Monday, December 7, 2009

New square_wave album: Mach Ångström

Things don't always happen in the order they're supposed to, and that's alright. So the second of two new albums is ready first. It's available now at CD Baby and will soon be available at the usual digital sites. I'm excited about this one, as Mach Ångström is my first full-on drone release, and contrasts nicely with the other album-to-be.

This thirty-plus minute piece is comprised of Serge analog modular synthesizer drones coaxed into sumptuous other-worldliness by spectral layers of ensemble generators, cured in spring reverb baths, and aged inappropriately by delays of the bucket-brigade and magnetic tape categories; augmented by dusty, ethereal guitar motifs. Recorded over two late nights in December 2008.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Trust your senses...

After systematically turning everything off in the house, I finally discovered the source of an annoying hum that was most pronounced in the same spot as my favorite chair in front of the stereo/TV. I wasn't sure when it started, but it coincided (in retrospect) with another annoying phenomenon: cancellation of some low end frequency at head-height while seated in that same favorite chair. What rotten luck! I just couldn't believe I hadn't noticed this cancellation before, and until I had eliminated the annoying hum, I hadn't connected the two phenomena.

So what was it? It turns out the external USB hard drive sitting in my basement studio was the cause of the hum. Somehow the frequency of the hum from the spinning platters in the drive was sympathetically transferred upstairs via the surface the drive sat on, up the studio walls, through the living room floor boards and into the air... directly overhead to where my favorite chair sits. This hum's frequency (117 Hz, as I later determined) was loud enough to mix with the audio coming from the living room stereo, and caused destructive cancellation of that frequency -- a frequency well within the low end range that a subwoofer is concerned with, and very noticeable when it disappears. I was really pleased to find I had actually fixed two problems when I had only set out to isolate one. Make that three problems solved: sitting in my studio afterwards, I noticed that the room seemed quieter. I must have been subconsciously ignoring the hum down here. In any case, this was all a good reminder to listen to what your ears are telling you!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Shouldn't have said it...

TWO MONTHS AGO this day, I said I was in the final mix stages of this next album. I should have known better. That's precisely how one curses a project: divulging too much about it. As we speak, Fate's agents are ransacking the place, rewinding my clocks, burning my notes, leaving milk on the counter... Meanwhile, I'm listening to these tracks, teetering on that dangerous precipice of When To Stop Mucking With It. It's close. And I will say no more until it's done...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

STG's Time Modules getting to know the Serge...

I should be mixing the new album, but I couldn't help spending time this weekend with a couple of the latest welcome additions to the studio: STG Soundlabs' Time Modules, and my second Serge "boat" (the lower of the two Serge rack units at left).

The Time Modules are unique in that they're designed to be clocked by the DIN sync output of a drum machine, rather than having an internal clock like most sequencers. The Time Modules utilize a bus on the backside to distribute clock and start/stop signals sent by the drum machine (they also have front panel jacks for interfacing with other trigger sources instead). There are separate modules for variable voltages and for triggers. A companion module allows you set the number of steps that each of the other modules will step through. So you can create some pretty complex rhythmic sequences really easily.

The Serge, ah... the Serge. Before now I only had one "M-odule": the Creature. This little beast is a most interesting module, capable of all sorts of controlled voltage mayhem. It's easy to spend hours building up the most bizarre percolating self-running patches. So I decided I needed to ground myself with some pure sound shaping capabilities, and went for the Dual Oscillator and Wave Processor modules. I've only begun to scratch the surface with these (or with the Creature, for that matter), but I can already tell I made the right decision. These modules are d..e..e..p...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Next album getting closer...

I'm in the final stages of mixing and mastering the next square_wave album, titled The Mesmer Eye. This album includes material spanning a three year period of explorations whose fruits manifested themselves in the first two albums. So there are definitely aspects that will seem familiar while hopefully pushing into some new areas as well. Another new album, an EP really, will follow possibly later this summer.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New square_wave video: '6 cycles 7'

New video for the track '6 cycles 7' from an upcoming album by square_wave. The audio is comprised of two tracks of dotcom modular synth (low frequency rumble and slowly modulating resonant drone), processed hand-held radio, TR-606, and Serge modular synth (the drip-drop ploppy sounds). All analog, of course. The track is inspired by early 'Back & Forth'-era Skinny Puppy and other minimal electronic music of the late 70s/early 80s. The video is very much an homage to the cut-up video work and visual stylings of Cabaret Voltaire's Doublevision period.

square_wave in upcoming DVD?

This video's been up for a while, but I didn't notice it until now. You can catch about three seconds of me from 1:18-1:21.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Korg joins the fold...

Pictured here is my first Korg (the MS-20 above), joining a recording-in-progress (top pic, far right). It's a cool little semi-patchable synth, and makes sounds that take my ears back to the late 70s/early 80s days when electronic music itself had matured, but synth pop was still on wobbly legs. Raw, quick to dial up what you want, but still highly tweakable. Of course, in the scene above what we have is not synth pop, but rather a nice, slowly modulating drone, heavily filtered and rich with peaks teetering on self-oscillation. [slurp...]

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A new flat surface...

Today I flexed my basic geometry skills and built a new shelf over my workdesk. That seems to be the modus operandi here at sublevel9: Run out of space? Add a shelf. This will be the new home of a Korg MS-20 en route from Japan...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tonight @ sublevel9...

(sent from my phone)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New home for sublevel9 studios

Greetings, and welcome to the new web 2.0 home of sublevel9 studios. Hopefully this will prod (poke?) me into keeping things up to date around here. We shall see...