inevitable witchcraft

I’ve mentioned the Make Noise Strega 8 9 times in this blog so far and talked about it on forums a little more. A few of those times were “I’ve decided not to buy one.”

To nobody’s surprise, I decided to buy one.

Like I originally said, the instrument seems to have been designed to appeal directly to me specifically. (I know it was actually for/by Alessandro Cortini, but that’s nearly the same thing, in terms of sound design aesthetics. I wish it was as similar in terms of musical career success and acclaim…)

The Launchpad Pro mk3 certainly made me happy enough to put the Launchpad X up for sale. Yes, pressure works a little differently on it, with a low threshold making it less aftertouch-like… but it is extremely well suited to directly controlling the level of a synth voice, which is great for most of my purposes. The sequencer, too, is pretty nice to work with, allowing for better editing than the Microfreak although obviously with a few limitations compared to using a DAW. It also has more immediate appeal and simplicity than a typical piano roll in a DAW though, which was the point.

The Microfreak is certainly competent as a synth, but I do have the modular and Minibrute and lots of software. It’s a fun little package overall, and I may end up missing it in a nostalgic sort of way, just as I miss the Lyra-8. But I don’t really need it. I was mostly keeping it mostly for sequencing and simple parts, but I can do those on the Launchpad, whose responsiveness and flexibility I prefer. I think overall the Strega is a better fit for my purposes — patchable with the modular and the Minibrute, designed to work well with the 0-Ctrl, an excellent range of sounds overall, and able to process and react with external audio.

And on that last point, since part of the Strega is a dirty crunchy delay, I’ll also let go of my Befaco Crush Delay. I believe they’re based on the same PT2399 delay chip, but with different analog circuits in the feedback path, and from what I’ve heard of the Strega it’s really got something special in its implementation. No idea yet what might fill the space in the modular, but something will come up eventually I’m sure.


That back pain is still obnoxious at times, and leaves me almost completely alone at other times. I haven’t figured out much of a pattern.

But this weekend I did at least manage to fix the kitchen light (replacing the ballast, which was the cheapest and simplest thing to do), and recorded a track with bass and drones, with the expression controller to tweak feedback levels on reverb for the bass. I was thinking it’d be for the next Ambient Online compilation, but of course it’s kind of ominous (like I do…) and maybe not what is wanted for this round. So I’ll try to be a little more cheerful and bright if I can stand to šŸ™‚


Reading!

Before and during the road trip I re-read Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth, back to back. Harrow made a bit more sense this time, though it wasn’t because I remembered the plot entirely. To be fair, the sometimes first-person perspective is meant to have the reader share in the protagonist’s disorientation, as someone who is both metaphorically and literally haunted…

I followed those up with two stories from qntm: Fine Structure and Ed. Both share themes of extreme weird science fiction. The former involved superheroes and much more chaos; I think it might have been the weakest of qntm’s books because the escalation just didn’t hit as hard as Ra. But it was still fascinating in part. Ed is about a super-genius mad scientist, is tongue-in-cheek and might be the funniest of qntm’s books, though it too gets blown up to multiversal proportions. I’d like to read something by this author that is equally weird but remains on a relatively human scale, where everyone remains in the same universe and timeline, the year is measured in no more than four digits, and the Earth is destroyed a total of zero times.

I’ve begun Neal Stephenson’s Termination Shock. In some ways you know what you’re going to get with a Stephenson book — lots of tangents and trivia and deep nerdery, and usually a great combination of humor and doom — but within that formula you really have no idea where it’ll go. A novel about climate collapse, so far it has involved the kind of badass Queen of the Netherlands, a guy on a mission to kill rampaging feral hogs, and fire ants that destroy air conditioners. I groaned an audible “nooooo!” when “COVID-19, COVID-23 and COVID-27” was mentioned. Still not as much of a kick in the face as the first chapter of Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson’s take on climate disaster and recovery.

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