reflecting and refracting

We’ve just found out our usual dog sitter needs serious dental surgery and can’t do the thing, so we’re cancelling our Christmas travel that was previously in some doubt for other health reasons. So it’ll be mostly several quiet days at home, not working, with maybe a trip to the St. Louis Aquarium which we haven’t seen since the pandemic.


For the past few years, I’ve made a point of setting goals for the year, sort of a variant on new year resolutions. And then, for the most part, I just end up following whatever path seems right or fun or necessary at the time, or (let’s face it) kind of lazing out a bit. So they don’t always work out, partly because I’m just not that resolute, and partly because I couldn’t see the future. And most things more or less work out okay.

For 2023:

  • I kind of sometimes remembered not to participate in threads where it wasn’t going to lead to any positive result. I also stepped in a few minefields.
  • I did not manage to ride the exercise bike any significant amount. I took a few, but far too few, walks.
  • I really didn’t cut back on snacks.
  • I did work on technique and understanding of my gear, and of theory and practice (especially microtonal and MPE.) I did end up shaking the gear tree anyway, and I have no regrets with how that has worked out.
  • I did not get into any sort of consistent bass practice, or in any way elevate my bass playing. I played bass quite a bit less in 2023 than 2022. This… is okay. I shouldn’t force myself to pick up the instrument if what calls to me for that part is a synth, and it usually will be. Still, this is an area that I can explore more.

So how about 2024? It’s short, and it’s less formal — more just stuff I am keeping in mind than anything I’m especially committing to.

  • I have a ton of excellent options where it comes to reverbs and delays, particularly in software. In recent years, I’ve let myself be tempted by interesting and characterful plugins in these categories, but at this point I probably have too many options. So unless something is REALLY unusual and excellent I’m going to pass.
  • That is probably a good approach for nearly everything, where it comes to music gear.
  • I also don’t really want more stuff that is going to have to take up space, be stored somewhere, collect dust etc.

However:

  • Spectraphon in 2023 was special and worth making an exception for — a real game-changer that also fits extremely well into my setup. Anything like that that comes along in 2024 is certainly fair game.
  • I’m already planning to grab Madrona Labs Sumu and Dawesome Myth when they are released.
  • Some other FX types that I don’t have as thoroughly covered might get in. Sinevibes has both a phaser and chorus that I think sound cooler than anything else in those categories, for instance.
  • A little utility shuffling is likely to happen with the updated Ana, and maybe swapping out Blinds for a Toppobrillo Cluster.
  • I’m leaving myself the strong possibility of getting a Noise Engineering Alia, particularly once Cursus is available. It seems like the wave of the future, and even though the NE oscillators tend to be an occasional thing for me, having all of them on tap in Eurorack form will be nice. The plugin versions are good but in many cases, lead to different inspiration and different results.
  • I had been considering an EHX Attack Decay pedal. I’m doubting this more though; this would specifically be for polyphonically rounding off the attacks of notes on the bass, which I’ve just said above, I’m not getting a lot of use out of. If I didn’t care about the polyphony, a cheaper pedal or software could do it, or I could just keep using Velvet Machine or granular synthesis which is probably the smartest thing to do.

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