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Charles Cohen: Xart + Trash_Audio Extemporization Klinic

Xart and Trash_Audio hosted Charles Cohen and Tyler (aka Color is Luxury) from Philadelphia for a day of guided improvisation workshops and conversation. Their style of improvised electronics has been garnishing attention internationally, particularly Cohen's mastery of the Buchla Music Easel. Here is their performance from June 19th in Chicago.

This is the medium quality version of the video. To view higher quality click on the link above.


Tip Top Z-Rails

It's becoming increasingly clear that manufacturers are bringing alternatives to Eurorack case world. What Doepfer started years ago, manufacturers like Tip Top Audio, Gorilla Box, Monorocket and others are refining and creating new, less expensive ways to get into the Eurorack format. I've had my frustrations with cases and one of them is being addressed right now with these rails. The rail systems on some cases, such as Monorocket, have sliding nuts making it extremely time consuming installing modules. Doepfer cases offer the preferred rails that had stationary threads. This cuts down installation time because the modules simply fit and you don't have to chase loose nuts. The threaded rails, however, were expensive to attain - even to manufacturers that were buying in bulk. It looks like Tip Top Audio has addressed the rail dilemma AND has developed a more stable, universal power supply for cases - These guys are on a rampage! Tip Top Audio


Workspace and Environment: Prometheus Burning

Greg Vaneck of Prometheus Burning shares his studio and some insight on his life and work

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh PA. I've lived here my entire life, but have moved over twenty times so far. I've learned to never get too attached to a single location, and to keep your belongings minimal, portable, and if necessary, disposable.
I've been involved with music in some form or other nearly my entire life. In grade school I learned how to read sheet music and could play the Saxophone and those plastic Recorder flute things to some extent. I was also in the choir for a few years before my balls dropped. After that my extra curricular activities soon turned to focusing on Industrial and Grunge music, freaky girls, skate boarding, expanding/destroying my mind, and unlearning all of the brainwashing I received from attending a Catholic grade school.
I rediscovered my interest in making my own music and not just consuming it around 1998 when I could finally afford some gear like a used keyboard and effects pedals. In 2000 I obtained an obsolete Pentium 133mhz computer with a soundcard from Ebay. That opened up a new dimension for me. My life hasn't been the same since.

I've been fascinated with weird sounds and noise for as long as I can remember. By age four, I was already playing on my parents Atari 2600. The thing I remember the most about it are the sounds. I was too young to be any good at the games, but the sounds kept me entertained. Games like Super Breakout, Grand Prix, Missile Command. They all had amazing sounds that have burned their way into my brain. Sounds stimulated my imagination more than anything as a kid. My Fisher Price tape recorder was my best friend. I would put its microphone on the rusted chains of my swing set and record the creepy metallic sounds. I also tried to record the sounds of ghosts a lot, and was convinced my house was haunted by three entities. I used to
think I could tune into them with this toy “Pound Puppies” AM radio I had. Weird shit like that.
My fascination with sound and how it stimulates my imagination is what motivated me as a child, and still motivates me today. I've never grown out of it. Its like therapy for me. Helps keep me sane and deal with my anxiety disorder. At times the noise helps me tune in, while other times it helps me to tune out. And then there are the times where I get lucky and the end result resembles something “musical”.

Favorite Hardware
I am currently obsessed with our Eurorack Modular Synth which we have nicknamed “The BEAST”. My favorite modules in The BEAST are the Hertz Donut and the Tyme Sefari, both made by The Harvestman. I've also been digging on the Sound of Shadows and Plague Bearer modules by Flight of Harmony. The modules I own by these two brands are overflowing with sonic possibilities, and seem to be geared more toward the harsh and experimental side of things which is right up my alley.

Favorite Software
I've been a fan of the Audio Damage plugins since their very first releases. I dig their experimental approach. I also like how they design their interfaces to be very straightforward and similar to hardware in certain instances. Propellerheads “Reason” has always appealed to me for the same reasons. Everything is right in front of you, not buried behind layers of boring menus or goofy unintuitive shit. I have a very short attention span, and interface is everything to me. If I can't dive into it and get dirty quickly, I move on to something else.

Workspace and Environment
I am a big believer in establishing the right “set and setting” when it relates to any activity that involves tapping into your subconscious. The studio is my “sacred space”. I try to keep it organized yet jam packed with inspiring gear, art, and imagery. I am constantly rearranging my setup and moving things around, always trying to find the perfect balance and place for everything.

Ideal Location
Somewhere very isolated and sound proof. I work very loud, and get weird about people or neighbors or roommates hearing me. It can really effect me negatively if I feel like someone is listening to me. Its like having someone listen in on you while you are fucking. Art is intimate, and I don't like being invaded. Total privacy would be ideal for me. Maybe in Outer Space perhaps?

First and Last Pieces of Gear
Scored a used Yamaha PSR keyboard back in 1998. I can't remember the exact model, but it had some decent features like being able to record up to two tracks. I had no clue how to “play it”, but I figured out how to dive deeper into the configuration and make the default sounds interesting and mutilated. My latest piece of gear is an ASSMASTER fuzz module by Malekko. Its nasty as hell and responds very well to feedback loops.

Wish List
Gear lusting after the Piston Honda by The Harvestman, Atoner by 4ms, Sem20 by Bubblesound, and the .COM comparator/divider by STG. Also the POKEY synth module by Skrasoft seems to be progressing very well and has my interest.

Live Setup
The Prometheus Burning live setup is constantly changing. After the “It Ain't Dead Yet tour” in 2009, we got tired of lugging around racks of hardware. Now we are trying to compact it as much as possible. Our most recent setup has me on the laptop running AudioMulch, Battery, Reaktor, and some other jazz controlled by two M-Audio midi controllers. I also have a small portable Modular setup for some live improvised chaos. We are running her vocals through the laptop again,
which I can then manipulate in real time. She usually brings along an Electric Violin, AudioWeevil08, Theremin, and some effects pedals.

Not currently, but I would certainly like to give it a try. There are many nights where I sit in the studio making soundtracks to my own imaginary stories and movies that don't exist. It would be quite an experience to do it for real. I think my style of sound design could mesh well with certain types of independent and horror films. I watch a LOT of movies, and have a huge appreciation for film, especially films with good sound design and music scores. Producers like Clint Mansell and John Carpenter are very inspiring to me in that regard. Too many films rely on generic and “canned sounds” these days. Not enough innovation or creative sound design or synth work like you used to hear in the 70's and 80's. I also have a side project called Four Pi Movement, which started out as collaborative effort between Nikki Telladictorian, Nick Vasculator, and myself. Now it functions more like a solo project for me. I keep everything completely improvised with Four Pi Movement, trying to capture raw emotion in real time using Modular Synths, Noise Boxes, and other hardware devices. I am currently collaborating with Theologian, the new project from Leech of Navicon Torture Technologies for the next release. It will be released on Cassette by the ANNIHILVS
label: Annihilvs

I focus most of my creative efforts into “Prometheus Burning” along with Nikki Telladictorian, my partner in sonic destruction and auditory mayhem. We've released material on Cassette, Vinyl, CD and Digital formats on several independent labels since 2001, as well as self-released material like our most recent double disk album “Displacement Disorder”. We've also been touring and performing live since 2004. More info can be found on our website: Prometheus Burning


Nordvargr & Surachai: A Wilderness of Cloades

Not sure when the release date was but I finally received a shipment of Nordvargr & Surachai: A Wilderness of Cloades CD's and box sets. They are available at Old Europa Cafe or if you're in the states, you can grab one from me for a better price. I don't have many, so I'm sure they'll be gone soon. There are two versions: A run of the mill CD and a limited edition box set that includes the CD, a patch, and a 3" mini-CD with tracks not included on the standard CD.
If you're interested, e-mail at trash@thedeepelement.com
*Update - I've sold all the box sets and have requested more from the label. Thanks everyone!
*Update 2 - Digital Downloads are now available and can be found HERE


Future Workspace and Environment: Justin McGrath / POLYFUSE

A lot of people ask me why I haven't done a proper Workspace and Environment article for myself yet. I don't really have a good answer to that other then to say every studio I've had has been compromised in some way. I moved my setup seven times now and I am really getting sick of it. Each time there's a battle that involves acoustics, physical space, neighbors and other less then ideal conditions. Some places have been better then others. So with that said, I should get to my point. I've decided to move my studio out of my home and actually take it all to a space designed for it. In this case I have a very awesome Aunt that has let me remodel a big steel barn on a huge farm to become my new permanent studio.

Now the tricky part, actually doing it. The barn in question is a hudred year old massive horse stable with a riding arena in the back. At some point in the 80's, the previous owners of the farm added a big steel garage type building to the front of the stables. In that building there was some type of office built that included a bathroom and a kitchen. What I am getting at, is that this particular building already had the water, electric, gas and plumbing already running to it which significantly reduces the costs of such a project.

Construction on this started three weeks ago. Rather, deconstruction. One of the first things we had to do was tear down the old horse stable section of the building because it was rotting, falling down and also started to damage the newer building attached. We started to do this work by hand which was becoming impossible so we hired a guy with one of these things to help out. Here's a small (30mb) video of the destruction.

So, now what? Check out exhibit A which is my sad Google Sketech-Up rendering of the 'final product.'

What you see here is the newer steel structure that I'll be redoing the inside of and behind it, the area with trees, is where the old horse stable was torn down. There was concrete underneath the structure already so this will become a big patio of sorts.

Here's exhibit B, a photo of the outside of the steel building:

At this point, we are still in the deconstruction phase. There is a bit more cleanup work to be done and then we start the actual build. I have a ton of video of the process thus far which I'll soon edit and upload. I will also document this project here as it goes and I would love feedback and suggestions along the way as this is all new to me....

Workspace and Environment: Mark Spybey

I was born and raised about sixty miles south of where I live. North-east England. Getting here was a roundabout journey. Being here is the best move we made. I’ve moved house maybe 8 times in 20 years.
Since I was a teenager, I was motivated by a desire to be creative and to acknowledge my right to make music, despite not being a musician. I am not a musician. I find myself curiously attracted to making music, despite my limitations. I happen to believe that technical ability can badly affect creativity, unless you are very, very lucky. So I motivate myself by trying to unlearn anything I learn! I loathe going into music shops. Most of the people who work in them feel somewhat inhuman to me. Or rather they make me feel like an alien! I'm involved with Dead Voices on Air, Reformed Faction, Gnome and Spybey, MzMz LaLala, Pata Particles, Download, Beehatch, Propeller etc. Try www.amazon.com, I find that terribly helpful nowadays when buying music! I don’t release any of my own music, it’s all through record companies.

Favorite Hardware
Roland Handsonic. It contains all of the drum sounds I want in one convenient gadget. I don’t program drums, I play them. I love my iPhone too. Some amazing apps exist. I use them a lot. I have a Yamaha digital trumpet I am quite fond of too.

Favorite Software
No surprises, I use Protools because it doesn’t bite me and Ableton Live. I think Live can be used creatively. Depends how you load the samples and play them I guess! I Cut things up real small, so I can play with them and it gives me something to do on stage! I like to concentrate. I gave up on sweating years ago.

Workspace and Environment
It’s only over the past 5 years that I have had a ‘studio.” That’s a fancy title for a room I keep my set-up in. I need peace and quiet, a place where I feel comfortable to work but music making is not work for me, it’s an enjoyable activity. Of more importance is where I live. A quiet village. That has had a huge impact on my sense of comfort and of detachment.
I have found most commercial studios to be creatively stagnant spaces. Places to be avoided.

Ideal Workspace
I love Michael Rothers studio in Germany. I visited there once. It’s a medieval building, there are pictures of it on the first Harmonia record. It’s lovely, mainly because of the location. But I think I am happy where I am. I also liked the Subconscious studio location in Downtown Vancouver. Mainly because of the views of the mountains and harbour. Niels who was in the Pink Dots also has a lovely studio in a barn. I spent several happy months there recording once and cooking, and riding my bike on country paths.

First and Last Gear Ever Purchased
First: Tascam Porta One.
Last: Korg Monotron.

Wish List
Don’t have one. To desire is to be unsatisfied with what you have. I see infinite possibility in finite resources.

Mobile Setup
I record on a macbook, so yeah, it’s rather mobile!

Live Setup
Depends on who I am playing with. Macbook, Live, gadgets and gizmo’s. Microphones. FX.

Ever Hear Your Music Played in Public?
Yes. It made me feel odd, as though what I was hearing wasn’t part of me. How could it be? Someone else was playing it! After I have released something, I rarely listen to it. I don’t really feel attached to it. I would like to think that I care more about making new music. If people like it, fine. If not, fine. I care more about music I have made with friends because I feel an obligation to them and usually the process reinforces all of the best elements of what friendship and comradeship is about.

Latest Release with Gnome:
At Willie's Place


Devsnd - Cwejman S1 Samples

Two different sample packs made almost exclusively with the mighty Cwejman S1 synthesizer Kit one by Richard Devine, kit two by Josh Kay.

A strange collection of percussion one-shots, hits, pulses, and other unclassifiable noises. Feed your drum machine weird things! Each sample pack contains 128 .WAV files and a Battery 3 kit (256 samples - 38 MB).



Miami for a Wedding

There's a little gear, some animals and lots of friends which is more than enough for this irrelevant video to be featured on this site. There hasn't been an update in a while so this should make us look somewhat busy and hell, it's what I did with my weekend.


Gorilla Box Overview

Gorilla Box is a new line of custom made Eurorack modular synthesizer cases that, in themselves, are modular and are manufactured through Anvil. These cases are built to withstand an insane amount of punishment and are meant for modular users who travel with their system, or have a cat that likes to routinely tip a system over. Every case will be made to order and a 'standard' version of the case theoretically does not exist because of the amount of options available. The case will have a number of requirements, options, features and functions. This is the prototype that I received in time for the Synth Meet 7 and vast improvements are being implemented onto the alpha design.

The key features of the Gorilla Box are that almost everything on it is customizable, the inside case is isolated from the carrying case to prevent impact damage, the lid has legs that serves as a table, a Tip Top Audio power supply and a lifetime warranty from Anvil.

The case is manufactured by Anvil and Gorilla Box has access to all of their materials. Some variables are the materials that range from Fiberglass, plexiglass, industrial plastic to metal. A large color palette is also available for the cases.

The Lid
The lid on this model is quite deep and makes the overall size of the case large and awkward to caryy but this is being addressed with a slimmer version that also will have legs and be carry-on luggage sized. The deeper lid has some advantages such as keeping complex patches using several levels of Stackables and is able to pack in the Make Noise Skiff system with no problems. Also, you can add the vector case on the deeper lid to make it a double 12U case. With my current Doepfer case I can squeeze a patch with a depth of 2 Stackables, anything higher will have to be patched later when the lid is off.
The current version of this lid has legs on the bottom of the case are currently secured by velcro. In all future versions the legs will be secured with a lightweight locking clamp with riveted screw to secure them into place.

Outside Case
The outside case is everything you would expect from Anvil, a company that carries a history of catering to touring musicians since the 50's. This thing can take a beating and it definitely will now that I don't fear checking it on a plane. The case and lid are secured with an industrial latch and will have an option for a combination lock. The outside case is lined with industrial foam that keeps the removable inside case isolated from damage. Some improvements will include the option installing wheels and retractable handle that will make the Gorilla Box roll around like a suitcase. Also additional handles can be installed on the sides.

Removable Inside Case
The model I received had a few minor problems with the removable inside case and while talking to Gorilla box, they informed me that the inside case is being completely redesigned by Vector featuring a threaded rail system, opposed to floating nuts, and will be black anodized metal. The vector case will have a power supply connected so you can pull the system out and use the recessed handles on the vector case to put it into your rack. Did you read that right? Yeah - this Vector case will be easily mountable to any standard rack system.

Power Supply
The power supply is manufactured by Tip Top Audio and is similar to a laptop computer power supply. It was originally designed to drive 3 bus board comfortably but when powering 2 bus boards, you'll have enough power for optional lights. My only experience with cases and power supplies are with Doepfer - here are some advantages of Tip Top Audio's power supply:
- The power supply itself is outside the case making the case less heated and prone to disaster.
- It supports both 110/220 voltage. This means that a) these power supplies are universal and b) when you're traveling all you need is an adapter. This is a huge advantage for me because in Europe I've had to carry around a power converter brick that adds a lot of weight and worry when traveling.
- No fuses
- The power supply is easily affordable and easily replaceable should they get separated from your case.

Here's some specifics from the manufacturer:
The power system is made of 3 units:
1. The external power supply.
2. The regulator boards providing +/-12V and +5V using custom made regulators.
3. The bus boards.
The power supply can delivers up to 1200mA per rail, that is 24000mA all together!!!
All you need to hook it up to a European or other power grids is a local power cord or adapter.
The power supply is protected against short circuit. In case of short it will shut off itself in case of a short and recover by itself after few minutes.The over all weight of the power system is probably less then half of a regular power supply yet provides double the current.

From my short experience with it, I left the power on for 48 hours straight and turned it on and off in rapid succession for about 30 second to see if something would blow out and absolutely nothing went wrong. If I tried that on/off trick on my Doepfer case I promise you I would've went through 15 fuses.

You can expect the price range to be around Doepfer cases but it's difficult to give specifics as every order varies immensely, given the amount of options. This is going to be my case of choice. What I'd like to see happen with the success with these cases is more modular systems on stage and on the road!!

The turnaround time is approximately 6 - 9 days. To get on the waiting list for a custom case, contact: gorillaboxes@gmail.com
More pictures can be found: Here

Xart + Trash_Audio: Chicago Modular Musickal Extemporization Klinic

Chicago Modular Musickal Extemporization Klinic Saturday June 19 2010 12:30PM-?

The XART Studio + TRASHAUDIO.COM will be hosting more fun for 2010. Charles Cohen + hair_loss (Color Is Luxury) will be in Chicago to do a modular synthesizer/ electronics based improv workshop/clinic! - a talk and demo of the architecture of the Buchla Easel - a Performance + discussing and working up patches suitable for free improv + small group jams / improv games- try ideas out, collaborate (and listen!) + plenty of time for give and take all along the way!

Seating/Spots will be limited (to about 20-ish people). This is a RSVP workshop with a modest donation.

A rough schedule is in the works – we plan to keep this low stress, casual and fun! We hope to end the day with an evening concert where you can invite your friends/girlfriend/boyfriend/family whoever! - to listen and watch the results of what we did all day. If you are interested email: kultbox@gmail.com please put Chicago Modular Musickal Extemporization Klinic in the subject! We will forward information on how to attend!

The Color Is Luxury sound is always improvisational, changing and evolving, ranging from very dense and harsh to minimal and ambient, beats to spacey, based on their mood at the time and the atmosphere of the space they're playing in. Regardless of the situation, they manage to come up with something special.

Charles plays a Buchla Music Easel, a rare analog performance instrument he acquired from master synth maker Don Buchla in 1976. he performs regularly in Philly with various folks on the techno, noise, jazz and new music scenes.

hair_loss plays a variety of esoteric and mainstream effects pedals and devices, which he wires up differently for each show, thus always keeping Charles guessing. hair_loss is also involved with SNOWSTORM & Jive Nation, and collaborates frequently with other Philadelphia artists.



Synth Meet 7 Video

Short and sweet.
Our last meet was so populated that we decided to half the rsvp list to make it more gear orientated rather than people oriented. The result was less people, more gear, more time with gear.

Workspace and Environment: Magnetic Stripper

This particular article came at me from a strange source, the photographer. A mutual friend Scott Pagano, who is an amazing motion designer, e-mailed me with photos saying he visited a ridiculous studio and that I should get in touch with this guy Jim. So I did, and am I glad that I did. He kindly spared a moment from constructing his monstrous DIY system to answer a few of our questions...

I was born in Johnson City, TN. I moved to Knoxville, TN in 1985 to attend The University of Tennessee, lived there for ten years. I moved to San Francisco in 1994 to find work in the Rave Scene as a VJ / 3D Animator.

1968 Johnson City, TN. At 2, would stand at the curb imitating the sounds of heavy machinery.
1973 Johnson City, TN. Built first oscillator.
1982 Johnson City, TN Made first recordings using homemade/ improvised electronix.
1982 Johnson City, TN Began working with Eric Blevins as Absolute Ceiling. http://www.a4suitcase.com
1996 San Francisco, CA First Magnetic Stripper show.

Where do you draw your motivation from?
OCD, OCD, and more OCD.
The concept of "Futuristic" unstuck from the timeline.
I have always loved Classical Electronic Music, and its primary function: to explore and expand its frontiers.
On the flip side, I am an unrepentant fan of the disco and all its myriad forms. Dubstep, IDM Breakcore, Minimal Synth, and Spacey Italo being my current fixations.
I find it very interesting that a rift which occurred in the late 70s/ early 80s is still a great point of contention. Tension is a great motivator: Too experimental for the disco. Too disco for the noise show.......

Favorite Hardware
I fixate on the DIY toys:
Midibox Sid: with a CV out. As much as I like the C64 sounds I like this module even more as a CV source. My current favorite LFO/EG. Found here.
The SN Voice: I have been using the SN chips since the early eighties, Thomas Henry's design, for this module, is pretty awesome. If you add a filter, its a stand alone synth. Found here.
Midibox Seq 3.4 (I'm building the 4.0): I have never seen a DIY project with so many features. Found here.
WTPA sampler:Todd Bailey is an awesome designer. It brings the Glitch! Found here.
Ada fruit X0XB0X: 303 clone. Found here.

An ever expanding DIY modular with modules designed and/or layed out by:
John Blacet: - Link
Yves Usson (YUSYNTH): - Link
Ken Stone: - Link
Thomas Henry: - Link
Ray Wilson: - Link
Tom Wiltshire: - Link
PAIA: - Link
Marc Bareille: - Link
ACSynth: - Link
Grant Richters: - Link
I have started to design a bit myself. Eagle CAD is crazy awesomeness.......

Favorite Software
Currently, I use LIVE for recording and editing. Originally, I was using the software as part of a live playback rig. its role has shifted, for the time being.......
After using many other DAW softwares, I ended up using LIVE because of its efficiency and straight forward design.
I generally use Sound Forge for sample editing, although, I have been using several Freeware sample editors lately.
I like NI plugins, for doing computer based music, being a modular freak, Reactor has always been a fave. I used Reason for years, before that SF Acid.

First and Last Pieces of Gear
First, a RadioShack 30in1 electronics kit. Last, a VOS Frac Filter kit.

Workspace and Environment
The sounds I am most interested in are about electronics and the romance of experimentation which surrounds them:
Sometimes the cables, LEDs, alligator clips, and unenclosed PCBs resemble waterfalls. Streaming off the tables, and flowing across the floor....... The Modular Studio, for me, is a nexus between a functional order and total chaos. I tend to do a lot of work with a device before it even makes it into a box....... Some devices are still on breadboards. As much as I love the Klang Klone 9 studio aesthetic, most of the time there are "brambles".

What Is Your Ideal Location?
In SF! I am in the process of moving, to another part of town. This question will be contemplated very deeply over the next couple of months. The studio should embody freedom. Good sound proofing should be involved.

Midibox Seq 4.0, MAX 4LIVE, WTPA 2.0

- Myspace
- SoundCloud
- YouTube


Gorilla Box

For the past several months, I've been excited for this case and this morning it came to my door along with some Tip Top Audio goodies. I received these pictures documenting the final stages of the development from Gorilla Box. A proper review of its features, which are extensively customizable, will be done later. I'll bring everything on sunday. See you there.

Some notes on the case:
There are legs on the inside of the lid allowing it to be used as a side table for other gear - guitar pedals, laptop, whatever fits. The inside is wired with a new Tiptop Audio power system which emits essentially no heat. The regulator is the size of an iPhone and the power supply is like a lacie mini brick style external power supply. A bit of trivia: Surachai of TRASH_AUDIO is in possession of the first one.
- Stolen from MatrixSynth

The website is in a transition mode and will be updated soon: Gorilla Box
E-mail: gorillaboxes at gmail.com

Expert Sleepers Interface

This is an important step into the analog digital interface movement. Expert Sleepers have developed an interface that provides DC/AC-Coupling so your audio interface doesn't have to.

Prototype of the Expert Sleepers ES-1 interfacing module.

This Eurorack format module serves two purposes:
- When connected to a DC-coupled audio interface, provides CV amplification.
- When connected to an AC-coupled audio interface, provides CV decoding for use with the Expert Sleepers AC Encoder plug-in.

- Flickr Set
- Expert Sleepers Website