Featured in Alltop

Featured in Alltop

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Elektron Octatrack tutorial 1 - How to work with Scenes

The basics of setting up Scenes in the Octatrack, and then into more creative territory. Of interest to the advanced Elektron person as well as the beginner I hope.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Elektron Analog 4 tutorial 3 - How to make a drone

Number 3 in my series of tutorials: how to create a space drone using the Elektron Analog 4. (Spot the rank exploitation of an innocent cat in the shameless pursuit of Likes.)

Friday, 21 November 2014

Elektron Analog 4 tutorial 2 - Effects

My new tutorial: a quick tour of how effects are used in the Analog 4, and how to make best use of the effects in a mix.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Circle K by Miles Cosmo - progressive drum & bass

Miles Cosmo's music is bursting with ideas and crosses genres like electronica should. This drum & bass track is a great example. It evolves constantly throughout, and ends in a beautiful space with a harp revisiting a synth theme from earlier in the song.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Elektron Analog 4 tutorial - performance controls

This is my new tutorial video on how to programme the performance controls on the Elektron Analog 4.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

More Ebotronix genius - Buchla, Moog Prodigy etc

"Flame 4 Vox quad jungle"

I don't think Herr Ebotronix sleeps, eats, or has any sort of social life. His productivity amazes! Quality is consistently high too.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Live jam #107 (looping with Ableton Live)

Rheyne lights his videos using his lighty-up instruments and controllers, plus some "music visualisation" software that drives the screens (and a bit of studio lighting). They're always visually lovely and the music is at the serene end of down-tempo. He describes this one as "Live looping with USB controllers, iOS devices, and Ableton Live. Performed in one take with no pre-recorded loops or samples".

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Ambient album "Reveal" from Elskavon

Reveal is the third album from Elskavon, the ambient post-rock project of 26-year old Minneapolis composer Chris Bartels.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma

Delighted to be at the edge of space:) Just back from La Palma in the Canary Islands. Picture shows the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on top of the volcano, one of the northern hemisphere's great observatories. The UK's Isaac Newton Telescope is the 2nd dome from the right.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Bloodmoon Rising by Steve Roach

Steve Roach is a leading proponent of ambient drone music. This piece is inspired by an eclipse of the moon, the blood-colour of which comes from the absorption of blue sunlight by the earth's atmosphere as the moon passes into the shadow of the earth. Our earthly sunsets get their colour by this same process.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Kaguya Probe - live studio jam

Beuatiful OTB (Outside The Box) music from Gary Hayes. "Loosely based on a Cm harp piece I wrote in the 90s - in fact I was about to play the harp in real time with this at one stage - for another session methinks!"

Waldorf Nave iPad synth + Elektron Octatrack, Analog 4

Another of my demonstrations of Nave's sound design possibilities. Accompanying are some loops on the Octatrack made using Omnisphere and Access Virus C. Plus some arpeggios from the Analog 4.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Canopy "1988" - Ambient Post Rock

Gosh another new genre! One to sit alongside Folktronica. How is one brain alone meant to keep up with today's world? Actually this is really beautiful music and probably deserves a more poetic categorisation. Not sure I'm the man to invent one right this moment.

Canopy is the project of Ryan Vanden Heuvel.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Mutable Braids / Make Noise STO meets the Malekko Dual Borg

A sequenced modular jam from TheBuchlaMongo. "Little random Noodle with the Mutable Braids, Make Noise STO, Malekko Dual Borg. Braids is on Channel one in the Manhattan Mix, STO Sub on Channel 2 and the Shape out from the STO on Channel 3. Sequence from Elektron Octatrack, Fx from Eventide Space/Pitchfactor."

"Eve" by Rheyne

Recorded live in one take; very serene electronica. His YouTube videos are beautifully lit too.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Elektron Analog four & Octatrack - ambient system i1

Unusual to hear these boxes used in purely ambient context. Beautifully done I have to say, even down to the sleepy sounding livestock that wander through after about 3.00. (I use these same two boxes for my own live rig.)

From dakitanmonkey.

Waldorf Q - ambient drone soundscape

Give it a minute or so to get going and you'll hear some amazing space drones from this über-synth, thanks to synth4ever.

Emilienstraße (Dub Techno) by Phelios

Phelios says: "My old Atari ST is back! All sounds are triggered by Notator SL using the Log-3 Midi interface. I created a nice pattern chain and did a 1-take recording."

Monday, 22 September 2014

Fugenn & The White Elephants "Narcissus"

From Japanese ambient/IDM label ProgressiveForm.

A beautiful vocal treatment of "I vow to thee my country" - originally an orchestral section from "Jupiter" by Gustav Holst.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Dave Smith Instruments - Pro 2 [Spacewhales]

Legendary synth designer Dave Smith has a new instrument on the market, the Pro 2. I want one of course, but it's not especially cheap. Trooper Starship has done a Space Music demo all with voices programmed on the Pro 2, apart from the percussion parts.

The Pro 2...

"October North East" by Seen From Space

OK it's no more October yet than it's still August! (See previous post.) Not absolutely sure why the months keep on creeping into the titles.

Here are some more underground synthetic beats with a middle based on a classical piece. This time an instrumental snippet from Brahms' German Requiem. For this I've used the absolutely gorgeous 12-string guitar sample in Omnisphere - that's the soft synth that does the spooky drones on the telly when someone lets themselves into their house at night and doesn't turn on the lights, and you just know they're about to become another corpse to be investigated. It has other more cheerful uses though.

More music from Seen From Space...

Thursday, 11 September 2014

"New August Moon" by Seen From Space

I know it's not August any more. Never mind about that!

This is ambient dubstep with a drum and bass groove, and a middle section lifted from an oratorio by J.S. Bach. Who says baroque music, especially Bach, doesn't lend itself to the synth treatment?

Hearing "Blue August Moon" by Brian Eno for the first time in years, I was prompted to try something similar. As usual things turned out utterly different from the first idea, but the homage remains in the title at least.

More music from Seen From Space...

"Silent Seas" - ambient drone on 5U modular synth

Another great example of programming a complex synth patch and letting it wend its own unpredictable way. From John L Rice.

"This is an Aleatoric ambient drone created with my large 5U format modular synthesizer. Aleatoric in this case means I setup the patch, turned on the recorder and then walked away for an hour while the synthesizer played 'on its own', creating a semi random piece of music, more or less ;-). This is 25 minutes of that recording. This was done in response to a composition challenge on Muff's modular synth forum (although I cheated and used a reverb plug-in during post processing ;-)"

EMS Synthi E moondrone - more from Ebotronix!

I can't keep up with this guy! He keeps on turning out these many layered soundscapes with synth voices of real quality. Where does he find the time to do all the programming involved?

From Ebotronix.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

In the Seen From Space studio

Just updated my website with a montage of the studio hardware; of interest perhaps only to hardware geeks like me! See a larger image and more info on the website.

The Seen From Space studio

Carl Oliver - Experiment Thirty Seven

More musique concrète from Carl Oliver, where the modular synth provides its own steampunk sci-fi set, lighting and self-generating soundtrack.

EMS Synthi E, Jupiter 6

The prolific Ebotronix keeps on putting out these intricate improvisations on a huge sound palette. The blue synth is a machine made by British company EMS for the education market in the early '70s. If you're at all familiar with Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Roxy Music, Tangerine Dream, BBC Radiophonic Workshop and others from this period, you'll certainly know the EMS sound.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

"Ambient Chillout/Space Music" on the Roland JD800

I wouldn't normally post videos simply demonstrating equipment, but this synth has such a beautiful sound, and David Hobson's playing/programming is very tasteful. I tried one out in the shop when they were first available and found it a most expressive instrument. It's one of the great digital synths of the '90s IMO, and a doddle to programme because of the all those one-function sliders. I'd love to get my hands on one now, but no room in the SFS studio: it does have quite a footprint!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Waldorf Nave patches: iPad synth - 3

Not a finished piece of music; it's more to showcase the expressive sounds you can programme on this amazing synth.

You're hearing the raw sound output from Nave with no additional effects on the iPad. Just a touch of compression afterwards in Logic to tame the spikes.

Best enjoyed in stereo!

Waldorf Nave patches: iPad synth - 2

Not a finished piece of music; it's more to showcase the complex and unpredictable sounds you can programme on this amazing synth.

You're hearing the raw sound output from Nave with no additional effects on the iPad. Just a touch of compression afterwards in Logic to tame the spikes.

Best enjoyed in stereo!

Experiment Forty

From Carl Oliver.

In Carl's videos, the synths provide their own steampunk sci-fi set, lighting and self-generating soundtrack. Very economical video making!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

"Silent" concert at Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art, St Petersburg

From Nicholas Lem.

This concert is silent in that the live audience wear wireless headphones. Lemnik is one of the recognised masters of these very complex Elektron instruments (from Sweden) and one of the top exponents of "dark ambient".

Two fathoms below deep: dual Monomachine demo

From MIDERA. Far better than just a 'demo' I'd say.

I'm a fan of these Elektron boxes too; their complexity is bewildering sometimes, but they're wonderful creative tools when you get the hang of them.

"Driving the Spaceship" by kv3x

From kv3x. "So I snuck the spaceship out of the garage the other night. Once I got it started, wow, what a ride!"

That ship is quite a character. Gets a bit temperamental after the asteroid shoot!

Friday, 29 August 2014

AsteroidKiller: "Live in the Studio"

From AsteroidKillerMusic. "This is a patch I've been working on over the last days. It's recorded live and nothing is added in post."

The way the arpeggios syncopate randomly keeps the old attention going. Unlike so much of what I rail against in this genre i.e. a 1 bar groove that goes on for 8 minutes with no variation, so doing in one's head. I also appreciate the stereo production - a sense of space in a mix lifts the whole thing out from the steel box, and if you're listening on headphones, out from your sinuses!

See the two keyboards on the left, close to the camera? I once owned both, but sold them for next to nothing when such gizmos were right out of fashion. They fetch 4-figure sums on eBay now. There's many a similar tale told by gentlemen of a certain age who lived through the arrival of digital synths in the early 80s.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

"Synths that block out the sun" - number 4

"Cyrusrex + Baseck", from Muff Wiggler.

We may entertain the delusion of free will, but in fact HERE is where it's ALL controlled from.

A Zen Minute

"Mixing the Buddha Machines with the modular..." A dreamy hybrid of Tibetan gong samples and old-school analog synthesis. From kv3x.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

"Spiral Waves" by Ebotronix

I've previously posted a few pieces by Ebotronix in my "Synths that block out the sun" series. For this one I'm leaving off the irony and posting on its musical merit alone. I love the way the sound evolves from one moment to the next, unlike so much of this genre where a simplistic groove repeats and repeats ad nauseam.

I'm not sure how he manages that quantity of patch cabling without losing track of what connects to what! As I've remarked before, it's unusual to hear such multilayered arrangements played in real time on this analog technology. That's some mental map you'd need to set it all up and perform it. Bravo Herr Ebotronix!

"I must get one of those" - number 6

Circuit Bent Gabriella High School Musical Doll - rehoused with Jazz Hands and doll head control. From freeform delusion.

Any golden age of mad wacky instruments would have to give rise to this kind of stuff too. Circuit Bent do a whole range of items as weird as this one.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

"I must get one of those" - number 5

Last chance to get a Thingamagoop 2x. The golden age of mad wacky instruments isn't ending any time soon despite this.

Monday, 18 August 2014

"I must get one of those" - number 4

We're truly in the golden age of mad wacky instruments. Can't see how you're meant to play/programme this one; unless you're a dachshund.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

"Human at Last" - title track of forthcoming multimedia show

The title is a quote by Kim Stanley Robinson, from "2312", one of his near-future novels. Humans (at least the majority) are finally are able to enjoy an existence free of scarcity and violence, replete with whatever cerebral or sensual pursuits that attract them.

Sounds a bit utopian doesn't it? And maybe it could only be fully realised for those able to populate the solar system in the way he imagines in the book. The phrase stuck in my head as a nice shorthand for an optimistic take on our future as a species.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

"Synths that block out the sun" - number 3

"Form Thirty Five"

More interestingly structured noise from the Chicago lab of sound designer and composer, Surachai.

MFB Kraftzwerg MkII patch + Vermona Filter Lancet

A more epic sound than I would normally use, but it's early days with these 2 boxes! A nice Berlin School bass sequence, as befits the German origin of both.

MIDI sequence in Logic. Backing track is some bespoke sounds in Omnisphere. Boss GT10 provides the pan, chorus, delay, reverb.

More music from Seen From Space...

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Arjen Schat - Silent Ritual (Album Sampler)

Don't mistake this for spa music! The packaging suggests that, and you could just about play it at the spa and not frighten anyone. But it's got a bit more height and breadth than that for me.

Live at the Atomic Institute 08.06.2014

"Circuit Shaker - Number 8". From Zeropage.

Octatrack meets Roland Aira and Korg Volcas.

Monday, 11 August 2014

"I must get one of those" - number 3

Another daft electronic instrument; this one probably cheaper than most. It's not 'til about 40 seconds in that you hear it played, by the way.

"Amazing OTAMATONE Created by ALEXCIOUS. It's a breeze to squeeze & tease out a tune with no keys! The world's cutest, weirdest musical instrument." I think I've seen weirder in fact, but that's marketing.

Throwing Snow feat. KNOX - Draugr

Taken from 'Mosaic', debut album from Throwing Snow, on the Houndstooth label. Beautiful music crossing a few genre boundaries; always a good thing.

Throwing Snow's sonic experimenter Ross Tones gives a tour of his studio - see Music Radar.

From Houndstooth.

"Synths that block out the sun" - number 2

Sagittarius A event horizon², from Ebotronix.

I love the bullfrogs in this one. All synthesised naturally - no samples I'd imagine! Again unusual to hear multilayered, real-time arrangements using this kind of technology.

Kick.S / Ambient sequence

Unusually ambient chops from these grooveboxes.

From Kick.S.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Live music ahead for Seen From Space

Forgot to mention I'll be broadcasting on numubu.com at some point soon too!

"I must get one of those" - number 2

We're truly in the golden age of mad wacky instruments. Qi Meng playing the Aether Zither. This takes the prize for the twangiest user interface ever seen.

"Synths that block out the sun" - number 1

From Ebotronix. Unusual to hear complete, multilayered arrangements from a modular. Maybe you need this much metal and spaghetti to achieve it?

"I must get one of those" - number 1

I can feel a series of these coming on. Here's number 1. We're in the golden age of mad wacky instruments. I think the person leaving the one comment under the video is from the same planet!!

Stuber from bartlebooth.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Fall of the House of Usher, 1928 (Seen From Space soundtrack)

I first came across this film on Super 8 about 30 years ago. For its day it was highly innovative, and pioneered many in-camera special effects. It remains a powerful piece of expressionist cinema, although some of the acting is very much of-its-day.

Was intending to do this soundtrack live, but totally failed to get hold of a projection-quality copy! Licensing is a bit complicated. This is the public domain lo-res version.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Deep house atmospheres from Lemnic

Nicholas Lem has bought the new Elektron machine! This is cause for rejoicing among those who don't get out much. i.e. us who share his enthusiasm for these great creative tools.

Best to enjoy this in stereo. Headphones recommended - especially for the deep reverbs. The bass needs better than average computer squawkers too.

"Mighty Dwarf" just arrived!

I've just taken delivery of one of these:

"It's very nice! What is it?" I hear you say.

Well it's a Kraftzwerg Mk II. The name means Mighty Dwarf and it's come from German 'boutique' manufacturer MFB. It's smaller than you might think from the photo, and some of the annotations on the controls are pretty hard to read for someone of my advanced years.

It's a "semi-modular"synth, i.e. it has a lot of jack sockets you can use to reroute the audio and control signals however you desire, and integrate it with other machines that work in a similar way, if you happen to have any, which I don't. Yet! The flexibility that comes from this is huge, hence the 'Mighty' bit in the name.

It takes some getting used to. I'm new to this open-ended form of synthesis, and so far I've worked out what some of the sockets are for, but by no means all. It'll find its way onto recordings and live loops before long I don't doubt.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

This must have taken some storyboarding!

20syl - Kodama (official music video)

Music's beautiful too.

20syl - Kodama (official music video) from 20syl.

Complex atmospherics from modular synth

I suspect there's a bit of Minimoog patched in to provide the bass drones, but another subtle slow-burner nicely shows the intricate atmospheres you can build with these complex instruments.

idea sketch ES 14.59 from Kurt Kurasaki.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A night time improvisation

"More or Less" 

From millolab.

Millolab says "Headphones highly recommended. Gear used: Waldorf Blofeld, Arturia Microbrute, Elektron Machinedrum, Akai mpc500 as main sequencer, Korg Ms2000, Clavia Nord Modular G2 and DSI Tetr4. Hardwire DL7 and RV8 were used on the Tetra."

I particularly like the gentle percussive sounds from the Machinedrum.

Self-playing soundscape

"Lost Horizons"

From ikjoyce.

A continually evolving sound carpet as the modules cycle through their particular functions, each at their own rate, and probably never exactly repeating the overall effect.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Contrapuntal invention for Scottish synth

Macbeth Micromac-D Paraphonic Demo

From maisonvague

Maisonvague says "It's an original composition written specifically for the video employing 18th century contrapuntal techniques. I had Bach in mind during parts of it -- especially his Two-Part Inventions. But there are hints of Schubert and Mozart in there as well."

Ken MacBeth makes these very nice but expensive synthesizers in Edinburgh. (It's the blue one at top-right in the video.) It feels good that these things are designed just down the road from here, but I can't afford to buy them:(

Taming Lynch's Weirding Module

From davidryle.

Just about as far as you can go with modular synths! Not an especially cheap way to heat your house but wonderfully mad. No melody to speak of here but a great soundscape produced very organically. About 8 minutes in, it edges into more tonal territory with exhilarating effect.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Waldorf Nave: iPad synthesizer - sound design 1

I've been getting deep into programming Nave, the most amazing synth for iOS! This isn't a finished piece of music; more of a showcase for the sound design possibilities.

You're hearing the raw sound output from Nave with no additional effects on the iPad. Just a touch of compression afterwards in Logic to tame the spikes.

Best enjoyed in stereo!

Salve intemerata (Thomas Tallis)

From Richard Galbraith

Wonderful use of modular synths to re-imagine this choral work by the greatest composer of the English Renaissance.

Springtime Sequence 1

From DJRexParis.

Nicely shot video with lovely dark ambience. These downtempo tunes take a few bars to get under way! Be patient.