Sunday, 17 June 2018

Grid-Of-Synth - Wanderlust




Phew! Just finished the new Blancmange album Wanderlust here with Neil Arthur. He took the picture above of me on the Moog through the giant crystal. Below is a collection of synths and things that we mainly used on this album. I am going to try and show you what stuff is used on what from now on here. It will be labelled the GRID-OF-SYNTH. Click on the pics for a large version. WOOOO!

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Tomita-Benge


LOOK! When John Grant and Paul Alexander were down here a few weeks ago, John had a copy of the reissue of Tomita's Daphnis Et Chloe album on CD. And inside is a picture of him in his studio in the 1970s. Its just like my studio is now!!

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Modcanned




So heres more Modcan explorations - a bunch of sketches on my new (old) Modcan A modular system. I damn well love this thing! Its such a beautifully designed system - offering utter uniqueness and flexibility

It seems to fall between West-coast and East-coast design philosophies - combining all the good things about modular synthesis in one giant bundle of fun. The system here is made up of original Modcan A modules and also Cyndustries (Cynthia) A-format ones. These were made a bit later once the A-series format had become established around the mid 2000's

What is cool is that Cyndustries used to commission / licence designs from well known figures in the synth design world - and put the names of the designers on the front of the modules. It reads like a who's who of the geeky electronic scene, with names like Nyle Steiner, Chris Huggett, Jurgen Haible, Don Buchla, Ken Stone, Bernie Hutchins, Peter Granader, Serge Tcherepnin

It all adds up to an amazing modular experience, like playing with a giant synth museum in a box. Sadly it seems that both Modcan and Cyndustries are now lying dormant, which is a shame, but from my point of view it makes these systems now seem more 'vintage' and precious somehow, and that fits in with most of the stuff I end up buying. In fact I have been looking for a Modcan A system for a few years without any joy, but like London busses, they all seem to turn up at once

Here is the current system I have put together, and there are quite a lot of modules I still have in another cabinet that I haven't decided what to do with yet. Watch this space!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Revamp


I recently met up with Leo Abrahams here at Memetune and we were able to catch up on stuff. Leo is the person who invited me to participate in the amazing Discrete Music birthday gig at the Barbican in London in 2015. He is also the person who inhabits my old studio in Hoxton, sharing it with Hannah Peel and Erland Cooper. Here is a recent picture of the control room and its looking DAMN GOOD - well done and hurray for keeping the flame burning!!

Yes We Jan




I did a raved-up remix for Sefa recently - and its NOW OUT digitally. Please go and listen to all the marvellous remixes HERE

More info about the remix album HERE via Sefa's recorded label, Lost Map Records UPDATE: Heres a megamix and video for your consideration

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Akai, Akaii Or Akais?


Here is a short video of me playing two Akai synths. What is the plural of Akai? Is it possible that the word is a MASS NOUN, such as RICE or AIR? Who cares! This film shows me hooking up the S612 sampler to the AX60 using the special SAMPLER IN socket on the AX60, which routes the sampled voice through the AX60's voice architecture polyphonically. Its pretty cool and really opens up the potential for both units. Also theres a nice quirk on the AX60 that is a result of one of its limitations. It seems that any panel adjustments with the sliders only take effect AFTER a note has been triggered, and this means that moving the envelope amount fader while, for example, running the arpeggiator results in the notes having a full envelope retrigger on each note. I'm not sure I have explained that very well, but do you see what I mean? Anyway, I like exploring quirks

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Mod Can Do


I have finally put together my dream Modcan A system. Yes We Modcan!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Odd Thing


A strange composition on the Arp Od(d)yssey and the matching Arp 1601 sequencer, alongside an Akai S612 sampler. I'm using the 1601 to trigger and pitch the Odyssey as well as the Akai (via a CV to MIDI converter). Its the same idea as this video. I love this patch! I shall call it THE REANIMATOR patch

Monday, 2 April 2018

Word of the Week #75


Cling Film




I have made a video to go with my latest Benge release (which I am sure you have already downloaded). The video was partially shot on my iPhone which I wrapped in clingfilm so I could submerge it in a tank of water which I then poured ink into. The clingfilm didn't work. And now my iPhone doesn't work. Never mind I needed an upgrade anyway



Sunday, 1 April 2018

Mag Stash


I've posted before about vintage magazine archives (e.g. here), and I just found another one - this time UK music technology magazines from the 70s and 80s. Mu:zines is the place to go for a serious hit of prototypical studio porn. The way I found it was by doing a search for a review on a very obscure 1980s reverb unit (the Dynacord DRP16) and it led me to the online version of the December 1984 issue of Home Studio Recording magazine. So if you are like me and prefer buying pieces of equipment made yonks ago (they have a certain sound you know) then you can step back in time too and read all the latest reviews!

Green House


I don't know anything about this house like for example where it is or who made it and when (i'm guessing the 1970s) but I like it very much indeed:

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Album Of The Day


WOOO! Album of the day on BBC 6-music!!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Sunday, 18 March 2018

VCS3 Time




Spend a little time with the VCS3:

Dy-No-Mite




And here is a brillo video for the title track Mr Dynamite

Creeping Out




Our debut album is OUT! Its getting some great press and reviews too. PHEW!

“A deliciously dark electro team–up. Music as tense as Pink Squirrel and as Kraftwerky as Tokyo Metro come together quite happily in the snarling Creep Show sound.” Q – 4 Stars ****

“A full-blown, fun and fearless blast of analogue synthesis… The album asserts the great variety and malleability of electronic music.” The i Paper – 4 Stars **** (Album of the Week)

“There is a mischievous liberationist spirit, a sense of old friends coming together to relax the rules and try out everything in the musical toy box… Propulsive, kinetic and buzzing with paranoid otherness, this is a fantastic exercise in sense–mangling sonic collage.” Uncut – 7/10

“Their debut album is a riot, bending pitches, tempos and comprehension into nice slices of fried, wry funk pop.” Record Collector – 4 Stars ****

“Dark, incendiary electronica harking back to the anything–goes post–punk aesthetic of the late 70s… The record never stands still.” Mixmag – 8/10

“An exciting blend of bizarre twisted electro and otherworldly cosmic funk… Unique and exhilarating.” Louder Than War – 8/10

“Giddy feelings of mischief and liberation collide on the title–track’s pitched–down threat and the disorientating K Mart Johnny… Grant’s trademark baritone returns, at its persuasive best, on Modern Parenting, although it’s wonderfully ruminative closer Safe and Sound that resonates long after the end.” MOJO

“A fearsome array of analogue and modular–synth sounds, eerie vocal effects and beautifully processed classic drum machine hits… Dark, sci–fi tinged electro with attitude to spare.” Long Live Vinyl – 7/10

“Their debut channels repetitive, infectious krautrock… Epic in structure and with subtle Brian Eno-like touches, the songs manage to be both cohesive and fiercely innovative.” Evening Standard

“A debut album that is by turns ominous-sounding, inventive and, on K Mart Johnny – a Blue Jam-like evocation of plastic-dinosaur-based children revenge – surprisingly funny.” The Observer

“Pitch–perfect… A playful and expertly curated exercise in vintage electronic music.” Financial Times

“Creep Show will delight you… The remarkable ‘Endangered Species’ and the affirmative ‘Safe and Sound’ are as good as anything Grant has done solo.” Sunday Times

“Utterly brilliant, esoteric dance music… Creep Show is a Frankenstein’s monster of a project, merging the progressive balladism of John Grant with the dark analogue electro of Wrangler. Musically we are taken everywhere.” Loud & Quiet – 7/10

“Equal parts playful and malevolent, this sits at the experimental end of the synth–pop spectrum and offers enticing grooves aplenty.” Classic Pop

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Tone Flow


New Benge album hot off the press:

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Sealverb


I've added a vintage stereo spring reverb to my Emu Modular system. I bought the original Emu face panels ages ago on Vemia for pennies, and also an old 1980s D&R spring reverb. I got my friend Ross to wire up the Emu panels to the reverb unit, and also add CV to the really nice sounding eq that the unit has. Heres a patch with it integrated into the full system, using the memory modules for sequencing. Oh and some seals I filmed at the zoo last week

Monday, 26 February 2018

Vesta Karplus


Here I am testing out Karplus Strong synthesis on a Vesta Kozo DIG-420 sampler / delay module (a very cool unit from the late 1980s). Note that it is VESTA-KOZO not "KAZA" as I spelt it in the video - the font on the front is hard to read! I'm using the Moog modular to 'excite' the delays in DIG-420, then using the Moog 960 sequencers to change the pitch via CV. This unit also has Gate ins so it is a really cool device for adding sampling to analog systems. I love the Vesta Kozo stuff from this era - I've got the matching digital delay and also the stereo / dual spring reverb

Saturday, 24 February 2018

John Grant Sesh




John Grant in da house! Messing around on the CS80, the Emu Modular and the Moog Modular (being triggered by the Sequential VS). Good sesh mate! Thanks to Paul Alexander for shooting the vids and generally being awesome

Word of the Week #74


Facts




Just spotted this modular synthesis playlist over on FACT mag. It features one of my tracks from Twenty Systems. Cool

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Creep Show Videow


We've got our first video! Chris Turner created this for us! Woo!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Electrocomp In The House


I've never played on let alone owned and EML synth before. Until now! I just got this beautiful Electrocomp 400 system back from Keith who fixed it up for me. As a very esoteric, self-sequencing synthesiser from the early 1970s the idea of it pushed all the right buttons, and it doesn't disappoint. I have a long way to go figuring out what all its functions are, but luckily it came with a user manual, so I'm off to do some more experimenting..

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Drummish


Mojo Working


Nice little feature in this months MOJO Mag. The secrets out. (Ps - I took those pictures!)

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Coral Sitar


This is what the future was supposed to sound like:

Friday, 12 January 2018

NA at MT


Its been a good start to the year, Neil Arthur has been down already, working on some new material with Rothko, and some other animals (VCS3, Minimoog, etc)



UPDATE: Neil sent me this panorama he took in the studio. Its quite Cubist in its style:

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Six Million Dollar Piano




Trying out a patch idea for a piano sound on the Moog 3C. (Patch idea based partially on an article by G.Reid, 'Synth Secrets', SOS magazine, October 2002)

Modules used (all RA Moog from around 1968): 5 x VCO, 1 x Noise, 1 x LPF (for tuning the noise), 3 x 4 :1 Mixers, 1 x Fixed Filter Bank, 1 x Spring Reverb, 2 x VCA, 2 x Env Gen, 1 x VCLPF, 1 x Multiple, Keyboard, Output Mixer with EQ

The patch is as follows: 3 square wave VCOs tuned to unison into a mixer and out into a fixed filter bank for fine-tuning the tone, then into a VCA/envelope with a very long decay (this models the piano strings)

A second bank of 2 VCOs and some tuned noise go into a second VCA/envelope with a very short decay then into the reverb module (this models the hammer hitting the strings)

These two signals are mixed into the LPF and the long envelope controls the frequency of this

No other sounds or effects are being heard

I only wish it was 88 note polyphonic! To buy the required 88 Moog Modulars to accomplish this would cost about 6 million dollars

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Aberesque


A Serge Modular patch - self playing! With a Roland TR505 added in too

Friday, 5 January 2018