March 20, 2014

Tone Color #2

Ever since I got the Moog Subphatty (I know, that name has got to go! Thank goodness they're fazing it out on the new Sub37), I haven't quite been able to get to sound I wanted. It just sounded too Moogy or something. I know I know, it is a Moog synthesizer, of course it's going to sound like a Moog. But I've owned or possessed a few Moogs in the past (Prodigy, Rogue, Opus 3, Mini-Model D) and I was always able to get the clear tone I was looking for. 

This new Synthesizer has that "Multidrive" so you can sort of over drive your sound after the filter -- definitely not something I'm interested in so I've always kept that firmly turned off.  But what I didn't realize was that the Oscillators would overdrive before hitting the filter if you turned them up past ten! I'd just assumed that you should always have your Oscillators cranked to get the cleanest signal. But if you turn these guys up past ten, they distort, so your saw tooth or triangle waveforms all end up becoming square waves essentially.

So, I've finally discovered how to get the clear, floating, other-worldly tones of my dreams on this synthesizer. My mind is still growing! And so is yours!

March 16, 2014

Moog Exhibit

So, as I mentioned earlier, the new Rough Trade shop in town has a Moog exhibit going all month long. I always feel so awkward going to these sorts of things. I never know what to do. You kind of fiddle with the instruments a little under the watchful eye of a salesmen who probably "doesn't get your art" or whatever. But! These things so rarely happen (though they are more frequent these days, in this city than I'd ever dreamt). So after a lovely dinner, at our favorite Italian restaurant, Peter and I made our way towards the river and that new Rough Trade shop. It was very cold! So cold that we said to ourselves "is this worth it? I don't know!"

Eventually we arrived at the store which was larger than expected and completely empty. We walked up the stairs to the exhibit and in the room were three guys who were all talking to one another but stopped as soon as they saw us. "And the awkwardness begins!" I thought to myself. Then as I assessed my surrounding I noticed that one of the guys, wearing a Moog shirt looked very familiar. We looked at each other for a split second before we both realized who we were.

His name was Andrew and we attended the same school together when we were kids in a very small town in Ohio (it's so crazy he ended up working for Moog, really is such a small world!). So we chatted and caught up for a few minutes. Then I realized that I recognized another guy in the room. I didn't know his name but I had met and talked to him quite a bit a couple years ago when we performed at the Moog Festival. His name was Trent and he was very eager to hear my feedback on all the Moog products I've been using. I told him that my number one complaint was that one couldn't delay the modulation on Moog instruments. I also told him that an auto-bend effect would be nice and a few other nit picky things. He was very receptive and wrote all my comments down and said that they would try to implement all these things on the new Moog Sub37 synthesizer. "How exciting to play a small part in electronic music history!" I thought to myself.

So, we all had a nice time and learned a valuable lesson about getting out and doing things. Also, the third guy in the room's name was Ian, and he was really cool. I actually saw him a couple days latter hanging around some other analog synthesizers, we had another nice chat then too. Ian, if you're reading this leave a comment and tell me how I can get in touch with you!

As an unexpected bonus, we happened upon this Ghost Box display. I do enjoy the music Ghost Box puts out, I've bought a few of their releases -- some physically and some digitally. I know now that Ghost Box will probably be something that in ten years I'll have to own everything and by then it will all be outrageously priced. I'll be kicking my self for not getting it all when it was right in front of me. But, that's just the way these things go I suppose. 


March 14, 2014

MeMe Antenna - New Synthesizer Counter Space

So, I stopped by MeMe Antenna last night (our favorite little Japanese gift shop, with a small corner in the back devoted to analog synthesizers) and it was closed earlier than usual. I took this super spy photo through the window. Looks like their little synthesizer nook is expanding! How exciting!

MacBeth Elements Synthesizer

I've been watching a few videos about the MacBeth Elements synthesizer today (that Macbeth is one kooky Scottish bloke!). I'm pretty convinced. This thing is beautiful. I love the design. There are certainly some elements of the old EMS synthesizers in there. Those knobs! Those tiny switches. He's very mindful of the aesthetic of the thing.

But the whole thing still seems very practical -- my reason for not getting (what I'd imagine is a comparably priced) Buchla music easel.

My one concern is that the envelopes are just Attack, Decay, Sustain. No Release. I love release. 

This video was released today, and he's saying they'll be ready to ship in six weeks! We may see them sooner than I'd thought.

March 13, 2014

Roland M-OC1 Manual

Haven't done one of these in a while! And it's not true vintage Roland. The M-OC1 is an orchestral sound module from the mid 90's. I got one because I heard a rumor that House of Wires used one on You Are Obsolete. I love it! Used it quite a bit on the new Drums record. Anyway, just came across this little gem in the manual:

It strikes me as funny that they'd ask you to write down digital parameters on a piece of paper. Maybe that wasn't such a strange concept in 1995. And I love that they regret that it many not be possible to restore the data. The entire Roland corporation regrets that your data may be lost. I realize that not many will appreciate this humor, but I hope that you, my dear blog reader, will. 

I have quite a bit more to tell you... I did go to that Moog installation today and some strange things aligned in the universe. But it's getting late and it's time for bed so it will have to wait. Goodnight!

So Quiet...

Sorry it's been so long. I guess I've been pretty busy with work and... I don't know, it's hard to say. The funny thing is, I feel like I'm more interested in synthesizers than ever before.  I have that feeling again like I did when I was a kid, a belief that synthesizers are the key to an unexplored new frontier  of sound and magic! I didn't think I'd ever feel that way again. For the longest time I would look at a huge modular synthesizer and see little more than an organ. It had all just become so common place.

I must thank my new friend Llamano for bringing me back to this point (see previous post). She is such an inspiration! A true talent! I also should probably admit that I think my vintage Roland fetish has finally reached it's logical end. Don't get me wrong, there are certain Roland pieces that I'll always use and enjoy, but there's just nowhere else to go. Perhaps Roland's latest line pushed me over the edge. All hope for a wonderful new Roland product has died. They were releasing far more interesting things in the 90's (SH-32 etc..), well certainly better than this rubbish they're currently peddling. But it's nothing to be sad about. Quite the contrary! We're living in a somewhat exciting time for analog synthesizers. I'm probably going to get that new Arp Odyssey from Korg when it comes out. Wouldn't it be great to own an Arp Odyssey for a sensible price?

I am interested in the MacBeth Elements and Nexus 1 synthesizers. Those touch plates are really interesting to me. But who knows when they'll be released (been talking about them for years and still no release date in sight!). And when it comes down to it will the cost really be worth having the curiosity of a touch plate keyboard in my studio? Now, before you jump down my throat -- I know these are extremely quality synthesizers, not just a curiosity. But in the end my frugality will probably hold me back (as it should). The same thing happened with the new Buchla Music Easel. I was really interested in that and when they released the price I just couldn't bring myself to it. It's just not practical for music creation when you could be getting a massive system from for the same price.

I think I may go down to Rough Trade today after I get a little work done and check out that Moog Installation.  I never really enjoy these sorts of things, but I feel like I should go when they're in town.