Foltek Garden


Ben Houston and Arius Blaze create very interesting musical instruments under the name Foltek. The garden reminds me of my recently acquired Ekdalh Moisterizer. If your looking for a studio toy that no one else has, something that can’t be downloaded or bought at Guitar Center Foltek should be considered. To see some of the Foltek works currently for sale: click here

“The sound very much reflects the asthetic – an electric garden with waves growing from the sound field they’re created from. The sound board and spouts of wire extending from it are picked up with high sensitivity and run through a series of effects intended to reflect the visual aspect of the whole. Every sprig of string has a unique sound and the Garden can be played as a percussion piece or soundscape generator. There is as much musical potential as there is a potential for strange sounds.” –

For more info:

via Synthtopia

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Oliver's Office

Mostly I feel life is fairly even. When you count all the the good and evil things on the planet the ratio is about 50/50. I used to think this place was more evil but as I age I’m really starting to smell the roses. On the good vs evil scale I’d say these things outweigh each other: puppies vs murders, night swimming vs cancer, finishing a song vs taking SAT exams, falling in love vs drug addiction, etc… Maybe I shouldn’t look at things so black and white? My guess as I get old and go grey so will the way I see the world.

Earlier this week I finished a new song and a remix. At work I trained two new employees in Manhattan. I ate a lot of Turkey yesterday. This weekend I am buying a new couch and putting up my pink plastic Christmas tree. Next week I am going to Washington DC for a conference. My Christmas wish is that SoundCloud will let me upload full songs and then allow me to choose a 30 second clip of it to share to the world. To vote for that idea: click here

“What makes life so sweet is that it will never come again.” – Emily Dickinson

Thanks for reading Wire to the Ear. My analytics/stats shows there is a good number of you and I really do appreciate it!

Bliptronic 5000 LED Synthesizer


Looking for a $50 Tenori-on? The Bliptronic 5000 LED Synthesizer doesn’t have the amazing sequencer functions of the Yamaha but it’s quite a bit less expensive.

“If HAL 9000 mated with R2-D2 and their electronic offspring was tutored by Kraftwerk it would probably end up something like the Bliptronic 5000 LED Synthesizer. You’ll notice sound similar to a retro Casiotone with an interface not unlike a simplified Yamaha TENORI-ON… if that makes any sense. Either way, once you start touching the keys of the Bliptronic you’ll be hooked by it’s simple pattern-based approach to music. One Bliptronic is grand, but more Bliptronics are even grander. An infinite number of Bliptronics can be attached together using the link ports and included cables.” –

Grab one now at:

Robert Songsmith

Robert Songsmith

Microsoft Songsmith is a PC only application that you sing into and then the software creates a full song behind your voice. It uses some neat algorthms, technology from PGMusic’s Band in a Box and sounds from Garritan. You most likely already know about Songsmith but I found a really interesting website/mashup you may find new. It’s call Robert Songmith and basically it’s a good looking website that is Songsmith + The Cure + You. I spend a nice while listen to other people’s creations last night. You can also follow Robert Songsmith on Twitter:

Listen or create your own:

Going 8Bit with Yudo iPhone Apps

I once owned a Magnavox Odyssey 2 (Wikipedia link) videogame system. I also spent a good amount of time at two Arcades. Galaxy and Mr. Arcade were their names and sadly they are both gone. I remember there was this gum filled grape candy I used to love. It was like a square Blow Pop without the stick. So no wonder when anything 8Bit retro pops up on my computer screen I stop for a minute and think to myself, “Yeah this is cool somehow”. 8Bitone (iTunes link) looks very solid and Vocoder Synthesizer SV-5 (iTunes link) look useful beyond retroness. I really like making music and every now throwing in the iPhone’s audio.

“This tune is ‘Behind The Mask’ by Yellow Magic Orchestra. So I performed on 8Bitone and Vocoder SV-5 that is iPhone/iPod touch musical apps by Yudo. 8Bitone is retro 8-bit sound monophonic Synthesizer and 4 track Sequencer. SV-5 is authentic Vocoder and polyphonic Synthesizer like a Roland VP-330.” – humanmaestro

8Bitone and Vocoder Synthesizer SV-5 are .99. Insert Coin!

Procrastination is spending 5 hours finding a kick drum sound

My boss at Energy Management Solutions never procrastinates. Anytime I think of an idea he hands me the phone and tells me to do it. I’ve never met anyone quite like that. I like to get things done but I’d say I do my share of fiddling and pondering. Sometimes when you sit down to make a song it’s way too easy to procrastinate. You have a playground of sounds and tools you can play with. Heck it all starts with a loop. A loop! Better stop listening to loops and get to the arrangement.

“Procrastination is making a cup of tea.” – John Kelly

via Laughing Squid

Korg KR-55 Rhythm Machine

I just won an eBay auction for a mint Korg KR-55 Rhythm Machine! I got it for $280 and I am pleased. Even though it’s a preset machine it has a good amount of variation, swing and intros/fills. Watch the video above to see how versatile it can be. As far as DAW recording goes each instrument has it’s own volume knob so it’s easy to record each drum on a different channel if so desired. The real reason to like this machine is the sound. It’s pure analog with silver highs and a punchy tight kick. It was used on pretty much on every song on Depeche Mode’s first album Speak N Spell (iTunes link). Expect to hear it on my own future recordings. If one wanted they can mod a KR-55 and add MIDI using an Analogue Solutions kit:

“The KR55 was, for its time (1979), an advanced preset rhythm drum machine with up to 96 preset rhythm patterns! These patterns cover the whole gamut of presets (Waltz, Samba, Rhumba, Bossa Nova, Tango, Slow Rock, Swing, Rock, etc.). The KR55 also featured a “swing beat” control to add a variation to the groove. Each drum sound’s level can be individually adjusted for each pattern. It can also be externally controlled via footswitch jack for the Start/Stop and Intro/Fill switches.” –

Have you bought any new toys off eBay lately?

BandCamp adds physical sales

BandCamp is a one of the nicer services musicians can use to sell their music. A clean interface, great PayPal integration and stats are all on the table. They have just released an update to the service which allows you to sell physical merchandise along with your digital download. The new best feature is the inventory tracking. Say you have 100 records to sell each time someone buys one the number drops. What has my thinking is all the left over stock I have of old releases. Fifty here, ten there, I can see BandCamp a good place to sell these. You can see a BandCamp page I set up for Arrivers (the first release on my record label released in 1996) here:

“Starting today, you can sell both your physical merchandise and your digital music from Bandcamp, and better yet, you can sell them together. So, for example, you can easily create a vinyl, poster and download package, give your fans the digital files immediately, and then ship out their merchandise.” –

For more info:

Exxon designed Autotune

Exxon designed Autotune? Apparently so! The bit about Cher lying that she used a TalkBox to hide that fact that she used Autotune is baloney! I own a Digitech Talker and you can get it to sound exactly like what Cher did. Here’s a photo of my Talker: click here. Hey, for once Weird Al seems an appropriate cameo. If you want some meme for $2.99 grab the “I Am T-Pain” AutoTune iPhone: click here

Most of the time I like to leave my vocal mistakes as is. Anyone who follows my music knows that! When I do need some pitch correcting I grab Melodyne. By the way that Direct Note Access thing was released this week.

For more info: