30 July 2008

Form Without Humans

As I recover from the last two weeks in Addis I've finally been sitting down and working on some new tunes. My approach to recording is the same as my approach to exam preparation, in that I tend to spend so much time preparing and getting everything on my desk just right, that I'm bored with the whole thing before I've even opened the first book and wander off in search of distraction. With music I usually get so wrapped up in the knob twiddling that I rarely record anything coherent, and everything ends up being an elaborate thought exercise that has little intrinsic value beyond the ability to say, "yes, you can indeed sync a toaster to your 505".

With that in mind while this weeks effort has most definitely been a thought exercise, it is more coherent than most so I've decided to put it up on my blog. Why is it an exercise? This is mainly because I have some new gear that I've been getting used to, and I've been using some old gear in a new way. The whole song is recorded as eight tracks, with no looping, in Logic, essentially each instrument was played live - though multiple takes were made for each track. A fun afternoon's work and something I don't do nearly enough.

And now for the science...

1) Moog Voyager controlled via a Tenori-on
The Tenori-On is an amazing controller, but the on-board sounds on it are a bit weak. The Voyager is a great synth, but as I can't really play the piano I haven't got the most out of this (understatement of the year). The midi sync was easy, no messing about, but as the Voyager is monophonic you can only use the first layer of the Tenori-on as a controller, and can only play one patch at a time.

2) Korg Kaossilator
This little yellow box of happiness fits in your pocket and spreads joy and love wherever it goes. great sweeping synth sounds, drum loops that you can arrange just by tapping your fingers, and a price that's hard to beat. I've seen live sets on YouTube performed just with a Tenori-on and a Kaossilator, a bit gimmicky but so easy to set-up.

3) Flame Midi-Talking-Synth
An amazing box of German artistry. Taking two analogue Speakjet chips normally used in speech synthesisers (think speak-and-spell machines), a basic synth with looping effects has been created. The box generates English-sounding tones, and with the right combination of twiddles and tweaks you can almost get it to sound like real words, but inevitably (there's no other way to say this) it all sounds a bit like Stephen Hawking rapping.

4) Bleep Labs Thingamagoop
If there were Happy Tree Friends robots, this would be one. A small anthropomorphic synth with LFO controlled via a twiddly knob or an LED and light sensor. Not so musical but enough fun that you would almost forgive it when the machines rise and destroy us all.

I've uploaded the song to boomp3.com, and embedded it on the main landing page of my blog in the side bar under "Unkie Dave's Tunes". The usual Creative Commons licence applies (share but don't make money on it), and I'll probably put some more stuff up whenever I get round to it.


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