Last Saturday night I went to Long Island City to see Daren Ho perform. For this event he was doing a Eurorack Modular performance. The event which took place next to PS1 at a venue called The Print Shop was also a showcase for Generation Records. Generation was a store and record label in the East Village. Throughout the 80s they released noise artists including most famously Conrad Schnitzler’s work. Conrad who is from Berlin was also a member of Tangerine Dream. I got to meet Ken from Generation and I bought a Generation Unlimited Cassette “No Borders”. I bought 3 cassettes in 2014!
In my opinion live modular performances can be hit or miss. Usually they go on way to long as the artist gets lost in himself usually stuck on one idea for 20 minutes or more. I like a bit of structure in my music. Owning a modular myself I appreciate when I see modular live and the sounds are sculpted in a meaningful way. For example Daren kept his range of sounds very tight. The set was mostly tight pops, delay, and futuristic flanging type of effects. He relied heavily on stereo imaging. The set was all “minor” notes which is my cup of tea. If I had a crystal ball in the 80s and I could see what I would be listening to in the future this would seem about right. I really enjoyed the performance. I should mention Daren is part owner of the store Control and if you catch him there and ask him to demo a module you could get a mini private performance. To see the full set of photos: click here
“Daren Ho is a Brooklyn-based artist with releases on record labels such as NNA Tapes, In Context Music, and Root Strata. His recent release on In Context Music (2014) is a set of 7″ lathe cut records featuring music performed on a modular synthesizer.” – Generations Unlimited
Jonas at Control showed me the Hexinverter.net Mutant drums. When you control the pitch CV with a sequencer it’s very excellent! The kick is doing a bassline. The clap you can also hear but it’s also changing in a really cool way… almost like filter opening and closing. We had it going by itself and I had to own it. The high hat can sound quite 808ish.
“The TR-909’s clap featured one control the user could adjust: volume. That was not okay with me!” – Stacy (hexinverter.net)
Yesterday I stopped by Control in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to see Peter Kirn demo his upcoming MeeBlip ANODE synthesizer. The MeeBlip ANODE has digital oscillators, an analog filter, envelope, MIDI, and an LFO. You may be thinking what’s the big deal. Well the ANODE is very inexpensive (a little over $100), small and most importantly sounds very good. It’s also open source and by grabbing one you support Peter who with his blog Create Digital Music has given a huge amount to the pro-audio community over the years. When I arrived it was hooked up with a tasty P3 Sequentix sequencer and Korg Volca Beats. I quickly ran home and grabbed my new Roland TB-3 to hear it sequence the MeeBlip too. The MeeBlip/TB-3 combo sounded quite good and I was glued to their knobs for a good thirty minutes.
“Combining an analog filter with unique digital sound sources, all in an easy-to-understand, compact sound package, MeeBlip anode is synth hardware anyone can enjoy immediately. anode is part analog, part digital, capable of producing a range of uniquely aggressive, bass-heavy sounds. And inspired by the best classic synths of the past, getting your hands on that sound is always simple, direct, and intuitive. Simply plug in a keyboard, computer, iPad (via adapter), or controller via the MIDI port to play notes. Then, adjust sounds via knobs and switches – you don’t need to navigate a single menu. Its digital side reproduces the sound and architecture of classic synthesizers, but with an emphasis on adding personality, especially in the low end. Its all-new analog filter with resonance can range from smooth to raunchy – perfect for shaping sound or making squelchy basslines.” – meeblip.com
Yesterday after work I went to the KOMA Elektronik Event at Control. For those who don’t know Control is at Eurorack modular synthesizer store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn owned by Daren Ho and Jonas Asher. KOMA Elektronik make modules and advanced pedals. They are Dutch and Austrian and the company is based in Berlin. I was pretty tired from working all day but really enjoy the get togethers at the store so I forced myself over there. After a large coffee, a couple of beers and some synth tweaking the conversation and fun started. KOMA didn’t have any new modules to show but they said they do have some in the works. Control is starting to get a lot of cool used stuff and I spent a few minutes checking out a weird vintage mixer with a built in drum machine. I also played with the Volcas for the first time and discovered they are really nice in person. I couldn’t resist buying something so I picked up an Intellijel Planar. I mean it’s a joystick so I have to one. After exploring some modules there are three I now have to add to my must have list: Modcan Quad LFO, Qu-Bit Electronix Nebulae and an Intellijel Rubicon. I really enjoy watching other people patch and create music on the large systems. I always get some ideas and also realize there are things I can do that I didn’t know I could. Nullsleep (Jeremiah Johnson) and others created some interesting loops worth watching. Be sure to come out to one of these events if you can it’s a lot of fun if you’re into synths! To see the full set of photos: click here
“On January 16th 2014 KOMA Elektronik will come to the Big Apple to host an event together with our buddies from Control Synthesizers and Electronic Devices! From 6PM till 8PM we will be at Control to answer all your questions that you might have about our machines, special techniques and upcoming designs. We will show our new machines and will have a few drinks to start the new year in a great fashion.” – koma-elektronik.com
Everyone’s favorite Eurorack module maker Make Noise is coming to Brooklyn this Sunday, September 8, 2013. In partnership with Control they will be doing a demo and talk in the store and then there will be musical performances at Silent Barn. Robert A.A. Lowe, On A Clear Day and Nullsleep will showing off what modulars can do.
“This weekend Sunday September 8th from 3-5PM we are pleased to welcome Tony Rolando and Kelly Kelbel of MakeNoise to Control for an In-Store demonstration and discussion. Later that evening at Silent Barn, we will celebrate the 7″ release of MNR003: Robert A.A. Lowe on MakeNoise Records.” – Control
Last night I went to Control in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to see Dan Snazelle demo his SnazzyFX Eurorack modules. Of all the demos I’ve seen so far this was the best. He’s really into it and spent a solid two hours showing how to use is stuff in musical contexts. After seeing it in action I know I really want a Chaos Brother. It creates random gates and more but in a really useful way. He had it hooked up to a DPO’s strike with some Tiptop drum modules as a back beat and it was instant Berghain (infamous Berlin nightclub). The Dreamboat was similar but faster and more chaotic. The Dronebank is a simple module designed solely to make drones. It’s six triangle oscillators and in person it’s quite wantable. Wow & Flutter mutates your incoming signal sort of like tape. Lastly there’s the Ardcore module. This module is a chameleon which loads programs via USB. There are about 60 to choose from right now. You can have things such as a bit-crusher, arpeggiator and even a drum machine. Dan mentioned he will be doing a run of modules with “normal” faceplates later this summer. As usual Daren & Jonas (the owners of Control) were great hosts. If you’re in the NY area you really owe it to yourself to visit.
“The Chaos Brother is a new modulation module full of enough options and knobs to keep it interesting no matter where you decide to use it. It all starts with the CHAOS knob, when turned all the way to the left, you get repetitive, tame oscillations like you would find in a basic LFO. Start turning the knob to the right and the Chaos ensues.” – snazzyfx.com
Dan from SnazzyFX will be demoing his Eurorack Modules tonight at Control (416 Lorimer St. Brooklyn, NY 11206). I am pretty interested in what these modules can do. Bring some beer and see you there! 6-8PM
“Our second spring event begins tomorrow night with Dan Snazelle of Snazzy FX. He will be discussing his current and future line of modules and effects.” – ctrl-mod.com
Last night I stopped by the always fun Control in Williamsburg to see a demo of Pamela’s Workout and their new SID chip prototype module. As you can see there was a nice number of highly interested people there. We heard Pamela’s doing some nice swing steps on a Tiptop Cowbell (my choice of course). We also heard the new upcoming SID module. It’s has multiple oscillators, a filter, noise, ring modulator and more with CV controls. My ears were happy when it did some 80s style pulse width modulation. I really enjoy these little get togethers. To see a few more photos visit the flickr set: click here
“Control is an independent synthesizer brick & mortar shop located in the South Williamsburg Neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. We specialize in Eurorack Modular, with a passion for vintage traditional and unusual eccentric electronic devices both analog and digital.” – ctrl-mod.com
Last night I went to Control in Williamsburg to see Richard Nicol from Pittsburgh Modular. There was a decent turnout including a few girls, a dog, beer, whiskey and Vince Clarke. There was a Q&A and then people took turns on the new Pitsburgh Modular Cell systems. I asked a few questions. I have some space about the size of a 8″ monitor speaker on my desk and I wanted to know if Richard was planning on making a 3 tier high Cell  case. The answer is yes and he plans to go to 4 high or maybe even higher. I also asked if he was planning any drum modules but he thinks that’s been covered by Tiptop so he’s not going to try at this time. Later in a one on one discussion I learned his main focus is keeping prices low. There’s really nothing wrong with that as his modules do sound great. After playing with the Cell systems myself I made myself over to Vince Clarke and had a nice 20 minute conversation with him. He’s a nice guy and like really into synths so I could talk for hours with him. I admit driving home I put on Yaz and then I realized I’ve now met every person who was ever in Depeche Mode (epic!). Thanks to Daren and Jonas (the store owners) for a fun evening. To see a full set of photos: click here
“All of the Pittsburgh modules are handmade with the look of 1950?s science fiction laboratory equipment using bold components and unique layouts to promote interaction and experimentation.” – Pittsburgh Modular
I stopped by Control in Williamsburg yesterday. Jonas put together a patch consisting of a Synth Tech E560 Deflector Shield, Make Noise Optomix, Function, Pressure Points and Brains. We were discussing how great the Synth Tech modules were and how the Vactrols in the Make Noise stuff makes things sound rubbery in a good way. Vactrols use LEDs inside the modules to control parameters.
“A Vactrol is an optoelectronic device consisting of a source and detector of light, which are optically coupled and electrically isolated from each other. The light source is usually a light-emitting diode (LED), a miniature incandescent lamp, or sometimes a neon lamp, whereas the detector is a semiconductor-based photoresistor made of cadmium selenide (CdSe) or cadmium sulfide (CdS). The source and detector are coupled through a transparent glue or through the air.” – Wikipedia