Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
February 26, 2014
by Chris Randall
Time for an omnibus update. In no particular order:
1. I'm deep in the mixing for my next release, which is, as it happens, a full album, not an EP, and far more "produced" than my last few releases (which are mostly compendiums of improvisational stuff.) This thing is shaping up to be pretty slick, and full of techno. I'm pretty happy with it, overall. Lots of field recordings, lots of tape loops. No idea how long this is going to take, but we're making good headway. I have four songs mixed at this point.
2. The next module from Audio Damage, Æverb, is in production. Couple weeks away. While I deal with that, Adam is building the prototypes for our first "big" module. (And "big" is an understatement. 36HP!) I won't give anything away at this juncture, except to say that it has almost 50 panel controls.
3. TRASH_AUDIO's next synth meet is in PDX, on May 24th. Both Adam and I will be attending. We will unveil the afore-mentioned prototype at that time.
3. Avid got de-listed from the NASDAQ yesterday. Next step: bankruptcy, and they'll start selling off assets. We'll see how this shakes out. Korg might be jealous of Yamaha and Roland, both of whom have professional recording apps, and pick up PT. That's just a guess. I don't have any inside info.
This is an open thread. What do you want to talk about?
February 4, 2014
by Chris Randall
My attempts at creative endeavors over the weekend were utterly and completely foiled by hardware (not software!) problems. My Maschine Studio got crashy all the sudden, I had to whittle a new tape loop for the echo, the old Doepfer modules/Stackables problem reared its head, and basically everything was conspiring to keep me from making music.
However, creativity struck last night and I was able to pull things together on a track I've been making on and off for a couple weeks now. Just for fun, I let the GoPro Hero 3+ run while I was trying to come up with a part on the DK Synergy for this track. So the video above is actually a snapshot of my writing process, not a finished and arranged song (or real-time improv, like most of my videos, although it does smell like that.) When I'm doing a track with full production that isn't real-time, I like to separate the parts out in the Clip view in Live, blow up the UI so I can run it from the touchscreen, and dick around with different arrangement ideas while I'm trolling for sounds, and that's essentially what I'm doing in the above video.
Sidebar: the DK Synergy is a strange and wonderful beast, and I dearly love owning and playing it, but Jesus fuck the fan in that thing is loud. Something needs to be done about it.
I'm intrigued to learn about your writing process. Since electronic music is almost more about sound design than songwriting, do you play parts first, then do sound programming like me? Or do you come up with cool sounds, then figure out how to use them? Or some other method entirely?
January 25, 2014
by Chris Randall
Another January, another winter NAMM. Thoughts, in no particular order:
1. Once again I'll state the obvious: Anaheim hates you if you're not there to go to Disneyland. I will again propose that NAMM move to the LA Convention Center, where at least if we have to put up with bad food and no parking, we can do it somewhere we don't have to drive two hours to get to.
2. The little synth pictured above. This is the Murmux Semi-Modular, a new product from Freaqbox, who are nominally guitar pedal people. Bog standard, mediocre silk-screening, a case that is way bigger than it has to be, and tweed, of all things. Somehow, that combo works. There is also a non-modular version called The Initiate, and one with a big ol' foot-pedal keyboard, if you're in to that sort of thing. There is zero shortage of simple analog desktops, and this is one of them, but the filter is to die for, and the big-ass knobs... PEW PEW PEW!!! No idea what the MSRP is, or availability. But me likey.
3. The Waldorf 2-Pole. Mono I/O, no MIDI, no USB, no runs, no hits, no errors. Another box that is way bigger than you'd think. It sounds farking awesome. $250-ish. Outstanding.
4. Bitwig Studio. I'm now running this jank. Haven't dove in to it in detail yet (i.e. made a track with it) but it shows promise early on. It's good Ableton has some competition now. All consumers benefit.
All in all, NAMM 2014 was exactly like NAMM 2013, only more so. A good time was had by all. Anything you see in the firehose of social and normal media that caught your eye?
January 15, 2014
by Chris Randall
Strange days are here. In no particular order...
1. The video above is me giving a little workout to a prototype reverb module; same DSP platform as our current products. It is, given the constraints of the platform, a mono 'verb very much in the style of the reverbs you find in the 90s IDM that comprises the majority of my listening habits. I kited the original algorithm from a Csound sketch that Sean Costello put out about 15 years ago, but it has been altered for context. I've been working on this on and off for about a year now, and I think it's to the point where it could be a commercial module. I'll keep you posted on that.
2. We have been updating our current product line at a punk rock clip, removing the DRM, updating the graphics, and generally tidying things up a bit. Dubstation, Replicant, and Eos have been done so far. Discord3 is next out the chute, probably early next week.
3. NAMM is upon us. Looks like Roland might give the people what they want, finally. I would prefer these companies with gigantic R&D departments spend time inventing new interesting tools than making permutations of old stuff, but I'm in the minority. In much the same way that 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 were "THE YEAR OF ANALOGZZZ!!!" we can expect the same in 2014. Just keep in mind that the vast, vast majority of NAMM announcements are workstation synths, MIDI accordions, and relic-finish Strat copies.
4. For reasons passing understanding, I have been hired by Phoenix College to teach their Electronic Music 3 class. Several students will get the joy of trying to keep up with my Catcher In The Rye level digressions ("SQUIRREL!!!") for the next few months. Wish them luck. That starts tomorrow.
All of these different things are occurring because Adam is building the hardware prototype for a new Euro module, and Eric is building the hardware prototype for another new module. So there's nothing for me to do but fuck with our existing IP, as is my wont when they're not wiggling strings to distract me. So, next week you'll get my usual NAMGLA posts. I'll be attending Friday and Saturday, if you'd like to meet for some reason. And then a return to our regularly scheduled zaniness.
December 26, 2013
by Chris Randall
As you no doubt know, especially if you are a Logic user, there are Big Changes coming down the pike, in the form of a sandboxed version of Logic, most likely before the middle of 2014. Developers have been given a preview copy of Logic X Sandboxed, so we can test our products to see if they will work when the update occurs, and make necessary changes. The current Garageband X is already sandboxed, so you can do a quick test to have a gander at how many of your current AUs will work in Logic X Sandboxed.
The short answer is "hardly any."
There are some very big problems with sandboxing something like Logic, from a developer's perspective, and almost no benefit to the end user. (In actual fact, it harms the end user, because products he was able to use previously, and may have come to rely on, will suddenly cease to work.) We could talk in circles all day long about that sort of nonsense, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.
While this stands a very real chance of having a consumer backlash something on the order of what occurred when Final Cut X was released, that's neither here nor there in the scheme of things. Our concern at Audio Damage is to maintain a seamless transition, so our customers aren't affected. And, let's be honest, there is nothing we like more than dropping everything and spending a couple months re-building our entire product line every time Apple has a fit of the Shinies.
In that light, we had a difficult decision to make. The only thing preventing our products from working in Logic X Sandboxed (and Garageband X, for that matter) is the erstwhile copy protection. For a decade now, we've had the simplest, least intrusive copy protection that we could have and still call it that. It has done very little to prevent piracy, and is the number one (and two and three and four and five and six and seven) source of support problems. It is, in short, a gigantic fucking pain in the ass that doesn't do what it's supposed to. And now it prevents our products from working in the Apple hosts.
So, we're taking it out.
We'll begin rolling out updates next week that will eventually encompass our entire product line, removing the DRM and updating the installers and UIs (and doing some bug fixing along the way), in order of popularity. The license control mechanism in the store will continue as-is, but the current reg codes will basically become serial numbers, and will not be required during the installation process. We'll also be able to deliver the bundles as one-click installs instead of 22 separate packages, which will no doubt please our bundle customers immensely.
This is obviously a pretty big risk for us, but we think it will be a good solution in the long run. We have long been of the opinion that there are people that care about supporting a company and its endeavors, and people that only care about themselves. Both Adam and I make a living on the former sort, and we hope that will continue to be the case. I can't speak for Adam, but I'm really shitty at blanching fries.
Anyhow, my Twitter feed and the Audio Damage RSS feed are the places to watch for updates as they're rolled. If you have a specific bug report that you think we might not know about, email it to [email protected] and I'll put it in the list. We'll be doing the products in order of popularity (with shiny new digitally signed installers, natch!) so expect Dubstation, Eos, Replicant, and Discord3 to be the earliest recipients of this treatment, and so on down to the perpetual tail-end Charlie, Ronin.