September 30, 2012
September 29, 2012
September 28, 2012
"The White Songbook was multitracked to four Tascam DA-78's. The entire thing was done on the System 100 and it was sequenced with the 104 sequencer module on the System 100 and with the built-in sequencer on Roland's SH-101."
September 25, 2012
September 19, 2012
September 16, 2012
In Soviet times almost all consumer electronics were by-products of the Soviet military-industrial complex. Supposedly engineers were forced to make them by the government, so they weren't very enthusiastic about them and as a result weren't very high quality. I, of course, can not confirm or deny this. But weather or not it's true, this particular model: The Electronika EM 25 is still intriguing to me. You can probably guess why! It has a wonderful, early 80's Roland-style design.
It's a polyphonic synthesizer specialising in organ, string and brass sounds. Like the Roland RS-09 (and many other polyphonic/string synths at the time) it utilized divide-down technology, which means it had a single filter, amplifier and envelope that it's oscillators went through. Some find this approach appalling and unusable even. The thought is that "all string synths need to have an envelope that starts and finishes it's cycle for each note pressed"*. I don't think this is true. Perhaps it isn't emulating the perfect string sound, but it is a wonderful sound that's all it's own and in my experience sits very comfortably in any mix. Anyway, back to the EM 25! Each section could be mixed and balanced or split across the keyboard range. Brings to mind the functions of the Korg Trident, does it not?
* It's Full of Stars; Roland Goofed; April 23rd 2010
This is Misha, the mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.
Designed by children's books illustrator Victor Chizhikov.
September 14, 2012
September 11, 2012
September 10, 2012
This is the live recording from that concert made by Emily Merron
The piece is conducted by Arran Price.
September 8, 2012
September 22nd 1998
I remember the day this record came out. I was fourteen years old and at the time I was playing keyboards for my parents band (I was really cool), a Crumar Performer and Roland Juno-6. We had a gig that night in a church basement or something. I bought the album before soundcheck and after soundcheck I went back to the car and listened to the whole thing from start to finish. It was typical Ohio autumn weather -- cool and crisp and I remember that it suited You Are Obsolete perfectly. There's something very cold about the album; the sounds were sparser than most electronic albums I'd heard by that point. It was less cluttered with sounds and that gave the whole thing a certain space and a distinctly lonely feeling. I'd never heard samples used so elegantly as they were here. There were so many different sounds but they were all so controlled. There are so many amazing songs on this album: Busy, Long Lost, Tree of Knowledge, Latency. But the song that really got me (of course it would be the most romantic of them all by far) was When Words Fall. I know the song wasn't written by House of Wires, but I don't think anyone else could have pulled it off quite like they did. I've actually tracked down a few Optic Rain (original writers of When Words Fall) demos -- they had their charms but they didn't quite get me.
I know Jon Sonnenberg has gone on to record better albums, indeed -- Fireworks by Travelogue is my favorite album of the year, no doubt! But I think You Are Obsolete is a testament to the consistent quality of all his releases throughout his career. You may argue that nostalgia has gotten the better of me (and this album certainly speaks to my nostalgia in a most extreme way!), but surly it can only do so much. More than a decade later I keep going back to this album "time and time again".
Here is an old video of Jon and Rob's pre-House of Wires band, Pivot Clowj:
* I've just been told that in the above video there are some projections of a grandmother dancing on Jon's shirt. It's kind of hard to make out but your imagination can fill in the gaps.
September 5, 2012
The sky was low, the sounding rain was falling dense and dark,
And Noah’s sons were standing at the window of the Ark.
The beasts were in, but Japhet said, ‘I see one creature more
Belated and unmated there come knocking at the door.’
‘Well let him knock,’ said Ham, ‘Or let him drown or learn to swim.
We’re overcrowded as it is; we’ve got no room for him.’
‘And yet it knocks, how terribly it knocks,’ said Shem, ‘Its feet
Are hard as horn–but oh the air that comes from it is sweet.’
‘Now hush,’ said Ham, ‘You’ll waken Dad, and once he comes to see
What’s at the door, it’s sure to mean more work for you and me.’
Noah’s voice came roaring from the darkness down below,
‘Some animal is knocking. Take it in before we go.’
Ham shouted back, and savagely he nudged the other two,
‘That’s only Japhet knocking down a brad-nail in his shoe.’
Said Noah, ‘Boys, I hear a noise that’s like a horse’s hoof.’
Said Ham, ‘Why, that’s the dreadful rain that drums upon the roof.’
Noah tumbled up on deck and out he put his head;
His face went grey, his knees were loosed, he tore his beard and said,
‘Look, look! It would not wait. It turns away. It takes its flight.
Fine work you’ve made of it, my sons, between you all to-night!
‘Even if I could outrun it now, it would not turn again
–Not now. Our great discourtesy has earned its high disdain.
‘Oh noble and unmated beast, my sons were all unkind;
In such a night what stable and what manger will you find?
‘Oh golden hoofs, oh cataracts of mane, oh nostrils wide
With indignation! Oh the neck wave-arched, the lovely pride!
‘Oh long shall be the furrows ploughed across the hearts of men
Before it comes to stable and to manger once again,
‘And dark and crooked all the ways in which our race shall walk,
And shrivelled all their manhood like a flower with broken stalk,
‘And all the world, oh Ham, may curse the hour when you were born;
Because of you the Ark must sail without the Unicorn.’
C.S. Lewis, Poems, “The Late Passenger” (1948)