CatSynth Pic: Oranjello and Juno Return

Oranjello returns with his vintage Juno synthesizer.

From fre_mick on Instagram.  You can see his previous appearance here.

CatSynth Pic: Kitten and Roland SH-101

Adorable kitten sitting atop a red Roland SH-101 synthesizer.  From the Vintage Synthesizer Museum.

This cat wants to remind you that VSM is offering a hands-on Intro to Synthesis workshop on September 22nd. Contact us for details or to enroll.

 

Outsound New Music Summit: CDP and Dire Wolves

While I thoroughly enjoyed every night of this year’s Outsound New Music Summit, last Friday was special because I was on stage with my own band CDP.  We shared the bill with Dire Wolves for a night of contrasting retro styles within the context of new and experimental music.

I often get asked what “CDP” stands for.  And while it does stand on its own as a name, it does come from the initials of the original three members: Chaudhary, Djll, Pino.  That’s me on keyboard and vocoder, Tom Djll (synthesizers), and Mark Pino (drums).  Joshua Marshall joined the band in 2017, bringing his technical chops and versatility on tenor and soprano saxophone.  As a road-and-map geek, it also stands for “Census Designated Place”.

CDP at the Outsound New Music Summit

We had five tunes for this concert.  Three of them were from the series I call “the jingles”, including White WineNorth Berkeley BART, and our newest song, Rambutan (it’s a fruit from Southeast Asia).  Marlon Brando and Konflict Mensch rounded out the set.  Each featured a melodic and harmonic head followed by open improvisation – no fixed solos, even listens to one another and comes in and out.  Our style is a blend of funk, fusion and experimental music reminiscent of Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi and Head Hunters bands or Soft Machine 5 & 6, with a bit of 1970s Frank Zappa / George Duke mixed in.  The music is a joy to play and I’m so glad to be able to be on a stage playing it.

Amanda Chaudhary and Joshua Marshall, CDPWe got off to a somewhat shaky start with White Wine, but we settled down quickly as we headed into the improvisation section.  From that point on, things only got better with Marlon Brando and North Berkeley BART (which is always a local crowd pleaser).  Rambutan was a lot of fun, including the funky 7/4 jam and the call-and-response chant with the audience.  Mark held up the metric foundation, working with both me and Tom who took turns on the bass roll.  Tom also got some great sounds in his solos, as did Josh who moved easily between growls and mellifluous melodic runs.

Tom Djll's synth

The vocoder, a Roland VP-03, held up pretty well – in some ways, I felt the scatting went even better than the lyrics – though there is still work to do keeping the voice intelligible in the context of the full band.   I was exhausted and satisfied after the set, and look forward to doing more with our band.

You can read Mark Pino’s perspective on the set on his blog.

For the second set, Dire Wolves brought a completely different energy to the stage.  Where CDP was exuberant and even frenetic at times, Dire Wolves welcomed the audience with a mellow and inviting psychedelic sound.

Dire Wolves

[Photo by Michael Zelner]

There was a sparseness to the music, with Jeffrey Alexander (guitar + winds), Sheila Bosco (drums)Brian Lucas (bass) and Arjun Mendiratta (violin) each staking claim to a distinct orchestral space within the soundscape.  Alexander and Mendiratta had lines that melted seamlessly from one to the next; Brian Lucas’ bass was sometimes melodic.  Bosco’s drums provided a solid foundation, but she also contributed voice and other sounds to the mix.

Jeffrey Alexander Sheila Bosco

[Photos by Michael Zelner]

My mind was still processing the set we had just played, but the trance-like qualities of Dire Wolves provided a space for a soft landing and to return to a bit of balance.  Sadly, it seems this was the band’s last performance for a while, at least with the current lineup.  But I look forward to hearing more from each of these musicians in their other projects.

Both groups played to a decently sized and very appreciative audience – not the capacity crowds of the previous or following nights, but respectable.  And I got quite a bit of positive feedback from audience members after our set.  We still have one more night of the summit to cover, and then it’s onward to future events.

CatSynth Pic: Wooden cat and Juno 106

Our wooden feline friend is back, this time on a vintage Roland Juno 106 synthesizer.  Submitted by thedigitalpurrgatory (Anton Largoza-Maza) via Instagram.  You can see a previous appearance here.

This is the second appearance of the Juno series in less than a week.  Last Thursday we featured the Juno 60.   The Juno 106 has a full MIDI implementation, including SysEx based editing and control, as opposed to the 60 which has no MIDI at all.  Sound-wise they are quite similar, although many say that the 60 has a “warmer sound.”  We at CatSynth cannot verify this.

CatSynth Pic: Juno 60

Juno 60

Cat with a vintage Roland Juno 60.  Submitted by Steve Peglar via our Facebook page.

The Juno series of synths are still very sought after, especially the Juno 60 and Juno 6.  Unfortunately, these two models lack MIDI, which wasn’t available until the successor 106 model.  The 60 does allow external input, though pitch and gate are via a proprietary interface.  There is external CV input for filter control.  And there are kits to retrofit a Juno with external input options.

CatSynth Pic: Lilli and Roland TR909

From Ed Hill via Facebook:

Lilli tapping a sequence on the TR909 is 

We at CatSynth agree.

CatSynth Pic: Charlotte and Arturia MiniBrute, Roland SH-101, and Korg MS-2000

Charlotte returns and shows off her Arturia MiniBrute, Roland SH-101 and Korg MS-2000 synthesizers.  Submitted by Lee Tizzard via our Facebook page.

CatSynth Pic: Eli and Roland TR 707

Eli returns, with a Roland TR-707 rhythm composer.  Submitted by Elias Laughton via our Facebook page.

A bit about the TR-707 from Vintage Synth Explorer:

A very underrated drum machine! It resembles the popular TR-909, and better yet, its hi-hat, cymbals, and clap sound almost identical to the TR-909! The TR-707 is a great source for cheap 909 samples. It has some other cool features too such as its Matrix display which clearly maps out your pattern for you in an easy to read display panel. It also features both MIDI in/out and DIN sync control – the best of both worlds. Why this unit even has individual outputs for each of its drum tones!

Those individual outputs might come in handy when using together with a modern modular synthesizer setup.

You can see Eli’s previous appearance here.

Passover Synth Jam with the Matzoh Man

The Matzoh Man returns for Passover on CatSynth TV, this time accompanied by a Minimoog, Roland VP-03 vocoder and our trusty Nord Stage EX.

The Dayenu song is a tradition on Passover.  The word dayenu approximately translates to “it would have been sufficient” and is used as a phrase of gratitude for each of the miracles recounted in the Passover Hagaddah.

Chag Pesach Sameach!

Cat and Roland JP-8000

Cat with Roland JP-8000 synthesizer. Submitted by Pedro Vieira‎ via our Facebook page.

The JP-8000 was released in 1997 as virtual analog modeling synths came into vogue.  In addition to modeling the sound, it sported full front panel of sliders and knobs reminiscent of Roland’s classic analog synths.  I was more enamored with the follow-up module, the JP-8080, which I got to try out at AES in 1998, the same year I delivered a paper on an analog modeling technique.  One can draw a line from these instruments to the Roland JP-08 Boutique Synth, which we often play at CatSynth HQ.