CatSynth Pic: Kasey, Roland, and Arturia

Kasey finds a comfy spot between a Roland Plug-Out system, Roland modules, and an Arturia Beatstep Pro. Submitted by Chris Bentley via our Facebook page.

Kasey the cat. Passed away at the age of 19 back in August 2017 but used to love to hang out on my desk while I was tinkering in the studio.

We are very sorry to hear of Kasey’s passing, and our hearts go out to Chris as the rest of Kasey’s family. A wonderful studio cat who lived a long and loved life 💕

CatSynth Pic: Ripley, Akai MPC, and Ensoniq SQ 1

Ripley is quite proud of his synths, an Ensoniq SQ 1 and Akai MPC. From Chris Ratterree via our Facebook page.

Here’s Ripley the boombap cat. She follows me at http://www.instagram.com/chrisratterree

Wordless Wednesday: Tappan Zee Transition

Tappan Zee Bridge (new and old)

The new Tappan Zee Bridge in front the remaining sections of the old bridge, partially demolished, in late November, 2018.

CatSynth Pic: Space Echo RE-201

Biggie Smalls contemplates a vintage Roland Space Echo RE-201. From Brandon Fitzsimons via our Facebook page.

“What’s making that noise in there??”

The RE-201 continues to be prized by musicians for its sound. It is actually a true tape-echo machine (plus a spring reverb).

[Ikutaro] Kakehashi’s breakthrough development came in 1974 with the RE-101 and RE-201 Space Echo units, which used the standard 1/4″ tape of the open-reel variety, but made as one, continuous loop. It uses no reels of any kind; the tape is transported via a capstan drive. The tape loop is contained in a loose, constantly moving jumble in the tape chamber (also known as the tape tank) under a plastic panel which protects the tape and keeps it from getting tangled. The design resulted in lower levels of noise, wow, and flutter, and cut down on tape wear.[1] Replacement tapes were sold as well, named RT-1L.[2]
There are several control dials on the device that alter such aspects as tape speed, repeat pattern (an 11-position rotary switch), one instrument and two microphone inputs, a single analog backlit VU meter for all three inputs, wet/dry mix for both echo and reverb, and intensity (number of repeats), that can be adjusted to a user’s liking; and bass/treble controls to EQ the sound of the repeats (not the dry signal), as well as dry and effected “Echo” output jacks with a switch for output setting (-10, -20, -35db levels.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_RE-201

It is interesting to read this as I have been working extensively of late with the Magneto tape-echo simulator module from Strymon. You can see our review of the echo mode in this recent video.

CatSynth Pic: Marcel and TB-303

Yesterday was “303” day – the date is 03-03 whether you use American or every-other-country format. And our friend Marcel is posing with a genuine Roland TB-303 for the occasion.

From Eric at polynominal.com via Facebook.

The TB-303 has become a prized instrument, so much so that multiple hardware and software clones have been created to meet the demand. Roland even came out with a TB-03 for its Boutique line.

Codex Seraphinianus

We at CatSynth have been fascinated with the Codex Seraphinianus long before this beautiful edition made its way to CatSynth HQ.

The Codex is a masterpiece of book art by Italian artist, architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini. It is an illustrated encyclopedia as a handwritten manuscript with hand-drawn color illustrations depicting a surreal imaginary universe of objects, creatures and concepts.

Most interesting of all, it is written in a completely invented script.

The script, consisting of squiggles and dots, sometimes detached and sometimes cursive, resemble a Western, Semitic or South Asian script, but one entirely of Serafini’s own imagination. It is easy to pick out repeated letters, such as the “E-like” character with one dot in its lower section; and curve-on-a-stem that appears to serve as a singular character in many portions of the first book.

Even without knowing the full meaning of the script or the illustrations, one can start to discern meaning. For example, on this page it is pretty clear that this creature tends to wilt (perhaps even suffer) in rain, but thrives in sunshine. (This is something I can sympathize with.)

Serafini himself has declared the writing in the Codex to be asemic, without a specific structure or meaning. And while I take him at his word, one cannot help but construct meaning from both the images and the writing. I have long been fascinated by other alphabets and writing systems and been able to find patterns (and even learn them to some degree) independent of the languages they represent. For example, I was able to learn a bit of the Tamil script when traveling in South India in my youth, though I never learned the sounds or the language. Similarly, I began to pick up Sinographic characters in my time in China but with no knowledge of how to pronounce most of them.

It is in this vein that I have begun to read the Codex from its start, treating it as a pure work of art with text and illustration as its medium. It’s actually a pleasurable and captivating experience to pour over the text and spot the patterns without being confined by the need for meaning. I made it through the first book (plants and anthropomorphic flora) and a bit into the second (animals). It is the fourth book (physics, chemistry) and the fifth (machines) that I most curious to “read” in depth, but I will take my time to get there.

Zemirot (Experiments with Video Synthesis)

I have been quite intrigued by video synthesis for a while, and finally getting around to doing something with it. Today, we present Zemirot, our first simple video-synthesis piece.

This was done using Vizzie2 in Max/MSP. And while it is extremely simple, that is to a certain degree the point, at least with this piece and others in what I expect will be a series.

CatSynth Pic: Kicia and Novation

Kicia relaxes next to a Novation synth – we are pretty sure it’s a Novation Bass Station. From Julian Cumpián via our Facebook page.

Kicia is tired after laying down synth parts all day.

CatSynth Pic: Finnegan and Ensoniq Samplers

Finnegan shares his latest composition on a pair of Ensoniq Samplers. Submitted by Greg Cole via our Facebook page.

samplers rather than synths but this is Finnegan who spends most days in the studio with me…’helping’.

We at CatSynth are quite familiar with Ensoniq’s venerable line of sampling workstations. I got an EPS in 1989, and then upgraded to an ASR-10 a few years later. The latter is still in storage here at CatSynth HQ.

Wordless Wednesday: Bronx Portal

A stylized brick entryway, now sealed and fronting a space between two buildings on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.

This is an example of a Thomasson.