The Tupperware synthesizer from ADACHI Tomomi.

Tupperware Synth

ADACHI Tomomi is a Japanese poet, performer, composer and installation artist. He writes music for a “punk style choir called the “Adachi Tomomi Royal Chorus”. He also makes synthesizers and Theremins out of Tupperware!

ADACHI’s self-made instruments are consists of simple electronic circuit, almost case built in Tupperware. They never can make precise pitch, but have good sound and noise, easy to operate and carry and worked by battery. Of course the funny and pretty looks are important aspects. –

via Gizmodo

Must have for the flying musician: digital scale.

Digital Scale

This weekend I performed in Valencia and Madrid, Spain. To get there I had to use AirBerlin, Iberia Airlines and Easyjet. All the tickets were purchase separately. Airlines have strict weight restirctions. If you go over your weight allowence you have to leave the check-in line and go to the cashier and a pay per kilo charge. For example on Easyjet:

Every item of standard checked-baggage will incur a fee, irrespective of weight, as set out in this section. Up to the passenger allowance of 20kg, each passenger will pay a per bag allowance as follows:

Per bag, per flight (paid at the airport) up to 20kgs): 12.00 € per kilo.

And here is AirBerlin’s “deal”:

25 EUR in economy class for an item of baggage weighing more than 23 kg, but less than 32 kg
125 EUR for every additional item of baggage with a maximum weight of 32 kg
375 EUR for every item of baggage with a weight of more than 32 kg, as well as for bulky items (from 203 cm overall dimensions H+W+D)

Imagine these charges times three flights? I have in my contract that the promoter/club has to pay any extra baggage charge but thats not reality because how are you going to get them to pay after you traveled home? The best thing to do is buy a digital scale and make sure your under the 20kg per bag allowance. The one I own (photo above) is from Pelouze and I think it cost me around $80.

By the way the event in Madrid was a nice one with Sven Vath, Vitalic, Ascii Disco, Dave Clarke and many others. There is already a video clip online of my live show from someone’s mobile phone: click here And if yor interested in my thoughts on Easyjet head over to my other blog “The Berlin Image”: click here

Wire to the Ear’s MusikMesse 2008 picks.

Musikmesse is one of the best music gear trade shows. It takes place in Frankfurt Germany this week. There are many websites covering Musikmesse down to the very last detail. I’d like to only list here what I personally think are the most interesting new products. So without further ado here is Wire to the Ear’s MusikMesse 2008 hot picks:

Korg DS10

Korg DS-10. This is a Korg MS-10 synthesizer for the Nintendo DS! This is a fully sanctioned product from Korg itself. You use the DS’s touch screens to control parameters. There is a sequencer and you can sync several units together via WiFi. I am really looking forward to getting this and using it live! link

Melodyne - Direct Note Access

Melodyne Direct Note Access. This has to be on top of the list because it’s a revolution in the audio tech world. This fall when the next version of Melodyne is released you will be able to edit individual notes inside polyphonic sounds! There is no doubt about it, what Celemony has done is amazing. To grasp this concept head over to Celemony and watch the videos on their site. link

MFB Synth 3

MFB Synth 3. Manfred Fricke from Berlin (MFB… get it?) has a new synth ready for 2008. I really like the MFB stuff because it’s affordable and sounds good. These units are a lot smaller than you think. You could throw everything MFB makes into a backpack easy and head to a gig. The new Synth 3 will make sound without you patching any cables into it. But of course the fun starts with wires! 3VCOs, full analog, 37 patch points, midi and CV for only 580 euros! link

Rop Papen RG

Rob Papen RG. Dutch sound designer turned software developer Rob Papen makes really useful synths. I find myself turned to Blue quite often. His new release looks interesting and my guess is it will find it’s home in an unintended market. What do I mean? Well it’s a virtual rhythm guitar plug-in matched with Rob’s synth engine and sequencers. So will rock n rollers be using it? I doubt it, my guess is whatever sounds this thing churns out will be in dance clubs by October. link

SSL Matrix Superanalogue Mixer

Solid State Logic Matrix Superanalogue Mixer. When you think of 16 Channel mixers of the 8-bus type the you think of Mackie or Soundcraft maybe? Imagine a small sized console from SSL? Each channel strip would represent a boutique quality strip. You know the class-A vintage looking things you lust over? Now imagine that small SSL with a digital output for about $25k. Come on your car costs more than that right? This is the kind of gear monthly payments were made for. link

Nordlead Anniversary Edition

The Nord Lead Anniversary Model Ltd. Edition. The Nordlead really made me believe that software could emulate hardware in a convincing way. To top it off the Nordlead was built like a tank and had a wicked cool stone mod wheel and wood pitch bender. There’s nothing new feature wise on the Anniversary Model. It is essentially a Nordlead 2x but those reverse keys are pretty. There will be only 299 of these so run to Sweden now and get yours before it’s to late. link

OrangeVocoder 10th Anniversary

OrangeVocoder 10th Anniversary. What? Anniversary edition software? Sure why not. I must have used Prosoniq’s vocoder on twenty songs or more over the years. The new version finally brings us an Audio Units, new sound modes, voiced/unvoiced detection linked with a noise synthesizer, a filterbank freeze option and a HF passthru mode. link

So what are your Musikmesse picks? Anything hot you think I missed? The show’s not over so by Monday I think I will update this post a little.

Celemony presents Melodyne – Direct Note Access.

If your a musician of any type you should already own Melodyne and you should watch the video above. Being announced at Musikmesse this week Celemony presents “Direct Note Access“. The new feature which will be added to all versions of Melodyne allows you to now pick out and move notes inside chords!

  • Access individual notes in chords and polyphonic audio: see them, grab them, edit, mute, stretch.
  • Tonescale feature allows you to change the scale of chords by clicking in a palette of choices.
  • Play polyphonic chords using a midi keyboard in real time.
  • Imagine tuning a guitar after it was recorded!
  • Your sample library now has new abilities. Any polyphonic sample can now be reached into and altered!

This new feature will start to show up in versions of Melodyne starting in the fall. I’m personally excited by this new feature. I can also now imagine a few more years down the road being able to load up a fully completed stereo song and reaching into it and changing notes of individual sounds.

BDM – Broken Drum Machine Plug-in from NUSofting.

NUSofting Broken Drum Machine

Here is an interesting plug-in. It’s been available for PC for a few months but now that I can use it on my Mac it’s worth a post here. It’s a four channel drum machine plug-in that uses samples (PCM) and analog modeling. What’s unique is the fact that this virtual machine has been “virtually” circuit bent!

You get four pads and individual outputs. Each pad allows the usual stuff like pitch, decay, tone, pain and volume. You also have chaos and chance sliders. Chaos sets is the amount of bending and chance sets how often chaos occurs.

Inspired by a combination of several old school beat boxes and the circuit-bending culture that revolves around cheap, and old, hardware musical instruments (such as the “toy” Casio and Yamaha keyboards of the 80s), Broken Drum Machine brings the lively, “ever changing”, circuit-bent drum machine sounds to your DAW. –

You can use your own samples and even alter the GUI. When you do so you can save your changes in what NUsofting calls “Modpaks”.

Here’s a few audio samples of BDM in action from the NUsofting website:

This plug-in is 35 euros/about $50. There’s more audio samples, demo songs and a demo version of BDM at the NUsofting website: click here

The RozzBox 5-Voice Synthesizer with Tube Filter.

Rozzbox Synthesizer

There’s a new synthesizer thats coming in May 2008 called the Rozzbox One V2. The thing thats got me personally impressed is the fact that it actually sounds different than 99% of what’s out there already. That says a lot in the over saturated synth (soft or hard) market.

It’s polyphonic with 5 voices, which is enough to make chords. It sells for under 10k because it’s using digital oscillators. But these sound sources are matched with digital, analog and oh yeah baby a tube filter! When you hear “tube” and “synthesizer” you probably remember the Metasonix Wretch. But to me the Rozzbox has put it’s tube to a better use because unlike the Wretch the Rozzbox can be easily musical. I like complete noise but I also my mayhem paired with some musical sensibility.

The oscillators have 16 waveforms to choose from. There is an FM engine, ring modulator, noise source, bit reducer, sample rate reducer, modulation matrix, digital hard cliping, “Hacker Mode” which introduces artificial aliasing, and a “Chaos Mode” for the digital filter. Oh man.

Rozzbox Synthesizer - Back

Need things moving? The Rozzbox has 2 LFOs, wave tracking, 2 ADSR envelopes, envelope follower and 4 sequencers each with there own settings. It’s hardware (yay) and so it has Midi, 5 individual outputs, an interesting blue graphic screen and 56 knobs and sliders!

Maybe you could compare it to a Dave Smith’s Poly Evolver Rack? The audio and video samples of the Rozzbox have me happy. Head over to the official Rozzbox website to hear some audio:

For videos check Big City Music which is selling the Rozzbox has some cool videos up: click here

Go get your free subscription to TapeOp Magazine.

Is this some kind of Wire to the Ear special? Nope. TapeOp is free for everyone, anytime. If you make music you should head over, sign up and get some new bathroom reading. All you need is a TapeOp Magazinevalid email address. I’m not 100% what the deal is but since I started receiving my free copies I have not gotten any new spam that would make me think it’s coming from them. I like this quote on their website:

Third class USA Subscriptions are free, but not 100% guaranteed to arrive, or may arrive torn. However, 98% arrive just fine. –

TapeOp was founded in 1996 by editor in chief Larry Crane who according the is “is an internationally known water slide champion.”. The articles have a US centric, high end gear (class A pre-amps, etc…), smart feel to them. It’s a very different experience than reading Computer Music for example.

I just received the newest issue and instantly a few articles peaked my interest. There is an interview with John Buckman who created Creative Commons which I talk about in my post titled “Put a Creative Commons Licence to your music.“. In the letters section there are a few reactions to a previous article talking about CD prices that are interesting. They bring up the point that if a CD were $7 piracy would be a non-issue. I can agree to that to some extent. There are several reviews of course, including one for the Groove Tubes SuPRE mic preamp which is very gearlustable!

Groove Tubes SuPRE

To round out the TapeOp experience they have a terrific forum. If you find yourself in a gorgeous recording studio somewhere in the woods on the side of the mountain and its filled with vintage gear you don’t know how to use head over to and ask some questions. They will have your answer!

From down under: the Gayest Songs Of All Time.

Marc Almond

I found a hilarious list today from Australia. The gayest songs of all time. I’m not gay but I’m friends with plenty who live on the other side. When looking at my own music collection a good chunk of it was recorded by gay artists. No matter how homophobic you are there’s no way you can tell me Soft Cell’s version of Tainted Love isn’t incredible.

We received thousands of votes, and now that they have all been counted counted and triple-checked, we’re proud to finally reveal exactly what songs have made it into the final list of the Gayest Songs of All Time. –

The song I believe should be #1 is #23 on this list: Whitney Houston “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”. Wow that song is gay! I never really even thought about it before but Jesus.

Gayest Songs Of All Time Are: click here

What do you think is the gayest song of all time?

photo credit: CharlesFred

A promoter gave me a hand made red TB-303 clone.

Red TB-303 Clone - Backside

In 1994 I performed my first live show in Europe at a huge event called “Hellraiser Immorality”. It took place in Amsterdam and there was well over 30,000 people going crazy. I was with John Selway and we were performing under the name Disintegrator. I remember being pretty shocked how large the event was. I remember there was an ecstacy testing booth Disintegrator - Oliver Chesler and John Selway(to make sure your pills were “safe”) and a place to get your head shaved! As far as my memory serves me Robert Hood was also playing that night and several people from the classic techno label R&S. I remember Hood had some issues because he didn’t play hard enough for the Dutch crowd. I remember R&S because of certain things I saw backstage (I was innocent back then!).

There was a Dutch act called Haarlem Hardcore Source also performing that night. It turned out they were fans of our music and I noticed a strange red box in their live set up. When I asked what it was they told me, “A home brew TB-303!”. Then to my amazement they offered it to me… for free! You simply don’t turn down offers like that. It didn’t have the interesting sequencer of a real 303 but the basic sound was extremely close. With careful Midi programming (back then on Atari Cubase) you could fake the slides and accents that made the 303 so wicked.

Red TB-303 Clone

I stayed friends with the HHS crew for some years. I went out to Haarlem and recorded a 12″ William Jordenswith them called “Future Fuckers United“. The title made sense back then for some reason. HHS doesn’t exist anymore but one of the group members William Jordens is a well known DJ in Holland known under the name The Rapist! William also works with Multigroove which throws huge events and has his own event business called Your Dance Company. He books me several times a year. How’s that for a friend? The red clone now lives with a friend of mine in NY who records under the name 8-bit. Over the years I also owned two real TB-303s but they were stolen in the 90s. These days when I am looking for the acid sound I open Audiorealism’s Bassline 2. Using the software let’s me have as many 303s as I like. I challenge you to be able to pick a real one vs the software especially inside a mix.

The Harvestman Zorlon Cannon 8-bit Module.

Zorlon Cannon

Of all the modules you can buy for a modular synthesizer my favorite is the Zorlon Cannon. This nicely named module comes from “The Harvestman” based out of Michigan (USA). What separates this module, and in fact all The Harvestman modules is that they are based on vintage digital electronics not analog components. Here is the objective statement fromZorlon Cannon - panel The Harvestman website:

The development of these synthesizer modules fulfills four major personal goals:

1. To enable a voltage-controlled deployment of traditionally “digital” signal generation and processing techniques.

2. To produce a series of synthesizer modules that aid my personal compositional aesthetics: aliasing, quantization, and severe signal distortion are not traps to be avoided, but valid sonic processes to be controlled and enjoyed.

3. To raise awareness of archaic digital sound processing techniques often overlooked in the context of analog synthesizer nostalgia.

4. To aid the musical efforts of those committed to the ideals of nonlinearity, discontinuity, and quantization

The Zorlon Cannon module is a take on the Atari 8-bit machines such as the 2600 and 5200 range. The best way to get a grip on what the Zorlon sounds like is to see it in action. Take a look at this video interview with Scott Jaeger at NAMM 2008 from The Zorlon kicks in at 9:00 minutes:

photo credit: nakedintruder