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

Archives: 2005

November 11, 2005


by Chris Randall

You'll probably only see this in the RSS feeds, but, one of our two servers, is experiencing some "issues," of the sort that are probably best solved by whacking it firmly on the side. I've filed a trouble ticket to request just such a whacking, but we're in and out until this gets solved. Sorry for the troubles.

November 10, 2005

Audio Damage Phase Two samples...

by Chris Randall

Okay, we're now in the possession of a more-or-less fully working Phase Two plug-in, just to keep everyone in the loop. I have to say that this is the most liquid-sounding phaser plug-in I've ever heard. That's not to toot our own horn or anything; we're cloning someone else's design, obviously. But the Mutron guys knew a thing or two about phasers, let me state for the record.

Anyways, here's what you've been waiting for: This is an MP3 of a Chameleon patch whonking away, and this is that same line with Phase Two at the end of the chain. Obviously, this is a bog-standard phasing kind of thing. Phase Two, like the original Mutron box, is capable of some special effects. We're pretty proud of this one; there is no doubt that it is one of the coolest things we've made.

Things left to do? Many. Gotta shoehorn the UI in there. Gotta "optimize." Gotta get it working on both platforms and both formats. Gotta get it out to our long-suffering beta-testers. But we're definitely in the home stretch now. I'll put up a screen shot in the near future.

November 10, 2005

The Joy Of Being A Professional Musician...

by Chris Randall

So, I had the opportunity to pick up a contract job today for a rather largish Interweb Company. It was a bit outside my pervue (which is basically fucked-up drumbeats and modular synth squonks, for want of better descriptors) but any port in a storm, I always say, and the ducats were there so I took the job.

Six hours later, I'd pretty much given up, and it was actually over a relatively minor point. (That's a double entendre, which you'll figure out in a minute.) See, I'm a self-taught musician; never had a lesson. I can play keyboards pretty well, and can get by on several other instruments enough to where it sounds like I can play 'em with a little editing/quantizing/Autotune/etc. However, today I ran in to a brick wall, and learned my limits. You see, the piece of music that was required was in a major key.

Now, that doesn't sound like a big deal, really. I mean, just hit the white ones, right? The problem is that I've been doing this (whatever the hell that is) for nigh-on 20 years now, and I've just figured out that every single one of the couple hundred songs I've penned, published, and put on wax are in minor keys. Today, inexplicably, is the first time I've ever tried to write in a major. And it wasn't just any major, but C Major, the Key Of Victory. The People's Key. A Worker's Paradise.

The first album I ever bought was Joe Jackson's "Look Sharp." I'm a child of post-punk. I don't like or listen to pop music. My two favorite bands are Neubauten and Underworld. I just have no fucking experience with C Major. It's outside my realm of expertise. An alien world, where men run around in fields of daisies with no shirts on, rubbing honey on their nipples and singing happy songs, while the women hang out the wash and have children simultaneously. It is, to not put too fine a point on it, fucking played.

So, I had to give this job up, because I couldn't come up with a leitmotif that I could stand to play for the client without shuffling around the room in mute embarassment. I'm sure some people (hell, lots of people) have a knack for this sort of thing, but I'm not too proud to admit that I'm not one of them. The moral of the story? It's never too late to say you just can't pull something off. I'm not saying that you should think you have limits; I'm just saying that it's a bit shocking when you hit them, and a little fucking weird.

(Before you post, I know that Neubauten has one song in C Major; I don't care for it, so put that in your pipe and fire up.)

November 9, 2005

SCI Prophet 2000

by Chris Randall

If you recall, a couple weeks ago I was pining about my controller keyboard, and after some research/whining/pondering, had decided on an Ensoniq ESQ1 or SQ80 as a viable replacement. I've been searching for one that was both presentable, condition-wise, and attainable (as in "not in Europe".) Not having had a lot of luck in that regard, my eye began wandering, and yesterday I came across a posting on AH for a Prophet 2000.

While it is intrinsically the same thing as an ESQ-1 (eight voices, CEM filters and VCAs with digital VCOs) it does have a couple other things going for it which the ESQ-1 and SQ80 lack. First up, it is a Sequential Circuits product, and thus has Mojo, which Ensoniq most definitely does not. Second, it samples.

I bought it from the same fellow that sold us the Mutron Bi-Phase for cloning purposes, so I already know he's a good packer and reputable person. So we're in good shape all around. It'll be here in a couple days, and I'll give a full Vintage Review. I'm quite familiar with the much rarer Prophet 3000 sampler, but I can't remember ever having used one of these, so I'm a little excited to see what's what.

(On a side note, I'm still looking for a SCI Pro-FX rack, if you know of one.)

November 7, 2005

He's Mr. Hundred And One...

by Chris Randall

Actually, it occurs to me that our foreign readers won't get the reference in the title. Neither will anyone under the age of, say, 25. So it's pointless, really. But that aside, meet Mr. Heatmiser. Above is his brain, prior to hooking up leads. It only took about 20 minutes to make, and that's with messing a couple things up. The second one will probably take half that.

Here's the centerfold. (I originally typed "here's the split-beaver shot," but I couldn't bring myself to say it. "Centerfold" seemed like an altogether better alternative.) You'll note that I didn't use the original cloth-covered power cord like I intended. The fact is that it was just too nasty, and I didn't trust it. The power supply is a bog-standard Radio Shack 12V 500ma model, right off the shelf. Nothing to see here. Move along...

Here's the money shot. I found, in using it, that it really sounded much better with effects/pedals than without. Dry, it is really plonky and muddy. After some experimentation, I found that Parker->DOD Classic Tube pedal->Univox EC100 (which you see in the picture) actually sounded really fucking good. I'll make some samples tomorrow, when I figure out the best micing technique for this little fucker. It is much louder than I thought it would be, I'll say that much.

Total cost was $13.00 for the parts from Small Bear, $14.95 for the speaker, and $3.00 for the heater.


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