CatSynth pic: Gravitarium 2.

Via matrixsynth:

This one in via Silent Strike who composed the tracks for the app with a Clavia Nord Modular 1, Micron Alesis, Jomox Mbase, Reason 4 Propellerheads, M-audio Axiom 25, Elektron Drumachine (pic at the bottom of this post). The app does not allow you to manipulate sound, but I thought it was interesting to acknowledge some of the gear used to create the audio for this app. The Waldorf Blofeld and Yamaha AN200 pictured however were not used.

Looks like Silent Strike had a studio supervisor involved.

There is also info on the app itself.

Gravitarium 2 combines music, art and science in one relaxing experience. Use all your fingers to guide the star flow. You can create 10 different animations depending on the number of fingers touching the screen:

1 – Rocket, 2 – Sparkle, 3 – Energy flow, 4 – Atomic, 5 – 3D freeze, 6 – Circularium, 7 – Fish, 8 – Vortex, 9 – Lasers, 10 – Lightning.

Use different options to create spectacular drawings made of stars. You can load the “Drawing” preset from the “Options” screen.

I will be taking a look at this app. The idea of creativity and relaxation does appeals to me, but the game-play part is a bit less exciting – though it is the trend in the mobile-app space.

CatSynth video: Gabber cat (Bella)

My cat making gabber for us.

Submitted on facebook by Ian Lambert of Daed.

Nord lead’s arpeggiator was producing the kicks and the DSI mopho was making the hoover sounds (Drum machine acted as a sync clock, and the x0xbox was being used as a sequencer for the mopho)

Bella picked up on it pretty quickly.

A black cat, Nord and Dave Smith Instruments, what is not to like?

CatSynth pic: synth gato

From TheBeastBrothers on flickr, via matrixsynth:

“”His name was Martin (pronounced in spanish) and he liked the Cure’s disintegration album the most (for real)”

The Beast Brothers are also visual artists. You can check out their website www.thebeastbrothers.com or visit their shop. I liked Suavecita (watercolor) and the Shinin (sculpture).

Weekend Cat Blogging #306

Luna inspects the equipment for the next show during a recent practice session:

UPDATE: Luna just posed more regally next to the Nord keyboard. I think it’s a better picture (what do you think?).

The Nord Stage continues to be the main workhorse for idiomatic music, such as the jazz, caberet, etc. that may work its way into the performance.  The iPad (barely visible here) will provide the experimental counterpoint.

And here is Luna with some of the “analog” instruments:

The prayer bowl will be part of the show tomorrow, but the toy piano and tablas probably will not.


Weekend Cat Blogging #306 is at Pam’s Sidewalk Shoes. Check out the great close-ups of all three cats.

The Carnival of the Cats will be hosted this Sunday by Pet and the Bengal Brats at Pet’s Garden Blog.

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Weekend Cat Blogging #303: Red Stripe

Our busy schedule here at CatSynth continues unabated, with preparations for a second photo event in a couple of weeks and a new music project that requires quite a bit of practice.  Yesterday, instead of the usual Saturday morning Weekend Cat Blogging, I pulled off the cover of the Nord Stage keyboard to practice, and dropped the distinctive red dust cover (everything related to Nord keyboards is bright red) on the edge of Luna’s beanbag.  But that didn’t in anyway discourage her in anyway from curling up to take a nap – indeed, the dust cover almost looks like a brightly colored blanket.

It’s amazing how Luna can nap through just about any type of music.  This morning it was songs by the Cardiacs – a little different than our usual fare, but fun and challenging. You can get a taste for what this sounds like (and what Luna is putting up with) below:

Then again, it can’t be more challenging than some the very artificial experimental sounds that she hears living here.


Weekend Cat Blogging #303 is hosted by Kashim, Othello and Salome at PaulChens FoodBlog?!

The Carnival of the Cats will be hosted today by Billy SweetFeets.

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Farewell to 2010

[Click image to enlarge.]

This is not a convenient day for the year to end.

January 1, 2010, was a calm, and truly monochromatic day, which set the initial tone for the year and the first photo I posted reflected the tone.  It was turning away from the excitement and adventures in 2009 towards a more inward and local focus on creativity and relationships…and finding a new job.  And at the end of the year, much of that remains true: more creative output, both musically and visually than ever, new friends (and deepening ties with old friends), and I did get that new job.  But the pace and energy are anything but calm.  Life has been hurtling forward at a faster and faster pace, with an ever higher density of activity and experience, and that can’t keep going forever.  There are limits.  Limits in time, in resources, and in my body.     Slowing down is not easy, and may not even be necessary, but this coming year is going to be about doing the best I can within those limits. In terms of this site, there is always the tension between experiences and writing about those experiences, and lately I have been erring on the side of experience versus writing about it.  It’s a continuous process to learn how to balance that.

Things don’t always look particularly bright when you’re in the middle of them.  This year (like most) was riddled with mistakes and failures, missed opportunities, and more.  But if, say, “2008 me” got to look ahead and see “2010 me”, he would probably be amazed at how much has changed…mostly for the better.  I saw another interesting perspective yesterday when a friend, in saying good riddance to 2010, pointed around the table and said (and I paraphrase) “your 2010 sucked”, “your 2010 sucked” and then when she pointed to me said “yours was actually pretty good”.

So tomorrow I will simply pick up where things left off today…and keep in mind the phrase from a show I saw at the beginning of the year (by Anthony Discenza), “Everything Will Probably Turn Out OK.”

Outsound Music Summit: MultiVox

Today we at CatSynth conclude our series from the recent Outsound Music Summit with my own report from the MultiVox program that featured Reconnaissance Fly, the Cornelius Cardew Choir, and Amy X Neuburg. We did feature a guest review by Joe McMahon last week, which covers the same show from an outside perspective. My own perspective is anything but outside, given that I was in two of the three groups performing at night.

This was a professional show, with formal load-ins, sound checks, and staging. Reconnaissance Fly features a full rhythm section, so we had a lot of equipment to set up:

[click image to enlarge]

On the left is Tim Walters’ bass and Macbook running SuperCollider. In the middle is Moe! Staiano’s drum set, and on the right is my own keyboard+electronics setup featuring the Nord Stage, the trusty Korg Kaoss Pad, and the little stuffed cat for good luck. Here is another perspective with more detail:

[click image to enlarge]

The Evolver was actually for the Cardew Choir, but I set up everything at once. One can also see Moe!’s toys and other support percussion instruments.

Onto the show itself. Here is the full band on stage, with myself, Polly Moller (flute/vocals), Tim Walters (bass), Moe! Staiano as our special guest “concussionist”.

[Photo by Michael Zelner.  Click image to enlarge.]

We performed a full nine-piece set from Flower Futures, our “spong cycle” featuring music set to spam poetry. The set now has an eclectic mix of styles, from experimental avant-garde to prog rock, along with latin and jazz influences. We as always with Small Chinese Gong and ended with An Empty Rectangle – we always like playing that last one, but it’s even better with Moe!’s drums! I particularly enjoyed playing the medley of Electric Rock Like a Cat and Sanse is Credenza – the end of the first piece, with free-improvisation on flute set against B-diminished chords, elides into an early 1970s jazz fusion jam on the same chord (think “Chameleon” from Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters album). This is a relatively high-energy and somewhat challenging piece, and while it was fun to play, it also felt good to then return to the relative calmness of Oh Goldfinch Cage, which featured samples of “human calls” for training birds to speak, with phrases like “Hello, how are you?” and “pretty bird”, processed with ring modulation and turntable effects.

[Photo by Bill Wolter.  Click image to enlarge.]

Overall, it was a great performance with a lot of energy. It’s easy to lose sight of that in the midst of playing, where one focuses on mistakes and challenges – personally, I forgot to check that patches for the Nord were all queued up at the start of the performance, and the heat from the lighting and large crowd added unexpected challenges. But it was received well by the audience (a full house), and it seemed like they were asking us for an encore!

The Cornelius Cardew Choir was a stark contrast to Reconnaissance Fly in terms of form and energy. Our first piece, Joe Zitt’s “That Alphabet Thing” was a cappella with a freeform structure. Basically, it unfolds by each singer intoning the sounds of the letters of the alphabet, starting with A and gradually working his or her way to Z. Everyone moves at a separate pace but mindful of others not to get too far ahead or behind, and there were a lot of fun moments of interplay among different choir members, such as back-and-forth with “Hi!” for H-I or “why?” for Y.

[Photo by Michael Zelner.  Click image to enlarge.]

We wear white lab coats.

This was followed by “El Morro” by choir director and co-founder Tom Bickley. The piece was inspired by a trip to the El Morro monument in New Mexico and featured the text from inscriptions on a rock spanning carved messages from two centuries of Spanish, Mexican and American passers by, soldiers as well as other travelers. Each of us had a set of inscriptions to recite on a single pitch per inscription, set against an electronic background of rocks, birds of prey and highly processed vocal incantations. This was a rather complex piece conceptually, though not difficult to perform. Because we were so involved in the performance and the conceptual nature, it is hard to know how it was received in the audience.

The set concluded with a performance of Polly Moller’s Genesis. We had seen a previous performance of Genesis at the Quickening Moon Concert. The previous performance was entirely instrumental. This time, the parts of the spatial and higher dimensions were voice. I performed part of “universal time”, using the sequencer on the Evolver as the time-keeper and performed various modulations of the tempo and timbre. Polly played the role of the “new universe” with a flute solo featuring multiphonics and other techniques. Tom Bickley conducted the piece by walking around the stage and carrying chimes.

[Photo by Michael Zelner.  Click image to enlarge.]

This was a very meditative performance, with the chimes, the flute multiphonics, the ever changing electronic rhythm and timbre, and the vocalists singing their respective dimension numbers in different languages.

The final set of the evening featured Amy X Neuburg. As always, her “avant cabaret” set was very polished and spoke well to both her technical expertise with her instruments and her versatility as a performer. She employs several styles of singing, often in a single piece, moving from classical to cabaret/jazz to experimental vocalizations. Her synchronization with looping electronics is very tight, seemlessly adding and subtracting samples and recordings within the rhythms and phrasings of the song.

[click image to enlarge]

There were pieces familiar from past performances, such as “Life Stepped In” where she deftly mixes looping technology and theatrical vocals. She also did a few improvisational pieces, the first of which featured the Blippo Box. This is an instrument with chaotic oscillators that never quite sounds the same twice, but she always manages to control it quite well – in this performance she made it sound like a voice, to which she responded with her own voice. She also performed an improvisation with a Skatch Box which she made at the “build your own Skatch Box” presentation earlier in the week (and which I unfortunately missed). It’s hard to make a skatch box sound like a voice, but she could make her voice sound like the growls and scrapes that it produced.

[Photo by Michael Zelner.  Click image to enlarge.]

She ended her set with a tribute to Kim Flint, who was very active in the looping and electronic-music communities, and the founder of Loopers Delight, and who passed away after a tragic accident in Berkeley in June. He was someone I knew as well from both music and social events. Amy’s tribute was a performance of the first piece she ever created using the Echoplex, which he co-invented.