January 27, 2013


Now, I know what you're thinking, "Didn't the Puritans persecute Quakers?". Yes, they did. This is just a harmless little book alright?

January 26, 2013

Morten Harket

If you're around my age, can you really pinpoint the time that you first heard A-ha? Surely not. I would have been one year old when Take on Me was an international number one hit single. I must have heard it hundreds of time (thousands of times?) before I finally perked up and said "Hey, what is this!". I do remember that time though. I was probably about seven or eight years old. I was in the car on a Sunday afternoon with a teenage girl from my church who was such a mainstay as my family's baby sitter that I suppose she was more like a nanny-- but she didn't treat us like little kids so we were cool with her being around for the most part. Anyway, I heard that beautiful synth-pop sound and Morten Harket's voice launch into that impossible falsetto and I thought "Yeah, this is for me.". It was durning that innocent time in one's life when the thought of owning your own music hasn't quite occurred to you yet (or at least in those days it didn't). But every time I heard it from that point on, in the grocery store or wherever, I thought "This is my song.". 

I bought my first A-ha album when I was about sixteen; it was their obvious debut Hunting High and Low. Since then I've been hooked. I know that sometimes it isn't cool and they can be too of the times. But some times they transcend all that and when they do it is amazing! I think that on every album they've ever released they've had at least one song that is pure magic. 

Now that A-ha has officially disbanded I've started getting into singer Morten Harket's solo music. There is some good stuff in there but the one record that stand's out to me is his first solo record that came out in 1993. It's called Poetenes Evangelium which translates to "the gospel according to poets". Every song is unedited poetry written by 20th century Norwegian authors depicting the life and death of Christ. I feel as though Morten has perhaps struggled throughout his career trying to balance being a pop star / sex symbol and his faith. But I do think he's found some sort of balance. To me he's never come across as anything but totally sincere. Here is a TV performance of Engelen from Poetenes Evangelium.

This is probably the first and last time we'll see a song on television
about the life of Christ performed by candlelight with a Memory Moog.

January 24, 2013

One Of Those Days...

I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to the insides of electronics but I usually do alright cleaning them out when need be. Today I cleaned off the heads of my Tascam 234, then while trying to clean the rubber pinch roller a lot of inky black residue came off. The more I cleaned the more came off and eventually the roller was a sticky, gooey mess. 

After doing a little research I discovered that this tends to happen with these 234s. I am not the first to be in this predicament. So I called my mentor Jon Sonnenberg (artoftravelogue.com), told him I also had a Tascam 112 and it looked like they had the same roller. He gave me some good advice. I checked to see if it was in fact the same roller. It was. Tascam P/N: 5800891200 if you ever find yourself in this "sticky" situation.

I went about switching them out. The first road block I hit is rather embarrassing. I couldn't get the thing open... that is, I couldn't get the face plate off (I'm not kidding in my "not an authorized technician" disclaimer!) . I called David (thecompleatsynthesizer.com), who is now the proud owner of four 234s and has some history with them. He walked me through the first few steps, but in the end we both decided I wasn't up to the task and that the best thing to do would be to take it into a shop.

So now here I am venting my frustrations to you: my sympathetic reader. I also don't have nay food in the house so I've just about eaten an entire tin of peppermint bark left over from Christmas. This scene is especially dismal with my Christmas tree still standing in the corner. I was hoping I could keep it until at least February but I think it's time to let go. The only upside to this day is that Peter and I have already decided to go to our favorite restaurant tonight. 

This is when I gave up. I put a little angel ornament on top to pray for it. 

Cool Mod!

I don't usually like modifications to equipment but that's mostly because I don't like the way it can mess up the aesthetic. There's usually no effort to match knobs or colors or anything like that. Well, here is a nice, practical and (most importantly) nonintrusive modification to give an SH-09 some modular capabilities: 

Now, I don't want to become one of those blogs that just constantly reposts auction listings, but if you are interested it is currently for sale:

Thanks Justin for the tip!

January 19, 2013


Once again, sorry for the lack of activity. I've been focusing all my energy on Cascading Slopes (which is in full swing by the way : www.cascadingslopes.com). We've been practicing a whole lot getting ready for a string of concerts we have in New York City in February. At the moment I'm back on a bus to Maryland (with an MC-202 in my back pack... you know, just in case) to finish up mixing the album with Justin, once and for all! It will be such a relief to finally be finished. That's all for now. Thanks for stickin' around. 

January 9, 2013

Friday, etc.

I'm going to miss this month's C.S. Lewis society meeting on Friday because some friends are coming into town. I had meant to finish reading That Hideous Strength before this month's meeting (which is about C.S. Lewis and the Apocalyptic Imagination) but I never did and now I'm not going to the meeting and now I'm hooked on another book! I'll tell you all about it later... it's a good one! One of these days I'll finish That Hideous Strength and when I do, I'll reread Out of the Silent Planet. Thus far it's been my favorite of the Space Trilogy but everyone talks up That Hideous Strength so much, can it possibly live up to the hype? I'm still hoping for another Lewis book that I love as much as Till We Have Faces. Perhaps this is the one?

January 8, 2013

Autobend and the Roland SH-1

I recently acquired a Roland SH-1, mostly because I wanted another synthesizer in the studio with CV and Gate. It's hard to believe, with how much I go on about it, that the SH-09 and System 100m were the only two synthesizer I had that possessed it. This is why the 09 and 100m make up the bulk of my recordings thus far. 

The SH-1 is a bit of a step up from the 09. It has an extra envelope (just attack and release), a high pass filter, keyboard and external signal / envelope follower controls for the filter and an extra slider in the mixer section to control the noise generator independently (on the 09 the oscillator must be sacrificed for noise). It also has a feature I rarely come by called Autobend.

Autobend is sort of like portamento but rather than gliding to your note from the distance of your previous note, you set the distance to whatever you want -- with the depth slider, then you set the time you want it to take to arrive from that set distance or depth -- with the time slider. Where are we coming from? Always below. I suppose that's why they call it depth. Autobend, at least on this machine and the Roland RS-505, always bends upward. I would imagine that is the most useful anyway. 

It can sound a lot like portamento and is probably often mistaken for it. It's most notable different when the same note is played more than once in succession. If it were done with portamento the gliding effect would be heard only once and then the note would sound uneffected. With autobend we would hear the gliding effect each time. 

It is a nice effect and I think I like it more than portamento, at least for practical purposes. And I am quite happy with my SH-1. Anyway, here is my favorite bendy-note song:

January 1, 2013

Parallel Worlds: Return

Parallel Worlds is a Greek electronic band that have been around since 1994. Their studio is full of tons of modular gear including a few racks of Roland System 100m modules.