Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
February 11, 2008

Grindhouse Takes A Beating From The Man...

by Chris Randall

Our nascent genre has taken a blow from the Forces Of Evil, as our Wikipedia entry was deleted. Apparently all our hard work is "patent nonsense." This, from a site that has a 10K word cross-referenced entry on Light Sabers, which (unlike our genre) are completely and utterly imaginary.

Well, be that as it may, we shall forge ahead undaunted. I have to say that I'm really liking the examples in the previous thread. The nice thing about our genre is that, even with such strict guidelines, it still allows ample room for experimentation. I think it's time we started working on our "This Is Grindhouse" album, frankly.

I think that the album should be free, to foster interest in our genre; once we have it done, you can all go forth to the other forums you're involved with and spread the word, either sub rosa, or with malice aforethought. We'll host it on the Positron! site, of course, to give it the credence of an actual label.

So, if you want to be involved with the comp, make your Grindhouse track per the rules and examples, and upload it as a 44.1/16 WAV or AIFF, and send me a link where I can get at it, and we'll take it from there.

NOTE: If you're going to create your own sub-genre of Grindhouse for the purposes of the comp, make sure that your ruleset is a sub-set of what already exists. e.g.: a dub iteration of Grindhouse should be exactly half-time of a normal Grindhouse track, 70 bpm. An ambient or minimalist version should have elements at 140 bpm. All Grindhouse tracks should be able to be easily mixed with one another, in other words.

February 10, 2008

Bend like Gumby...

by Chris Randall

For those of you not lucky enough to live in Oregon, OPB (the single best public television station outside of Boston) thoughtfully puts most of their productions on their website eventually. The show "Oregon Artbeat" recently did a piece on circuit bending, of all things, and the episode is on their site here. I have to admit that it is slightly creepy to see a piece on circuit bending with such ludicrously high production value, as videos about same tend to use solar effects and be camera phone footage in poorly lit basements.

It kind of makes the whole scene seem somewhat more friendly and less subtly crazy. God, I love this state. I think that we should add circuit bending to the Grindhouse genre somehow. (Even though I live here, the decidedly Chicago-centric GetLofi circuit-bending blog tipped me to this, so props where props are due.)

February 10, 2008

All Things In Moderation...

by Chris Randall

I have to say that I hadn't really thought about what Analog Industries would turn in to when I started the site. The idea of an editorial-based music blog was relatively unknown just three years ago, and this site, CDM, MusicThing, and MatrixSynth all came in to existence at around the same time. Early on, all four sites stepped on each other's toes, but now things have sorted themselves out. CDM makes like a magazine, with proper articles and such, MusicThing finds the oddities, MatrixSynth is the synth-geek mecca, and here at AI I provide the editorial commentary/peanut gallery. I surmise that most people that read music gear blogs read all four, on a more-or-less daily basis. I don't know hard stats on the other three sites, but this one gets a running average of 2000 unique visitors a day, and spikes on particular subjects up to the 15K mark.

Over the last couple years, AI has gone from a place where I post the occasional gear picture and commentary to a site that is read by a couple thousand people every day largely because of my tendency to froth at the mouth. That's fine and all, but I've turned in to the Anne Coulter of music blogging, a fact that I find somewhat unnerving, largely because I didn't plan it. The nasty side effect of this tendency of mine rears its ugly head thusly: my opinionated postings (and more opinionated responses to comments) have seemed to gather a group of individuals who feel the need to take issue with everything I say, and most anything that anyone says.

While that's (sort of) okay and all, it has made this site a semi-unpleasant place, at least for me. I find myself really having to work to come up with a post a day, and when I force it, you end up with the posting immediately prior to this one, in which I try to invent a genre.

So, long story short, here's what's gonna happen. I'm going to attempt to be nicer/less frothy in my postings for the foreseeable future, and return to the AI content basis of about this time last year (which was the fun bit after we stopped calling people fucktards, but before we became them ourselves.)

However, you don't get something for nothing. I'm also gonna go through and zero out the people that I don't want commenting any more. Part of the reason I've been so pissy the last few months is that select group of people I mentioned above, and I will enjoy this page much more if I don't have to look at their typing every day, and if I'm enjoying it, I imagine you are too.

So, long story short, if you find that you can't comment from henceforth, you now know why, and I'm going to be far more brutal in deleting bullshit from here on out. Then, theoretically, we can get back to discussing how to make our way in this silly business without having to get all huffy about everything.

February 9, 2008

The 10 Commandments Of Grindhouse...

by Chris Randall

So, there are at least seven distinct forms of house music that I can discern. Unfortunately, none of them does what I want right now, so I've taken it upon myself to invent a new sub-genre, which we will call Grindhouse. The problem with making your own genre is that it isn't actually a genre until more than one artist does it. As long as it's just one person or group, it is only "quirky" or "eccentric," or the worst of all, "unclassifiable."

Like any sub-genre, our new style needs a set of rules, so a particular song or artist can be classified as such. In that light, I propose the following Ten Commandments Of Grindhouse, a paradigm set for our new genre. I intend this genre to be entirely open source, so the Commandments may be altered as a result of discussion, here or elsewhere. But we have to start somewhere, right? In that light, here's what I submit:

1: Thou Shalt Have A Monster Foot. Of course, the root of all house music is a 909 kick in a four-on-the-floor pattern. Grindhouse, since it is a sub-set of house, will have the same. However, our foot will be large. It should dominate the track entirely. In that light, the foot should have a healthy dose of plate reverb. But it needs to start life as a 909-flavored kick; that really goes without saying.

2: Thou Shalt Eschew Chord Progressions. Pick a fucking note and hammer that shit in to the ground. Chord progressions are for trance, and we hates trance.

3: Thou Shalt Lovingly Embrace Distortion. Grindhouse should be HARD. Think of it as powernoise with a more defined beat and, like, music and stuff. The square wave is your friend.

4: Thou Shalt Beat An MC About The Head And Shoulders With A Blunt Object. We are of the opinion that two things are true: a DJ knows how to spin records and the crowd knows how to dance. We don't need some meth-addled MC Cul-De-Sac up on the stage shouting at people, and asking for rewinds, and all that bullshit.

5: Thou Shalt Move At A Punk-Rock Clip. Grindhouse, because it is an aggressive form of house, shall be on the speedy side. Your happy place is between 140 and 150. You dip below 138 at your peril.

6: Thou Shalt Smash Thy VCR. Movie samples are so 1989. They shall be avoided like the plague that they are.

7: Thou Shalt Place Thy Bass In The Driver Seat. In Grindhouse, our bassline and our melody are the same motherfucking thing. Stack for attack.

8: Thou Shalt Glitch Thy Percussion. If it isn't a foot, it gets all fucked up. Get your favorite beat mangler and put it on every track.

9: Thou Shalt Restrain Thyself From 16-measure Snare Rolls. Grindhouse has sudden transitions. If someone wants gradual dynamics so they know when to spin their glowsticks and raise their arms, might we point them towards Ibeza?

10: Thou Shalt Break It Down. The breakdowns in Grindhouse, an essentially pad-free environment, shall be rhythmic in nature, with the glitchy beats.

There we have it. I'm essentially describing a punkier, glitchier form of house that is hard as hell. The next step is for the Analog Industries community to discuss and fine-tune our ruleset, and then make and release a comp. Obviously, a little audio example would help, so here 'tis, an intro and a couple go-rounds of a main section. In it, the major points above are described, I think. Discuss.

EDIT: I've made changes to the MP3 to take in to account the incredibly helpful suggestions offered forth. Here 'tis. I made the lead/bass more grindish, less ravish, and the offending 909 hat has been bit-reduced in to submission.

Note that, despite evidence to the contrary, I wasn't saying "hey, here's a grandiose idea that will change the face of electronic music." Rather, it was an attempt at ironic humor. I guess I should have put the sarcasm tags around the whole post. My thinking was that most electronic music genres spring from thin air, via someone coming up with an interesting idea that is somewhat outside a genre, and about 500 other producers trying to cash in on the sound. I thought it would be funny to create a ready-made genre, with malice aforethought. Perhaps I should have said that in the beginning of the post, as exactly two responders have got the joke. I have to say that, for most of you, subtlety is not your strong suit.

February 9, 2008

AD Ricochet Update...

by Chris Randall

We're in the home stretch now. After fighting with the AU and PPC shit all week, due to some wankery in Apple's latest round of updates, everything appears to be running smooth on the OS X side of things. Adam is working on the manual this weekend, while I run the beta test, and assuming all goes well with both, we'll have a multi-tap delay for sale here in a couple days.

I have to say, on a personal note, this plug has taken a bit (okay, a lot) longer to make than most of our other offerings, but it is well worth it. While it seems rather simple on the face of things (and wasn't that the point?) there is a lot going on under the hood of this one. Unlike the everything-and-the-sink approach of something like Delay Designer or PSP 608, we narrowed the focus down to the most usable feature set. As such, I'll be the first to admit that Ricochet has a definite sound to it, unlike those two effects, which only have "vibe" if you program it in to them. This is the result of not having controls for every possible parameter, but rather making conscious design decisions, and only baring the controls that you literally can't live without.

Also, we departed from the normal multi-tap paradigm, where each tap is treated as a unique event (this is what leads to the masses of controls in most software multi-taps) and treated the five taps as a single event for the purposes of setting the time. The result of this is that, to people that use multi-taps a lot already, the initial programming environment might be a bit confusing. But once you spend a minute or two fooling with it, you'll see that it makes perfect sense to do it this way. You just have to think of the grid as the Event, and the five taps as the parts of that Event that you can control; you can also determine when the Event will happen relative to the initial sound. It sounds confusing, but a little hands-on experience will make it immediately obvious.

Anyways, enough equivocating. We've put a lot of work in to this plug, and are rather proud of it. I look forward (with a little trepidation) to the general response, but we're generally confident that we did the right thing here, even though we swam against the general plan a little bit. Look for it on Tuesday or Wednesday, barring any unforeseen problems. It'll be US$49.00, like all our bigger plugs.


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