Saturday, 22 January 2011

Word of the Week #1

In homage to the excellent Aliens Project close up of the week [i.e. it's a blatant rip-off] I have decided to start a new series called word of the week in which I will attempt to take a picture of an interesting word I see somewhere in the studio each week. OK, here is the first one, any guesses where it's from?


Check out our new Maths Facebook page There is a competition up there to remix one of our tracks, or if you prefer a track by Gary Numan!

If you choose our one you will be able to download the raw audio sounds from the following synths and drum machines and mess them up as much as you like: Arp Odyssey, Korg Monopoly, Simmons SDS5, Moog Modular, Arp Omni, Roland TR808. So dust off your Tascam Portastudio and get remixing!!!!

Strawberry Mixer

Here is an amazing clip of Martin Hannett in the studio in 1980. I saw this over on Member D's excellent blog and it made me very happy indeed

The mixing desk is a Helios wraparound affair, and is referred to as the '10CC console'. See this and this post over on my other blog, especially the comments in the last link. Note that the desk is now located at the Audities Foundation in Calgary Canada, who also have an incredible analog synth collection

Friday, 21 January 2011

East Coast, Meet West

I got back from my holiday and JOY! the Cynthia lowpass gate arrived from America that I bought on the bay. This is a very special module, and I have been on the lookout for one for quite some time, in the Moog format. I was hoping that it would do what it does and joy upon joy it does. It is a quad vactrol-based circuit based on an original design by west coast synth pioneer Don Buchla in the 1970s, and was a big part of the Buchla sound. Here is his lovely panel, the original Buchla 292

As far as I understand it, vactrols are a special electronic circuit based around a tiny lamp that is enclosed along with a light sensor, and when it recieves a signal the light comes on and the sensor translates it into a control for other circuits. Because there is a time delay when the light goes off it produces a very natural and organic sounding decay which is very useful in electronic music. This module uses the vactrol to control two elements; firstly an audio amp and secondly a low pass filter, which has the effect of decreasing the harmonic content of the input. You can also select to have both being gated at the same time. The net result is a very natural and organic sounding module, and having four in one is really useful, as you can use them in parallel or series. One way of using it is to send it a complex audio signal, such as noise or FM oscillator, and trigger the vactrol with a very short spike and you get wonderfully enveloped percussive sounds

I had to connect up the Dotcom power supply to the Cynthia module which meant I had to 'phone a friend' [Big Al] quite late last night, but he talked me through it, and made sure I had the polarity right. Here is the inside of it. The vactrols are the black squares with 3 legs

The front panel is really well made and printed [by STG] - apart from the fact that each of the 4 sections are labeled 'channel one'!

Here is the patch in the video. Theres a Moog 901 VCO being FM'ed by another 901 which is being FM'ed by the 960 sequencer. The main VCO pitch is being controlled by a random signal via a sample and hold. A COTK VCO is triggering the lowpass gate described above, and the frequency of the trigger is being controlled by a Dotcom 119 sequencer




Holiday Snaps

Io Town

Ive just got back from a trip to the French Alps skiing with Pete. We found this amazing little town called Avoriaz 1800 [that's how high it is in meters] which is a skiing only town. It's got no roads - only ski runs! The really cool thing is it was built in the 1960s and 70s [actually there's still buildings going up now but using the same crazy designs] and its like being in a 1970s sci-fi film set on the innermost of the four Galilean moons of the planet Jupiter

Heres a little film I made on one of the lifts. The music is from a 70s library album, a track called 'Pulsion' by John Saunders

Monday, 17 January 2011