that’s a wrap

I found a temporary-ish solution to my touchplate/BeetTweek issues: a cable tie. I have this set of 100 microfiber hook-and-loop cable ties and have only put about 8 of them to use. So now one of them, with excess length trimmed, is wrapped around the BeetTweek encoder knob. No risk of sticky residue, easy to remove and replace, and it does the job. It’s not super elegant, but the tactile experience of turning a fuzzy knob is pretty amusing…

I got news on the Miezo front — it’s not ready quite yet (another few coats of finish and then assembly) but they sent me a photo and also made an Instagram post in video clip form. They genuinely seem proud of this instrument and want to show it off, despite it being close to their most “basic” instrument options. And I think that pride is well-earned, because this is a beauty.

WMD (William Mathewson Devices) is one of the longest-running Eurorack module builders there is, and are well-liked and I thought pretty successful. They’ve done some contract manufacturing for other Eurorack makers as well as a couple of lines of their own stuff. And… they’re planning to shut down by the end of the year. Wait times for the parts they need are measured in years, costs are up and sales are down, and things are just too difficult to keep going. I wonder how other makers are faring? Some do still seem to be thriving, aside from difficulty sourcing parts for popular designs that are sold out.

WMD, and their collaboration WMD/SSF (Steady State Fate) was never really a staple of my own rack — but I have had a few of their items during my modular journey. Mini Slew is a good design overall, though with some odd quirks that led me to favor Make Noise Function. MSCL is a worthy compressor. I’ve had a couple of their utilities, Blender and S.P.O. A limited edition black colorway of their Geiger Counter pedal was my second favorite pedal I’ve ever played with (second only to Red Panda Tensor). And then there’s the unique Synchrodyne, which combines a sawtooth VCO, a PLL with frequency multiplication and division, a switched-capacitor filter and a wavefolder in one slightly crowded but awesome package — and its expander which adds another VCO, PLL and filter (with more inputs and outputs) plus a compressor and some other goodies.

They have three more products that they’re selling limited runs of (because the parts availability is limited) and closing out their remaining inventory. Though I don’t really have any room in my rack, I decided to grab another Synchrodyne.

My thinking is, it’s the same size as Inertia, so I can swap between the two of them for different flavors of weird filtering. Or put it in the Pod if I must. Or otherwise find ways to make it work. It’s unlikely to be the last change I make to the modular anyway, so… we’ll just see what happens.

Switched-capacitor filters are weird things, and they are very rare in Eurorack. It runs in discrete time, rather than continuous time — it is clocked at a high rate, switching between different capacitors to change the filter cutoff, rather than the typical voltage-controlled filter which changes a resistor value instead. Clock it slowly enough and it starts getting glitchy and aliasing despite being 100% analog. Synchrodyne’s brilliance is to take an audio rate VCO, use a PLL to multiply its frequently drastically to clock the filter, and run the VCO through that filter by default. But in good modular form, each puzzle piece has its own I/O jacks and can be used independently or in tandem with the other pieces. It’s a little mad science lab in a single module.

When I had it originally it was great for experimenting with. At some point I kind of turned away from sawtooth waves and filters in general, obsessed with FM and wavefolding and LPGs and wavetables. So I let it go. Since then I’ve occasionally missed that crazy high rate clock for a few different purposes, and certainly come back around toward creative use of filters.

Grabbing it now at a discount seems like a good move. They haven’t always been available, and they’re going to be much less so in the future. If I decide later that I don’t want it, it should not be hard to sell for a good price — I’m not profit-seeking here with this stuff, but that likely increase in market value does give me confidence about grabbing it again now.

Speaking of shortages, there’s a global shortage of Ozempic now. A diabetes med injected once a week, it’s the exact same stuff that’s in Wegovy, though Wegovy is a higher dose. Wegovy is prescribed as an obesity treatment, but has not been well covered by insurance and has been a bit scarce in supply. So apparently some TikTok influencers have decided to push Ozempic as a weight-loss drug, and some doctors are perfectly willing to write scripts for whatever their patients ask for.

As a result, I need to call my doctor’s office tomorrow. I’m probably going to have to be switched to something else — most likely another GLP-1 inhibitor. Hopefully they don’t go chasing that one too.

As a result, I need to call my doctor’s office tomorrow. I’m probably going to have to be switched to something else — most likely another GLP-1 inhibitor. Hopefully they don’t go chasing that one too.

As a result, I guess I’m probably going to have to be switched to something else. Most likely another GLP-1 inhibitor, which also would likely have minor weight loss effects. So hopefully they don’t go chasing that one too.

untitled XXVII

I’ve begun mastering the next album, which is still nameless. Guess I need to take care of that little detail too…

Unsurprisingly, it does seem to have its particular sound and style which emerged without any particular planning. It sounds like a horror soundtrack, noisy and with dissonant “horns” in places. To me it paints mental scenery that makes me think somewhat of the Shattered Plains in the Stormlight Archive series, although my reread began after I started working on it.

It’s very difficult to pin down the things that influence my music. Obviously, other music I’ve listened to — but just as much, the books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, games I’ve played, things I’ve been thinking about. The gear I was beta testing or was new to me, or wanted to understand better, the patching techniques and musical ideas I wanted to try. Some dumb luck discoveries. And most of these things were influenced by other factors in turn. Maybe one reason I chose to reread Stormlight Archive again because I subconsciously felt like it fit the music I was making…?

I’m expecting news on the Miezo any day now. I plan to take a bit of a break between projects to get to know it and put it through its paces, but there’s also the chance it will inspire a lot of new recording instead. We’ll see!

I discovered that if I’m playing an 0-Ctrl touchplate and touch the encoder on BeetTweek, it cancels out the touchplate. The motor on BeetTweek is electrically isolated to prevent it from interfering with audio by feeding back through the power supply, so when I do that, I’m effectively grounding it, instead of closing the circuit of the touchplate. The designer had a few possible suggestions, with the simplest being to wrap the knob in non-conductive tape. Some gaffer tape might do the job nicely, since it has a little texture and is supposed to leave minimal residue when removed.

Inspired by some peoples’ photos of their Eurorack setups with clear distinctions between silver panels and black panels, I’ve rearranged my case. I was able to do this almost perfect grouping by manufacturer:

This is with a third-party black replacement panel for Planar on its way. Now, I could get silver panels for all my Noise Engineering modules on the third row, and replace the Mazzatron Mult+Passthru with a TipTop Wayout8 and then have exactly one dark-panel row. But that would cost more than I like just for the temporary aesthetic flex (I assume I’ll continue slowly evolving my modular over time)… so this will do. Beyond just panel color though, I like this grouping; there’s something right about having the Mutable Instruments family together, the Xaoc bloc, the Noise Engineering cluster.

We’ve been watching the new Sandman series on Netflix. It’s quite faithful to the comics without being slavishly so — I feel like it was updated both for the 2020s and the different media format. At times it does come off as kind of slow for TV, while I never thought the comic dragged at all. It could just be because there are few surprises — I wonder how it comes off to an audience that hasn’t read the comics.. But for the most part, it’s definitely got the look.

It really says something that the John Dee character (not meant to be the original “Doctor Destiny” of history, but certainly alluding to him) — a regular human with a broken mind who acquired far too much power for anyone’s good — is far scarier than any nightmare, demon, god or monster in the series. We faced the “24/7” episode with dread. It was indeed mighty tense, moving from awkwardness into conflict and then very swiftly to shock. Possibly the best constructed episode so far, though I’m not sure I would want to rewatch it.

flavor of the tweek

I found out how much my pay raise was, and while I’m not going to suddenly start spending a lot except to make bigger mortgage payments, I did want to get myself a lil’ something.

So here’s BeetTweek, which I was interested in when first announced but let it slip off my radar because it’s a bit on the pricey side for a controller due to its Extreme Fanciness. But controllers have come to be mighty important in the way I make music, and I’m worth it 😉

Aside from providing an excellent light show with its total of 97 multicolor LEDs, the knob provides haptic feedback. Which means that it’s motorized, and can not only move on its own but offer turn resistance, create detents/notches you can feel, springs that bounce its position back to where it wants to be, and so on. There’s also a knob recording and playback feature which can be used in any mode. There are 8 different modes in this version of its firmware:

  • Spring: the knob has a “home” position set by an input voltage; turning it by hand (or rapidly changing the voltage) applies a spring force that makes it once to bounce back and wobble into place. Outputs represent the knob angle and spring stretch, and the “augment” settings can convert the knob angle to an LFO. It’s a really versatile, useful and fun mode for sure.
  • Torque/Friction: inputs apply a small amount of torque, and friction to resist it. This doesn’t generate particularly exciting signals to be honest, but is meant as a combination of basic controller and a method to feel signals through the knob.
  • Indent: 8 “notch” positions around the ring can store and play back voltages — pretty basic stuff but a useful control option.
  • Ratchet: turns freely in one direction, resists and springs back in the opposite direction (which can fling the knob “forward” as you let go). The direction can be switched via an input, but there are no inputs that move the knob without using your hand. Offhand, I’m not sure how I might put this to good use, but I may think of something.
  • Turntable/DJ: sort of a cross between a county fair Ferris Wheel with neon lights, an LFO, and a tape loop. If you spin it, it will just keep spinning at the same speed. As the notches around the ring pass by, it can generate triggers or a synced sine or ramp LFO. It’ll also record and play back lo-fi audio (with sound-on-sound), influenced by the movement speed. You can sync it to an external clock and stop/reverse it with another input, then scratch it like a DJ. A versatile and fun mode for sure!
  • Sequenced Pluck: somewhat similar to Indent, but the paradigm is strings that you pluck by turning the knob. You can feed audio back into it to feel the vibration. There also extra outputs which I think offer expressive control, taking it well beyond the gimmick that it seems like at first.
  • Torque Curve: probably the most abstract mode, “plots” torque values around the wheel like an oscilloscope (synced with another input). It can sometimes have the effect of turning the wheel, but the main use seems to be feeling the shape of the wave as you turn the knob.
  • Orbit: a particle is magnetically attracted to or repulsed by the knob position (and also influences that position). You can spin the knob to get the particle to fly away, swing back and forth (maybe settling down, maybe not), or launch into a continuous orbit. Inputs multiply the force and affect the simulation speed, but don’t directly move the knob or particle. Outputs represent the angle difference, velocity and attraction force. This is a lot more fun than it probably sounds from my description, and generates cool wobbly modulation signals.

I found the module pretty confusing at first, because of a combination of things:

  • There’s a bug where sometimes when you select a mode, the backlight goes white (instead of the usual purple) and the encoder stops working. (Nothing in the manual mentions the backlight going white.) However, once you’ve used the knob recorder once, it doesn’t do this anymore.
  • Mode selection is a little different from described in the manual — there’s a second “page” of modes with a single diagnostic mode. Not a big deal, but combined with the bug, it threw me for a loop.
  • For a few modes I just didn’t read the manual closely enough.
  • Some of this stuff is a pretty new paradigm for me, particularly the modes where the main point is to feel a signal through the knob.

That said, I mostly get it now, and despite all the modes and the generically labeled jacks which change their meaning with each mode, I don’t think I’m going to need a BeetTweekCheetSheet for regular usage, nor will I need to look stuff up in the manual.

It occurred to me last night after I finally quit playing with it and went on to read a bit more Stormlight Archive before turning in quite late, that the knob angle outputs will be perfect for modulating Planar in its polar coordinate mode. Finding pairings for modules like this is great stuff, it’s kind of the soul of modular.

Speaking of which, I’ve been experimenting and getting along a bit better with Compare 2, and have decided to hold onto it. I’ve found that stereo PWM tricks are much more interesting with more complex audio input rather than basic periodic waveshapes. I’ve also found that using it with Clep Diaz is a fun way to generate different rhythmic gate patterns, which can then run in a different meter from another sequence and provide lots of variation. Using Compare 2’s multiple outputs to feed Drezno’s DAC inputs to generate a new steppy CV signal also works quite nicely. Generally, I just needed to think outside the boxes I’d previously constructed around the module in order to not feel so disappointed by it.

solid, liquid, gas

So, that colon cancer screening I was scheduled for? I went through the low-residue diet (not too onerous) and the day of clear liquids and gallon of nasty laxative+electrolyte sludge and the disturbing and unpleasant consequences of that. But there was a massive thunderstorm with record-breaking flooding — 10.85 inches in a night here, up to nearly 13 inches a bit west of here — and the doctor had to cancel.

So at this point I’m waiting for a call back from the nurse to reschedule me and hook me up with more of that crud I had hoped not to have to drink for another 10 years. Sigh. My considerable ire and frustration at this were mainly offset by the fact that our house suffered no damage, while several houses around here flooded spectacularly. Last I read, one person and several pets and shelter animals died. So my day was on average, far less awful than it could have been.

The next album is at 42 minutes of material. With lots of beta testing recently of both Eurorack stuff and plugins, I was inspired to take one track outside my usual area (*) although there’s still continuity to it. Then the next brought it back in, with the next with some very simple but effective patching, including the Mikro just running through a volume pedal, Valhalla Delay and compression, and a two-voice drone done with one instance of Arturia Easel V.

(*) My spouse says, “you have a usual area?” That got me contemplating the perceptions of an occasional listener vs. the musician who is steeped in this stuff 24/7. Part of the music exists in my head and not in actual sound transmitted to others, perhaps. On the other hand, she might also be thinking about my older work or my earlier Starthief releases, which certainly have differences from most of my more recent music.

Since it’s been a bit since the progress photo of my Miezo, I wrote to the luthier to ask for a time estimate. Mostly I wanted reassurance that I didn’t miss an update or invoice. Between a very busy shop and a much needed vacation, it still does need the final sanding and finishing, then assembly — but it should only be another couple of weeks. I’m eager but satisfied with that.

I am rereading the Stormlight Archive series, as it’s been a couple of years and it’ll still be a while before book 5 is released. I’m nearing the end of its first novel, The Way of Kings.

I’ve become a more critical reader of Brandon Sanderson. The way he wrote women at the time the series began, while better than many authors, still had some room for improvement I think. And while his very specifically designed magic systems are kind of his trademark and they work well, they are sometimes explained by exposition dumps that can affect the pacing of an action scene. (This is contrasted with a lot of secrets and mysteries that are hinted at and never fully explained, or foreshadowing that happens several novels before the event itself… but you just know there are charts of how all these mysterious figures and legends are interrelated.) In my opinion he’s gotten better about these things in more recent books. Anyway, what I find especially compelling about the Stormlight Archive is the distinct voices and attitudes of the characters — you can really see their mental state and their different ways of thinking — and the great big emotionally packed moments.

Some of those are big glorious hero moments. Some of those are “just told off the asshole” moments (and those are almost as glorious). Some are “holy shit” moments (big reveals of something hidden or really, really bad news for the good guys, or super weird freaky scary stuff). And they all hit hard. And sometimes they hit in rapid succession without even time to breathe in between them. He’s really good at these and it’s very much at its peak in this particular series.

So I reread the series because Dalinar and Adolin and Shallan and Rock and Lopen and Lift and co. are awesome characters, but also for the really huge payoffs and gut-punches.

at peace

The first week of hybrid WFH worked out pretty well. That second monitor is occasionally mildly helpful for gaming or music or other things, but really handy for work. Staying home 4 days was nice. Coming back in to the office today hasn’t been unpleasant; I think the balance is good with this.

Two books I was waiting for were released last week. Linda Nagata’s Needle has a couple of fascinating new characters who really stole the show from Urban and Clementine. Overall though, it was a bit disappointing. There was some tension in the plot, but it felt pretty weak compared to the earlier stuff with Lezuri, with a vague “confusing anime ending” and not much closure for something that was supposed to conclude a series.

Becky Chambers’ A Prayer for the Crown-Shy was not disappointing at all. The second in her super-cozy “Monk and Robot” series, almost every chapter is like a philosophy discussion among friends over tea (sometimes literally). It brings smiles, and there were times where I just had to close the book and sit back with satisfaction. My only possible complaint is that there isn’t more of it — I feel that it’s fitting that these books are short, but I want more, but I also feel like wanting more is part of the experience of it, if that makes sense.

Maybe rather than wishing specifically for more of this series, I should wish there were more books like this. It’s in the “hopepunk” subgenre but also feels a bit like Moominvalley in November but specifically for adults. Hmm. Anyway, after devouring this one I’ve gone back to reread A Psalm for the Wild-Built.

Over the weekend I recorded 15 minutes of music for the next album. This time I’m going to try not to be surprised when I find I’m ready to start mastering. 😉

I’m eagerly anticipating shipping notification for my Miezo — I expect it any day now. I’m also beta testing some fun stuff, experimenting with a couple of techniques, and still grabbing the low-hanging fruit from Koszalin.

One thing I’ve found recently is I really need to keep up with practice/noodling on bass. Otherwise, during a recording session — especially with the Mikro — I’ll wind up with pretty sore fingers. It doesn’t take a lot of practice to maintain calluses and finger strength, but it also doesn’t take more than a few days for those benefits to diminish.


Starting next week, I’m switching to a hybrid work plan, with Mondays at the office and other weekdays remotely from home. There’s flexibility built in, and also the possibility I might convert it to 100% WFH later on. We’ll see.

I have two 22″ monitors at work at 1680×1050 each (although in my recent computer upgrade I was offered a third, and turned it down.) At home, I have one 29″ 21:9 ultrawide at 2560×1080, so approximately 1.76 work monitors’ worth. That, plus borrowing my spouse’s webcam very occasionally, served me fine through the pandemic lockdown.

(The Onion, apparently from 2012? I would have guessed a few years older.)

But I’ve decided to get serious.

While there’s no horizontal room for more monitors, nor much bigger than what I already have, there’s vertical space aplenty. Ergonomics dictate that one’s visual focus should mostly be a little below eye level, but the occasional glance upward isn’t a problem. So after some deliberation I’ve bought a second 29″ 21:9 display, a stand to mount the two in a stacked configuration, and my own webcam.

I looked into curved monitors — I’m not sure they make good sense at this size, given their generally higher cost and questionable benefit. Probably great for some types of games if you’re talking 40″ or more though.

I also briefly considered side-by-side monitors rotated to portrait orientation. Seems like it’d be great for some uses, not ideal for others, and a disaster for gaming. Think of all the times when you want to or have to hold your phone sideways, and then imagine that you just can’t.

Anyway, when WFH, I can keep Remote Desktop on one monitor and use the other for notes/Teams/browsing/MP3 player/remoting to a second machine. For music, I’m sure Bitwig handles stacked monitors very well, and it’ll be beneficial to have Sound Forge and my notes both visible for editing/mastering. For gaming… probably not that helpful most of the time, though occasionally having a guide/notes on one monitor will be nice.

Speaking of which, I’m either going to uninstall Guild Wars 2, or go ahead and try End of Dragons. I’ve leveled several characters to 80 in the past few months, with one of them finally achieving 100% map completion and the rest making me think “what’s the point?” when I hit the level cap. A lot of the level 80 elite specs require a bunch more skill points before they become fully effective — until then they might be weaker than standard builds. My Deadeye is pretty great though, so I could see running the new content with her. For that matter, I’ve never actually done the Heart of Thorns stuff. Nor whatever it is that gets you a flying mount. Okay, maybe I won’t uninstall just yet.

good stuff

I have an app on my phone that counts the time since or until a specified date. So this is how I am keenly aware it has been 2 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days since I put down a deposit on a Miezo 18. I had a rough expectation of 3 months, and was thinking about emailing to ask for a time estimate soonish. But today I got a build photo!

I love how the raintree body and ovangkol fretboard match so well, and I find the texture and colors really pleasing. For aesthetic reasons I almost wish I’d gone for an unlined fretless — but I’m sure when the instrument arrives I will be glad of the frets.

Shouldn’t have long to wait now!

Xaoc Koszalin arrived, and I’ve played with it for roughly an hour. It is VERY different from the Freq Shifter in Bitwig. The biggest differences:

  • Koszalin is thru-zero (downshifting a frequency below 0Hz will “reflect” and start climbing back upwards again, though with inversed phase). This is cool when you feed it things other than sines, so some pitches start crawling back up while some are still heading downward. The Bitwig one just stops at 0.
  • Koszalin does simultaneous up and down shifting on separate outputs. This is great for several patch possibilities — get ringmod by mixing them equally, stereoize a mono signal, or shift up and then serially back down (or vice versa). Probably several other tricks going on here too to experiment with.
  • Koszalin has feedback! This is huge in terms of the sonic possibilities. The feedback can be up, down, or a combination (up left and down right). There’s also a “Density” knob which seems to add a slightly delayed signal to fill in between the stripes of the barber pole; basically something to just try and see what it does.
  • Bitwig’s has a wet/dry knob. This would have been nice on Koszalin, but there’s always Blinds and other options for mixing in the dry signal.
  • Koszalin has both exponential FM (for pseudo pitch tracking) and linear TZFM (for dynamic depth without too much disruption of pitch).
  • Koszalin sounds smoother when fed with sub-audio-rate signals that are shifted up into audio range.

The magic of a frequency shifter is that it’s linear rather than exponential. Aside from making harmonic tones inharmonic (or trying to un-stretch inharmonic ones from Odessa for instance), this has some cool implications.

When two sounds are playing at slightly different pitches, there’s a “beating” effect that happens as their waves support or cancel each other out. This is what makes it possible to tune by ear — keep adjusting until the beating disappears.

What if all the partials are off by progressively larger differences though? The beating effect will happen at different rates, causing a sort of crawling “barberpole” motion that can sound really cool. I mean, it easily gets into overly psychedlic wackiness, but with some good judgement it can definitely be a useful effect. At higher rates it becomes a different sort of timbral effect. When you start throwing in the power of feedback and FM, it’s quite a tool.

But yeah, just running Odessa into it and trying to unbend its inharmonicity can lead to some really spiffy drones. Or right now, I have an unearthly Rings > Koszalin > Mimeophon > Rings feedback patch going. Or with the feedback, you can ping it and get weird little self-made melodies…


The new album would be ready to go except that in the process of setting up crossfades between some tracks, my “track 1” is a copy of track 2.

Other than that, it’s good. I like how it came out, despite having some doubts about… basically all of it at one time or another. I guess an important part of art is questioning yourself.

Speaking of good, I had my annual performance review at work yesterday and it was full of “exceeds expectations” and “couldn’t have done it without you” and the like. I’m formally being promoted (to do the same things I’ve been doing anyway really), which thankfully gave me the opening to ask if that comes with a pay increase. Which it does, and also I will get to work from home most of the time (because they want to keep me happy) and work on pet projects (which I kind of do anyway to some extent).

There was a point where the boss started to say I’m the kind of person who lives my work, that I’m not just here to collect a paycheck but I believe in what I’m doing, etc. Um… I have said before (not at work!) that I don’t love my job and I am totally doing it for the salary and health insurance, and that I’d quit in a heartbeat if I won the lottery. I can occupy myself with more fulfilling and exciting things. But then, he changed tack and was talking about how I seem to get satisfaction from the “detective work” aspect and from making the product better. And that part I could agree with.

I wouldn’t say I’m dedicated to or passionate about the job, but rather: since I have to spend a significant portion of my life at work anyway, it is better to get things done than it is to just slack and kill time. It keeps me engaged, it keeps them happy, and it fulfills my side of the contract. It’s the honest thing to do, and it’s much more interesting and less frustrating than just trying to keep up appearances.

And it’s not like I don’t spend any time at work writing blog posts (::ahem::), researching music gear and techniques, listening to music, playing little web puzzle games, fiddling with magnets, etc. There are builds and tests to run that sometimes take a while. Even without that, I don’t think anyone in a “knowledge worker” sort of position can give 100% for 8 straight hours 5 days a week, without brain cooldown time. But I get a ton of stuff done and that’s what counts.

I don’t think I mentioned it, but I bought a used Make Noise Wogglebug, and it’s waiting for me to rack it up as soon as this album is out. I had one in 2018, found some neat uses for it but underused it at the time, and sold it. For the past year though, I’ve been thinking about getting one again — it was part of the stream of thought that led to trying Marble Physics and then getting Inertia. I don’t really use Inertia for obvious wobbly CV all that often, but its resonance is nice for filter applications. Wogglebug I think is better suited to taking a regular pattern and making it wonky, and subtle gradual random fluctuation is also more appealing to me now with the music I’ve been making than it was in 2018.

I don’t think the Dreadbox Antidote is going to stay in the long term. It does a few things, sure, but I really only find myself reaching for it to justify having it, not because it’s calling out to me.

I expect I will also turn over WMD MSCL since it doesn’t get patched often.

Joranalogue Compare 2… I don’t know. I have some ideas to try with it. It can be neat for sure, but isn’t a key player for me. Usually when I want a comparator, it’s to do something in Bitwig Grid rather than the hardware. So it’s kind of on probation.

I still intend to get Xaoc Koszalin as soon as it’s available, though (like everything…) its release seems to be delayed a bit.

AtoVproject cDVCA is an intriguing one. It has an ultrasound oscillator that uses PWM to switch a gate open and closed, which gives it a somewhat different character than a typical VCA. The frequency can be lowered to create artifacts, and it follows 1V/OCT so you can have tunable aliasing that tracks an input. Or you can drop it to audio rate and use it as an oscillator or LFO itself. There’s also a drive section and a lowpass filter. So overall it’s way more than just a VCA. I’m inspired to try some patch experiments with gear/software I already have to see what I can do with that, but this is a possibility.

I’ve also pondered getting a spring reverb again. I think I’ve talked myself back around to no though, since u-he Twangstrom is so convincing.

Noise Engineering is up to some things (as always). The new Legio module is like a mini Versio, with an encoder and two knobs, instead of 7 knobs. The two firmwares available for it now seem good, but my “too many oscillators” thing is holding me back for the moment. Any plans to put new stuff in my case are factoring in that 6HP for the future, though…

And of course there’s still the possibility of Klavis Grainity. Later in the year there should be some demos of that, and we’ll see how convinced I am about the sound vs. just the idea of it.

It should only be another couple of weeks or so before I hear some news about my Miezo order (or else, to email to ask for an ETA). I so look forward to getting that into my hands and being an even better example of the sort of thing the more stodgy traditionalist gatekeeping types at TalkBass don’t like. 😉

(I have no desire to be in a “dad band,” to play “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Mustang Sally” in bars, or to settle for just playing root notes on the 1 on the first 5 frets of the bottom two strings. I like the bass for other reasons. And yes, it’s still a bass even if I solo on it and even if I play ambient drone weirdness on it; it’s still a bass without a head, it’s still a bass if it trades the low E string for high C and F strings.)

next in line

Decomposition: A Music Manifesto turned out to be the one about the myth of musical authorship and the solitary genius composer, the problems with “authenticity” in music (without even touching on a whole lot of gatekeeping issues in various musical genres), the not-as-clear-as-one-might-think line between live and recorded music, sampling and “piracy” vs. unacknowledged appropriation that makes a genre or a culture what it is…

It’s pretty good. Not really inspiring to me as a musician in particular, but something to think about from time to time nonetheless.

Now I’ve started reading The Quantum Thief, and let me tell you, this is not a book for people who want to know what’s going on in the story they’re reading. It’s the far future and all kinds of bizarre things are possible, so of course there’s all this weird technical and cultural stuff that is simply not explained at all. There are some big, creative ideas but just a little more hand-holding for us 21st century primitives who don’t have computronium in their blood would be appreciated.

Stranger Things season 4 has been an intense ride. I hesitate to call it the best seasons since it’s a little uneven, but it has definitely had some of the best scenes so far. Really looking forward to the second part of it.

Moon Knight has been… okay. When you’ve spent a part of your life studying Egyptology and worshipping Egyptian deities in earnest, the way media approaches the mythology always, always comes off as cringey and dully stereotypical. Sometimes the amount of stuff they get right is pleasantly surprising but it doesn’t really serve as as a counterweight. Like inevitably, Egyptian gods in genre fiction have “tombs” rather than shrines or temples — even though only one of them is dead and buried (and there’s no actual reference I know of to a “tomb” of Wesir). Marvel’s Khonshu is maybe kind of an interesting grey area character, but the original Khonsu (no second H!) isn’t some kind of buff bird skeleton. Honestly though, if I could ignore all of that, Moon Knight is still just Marvel’s answer to Batman, and this is the weakest of the Disney+ MCU shows so far.

Ms. Marvel is better, but also not perfect. Another change to her origin story, which I’m not sure about yet, and also I feel like there might have been an episode that got cut from the original plan or something because certain plot points felt like they happened way too quickly. It’s solidly entertaining though; the slice-of-life part of it combined with the way we see into the protagonists’ heads through animation are pretty great. From what I have read online, the depiction of Pakistani Muslim culture in America is spot on, which sometimes confuses other Muslims because they have their own thing going on.

I recorded a song yesterday morning, then realized to my surprise (again) that I had an hour of music ready to go for the next album. One day I’m feeling like it’s going slowly and awkwardly, with a couple of failed experiments that I could just not make work; the next I’m done. I’ve got the last edits in, tweaked the track order and prepared my cover art — so today I begin mastering. Once it’s ready I’ll just go ahead and release, since the next Bandcamp Friday isn’t until September.

We just had our 18th anniversary a couple of days ago. We didn’t really go anywhere to celebrate, but I do have some days off before and after the July 4 weekend. We’ll probably go to the St. Louis Aquarium. I have a new button-down shirt with 80s-bright fluorescent jellyfish on it, so that’ll be the perfect occasion to wear it. 🙂

a load off

We’ve had some oppressive heat and humidity these past few days, all near 100F, breaking some records. The forecasts all looked like it was going to stick around and even intensify over the next couple of weeks, but now some of them are saying it might not be so bad. One of them still does expected a lot of high 90s and a 102 though.

My spouse had to remind me yesterday that it’s not even summer yet, “legally.” It’s an illegal summer, a bootleg summer.

At work, a new version release has been on hold for a few weeks as we keep finding showstopping bugs. We were going to have an improved testing process throughout the whole release cycle and that didn’t really work out so well. But these last few days I’ve gone through moments with nothing on my list, and actually took some time to write up some feature ideas I’ve had. I hope to take a few days off after the release… not that I will want to do much in this weather, but not doing much is fine too.

My dad’s medical adventures have reminded me that I should catch up on that colorectal cancer screening that the MyChart app has told me I’m overdue for. They lowered the recommended age for screening from 50 to 45 about two months before my 50th birthday, as I recall.

Between the minor GI issues I’ve had for a while, and reading up on colon cancer, and being the type to get nervous about, well, everything, I managed to scare myself. I had a visit to a nurse practitioner yesterday and that put me at ease, though. The screening itself will be near the end of July, and at this point I’m not dreading it.