I, beautycorrosion, have taken over m3ch's Live Journal account! (Yeah, it is only for one post.)
Today is m3ch's birthday. Out of respect for him I will not inform you that he is turning 41 today or that this makes him 15 years older than me, it will be our little secret.
Please join me in wishing this super guy (who I am obsessed with and currently exhibiting stalker like behavior over... oh yes! It is much easier to stalk the person you are married to!) a very happy, delightful and blessed birthday. For all of the shit that he puts up with by being married to me, he deserves praise!
Our (2nd) Wedding, October, 2001, Las Vegas
Hey look, I actually have hair there!!
Okay, I've mostly gotten over the flu, and we've been back home from camping at Wellspring for almost a week, so I almost feel human again (unfortunately I haven't really had any recouperation time before this weekend, since I had to dive right back into work and -- trust me -- it's been hell-week, even if it were a short one).
For those who weren't there, I did finally perform for the Bardic Circle on Saturday night. *wheeee* That's the first time I've done a solo performance since the 80's, and I'd forgotten that 1: it's such a rush, and 2: it's f*cking terrifying. What's more, while I fully expected to clear out the pavillion, the reaction actually seemed positive on the whole. I'm working on getting it re-recorded into MP3, but in the meantime beautycorrosion put together a Quicktime of the performance here. For those LJ'ers on slow downlinks, it's about 17Mb, so you've been warned.
As I mentioned elsewhere, I'd originally intended it to be a 'dustbunnies' set to road test my new Live Looping rack. Unfortunately, due to ongoing technical problems, I had to scrap that idea. I started recomposing the whole thing as a 'M3ch' set using just my laptop at ~2:00 in the morning on Wednesday, and finally finished about a half-hour before performance. What's more, my Oxygen8 keyboard fell asleep just as I went onstage, so rather than force everyone through a 10 minute reboot I winged it without the live keyboard parts I'd planned. I'm hoping to correct that when I mix down to MP3, so at least you'll be able to hear what was supposed to have been there.
Final disclaimer: this is unabashedly tablecore (read: me sitting in front of a laptop bobbing my head for ten minutes). In fact, if I'd thought ahead of time I probably would've killed the stage lights entirely. I think the music would've matched pretty well to people wandering around in the half-dark... <*evil grin*>
|m3ch may actually be a spider-human hybrid|
More quizzes, silly but fun...
Quickie here, after having been up cleaning/straightening the apartment all night, and just before running for a plane this morning....
Just had the share the news that I actually won something. Yeah, me -- I never win anything. I wish it were actually a competition based on my tracks, but I ain't complaining.
Anyway, the background is that I'm a user of the Spectrasonics Stylus softsynth, so I regularly keep up with the Spectrasonics mailing list over on Yahoogroups. Earlier this week, a discussion came up about another Spectrasonics product, Atmosphere. Seems some of the patch names are in different colors, and after a while it was determined that the patches in blue and green were both coded that way based on which synth had originally produced the patch's core sound layer.
The next discussion then became: which synth is the 'blue' synth, and which is the 'green' synth. Eric Persing (the owner of Spectrasonics, and quite a bloody good synthesizer programmer in his own right) also monitors the group just for fun, and stepped in to say that it should be a fairly easy guess. However, after a half-dozen different ventures didn't come up with the right answer, he decided to have some sport and turned it into a contest -- first right guess wins their choice of any Spectrasonics product.
About another eight or ten guesses with no response, so Friday morning I throw something out at random:
Green: Absynth (referring to Native Instruments' Absynth software synthesizer)
Blue: Indigo (for the Access Virus Indigo hardware synth)
Then off I go out into the world. Early afternoon, I get a call from my beloved wife beautycorrosion: "You'll never believe what just came into your email...".
So, long story short, I picked Atmosphere (the very synth that the contest was about) as my prize, since I didn't already have it. If you want, you can get some more information about Atmosphere here, or you hear some of its sounds by checking out the demos here. Really kewl company making some very nice instruments, and I thought that even before they started giving me free stuff.
Hopefully it'll be shipping sometime this week. I can hardly wait!!!
Okay, been a little while since I updated. While I never envisioned this journal as one of those 'daily goings-on' type of blogs, this is getting a little long even for me.
Just to get you up to speed, May was taken up planning & travelling on our second outing to Europe this year (in short, Vienna's everything we could have hoped for, so we'll be relocating there as soon as we can make all the appropriate arrangements), and June's been a bit hectic with the day job (my company's fiscal third quarter ends with this month; there's always a big push by the salesguys at quarter's end to make their numbers, and we've got to do our best to accomodate them).
Currently, I'm sitting here in a somewhat sleep-deprived state, since the dog decided he needed to go out at 4:30 this morning and I couldn't get back to sleep afterward. So, while I try to come up with something to post that's artsy and deep (read: pretentious and boring) let me introduce you to the Monster.
'The Monster' is my mental shorthand for whatever project with which I'm currently consumed. At the moment, the 'fiend du jour' is my effort to pare down my studio setup to a maneagable size that I can use to take on gigs. Now, I think by now everyone's figured out that I'm a major gearhound. This makes things not nearly quite so easy as it sounds.
My original concept was to have the option of two different setups. The first and simplest was merely a laptop with an audio interface and keyboard controller. I wanted something that I could pop into a backpack and walk out the door entirely self-contained. I settled on building this around a Mac Titanium Powerbook 667 (which was the top-of-the-line Powerbook for all of a whole month after I bought it, and was a discontinued model before mine was even out of warranty. Damn Apple for continually devaluing their equipment like that). I picked the TiBook for a couple of reasons. First, I've got about a dozen different PC laptops and only a couple of older Macs, so it gave me access to a lot of Mac-only stuff. Second, the wafer-thin profile and the wide beautiful screen are just plain sexy (so sue me -- I'm easily seduced by technology). Finally, the operating system seems to have finally gotten its shit together with MacOSX, or, as I like to call it, NeXTStep X. Unfortunately, many of the programs I'm using still haven't ported to the new operating system, so I'm still stuck on OS9 <*grumble*>.
To the TiBook I added an M-Audio Quattro MIDI/Audio interface, and a MidiMan Oxygen 8 mini-keyboard controller. Slap that setup in a bag, sling it over my shoulder and I'm out the door. Sweet!
Setup #2 was originally to add some extra outboard hardware to the 'core' setup above, for gigs where quick load-in and portability weren't as big a factor. Sounds simple enough on paper, yet, as you might expect, it hasn't been nearly as simple in practice. My first thought was to take a couple of the smaller hardware synths from back in the studio, then put them together with a small rack of outboard effects. I wanted something that -- while I obviously wouldn't bike down the street carrying it -- likewise wouldn't be too difficult to jam into the back seat of a Jetta and drive off to a gig.
It wasn't too hard to pick the sound sources I wanted to add. First, I knew I'd throw in my Novation Nova, as it's one of the best all-around workhorse synths I've got. Everything coming out of the little bugger sounds great. Next, I grabbed my Nord Micro Modular. I've always loved this tiny guy, but he's gone under-utilized for years and I wanted to remedy that. Despite the limited polyphony (often limited to just one note/sound) there's a full modular synthesizer under the hood, and you can pull out sounds you just won't find elsewhere. Finally, I pulled my Casio VZ-10m out of the rack. This is a way underappreciated synth (in fact, you can find 'em used for ~$150 bucks these days), but it's a waaaaaay deep piece of gear. The user interface makes it difficult to program, but, with the exception of the Synclavier and a few very high-end 'boutique' synthesizers, this was probably the most in-depth hardware implementation of FM synthesis or its derivatives... ever.
I'd be running all this into a little Simmons mixer I've got (an SPM8:2). It's a one rackspace 8-in/2-out jobbie with a ton of features, including multiple effect sends, full eq with parametric mids, special effects (filter shift & autopan) and scene automation. It's a little noisy, but if you're careful setting up the gain stages you can mitigate most of that. I assigned my Nova, Micro, and VZ to take up the first six channels (3x stereo = 6). The Quattro's got four outputs, so I figured I'd send most of the sounds through its first two outputs to the Simmons, then split off the rhythm track (drums and possibly some bass parts) and send a dedicated feed for those through outs three & four, directly to the sound board.
Next comes the outboard effects, which has turned into a huge mess so far. However, I've actually got to do something to earn my paycheck, so I'll go into that with the next entry...
I was reading through the latest issue of Grooves magazine the other day (Issue #9; which I really must recommend, BTW. no, not just this issue in particular but the magazine in general -- it's a really good source for finding out leads on experimental & electronic music you might never have heard about otherwise. the gear reviews aren't too bad, either, but i digress...).
In this issue, James Taylor from Swayzak makes an interesting point. Regarding software fetishism and the neverending practice of tweaking one's laptop, he says, "I'm into it, but at the same time, I'm aware that it can also be a trap. You spend all your time getting software updates and downloading things, but never actually making music."
Not the first time I've heard this complaint. I've come across it any number of times, stated by some or other fellow electronic musician or even spoken from my own lips. Gear fetishism tends to take on a life of its own. Many's the time I've wondered if perhaps I should just chuck all hope of actually publishing anything, and instead simply take up a modest career designing other people's studios. It's particularly difficult now that so many instruments have crossed over into the virtual realm. I mean, think about all the classic synths we all used to drool over but could never afford -- the PPG, Mellotron, Prophet V, Arp Odyssey, or the old Moog Modulars, for example. How many of them have now been faithfully reconstructed as software instruments, available for a pittance of what you'd otherwise find them for on Ebay (if you could ever even come across them at all)? Or what about the software representation of new synthesis techniques never previously imagined or available? Remarkable times we're in, friend, and if you've a decent net connection and a Hotline client you don't even need to spend that 'pittance' I mentioned earlier. You just need the time to track down that proper individual with whom to make a trade for that particular bit of 'warez' that'll make your existence complete.
Yeah...Time. I think that's where I was going with this. Because when you look back on all the Time you've spent lusting after some new piece of gear, or jumping through hoops to get that trick new piece of kit, or installing it and working through all the bugs.... Well, who's got any Time to actually make music with it before running off on a butterfly chase for the next new widget?
I've watched many musicians peg this exact same problem, usually followed by the same solution: "I've got to forget about buying new stuff, pare down my setup, and concentrate on getting the most out of what I've already got." But before long, the very act of 'paring down one's setup' takes on a life of its own. Our frustrated subject spends months trying to sort out what stays and what gets sold, then obsesses over finding that single rack unit that will encompass all the duties formerly held by these three over here, and "if I only had this one widget, it could act as the glue to hold all these others together, and..." In other words, here we go again. At the end of the whole process, our hapless subject still finds that he hasn't filled that gnawing hole in his soul, even though his rack is only ten spaces rather than twenty-four and weighs a helluva lot less. Well, at least we may have saved his back, if nothing else. (Limited disclaimer: in the interest of full disclosure, I do have to reveal that I've been going through a similar process and collapsing my whole recording studio into a laptop and single rack. The reason for this is ostensibly so I can actually take this mess out and gig with it, but I will be the first to admit that the rack has now grown from the six-space in its original conception to twelve spaces with a second four-space for power & post-processing. And I've had a very nice time architecting the portable rig, even before I've gotten it out on the road.)
The typical musician's rags aren't really much help in this regard either. Sure, they're an important resource for making certain that next new widget is really and truly what you're looking for. At the same time, you can also think of them as one big advertisement -- a catalog full of wonderful toys that you never even imagined you couldn't live without until they told you so. You no more than tell yourself you're going to stick with instruments X, Y, & Z until you wring every last bit of inspiration out of them, than here comes another lovely piece of gear that's certain to be that 'magic bullet', eh? And you tell yourself you're going to stick by your guns, but from the review in the mag you just know it'll be the perfect thing and the demos on the website just sound soooo good and.... Ah, rampant consumerism is such a lovely thing, isn't it? Right.
So what's the solution? Well, if you think I'm here to give you all the answers, you're in the wrong place fella -- I'm better at finding these foibles than solving them. However, a few observations might point us in the proper direction. First, nobody's going to be opening up a chapter of 'Gearaholic's Anonymous' anytime soon, but denying a passion for these wonderful toys or forcing it into a box is just going to cause it to leak out in other (and possibly more destructive) ways. Better to acknowledge it, and to attempt to follow Socrate's advice of, "moderation in all things" (and yeah, i know: "...including moderation"). And while we're at it, we should try to understand why we do these things...
Hrm, why the heck *do* we chase this stuff. Sure, there's the obvious reason that everybody loves spoiling themselves every once and a while. And there's something else that enjoys responding to incessant cultural programming (Buy! Buy! Buy!). But I can tell you that for me (and perhaps you too) there's something deeper, far deeper.
I've got these sounds in my head, you see. I wish that it were simple enough that I could tell you I hear this music in my head that I'm struggling to pin down to something physical in this reality. Unfortunately, it's even more complicated than that. Imagine you fell asleep one night and dreamt angels, the voices of angels. The next morning, you woke up and remembered enough to know that you'd heard them speaking, but not enough to recall the actual sound of their voices -- you remembered the imprint, the emotion, the reaction... You could still feel the elation left in you by their song, but not the song itself. And you could still still feel the hole it left when it went away.
See, I'm not trying to pin down the music I hear in my head. I'm trying to pin down the music in my head I haven't yet heard.
It's there though, just below the surface. I can feel it, only an angel's breath away. I just need the proper tool to push back the waves.
And like every other good addict, I'm looking for the keys to paradise in one more fix...
"It's a trap..."
I should probably give some sort of explanation -- a raison d'etre, if you will -- for this Journal. You may be viewing this through my website (in which case you could have some rough idea about what's going on here), or alternately through some internal Livejournal link. If the latter, you're now even more thoroughly befuddled...
Breathe deeply, don't panic.
Here's the real: M3ch is the pseudonym I use for my music "project". This journal is here to document & promote the progress of M3ch.
See? Pretty simple after all, eh...?
Some basics, then. I'm going to attempt to keep this focused. However, I would imagine you're going to get quite a bit of rambling occasionally, as M3ch=music and M3ch=me tend to blur into each other. I think of this as a feature, rather than a bug. Otherwise, I may bore you to tears with gear talk and other technical data. You'll probably see me post progress reports, general musings, and even the occasional rant if this goes the way I want it to.
In regard to M3ch, you'll be getting to know more and more as I trickle it out (not to mention posting tracks). I've been playing music for years now, and it's gradually gotten to the point where I can put down some of the noises in my head without having to rely on others to help realize them, unless I so desire.
Technology really is a great enabler that way (okay, so I'm a g33k). And given that sort of bent at the outset, you could safely say that M3ch is Electronica. What sort of Electronica you'd care to pigeonhole it into after that (be it IDM, EBM, Techno, Ambient, etc...), I'm not really certain yet. It should be fun finding out, though.
On an endnote for the evening, I should probably explain the page title: g0 p0p! This was inspired by the Tones on Tail album of similar name, and, while equally tongue-in-cheek, it's as much a kick in the pants to myself as a statement on my project. If you haven't already figured it out, I've got a tendency to overthink things. I can produce music as pseudo-intellectual and academic as the best of 'em, and if I'm not paying attention I could very well disappear up my own arse, producing something that's entirely inaccessible.
I chose that statement for a Journal title just so it would give me an occasional reminder that music is for the listener as well as the composer. I want the stuff I produce to push boundaries between the experimental and mainstream, but I can't lose sight that the finished product has to mean as much to the audience as it does to me.
Pop music, in its best and most ideal form, evokes a perfect reaction. Clever yet not condescending, it speaks to the listener while never speaking down to them. It causes them to feel something new, which they can then take away with the music -- a melody, a rhythm, an infectious hook that just won't get out of your head. One strolls down the street, lost and humming softly...
Not a bad thing to which one might aspire, IMNSHO.
Okay, let's give this thing a shot. Looks as if I've finally got the design into some sort of workable arrangement that doesn't drive me utterly bugfuck, so I guess it's time to turn on, jack in, and say hello.
....erm, well then, hi!
(kind of anticlimactic, i know. i'm good like that.)
I do need to pause for a second here to say thanks to my wife, Mazikeen, who helped me with all the Livejournal basics and the design, as well as making all the uber-cool graphic avatars and emoticons (still in development, but just wait until you see them). I love you, darling; always have, always will.