It’s only been a week but I feel like I have new stuff to say!
I finally got the colonoscopy done while I’m still L years old in the Roman style, and the results are all good. Whew! I’m supposed to have it done again in V years.
The main lesson learned? Don’t get yourself Diet Sprite and lime jello for the liquid diet when the PEG prep drink is also lemon flavored.
As everyone told me, the prep is the unpleasant part. The procedure itself was a jump cut. One second I’m awkwardly lying on my side watching the anesthesiologist just starting to press the syringe plunger. The next I’m back in the room where I started, feeling very rested and just a little bit euphoric.
There are 7 weeks left in the year, and we’ll be out on vacation for 3 of them. But I’m going to have one more album release for 2022.
In fact, one week after the release of Sinister Topography, I already have 31 minutes recorded. It’s all no-input feedback loops, alternating between hardware and software patches. No synths, no samples, no basses. Some of them have some minimal sequencing, but for the most part, pitches and rhythms are coming from the feedback loops themselves — and I’m not so much in control of it as able to influence it to some degree, maybe not as far as I want to. Like if the pitch of the sustain tone goes any lower it crosses some threshold and the entire sound changes radically. It’s been very edumacashunal!
(The hardware patches do have end-of-chain compression, EQ, and stereo width management. In a couple of cases there was an impulse needed to kickstart the feedback, but usually noise or small DC offsets within the system were enough. And I’m not shying away from editing out boring or ugly parts or occasionally splicing takes.)
For this project I’m returning to patch notes, documenting what’s in these loops. It seems appropriate. Maybe I’ll return to the practice in general for future albums, maybe not. Some of the patches are quite simple — Mimeophon and Peradam. Others have two interacting feedback loops or other complications.
On the software side, Bitwig Spectral Suite has been pretty amazing for this. Loud Split can tone down the loudest bands while boosting the weaker ones, maintaining an overall sustained loop in a different manner from a limiter. Harmonic Split can dampen pure tones to keep resonances under control, or the inharmonics to keep loops cleaner and less noisy.
And in hardware, there are quite a few modules that are tempting to stick into every feedback loop. Rings has been my feedback buddy for a long time, of course. Blades is great since it combines drive and filtering. Mimeophon is a champ at feedback. And Peradam says “pick me! pick me!” maybe because part of its idiom is feedback in the first place.
Peradam is a cool module. Waveshaping is a kind of distortion, yes, but in modular it’s kind of a mindset. I feel Peradam really excels at gentle bending and folding of shapes, warming stuff up and filling it out. But you can push it to do wild and crazy things, going into a stuttering thumping mess or screaming cacophony — and sometimes, those sorts of things can be the prime mover of a feedback patch.
Despite parts shortages and the unfortunate end of some Eurorack brands, there’s still new stuff being made and new companies springing up. Some of them even in the midst of war — the Ukranian brand Blukač has just appeared and announced the Endless Processor, a module with one intriguing demo so far. It captures and resynthesizes moments of audio to act as an infinite sustain effect, and has two channels and multiple layers to work with. I’m looking forward to more demos, but meanwhile their first, limited production run sold out extremely quickly and their second one will also be quite limited, but they plan to go bigger as soon as they can.
Other items of interest to me at the moment are:
- Klavis Grainity. Working with their third prototype they apparently found an opportunity for an exciting improvement, so this is a module being delayed for the best of reasons. I’m in the “need to hear more demos” stance with this one, particularly because I wound up bouncing off every Klavis module I’ve tried for one reason or another so far. They don’t lack in good ideas, but sometimes it’s been something about the interface, sometimes just that I chose modules that I didn’t really need. This could be the one that wins though.
- SSF Steady State Gate. It’s got 1- and 2-pole lowpass and bandpass modes as well as saturation/folding and “Qaos”, so it’s a different animal from other LPGs. DivKid has a demo coming soon so that should tell me whether this module is worth getting when I already have Natural Gate, Blades, Peradam, Lacrima Versio etc
- Forge TME Vhikk 2. The first model is an impressive ambient drone machine that went a little bit under the radar and sold out. The second model adds some new features. I’m somewhat getting Strega vibes from in, in that the fear is this will make it “too easy” and isn’t really necessary when I’ve got other stuff… but after I delayed on the Strega it turned out to be one of my favorite pieces ever, so maybe I should give this a whirl when it’s ready.
As it happens, if I sell off the Afterneath and BeetTweek, I have exactly enough space to pick up all of the above (with some careful shuffling). But I don’t think it’s likely that I will go for all of them.
There’s also the mysterious Intellijel Cascadia. They dropped a hint about “soonish” several weeks ago, but not what the thing actually is; speculation ran rampant. If it’s a successor to Shapeshifter I might have to consider it. The name suggests maybe a successor to Rainmaker instead, in which case, probably not. But nobody outside of Intellijel and maybe some quiet beta testers knows yet.