Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back in the saddle

It's been 6 months since I last posted. I certainly seemed to have neglected things around here, but I'm hoping that will change. I've been spending much less time on the forum lately so I think it's necessary for me to at least continue contributing by way of the blog here.

So, what's happened over the last 6 months... It's hard to remember to be honest.
Buchla lust has come and gone again at least twice, the Harvestman Hertz Donut was finally released, to much jubilation by myself. I finally obtained a Flight of Harmony Plague Bearer (not sure why it took so long) and it's an amazing little module. If you like distortion and waveshaping, you owe it to yourself to try it out. There may have been something else before the HzD and the PB, but I'm drawing a blank. Budgets have been tight around the house here, so I've significantly cut back on expanding (that and I'm drawing near to filling up the Monster Case).

Speaking of filling up the Monster Case, I'm getting closer and closer to understanding the types of modules (and therefore the types of synthesis) that I am most drawn to. It's very clear that FM/AM and other audio rate modulation is key to the process; as is waveshaping of some kind. While I always love a good classic subtractive patch, they aren't the things that really drive my creativity. This is probably why the Hertz Donut has become such a favorite, and frequently-used, module since its arrival.
Low-pass gates seem to also be a strong standout over normal VCAs. The just-not-quite-subtle reduction in harmonics in concert with the reduction in amplitude (and vice-versa) really adds an sonic element that one normally finds with acoustic instruments. It feels like it adds a bit more "life" to the dynamics of the sound. The MakeNoise QMMG has been a fantastic addition here for that, as not only do you get 4 channels of LPGs, you also get a 4x1 mixer as well as LP and HP filters and 'normal' VCA operation. It's DC coupled as well, so it can be used for control voltages, however I must admit to never having exploited that bit of functionality. It sounds quite nice too, which is always a plus.
It's always been very clear that I prefer simple Attack-Decay envelopes over standard ADSR, and that has remained true. My Plan B M10s (I've had two for a while now) are definitely the go-to modules for that. The release of the MakeNoise MATHS module has got me very interested, but at this point I don't *need* more envelope generators, so for now I'm simply keeping a trained eye (and ear) on how folks are using it. I was able to play around shortly with a couple at the annual AHBA get together, and they certainly are very intriguing.
One of my favorite new (or rather, yet-to-be-released) module is the TipTop Audio Z-DSP. I'm cooking up a separate post for that, but to summarize, this will be an essential module in my setup going forward. I'm trying to convince myself that I don't need two.

On the creative side of things, the EP that I had planned for the end of the year has fallen behind. I'm still working on a couple of pieces, but I'm really trying to progress from what I did with Teratoma, so I'm being very careful and specific about which recordings I take and work on further into finished pieces. Speaking of Teratoma, I moved it off of VIRB (since they seemed to have removed the ability to download) and over to a Bandcamp page, where all my future releases will also be available.

That's it for now. More posts and more content coming soon.