FMing Tides, which is the "wrong" way to do it. One envelope modulates Warps wavefolding, another Tides' slope, and a third Tides' smoothness and a Sputnik VCA. Malefica and Guitar Rig 5 VSTs; Guitar Rig is running Fast Comp, Pitch Pedal +1 octave, LIttle Reflektor and Stereo Tune.

Voice 3: Clangs from Arcsyn using three FM voices, through Ratshack Reverb and ET-301.

Kick drum: 0-Coast, with its square wave running through Three Sisters modulated by a Kermit channel. DubStation VST.

Claps: Noise from Disting's S+H mode, through Sputnik VCA and Synchrodyne 2-pole lowpass. Mini Slew provides the envelope for the VCA and Synchrodyne's PLL influence.

Hi-hats: Waverazor through Valhalla Plate.
88Apr 22 Stunbunny Headcanon
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:33 As I was working on this I suddenly thought of Pachelbel's Canon. I guess there are sort of some similarities. No offense, Johann.

It seems I'm trending toward a few more software voices again. This is fine. :)

Voice 1: Synchrodyne through Sputnik VCA, stacked with Kermit ch1 through Sputnik VCF. Kermit is AM'd by Arcade Noise.

Voice 2: Microbrute with filter FM from Kermit ch2. Through WOW2, Valhalla Room, and two serial instances of ShaperBox to create a psuedo-multitap delay.

Voice 3: Two instances of FM8 with just slightly different settings, panned left and right. The crackling is due to modulation envelopes within the patch, not a separate effect.

Voice 4: Plogue Chipsounds, SerumFX and another two instances of ShaperBox for the same trick.

Voice 5: The Qyooo.

Voice 6: 0-Coast FMd by Three Sisters in formant mode; Valhalla Plate.
89Apr 23 Skonem
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:19 Is this acid jazz? I am never really sure. The name was one of those things I saw on a license plate, though of course with numbers in it, that sounded like it should be a word. Maybe it's a cute little side table from IKEA, or a kind of pastry, or a Danish word, pronounced nothing like an English speaker would guess, referring to a particular emotion that only Danish people are capable of having.

Voice 1: People have been talking about how Kermit and Tides are best buddies, so I started this track with Tides FMing Kermit, through Disting's linear-to-exponential algorithm. Kermit output goes to Sputnik LPG and VCF, one of which is selected by O&C's Euclidean sequencing in Piqued. Shaperbox and Frosting give it the glitchy treatment.

Voice 2: Arturia Analog Lab 2's "8bit Synth" SEM preset, with minor tweaks and Transient Master.

Voice 3: 0-Coast and Synchrodyne (one of my own picks for partners in crime, though 0C makes friends easily). 0C's square output to SD's sync; 4-pole folded output into 0C audio input.

Voice 4: The piano-esque chords are Rings in 4x polyphonic, Western Chords mode with input from Kermit at a fixed frequency, position modulated by Arcade Noise, structure by an EON envelope, damping by 2hp LFO. Through DPLPG modulated by Mini Slew envelope, and Replika VST.

Voice 5: The hi-hats that morph into squeaks are Microbrute.
90Apr 24 Crab Water
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:26 This started as an experiment with two VCOs into Mini Slew, which can bear all kinds of fruit, some sweet and some bitter and some probably poisonous.

The name comes from the always amusing, sometimes useful for naming crazy music, lewisandquark.tumblr.com blog about trying to train hapless neural networks in cooking and language. I feel like the robot revolution is either quite a ways off, or else it will be truly bizarre and frightening. I volunteer to provide their soundtrack, though. Sorry, human friends, I know which side of my bread is buttered. Or given their recipes, which side of the boneless head ham bananas is oozing with spore sauce.

Voice 1: Synchrodyne's pulse output into Mini Slew trigger, and Kermit into Mini Slew input. Rise CV is envelope modulated. Output is clipped in Gozinta, and runs through Zlob Dual VCA. Clipping level and Kermit waveshape are hand-tweaked during the recording.

Voice 2: Rings in modal mode, FMing Warps sine oscillator through Chebyshev waveshaper. Tides LFO modulates Rings FM. Envelope modulates Sputnik VCAs for Rings level and Warps output. Transient Master and Echobode VSTs.
91Apr 25 Is Birbsnek Time
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:48 I chose this name after reading an article about Doggolingo and wondering where the snek and birb representation was. Obviously my music is inspired by the deepest of emotions and emerges only after deep spiritual contemplation. Something about liminal spaces and the juxtaposition between blah and blah, or...

...or maybe I play with sounds and then when things start to sound cool, I go with the flow and make connections on the way. It's still art.

Voice 1: 0-Coast, FMd by both Kermit channels mixed. Contour and Slope both control dynamics, and Slope also modulates Multiply. SerumFX VST.

Voice 2a: FM8 VST pads.
Voice 2b: Korg PolySix VST pads. Both through ValhallaRoom.

Voice 3: Synchrodyne, with PLL influence modulated by O_C envelope. Fed to Warps FM input and Warps channel 2; crossfaded by another O_C envelope, and through Sputnik LPG modulated by a third envelope.

Voice 4: "grandfather clock" percussion is a trigger into Three Sisters All input, LPG output into FM, All output through ValhallaRoom. Higher snaps and pops are from a second gate modulating Sisters frequency.

Voice 5: Rings in Modal mode, FMd by EON, position modulated by Arcade Noise, through Sputnik LPG. Dubstation and ET-301 delay VSTs.
92Apr 26 Maru e
(MP3) (YouTube)
6:58 We had a long, slow drive in the rain to go to dinner tonight, and I found myself wishing it less of a dreary slog and more of a contemplative hour. My music is something I have much more control of than traffic or the weather, so here are a few moments of no-coast-ish, semi-atonal ambient.

This was another name from my favorite neural network blog, but if you want to imagine the internet-famous Japanese cat curling up into a cozy cardboard box on a rainy day, please be my guest.

Voice 1: 0-Coast, with its square oscillator through Warps Parasite tape delay and back into 0C input. Tape speed modulated by 2hp LFO. Slope triggered by slow clock, controlling Balance and Multiply. Permut8 and ValhallaPlate VSTs.

Voice 2: Tides into Rings input. Tides FM modulated by Euclidean pattern envelope, Smoothness by another envelope, Slope by Kermit. Rings in 4x polyphonic sympathetic strings mode, FMd by white noise, Position modulated by Kermit. Stereo outputs through Sputnik LPGs, and UberMod, Fault, WOW2, & Replika VSTs.

Voice 3: Arcade Noise clocked by EON square VCO, through Sputnik LPG modulated by a rapid Mini Slew cycle gated by the note gate. Arcade Noise tap CV is modulated by Kermit. Through Valhalla Plate, and stacked with ByteBeater VST.
93Apr 28 Ol' Shinbone
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:40 This was a troublesome song. I came up with a neat, almost FM-like patch and then while exploring that space, lost the quality of sound that originally struck me as particularly cool. But I used what I had, made it into a song and tweaked again, never really recovering the first discovery but getting something kind of neat.

Modular synths don't have a "save" button or an "undo." (Okay, some digital modules do save their state in case of powering off, and a very few have ways to save and recall multiple groups of settings. But I'm talking about overall.) When exploring sounds, I feel like stopping to take photos or notes would slow me down. But the few times I hit something like this, I wish I had. Maybe I should video everything just for moments like this.

Once I was "done" with the song, I realized I'd recreated way too many aspects of a favorite song someone else released commercially. Frustrating, because I rail against people who assume that all independent electronic music, or all music created by "amateurs", or all music created on modular synths, is the same. So it had to go.

After dinner I reworked the melody, messed with the patch again and retuned stuff in the process, and redid the harmony to fix the new melody and tuning. And here it is -- something I'm not very proud of at this moment but I'm following my unwritten "publish and move on" rule. It's rare that songs I feel this way about become favorites later, but sometimes I mellow toward them and enjoy them a little at least. This one came real close to getting deleted, so I hope it repays me with some enjoyment later on. I still kind of hate it right now and I had to stop myself from attaching a photo of a dumpster fire for the YouTube version.

Voice 1: A HumBuzz sample from Detunized, through Valhalla Room.


Voice 2: 0-Coast, with Multiply modulated by Synchrodyne. Wow2 and Valhalla VintageVerb VSTs. (This is the one I was struggling with.)

Drums: "Gem" Maschine kit with Transient Master and Decimort2 VSTs added.

Voice 3: PlastiCZ VST.

Voice 4: Arcade Noise, reset by EON squarewaves with clock modulated by Kermit, Tap by Tides, and 4/2 taps switched by 2hp LFO. Through Three Sisters bandpass and Sputnik LPG. TB Equalizer and Dubstation VSTs.
94Apr 29 Bacon Replacement Spa
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:44 The title for this track was on my lips after waking on April 24, 2010 and posted it on Facebook. I remembered nothing of the dream, but it must have been either glorious or truly terrible. It all depends on whether it was really a spa or some kind of brainwashing facility, and what the bacon is being replaced with.

Voice 1: Kermit ch2, AM'd by ch1. Through Sputnik LPG into Warps wavefolder (very different from wavefolding before the LPG as in the 0-Coast and most West Coast complex oscillator setups); fold amount controlled by EON envelope. Three Sisters modulated by a very slow Mini Slew envelope (TIL how awkward it is to set long but precise envelope times in Mini Slew.) A touch of Speaker VST.

Drums: Maschine Abbey Road 70s Tight Vintage Kit with a few changes and effects.

Voice 2: PPG Wave 2V through Presswerk and Decimort2 VSTs.

Voice 3: Tides through Three Sisters, Zlob Dual VCA, and diode1 VST. Tides self-modulates its shape, and Synchrodyne (syncing to Tides) its smoothness.
95Apr 29 Morcula Sapira
(MP3) (YouTube)
5:45 Not a latin name of a poisonous plant, exotic cocktail or Norwegian black metal band -- just another neural network generated name, ostensibly for a car model.

I like how this came out. When in doubt, make dark ambient.

Voice 1A: Trigger into Syncrodyne In; frequency is fixed. 2-pole folded output modulates its PLL influence; 4-pole output into LPG pinged by same trigger.
Voice 1B: Trigger toggles Mini Slew cycle. FM from Synchrodyne sawtooth output.
Both through Permut8 (as Karplus-String resonator), Valhalla Plate, another Permut8 (as glitchy delay), and Echobode (more delay/diffusion).

Voice 2: Arcade Noise with/through 0-Coast. Fixed frequencies; AN feedback tap modulated by 0C contour and Slope used as an extra oscillator. Valhalla Plate VST.

Voice 3: Tides into Rings, Sputnik LPG, Warps wavefolder. Rings is in modal mode, 2x polyphony. Tides Uni supplies Rings input, Bi the FM, and High Tide self-modulates Slope. Rings Damping and Tides level are gated. EON envlope pings Sputnik LPG, but with a big bias. Fold amount is a separately sequenced gate.

Voice 4: Kermit ch1, AM'd by Kermit ch2 at a fixed but high frequency. Through Three Sisters center band, with frequency controlled by O_C envelope. Permut8 (clicky delay), Valhalla Plate, and Transient Master (to remove some of the click) VSTs.

Voice 5: Hive VST.


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Check out my older musical projects:
Falls A Star
Lotus Wire

contact: atswhelly@mail.star-thief.net

All music is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Creative Commons License