Waking to Sunshine – Akai MPC X/Live Program

I’ve got a relatively small backlog of programs to upload, but it is a backlog none the less. As I said in the previous post, one of my dogs got super sick, and I haven’t gotten in the habit of having a lot of posts on standby to cover me when I get busy. Also, I’ve played with putting a few Youtube posts together, but I do not really have the proper camera, lighting, and other recording equipment at this time.

Anyways… this is a program I put together with an initially analogue sound that I drove to as pure of a sound as possible, and then smothered it in FX to make the low end dirty and a bit dark, though while you work up the scale it turns into a bit of a more open and perhaps friendlier, somewhat screaming, sound. Can you have a friendly scream? I’m not sure, maybe somebody out in the internet can help decide.

Onboard here are sound effects from the Chase Bliss Wombtone MkII for some moderate phasing effects, Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl providing a bit of vibrato, and polishing it off with a Chase Bliss Generation Loss to add a touch of Wow and a healthy dose of Bit Crushing.

The low end notes have some interesting bass characteristics, and if you let them play out they have an good amount of a throaty growl. As usual, give the program a spin, and even if you don’t have an MPC X/Live, you can certainly convert the samples from 44.1k/24bit to whatever suits your sampler of choice. Have fun!

Life Sometimes…

One of my dogs got super sick, and needed a trip to the emergency room. She’s doing well now, but it was pretty touch and go for a couple of weeks. The worst thing was that she just was not interested in eating, and she lost a lot of weight.

The patient, going through recovery and having a crazy fur day.

As other pet owners know, the doggie cone of shame sucks. Fortunately we didn’t have to use it this time, but we did need to get her the inflatable neck brace to keep her from losing stitches. I was concerned she was going to hate it, but apparently having a portable pillow around your neck at all times is nice because she found the strangest places to get comfortable and go to sleep.

What happened? She was throwing up excessively for two and a half days, to the point I knew that is wasn’t some kind of flu, but something was seriously wrong. I took the poor girl to our local vet, and she did some MRI scans, but besides seeing a weird ring, there wasn’t anything obvious that they could see as a blockage. The local vet told me to take her as soon as possible to another vet to get ultrasounds done. Fortunately she was still drinking water, and able to keep that down, so for me, while this was a severe problem, it didn’t feel dire yet.

I scheduled the ultrasounds for the next day, and got her down. All they could see was a mass, which usually means a tumor in these cases. The vet was super emotional as he told me this, and asked if it was okay to do an aspiration. I figured it was worth doing it to see if there was anything obvious that could be done, but she is really young to be having a tumor at this point. So the vet took her to do the aspiration, and when he came back he said he had good news, but also bad news. The growth was not a tumor, but it was instead fecal matter. He then explained that the ring they saw from the MRI was possibly an inverted intestine, ad I would need to go to a 24×7 vet clinic to get the surgery done. He suggested I take her immediately, but she was still very energetic and I asked if it was okay to have them check one more time the next day.

For those of you that don’t know, and inverted intestine is when the lining rolls in on itself, effectively creating a pouch. The problem with this, is especially when there is a mass involved, it will keep pushing that pouch into a larger mass, effectively blocking your whole intestine. Which, would explain the vomiting, because the poor girl couldn’t pass anything through her digestive system.

The next day I did bring her down, and with some luck, the vet was able to determine from another ultrasound that she did not have an inverted intestine, and he believed that he could do the surgery at his office. This sounded good, because the 24×7 veterinary office was likely to be three to four times more expensive.

The surgery went well, but we learned that the blockage was some kind of absorbent material and strangely, fecal matter. The vet kept asking me if she had been around babies or diapers lately, because it was all stuck in her small intestines. Apparently they had to remove about eight to fifteen inches of her small intestines, because whatever the material was, it had torn her insides up pretty badly, to the point she was about to, if she had not already, gone septic.

I was able to pick her up from surgery the next day, and she really was out of it from all the medication. She heard my voice, and did half a tail wag. The next few days she ate nearly nothing, and I was having to force feed her medication just to help her get probiotics, antibiotics, and pain medication down.

On the fourth day post surgery, we were desperate to get her to eat anything. We found that she was interested in eating baby food. My daughter got her to eat two small containers of baby food. We were all pretty excited that she was finally eating. Unfortunately in the evening while she was sleeping, the poor dog had explosive diarrhea. I won’t go into describing it, but suffice it to say, we definitely fed her too much, and it was a pretty traumatic experience.

It took a few more days for her appetite to really come back, and start putting her weight back on. She’s back to eating solid food, her stomach is all healed up from the surgery, and she’s running and jumping again. She’s not pushing herself like she used to, and she hasn’t been going out to grab her balls for us to toss, but I’m just happy that she’s healthy.

Sloppy Piano Chops – Akai MPC 1k Program

Well, I broke down and got a guitar pedal board today, so I could more easily work with multiple pedals. Before it was one at a time, but not any more. Now I can run them in series and mix and match for some more interesting effects. I’ll have to start posting about putting the pedal board together and powering it. Oh and hacking on the plastic to get everything to fit, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Today, I wanted to record some piano. Some jazzy chords, played a bit out of time, but routed through the Chase Bliss Mood with the slip filter running, which makes it pretty hard to make things sound like they are played in time. This formed the basis of why you’ll see some of the chords sound like they are the tail, and other parts come in much louder. I then routed this through the Chase Bliss Generation Loss, which you’d think was drizzling the noise into this sample, but no, I can thank my USB charger for my computer for this. I figured I was going to add noise anyways, so why not leave it in. I’m not sure I have a ground loop problem or something else, but it’s quite noisy, and I know it’s from my external USB C graphics, because when it is running off the battery it is fine. So all of that it is run through the Generation Loss high pass and low pass filter, then dumped into the Gen to bit crush quite a bit, and with some added flutter.

Anyways, Sloppy Piano is the result, if you want to take your hand at chopping it go nuts, it’s got some interesting sounds here, but as I said, due to poor playing, and the Mood slip, you’re not really going to get any straight chops. Given enough time you might be able to loop it and surprise me though.

From here, I just did the laziest chops you can imagine for the MPC 1k to create Sloppy Piano Chop. This is not something I’m terribly proud of from a chopping standpoint, but I found it quite fun to play and figured it’d be worth it to share. Good luck and have fun!

MPC 1k Q-Link Repair

Oh the joys of owning older gear.  Q2 on my MPC was super sketchy.  Loading up the JJOS v3 test menu showed Q2 was going from a range of about 300-500, and normal operation is 0-1000.  Another fun problem was that moving Q1 was also making a subtle change to Q2.  That’s definitely not supposed to happen!

I figured there were a few things to try in order to resolve this.

  1. It might just be that the Q-Link board was horribly damaged, and needed to be replaced. A quick look on http://www.mpcstuff.com showed that this was going to cost a bit in order to go this route.
  2. The fader could be gunked up with dust, and just need to be blown out.  The older gear gets, the more dust it picks up, and a lot of pots, faders, and tact switches might need to  be sprayed with DeOxit, blown out with air, or otherwise freed of gunk.
  3. The cable that connects to the Q-Link board might have gotten oxidized, and in desperate need of being reseated.

I figured I’d start with the low cost solutions. It’s honestly not that hard to pop the MPC 1k open, so I figured I’d just get a closer look. My strategy was to disconnect the cables to the board in case of a bad connection, and blow the fader out with some compressed air. While I can say that using your breath can help this suffers from two problems… first is that if you’re allergic to dust you may get a face full which isn’t so great, and second the moisture in your breath can do long term damage to electronics. The moisture might seem like a “so what”, but the older your gear is, the less time you want to spend repairing it.

Before putting the case back together, I figured I’d give it the good old JJOS test. Fortunately after reconnecting the cables and blowing out the fader I was back in business. Always a happy day for an easy fix!

I’ve got a few tact switches that feel a bit sticky from time to time. This probably indicates the possible need for a switch or button replacement. I’ll worry about that later though.

LoFi House – Akai MPC 1k Drum Program

Today I decided to play around with Reason again, and ended up recording the LoFi House MPC 1k Program. Really nothing too fancy, but other than routing drums through a 12-bit distortion Rack Extension, with a bunch of tweaking to filter it a bit. Honestly, each drum hit could be better tweaked for a tighter sound, but I ran out of sampling steam. Perhaps I’ll come back to a round two (or three) of these samples and trying and put something together a bit more consistent. So nothing too epic, but I figured it would be fun to play around with.

I almost posted the recorded audio that I chopped into the program, but honestly, the chops are more interesting. Instead I decided to throw together a demo loop of the Program. I put together this LoFi Loop which is just a 96bpm loop with 66% swing. Nothing that knocks, and could definitley use some eq, but hey, it’s free for you to do what you want with.

String Loss Program for Akai MPC 1000

This came as an experiment playing with some string sounds from the OP-1 String engine and and using the Chase Bliss Mood for the effects. I recorded into the granular tape effect, and sent the output through the slip effect, giving the sound quite a level of character. The initial recording is String Loss, and to me it evokes a bit of a cutting and driving sound that exists somewhere between the string and organ family of sounds. It was pretty simple to chop up into a program, which resulted in String Loss MPC 1k. At the moment, I’ve really just been playing with the straight chops at different velocities, but I think for the song I’m building up I’m going to lean into some pitch shifting of the parts to see how I can really push the sounds.

Cheap Piano – Akai MPC 1000 Program

I’m pulling together on a track on my MPC 1k, and have been playing around with a few piano sounds. The initial sound comes from the OP-1, from the Fake Piano patch under the DR Wave engine. I liked this sound as a starting point, and it reminds me a bit of the old Casio keyboards from the 80’s. I changed the presets a bit, and in particular turned off the Spring reverb as this was giving it a bit too much presence.

Post OP-1 tweaking, I routed the sound through the Chase Bliss Generation Loss to really abuse the sound. In particular I added some Wow to give the sound a bit of somewhat repetitive but also unstable character, and added some mild noise in order to dirty up the noise a bit while also running it through the low pass just to clean it up a hair.

Once I was happy enough with the sound, I setup a basic eight note pattern on the OP-1 with Endless, matched the BPM to the MPC 1k, and recorded off the passage. The outcome was Cheap Piano Recording which I’m pretty happy with as a source to chop from. The trimmed and chopped MPC 1k program is the Cheap Piano Drum Program, and reading this is making me think I need to worry about my naming conventions or I’ll make myself crazy in the future.

While I am not totally sold on recording this level of unstable audio through the Generation Loss for chopping purposes, the duplicated notes in the phrase do show themselves to be unstable in varied and unique ways. I suppose if you’re constrained for memory, this is not a reasonable technique because you would want to leverage the effects post sampling not pre sampling. On the other hand, the MPC 1k does have 22+ minutes of mono sampling time, and for my new track so far I have used maybe 30 seconds max.

Moody Bass – Akai MPC 1000 Program

I have been getting back into using guitar pedals for external effects processing, and had some fun messing with the Chase Bliss Mood again. This started life as an Ableton Live clean Stratocaster patch that I put together, and played through the Mood. What I played initially sounded like an unaffected guitar, but with the Mood always listening, and using the old blood side’s always listening micro granular in tape mode, I came up with this bass sounding loop Moody Bass 01. This was recorded into my MPC 1000, and I sliced it into a drum kit Moody Bass for the MPC 1000 on JJOS. You can certainly take the initial loop and chop it in a different way, but I decided to just do a relatively clean chop and tightened up the start and end points in the drum kit.

If you’ve got the inclination, you don’t have an MPC 1000 with JJOS, you can certainly still use the .wav file chops… they are 44.1khz and 16-bit, so just about anything will load them these days. If you end up using anything from these sounds please link it, I’d be interested to hear what might be done with these samples!

Studio Downsizing

It’s so easy to see all kinds of cool gear out there, and wonder how it might impact your sound, followed by a purchase for something that you might not use. I can attest to this, because to even write this post I’ve clean off a lot of miscellaneous music gear from my desk just so I can have room to type. It has become a frequent habit of mine to pull out instruments and effects to start a project, only to then have too many options. This coming from somebody who’s been weaning off of software to get back into more of a hardware focus.

It’s not all crazy though, and I have started to sell off more gear over the last couple of years, so I can at least convert unused and unloved gear into reinvestment cash to help me get more out of the second hand gear market.

So what’s on the rundown of things to consider offloading?

Well I currently own 3 MPCs, and at least one needs to go, and I say this as I’ve been putting research into an MPC 4000. Forget that though, I’ve got an MPC 1000 which has been a staple for me, especially with JJOS. Then I’ve managed to pick up an Akai MPC Live and an Akai MPC X. I started with the Live and really liked the portability and power in it, but if I’m really being honest, it isn’t cutting it for me. It’s way too fiddly with buttons to switch q-link functions and it really demands a fair amount of touch screen work. While I liked it, the context switching in the interface was just a bit too much for me. Which is why I picked up the Akai MPC X. I do think the MPC X works well as a center to my studio, but I’m not in love with it. So I’m still digging the MPC 1000 with JJOS, I appreciate the MPC X, and yeah… I’m parting with the MPC Live.

Then there is the drawer stuffed with gear. It’s got an Organelle I’d like to use more, but probably just a dream. A few Pocket Operators that I do like, but tend to be used more as one off effects and sounds right now that I sample from, so… really am I getting that much out of them? Then there is the OP-1 and OP-Z, staring at me, wanting to be useful and productive, but I haven’t really laid down any tracks with them lately. While I appreciate the constraints in those systems, I also am kind of ignoring them. It’s time to dust off some of that mess and pass it along to the next person who can appreciate them in a way that I have not been.

My closet is probably the biggest mess though. I have way too many boxed software releases, and while it is kind of cool and might look neat in a studio, is also… in my closet. Do I really need those boxes? A lot of that software is ancient and doesn’t even work anymore. Nobody is going to use it, and it has minimal value since who knows if I can even get updates for most of it. I’ll need to have a serious heart to heart with myself about this stuff to decide what I want to do with it.

Right now I’m just seeing what I can do with a smaller set of gear:

  • Akai MPC 1000
  • Chase Bliss Mood
  • Chase Bliss Generation Loss
  • Teenage Engineering OP-1

I’ll be posting up some programs, loops, and other samples in a bit. Stay tuned.