CatSynth pic: Cats and Gear 11

Submitted by pulsewidthmod via twitter:

I see a Moog Voyager, an DSI Evolver keyboard, and a korg

There are several photos in this archive, look for more to reposted here in the future.

CatSynth pic: Daysleeping (Summertime catsynth)

From Ran Kirlian on flickr:

Working flow at The Blue_Room during summer days

From top to bottom:
Clavia Nordrack 2x,DSI Evolver, Doepfer System, Frodo & Alesis Ion (covered)

An appropriate image as summer slowly winds down.

Flip Quartet performance at Book Zoo, July 17

Last Friday, I performed at Book Zoo in Oakland. To start off the evening, I did a solo set, which was followed by a performance of Polly Moller’s The Flip Quartet.

Book Zoo itself was an interesting space, with high ceilings and bookshelves. For a space of this size, we had a decent turn-out as well.

This was the first time in quite a while that I did not use any software components as part of a solo set. The performance centered around the Line6 DL4 for looping and various delay effects. I made extensive use of the analog-delay simulation for echoes and feedback, with various wood blocks, gongs and the ektar as source material.

[Photograph by Jennifer Chu. Click to enlarge]

Of course, the Kaos Pad, DSI Evolver and E-MU Proteus 2000 were also used as electronic sound sources. I also included several beat-based elements, both from hand-drumming and from the sequences are the Evolver and the Proteus 2K, which were matched both rhythmically and arhythmically against the delay lines. Overall, it was not the tightest solo set I have done, but it worked and seemed to be well received by the audience, and stylistically it was a good lead-in to the Flip Quartet.

I had seen a recent performance of the Flip Quartet, and this performance followed the same structure and format, but with different performers. In addition to myself, there was Moe! Staiano, Suki O’Kane and Travis Johns.

[Photographs by Jennifer Chu.]

Basically, the Flip Quartet is a composition for four improvisers who move between four stations representing the cardinal directions (north, east, south, west) and the four medieval elements: earth, air, fire, water. Each station had a variety of instruments and sound-making objects to represent elements. Each performer has a three minute timer. The timers are synchronized, and when the three minutes are up, everyone moves to the next station. We rotate around all four stations twice.

The “fire” table, which included metal and electronic items, was the most populated, with the water table (liquids, strings) having the fewest items. However, Moe! did bring an interesting old string instrument. It was wooden, had four strings and piano-like keys for striking the strings. It was not an auto-harp, it was definitely something else – and it was the main instrument I played during my trips to the water station.

Another interesting addition was the box of worms that Travis Johns contributed to the earth station – the earth station mostly features drums and wooden objects. The worms, were in a box with dirt and vegetable manner, and the box was equipped with a contact microphone that could pick up audible signals from the worms that could then be interpreted musically by the performer.

Musically, this was very different from the previous interpretation of the Flip Quartet, a combination of the musicians involved, the objects available, and the setting. There were some cool moments, where two or more performers together make a musical phrase or pattern emerge from within the overall improvisation – that is something I am always looking for.

Recap: Performance at The Shelter in Shanghai

A brief review in photos of my performance last Friday at The Shelter.

The Shelter is actually in a converted bomb shelter, and to get there one descends a long narrow staircase and enters this cave-like hallway:

Inside the main club space, it is mostly dark, save for a few small lights and these video screens broadcasting live from the DJ booth:

The above photo shows my setup via the video camera. We can take a closer look at on the DJ platform itself.

As described in the previous post, I combined traditional Chinese musical instruments with electronics, blending old and new. In the above image you can see (left to right) a prayer bowl, a small bell, a gong, and temple blocks (to the right of the laptop). Some of my Chinese friends and colleagues were blown away by the idea that one can combine the different elements to make a single type of music.

The performance itself went quite well, and just about everything worked as planned. If there was one thing that was unfortunate, it was that 10:30 is quite “early” in terms of Shanghai nightlife, so there were not that many people in attendance yet. But you always play for the people who are there, and it was a new experience for all of us.

The club did fill up later on during the DJ sets that followed, and I stuck around to hear most of them – it seems this is one of the main places in the city to hear more underground or unusual music, be it live electronics or DJs. That was an adventure in and of itself, but a story for another time.

I did also make an audio recording and a video of the performance, which I have not had a chance to review yet. Look for at least short excerpts of both in the future.

Friday Night Performance at The Shelter in Shanghai

Here are the details on the show I’m playing in Shanghai in Friday night:


@ The Shelter
5 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu, Shanghai

Friday, March 6, 2009

Amar Chaudhary, Uprooted Sunshine, V-nutz, Tootekool, Ben Huang, Michael Cai, Ozone…

* Celebrating the release of the Pause:Music Mix CD#2, the Uprooted Sunshine crew bring you a mad mash of the Jamaican sounds of reggae and dance-hall with new original vocals by ChaCha and MC Didje, put together by prime selecta Blaise Deville. There’s a limited number of free CDs, so come early to get yours!

* The man who rocked you on the first Pause:Music Mix CD, Ben Huang, returns after a long stay in Beijing, to bring you his latest eclectic and cutting-edge techno mix.

* Special guest Amar Chaudhary, from San Francisco, on his first performance ever in China. Amar Chaudhary is a veteran sound artist who makes his own instruments and plays a live set that’ll crack your head open. (Starts at 10:30pm sharp!!)

* We’ll also have Tootekool, Ozone, Michael Cai, V-Nutz bringing you everything from rock to alternative hip hop, to breakcore and drum-n-bass. Look out!

* It’s only 30 RMB at the door and the funds go to supporting and developing the local music scene through a variety of projects.

More info can be found here, or at facebook for those so inclined.

So…now I actually have to finish putting together a show. I have managed to put together a modest setup based on gear I brought with me, a few replacements (thanks Behringer for not making your mixer power supplies 220V compatibile), and several Chinese percussion instruments I have acquired during this trip:

The large bowl is very resonant and will be used to introduce the set. The interplay of the various bells and gongs with bell-like sounds on the Evolver will be the main elements, interrupted by more standard electronic sounds from the Evolver and the Kaos pad, as well some down-tempo beat-based sections.

It has been a bit of a challenge to find time to think creatively, while contending with work and some of the lingering effects of the time difference. I went back to the first day in Shanghai and it’s big city energy for inspiration, and some of the photos that I took, even if the music itself doesn’t seem to reflect that sonically.

Wordless Wednesday: LSG show setup, May 2008

Some views of the massive setup for the show at the Luggage Store Gallery earlier this month.

Preparing for tomorrow's performance

Well, the first big solo show since moving to the city is nearly upon us. And it's a big one, at least in terms of the setup and preparation. Indeed, this is the largest and most complex setup I have used for a live show in quite a while, with both Mac and PC laptops, the tablet, MIDI keyboard, the Evolver synth, and the Proteus 2000 module. And of course the rather byzantine wiring and signal routing to keep it all together.

In the photo, one can see not only the equipment, but a couple of the acoustic instruments I will be playing including the ektar and the gopichand.

Why such a complex setup? Well, I wanted to a variety of pieces for this performance, combining both the newer simplified performances (such as those I did last year on tour with Polly Moller and Company), with some of the older more complex works. I also wanted to play the tablet, which I haven't done in a while, and it only runs on the older PC laptop; and include a couple of pieces from the CD, including Chimera and a variation on Xi. I was a little bit concerned about pulling out the old laptop for this performance, but after some effort it's running decently, and it's great to be able to blend elements from my older performances with the more recent ones. And in truth some of the older pieces are more fun to play, such as Chimera on the tablet, and the patch that responds to live drumming (officially called “drummer boy”).

Luna has of course had to make her presence felt during the rehearsals, as you can see here.

After a shaky start, the program has come together quite nicely in the last few days, and I am now looking forward to performing tomorrow.

For those interested, the time and location is:

Thursday, May 8, 8PM
Luggage Store Gallery
1007 Market St.
@ 6th Street
San Francisco, California

More details can be found here.

Midnight Monday: Luna-synth pic

Luna supervises from her favorite chair as I gather up equipment, including the Evolver, for a jam session this past weekend.

Check out more Midnight Monday at House Panthers.

Luna CatSynth pic: Evolver

While enjoying her beanbag chair, Luna deigned to be photographed (again) with the DSI Evolver synth:

I think this is an appropriate post as I head out for the tour. It is music related, and Luna gets to hold the top spot for a couple of days…

Preparing for the :plug3: headphone festival

This evening I set aside some time to prepare for the headphone festival, which is happening the Sunday in the middle of all the other craziness.

As usual, I am using a small rig, consisting of the PC laptop (with the E-MU 1616m and Emulator X), the Evolver, a MIDI keyboard, mixer, and of course headphones.

So this performance will use the PC laptop, while the others will be using the Mac. This means I have to schlep both laptops around this weekend, but what can you do?

I'm using the same collection of patches as last year on Emulator X, which on surface seems lame, but I think there is a lot I can do with them that I didn't do last year (think of it like a piano or string quartet). Additionally, I am using one of the Microkitty patches from the RPM album. And this time, I am going to be using the Evolver – I was little wary of doing so last year, but I have selected a small set of stable patches. And the sequencer gives me some beats to play with – I intend to use rhythm more as a humorous element in this performance (as in, “hey, he's using beats“).

I have a “script” that outlines the overall performance, with the details left to improvisation – which is of course what I generally do in my live performances.

Although this will be a fun set, like last year's performance, and not to technically difficult, somehow I feel like I'm not really putting the effort I should. And maybe that's true, with effort going towards the tour and finding employment. But we'll see what happens, after all it will likely be newer for the audience than for me…