Album: Eclectic Electronica

I found more album and artwork things! So let’s just get right to it for this, my second album, and originally published (okay, I burned it myself and printed out all the artwork) as a two album discography for friends and family. I’m willing to bet that all the copies made it to the trash or got exposed to the sun ruining my nicely burned CDs. Yeah, that was a thing back in the day.

Good news, I’m finding a lot of this older content, bad news, I’m starting to see gaps in my older self’s ability to organize and keep track of everything. I’m missing a lot of album artwork, and not so sure how much of it I can find. Boo on me, but I’ll keep digging as I get this site back together!

Chase Bliss Generation Loss First Impressions

While I was traveling to Bangalore for work Chase Bliss dropped the Generation Loss, and unfortunately I missed the pre-order window on Reverb. I tried to check it out the next day, but it was already sold out. I spent the next few days wondering if I really needed this device, or it was going to be an effect I should just pass on. I checked out the Knobs video as well as Andy Othling’s video and I have to say, they both intrigued me. So I setup a feed on Reverb to keep me apprised of whenever Generation Loss might start showing up on the scalper market on Reverb and eBay.

When I got back home and to reality, and had a bit of jet lag, I happened to see Generation Loss start showing up, and yeah… I decided to bite the bullet and order one, for a reasonable (I’ll just have to keep telling myself this) cost of something that was marked up pretty high. I’m now seeing it pop up in my Reverb feed for $700 and higher, and while I fortunately didn’t spend that much, it was still pretty pricey.

Before dropping into impressions, a perfectly fair question would be, why buy it at all? I’ve already got effects that can do similar things as Generation Loss, such as the Eurorack Magneto, the OTO Biscuit, and plenty of software that mimics these old tape effects and digital distortion effects. To be brutally honest why I was interested in it, I don’t know, other than I really like the Chase Bliss Mood, and I’ve really started to dig the company. I am not a guitarist, but their pedals seem very well made, packed with interesting features, and I really feel like I jive with the company philosophy that they at least project in their marketing.

I really dig the old school sounds, and I’m a sucker for effects that both degrade sound quality while also imparting some new character to the audio. This totally pegs me as a sucker for lo-fi samplers, tape effects, bit reducers, FM radio, etc, and absolutely explains a large amount of my music gear.

To kick off initial impressions, I absolutely cannot suggest to anybody to pick up this pedal, no matter how amazing it is, for the prices it is going for in the over $600 range. If you’ve got cash burning a hole in your pocket, I mean go for it, but for the price scalpers are demanding, I’m going to kick myself and just tell you to pass for now. I hope that Chase Bliss sees the demand for this device and comes out with a non limited run version. Hopefully they are shocked in a good way at the demand, but the economics of this just don’t look that great. 1000 sold in less than a day is really amazing, but it is just sad to see the sale prices on Reverb. Hopefully it goes down in cost, and it’s entirely possible that the market value will correct as we continue to see more people dumping this pedal. I’m hoping a lot of these pedals found happy homes, but I can also see this as an effect that a lot of people might not be in love with.

All that said, so far I am really into this pedal. The controls are really hands on, and as with other Chase Bliss pedals are pretty tightly packed with features. Having a separate Wow and Flutter control is, hands down, a great feature that is not always seen in effects. The Generation control sounds pretty good for a bit of lo-fi digital bit crushing, and the Hiss switch lets you chose if you want no hiss, mild hiss with a little flutter, or heavy hiss with a lot of flutter. If these were the only things available to control I’d be happy, and I was definitely less interested in the High Pass or Low Pass filter. From the sound of it, the High Pass filter doesn’t sound to me like it adds any character, but the Low Pass filter does sound like it has some resonance and possibly another effect that helps the sound shine a bit further. The Wet knob is actually super handy, as it allows you to substantially drive the wet signal and can help keep the sound boosted in a mix where it might otherwise settle into the back due to all the flutter, wow, and (de)generation of your sound.

For the afternoon I’ve been throwing a bevy of piano, synths, bass, and drums at Generation Loss, and don’t worry, I’ll be recording some more patches to load up here in no time and get some A/B comparisons put together to show off what I think is special about this pedal.

For the piano and synth sounds I pushed through Generation Loss, I’ve got to say, all the knobs were worthing tweaking, and really gave some great results. In particular, dialing in the Low Pass and High Pass filters was great over a one or two octave range. Where I feel it feel down a bit was trying to make a full patch sound. This is something that in a traditional synth/sampler, you’d probably have the filter(s) follow the keyboard, but obviously as a pedal this isn’t something so easy to do. I can see how you can probably do one of LP or HP filter with the EXP/CV input, but I suspect for more advanced programming you’ll really want to dust off the MIDI manual and use the MIDI/AUX port. I’ve got plenty of time to get into MIDI, but this does look pretty full featured and ought to be able to control both the LP and HP parameters separately.

The bass sounds responded really well to the Wow and Flutter, but I felt like the LP filter also imparted some fantastic character. It is subtle, but sounds really good, Chase Bliss pedals often say “Digital brain Analogue Heart”, and the LP filter definitely sounds like it has a bit more of the analogue roundness that I enjoy. On the other hand, the bass that I was playing around with did not respond terribly well to the Gen knob. It wasn’t bad, but it went from a not very obvious effect to completely degraded quickly. Lower frequencies don’t need as many bits/frequency to reproduce (see Nyquist theory), so I suspect it is just harder to notice right away for bass sounds.

I’ll end with my impression on drums for the day. Here Gen was great, and really imparted some quick character to the drums, and instead I’d have to say Wow and Flutter just didn’t show through. This is to be expected for sounds that have a quick attack and quick decay such as a drum. I am positive that the Wow and Flutter were impacting the drums, but because they weren’t ringing out for any length of time it is just harder to hear unless you are really paying attention. Sure, there is probably some psychological character but I’m not sure how much it is worth spending the time for drums here. Of note though, the Hiss switch really did add a good amount of dirt to the drums in a way that was more obvious. If you like filter sweeps on your drums, I’d also say that the LP/HP filter sections on Generation Loss is quite good and will give you the usual results.

To me, this is a good device, and I can see it staying in my collection. That said, I’ll repeat that the astronomical cost probably puts it out of the reach of most sane people at this time. However, if you’re crazy like me, then I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this device. I will be taking some time to get videos together showing off the device, so stay tune!

Album: Aboriginal Dream

Well… I figured out to mount my old NAS box, and while it is a treasure trove of media, it is also a big, unsorted mess. It’s going to take some time for me to dig through and find albums, artwork, and put it all together.

For the moment I think I have settled on Bandcamp as a target to upload content. It seems to be reasonable service wise compared to soundcloud. I’ll keep playing around though. Below is the album, enjoy!

Old School Cinema for Akai MPC X/Live

The patch Old School Cinema started life on the Pocket Operator Tonic. I recorded the hits into the Akai S950 at 10khz, because I was afraid that some of the longer bass notes would exhaust the sample memory, and honestly I didn’t want to be chopping on the S950 for an hour. I was able to squeeze everything into the roughly 60 seconds of sample time I had available at the 10khz sampling rate. Honestly, I could have probably squeezed it in a bit better, but I was trying to let some of the longer notes ring out.

I played the samples pitched down a bit in the S950 to get a bit more grit and deepen the kick drum and bass notes. I’m pretty happy with the patch as it is, though you’ll notice that the bongo sounding hit has a lot of noise in it. I had normalized all the notes together, but you could still barely notice the bongo, particularly in a mix. I ended up normalizing the bongo, but this also amplified the line noise. It could probably use some filtering, but for anybody who likes having dirtier samples, that bongo is for you.

I’ve gone through and color coded the pads just for my visual preference so I can get a sense for what different sounds are on different pads. You’ll find the bottom row is drums, the two middle rows are bass, which I converted to note on instead of one shots, and I set all of the bass notes on a mute group so that you don’t drown out the bass. That leaves the top row with some glass bell type sounds.

If you’re looking for a quick demo of the patch I’ve uploaded a video here.

Akai S950 Tape Grand Piano for MPC X/Live

Here is my next patch for my MPC X Tape Grand Piano. I started with a multisample Grand Piano sampled into the Akai S950 at C/F note intervals. So samples a bit stretched, but it sounds pleasant enough, and certainly a bit more realistic than the strings a made recently.

The patch was again routed through a tape effect to give it some not so subtle tape warble. A pretty big problem that I had making this patch, is that it is over 60 samples, and while the auto sampler in the MPC X/Live is nice, it isn’t a complete solution. So I ended up spending a fair amount of time trimming the samples, only to remember that there is still a bug that if you record the content through a single input, it still records the sample as stereo.

I ended up using Fission as my rescue, since it has the ability to batch convert files, allowing me to get the samples halved in size from about 50mb down to 24mb or so. There was no stereo content so it wasn’t really a loss, and more of a productive savings. I’m going to have to keep auto recording patches though so I can get a better workflow established. Once things settle down I’ll definitely make sure I take some better notes.

I haven’t played with the patch too much, I’ll need to see how stable (or unstable) chords sound. I’ve considered normalizing all the samples, but for now they are at a fairly quiet level. I was hearing clipping coming in from some part of the input chain, so I’ll definitely need to spend some more time and figure out where I am going wrong. I bet it is both simple and obvious.

As before, the Program file is MPC X/Live, but the .wav files can be used anywhere. If you end up using the patch in anything, please feel free to drop a link in the comments!

Ooooooof

So reality is starting to set in as I try and consider all of the content I have ever created, and where the heck it is. Servers are gone, my network addressable storage (NAS) won’t mount on my computer. I have a bit of a road in front of me to recover my digital life again. I am not giving up already, but it looks like I may have to face some harsh realities about the time investment I need to put in so I can accomplish what I set out to do.

Deep breaths, and just take notes of what needs to be done.

  • Links to message boards, social media, etc…
  • Upload music albums
  • Upload photo albums
  • Curate through old sample libraries
  • Figure out what to do with tutorial videos
  • Replace all the generic artwork… my goodness is it ever present.

All that, while working on building out a plan to move forward. No buggy.

Akai S950 String Program For MPC Live/X

Hey everybody!

Today I spent some time trimming recording in a string sample into the Akai S950.  It was about 20 seconds or so long.  The idea was to make something that could be pitched up reasonably high and still have a reasonable length to it.

Once I completed sampling into the S950, I used my Akai MPC Live to create a mono sampled key group patch from the content.  The auto sampler tried to put in loop points, but they were completed busted, so I disabled sample looping.  I have to say, I do like some of the sounds in the lower keys (C0-C1), as the stretching from the S950 sounds pretty heavy and dark.

You can download the content at S950 Strings and extract the .zip file into your media of choice on the MPC Live/X.  The samples are .wav format, so you can load them into your sampler of choice even if you don’t have an MPC Live/X.  If you end up using the sound in anything you create drop it in the comments below!