Grendel Drone Commander by Eric Archer

Just a quick update...Either at the end of this week or early next week I'll be receiving a new synthesizer I've ordered from Eric Archer. It's the Grendel Drone Commander, and quite honestly, my favorite thing about it is that it is built into a military ammunition case. It also happens to be a very interesting and great sounding drone based synth. When it arrives I'll have photos, video and a review of the one I ordered (their look is highly customizable) and soon I'll have an interview with the creator who is also working on some other interesting projects.

The Drone Commander is now in stock at Analog Haven if you'd like to order one right away. Otherwise, the lead time is generally three weeks if you want the faceplate/knobs/text customized to your tastes.


Workspace and Environment: Somatic Responses

John and Paul Healy of Somatic Responses take a moment to answer a few questions.

I was born in Wales, UK in an old mining town (Ammanford) where I have resided most of my life. I travel a lot as part of my job and enjoy coming home as it’s a small town and everyone seems to know everyone which is quite comfortable, even if its just because you know who the real assholes and dangerous people are!
As a point of interest it’s the same place where John Cale of the Velvet Underground grew up (and fingered the priest’s daughter), no real link but there you go. It was around 1994, we were heavily into club music around at that time (R&S RECORDS, ACID PCP, LEO ANIBALDI, LORY D, APHEX TWIN AND INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH) J was DJing alot and we just wanted to create or own take on the elements of music we liked, we also wanted to push music in a harder noisier direction.

Favorite Hardware
P: At the moment the hardware I use is an Mac, Korg nanokontrol and midi keyboard. I like these because studio space is limited these days due to family life and I can still do everything I want, and more!
J: As with Paul, I’ve miminalised the studio set up down to the basics – PC, Korg Nanokontrol, Evolution Midi Keyboard, Alesis 8 channel mixer & a vestax pmc06 pro mixer. All the work now goes on in the PC J

I have recently switched from Cubase to Logic, which I think is a superb DAW. The work flow is fantastically smooth and quick. The sound quality is better, maybe because its better suited to the Mac architecture. As for plugins I’m learning all the built Logic stuff which are remarkably powerful and flexible, they also are like getting a whole load of new plugins which sound fresh and different. Other software includes the usual Native Instruments stuff: Massive, FM8, Absynth, Reaktor, Battery…Arturia ARP2600, and recently I got the Sugar Bytes plugins Effectrix, Artillery 2 etc which are brilliant for mashing up sounds and sequences.
I always get Computer Music on a monthly basis for all the free plugins, TAL stuff is especially good!
We’ve also come across Glitch, a FREE plugin – just check it out (PC Only). We’re big advocates for free plugins, there’s a massive community out there & some weird & very wonderful synths / efx – just look for them!

Workspace and Environment
I don’t think the enviroment particularly does influence my workflow too much other than making me more disciplined as I only have specific times I can write music. Having a prescribed time makes me really strive to knock out what I want as quickly as possible and stops me being too much of a perfectionist. I’m kind of the opinion that once something is done fuck it, leave it alone and move on. I occasionally re-listen to stuff and think I would re-sequence or change the mix but then I realise that creative time precious and leave things as they are in favour of doing something new.

Ideal Workspace
Firstly I love my current location and setup! But, whatever my perfect location would be it would still be with my family directly around me as it feels right and I like the odd interruption in what I am doing. I’m not one for locking myself away as I have a short attention span. I always remember hearing stories (unsure whether true or not) about Vangelis having a studio made of glass so he could absorb his surroundings, I love this idea but I am torn what landscape I would like to view; I suppose my favourites and obvious choices would be:
a) Snow capped French Alps
b) Stormy sea peninsula
c) Overlooking a fantastic city skyline like New York or Chicago.
Can have one of each? :)

First and Last Piece of Gear
First piece was a Yamaha CS15, which is still in my house! Last was probably a Nord modular which I felt I had to get rid of because it was like a hobby in itself and didn’t really help me to be productive, I’d just end up wanking off over mad sounds for hours on end.

Wish List
New(er) Mac Pro/New Macbook Pro and Cinema display, other than that I would stay as I am for a while, less is more sometimes and I think I can do pretty much anything with what I have.

Live Setup
P:Yes, I take a Macbook with me, I have Albeton and Logic on it so I use this for Live PA’s and writing stuff on the go.
J: Acer laptop using Torq – it’s much more hands on, stable & VERY user friendly.

Studio Evolution
Several locations, one trend the gear got smaller each time!

Involvement With Sound Design
Unfortunately not, but this kind of thing would be a dream job for me!

- Somatic Responses Myspace


Workspace and Environment: Alessandro Cortini

It's been a while...

I was born in Bologna, Emilia Romagna, Italy and moved to the US of A in 1999 to study guitar. All of a sudden it's 10 years later and I don't understand what the fuck happened. My dad played an old acoustic from time to time and taught me some chords but it wasn't until I was 11 that I started taking guitar lessons. Guitar was my main instrument until I started working with a local musician in my hometown, Franco Naddei that I started getting into synthesizers. I still play guitar but electronic instruments became more attractive to me, especially modular ones because of their possibilities and hands on interface.
I have two main outlets: modwheelmood has been my more band related project for a while. I started it before I joined Nine Inch Nails and continue to write, record and release songs. We just recently released an album, Pearls To Pigs, in both digital and physical (Vinyl, CD) format. We have played some shows on the West Coast and East Coast and plan on touring more extensively in the future.
Blindoldfreak is simply whatever comes out of me and my machines, without thinking too much about it.
I believe there is always some sort of statement or musical value in the compositions, but i would say it's less linked to a song structure, and more related to moods and simple emotions.
I am really attracted to drones and evolving sound textures, and find myself listening to a lot of that kind of music in my spare time, so it's normal that some of this finds an outlet in my own creative process.

What keeps you motivated?
The need to solve problems.

Favorite Hardware?
Buchla Music Boxes. I haven't been using anything else for composition in a while. Out of all the modular world I find them being more attractive to me for some reason: either the way they sound, the way they look or the way they are operated...it's difficult to pinpoint it and kind of useless I believe. To each his own! I have owned several different modulars in my life and still own some other pieces but none of them get as much use as the Buchla.

Software of Choice?
I use the Monome with MLR a lot, especially with Modwheelmood, live. I can't program in Max MSP to save my life, but MLR is simple enough to allow me to approach the monome as an instrument and forget about the computer side of things.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
The longer you have been music, the harder it is to keep it interesting for yourself.... An ergonomic setup where everything is within reach is key, while it's also important to have different corners that allow you to switch from one instrument to another (i.e. from "computer mode" to "modular mode" to "drum machine mode" etc..()

What would your ideal workspace look like?
Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, with a lot of cats.

What was the first piece of gear you remember obtaining?
Crumar BitOne!

The last?
Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor

What Is On Your Current Wishlist?
A Buchla time based effect (delay or similar)

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
I try to use new tools to compose while on the road now. In the past, I have tried to bring whole recording rigs with me, guitars, synths, etc. Now, spending more time in the studio, I get the chance to try new things when I am traveling - like with the monome, or Reaktor ... I always get something interesting out of them. Recently I have been spending more and more time with Jasuto on the iPhone/Ipod Touch. Truly awesome application for coming up with new ideas. Really inspiring.

Do you have a setup for live performances?
For modwheelmood it's been really interesting: most of the songs were composed with the aid of modular and analog synthesizers, and when it came time to adapt them for live, I didn't want to use a computer for playback or sound generation. Whether because I did it for so long with NIN or simply out of laziness, I felt like it would have been great to try and recreate some of the songs in a different way, as a trio, with no computer aid. So a lot of the textures, pads, effects are now coming from my bass rig and Pelle's guitar rig, while Jepser is triggering samples from his drumkit, live.
So far we think it's been working really well. I personally have been using a combination of Empress Super delay, EH Micro Pog and Malekko ASSMaster on the bass, in order to create stacks of octaves that allow me to fill up the space missing from the recordings. I feed that signal to a dedicated guitar amp, as opposed to my bass amp, in order to make the mixing job easier.
I also use an EH voicebox, fed by pelle's guitar on some songs to recreate the vocoded parts. Vocals run through a Line 6 delay pedal, which allows me to tap the specific tempo for each song.
For the songs that were all written on a modular (i.e. Problem Me, Madrid Changes), I switch to a Monome where I control both the click that goes to the drummer and the different parts of the song, while Pelle adds the guitar parts live. It's a more fun, active way to use and integrate a computer in a live environment, I believe, but it's still just two songs out of a set.

For blindoldfreak, I usually just bring my 12 panel Buchla 200e cabinet and either 2 x Line 6 delays (for quad speaker setups) or an Eventide H8000FW. The 200e allows me to have a specific setlist saved as presets, leaving me with a basic patch for each composition, where I can change knob settings on the fly and play with the delays in order to build my drones. There is no other instrument that gives you this amount of flexibility in the modular world at the moment, period. On top of it, each show is different form the other, as I tend to build a specific set for a specific concert/tour. It makes it really interesting and satisfying from a compositional point of view too.

How many physical locations have you had your studio?
Several locations...maybe 6 or 7? It was easier in the beginning when I was doing everything with the laptop. It's funny, because i feel I am going backwards: I remember being stoked by the fact that I could record a whole album with my laptop but now I find myself coming up with more ideas in front of a single synth module rather than using all the programs I have available on my mac... I think I am deeply crippled by not being able of taking advantages of tools as much as others.
I crave limitations:I hope for problems and walls to pop up during my creative process. That's what keeps me going and gives me a reason to come up with something.

Are You Involved With Sound Design Or Composition?
I have done some work with local composers who were looking for a different approach in sound design but I have yet to find somebody who wants me to do a score. I am definitely interested in trying, if the right opportunity arises.

Can you discuss generally 3 benefits and 3 drawbacks of the Buchla system?
Unique interface.
Feature dense modules.

While portable, still not carry on size.
Initial monetary investment.

Which module do you find being used the most?
Voltage control processors are the least used modules in my systems, if I have any (Buchla 255, 257, Plan B M14).
Somehow I get stuff done without having to consult them, most of the time. I am determined to learn to implement them more in my patches in the future!

What About Delays?
All delays fit everywhere, to be honest. I haven't spent too much time A/Bing different kinds of delays and instruments together. However I do have some favorites: The Empress Super Delay is getting used a lot, both live and in the studio, the Diamond Memory lane is one of the best sounding analog delays I have tried.
Plug in wise, SoundToys Echoboy is the one which gets most use around here, followed by Logic's stereo and Tape delay: simple but effective.

- Modwheelmood
- blindoldfreak


New Free Polyfuse Release...

I've just wrapped up a quick Polyfuse release titled 'No One Will Come To Save Us' that is a complete diversion from how I would normally make music. Typically I would do everything on the computer, in Logic, and record any outside elements in. This time I tried something new and went for the 'all hardware' approach, so no computer was used. I picked the most minimal setup possible and used it throughout the whole album: x0xb0x, TR-808, Moog Prodigy, Grundig G5 (A shortwave radio), Line6 DL-4 pedal, TubeWorks RT-901 overdrive pedal, Alesis Ineko and a TC Electronics M300 all plugged into a small 10 channel mixer. From there I just improvised and recorded long sets which I then cut the best parts out of to put on the album. Anyway, it's all done now, it's streaming on my site and it's completely free! Get it here...

- polyfuse.net

Also, I've decided to make one of my previously released albums free now. 'The Night That Laid Still' is an EP + Remixes and a high resolution video. You can get that at the link below. This release is a completely different side of me and is mostly atmospheric/ambient music with touches of violin, upright bass, and pianos.

- The Night That Laid Still


This Week: Comfort Zone

This week will be a strange one. Out of the three events I have going on, I'm only comfortable with today. I've played at and seen some amazing shows at Ronny's before - It's a shithole that everyone loves.
Tomorrow, I have a radio interview at WCRX 88.1 FM at Columbia College located downtown Chicago and is a student run show. What's strange about this is that the radio host thought Surachai was a complete band and when I warned him it's just me, he continues to write 'you guys' in his e-mails. So, I'll just have to trick Justin into coming and say he's my drummer, whoever else wants to come can be assigned a role.
The strangest is on Friday. I'm playing a show at a venue that wrote me a myspace message: "hey do you need anything? and btw, do you have a pa system?" Uhhhhhhh... maybe I can share my in ear monitors with someone that comes to the show.

WCRX 88.1 - 10PM Tuesday, September 15th - You'll need VLC to listen

Surachai Muxtape


Schizophrenia 4: A Personal Video

Justin and I debated about whether this video is relevant to Trash_Audio or not, both of us were on the same side of keeping it for private viewing. I'm not sure how we both lost arguing to ourselves but probably had something to do with 'whatever' or 'I don't care'. I could go into the details of my first impression, immersion and experience of Detroit and the Schizophrenia party but everything has been said before and will be repeated. I'll just say I had an experience of a lifetime with my closest friends. Thanks to everyone for not destroying our hotel room and being a part of the most polite party I've been involved with.

This video is not for you.


Temporary Post - Polyfuse + Surachai This Weekend

Plans have changed!

Thursday, September 3rd - Chicago - Tacoskull has added Surachai to their lineup! Polyfuse + Surachai = Trash_Audio!
Friday, September 4th - Detroit - Schizophrenia has added Surachai to their pre-party lineup!!
See you crazy people tonight and this weekend!

TacoSkull Information

Schizophrenia Information

If you were interested in seeing me tonight in Akron, Ohio please still make it out there to support Eustachian! It will destroy you!