An Update On Luna

Since the skin surgery earlier this spring, Luna has been cancer free as far as we can tell. Indeed, after talking with our doctor we decided that there would be no need for another round of chemotherapy at this time! We will continue to monitor, and if future exams show any recurrence we will decide what to do from there. In the meantime, Luna is enjoying life and home and is thoroughly spoiled, including getting many of her favorite foods on demand.

Luna licking her chops

If there is one stress for her right now, is that I recently started a new job where I am back in an office. It’s been a tough adjustment for her, and it saddens me to see her stressed. We are both adapting and figuring it out – and I should be able to come play with her during breaks (the job is walking distance from CatSynth HQ here in San Francisco). I have very strong opinions about offices and working in teams, but those are best left for another day. After is, this as about Luna.

We love Luna!

Thank you all again for your thoughts and purrs. And hopefully we will be able to post more good news.

CatSynth Pic, and an Update on Luna

Luna, Casio SK-1 and Korg Volca Beats

Luna poses near her beanbag chair in the studio and stacked Casio SK-1 and Korg Volca BEATS. More importantly, she is now collar-free! She got the all clear at her post-surgery follow-up on Friday, as the incision is healing well. We will soon be in contact with the oncologist about a next round of chemo and hopefully we will knock out the cancer for real.

Luna has been much happier without the collar, and he mood has brightened a lot. She is playful and affectionate, but she does sleep a lot – she is a cat after all. But her sleeping once again looks very peaceful.

Luna sleeping in a circle

I am always impressed with her ability to curl up into a nearly perfect circle.

An Update on Luna: Surgery Recovery

Luna resting after surgery

Luna continues to recover from her surgery last weekend. She is mostly resting comfortably, but she has been alternately dopey from the painkillers and miserable from the discomfort and the insult of wearing the e-collar. It’s only in the last two days that she has started to seem herself again, eating more normally and wandering around the house as usual. Of course, she does continue to sleep quite a bit, but that is fine.

We did get a report from the surgeon that the skin spot was indeed the cancer (essentially we already knew that from tests), but that she was able to remove all of it, which is definitely good news. And so far the surgical incision appears to healing well. So once she is cleared from surgical post care, we can begin the next round of chemotherapy. No fun at all, but hopefully will put Luna back on the road to recovery.

Thanks as always for your continued purrs and healing vibes.

Update on Luna: Post Surgery

Luna recovering from surgery.

Luna’s surgery yesterday went well. Since it was just a small skin spot, it was much smaller than the original surgery last year and she was able to come home the same day. We are hoping for a quicker recovery as well. Nonetheless, it’s no fun at all for Luna. She has been eating normally and at times her energetic affectionate self – at others lethargic and clearly coping with some pain and discomfort. It’s no different from a human post surgery. I am administering pain medications and gentle affection to her today as she rests and recovers.

Thank you for your continued purrs and thoughts.

An Update on Luna

We had a few particularly warm days this past week, which gave Luna a bit of time to enjoy some sun on the patio.

Luna on the patio

Luna is still battling cancer, and probably will be for the rest of her time with us. But as one can see from the photo above it doesn’t prevent her from leading a happy and contented life. She has been her normal affectionate and playful self, and a delight to spend time with.

The surgery and chemotherapy that we did last year were key to her still being with us and enjoying life. The latest concern is a spot on her skin near the previous surgery that has tested positive for cancer. Fortunately, tests showed no internal metastatic disease – that remains our biggest worry. And nothing on the remaining mammary chain, which is also a relief. So we will go ahead with a surgery to remove the skin spot and another round of chemo to hopefully knock out any lingering cells.

It’s disappointing to have to put her through more treatments. I will do so as long as I feel it’s what’s best for her. She still has so much life in her and hasn’t slowed down from the disease, so the treatment is the best choice. Luna and I thank you for continued purrs and thoughts.

NAMM 2016: Booth 5000, Part 2 (more modular synths)

We opened this year’s NAMM coverage with a visit to the embarrassment of riches among modular synths at Booth 5000, so it is feeding that we return there for our final article. You can read the first installment (with a separate article devoted to the new offerings from Rossum Electro-Music).

We at CatSynth are fans of Make Noise Music and their modules. This year they introduced the TEMPI.

Make Noise TEMPI

The TEMPI is a “six channel, polyphonic time-shifting clock module” that allows to create and store clock-signal arrangements using both algorithmic and manual techniques. The channels can be linked to do classic clock-divider and multiplier patterns, as well as manual entry. The divider/multiplier are continuous so can go beyond integer ratios. And it has storage for 64 6-clock configurations. I often complain about my current lack of clock sources (especially for driving the Make Noise Rene), so this would be a potential great addition.

Make Noise also released standalone synth, the 0-Coast.

Make Noise 0-Coast

Like the offerings from many manufacturers this year, the 0-coast is intended to be an integrated full synthesizer voice, complete with CV and MIDI control. As one would expect, it’s a bit more esoteric than the equivalents from Roland and Moog. The parameters remind me a bit more of a Serge or Buchla synth.

Pittsburgh Modular also released a new standalone modular system, Lifeforms.

Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms

The Lifeforms is a single-voice unit with oscillator and Pittsburgh Modular filter plus integrated controls. It can be paired KB-1 pressure-sensitive controller to make a fully autonomous instrument. You can here a bit of my attempt to play it in this video.

@pghmodular Lifeforms in action! #namm

A video posted by CatSynth / Amanda C (@catsynth) on

The Lifeforms does seem like a rebrand. While the sound character reminds of me of existing Pittsburgh Modular synths and it retains the iconic knobs, the stenciling on the faceplates is different – the old “typewriter” look of previous modules has been replaced with a more contemporary style. The system would make a good entry to more advanced modular synthesis.

Endorphines was presenting their own colorful line of modules.


The heart of their system is the Furthrrrr Generator, a complex VCO reminiscent of Buchla synthesizers with its simple functions based on harmonic relationships. Similarly, the Fourierrrr module provides waveshaping using harmonic relationships. These are complemented by a serious of function and control modules, including the Shuttle Control that converts between USB, MIDI and CV. You can hear a bit of fun with their modules in this video featuring our little mascot.

WMD presented the new Aperture Filter, a full-module version of their existing Aperture Filter card for Black Market Modular’s ColourCV system.

It is described as “a variable width bandpass Butterworth filter (designed by Tyler Thompson).” You can hear a bit of this filter, along with WMD’s new Performance Mixer.

We conclude with the Haken Continuum, which was on display amonst the modular madness. Not a new instrument by any means, but one that is always fun to return and play. The control surface feels liquidy and comfortable, but familiar enough for an experienced pianist.

Amanda C on the Haken Continuum keyboard

The demo included an iPad synth with a string patch that took advantage of the Continuum’s multi-dimensional degrees of freedom. But sitting among the modular synths, one can contemplate other possibilities. To this end, Haken has introduced the CVC that allows direct analog CV control from the fingerboard without the need for a MIDI converter.

There really was a lot at the show that I couldn’t get to, or did not fit into an article. It can always be a bit overwhelming, but very rewarding. In the end, NAMM visits are always a mixture of wanting the new instruments I see, and reaffirming things I wanted from previous years. I will be working on my list…

NAMM 2016: Strymon Generalissimo

Strymon has long been known for their effects pedals, which are highly regarded. Now they have entered into the worked of Eurorack synth modules with the Generalissimo.

Strymon Generalissimo

The Generalissmo (cute name, by the way) is a four-head tape echo simulator with a range of additional features. The four delay tops can be switched on and off and independently controlled. There are also independent controls for each tap/head’s playback time. The taps each send an individual clock out, allowing one to drive a sequencer that in turn feeds into the delay unit for interesting rhythmic effects. A clock input allows this all to be controlled externally.

There are additional global controls that affect the quality of the sound, including familiar speed and feedback as well as tape age, crinkle and wow and lutter; and even a separate spring reverb control. Quite a lot in one unit. I wasn’t able to hear the tape age, crinkle and wow&flutter knobs work in the demo, though the main controls worked well and the unit sounded great. It was very smooth and the clock sync is quite a nice touch. There also a “sound-on-sound” mode that turns it into a tape loop simulator, though I wasn’t able to try that out.

An interesting question for me is what this module provides that the combination of a Make Noise Echophon and Phonogene do not (I currently own both of those). Clearly it packs more into one unit, and on the echo side has the four taps. But the clock(s) make be what set it apart musically, as well as the differences in sound characteristics. I hope to see and hear more if this module when it is released later this year.