Wordless Wednesday with Big Merp

Merp is ready to share a glass of wine with his human friends.

With wine, cats, good music, and intellectual and artistic curiosity, we will get through this.

Farewell to 2019: Tipping Point

Our year-end collage is a long-standing tradition at CatSynth. And we had a lot of fun making this year’s edition, so many wonderful images to choose from. One of my best solo performances to date took place at the Compton’s Cafeteria series at the Center for New Music. Big Merp came to live with has at CatSynth HQ. And our adventures took us from the halls of NAMM to the bottom of Death Valley to the subways of New York.

As we mentioned at the end of last year, most of the energy has moved to CatSynth TV and our social media platforms (especially our Facebook page). The blog is mostly our core cat-and-synth pics these days, although I do enjoy sharing long-form articles now and then. And In 2020, I do plan to revive the “primary highways” series from eight years ago.

On the video side, things have been going very well. Here are the top videos for 2019:

  1. Rick and Morty Pocket Operator, Part 2
  2. Introduction to the KOMA Field Kit [Episode 106]
  3. Ginger Baker, In Memoriam
  4. EXCLUSIVE! Arturia Pigments 1.2 First Look
  5. Folsom Street Fair 2019
  6. NAMM 2019: Rossum Electro-Music Trident [Episode 116]
  7. Rick and Morty Pocket Operator Unboxing [Episode 166]
  8. Mutable Instruments Plaits [Episode 102]
  9. Strymon Magneto Loop & Sample Modes [Episode 125]
  10. NAMM 2019: Interview with Dave Smith of Sequential

By early autumn, I was also thinking about this year as a “tipping point.” The transition from the blog to the video channel is the most obvious, but it also applies also on the personal side. The arrival of Big Merp was one of the big stories, and it’s been a tough integration getting both cats to coexist, but things have been trending well in the past few months, with Sam Sam regaining her confidence and HQ becoming a more harmonious place again. Musically, I have moved in a direction that is perhaps closer to my roots in jazz, fusion, funk while maintaining the experimental electronic aspects. I have also moved to a point where studio work is how I spend most of my musical time, between the videos and other projects. Finally, I am getting older, as we all are, and that adds both perspective and a need to focus on health and wellbeing. In 2020, I may “do fewer things” than in the past, but I hope the things I choose to do make an impact both personally and beyond.

There is a lot to look forward to in the coming days: NAMM 2020 is around the corner, I have a full queue of demos to share, and I am laying the foundations for some major musical projects. And of course, we will continue to post cats and synths.

CatSynth Pics: #NationalCatDay with Sam Sam and Big Merp

Sam Sam with Yamaha TX802 and cassette deck

Of course, every day is National Cat Day (or International Cat Day) here at CatSynth. But we are marking the occasion by letting Sam Sam and Big Merp share their own pics. Above, we see Sam Sam in one of her favorite spots in the studio, in front of the Yamaha TX802 and cassette deck. Sam Sam would also like to share her recent studio video.

And lest Big Merp is left out of the fun, here is a pic of him hanging out behind the main modular synth.

Big Merp with the modular

Merp Monday: Novation LaunchPad Pro and Arturia MicroFreak

Yesterday afternoon I was practicing for tonight’s solo electronic concert at the Make-Out Room in San Francisco; Merp decided that two of the main instruments, the Arturia MicroFreak and Novation LaunchpadPro, would make a great napping spot. Adorable as it is, it certainly made it more challenging to use them.

Merp’s rear paws occasionally kicked off beats on Ableton Live! while I was trying to do some playing on the Nord Stage EX (off-screen). Fortunately, he did eventually get up and I was able to continue with my preparations.

If you are in San Francisco this evening, please stop by the Make-Out Room to hear me perform several pieces on solo electronics. No cover charge, and close to public transportation. Details can be found here.

CatSynth Pic: Merp, Modular, Mother-32

Big Merp enjoys hanging on the synth side of the studio among the cat tchotchkes. He blends in quite well behind the main modular system, next to a Moog Mother-32 and our Roland VP-03 vocoder.

Weekend Cat Blogging with Big Merp: On the Patio

We have been having some amazing weather in San Francisco over the past week. Warm, hot even, not too windy. Perfect for spending some time out on the patio. And as I enjoy a glass of wine and some snacks, taking in the sounds and textures of urban summer, Big Merp has discovered that he, too, enjoys some outdoor time.

In true cat-like fashion, he wanders the perimeter, and when things seem “secure”, he just relaxes nearby.

Seeing him wander the patio with his tail up reminded me of Luna, who also enjoyed her time out here. I think she would be proud (Sam Sam is more of an indoor-only cat and has rarely ventured outside, but she enjoys looking out windows).

The first pairing features a dark zinfandel (Amador County) with dry Spanish chorizo; the second is a chardonnay with Port Salut cheese and a spicy calabrese salami. Indeed, it was the latter that inspired me to re-release the “commercial” as a standalone video.

Big Merp came over to sit underneath, probably in the hope that something would fall off the table.

I like the way the combination of Merp’s fur, the afternoon light, and the colors of the slate contrast with the bright blue of the table.

We hope you are enjoying your weekend. For us, it’s back to the studio to work on our next video…

CatSynth Pics: Big Merp, Pocket Operator, Monotron

As I was editing our most recent CatSynth TV episode featuring the Pocket Operator, Big Merp jumped onto the desk and decided he wanted to get into the act.

He loves to be wherever the action is, so I took a bit of video and a few more photos. I even pulled out a (dusty) Korg Monotron for him to pose with.

His video clip made it into the introduction for the episode, which you can see below.

CatSynth Pic: Big Merp and Modular

As promised in yesterday’s Weekend Cat Blogging post, here is Big Merp with our main modular system.

He always wants to be wherever the action is, and at that moment the action was in the studio, where I was editing our latest episode of CatSynth TV, which itself has a feline theme.

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam and Big Merp

It’s been a week of both progress and setbacks as we work to make a happy home for both Sam Sam and Big Merp. To help give Sam Sam more of a sense of territorial ownership over the loft level, and to give her more diversions, we bought her a wall-to-ceiling cat tree. After tentatively exploring it for a week or so, she finally claimed her place on the top platform as “queen of the loft within the loft.”

Sam Sam on her cat-tree in the loft

With these and other steps, she has been becoming bolder and more confident. I was able to capture this close-up showing her radiating happiness and beauty.

Sam Sam is a beauty

We also got her a Cat Cave, a cozy and calming little place to sleep, which she liked as well.

Another positive step is that she was able to remain while Big Merp entered the room. No fight or flight. Things were tense but peaceful, and both cats hung out in the same space for quite a while.

Sadly, it was not to last. By the latter half of the week, Sam Sam had retreated back to hiding in the studio, while Big Merp resumed encroaching on her spaces. I know that he just wants to play and be where the action is. Whether I’m doing business or creative work in the studio, he always wants to be nearby and be “the little helper.”

Merp helping with a coding project
Merp hanging out near the modular synths

Indeed, there were enough studio pics from the last few days that we will feature him in a “Man-Cat Monday” post tomorrow complete with synthesizers. On the downside, the studio is one again becoming ground zero in the territorial conflict between him and Sam Sam. I do really want comity between them or at least detente, so we can all enjoy these spaces together.

CatSynth Video: Big Merp & Rick-and-Morty Pocket Operator

I managed to order one of the new Rick & Morty Pocket Operators from Teenage Engineering, and it arrived at HQ yesterday. I decided to film the unboxing and initial attempts to play it for CatSynth TV, but Big Merp decided to get in the act. You can see our fun in this video.

The Pocket Operator is a tiny synth from Teenage Engineering that comes in several models of which the Rick-and-Morty-themed version is the most recent. Once I fully get the hang of it, I will do a proper demo, probably in conjunction with the modular or Field Kit.