here’s what went down

So the thing I’ve been a bit cagey about is, I applied for the programming position at Noise Engineering. I didn’t get it, due to the quality of competition, and congratulations to whoever did. They did invite me to be a beta tester though, which is cool.

I’m satisfied with my current job — it’s solid and stable, the pay is decent given the cost of living here, and it’s generally low pressure. Even though we are understaffed, there’s very little stress over deadlines, no abuse by the management, no screaming customers, no crunch time, no “emergency” cancelled vacations that you planned four months in advance, and no wondering if the next paycheck is going to arrive on time or who’s going to get laid off next. Instead, it’s simply “this is a difficult puzzle” which tends to yield to a satisfying “I just solved the puzzle.” While I don’t really share many interests with my coworkers and am not really friends with them, they seem like decent people and we get along fine.

But the idea of making musical instruments for a living? An end product I actually am passionate about? Working with other musician nerds? Being a part of the design process? That would have been pretty nifty, so I had to try for it.

Career move stuff is always a bit stressful. Less so, when you’re already in a decent job and are just trying for an upgrade. But more so when you’ve got anxiety and a weird misplaced sense of guilt over it. I felt bad about leaving the team more understaffed, and felt like I was sneaking around behind their backs… even though rationally, it’s just part of a normal employer-employee relationship. So I’m glad the process is done one way or the other. I did enjoy talking to the folks at NE though; we’re pretty much in the same tribe.

I’m kind of thinking about whether I want to get back to experimenting with writing plugins again. On the one hand, I don’t know if that’s what I want to do after an 8 hour shift coding for someone else. But maybe a bit of that would be nice from time to time. What I know I don’t want to do is get stuck supporting code that I only wrote out of curiosity and am not getting paid for.

Thinking about whether I was going to need to find a way to rack a bunch of Noise Engineering modules (a good problem to have!) got the wheels turning in my head. So here’s what’s going on with my gear plan now:

  • Not waiting for May 1 anymore.
  • I will still only sell three modules this year, right now (Shelves, VCFQ, A-110-4).
  • If I decide I need the space — for beta test modules or simply other things I decide I really want — I may set aside (but not sell in 2021) the Akemie’s Castle, or get another 4ms Pod or similar to shunt Castle or E520 into.
  • I will still not sell, trade or buy non-modular desktop gear in 2021.
  • I ordered an Odessa last night:

This is a pure additive synthesis oscillator that generates up to 2560 harmonics simultaneously (!) and offers ways to detune them, change their relative emphasis, distribute them in stereo, etc. There’s also both linear TZFM and exponential FM. Demos vary; this oscillator is capable of being extremely piercing and exhausting, but in motion or with the right detuning it can be gloriously liquid and crystalline and all sorts of other words that are not music so they don’t quite fit.

That leaves 16HP of free space (or 18HP if I pull out the passive DC blocking filter that I got for the A-110-4 and rearrange things a bit more). I have a few thoughts about what could go in:

  • Toppobrillo Sport Modulator v2. It’s currently being designed, in an unusually public manner. It’s been unobtanium for years, but has a strong loyal following, and I’m curious. It’s similar to Maths in many ways but not in specifics, where simple circuits, in different clever combinations, can perform a hundred different functions. The new version will have volt-per-octave tracking and a sync input, as well as other enhancements.
  • Noise Engineering Loquelic Iteritas. Noise Engineering’s dual oscillator, with phase modulation as well as summation synthesis and VOSIM, each with twists… I feel like this is potentially the same sort of case as Shapeshifter, where I should probably have tried it earlier on because how could this not be perfect?
  • Noise Engineering Manis Iteritas. Every time Blakmoth posts a snippet of music on Instagram, I ask myself why I ever sold mine. The SawX algorithm in Microfreak, though based on it and awesome in its own right (*), doesn’t have the same gravity. I used to think it was because the Microfreak doesn’t transpose low enough so that with SawMod adding harmonics, the fundamental is in deep subsonic territory — but you can force it down there, and that’s not it. Maybe the filter? Something in the output stage? Whatever, Manis is magic.

I could name other Noise Engineering stuff, but at least some of it (Desmodus!) is coming in plugin form. And there are beta tests to look forward to 🙂

(*) playing with it while writing this gave me a delicious drone that’s going into my current project, today.

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