Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
 
June 23, 2014

floats on air...

by Chris Randall
 



Well, it's finally done. floats on air, my new album of electronic meanderings, is now available on Bandcamp. It will be exclusive to that site until July 7th, where it will go live on all the other services.

This is my first "produced" album in some years; my last five-odd releases are EP-sized collections of various experiments and research, but floats on air is a cohesive whole, planned that way from the start. Since this is Analog Industries, a few process notes for those interested in that sort of thing (which is, I assume, most everyone that reads this site.)

1. Shoeboxen. For most (but not all) of the tracks on this album, the root rhythm comes from a rather strange source. I initially purchased a small shoebox tapedeck with the intent of finding something interesting to do with it, but not having an idea exactly what. What I ended up doing was using its little included mic to just record random semi-rhythmic sounds around my neighborhood, then taking the recordings, physically cutting out small lengths, and looping them in a different cassette body. I'd then record these short loops in to Live, and have my way with them with the various DSP tools that came to hand. The tracks sunderverl and fader in have the most obvious pieces of this sort of thing, but almost every track has at least two of these little loops in it. Once you know what you're listening for, they're easy to pick out.

2. Nagra. I used the Nagra a lot on some of the tracks. fader in has the best example. I asked Don Gunn to send me a few minutes of jazzy drumming; once I'd received his mixed stem, I summed it to mono, then recorded it to the Nagra. I then spent an hour or so slicing out half-measure chunks. (And I mean with a razor blade.) I then took these chunks, mixed them up, and spliced them all back together. I then made a continuous loop of the result. There are 4 other tracks in all in that song, and each one is a looped cassette. I fed them all in to Live on individual tracks simultaneously, and recorded the level automation on the way in with a Korg nanoKontrol. So fader in is named what it is: a live recording of tape loops that I "performed" on a nanoKontrol. I obviously added enough insert effects to stun an ox, for the final result. Most of the cassette loops are recordings (again, with the little mic that came with the shoebox deck) of the speakers in my living room system as I played Daphne Oram vinyl. Those of you that follow me on Twitter may have seen my synth -> tape -> vinyl -> tape -> synth palindrome tweet. This track is what I was referring to.

3. Modules. I don't have a hugely high opinion of the modular synth in my own particular writing process, but I figured "fuck it, the damn thing is sitting here." One of the little leitmotifs I use throughout the album to tie all the songs together is a little acid line breakdown, and I used the modular for this in all cases. It appears here and there elsewhere, but that was its main task in this project.

4. Other Gear. I used the Analog Four quite a bit. Notably in porch_field, where it creates most of the sounds. I also used [redacted] quite a bit, for about half the basslines. The other main synth I used was Monark, which got a lot of mileage on this album. For effects, VallhallaVintageVerb is the two-buss verb throughout the album, with occasional appearances by Eos as an insert "effect" verb; delay is about equal parts Dubstation and the H3000 Factory from Eventide. I used several other Eventide products for insert and compressor duties; most of the sidechain pumping (and fuck it, but there's quite a bit. There's no zealot like a convert!) is done with Glue. Obviously, heavy use of AD products throughout. I mixed 8 of the 9 tracks in Live 9 Suite; the exception is dawn, which was mixed in Bitwig Studio.

Anyhow, I'll field any specific production questions you might have in this thread, but the above is the general gist of things.

 
June 15, 2014

I Downloaded This Amazing Free Plug-in, And You Won't Believe What Happens Next...

by Chris Randall
 

I'm experimenting with clickbait-style post titles. Other audio blogs appear to be testing the waters with this information abortion, so I figure "hey, why not join the crowd?" How am I doing?

Anyhow, this is just a general info-dump of goings-on in my little corner of the world.

1. Unless you live under a rock, you know about the Eventide freebie, UltraChannel. I actually wouldn't normally bring it up here at all, as even though the Eventide guys are BFFs of ours and make stupifyingly good plug-ins (and even better hardware), their plugs are iLok only. However, as a result of a UI contract I'm currently doing, I had to install and tame an iLok. (And, god forbid, PT11.) Since I have one now, I was all "fuck it" and furthermore "whatevs." And got myself an UltraChannel. (And all the other Eventide native plugs while I was at it.) I'll say this much: UltraChannel is almost worth sucking it up for iLok. A fantastic, creative channel plug that is light on the CPU, yet extremely capable. If you have an iLok, or are thinking about buying one of those little buttplugs, here's where you get the Ultrachannel; use coupon code 0F736710. It'll be like $249 or something in a month or two, so if you're gonna do it, do it now.

2. Just in case you think I might have changed my mind or am in any way endorsing it, fuck PACE and fuck iLok.

3. I'm pleased to report that my schedule, which was a bit hairy there for a while, is returning, slowly and surely, to its normal lazy, meandering ways, which means I'll be able to finish off the Audio Damage DRM Removal Event, and also bring the next Audio Damage plug-in to the finish line while Adam flails about in his Code Hole whipping Sequencer 1 in to shape. It was a little ridiculous there for a while, but I've cleared a majority of the nonsense now, and am back to being my usual self.

4. And finally, a question: what constitutes an "album" these days? Throughout my (first) career, I was all 10 SONGS OR BUST but the idea of a complete record seems to be slipping through the cracks in favor of a burst mode kind of release system. I tried this out a couple years ago, by pooping out 4 of what our oldsters call "EPs" in a row, and it was somehow... uh... unsatisfying? Even without physical media, there's just something about a cohesive chunk of music that is more visceral, at least to the maker. So my general takeaway: it is far easier to come up with 5 cohesive songs than 10, and the consumer seems to be indifferent. My forthcoming release that I'm just finishing up now is 10 tracks, but I'm left with the lingering impression that I should strip it to a pair of 5-track releases. Thoughts?

 
May 24, 2014

The New Shit...

by Chris Randall
 



We unveiled this module this morning at the Muff Wiggler / Trash_Audio synth meet in Portland, and here's some info on Sequencer 1.

The astute among you will notice a passing similarity to the Elektron Analog Four, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we're flattering the fuck out of those guys with this little bitch. Here's some vital statistics:

• 36HP, 20mm depth.

• 4 banks of 16 patterns, each pattern can be from 1 to 64 steps long. The entire state (all banks and patterns) can be saved to SD card as a preset, so the memory is essentially unlimited.

• Clock input can be per step (like any other sequencer's clock), or 24ppq or 48ppq for DIN sync (via a simple 5-pin DIN -> 3.5mm adaptor). Clock output can be a staggering number of choices, which is handy if the unit is acting as the master clock. The Run input can be operated a couple different ways, as can the output. In short, it can interface to pretty much anything clockish, and can in turn drive pretty much anything in a clocklike fashion.

• Each step gets a 1v/Oct output, three CV outputs (that can each be either 0-10v, -5 to +5v, or 0 to +5v), a main gate output, and an auxiliary gate output. Gate length is programmable per step.

• The playback modes are forward, reverse, pingpong, pingpong with double end triggers, skip forward, walk, and random. This is programmable per pattern.

• There are several ratcheting features; you can program a ratchet of various lengths per step, or you'll note the 6 buttons labeled "REP." These will repeat, in order, the last 8, 4, 2, or 1 steps as a loop, or cause the step you hit them on to repeat in half or quarter time. (In the same manner that the MIDI triggers in Replicant work, basically, if you own that plugin.)

• As I hinted before, SD card for storage and OS updates.

There are many other deep features that I'm not able to talk about at this point. Our goal is to make the single most sophisticated sequencer available for Euro, and I think we've accomplished this already, let alone what we're adding as we go along. We haven't finalized pricing yet, or availability. We're hoping for US$599.00, and about two months. But both those numbers are subject to change.

 
May 10, 2014

Birth, School, Work, Death...

by Chris Randall
 

Cacti

It's getting tedious saying "holy shit I'm working a lot sorry for not posting blah blah" but you all know that, so I won't bother reiterating the point. On Tuesday next, me and the missus leave on a much-needed vacation to Hawaii for a week, and then Adam and I are off to Portland for the TRASH_AUDIO synth meet / Muff Wiggler store grand opening, where we will (as it turns out) definitely unveil the next Audio Damage Eurorack product. This bad boy is not an effect, nor is it based upon any existing Audio Damage product.

(Nor will it be entirely done by the time we get to PDX; we'll be showing a prototype.)

Some non-Audio-Damage news, in no particular order:

1. My new album is nearly completed. It's actually been nearly completed for a while now; I have two tracks left to mix, but due to the sudden influx of Work Related Time Suck, they've been in that state for some weeks now. I hope to have it finished by this time next month. It is a full album, unlike my last few releases, and I'm pretty proud of it. IDM, of course, but emphasis on the D instead of the I, for a change. (Read: four can be found on the floor for the most part.) It is, to not put too fine a point on it, full of techno.

2. Our good friends Standard Beat Co. have a new sample set out, continuing their Dark Downtempo series with the fifth installment, which you can and should purchase here.

3. I guess it's just those two things for now.

In any event, this is an open thread, and since a lot of projects tend to come out this time of year, if you'd like to take this opportunity to do some self-promotion or talk about what you're up to, that'd be totally cool.

 
April 21, 2014

Audio Damage Spring Sale...

by Chris Randall
 



Yes, it's that time again! Our bi-annual sale in the Audio Damage store has come 'round again, to meet all your plug-in needs! Use the code "EASTERPIG" at checkout to get 40% off your entire order. Note this doesn't include hardware, which we don't sell directly.

EDIT: All done now. Thanks, everyone!

Also, a general update on the State Of Affairs with regards to all things Audio Damage. Adam is currently working hard on the next hardware product, which we hope to unveil at the Trash_Audio meet on May 24th in Portland. (No promises there; this product is far more complex than what we've previously released, and is proving somewhat reticent to being born.) While he does that, I'm dealing with the plug-in line for the most part.

With regards to that specifically, I have the DRM removed from the following products:

Dubstation
Discord 3
Eos
Liquid
Fluid
Ratshack Reverb
Tattoo
Replicant

The versions of these products in the store do not require a registration code, and have no DRM whatsoever. Vapor is next, and so on, 'til they're all done. The DRM removal has taken a bit of a back seat currently while I work on the next product, which is nearing beta testing stage. The only thing I'll say at this point: it is a synth. The rest I'll leave to your imagination and detective skills.

So, that's where we're at. Back to the salt mines!
 

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