Monday, 30 August 2010

Build Your Own Electronic Musical Instruments

What are you waiting for!

Via Johhny F - thanks!

Electronic Musical Projects - P.K. Sood

OK, Yah

Me and Big Al were messing about on the Doepfer today. The patch was based around the osc, analog delay and filter modules. It started trying to speak! We found that by adjusting the delay and filter settings we could make it sound more 'posh'


Had a nice long walk at Toot Hill today with Joe and Charlie... great for clearing the mind

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Discovered: Discovering Electronic Music

For some reason I had never seen this short film about electronic music before. I had heard of it but I think it had been deleted from YT or something. Anyway, its so good I decided to save it to my HD and put it on my YT channel too. There are a few moments in this film that almost made me cry out with joy

Via Matrixsynth

Via Matrixsynth

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Serge Alone

Heres a little sketch I made on the Serge Modular. This is completely self generating with no manipulation by me. However I got the MPU-101 interface patched up and sent one of the oscillators semi-randomly generated note events from a scripting program called AC Toolbox. I was getting really frustrated trying to find some algorithmic software that I could use on OSX 10.5 and get working with my USB midi interface to send out to the Serge. I tried MAX MSP but that wouldn't recognise the interface, another program called Elysium kind of half worked, and Reaktor doesn't do scripting and I couldn't set up any decent generative sequences with it that would send out midi events to the interface. Then I remembered AC Toolbox and although its not real-time [you have to set up the various rules using lisp] it did send out the midi data properly and I quite like the way you give it some rules and then set it off to see where it goes. There are 2 audio oscillators and 2 analog sequencers as well, and tons of modulation LFOs as well. The panning and reverb is all automated via LFOs and the sequencers

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Checked Jacket

Via Matrixsynth

Robot Reverb

I just saw an EMT 250 digital reverberation unit on the bay. This model is affectionately known as "R2-D2". I am fairly fanatical about reverb units and have a few favorites of my own [EMT 140 valve plate, Lexicon 224 Mk1, Roland R880, Eventide H3000, AKG BX15 spring, Ursa Major Space Station Mk1] but I would very much like the EMT 250 to be on that list. I am always interested in pioneering first generation digital equipment, they tend to have a massive but edgy character, for example Fairlight CMI, Linn LM1, Lexicon 224, Synclavier etc.

Click on the link at the bottom of this post to read a cool article about the EMT 250 by Will Shanks

eBay details: seller: reedosi, location: NY, NY, starting bid $3000, pickup only

"This is the EMT 250 Digital Reverb, Delay, Chorus, "Phaser," Echo. It sounds as big as it is and as heavy as it weighs. It's a digital reverb with its own wheels, for crying out loud! You can even run it in quad. Like other top-shelf reverbs (Lexicon 224, 480, AMS RMX) it never gets lost in the mix. Ever. The multi-tap chorus is amazing as well. If you only use this thing as a delay you will prove that the gap between rich and poor has grown way too big.

I had it completely refurbished by David Kulka a couple years ago after buying it from a fellow who claimed to have gotten it from Jeff Porcaro. Since then it has sat in our air-conditioned, smoke-free studio and made our snare drums sound way too big for their own good. We have had zero maintenance issues with it.

I really don't want to see this thing go, but we're re-organizing our space. In a half-hearted effort to sell it, I am offering it in a pick-up-only capacity"

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Crawley Down

I'm going to look at this on Monday

Friday, 20 August 2010


I found another car video like the ones in this post. The trouble was the music on the youtube clip was horrible, so I put a piece of library music on from the correct era. Its called Flash Graphics by Z. Lawrence from the Bruton album BRK 09 High Tension. Look at that house its parked outside at around 30 seconds

Edible Pedals

I saw this and liked it. The Ibanez AD80 is my favorite pedal ever. It tastes of strawberries and cream

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Speaking Serge

I finally fixed the Serge Modular power supply and got it home and set it up again. See this post for more. Big Al helped me with it, I had to get a new transformer, which is the big magnetic thing that makes power supplies so heavy. It weighs a ton! Luckily it only cost £15. I made a matching box to put the entire supply in so that it can be away from the main synth because it was interfering with the spring reverb units. I will take some pictures of the whole system again when its totally finished. I still want to make a Benge Delay panel for it!

This is a self-contained patch and has no external effects or sequencing or editing. Its in mono because I didn't have two banana to phono converters. There are two VCOs being played by the sequencer, going through an analog shift register so that VCO 2 has a sequence 3 steps behind the first. The rhythms are all filtered and phased noise, taking different triggers from the sequencers

One of the Serge's charms is that there is no writing on the panels and some of the very old modules have no known documentation. They also have various functions depending on the patching, and the upshot is that I don't know how many of the modules are supposed to work. Thats why I enjoy experimenting with it, because it is a journey into foreign territory every time

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Carnivores and Herbivores

I met up with my old band mate and friend John Ford the other day. We used to play in millions of bands together when we were at school. He gave me this picture he took during one of our rehearsals, this one taking place at the school where I used to live. I remember this one because we raided one of the cupboards and used some pipe cleaners to fashion silly glasses from. Thats my mums handwriting behind me. Johns got a really cool blog here

He even uploaded some audio of one of our Doctor Gloves gigs in the mid eighties [using the day and month written on the blackboard, I make that 1984]. I'm liking the tone of that cassette recorder

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Girl Talk

Heres a clip of JG mooging-out today. We were working on a new Great Guns track 'Girls Talk', actually a song written by George Demure who we are working with on some tracks. He sent me a midi file and we used it to trigger the Moog Modular and Roland 100M which you can hear in the rough mix below. Its not finished yet, just a sketch still. There's a Linn LM1 and a bit of EMT plate too

Monday, 9 August 2010

Pack Shots

I'm doing some research into a new project and have been looking at how various manufacturers represented their products back in the mid 70s - mid 80s period, for example how they were lit and positioned. Here are some examples, mostly taken from retro synth ads blog, and also Niel Vance's flickr pages, and of course matrixsynth

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Omni Phonic

Here is a short demo of the ARP Omni synth. The Omni was introduced in the mid 70s and was ARPs biggest selling product. Its got three quite distinct sections; a beautiful sounding string synth [as used by Joy Division] a bass synth, which is pretty "fat" sounding, and can do the good squelchy stuff, and a polyphonic [paraphonic?] single osc synth which can be layered with the others. All in all its got a really unique and wonky sound and that is very good news. This little sketch was done by layering the three sections together, and no FX or anything was applied, so its pure Omni

The guy who sold me this sent me this mp3 which is a demo of the Omni made by ARP, which came on a flexidisc. Pretty cool!

People The Sky

I've been looking for this album for ages, and can't find it anywhere, apart from on vinyl on ebay for lots of £. Its an album recorded in 1969 by Michael Czajkowski, using only a Buchla 100 [pictured above - the actual system, which was located in the Bleeker Street Studio, NY]. Theres a great write up with lots of info here written by Seth The Man [click below to read the text as well], but having scoured the googernet I could only come up with the following audio clips. It sounds extremely interesting to me..... How come this is not available anymore?

Demo Reels

That last post featured a video made by these guys. I'm really enjoying looking at these various demo reels on youtube. BTW I want a Nimslo camera

Here's some more

Can YOU feel it?

Friday, 6 August 2010

Montreux 1976

I've been listening to a lot of George Dukes 70s stuff recently. My favorite album of his at the moment is probably The Aura will Prevail from '75, as it is totally bonkers, plus doesn't have too many dodgy soulful vocals on, which could be a problem later on. Heres a clip of him performing as part of Billy Cobham's band. Cool synth rig, with a Minimoog, Mk1 Odyssey, Fender Rhodes, a couple of Roland Space Echos and some others I cant make out. Even Billy's got a Minimoog beside his insane plastic drumkit. I would love to have been at that gig

Here is the wonderful 'Euchidna's Arf' from said album

Potted Neve

Here is a post I put up over on the Balance Blog with a potted history of old Neve mixing consoles:

I found some information from Geoff Tanner about the history of some of the classic Neve consoles, like the beautiful 8014 below. So I took the liberty of illustrating his words with some more pictures from his website

Quote from Geoff Tanner (c)2002:

"The 8014 is another very popular console with 1073’s, this time 16 channels and 4 bus with 8 track monitoring. Early consoles had four VU meters and later models used eight. As with the BCM10, the 1272 line amps were mounted on the front of the console with their function silk screened on the front panel and a front panel mounted level control fitted. A good guide is that 80*4 consoles were generally four bus, and the 8014 was superseded by the later 20 channel 8034 and rarer 8024 consoles

Then came the 8 bus consoles 8016, 8016A, 8026, 8026A and 8036. . . so the clue is that 80*6 is obviously an 8 busser! The 8016’s were rather like a expanded 8014 and most of these desks used 1900 (or derivative) switching units

The 8026 range were a little radical as they used 3401 + 3402 line amplifiers which were 32mm wide and used externally mounted VT22543 transformers. These transformers were mounted on hinge down rear panels and Lord help anyone undoing the thumbscrews without prior knowledge of the weight of those panels. . . they were HEAVY !The 3401 & 2 line amps were replaced by the 3405 with its internally mount LO1173 output transformer and I believe that the 8036 went back to 45mm 1272 line amplifiers

Next came the 16 bussers which used coding 80*8. . . e.g. 8028, 38, 48, 58,68, and 88. The 8028 used 1073 or 1084 equalisers with 1903 16 bus routing units and 1906 Aux routing units. The 8028 was the last all Class A console Neve produced as the others all had a sniff of AB somewhere in their circuit paths! I would add that we can convert any 80 series console to all Class A with our adapter kit. The 8028 was 24 channel but the later 38 and 48 could be 28 or 32 channels (+Rev returns). The 8038 used a 12″ 1064 or 1081 equaliser with a 12″ 1948 routing module which combined the functions of the 8028’s 1903 and 6 modules into one module. My recollection (and this is going back over twenty years!) as to the quickest way of identifying the 8038 from the similar 8048 was that the 48 had its monitor section consisting of a “square” of up to four 8T matrix panels (32T) whereas the 8038 had just three panels in a straight line, offering 24T monitoring

The 8058, 68 and 88 consoles were a major change as they were the first inline monitor Neve consoles and the first consoles to be produced to the New Appearance Design (NAD). This involved using Extra Dark Sea Gray paint instead of RAF Blue Gray, lower case letters instead of upper case, custom charcoal grey knobs instead of the Marconi predecessors, custom extruded aluminum fader panels instead of standard P & G, and custom extruded aluminum cladding instead of the wood cladding of previous consoles. Pretty radical! The 58 was 28 channel, the 68 was 32 channel, and the 88 was 40 channel. The 8078 was the first (non custom) console to have 24 busses. Plenty of custom consoles before it were built as 24 bus, the earliest one I know of being A88 Wessex Sound’s unique console (C1970) which now resides at Paramount Studios in Hollywood and is currently for sale. The 8078 was the last 45mm standard console produced by Neve and are usually snapped up as soon as they come up for sale. A rare derivative, the 8098, used a separate monitor section in an “L” shaped extension to the main console frame

The 8100 series of centrally assigned and microprocessor based consoles came about because of a series of beer and sandwich lunch time meetings to which all Neve engineers were invited. The promise of free beer was a good incentive to attend these design meetings for the console code named N78. I sometimes wonder, with hindsight, whether they would have been better designed with a little more input from the prospective customers! The consoles can be easily identified with the following clues; 8108 consoles, available in a number of different sizes, were mainly blue. The successor, 8128, was mainly extra dark sea grey, and the 82** economy versions (e.g. 8232) used conventional keyboard switches instead of the expensive touch panels of the other two models

The 8000 range of consoles were intended for music recording whereas the 5000 range were designed for broadcast. There is always at least one exception to a sensible rule and, as an example, the 8301 10 channel 2 bus “Kelso” console with its simple two band eq could hardly be described as a “music console”!

To summarize Neve broadcast consoles, 5000 series used 45mm modules and were usually 20 channel 4 bus or whatever. 5300 series were usually old appearance RAF Blue grey and used 35mm (and sometimes 32mm) modules. 5310 consoles were similar but used NAD extra dark sea grey. As an example, the 5302 was very similar, electrically, to the 5312 and both were 12 channel 2 O/P. The 5305 4 bus console used a “flat” profile similar to a BCM10 whereas its successor the 5315 had a stepped meter section. Both could be provided as 12, 24 or 36channel. There was also a lovely 8 bus version, the 5316, and I built a lovely 36 channel custom 5316 for Scottish TV which is now in a studio in the USA

54 consoles were based on a 5422 Suitcase console which, in turn, were based on a range of suitcase consoles sold to the SABC. These were easily distinguished by their built in telephone handsets. 5432 was an 8 channel “drop through” version and the 5442 was a tabletop version. Later versions had more channels and / or busses e.g. 5455, 5465

This list is far from complete but should help Neve aficionados identify the true model number of their consoles. Neve did not make that many “standard” consoles (until they foolishly disbanded the custom section!) so folk should be proud of their “50 or 80 series” classic custom Neve consoles!"

Thursday, 5 August 2010


We've finally released the wonderful debut album by Belgian duo pq. Head over to expanding records for more, and check out the myspace page too. Below is what Barcodezine says about it [BTW they are right about the recent infrequency of releases, but thats all about to change]

Releases from the excellent Expanding Records label are becoming increasingly infrequent, which is a shame, especially as this album from pq – a Belgian duo – is another quality outing.

You’ll Never Find Us Here outputs 13 tracks of fertile ambient-acoustics, incorporating mostly classical and electric guitars, piano, and subtle electronic textures.

Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of pq is their willingness to embrace melodic chord progressions that invite the listener in, whilst at the same time generating disquieting atmospheres that drift into unorthodox territories.

This is successfully explored on the opening A Taste of Diminished Expectations, which combines gently plucked guitar chords with hollow, reverb-fuelled sound effects to titillate the senses. Meanwhile, tracks such as La Chapelle and Your Perception of Red are more than happy to play it straight, the former utilising soothing lonesome acoustic guitars and the latter dual-layered piano, songwriting at its most simple – yet effective.

Louis on Earth stands out for Louise Rates vocal contribution, which adds a haunting quality to the track’s melancholy, yet somewhat foreboding guitar riffs – eminently calming all the same.

The remainder of You’ll Never Find Us Here is mostly comprised of aspects of the aforementioned tracks; short, often sweet, statements that explore a rand of diversifying moods, assisted by an undulating cosmos of clicks and cuts. It’s amazing how much diversity can come from such a simple blending of instruments, yet this is the key to pq’s accomplishment – combining traditional yet inventive auras with the erudite perception that quite often less is more, crucially allowing the listener’s imagination to fill in the blanks

Theydon Bois

Got the central line in from Theydon Bois yesterday. Its really old-fashioned there. It has no street lamps in the village, so when I came back it was pitch dark everywhere. I took this picture from the footbridge

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Educational Laboratories

I dug out the handbooks that came with my CES EdLab electronics modules. These are really cool 70s systems that allow you to learn electronic and digital circuits by patching on the modules with banana cords. The books take you through tons of clever electronic stuff bit by bit, and explain how the logic works and what all the various electronic components do. It has the added benefit of being compatible with the Serge Modular stuff, so some pretty exotic functions can be created. I hope to experiment with them together soon. Oh, and another benefit is that they look damn cool. The books are really beautiful as a design series

Parking Space Invader

Parking in Hoxton is always at a premium, and today I drove around for quite some time before this car caught my eye. Luckily the was a space right behind it

Monday, 2 August 2010

Serge Patch Two

Heres another video I just found that I made before I revamped the case. This is all Serge sounds in one live patch