May 8th, 2004

TXT:: Last Tuesday, I went over to 111 Minna St. Gallery in SF to check out Techture’s Laptop Performance with Reason. I dropped by a month ago to check things out, but I had to leave early and missed the show. The extended happy hour lounge performances occur every 2nd Tuesday, so I promised to drop by this month to check out the show. I brought my camera this time as well.

The week of hell is over…

May 3rd, 2004

(another one of those weeks). It started off with my 12 year old cat passing on. He was in bad shape and ended up passing away in the night. It’s funny because I go to a lot of human funerals and do not grieve much, but I really mourned the loss of this cat. Anyhoo… it get’s worse.

My normal responsibilities usually don’t require much work unless something really bad becomes a borderline disaster. So, last Sunday, the sewer station malfunctioned, and the tank was on the verge of overflow. It turns out one of the pump motors burned out because short circuit in the sensor wiring caused it to run while the tank was empty. The tank itself is about 30 feet deep in the ground and the pumps sit on the bottom. So… being that this is a hazardous job, I’m the only one “qualified” (stupid enough) to go down into the hole. We had a pump specialist come out to deal with the wiring and plumbing, but the shitty job was mine. It took a few days for the replacement to come in, so I spent a quite a bit of time down there. To make matters worse it was abnormally hot in the mid 90’s (about 35°).

I’ve been so busy with the CM magazine stuff that i’ve totally blown off getting my car smog-checked for the renewal registration. I finally decide to get it done, and even before the inspection, the mechanic says it’s going to fail. Apparently the “Check Engine” lamp came which automatically sends an emissions failure to the computer. So I had to take the car in to get worked on.

On top of everything else, i had to finish up the second CM article for a Beginners Tutorial on Reason that goes through the entire process of making a (simple) drum ‘n bass track using only Reason. Writing for beginners is tough, because you have to assume the reader knows absolutely nothing about music, computers, or Reason. My deadline was last Friday, and I managed to get the images, documents, and reason song files uploaded for transfer on Thursday night. I’m not sure of the publication date, but it’s probably going to be out in the next few months. Special thanks to Loopmasters for letting me use some of their cool ReCycle loops for the track! The track itself is nothing special, but the Malström bass patch i came up with is pretty cool.

Gilbert, a well and pump technician who handles repairs to our properties, wants me to school him on using his PC to convert his vinyl collection to CD. He’s a DJ, and one of those guys who’s really particular about sound quality. While he was playing a CD in his 600 Watt Truck stereo, he was complaining about mp3 encoding artifacts that he charmingly referred to as “background noise”. I told him that he would be a pain in the ass client because he probably wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than master quality audio from the original tapes. So we might actually trade services… Who knew that doing computer music could be used for bartering services!?

So the week of hell is over, and now i can get back to a normal leisurely routine by finishing up a review and some refills….

Power Tools for Reason reviews having been coming out recently. I’m still shocked that XLR8R decided to review it. The review says “like the Dungeon Master’s guide to Propellerheads’ popular studio software.” I know they’re getting into doing gear reviews, but it’s an honor that they selected my book. I know how hard it can be to even get a record reviewed in that mag! Future Music pummeled the book though. The main complaint is honest enough, FM stated that it’s not catered for nubies and “the assumption that Reason users will all want to know about merging and splitting CV signals and the like is perhaps misguided…power users go for it and for the rest of us, it makes a dry albeit very thorough read.” Good thing FM is difficult to find in the US because i’m using a phrase from the review with a deceptively positive spin :-)

CM Interactive Reason Article

April 22nd, 2004

TXT:: I just finished up an article for Computer Music mag for the CM Interactive reader questions on Reason. This is one of two projects Ronan has requested from me, which should be appearing in the coming months. He sprung this one on me last week while I was in the middle of writing another article on Reason for beginners. This second article should be interesting as it attempts to explain how to create a simple drum ‘n bass track from start to finish. The organization is similar to Producing Music with Reason, however it’s condensed down to about 6 pages. We’ll see how this one goes. I’ve got another week to polish it up.

ReFill:: The Etherwave Theremin refill is now online. It contains a combination of the old plain samples, and a new set of produced samples processed with a variety of effects and (hardware based) pattern controlled filtering, distortion, and ring modulation.


April 17th, 2004

TXT:: So, I went to the Squarepusher show last night at the Avalon Ballroom in SF. I was somewhat hesitant about going after hearing mixed opinions about live squarepusher performances, but I’m really glad I did. I arrived a bit way too early and ran into Rich and Carson, who helped with the sample production for my book.

Squarepusher is indeed a fantastic bassist, and I especially enjoyed the musical interludes where he would just play without the tweaky beats like on “An Arched Pathway” off Ultravisitor. It was a pleasure to watch him perform, running his bass through filters and ring modulators. I couldn’t see what he was using, but they sounded vaguely familiar. The sound system has a beautifully tight bass response, and wasn’t too boomy in the boxy room. I was surprised to hear a live version of “Dimotane Co”, off Feed Me Wierd Things. People who’ve seen him perform before said the added laser light show ‘enhanced’ the experience ;-)

The best part of the show was being introduced to the opening act, Kenny Muhammad, the Human Orchestra System. Kenny is a human beat box extraordinaire - his talent is simply unbeleivable! It’s one thing to do hip-hop beats, or even mid tempo breakbeat stuff, but Kenny was cutting up some amazing 150+bpm drum ‘n bass beats! He was doing some crazy s#!t that people spend hours trying to program, all in real time with no delays or effects tricks. Even if you’re a lukewarm Squarepusher fan, I highly recommend going to the show to check out Kenny.


April 12th, 2004

TXT:: I dropped by 111 Minna Gallery to meet up with Blake, a.k.a. Techture, a fellow Reason user who puts on a live show and DJ sets every 2nd Tuesday. Coincidentally, I ran into an old internet aquaintance, Ben who is a close friend of Emmet, the man who hosts this website. Yes, the world is getting smaller. Unfortunately I couldn’t stick around for the show since I had to get home and finish up my taxes.

I picked up the Logic Pro upgrade, and I finally tried out the EVP88, that everyone seems to rave about. EVP is pretty cool, but more impressive is space designer! I don’t have much time this week to play with it, but I know i’m going to be tweaking around with custom impulse response templates in Space Designer :-)

No Shame

April 6th, 2004

TXT:: I’ve been commissioned to work on a new project, so my current projects will probably held back for another month. I’ll probably take a break and relax by finishing up the ReFills. I’m working on another beginners guide to Reason. I’ll post up more details when they come available.

I received an email today from a fellow reason user who discovered that my track “Noesis” was plagiarized. I guess this is one of the pitfalls of having RPS files floating about on the internet. The email pointed me to an artist page hosted on and sure enough, “Noesis” was posted with a different title. The person didn’t even try to remix it or alter the original. I sent an email to the technical support, and within an hour the file was deleted. The efficiency of the admins at IC-Musicmedia is quite impressive!

Analog Days

April 2nd, 2004

TXT:: I’ve been Reading Analog Days by Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco (Harvard University Press). It’s a fascinating book about the history and development and cultural impact of the Analog Synthesizers of Buchla and Moog. The interviews and anecdotes are informative and quite funny; I especially enjoyed the story of Bob Moog trying to find the resonance frequency of an elevator on the way to his thesis presentation. Don Buchla’s participation in the SF Bay Area counterculture (about the time I was a fetus) was really enlightening. There’s a funny photo as well from the 60s with some kind of Taco Bell endorsement of Moog Synthesizers. I would highly recommend it to any analog collector or enthusiast interested about the subject.

Anyhoo the book inspired me to finally get around to making the necessary repairs to my Buchla 200 powersupply. I thought maybe it was a leaky cap, but it turned out to be a bad solder joint on the transformer. I guess there was a bit of smoke particulate mixed in with the flux :-) ’ This is a relief because i thought I was going to have to replace all the caps–Finding original parts is a bit difficult, and using replacements might require changes to the circuitry. The next big project is tearing apart a the 208 and restore some of the sliders that are a bit sticky….

ReFill:: I’ve put the Live session 02 ReFill online which contains Sax, Rhodes and upright Bass phrase samples. The server has been drawing a lot of bandwidth the past few months, so I’m temporarily taking the Rhodes ReFill offline. Both of these ReFills are on the CD-Rom that comes with Power Tools for Reason, so if you have the book, then you already have the ReFills. The CD-Rom image is already floating around on the usenet, so if you really want it, you can probably find it on a newsgroup.

I’m putting the final touches on the Theremin ReFill, and there’s a MP4 audio demo that a threw together on my Music Page. The demo is comprised of ReCycle Loops and Samples arranged using Reason. It’s one of those strange experimental pieces. There’s also a MP3 Stream.