Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.

Archives: September 2013

September 21, 2013

The Next Episode...

by Chris Randall

The first production run of Audio Damage modules is officially sold out, at least as far as we're concerned. We've sold the entire production run to Analogue Haven, Alex4 (which is a European distro company started by SchneidersBuero), and EquionoxOz. We've pulled the trigger on the second production run, and will have more backplanes in early November. When this second run shows up, we're going to introduce at least one more new module. Possibly two, but not likely.

Simultaneously, we've begun development on a more powerful CPU/RAM backpack that will enable us to make much more sophisticated modules (think a pretty much full-featured Replicant or Dr. Device in hardware). This will take some months, as these things go, and we'll discuss the feature set here and get some input. We made every attempt, and were largely successful, at keeping the initial Euro release secret. But now that the cat's out of the bag, we'll be pretty open about what's upcoming, unless it's a case where spilling the beans would mean opening ourselves up to competition. However, something like Replicant is an advanced case study in DSP in a Euro context, and is difficult to pull of without starting with an existing DSP library tailored to the task, so I'm not too worried about that. If someone else could have done it, they already would have, since it's such an obvious effect for the Euro environment.

Now, this is not to say that we'll only be releasing DSP-based audio effects. We have plans for several different things, now that we have a WORKFLOW, and finally I get to my point, such as it is. Adam is on the way to Japan, and I'm in charge, and when that happens, my imagination runs wild. (Every time he gets back from Japan, I spend the first three days interrupting his tales of travel to tell him about The Next Big Thing I thought of while he was gone.) One of the things I'd like to think about is a desktop synth.

Now, there is no shortage of desktop synths. One could make the argument that market was all full up. But one could (and in fact did) make the argument that all DAWs come with a delay, so why make one? We built a pretty nice business on that concept. So...

Now, this wouldn't have to be a digital synth (like, say, the MeeBlip -> Blofeld range of devices.) We have strong analog chops up in here. My question is this: if you were presented with a new desktop, a little guy, what would you like to see that you haven't seen before?

September 13, 2013

Flipping The Script...

by Chris Randall

I think that picture tells far more than a thousand words could. After two years of R&D (a sentence fragment that in no way conveys the experience we've just been through), and coincidentally during the week of Audio Damage's tenth anniversary, we have succeeded in releasing a hardware platform for our DSP effects, and are ludicrously proud to unveil the first three Audio Damage hardware products: DubJr, Grainshift, and Errorbox. You can read about them at the Audio Damage site.

All three are 8HP Eurorack modules with ARMv7 CPUs doing the dirty work; they all retail for US$179.00, and all three are now available at Analogue Haven for immediate purchase. Analogue Haven will be the exclusive U.S. distributor for our hardware products; they will not be available via the Audio Damage website. We're currently in negotiations with a couple other distributors; we expect to have product at EquinOz within the next couple weeks. If you'd like to see Audio Damage Euro products at your favorite (non-U.S.) modular synth store, tell them to drop us a line, and we'll try to get it sorted.

We'll be rolling out audio samples in the next while (although if you're familiar with our products, you know what these sound like for the most part already) and videos in a few days. I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank Shawn at Analogue Haven, who bootstrapped this whole operation, and my lovely wife Elle, who made boxes and power cables, tightened knurled nuts, and packed hundreds of modules. Hundreds. She is, if I'm not putting too fine a point on it, the shit.

September 8, 2013

In Memoriam: Kid Baltan...

by Chris Randall

When MusicThing was a going concern, before Tom Whitwell got his job with the Times, he had a regular feature called "Music Thing Heros," which was a source of much awesomeness. I've never done that here, because it was Tom's idea, and it'd look like a cheap rip if I did it. (The Venn diagram of Music Thing readers and Analog Industries readers was essentially a single circle.)

However, if I did do it, or something similar, there's no scenario where Dick Raaymakers (better known as Kid Baltan) wouldn't be on the list. Along with Tom Dissevelt, he was instrumental in creating the palette of sounds and methods of early electronic music, much of which is still used today, in various permutations. He passed away this week at the age of 83, and I thought I'd put up some of my favorite media.

This is a classic that I've posted before. It shows Kid Baltan (the one with the glasses) and Tom Dissevelt (the un-impressed chain smoker) working in the studio. The voice-over is in Dutch, but you can get the general gist of things pretty easily.

This track, Vibration, was on one of the four "Popular Electronics" 7" records released by Phillips in the mid-50s. It is basically a happy 1950s version of whatever the hell it is Autechre is doing this month. When you think about all the work they had to do to make this music (as witnessed in the above video, which was contemporary) your argument about workflow is invalid. Stop your whining.

Obviously, Mr. Raaymakers' music isn't for everyone, but credit where credit is due, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude.

September 1, 2013


by Chris Randall

I have a blessed day off from renovating our new house today. Unfortunately, this wondrous event occurred only because I stepped on some exercise gear in the dark last night, and lacerated my right foot to the point where I can't actually do anything renovation-wise, but must sit around all day convalescing. Those who know me know this is something I find intensely irritating, so I'm sure I'm going to be an utter joy to be around for the next couple days.

We're in the calm before the storm of a new Audio Damage product(s) as well, so the most productive use of my time appears to be trolling YouTube for funny cat videos. Since YouTube knows me so well, it won't let me watch too many of those without offering up something along the lines of this:

This fellow, Wouter van Veldhoven, is a Netherlands-based musician experimenting with ambient, IDM, and minimal techno using reel-to-reel decks, solanoid-triggered electro-acoustic instruments, and modular synth. So, as you can imagine, he and I are very much of a mind about how to make music. I like how he uses the artifacts of tape recording (tape stop, reversing, overdrive) as elements of musical expression. I recommend perusing his YouTube channel for some interesting shit.

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