Live Punk, then Noise – all on the coming Weekend

Time to announce some upcoming live-performances:

I don’t think I’ve so far made much (if any) mention here of Flak, the Punk combo I’ve joined a couple of months ago. After diving in at the deep end playing a first gig with them in Camden after only on rehearsal, I’ve been rehearsing with them over the last couple of weeks playing guitar as well as bringing my noise-making experience to the table for some tracks.

flak horsedrawn 1 flak horsedrawn 2 flak horsedrawn 3

The weekend before last we performed in the Wiltshire wilderness at The Horsedrawn Group’s “(It’s not the) End of the World Festival and now we’re going to play in London again:

 

 

Coming Saturday, Sept. 6th 2014, Flak will perform at  T-Chances in Tottenham. We’re part of the line-up for Take the High Road festival which promises to be good! Here’s the flyer:

t-chances flyer1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, the very next day it’s off to Bristol for a  performance at an all-dayer – labyrint sound exploration, running from 12 am – 10 pm at The Island.

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Nonjah Tunes 3 – taking dubnihilistic submissions ’til 23.9.14

Alas how time flies! Nietzschemas, the feast celebrating the birth of the last Epitome of a Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, is only just a bit over two months away – high time for the traditional call for submissions to this year’s Nonjah Tunes Compilation!

For the third time in a row the dubnihilistic Nonjah Tunes compilation will be released on Nietzsche’s Birthday, October 15th. And, as in previous years, submissions for the compilation shall be gathered via an open call:

nietzscheThere’s gonna be some changes this year: since Digital Vomit Records, home for the first two releases, has ended its activities, Nonjah Tunes 3 will come out on my brand new Dystopian Dub Discotheque label (so brand new, even the webpage is still “under construction” ) and will function as the inception-release for this imprint; together with some other material – what? that’s gonna be revealed at the appropriate time!

Nonjah Tunes 1 & 2 will then also be made available via the Dystopian Dub Discotheque Bandcamp. (They’re still online on DVR – see links below!)
This also means that, unlike the years before, all this will (have to) be done without the great help the Digital Vomit platform with its contributors/agents and forum had so far provided. Time to thank everybody involved there, I think!!

For those making dub-esque music and hopefully eager to contribute:

The ‘rules & by-laws’ are the same as they were for since NT 1 – any & all versions of dub & dub-derivatives welcome. In other words – anything building on repetitive ostinato-basslines & over-abundant echo-use, tracks that reference (roots-) dub or basically anything that can be related to dub, its technique of using the studio as an instrument, but – as the title & Nietzsche connection may suggest, no “religious roots music” – will be considered.

Experience so far has shown that I never had to decline a submission, but I reserve the rights to do so should I get material that steers too far off the projected path…

Have a listen to the previous compilations to get an idea! Thanks!

Deadline is September 23rd

for submissions &/or correspondence hit me up at hidari [at] gmx [dot] net

looking forward to more bass-heavy and echo-overabundant weirdness… Like the previous two compilations:

cover1-300x300Nonjah Tunes 1 (DVR114)

with tracks by Thee Crumb, Datarapist, Allen , DFKT,

Venganza de Cochino, Shanks Pony, RPG-H8R, iivix,

Scrambled Ego, Ritalin War Dance, Solypsis, Hardoff,

Alien Hand & Tomoroh Hidari.

And:

coverNonjah Tunes 2 (DVR123)

with tracks by The Dubnihilist (mixed by deathisnotacolor),

kWeRk, Fluorescent Grey, DevilMonkey, Thee Crumb,

Helix Resonator, Scrambled Ego, deathisnotacolor,

Soul Piss, Zkrat, RPG-H8R, Venganza de Cochino,

Liesl Ujvary, Zkrat vs DevilMonkey.

… all in the sign of scattering echoes, ostinato- and wobbling bass-lines and that special flavor of post-Jamaican unrooted reggae that respects the roots through adaptation rather than colonizing them through imitation.

Motivational-Dubnihilism

 

 

The KVR Developers Challenge 2014 – Get your vote in before Aug. 24th

There are a few information density highlights for musicians each (or almost each) year – NAMM, Musikmesse and more. One of my favorites is the Developers Challenge at KVR – the prime news outlet for everything concerning computer based music production.

dc14logoThe idea behind the Developers Challenge – first held in 2006 and then again 2007, 2009 and 2012 – and currently running the 2014 competition – is simple but fruitful: Developers of music software: virtual instruments, effect plugins (vst/vsti and other formats) and standalone tools as well as creators of soundware: sample-libraries, instrument/effect-presets can submit a (free) product and we, the users, get to choose our favorites. The winner and runners up get prices sponsored by music companies and through user donations. And, hopefully, the deserved attention of music makers and media.

Did I just say voting is open to us, the users? I did – VOTING IS STILL OPEN until AUGUST 24th!

A quick glance over the submissions from the previous challenges confirmed my intuitive guess that there are at least one or two plugins from each challenge which I still use regularly and this year promises to contain a few possible “keepers”. But my personal use aside, with voting still open until August 24th, the current KVR Developers Challenge is, once again, a treasure trove for anyone working in computer based music production/recording, especially the adventurous one who like to try out new tools.

TestScreen2There are a total of 37 entries for KVRDC14! 29 run on Windows, 9 on Mac OS X, 1 on Linux, 1 on iOS and 6 are Soundware for other products

I’ve had a thorough look at this years contenders, downloaded all but a few (some I left out because they were not for Windows, and a very few I personally didn’t find interesting) and had some proper testing session and the following few are my recommendations: (For downloads and links to the makers please head over to the KVR Developer Challenge 14 page!)

First off – I didn’t, yet, have a go at checking out the “Soundware” from this years challenge. This is mostly due to a matter of time at hand and a bit to the fact that I try not to rely on samples too much these days. But three entries, the granular loops Kontakt collection “Abstract Grooves 2” by Particular-Sound and “ADD-1 Drums Part I” – based on a drum machine from the 80s – by Beatz are worth a special mention. And if you are into 8bit sounds (which personally I’m not so much, but I know many are) you may want to have a look at NanoMod 8-bit by Rhythm Robot –  a simple but versatile Kontakt synthesizer based on vintage 8-bit polysynths.

Secondly, I didn’t find too many of the Vst Instruments appealing this year. This is less about the quality of the instruments – most of which admittedly I didn’t even test – but rather about the fact that my need for “standard” synthesizers, i.e. those based on a subtractive architecture – with or without “specialities” like FM etc. in the oscillator sections, is pretty much taken care of. I always rather like to see new approaches to synthesis and/or synthesizer architecture.

strumNot completely new, but a good approach and interesting synth, Strum by VST Zone. As the name belies, Strum specializes in string-based sounds. Those are created by means of Karplus-Strong algorithms in two independent generators giving you a broad spectrum of string, string like and, at the outer fringes, quite alien “plucked” or “bowed” timbres and sounds. This comes at the cost of, still moderate but noticeable (at least on an old machine as mine)  CPU hunger. But with on-board effects (delay, chorus, reverb) Strum is able to deliver – definitely a synth I’ll be returning to. Windows only.

 

The second Vst Instrument to make my list is Paraphrasis, an Open Source spectral resynthesis synthesizer which the description claims can model any sound with only one sonic sample.paraphrasis_102 It is based on modified Loris – an Open Source sound modeling and processing software package – and JUCE and comes for both, Windows and Mac. It’s only two parameters  – frequency pitch of a sample and frequency resolution of spectral analysis – together with an Analyze and a Reverse button make up the whole of the interface. The quality of sounds is good, personally I’d have preferred to have more sound-shaping options to take the analyzed sounds away from “just modelling” and re-shape them into weirder sonic textures. I guess we’ll have to see if Virtual Analogy, the makers of  Paraphrasis come up with something more complex some day. Meanwhile Paraphrasis is certainly one of the plugins from this years challenge to check out.

If you are fond of “standard” substractive synthesizers, Win-only Lucid by Xenobioz looks quite well developed (although leaning quite a bit towards trance-esque styles) and, not sure if this is just good promotion or a matter of quality , but Lokomotiv (Win & Mac) by Archetype Instruments  seems to be getting quite a bit of love on social media.  But I didn’t really test any of the two so far.

So let’s move on the the effects, shall we?

Back “in the days”, more specifically the late 1990s when I started doing music on the computer and when – no causation, just correlation – vst (well, at first directX) effects and soon after vst instruments, not to forget standalone instruments like “Rubber Duck” and “Rebirth” came into being, I often dreamed of a “Make this sound cool” button, an effect that would take the sounds of these often still somewhat crude generators (as well as all those sounds of mine that didn’t sound pristine out of lack of experience) and turn them into “official” awesomeness the way I heard things in my imagination (or the records of others(;!)

Fast forward to 2014 and the “one button” is here. As are a bunch of plugins that serve the purpose of “enriching” or enhancing your sound and/or mix. There are differing approaches, some more complex – i.e. with more control over what’s happening, and some so simple I occasionally suspect a certain esoteric placebo effect like the “gold plated plugs, etc.” we know from high-end freaks.The first ones are usually (great) dynamics and spectral (timbre) tools, the second ones (and many/most of the “one button” solutions) are, in my opinion, not without their caveats.

lkjb_refineAnyway, while I’m quite cautious to use too many psycho-acoustic effects, they do sometimes come in handy, especially when dealing with not-so-great live recordings or similarly “imperfect” material. This years Developers Challenge also offers a tool to “make this sound cool”, namely ReFine by IKjb. Now my preamble is not to put you off, just to remind you to use effects like these with precaution. ReFine, especially, is well done – at best I could hear a slight (and welcome) improvement of the sound, at worst I didn’t hear much anything happening at all. For the price (free!) it is certainly a good tool to have and try on those mentioned “less then stellar” recordings to see if what it promises to do – add warmth, space and punch – does your sound good. ReFine is available for Windows and Mac.

 

The next two contenders are of the more complex sound-shaping tool variety, both of them focusing on dynamics and timbre:

dynamic_frequency_limiter_jpgFirst we have Dynamic Frequency Limiter by SirSlikSik,   a combination of a band- peakfilter / compressor / limiter / transient designer. I must admit, I do love my transient designers, and the implementation in the Dynamic Frequency Limiter is doing a great job in shaping those attacks with precision. The (multi-band) compressor is fairly easy to use and with the biquad peakfilter one can quickly and easily shape the sounds further towards – as wished – more aggressiveness or added smoothness. Overall a great tool on single- or bus tracks to help you make your sound(s) sit well in a mix. Bad news, however, for Mac users as Dynamic Frequency Limiter is Windows only.

 

nova67pNot so the next, to some degree not dissimilar plugin, Nova-67P by vladg/sound: Available for both Win & Mac, this is a parallel parametric equalizer plugin combined with a compressor. The compressor can optionally operate in frequency dependent and split-band modes. In this case the plugin operates as a parallel dynamic equalizer. I must say, while I love the clear no-nonsense GUI of the Nova-67P I did find it quite challenging to get the settings (tried on drums & bass) right. But once I got there it was certainly worth the effort – so don’t discard this one if you’re not getting quick results. The Nova-67P is a very powerful plugin but it does ask for quite a bit of background knowledge on compression/dynamics and dynamic equalizers and some experimenting/getting used to.

Then there are those times where, no matter how skillfully one might have exploited the whole field of dynamic & eq effects, the sound’s still murky and lifeless – in these cases, often when working with multiple microphones, room/fiel recordings and the like – it pays off to have a look at the phase correlation of the material. Even a few samples out of phase signals (can) start to cancel each other out in certain frequencies. One method of rectifying the problem is to go through your recordings and manually align the files in the DAW.

140731_fa_fractionaldelay_gui_showcaseThe other option is to go for a plugin like the great fa FractionalDelay by forward audio, which was created to do the job for you. This nifty win-only plugin uses an oversampling and interpolation algorithm to apply signal delays with a precision of 0.000001 Samples. With this possibility it does phase alignments between microphone signals even with varying microphone or sound source distances during the recording. Or you can use more instances of fa FractionalDelay to create Haas delay effects and other ways of artificial stereo imaging. Once again, at the price (free!), adding this to your arsenal is a no-brainer!!

Finally, while others might rather file this under “creative” effects, I personally rarely use a chorus other than to give a sound some “life” and make it broad in the mix, if so needed. Therefore I should make Acon Digital’s Multiply my honorary mention in this category. Doing a good job at subtle modulations Multiply  is a Chorus plugin (Win & Mac) which seems to lend itself especially well to this use. I haven’t yet tried any more colorful settings… I’ll leave that to you, if you so please.

Before we come to the final round, the “fun” or creative effects, I should state that there are two further categories of effects I did not try out. Firstly all the guitar amp/effect emulations. This is because – at least for the time being – I’ve gone off all computer based guitar emulations being quite happy with the Pod as far as home-use goes, and preferring a nice Marshall head turned to eleven for everything else. Secondly there are some looper-based effects in this years challenge that look quite interesting, especially Regen by ToneCarver – at its heart a looper plugin (a la Frippertronics) – but playing around with them I need to keep for another rainy day. No bi-lingual pun intended…

So, let’s have a look at those effects that shape, re-shape or destroy our sounds:

epicentre_kvr2If distortion is your thing EpiCentre is a good take on the art of crunching sounds into oblivion. Or something new altogether. Still one of the domains where hardware often fares much better than software, TD the makers of EpiCentre did an excellent job in creating a plugin that does not as much (or at all) try to emulate overdriven transistors/opamps but brings its own quite unique flavor of destruction to the binary realm. Don’t get me wrong: it does do a good job on emulating analog distortion rather than digital clipping! But instead of trying to fail at emulating a specific hardware type, its clever interface and sonic algorithms make it a great asset in your plugin folder.

 

stepfilterdc2014Coming without much description, but then again, being quite self explanatory is StepFilterDC2014 by Max Brezhestovski. Like its similar siblings out there – some more, some less complex – it is one of those tools that quickly help you get some of the standard memes of electronic dance music into your track: filter-moves. The numbers of steps as well as the speed of the step-sequencer are can be set, Scale, Threshhold and Resonance control the frequency range/strength of the filter. Glide adjusts the glide time between steps. Furthermore there’s a LFO driven panning effect. As the plugin does not come with a dry/wet know I can recommend another trick from my personal tool-set: setting up a send channel with StepFilterDC2014 (or similar effects) and mixing the resulting effected signal in with the dry one can often yield more interesting effects than “just” the filter alone. Used subtly this method is also great to bring life (in stereo, even) to synth pads and the like… but I’ve already revealed too much (;…

instretchWOK seem(s) to be the only developer(s) to have entered two plugins this year, Brakeback Mangler – an audio mangler for tapestop/reverse/delay effects – and Instretch. The description reads promising: “an instant extreme time stretcher. It will record audio for up to 30 seconds and then play it back up to 100 times slower with selectable pitch. Also manual “riding” thru the sample with endless hold of a grain is possible.” And the plugin delivers! A bit like the (in-)famous Paulstretch, Instretch creates intricate sonic textures from small samples or can be your “grain-scanner”. It may actually fall a bit more into the “looper” category, which I omitted from theses tests – and similarly I have only had a quick look at the plugin, but, since the outcome depends very much on the input material I’m  waiting eagerly to find some time to test it “in session” with different sound sorces.

rez3Last, but not least, there is Rez3 by Z3 Audiolabs. Now the regular reader of this blog may find that name to sound familiar, as Z3 Audiolabs is a friend of mine and I’ve had the pleasure to create presets for two of their previous plugins. (Just look through the older posts!). So, while I may be biased here, I’m happy to say that Rez3, a Resonator FX VST plugin, which offers a multi LFO with 6 different waveforms and an envelope follower to modulate tone, feedback, filter cutoff and filter resonance turned out to be a surprise even to me who downloaded the plugin, like any mortal, once the KVR Developers Challenge went online. A surprise because Rez3 exceeds the “usual” comb-filter heavy sound I usually expect from multi-resonator plugins giving you, as the presets alreadydemonstrate without one having to dig in too deep, a great tool to create basslines, chords or “chaos” from, for example, a drumloop, sounding in many cases more like a synthesizer than a filter effect. Even without my previous involvement with z3 Audiolabs this plugin would be (read: is) clearly one of my highlights from this years Developer Challenge.

All that said, I’m now heading over to KVR to put in my vote! Please consider taking the time to do so as well!

Here’s one last screenshot of me testing some of the plethora of plugins previous to writing this summary:

TestScreen1

 
(All the pictures of the respective plugins from the KVR Developer Challenge page. Used under fair use)

More Light & (thus) more Sound – The LDRViathan (& update on the Solar Noisebox)

 

There is good news on the Solar Noisebox which, at concept level, I introduced a few posts ago – I went from experimenting to building the whole thing, committing a layout to perfboard and mounting the controls to the surface of the solar panel – I still need to find some fitting (plastic) container to house the circuit on the back of the panel and there’s a bug or two to iron out – once all that’s done I’ll give a proper report.  Here’s a few shots of its current state – it is working and has been tested “in session”.

P1030723 P1030725

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile the direction the work with VoidTM took recently – namely experiments with a CCTV monitor – prompted the “development” of another myth-aural beast: The LDRViathan.

The LDRViathan consists of four Light-Controlled Squarewave oscillators built using 4 gates of a CMOS 40106 Hex Inverter chip. Since the Inverters on the 40106 are Schmidt-Trigger gates a simple R/C timing component is all that is needed to build an astable (oscillator). In case of the LDRViathan the name-shaping LDRs (Light dependent resistors), which are placed in plastic bottle caps with a decent length of wire from the board so that they can easily be affixed to a TV- or Monitor – screen form the principal R(esistance) of the timing section. A small resistance in series keeps the oscillators in range in case of near-zero resistance on the LDRs.
The C(apacitors) of the timing section, the values of which, together with the resistors, set the frequency range of the oscillators were chosen in two different pairs to produce two oscillators that are “high frequency” (Cap. values 0.22µF) and two that are “low frequency” (not LFO – we are still talking audio oscillators here) with values of 2,2µF.
Each Oscillator goes to its own output with only a decoupling capacitor before the plug. All mixing is done externally and various routing options can be chosen this way.

Here’s the Schematic and a few pictures of the “beast”:

making of sensors one of the sensors LDRViathan Finished LDRViathan Schematic2

 

 

 

 

 

Admittedly this is neither spectacular nor something new – LDR controlled 40106 Oscillators are among the most basic, easiest to build DIY-starter exercises.  The LDRViathan is, however, customized to the situation where we are working with the CRT screen on which the audible bass pulsations create visual (dark/light) patterns on the monitor. By placing the light sensors on different spots on the screen and varying parameters such as brightness, contrast, vertical hold, etc. of the picture, the LDRViathan creates its own sonar patterns – which in turn can also be fed back into the Cathode Ray Tube – this way different observers (Light sensors/Oscillators and the Magnetic field picked up through the guitar (single-coil) pickup entertain a feedback system via the monitor as membrance. Here’s the setup – The LDRViathan, sensors taped to the screen and outputs fed into the vintage Tascam mixer. Also going into the Tascam are the Solar Noisebox and the modded Crystal Radio. The second picture shows the pickup (originally intended for steel-string acoustic guitars) taped to the top of the CCTV monitor.

P1030879 P1030894

 

 

 

 

 

The following is a short demonstration video of the LDRViathan in its “natural habitat”, snippets filmed during various test-runs.

That’s all folks, stay tuned for more merry mischief…

 

Anti-Remote Viewing Tapes – Fr. 8th August on NTS Radio

Diagram/ Mind Control

Diagram/ Mind Control

The Aetherpunk (&here) story continues…

This coming Friday, August 8th 2014, Graham Dunning‘s Fractal Meat on a Spongy Bone show on NTS radio will be broad(band)casting an exclusive feature by Void™, the project my collaboration with Thibault Autheman has morphed into.

 

Tune in to NTS Radio this Friday morning from 8-10 AM (GMT)/9-11 AM (CET) for a fictional feature dealing with new insights into ESP and counter-espionage! Here’s what we’ve prepared for you:

 

“Anti Remote Viewing Tapes”

“Void™ , the explorers of uselessness, present a fictional insight into ESP Counter-espionage matters”

————————————————————– Void™
Transmitting————————————————————–

Void™ is now transmitting remote viewing protective frequencies tapes. Tapes collected by retired colonel X from the U.S remote viewing program at Fort Meade.
The Tapes are designed to disable any Remote viewing attack on sensitive locations and governmental agencies.

The material was used as defence against possible Remote Viewing Attacks during the preparations of the following Military operations:
-Operation eagle claw: Attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 diplomats held captive at the embassy of the United States 1980.
-Operation Golden Pheasant : Emergency deployment of US troops to Honduras in 1988.
-Operation Summer Pelt : Antarctica covert operation to prevent the Arrival of Azathoth 1969.
-Operation Urgent Fury : Invasion of Grenada 1983.
-Operation Mandelbrot : Preventing the use of WOLFRAM MATHEMATICA internet application to generate Fractals demons 2005.

All material recorded on Aetherpunk devices over the course of 3 improv sessions.

————————————————————– Void™
End of transmission————————————————————–

Should you feel impatient, or just generally feel the wish to hear Void™ in action, we now also have a soundcloud account! Or you can enjoy a short video from our performance at The Invisible Museum Asylum on June 27th:

VoidTM – Darkness is made from clever storms – live 27.06.14 Invisble Museum Asylum from VoidTM on Vimeo.