New Podcast: Improvisation with Octave The Cat

Another Sunday, another podcast release. Tonight I present a short improvisation on the recently acquired Octave CAT synthesizer. I have been playing with this instrument now for several days and getting a better feel for both it's timbres, it can do some really smooth analog sounds and really glitchy complex elements as well. I try to cover both qualities in this performance. Enjoy!

I am also rolling out the new logo, part of reintroducing the podcast as “The CatSynth Channel.”

New Podcast: Charmer:Firmament live at Woodstockhausen 2003

Well, my latest experiment with sampled piano was a flop, and a close friend and fellow crazy experimental musician is currently in my thoughts, so it seems a good time to release one of my live performances from the Woodstockhausen 2003 festival. In this case, it is a live version of Charmer:Firmament, a piece for digital computer controlled live by a graphics tablet. A recorded version of this piece also appears on my CD Aquatic (you know, the one that none of you are buying).

As always, enjoy!

New Podcast Release: "Four Days"

A special treat for listeners of my podcast this Sunday! I am releasing a full-length (but lower fidelity) track from my RPM Challenge album, 2 1/2.

“Four Days” is a piece in the style of musique concrete, and fits into the overal narrative theme of the album 2 1/2. It has a really captivating and eerie quality, perhaps even a little spooky.


(and please check out the current recordings available if you like it)

RPM 2007: Twista Dilemma

Latest from my RPM 2007 blog:

I have been playing around with some of the loop-based sound sets that come with Emulator X2, including the “TwistaMania” bank – mostly just looking for some inspiration for the techno and beat-based sections of the album, but I found I really liked what I was playing. Plus, it's got that really addictive funky disco thing going. You can hear a brief sample here. This could be the kernel of a track for the album, possibly even the first full track after the intro – but it leads to what I am calling my “twista dilema.” Anyone else with Emulator X2 could easily do something similar, and more abstractly a 4/4 techno-dancy thing might sound trite in the context of my work.

UPDATE: since the original post on RPM, I heard an interesting, and quite timely, program on radio open source. Between the discussion in praise of creative appropriation, and my own sense of energy and enthusiasm for the funk disco sound, I think this track will be a part of the album – and it will be titled “Twistadilemma”, probably the second full track.

UPDATE: since the original post on RPM, I heard an interesting, and quite timely, program on radio open source. Between the discussion in praise of creative appropriation, and my own sense of energy and enthusiasm for the funk disco sound, I think this track will be a part of the album – and it will be titled “Twistadilemma”, probably the second full track.

RPM 2007: First steps

Report from the first day on the RPM challenge:

The idea that I can spend a month, or even a fraction thereof, doing nothing but working on this album is laughable at best. There will be many distractions in the coming days, just as there have been today. Nonetheless, I made a point to take some first steps this evening..

Based on the “arc” and narrative form I am defining for the album, I went in search of samples to use for the introduction and some beats to use for the first full section. The intro should be an old clip from a big band or jazz recording from the 1940s/1950s – I discovered a really good collection of public-domain big-band radio recordings on The Internet Archive, and quickly settled on my intro.

Next up is selecting some initial beats for the beat-based / techo part of the album. I selected several drum-beat samples, and imported them into Emulator X. Using the beat-analysis (aka “Twistaloop” features), I created several seven-beat loops.

The initial rhythmic section will employ a 7-beat meter and combine drum loops and Proteus patterns inside Emulator X, as well as 7-beat/14-beat Indian thekas for tabla. This will probably also be the first opportunity to use the DSI evolver in a compositional setting (as oppose to live improvisation).

That will probably be all I get done tonite, as I take some time to relax while writing this blog entry and getting some “kitty love” from Luna (she's snuggling in on my chest as I write this).

Guess the Electronics

Inspired by a discussion on the Bay Area New Music maling list about electronic-acoustic music as well as different electronic tools/technlogies (e.g., MAX, CSound, etc.), I present the Guess the Electronics game.

Simply listen to each of the challenges below and leave a comment on how you think each was one created. You can also take a guess as to which examples include acoustic material.

It's fun for the whole family ?

challenge 1
challenge 2
challenge 3
challenge 4
challenge 5

New Podcast Entry: Oct 14 evolver improv

I have uploaded a new podcast entry: a guided improvisation I did last night using my DSI Evolver synth. The idea was to focus on soft, high-pitched timbres but with unstable states that can easily produce more chaotic signals. This of course lots of fun, and I was quite pleased with the results except for a couple of loud “thumpy” sounds around two minutes into the piece. I am considering this an actual piece, even a composition of sorts, but I am still looking for a good title. Feel free to suggest you own in the “Comments” section.

As always, click here to subscribe to the podcast, or contact me if you have trouble with it. Enjoy!

Listen to audio from headphone festival

I'm taking a short break out of cat blogging to post the audio from my recent performance at the headphone festival. You listen to it here.

This will be the first in my podcast series, though getting that set up is taking longer than planned, all these pesky details setting up the RSS feed, populating the content, collateral, etc. So for now, just enjoy the music on its own…

Ethiopiques – Funk and "60s" music from Ethiopia

Heard a really cool filler track this morning on NPR, it after a follow-up comment to a story about
Jazz from the Horn of Africa, but the song on the radio was more funk ala James Brown 1970 (i.e., with the JBs, not the original band). The track was from Ethiopiques Volume 8: Swing Addis.

Happily, the entire series is on emusic, and I immediately downloaded the entire volume 8 album. In addition to funk, there are tracks reminiscent of 60s R&B and British/American movie soundtracks of the era.

There is something quite amazing about some of these old recordings. Like western releases of the time, the gritty low-fi recordings blend with the unmistakably “modern” quality of the music that overproduced contemporary artists can't seem to duplicate (think of how contemporary dance and hip-hop can't match the sound of old disco and R&B). It's music you can play late at night in a retro pad with low colored lights while chilling out with your girlfriend and enjoying the psychoactive substance of your choice.

More specifically, this series suggests a lively and sophisticated scene in Addis Ababa of the early 1970s before decades of dictatorship, starvation, poverty, war and now Islamic fundamentalism at its doorstop. You can read an interesting interview with the producer of the Ethiopiques series.

I am curious to review and explore more of what was going on the world at that time culturaly, as compared to where we find ourselves now. Collectively speaking, we're just not as cool as we used to be. But that's a project for another day…time to light up, groove out and tweak a few knobs (so to speak)…