First bit of news is, I’ve been invited onto another internet radio show — “Live And Indirect” on Repeater Radio, which is a kind of successor to Sonic Sound Synthesis. And I already have my half-hour set recorded and it just needs to be mastered.

The second is, I’ve done a wave of module purchases.

1. Noise Engineering announced 3 new firmwares for their Alia oscillator platform: Cursus Iteritas Alia, Ataraxic Iteritas Alia, and a new one called Incus Iteritas Alia. Cursus is what I was waiting for to buy it, but now it’s a direct upgrade to my regular AtarIter and a total no-brainer.

This is nearly ideal for me — I like all of NE’s oscillators but they seem to be the kind that I don’t always want to use; being able to switch between 6 different choices (and most likely a few more in the future) will be fantastic. The only better thing would be if there was just a knob to turn to switch firmware, but unscrewing it (thanks Befaco Knurlies) and plugging in a USB cable and launching Chrome isn’t bad.

Incus is a percussion-oriented module but it also does FM synthesis stuff, as does Debel. My FM-obsessed self likes where they’re going here.

2. I realized that I haven’t been using my Monome Teletype very much. The functions I had used it for have been taken over by Bitwig Grid, Entonal Studio and Univer Inter. There’s the “Just Friends as Harmonic Oscillator” thing but I have other options for that in software too that are honestly just as good. So that gave me an opportunity.

I don’t need more oscillators as such, nor more effects or basic modulation sources or controllers. So the smart thing is to go for something a bit unusual but with a wide variety of uses…

Auza Wave Packets is a module that was released a couple of years ago. It combines a multi-stage contour (envelope) generator with an oscillator (audio or LFO) that has 3 pitch stages, and outputs that combine the contour and oscillator in different ways. So you can get some conventional modulation from it, a fairly simple but complete synth voice, or very fancy wobbles and waves and patterns.

Breaking it down, that style of envelope generator is uncommon but not unique — Stages can do it with more flexibility. The oscillator itself isn’t particularly exciting. A couple of those combo outputs are more unusual though, limiting the bounds of the oscillator with a method that both scales and offsets it. The oscillator pitch control synchronized with the stages but having a separate glide rate is also an interesting twist, and taken as a whole, there’s not really anything quite like it. Also the oscillator and contour times can be synchronized to each other so there’s an integer ratio between them. People who’ve owned one for a while would like CV control over a bit more than what’s available, but I see a lot of potential here and there are a few great examples of it in use. Mostly this has been one that was too weird and obscure to catch a lot of attention, though.

There’s no CV control over contour rates, but there are ways to sync it to external gates, and it’ll cycle at audio rates — so there might be some ways to use it for a kind of pulsar synthesis. (Or, you know, do that while droning.)

So I’m looking forward to trying this. I’ll count this one as a justified module swap too. 🙂

3. Toppobrillo Cluster to replace my Mutable Instruments Blinds. I mentioned that possibility previously, and decided to go ahead and do it while I’m moving stuff anyway. The modules have some similarities but a different approach — switching them is basically a small nitpicky optimization, making it slightly easier to do crossfading and the sorts of things I typically use Blinds for while freeing up a little space, and I’ll probably be able to resell Blinds for more than Cluster cost. The upgrade later from Ana to Ana 2 will make up for what’s lost.

Those foam wedges I got? Perfect fit. The thicker, 16 degree wedges bring the top of the case 6 inches toward me without compromising any space at the bottom. Leverage! As I realized when moving modules around, this makes the top two rows just slightly top-forward of vertical. I may choose later to also use the 8 degree wedges and bring it that much closer, but probably not — I think the ergonomics problem is resolved where it is.

I’ve been reading Gender Queer: A Memoir, which is the most-challenged and most-banned book in the US. Aside from the wave of transphobia that has been going on, which would immediately cause every conservative and a lot of moderates and a few supposed liberals to be afraid that the book was trying to recruit kids to the Trans Agenda… this book talks openly about body parts and processes that society would like everyone to forget exists.

I guarantee that EVERY HUMAN BEING going through puberty has strong — and potentially confusing and disturbing — thoughts of one kind or another about sex and their body and other peoples’ bodies. That part is really not unique to non-binary, trans, gay, or asexual kids.

This book isn’t porn. Very little in it celebrates sex; it mostly expresses the fear, horror and confusion that the author had over it — which was greatly magnified by the face that society tells you you’re not supposed to think or talk about it and you should just “be normal.” Overcoming that was the whole point of publishing the memoir. This kind of repression very literally makes people suffer and die.

And it’s increasing. There are proposed state laws to classify the bodies of trans people as “obscene material.” That is just straight-up Nazi shit. There are maps now of states classifying them according to how personally dangerous it is in the “Land of the Free” to be trans.

Anyway, I didn’t really grow up like Maia. If I wrote my own memoir, it would be less dramatic and urgent. I didn’t have strong dysphoria, more of a general sense that the body I have isn’t really “me” so much as something I got stuck with. But also, I didn’t really have the ability to put the concepts into a coherent form and figure things out for myself until I was already in my 40s. The existence of communities online where people could share their experiences and give these phenomena names was absolutely key — which is why I think this sort of information should be freely available, not banned.