We have a new video from Ok Housecat featuring Charlotte and a veritable orchestra of circuit bent instruments. Enjoy!
The 19th annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival concluded yesterday, and we at CatSynth were on hand for the final concert. There were three sets, each showcasing different currents within electronic music, but they all shared a minimalist approach to their musical expression and presentation.
The evening opened with a set by Andy Puls, a composer, performer and designer of audio/visual instruments based out of Richmond, California. We had seen one of his latest inventions, the Melody Oracle, at Outsound’s Touch the Gear (you can see him demonstrating the instrument in our video from the event). For this concert, he brought the Melody Oracle into full force with additional sound and visuals that filled the stage with every changing light and sound.
The performance started off very sparse and minimal, with simple tones corresponding to lights. Combining tones resulted in combining lights and the creation of colors from the original RGB sources. As the music grew increasingly complex, the light alternated between the solid colors and moving patterns.
I liked the sound and light truly seemed to go together, separate lines in a single musical phrase, and a glimpse of what music would be if it was done with light rather than sound.
OMMO, the duo of Julie Moon and Adria Otte brought an entirely different sound and presence to the stage.
The performance explored the “complexities and histories of the Korean diaspora and their places within it.” And indeed, words and music moved freely back and forth between traditional and abstract sounds and Korean and English words. Moon’s voice was powerful and evocative, and quite versatile in range and she moved through these different ideas. The processing on her voice, including delays and more complex effects, was crisp and sounded like an extension of her presence. Otte performed on laptop and analog electronics, delivering a solid foundation and complex interplay. A truly dynamic and captivating performance.
The final set featured a solo performance Paris-based Kassel Jaeger, who recently became director of the prestigious Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM). Sitting behind a table on a darkened stage, with a laptop, guitar and additional electronics, he brought forth an eerie soundscape.
The music featured drone sounds, with bits of recognizable recorded material, as well as chords and sharp accents. The musique concrète influence was abundant but also subtle at times as any source material was often submerged in complex pads and clouds over which Jaeger performed improvisations.
It is sometimes difficult to describe these performances in words, though we at CatSynth try our best to do so. Fortunately, our friends at SFEMF shared some clips of each set in this Instagram post.
Much was also made of the fact that this was the 19th year of the festival. That is quite an achievement! And we look forward to what they bring forth for the 20th next year…
By electro-lobotomy on YouTube, via matrixsynth.
“The Particle Smasher + is a sound generator and sound processor. Please visit my etsy shop for more info..
“Particle Smasher +
Sound Generator and signal processor. Experimental sound device with touch controls and a filter wave shaper section.
* 2 Oscillators
* Modify switch for oscillator 1
* 2 Modify switches for Oscillator 2
* Power starve knob
* Choke knob
* 3 way variation switch
* Gain Knob for input
* Feed knob
* 2 feedback switches
* Effect bypass switch
* 1/4″ audio input
* 1/4″ audio out jack
* DC power jack ( 9v center = – // sleeve = + )
*I will include a detailed diagram of unit and it’s functions.
**9v battery to DC jack is included. (Battery not included)
*The unit can also be powered with a 9v power supply with a negative tip.”
From keromin papa on YouTube.
“It is a video that plays the mouth and plays the cat in the voice of meow. In addition, authentic school which can set various tone colors such as violin sound, organ sound, frog voice, etc. The difference from keromin line is that the pronunciation when turning on the power is meow. Others, Sora Momo mode, drum mode, various types of setting are the same as Cokeromin · Lime. Reservation reception starts on 20th year new release, February 22nd Nyan pussy cat’s day)! It will arrive in about 22 days from reservation. www.keromin.com”
口をパクパクしてニャーの声でネコふんじゃったを演奏する動画です。 その他、ヴァイオリン音・オルガン音・カエル声など様々な音色の設定が可能な本格派。 コケロミン・ライムとの違いは、電源オン時の発音がニャーになっていることです。その他、そらももモードやドラムモード、各種設定の種類はコケロミン・ライムと同じです。 2015年新発売、2月22日(=ニャンニャンニャン=ネコの日)に予約受付開始! ご予約から約22日でお手元に届きます。 www.keromin.com
Today’s pic comes from Ok Housecat on Facebook.
This effect makes your music smell like cat litter 🆗🏠🐈
Please visit their page for more custom-electronics fun 😺
Cat mug with a TTSH, a clone of the Arp 2600 synthesizer. By Alexander Henriksson on Facebook.
And another cat has found its 🏠
The TTSH is an Arp 2600 clone that can be built as a DIY project, as described by The Human Comparator. San Pedro Labs builds full versions, including wood casings. (They used to be here in San Francisco, but have recently relocated to New Mexico.)
Charlotte the cat contemplates the horror that is a circuit-bent Big Mouth Billy Bass. From Ok Housecat on YouTube.
I was often sardonically amused by this fishy contraption since the commercials in the 1990s. But now I am genuinely intrigued by its circuit-bending possibilities. At the very least, it could make for a fun CatSynth TV episode. I found at least one set of instructions here, but it might be even more fun to just take it aport and just explore with alligator cables.
The Horror…The Horror…
From Ok Housecat. Visit their website okhousecat.com, where you can see an amazing array of circuit-bent and other custom electronic instruments. We at CatSynth are going to spend some more time exploring the video demos 😻
We are always on the lookout for something (or someone) different at NAMM, especially in the deep dark depth of Hall E. This year we found it in the booth of Yudo, a company out of Japan that presented prototypes for two radically different concepts.
The flagship Neuman synthesizer features a standard keyboard with an instrument-spanning touch screen. It looks like an iPad stretched out to fit a full-sized keyboard.
The keyboard plays well, and there were standard sounds such as electric pianos, brass, etc. The touchscreen controls for the patches were fascinating, but not particularly intuitive. It was hard to see using it for sound design in its current incarnation. But it is a prototype with an estimated two years or more of development ahead, so we will see where things go.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the KAMI-OTO, a small cardboard based keyboard controller to use with iPads. It is a simple cardboard cutout that folds around a simple electronic main board and includes a stand for your tablet. There are wired and Bluetooth models that go for $28 and $36, respectively via the company’s Kickstarter campaign.
We did have a chance to try it out. It is adorable, and it does look like a fun and simple DIY project to assemble. And there is some delight in being able to decorate it in whatever manner one desires. As a keyboard, however, the latency was extremely high, which would render it less than usable for us in a performance setting. Nonetheless, for composing on the run, it could come in handy.
More info about both products can be found at https://www.yudo.jp/en/.
Our pal Mister Kitty returns to the pages of CatSynth with his new RE-303 bass synthesizer.
The RE-303 is a replica of the infamous Roland TB-303. This one was assembled by Mister Kitty’s human, Prophei (aka Michael Dietel). We at CatSynth approve of their choice of the black case. Oh, and it sounds great, too.
As a replica, the circuit board and CPU are compatible with the original TB-303, which suggests the parts can be used to refurbish vintage instruments in addition to building new ones. You can read a bit more in this Synthopia article from 2015. Clearly, the statement about DIY kits turned out to be wrong, as evidenced by this article. You can find out more about the RE-303 and kits here.
Meanwhile, we wonder what Mister Kitty may have in store for us next…