Who's Home – PO-33 #Jamuary

I’m not really happy with this, but I also had a bit of a gap for #Jamuary. Guess it was too much to think I’d put something together every day. On the other hand, it is freeing to have just taken a few takes, and going for the best of them so that I can move on.

There really isn’t anything too special here, and I actually sampled way more than I ended up using. Some of the other tracks I’ve posted I’ve been thinking of going back and actually tracking them out and mixing them up a bit, but this one I was super into last week, and now it just kind of falls flat for me.

Another thing of note, I decided not to use any of the PO-33 FX, and it was probably the right call in this case, I wasn’t exactly feeling the track, and while the PO-33 FX can add some fun, it helps to enjoy jamming with the track.

My last note, I usually spend time balancing out the guitar pedal effects, but you can very clearly hear that the audio levels bounce around. I am not proud of this, but again, probably best to just get something down and out sometimes. It’s now time to move on from this track and start recording in some more samples 😀

Its my Jam – PO-33 Track

The image is courtesy of a road trip I did with my family from the East Coast out to Montana. On the way back we stopped at an amethyst mine, and I got some really cool pictures of some older beat up vehicles. There was some really cool stuff going on here, and we got some neat amethyst crystals to bring back home with us.

As for the song, nothing too fancy here, just using samples of thumps and bumps from everyday objects. A lot of the magic is just pitching things up and down, using filters… and then just jamming it out. I’m going to stick with the PO-33 a bit longer, but a lot of the initial magic playing around with the FX again is a bit gone, it has now gone from being novel to producing some pretty similar sounds to my ear. The device is still fantastic, and it might just be time for me start considering what I am going to move on to for a device to keep going on making tracks.

This is also another track I struggled with sounding like two different songs from the two four bar patterns I created. To remedy this I tried to create a couple two bar transitional sections to get it a bit more under control. I’m pretty happy with the results, and decided to take it for a spin through the Chase Bliss Audio effect monster. I’m pretty happy with it, but I think it’s time for me to play around with the ordering of the pedals soon. They weren’t put into any particular order other than what I thought might be interesting a couple of months ago.

I don’t think I have hit the end of creativity with this little device by any means, and I’ve definitely spit out more content in the last week than I have in the last few months, but it is also what it is. Maybe I’ll try and knock out another six to ten tracks, and actually write up more thoughts on it. Where I am is perhaps just a six or seven day slump. Too much creative energy expended?

Glass Mythology – PO-33 Track

The image comes courtesy of a business trip to Bangalore. The pool with the blue lights looked amazing so I had to take a picture. I’ll have to keep an eye out for more of these eye catching images… and maybe I can do a better job getting a “live” photo on my phone… or a video… so I can work out some neat video tricks versus just having a video of me clicking on guitar pedals and such.

The friendship bracelet is courtesy of my daughter. While my wife has been away on vacation, my daughter decided to make friendship bracelets for the family. She has taken it away a few times, when I’ve been more parent than friend, but for the time being I have it back 😀

The plucking string/harp sound really kicked off this song. I heard it, and new I had to use it in a song. For whatever reason it reminded me of the glass bells sound you used to find in a lot of older hip hop songs, which meant this had to be a hip hop track. I mean seriously… listen to that sound, in all its glory!

Today I really only constructed ten patterns. Two four bar loops, and a couple of transition/drop patterns. I liked how it came out, but it felt like it needed a bit more FX so I processed it through my mad Chase Bliss Audio science lab. Mistakes were made in the recording of this track, but an artist is supposed to take the mistakes a build on them. I’ve built a tower!

Listening to the track again, I think the Condor could have been used to reinforce the bass for most of the track, the bass is a bit wimpy and could use some additional oomph. The Wombtomb added some really awesome phaser effects, but you’ll hear when I was turning the knob the slow sounds great, the fast sounds great, the middle part… not so much. When I practiced a little to get some good knob settings, I definitely got some great sounds out of the Generation Loss, but I wasn’t as impressed in the recording… I am chocking it up to the difference between Wow and Flutter, and I picked the wrong one in the recording. Well Generation Loss wasn’t bad, I just know it can do better. What else? Oh, Mood scares me in live situations… I had some really cool sounds when I was practicing, but it is totally hit or miss when you’ve got complex sounds going and when you engage/disengage the sample really matters. This try, Mood missed… *sigh*… some day I will learn to control it better.

Afternoon Breeze – PO-33 Track

The image is from my daughter. While we took a trip out to Montana she kept borrowing my phone to take strange pictures with odd filters. This is one of many featuring one of our dogs. It looked intense enough to be a good track image. Enjoy the image of my dog slowly zooming in while listening to a electro song plays!

Funny thing… I was going to do another house track, and I’m not sure I’d place it quite in that genre, is it electro house? I don’t think it is fast enough for Techno… Somebody who has more refined taste might be able to clarify the music genre for me. I just thought it sounded cool!

I did give an honest try to using the existing patterns as I said I would, and it sounded like pure garbage. If I took the time to think about the PO-33 sample layout I could probably get something passable, but as it exists, the trial was a failed experiment. Doh… but hey I learned something that I sort of already knew.

What really bit me producing this track was the limit of 4 voices, I have a whopping five samples, and when I added in my next track section… oh boy, it was dropping notes all over the place. This sounded bad, so I essentially just removed one of the instruments. It gives it a nice transition without having obliterating the structure like I have done a few times in past tracks making it sound like several songs.

A key component here is that I started by chaining 4 patterns together, and then recorded content in real time as the beat played out. With sixteen patterns, this gives you room to record four four bar measures, or two eight bar measures if you so desire. In this case I went with four by four, and it worked well, but didn’t leave any room for intros, drops or other glue sounds. As a result, I’d say the track is a bit less dynamic, but on the other hand feels a bit more together.

As usual… here’s the backup of the PO-33 if you want to play around:

Winter Happiness – PO-33 Track

I used some Washi tape to label the write and record on the PO-33 on the case. I keep pushing the wrong one and deleting samples or otherwise overwriting stuff I don’t want to. I’m just not keeping the two clear in my mind. Also, it doesn’t help that the write button with the white dot reminds me of a record button… but yeah, it is still me! 😀

Apparently I’m really sticking with one or two drum loops, some vocals chopped up by and amateur (well the PO-33), an instrument sound, and maybe a bass sound. I’m going to have to do something different to push myself to not fall into a track. And… This track fell out of the sky! Well rather, I just recorded off some more samples to see what I could do to push the PO-33 a bit more. By pushing, I mostly mean doing even more FX and changing the FX up more.

Just deleting all of the samples and patterns before starting a session is working well for me and forcing me to forget what I did before. Deleting everything is keeping me from being lazy and using previous work to build on. It makes it a bit more effort but certainly keeping me looser when programming the track. I think for my next track though I might record in some new samples and change up the tempo/swing but leave the previous patterns, and automation just to see how it sounds and then tweak it up from there. I suspect with judicious changes you could make a brand new track that might seem inspired by a previous track, but sounds completely different.

The track definitely feels like two, or maybe three different ideas jammed into one. The level of consistency is not quite there, but it was fun to put together. I tried a few variations of stringing the patterns together, and settled here. I’ve gotten some written down notes of the order of the patterns, and I suspect a few miss presses or missed notes causes some of the oddity here. I’m also too lazy to go fix it as it is. There are a few parts of the pattern that I wish had extended or repeated, and a few other parts felt kind of weak. Sure I could have edited the patterns themselves and left the order… but nah… this is art. Besides, I’m just trying to get some ideas down and see what comes out.

For those that want to play around with the PO-33 sounds:

My Tiny House – PO 33 Track

I had intended in jamming out on the MPC today, but I ended up grabbing the PO 33 again… Producing another small track. Seriously folks, I am surprised at how much big sound can come out of such a small device! This is maybe 30 minutes worth of playing around max.

If you want a laugh, this is maybe seven, max eight, seconds of audio samples. If I actually put the effort in to trim down the wasted space in the drum track, I might be able to get it down to four or five seconds. Honestly, I’m not bothered by it, but it really goes to show even with the old school hardware and multiple limitations, those older machines really could knock out some bangers without too much effort.

To get some mileage out of the sounds I recorded you can hear me playing around with the filter and pitch quite a bit. This really helped change the character of some of the verses by making the drums and synth sound different without having to record in whole new parts. I actually spent most of my time crafting variants of the various patterns leveraging the FX to create some great variety with minimum time investment. A few parts I’d chain a couple bars together so that I could hear what it sounded like back to back creating fills over two bars. I’ll likely do this again in the future and is a good way to get out of the problem of working in a single bar.

Of course, some issues came up while producing this track. Volume balance for the synth sound became obvious only once I had recorded the vocal section. No matter how much I boosted the volume of the vocals, applied filters to the vocals, etc… it just wouldn’t cut through. Being lazy by nature, instead of re-recording the vocals I decided to just apply some filtering and volume to the synth, but once you’ve laid down sounds in the PO-33 you’re going to need to hold down the write button while you turn the knobs to get it applied. I only had two patterns at the time, so it was not a big deal. After modifying the patterns, I went into the sound and made adjustments there so I didn’t have to do any more adjustments afterwards.

Here is the backup file for anybody who might be interested in playing around with it on the PO-33.

Early Morning Chat – PO-33 Track

Although I’ve been happily selling off gear, I’ve still got the Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators I picked up a while back. I was feeling like putting something together super fast, and while I was planning on recording off samples, creating drum programs, all that fun stuff… I also didn’t want to spend too much time.

So… I reached for my trusty PO-33 and decided to sample in some beats. Originally I was going to use the internal microphone, but while this is sometimes interesting, there was a bit too much background noise (ie, the kid wouldn’t stop singing Frozen songs). I had to use the line in, which honestly does tend to have a fuller sound, the microphone is fine, but often it does lack the bottom end a bit.

At any rate, I ended up using four samples, one for the instrument, two drum tracks, and the vocal. I know some folks really like to get their chops perfect, and while there is a place for that, I also love me some dirty chops. What this means is, I was super lazy, and let the less than ideal chopping feature of the PO-33 do its magic, or butchering, depending on how you feel about it. Sure, I could have trimmed things, but who has time for that!

I had been planning on doing a few more fancy filters through my pedal board, but it didn’t really feel necessary. Honestly, the PO-33 does have some pretty functional effects, and you can hear them on the track. If I get some more time, I’ll pretty it all up, but here is the track in all its glory, warts and all!

I’ve also backed up the PO-33, so if you’re interested in playing around with it: