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

Archives: 2005


October 25, 2005

Cheese Pt. 2

by Chris Randall
 



As you can plainly see, I'm now running the Specdrum inside the excellent Spectaculator emu, courtesy of shamann. This thing is the tits, really. It sounds so awfully bad it's good, you know? I'd put up an MP3, but my fucking miserable Mbox won't cooperate, and the emu won't record the output of the Specdrum.


Note the "PEOW" sample, #5. It is aptly named.


UPDATE: Okay, I've managed to record the output of the Specdrums program by the simple expedient of running cables. So, without further ado, I give you a ZIP file with some loops showing the Specdrum in all its glory. For some reason, it is mentally impossible to program anything but the most banal rock and electro loops with this. I even put a special one in there for Tom from MusicThing. 1 Meg Of Glory Awaits!


UPDATE 2: As if this subject actually warranted two updates. Shamann has put up a ZIP with all the sounds from all four drum kits, because he is a Special Child, and obviously hasn't taken his meds today. So, between those two files, I think that's probably about all the Specdrum action one could take.


 
October 25, 2005

Why I Hate Digidesign, Vol 36 rev C

by Chris Randall
 

My little sister could write drivers better than the absolute travesty that Digi pawns off as the Mbox driver. It's always been a problematic little piece of code, but once I finally installed OSX 10.4, it actually became agressively stupid, making it the President Bush of drivers.


My normal course of action when installing a new Mbox CoreAudio driver is to uninstall the old one first, because Digi manages to write drivers that actually compete with each other for the same piece of hardware, which is stupid. So I do that, then install the latest CoreAudio driver from the Digi page, and the Mbox doesn't show up as a possible CoreAudio device any more. What's more, when I run an application that has audio, the stupid Digi Hardware Manager thing still pops up, but you can't connect, because it says the hardware is in use.


I put up with Apple's quirks because I like OSX (for surfing, email, iChat, etc.; not, as I've made plain, for making music.) But putting up with Apple doesn't mean I have to put up with the shoddy driver guys at Digidesign. So, the Mbox gets pitched. Fuck this stupid hunk of plastic, and fuck the company that made it. It has been nothing but trouble since the day I got it.


So, I need a new interface for my OSX box.


 
October 25, 2005

Behold: The Power Of Cheese...

by Chris Randall
 



A comment in the last post got me wondering about using my ZX81 (and of course I have one; that really goes without saying) for musical endeavors, something I thought more or less impossible. And research shows that other than the Music Percussion Computer (which uses a ZX81 for sequencing) and a couple home-brew programs that use the cassette port for beeping away little classical tunes, it is a quixotic endeavor.


However, the Spectrum series is another matter entirely. There is, according to my count, One Cool Thing for the Spectrum, and that's the Cheetah Specdrum (pictured above.) Now, the Spectrum computers didn't really have any following in America, unlike the ZX81 and TS1000. There are basically none here. So it's no surprise that I missed out on this little gem. My research shows that it is basically a D/A convertor, nothing more. The program had a simple x0x-style sequencer, and it threw 8-bit samples of, like, drums, I guess, out the sound hole. A gold star for the user that finds the samples on the Interwebs first!


 
October 24, 2005

Oh shit! Hold me back!

by Chris Randall
 

Tom from Music Thing A different Tom thought I wouldn't bite on this. He seems to think we're too high-brow over here at Analog Industries to be bothered with such mundane gear. However, I have no pride, so in the interests of proving that point, I give you this, the World's Most Style-Free Recording Studio, up on eBay in its entirety, for the low, low price of $2450. (And not a penny goes to waste, as you'll soon see.) I'm fairly rolling in mundanity with this one. Marvel at 48 (!!!!) channels of quality Eurodesk! Shimmer with anticipation at the sight of an Ultradyne! Giggle with schoolgirl glee at the possibility of owning not one, no, not just one, but TWO M-Audio Delta 1010 interfaces!


Seriously, though. You have to start somewhere. I'm not a snob or anything... okay, well, yes, I'm a snob.


 
October 24, 2005

All Is Quiet On The Western Front...

by Chris Randall
 

Man, it's been a long time since I had a whole weekend go by without finding anything new and/or interesting for Monday morning posting purposes. I guess I should point out that I had a lot to do this weekend, and thus wasn't the normal Surfin' Foole that can dredge up the usual oddities. So I'll opine on my current goings-on.


I've been working on this new Scanalyzer record (named "On The One And The Zero,") with Wade Alin for the last couple months, and it's the first time I've co-wrote an album with someone where the co-writer is a couple thousand miles away. Wade lives in Chicago, while I am, of course, high in the Cascade Mountains in Western Oregon. Through the miracle of the Interwebs, we maintain a constant dialog and flip Nuendo folders back and forth. (Wade, like all smart producers, uses Nuendo on PC, just like me, which is convenient for this sort of work.)


The record itself is IDM/Noise/DubDustrial, so it's not a terribly complicated process, I'll grant, but it's still the first time I've done anything like this, and it can lead to some interesting thoughts about the creative process itself. Will all electronic musicians turn in to pasty agorophobes by the advent of cheap broadband? Wait! They're pasty agorophobes already! I personally can't really see this sort of situation working in the context of rock music, except for remixes, I don't think. But for "electronica," it is a viable way to record an album.


How we do it is thus: either Wade or I will come up with, say, 32 measures of a song idea, figure six to ten tracks of drums and synth. Then the other will add and edit 'til it exhibits some song-like tendencies, then flip it back for completion. The album is approaching "done" status in fits and starts; we've been working on it on and off since early last year. But both Wade and I have our Main Things to work on as well, so that's no surprise. Back when I was rich and famous, I would think nothing of locking out a recording studio for a month or two just to write, but with having a home studio, the time pressure isn't there, and I tend to not work as fast, or without the same Sword Of Damocles provided by the financial department of the Label hanging over my head. ("Yes," said Dionysius, "I know there is a sword above your head, and that it may fall at any moment. But why should that trouble you?)



Actually, in thinking about it, that's not entirely true. I was signed, first to Wax Trax!, and then to TVT, for a total of 6 years, during which I released four albums. My contract ended in 1997, and since then I've released nine albums. So I guess that technically speaking, I'm _more_ productive without the Sword. That's an interesting line of reasoning...


But I digress. The point is that while it is nice to be in a room with someone when you're writing/producing, it is no longer necessary. I think you're also more likely to try wacky shit, because no one hears it but you; there's no danger of creative embarassment. But I don't think it would work with every kind of music. Thoughts?

 

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