Monday, 21 February 2011

SC:60X60 Volume 2

Before I moved to the US, I had volunteered to coordinate a collaborative project over at SC:60x60 Volume 2 is the 2nd in a series of one-hour long compositions made up of 60 pieces, each lasting exactly one minute. I had hoped to get all the submissions before my life took a turn for the chaotic, as I knew I wouldn't have much time to spare in 2010, but getting 60 tracks from about 50 different artists in a few months isn't as simple as you might think. Help was thin on the ground, and everyone involved from artwork to mastering to web design has had other real life shit to deal with, so it's taken about 18 months from start to finish.

I'm still very pleased with the end result, overall the quality of tracks submitted was very high. Some tracks really blew me away, a few others ehhh not so much, but on the whole it's an interesting selection of music from some highly talented people.

Anyway, here it is:

SC:60X60 Volume 2 (2011) by SC:60X60

Check out the website here where you'll find downloads with artwork, cue files, and a neat cut-out cd sleeve design.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

hybrid synth - first demo

brent x - test 11 by mattrick

Here's something I quickly put together to try out the new synth.

More varied examples will follow...

Friday, 1 January 2010

MZI Hybrid Synth

Inspired by the MOTU Volta, I wanted to design my own similar system for controlling analog synthesizers, without resorting to a standard MIDI to CV interface. If Volta was already available for Windows, or had I known about Silent Way, I may not even have bothered, but I'm glad I made the effort now as it's been a very satisfying project.

Why not just use a MIDI to CV interface?
  • Limited resolution
  • No (or few) modulation sources included
  • Multiple channels could get expensive, even doing it DIY
  • Everyone does that
  • I have an audio interface with 24 DC coupled outputs, many of which were unused. Economically, it made sense to take this route as I already had this hardware.
In addition to the software part of the project, I also needed to build a new synth to try it out on, as my Pro-One and the old modular I made at college are both out of action (next project: restore life to these old synths?), plus I wanted to build some new hardware anyway :-)

The Hardware

  • Twin sawtooth oscillators with coarse (+/- 1 octave) and fine (+/- 1 semitone) detune controls
  • Bidirectional sync. Sync from OSC A to OSC B or vice versa.
  • Squarewave sub oscillator.
  • Oscillator mix control.
  • One CV in for pitch only. Both oscillators share this common CV input.
  • Based on the PAiA Fatman oscillator section with modifications, I put this together on stripboard.
  • Dual channel state-variable filter
  • 3 signal outputs: 12dB low pass - 12dB band pass - 12dB high pass
  • Filter Cutoff Frequency CV input
  • Filter Resonance CV input
  • 3 signal inputs, summed.
  • Circuit designed by MFOS, built using MFOS PCB.
  • Dual channel amplifier
  • Switchable log / lin response on each channel
  • Circuit designed by MFOS, built using MFOS PCB.


Each module is self contained, and powered from a common external psu, supplying +/-12vdc. Careful thought was given to knob placement, from a performance perspective. The psu also has a gooseneck lamp which can be used to cast light on the synth in dark studios / on stage.

I didn't build any modulators as this is all done by the software!!!

The VSTi

I originally did this using Reaktor, but ran into 2 problems:

1. Lack of support for multiple ins and outs when used as a VST. Up to this point I was using Cubase SX3 as my DAW, and just couldn't find a way to route the signals where I wanted them to go. This led me to try out Ableton Live, which had the same shortcomings, although that can do funky stuff like send LFO signals to the outputs, used to great effect by this guy. Then I heard about Reaper, which has an amazingly flexible routing matrix, so I tried that, which led to...

2. Reaktor 5 and Reaper don't seem to work together at all. Reaper would crash as soon as I tried to fire up Reaktor as a VST.

I was getting pretty frustrated at this point, as I'd made a working controller in Reaktor standalone with all kinds of bells and whistles, even a sequencer, but couldn't get it to work in an external application. So I decided to start over using Synthedit. This way would be more work but I'd have a compact VSTi with much less cpu load than using Reaktor.

Building the controller in Synthedit turned out to be much easier than I'd anticipated, having already worked out the high level stuff, I just had to find equivalent modules and figure out the details.

The VSTi interface

The GUI is pretty ugly, although it's sensibly laid out and I'm pleased with the wood effect! (made using Wood Workshop!). At some point I'll get round to making it look nice, possibly abandoning the wood and making it match the hardware.

I was a little dis-hearted when just as I was finishing off the software, I discovered Silent Way by Expert Sleepers which is basically the same thing (a Volta alternative) only much more professional looking, and quite reasonably priced! Still, I've enjoyed doing the software myself even if it isn't the revolutionary product I thought it might be.

I haven't even tried getting this to work in Cubase yet. I'm enjoying using Reaper so much that I'm not sure I want to bother with Cubase ever again, so it's not a priority.

Other hardware modules on the horizon (parts in, circuits designed, just need time):
  • Voltage Controlled Wave Shaper
  • 24db Voltage Controlled Filter Bank
I'll upload some audio samples later.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

subtext december 6th 2009

this is the last show for a while, possibly forever. i'm packing up my studio and moving across the ocean, and i don't know when i'll get it all set up again. i also feel like taking an indefinite break.

this show features a half hour or so digital & spirit section, because i just got the urge. that's probably the best bit.

thanks for listening over the years and i hope you've enjoyed the selection and tolerated my shitty mixing!

bop & dephecta - the space between us - syncopathic
triad - fiasco - deep soul music
atom - breath in - ?
spectrasoul - poseidon - deep soul music
calibre - run around - defunked
break - timeline - critical
logistics - murderation - hospital
the spirit - freezing point - timeless
data - muted - metalheadz
teebee - dynasty warriors - creative source
digital - one ton - phantom audio
digital & spirit - void vip - function
digital - champion bubbler - function
spirit - back up - timeless
digital - waterhouse dub - function
jennifer bolton - dreamcatcher [spirit's warehouse dub] - narcotix
digital - ras 78 vip - function
digital & spirit - quickdraw - phantom audio
digital - gateman - phantom audio
digital - lion - timeless
genetic sequence - weirdo - transmute
instra:mental - thugtronika - exit
macc - boomer [martsman remix] - alphacut
sub - when jupiter & saturn meet - plain audio
serum & bladerunner - snakefist - creative source
mendelayev - i'm zombie - alphacut
genetic sequence - last christmas - sequential

that's it. i kind of hope it's not my last show because this was a particularly bad one imo, but here it is anyway, for completists or fans of digital & spirit only. i'm cringing at some of these mixes. it's that bad.

if anyone's interested in any previous shows that aren't up here (i only have as far back as nov 2005) then let me know in the comments and i'll see what i can do.

tracklists for all shows since early 2007 are available here


Saturday, 5 December 2009

genetic sequence - last christmas

i made this track in 2004 for a bit of a giggle and released it as a free mp3 through; it's a cover of the classic wham! track from the 80s. since then it's propagated around the interwebs a bit and keeps coming back to haunt me.

it's been featured on which at the time i'm writing this, has 395 cover versions of last christmas. i witnessed john b dropping it in the main room at therapy sessions and the crowd loving it. last year this guy jack kern sequenced his christmas lights to it and stuck it on youtube:

you can download the 320kbps mp3 right here

have a rockin' christmas :-)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

subtext november 1st 2009

this one is only about an hour long due to streaming problems. the first 2 tracks were lost (ergo not included in this tracklist) and the last minute is very skippy before it cuts out. considering the initial skipping at the start of the show had totally killed my buzz, i think i ended up doing a pretty ok job.

so here it is, after 2 false starts:

sci-clone - everywhere i go - metalheadz
serum & vapour - true calling - critical
resound - razorback - vampire
optical & ryme tyme - twisted - virus
lomax - federation - critical
logistics - murderation - hospital
commix - underwater scene - soul:r
triad - fiasco - deep soul music
data - curfew - sound artillery
bal - all city - ?
seba - hidden reflections - secret operations
lynx & hellraizer - shady pastimes - soul:r

and then the stream dropped again and i had to quit.


subtext october 4th 2009

d bridge - wonder where - nonplus+
instra:mental - thugtronika - exit
seba & lenk ft robert manos - 16 stories - metalheadz
asc ft intext systems - drum track 2 - offshore
fracture & neptune - clissold - astrophonica
use of weapons - vicious enemy - droppin science
cycom - stars - transmute
macc - be like water - outsider
logistics - murderation - hospital
jynx - skleletons - deep soul music
data - curfew - sound artillery
triad - fiasco - deep soul music
break - timeline - critical
s.p.y - asbo - soul:r
the fix - brooklyn - nu directions
ed rush & optical - funktion - v recordings
s.p.y - moving in circles - soul:r
sabruko - warped [instra:mental rmx] - horizons
asc - the narrows - ?
instra:mental - no future - nonplus+
the untouchables - congaman - vampire
amit - snake pit - l plates
logistics - warehouse - hospital
teebee vs future prophecies - dimensional entity - subtitles
teebee - metreon - subtitles
teebee - let go - subtitles
dom & roland - can't punish me - moving shadow