CatSynth video: Stonewall Catson (Ensoniq SQ-80)

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Submitted by Carl Peczynski via our Facebook page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Desert Shadow (CA 58)

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Amanda Chaudhary Desert Shadow - CA Highway 58

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CatSynth pic: Konayuki and Keystation 88es

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Submitted by John Sargent Patterson via our Facebook page.

“Konayuki with her Keystation 88es!”

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Outsound New Music Summit: Guitar Night!

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The 2014 Outsound New Music Summit continued last Thursday with night featuring guitars, and only guitars. This was an unusual curation for a concert of new music, and generated some lively and amusing discussion during the pre-concert Q&A.

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The concert itself opened with a solo set by Henry Kaiser. He performed on an instrument that he had never used before, or even plugged into an amplifier before the set began.

Henry Kaiser
[Photo: PeterBKaars.com.]

He opened with a simple piece directly into the amp that was quite pretty, with lots of harmonic and melodic sounds punctuated by percussive moments. But it was when he added his effects that things because more interesting, with very lush sounds and intricate patterns of delays and loops – not the simple looping harmonies one often hears but complex textures reminiscent of improvising ensembles.

Next up was a duo featuring Sacramento-based guitarists Ross Hammond and Amy Reed.

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[Photo: PeterBKaars.com.]

Their set featured a wide range of sounds and styles, some quite idiomatic drawing on the artists’ blues and folk roots, some much more experimental with extended sounds techniques, and some quite noisy. Particularly memorable moments includes drones that were interrupted by higher scratchier sounds, and the final acoustic traditional song sung by Reed.

Hammond and Reed were followed by another duo, John Finkbeiner and Noah Phillips. At once one could tell theirs would be a different sound, heavier and a bit more aggressive.

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[Photo: PeterBKaars.com.]

There was a lot of fast playing and use of percussive and prepared techniques. The music never really settled down, which I suspect was the intention. I liked a lot of the electrical and “beyond guitar” sounds they were able to achieve.

The final set was also a duo, this time bringing Houston-based Sandy Ewen together with Jakob Pek. From the start, this was the most avant-garde of the sets, with both performers placing the guitars in their laps, and bowing or striking the instruments.

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[Photos: PeterBKaars.com.]

This was a beautiful and captivating set, with dramatic changes in texture and technique. There mere many long tones but also moments that were very sparse and quiet. They kept the listeners on edge with strange and eerie sounds combining guitar strings with rubber balls, steel wool and other elements, but their gentle intensity also kept us drawn into the performance for the entire duration.

Overall, it was an interesting night, with quite a range of music from a single instrument. All of the artists took us far beyond the typical stereotypes and expectations of the guitar and showed us a lot more of what it can do in the right hands.

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CatSynth pic: Taro and Prophet 5

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From Sawa Masaki on flickr (it’s been a while). Taro composes on the Prophet 5 and K5000S.

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Outsound New Music Summit: PoetryFreqs

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The concert series of the Pitta of the Mind, my duo with Maw Shein Win got things going with a set of poetry and electronic music on the themes of abstract art and cinematic distance. Our color theme for the evening was red and black.

Pitta of the Mind at Outsound Music Summit
[Photo by Annabelle Port.]

It was our longest set to date, but also our best so far, with a variety of sounds to match the words and tight transitions between poems. It was also the most complex technically, with the Prophet 12, analog modular, Moog Theremini, iPad, and Nord Stage EX all running at once.

Amanda Chaudhary
[Photo: PeterBKaars.com.]

Maw Shein Win
[Photo by Annabelle Port.]

We performed confidently and playfully and we got a great audience response. And the color theme went well with the blue set and lighting courtesy Travin McKain.

We were followed by first-ever performance by Ruth Weiss, one of the original Beat poets, with master analog synthesizer artist Doug Lynner as well as Hal Davis on log.

Doug Lynner, Ruth Weiss, Hal Davis
[Photo: PeterBKaars.com.]

Log may seem like an odd instrumentation, but Davis made it work well with Ruth Weiss’ recitations, and Lynner managed to create sounds on the Mystery Serge modular that sometimes mimicked the percussive resonance of the log and at other times complimented it with more lush tones. He was also able to hit loud or noisy moments in between the words. Ruth Weiss was sharp and witty in her readings, moving from her work in the 1950s and 1960s to more recent compositions. Although the trio had only met once before, they seemed very comfortable performing together and it made for a fun and exciting set. This was something that will likely never be repeated, so we were privileged to have witnessed it.

The final set brought together Zachary James Watkins on electronics and Marshall Trammell on percussion with poet and voice artist Amber McZeal.

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[Photos: PeterBKaars.com.]

The music began slowly, with calm but textured percussion and electronic sounds combined with McZeal on didgeridoo. The drone built up to more intense textures, with noise and thick electronics, Trammell’s intense drumming, and McZeal’s voice, which was at times beautiful and melodic singing, and other times dramatic and confident speech. The text for this set was very sparse compared to the previous sets, more like a third instrument than poetry set to music.

Overall, this was a great start to the Summit concerts with three strong performances (I admit I am biased about the first one). We had a great turnout as well, filling all the seats in the concert hall at the Community Music Center. It set a high bar for the next nights.

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Outsound Music Summit: Touch the Gear

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The 2014 Outsound Music Summit in underway. And as usual, we began with our popular community event Touch the Gear. We had a large crowd of all ages, and delightful cacophony of unusual musical sounds.

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This year, I brought the analog modular (specifically, about two-thirds of the current module collection) and the new Moog Theremini:

Amanda Chaudhary with analog modular and Moog Theremini
[Photo by Frank Lin]

There were several first-time participants this year, including Elise Gargalikis and Dmitri SFC of coa-modular.comwith their “wall of Serge”. It was fun to get to try this out myself.

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[Photo by Elise Gargalikis‎]

There was more Serge modular to be found, courtesy of Lx Rudis.

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Aaron Oppenheim brought classic circuit-bent toys, including a Speak&Math and the Talking Computron.

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It was a bit of inspiration to get of my tuchus and circuit-bend the Speak&Spell sitting in my studio!

There was a Minimoog sighting, of course.

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Long-time participants Matt Davignon and CJ Borosque demonstrated their recent work with effects pedals. Davignon processed drum machines and samplers while Borosque’s pedals were in a closed loop circuit generating their own sound.

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There were acoustic instruments as well. David Samas brought his very impressive contrabass ehru. This beast was huge. And it had bells in addition to the strings and resonant chamber (made out of a trunk).

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Bryan Day presented his mechanical/electrical/acoustic inventions.

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Jaroba shared a variety of wind and percussion instruments with a bit of electronics.

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[Photo by Frank Lin]

There were several more presenters, and as usual I don’t have room for everyone in this post. But it was a great event as always, and we at Outsound appreciated everyone’s contributions. Now it is on to the concerts including tomorrow night’s Poetry Freqs show. Please click here for the full schedule!

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CatSynth pic: Mimi and All the Synths

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Our dear friend Mimi returns, with the most epic CatSynth pic ever! How many synths can you name?

Submitted by Eric of polynominal.

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CatSynth 8th Anniversary

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Well, our eighth blog anniversary occurred this weekend.  So today we celebrate that milestone as we do every year, with some statistics and a look backs.

First, as always, the photo of Luna that launched it all on July 19, 2006.

We are always happy to receive visitors from all over the world, and we do.

Our top countries are:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. Germany
  5. France
  6. Australia
  7. Switzerland
  8. Italy
  9. Netherlands
  10. India

Not surprising, the largest English-speaking countries are on the list (I include India), but also a strong presence in countries of Western Europe, especially Germany and France. Beyond India, several countries an Asia were well represented, especially Japan and South Korea. Notably, China had only 6 visitors this year, perhaps we have been blocked? Our top country in the Middle East was Iran, in Africa it was South Africa, and in South America it was Brazil.

Our top ten cities were San Francisco, New York, London, Zurich, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sydney, Melbourne, and Chicago.

Our top post from this past year was Our review of new modules from Make Noise. Indeed, we saw the highest overall engagement on our NAMM coverage.

Our top commenters for the year were:

  1. Georgia and Julie, along with the late Tillie (we miss Tillie)
  2. meowmeowmans of Animal Shelter Volunteer Life.
  3. Snowcatcher
  4. Louis la Vache (of the now closed Bay Area Photo blog)
  5. Beth F of Beth Fish Reads
  6. Our friend “Kitty” from Canada
  7. Gattina
  8. Sukhmandir Kaur
  9. Sue St. Clair
  10. Lee County Clowder

Overall, activity on the blog itself is down, while participation via Facebook, TwitterInstagram are increasing. Our top “liked” posts via Facebook were:

  1. Chris Broderick Farewell Bay Area Concert
  2. Happy Gotcha Day to Luna!
  3. CatSynth pic: Belly Rub
  4. Cat Museum of San Francisco’s Morrissey Birthday post
  5. CatSynth pic: Nina the Studio Kitty

Our Facebook channel has become particularly strong on its own, often with distinct posts and readers from the blog. As for the blog itself, my own activity has gone down quite a bit this year, due to a variety of work and personal issues. In particular, I’d like to get back to more of our interest posts, including more music and art reviews, “Fun with Highways”, etc. And of course more cats and synths.

And finally, thanks to everyone who has stuck with us through any or all of our channels. You are what makes this such a rewarding experience!

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CatSynth pic: Giuliano and Maschine

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Here we see the cat Guiliano “sitting where he shouldn’t, on [a] Maschine studio controller…”

From Alessandro Automageddon via our Facebook page.

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