Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
May 10, 2014
by Chris Randall
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
by Chris Randall
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:
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!
March 29, 2014
by Chris Randall
Like the subject says, our little algorithmic reverb module is now available for purchase at Analogue Haven. US$189.00. Other stores coming soon. The manual is on the AD site.
March 18, 2014
by Chris Randall
I was joking to my wife the other day that I have like five jobs right now. Which made me sob a little on the inside, because I actually do. In my ludicrous amount of free time, I'm trying to come up with the archetype mono-synth design. And I thought it'd be interesting to get some input from people that aren't me on this subject.
The mono is kind of a beast unto itself, and that platform is the source of some of the most enduring sounds in the synthNrrrd's arsenal, to the point where we refer to particular sounds not by the place they fill in the sonic spectrum (e.g. "squelchy, knocky bass") but rather by the machine that makes the particular sound best. (e.g. "303.") I find that interesting, because with other instrumentation, we don't generally dwell on the toolset used to create it (say, Strat through Fender Super Reverb) but rather we generally reference a player who used that combo ("I think this song needs a Stevie Ray tone...")
We do this with keyboards too, but much more specifically. The Hohner D6 Clav and "Superstition" are so intertwined as to be functionally synonymous, for instance. Likewise the Mellotron and "Strawberry Fields Forever." But by and large, these are still machine-specific references. P-Mac is hardly recognized for his keyboard chops. You never say "get me that Paul McCartney keyboard sound." You say "I want the Strawberry Fields Mellotron flutes."
Anyhow, how about it? I'm not asking for a running litany of everyone's favorite monosynth. Nobody gives a shit. What I'm wondering is more about the "why" of it. If you were going to make a mono, what would you absolutely require of it?
March 7, 2014
by Chris Randall
Hey, hey, it's time for WORKFLOW talk! One thing that has been happening to me with alarming frequency lately (due in no small part to dipping my toe in the torpid waters of academia) is that Dude makes a declarative statement about Gear in the context of Task, then says "what do you use for Task?"
Now, I often point out that my way for Task, and the Gear I choose to accomplish it, is in no way the right way, or even the best way. It's my way. Sub-conversation: tools are just that, tools. You don't look at a beautiful house and say "gee, I wonder what hammers the carpenters used?" Same thing here. While it's nice to learn new techniques and move your craft forward, at the end of the day, figuring out a way to accomplish Task without knowing how Dude did it is far more satisfying than aping his technique. To that end, knowing how to produce is far more useful than knowing what to use to produce.
Anyhow, as a merciful return to the subject, it was recently pointed out to me (and the which is something I knew, but hadn't vocalised before) that when I'm doing an album project, I pick a palette of sound sources and tools, and use pretty much only that to create the end product, not straying from it too far. This conversation was started by way of inquiring what palette I had chosen for the album I'm working on now. It was further intimated that perhaps I could write this down as a conversation starter. Since this album is far more "produced" than my last few, and the first album to which I've applied significant production in some years, I agreed it merited some talk. Anyhow...
DAW: I'm actually splitting duties almost equally on this album between Ableton Live 9 and Bitwig Studio. The WORKFLOW is nearly identical in both DAWs, so it's not much trouble to flip back and forth between the two. There are things that Live does that Bitwig sucks at (M4L being chief among these, plus far more control over MIDI sync) and things that Bitwig does that Live sucks at (hosting 32-bit plug-ins and 64-bit plug-ins side by side, a much better arrange view), and I like keeping my brain nimble. I've mixed all the Live-based tracks and have moved on to the Bitwig-based ones. We'll see how things shake out.
Synths: For this project, I find myself using Monark for bass almost exclusively. I'll go out on a limb and say this is the best 3-osc subtractive mono-synth plug-in made currently. I wish it was a real plug-in and not Reaktor-hosted, but that's not a big deal. Most of the pads and FM-ish tones are coming from the DK Synergy II+. Bleeples and blorps are from the Euro, the Analog Four and Aalto. I just acquired a Novation Ultranova the other day, and it may make an appearance. A surprisingly handy little synth.
Drums: Here's where things get interesting. 99% of the rhythmic information on this album is location recording or real-time recording, to cassette or Nagra loops. I'll put up a detailed explanation of how I did this once the album is released, but I'm using a lot of ambient "open-mic" noise as rhythmic source material. This is very satisfying. Every track on this album has 10 to 20 tracks of ambient noise from tape loops that are gated, sliced, diced, Beat Tweaked™ (©2014 BT, All Rights Reserved), or otherwise coerced in to being drum-like. I'll put up a more detailed post of what I did once the record is released, but this is the unique aspect of this album and I'm fairly proud of what I came up with and how I pulled it off.
Effects Plug-Ins: I have, via either purchase or NFR trade, pretty much every native plug-in ever made. There's a strong temptation to go buck wild with the plugs, and thus, for this project, I made a separate plug-in folder, and only put the stuff in it that I'm "allowed" to use (circumstances permitting.) As a result, the only effects I'm using here are the Audio Damage plug-in suite (duh), Valhalla Vintage Verb (along with Eos, the main send 'verb on all tracks), Ozone 5 Advanced, DMG Compassion, and Trash 2. I am, aside from Rough Rider Pro, using the built-in compressors and EQ in Live and Bitwig exclusively.
Anyhow, that's my palette for this project, in its entirety. I personally find using everything to lead to non-finished tracks, which is why I do this sort of thing. Do you guys, when you're committing to a full project, similarly limit yourselves? Or do you just use everything you have all the time?