Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando is a controversial figure in contemporary circles, but we did some great movies a long time ago (followed by some not-so-great ones, then a couple more classics, and then some really awful ones). But his work has intertwined with many things at CatSynth over the past couple of years. Consider this cartoon by J.B. (Jason Berry), part of our extended Mensa Cat series.

Marlin Brando

We leave the joke as an exercise to the reader. 😸

There is also the tune “Marlon Brando” initially composed by Jason Berry for Vacuum Tree Head, which I redid for my own band CDP.  Here is a live performance of us playing it at the Make Out Room in San Francisco.

CDP Marlon Brando May 1 from CatSynth on Vimeo.

And finally, our friends at the Cat Museum of San Francisco shared this feline photo today.

Mensa Cat Monday: Butoh

bhutto butoh

Butoh Boutros Ghali

Today’s Mensa Cat strips explore the world of butoh dance.  By J.B.

CatSynth Pic: Carmen and Moog DFAM

Carmen and Moog DFAM

Carmen is eager to try out the new Moog DFAM (“Drummer From Another Mother”).  We would love to try one out, too 😻

From our friend and fellow traveler Julia More, aka The Synth Witch.

You can see Carmen’s previous appearance here.

Mensa Cats: PhD in Literature

Mensa Cats: Padraic and PhD in literator

Who says you can’t put that PhD in literature to good use?  In today’s Mensa Cats, we share but one example.

By J.B. of Vacuum Tree Head.

CatSynth Pic: Merlot and Yamaha DX21

Merlot the tuxedo cat showing off a new patch on the Yamaha DX21, one of Yamaha’s many classic 4-operator FM synthesizers.

From Andreas Gregor via Facebook.

CatSynth Pic: Peek-a-boo! (Roland MC-909)

Cat peeking out from a Roland MC-909 sampling groove box, or at least the shell of one.  It appears to have been stripped of its display and surface controls – and probably the internal electronics as well – making it great for sits!

From Bart Van Loon via Facebook.

CatSynth Pic: Cats in the Studio

Cats in the Studio

Our friend Damien Olsen back in Brooklyn presents “Cats in the Studio”, featuring two of his cats and sundry keyboards. I had the pleasure to meet these felines during my most recent trip back to New York 😺

CatSynth Pic: Tuxedo Cat and Roland SH-101

Cat with Roland SH-101 synthesizer

Pretty picture of a tuxedo cat that bears a strong resemblance to Sam Sam (minus the nose smudge) with a classic Roland SH-101 synthesizer.  From verzerrung on Instagram.

Sam Sam does not have access to an SH-101, but she does seem to like the Roland Boutique synths, so maybe we will get an SH-01 for her at some point 😸

CatSynth TV: Wicks Looper (with Korg Delay Monotron)

One of our CatSynth TV episodes this week featured a close-up demonstration of the Wicks Looper by Rarebeasts, a tiny musical instrument that can make beats, loops, and all sorts of noises.  We also added a Korg Delay Monotron for filtering and delay effects in the last portion of the demo.

The Wicks Looper is a fun instrument that I have used in several live performances, though less so lately.  Its audio jack is a bit fussy at times, but as long as I remember I know how to make it work reliably.  Both it and the Monotron should see more use again this year as I plan out new ideas for solo performances.  And we still love that cat logo that looks so much like our dear Luna.  But there is also a (non-black) Luna who lives with the human who created the instrument, a fact involved in our discovering it in the first place.

Rarebeasts has moved on to newer custom electronic instruments that are quite sculptural in nature.  You can see their work at their Etsy shop.

Farewell to 2017

2017 in review

Once again, it is time for our end-of-year collage and review. So many images to choose from in such a busy 2017 that took us in so many directions at once, both outward and inward.

At the end of 2016, I was still reeling from the loss of Luna and the election.  But I did welcome Sam Sam into my life and also promised myself that I would prosper and thrive in the new terrifying Trump era.  And we did, focusing on moving forward with the things from 2016 that did go well.  Lots of new music as a solo performer, with my new band CDP, and with Vacuum Tree Head.   There are now three CatSynth-branded apps for both iOS and Android, and a fourth on the way.  We launched CatSynth TV, with 22 videos under our belt since October.  And Sam Sam has blossomed into a sassy and thoroughly spoiled cat whom we love dearly.

If there is a word of caution on the personal and professional fronts, it is perhaps that 2017 was too much.  After a strong first half of the year through July, I scaled back on live performance to focus on other priorities.  I regret that, but it was also the reality of the many things going on.  I wish the apps, blog, and video channels were progressing faster, but it’s as fast as we can go with our myriad other responsibilities.  The last couple months, while still rich with experience, have been an exercise in paring back and trying to focus on the highest priorities; and also focus on health, self-care, and well being.  These are all very challenging, but I’m grateful to have the help of loved ones.

We cannot ignore the fact that our rebound in 2017 after two difficult years took place amidst a dark pall over the country and world.  Many friends have suffered amidst the monumental forces of hurricanes, flooding, fires, and human foolishness.  The latter is most visible in the face of the current regime that continues to embarrass and threaten us.  These are things we have to be vigilant about as we move in 2018.  I do feel personally in the cross-hairs on multiple fronts, so I hope we can continue to survive and prosper as well as we did in 2017, and maybe at the end of 2018 we will look back and saw how the world became at least a slightly better place.

It is also interesting to look back to our end-of-year post from 2007, ten years ago.  It was a dark, cold time amidst major life changes – I couldn’t have imagined then what life would be like now.  Will we feel the same way in 2027?  And will there still be a CatSynth then?  Only time will tell…