busy, cont’d.

Yesterday during work hours while stuff was compiling (sssshhh don’t tell) I set up the album art for the next one. Last night after getting back from Casa Nueva (not our actual nickname for it) I mastered a couple of tracks. Then today while compiling stuff, I did some editing of the tail of the final track, which involved playing it through headphones and resampling it with the K.O. II’s microphone and looping it. Fun and easy 🙂

AT&T sent a “self-install kit” (e.g. just the modem/router) for a fiber connection to the new house. The house isn’t wired for fiber, just cable TV coax. So they’ll be coming by tomorrow to actually wire it up.

One of the things the occupancy inspection required to be fixed was reinstalling the basement stair railing — probably removed to make it possible to remove the old washer and dryer. Well, now we have to remove it again so the Home Depot folks can install the new washer/dryer, and then put it back afterwards. Just more stuff for the to-do list.

New Spectraphon firmware dropped today. I updated it, played with it about 3 minutes, watched the short video during lunch. Noise mode is pretty neat and may be a once-in-a-while thing. Chaos mode is SUPER FREAKING AWESOME and I look forward to diving much deeper into it.

New Bitwig release also dropped today. I installed it, ran it and it crashed immediately, just disappeared. Ran it again and it offered to send a crash log, and then it crashed again. Ran the previous version instead. Tried the new one a while later and it seemed to be OK. The new filters and shapers seem quite nice. I didn’t look at anything else. Will check it out in more detail later.

Waiting on the Christmas gifts I ordered to arrive, then a few of them need to be wrapped and shipped, the rest wrapped and brought with us. We’re also traveling for Christmas in a couple of weeks, so we’ll need to get ready for that as well.

busy busy busy

My parents closed on the house, and I have now been there 5 times in 4 days. The final walkthrough before closing, running over during my lunch break to pick up the hidden keys, going back that same evening to deal with a furniture delivery, and another Saturday and another Sunday. Today is another furniture delivery and the ADT guy. Tomorrow is, probably, another furniture delivery, and we have to put out the trash cans. Saturday the washer and dryer will be delivered and installed.

It’s about a 15-40 minute drive depending on traffic conditions, usually closer to the latter though. That’s still a lot less than 11 hours and I’ve resolved to try not to complain about it too much, but when you’re going every day (on top of a day job, upcoming holidays and regular life stuff) it can add up a bit.

We’ve been cleaning kitchen appliances, replacing light bulbs and the filter, fixing a grille in the wall that the inspector messed up, moving 120-pound boxes of furniture inside, assembling the needlessly complex furniture, figuring out cable TV/internet cabling, etc. There are two more dressers and two bed frames to assemble (one of which is an electric, adjustable bed) plus whatever other surprise furniture Mom hasn’t told me about. We’ll probably have to get a junk removal company to deal with the stuff the previous owner left in the garage and basement. I told Mom that she should probably get someone to look over the generator, make sure it’s working and up to date on maintenance, and tell us how to use it.

So yeah… busy! But it will be worth it to have my folks nearby where we can help them out, see them much more often, and not have to drive so much, and for them to be in a place where there’s a lot of medical care and not just a small regional hospital, and where there are social things they can do.

I believe I’m done with recording for the next album. There’s 58 minutes of stuff, and it seems to be flowing nicely as I listen to the not-yet-mastered version. I’m going to choose a different name for the album than I’d originally planned, but it’s important to me to follow the music as it happens and not try to dictate its course in advance, so that is fine. I’ll need to make myself some time to master it and do the artwork, but should be on track for a 2023 release still.

I picked up one more piece of software — Rolling Sampler by Bird’s. It continuously records audio to a buffer of fixed length, and you can select and drag out of it to save a segment as a .wav file. The interface isn’t completely ideal but it’ll do; it’ll be a handy preroll recorder, a way to record live independent of the transport, and a simple way to sample something, drop it back in and play/manipulate it.

I still want something like the ER-301 Sound Computer’s audio buffers in Bitwig, where you can record to a buffer while also playing back from it with multiple independent playheads. It was nice for delays, loopers, and granular stuff, and I’d say it was the main thing that made the module powerful. Having access to that functionality in a much friendlier and more powerful and flexible DAW would be great.

mama said…

We had a nice Thanksgiving trip to visit my in-laws. They have a very entertaining 5-month old puppy who defies gravity to lick faces and ears, and we’ve got a cute nephew, and the food was all good and the drive wasn’t too bad. So that was pretty pleasant!

Teenage Engineering announced some ridiculous, mysterious overpriced thing (executive desk toy maybe?) called the Grip Car that caused people to make fun of them again… and then the very next day, announced the “EP-133 K.O. II” sampler/drum machine, which expanded on the very small, flimsy, toylike Pocket Operator sampler. But this incarnation is a hybrid of retro desktop calculator, toy, and modern groovebox. Compact and yet generously sized for playing. Those buttons have velocity and pressure sensors, and there are built in effects, the ability to record unquantized, record fader movements, built-in filters and effects and a live performance sort of attitude overall. It is exceedingly clever, and priced at the bottom end of sampling grooveboxes. The first production run sold out very quickly but I went for it. It also shipped almost immediately and was waiting for me when we got home from our trip.

Apparently the project was conceived by buying a whole bunch of available off-the-shelf parts while hedging against parts shortages, then designing something around it. So that’s part of how they kept costs down. The display, aside from the text segments in the center, is just plain LEDs with a color overlay. (There’s kind of an overwhelming amount of status lights going on at times and I end up tuning out most of it, but it doubles as a fun light show when using the punch-in effects.) Weird as this is to say, it is partially Lego-compatible — the pot shafts and slider are axles, the nameplate/battery cover and the speaker grill are attached with Lego-like studs and there are holes on the side where connectors could snap in (maybe for a stand or to link multiple units together — this is supposedly the first in a series using this form factor).

There have been several reports about non-working faders. This is probably due to the packaging — it’s an extremely tight fit, single-wall thin cardboard box, not as rigid or generally protective as it should be. Some people have been able to DIY a repair with a bent paper clip. Thankfully mine works without issues.

The sound is great at the price, and it’s a lot of fun to play and put stuff together. Hip-hop producers are having a field day with it, and I’m able to get some wonky droney ambient stuff going as well as deep dubby beats and the like, just with the included samples. Sampling the modular, DAW, and other toys should work out very nicely.

It doesn’t do x0x style sequencing, where you pick (for instance) the hi-hat and press buttons to choose which steps they land on. Instead, if you don’t want to record live, you can navigate to the step you want using the +/- buttons and then choose which pads are played on that step. It kind of makes sense, it’s just like live recording but paused. For live stuff, it’ll record unquantized if you want it to, and you can punch in time-correction and even swing, which is pretty unique but really nice to have. You can also manually and very precisely shift steps to nail down just the right groove.

There are a few things that seem weird until you get used to them, but the adjustment period is pretty short. There are also inevitable hidden button combos and config settings with cryptic code numbers, so it’s not a 100% manual-free experience by any means. But for the most part it’s simpler and more immediate than Elektron boxes tend to be.

There are limitations, most of which don’t concern me. 64mb of total memory, which is tiny in 2023 but is really more than sufficient for what the box does. Apparently no way to transfer patterns/scenes to a computer — since I’ll just be using this for screwing around or for temporary things I don’t mind that. No resampling but that’s not common in cheaper devices anyway. No sample loop points for sustained sounds, but apparently that’s coming. There’s only one master effect at a time (delay, reverb, distortion, a resonant LPF, or compression) plus the LPF/HPF per group and live punch-in FX; I feel like the distortion and reverb would have complimented each other nicely, but since I’ll be integrating it with my other gear when not just goofing around with it, that’s no big deal anyhow.

The only real shame is the way the packaging has caused all these slider failures in transit. They probably paid a good bit to license the Muhammad Ali photos and make the box look very nice, it’s just not functionally protective enough.

The closing for my parents’ house is Thursday. We need to do a lot of little things to help out — the final walkthrough, getting the keys, changing locks, taking some detailed measurements, picking up packages and delivered furniture (from Black Friday sales), being there for the alarm guy, etc. I’ve also got to do a bit more Christmas shopping, and take my car in for service this weekend (Check Engine light, but it’s also nearing the 80K mile service.)

flavors of beauty

In a discussion of Seqund over on Lines, the concept of polyrhythm vs. polymeter came up. This is terminology that people often get wrong, including myself if I’m not thinking about it too hard. In both cases, you’ve got concurrent musical stuff happening, but they are counting to different numbers.

In polyrhythm, you’re dividing the same amount of time into different-sized steps — e.g. 8th notes and triplets simultaneously.

In polymeter, each step is the same amount of time, but the length of the pattern is different. The patterns get out of phase, eventually lining up again after both have repeated enough times.

This is nicely illustrated here. I wanted to point that out because it’s the best explanation I’ve seen, and I feel like I’m less likely to make this mistake in the future.

Tangent: (Polyphonic is something else — it means playing more than one note simultaneously. Paraphonic means it can play more than one note but not independently — they share the same articulation. And multitimbral means the synth that can create completely different sounds simultaneously and independently, controlled by different MIDI channels or whatever.

To add to the confusion, monophonic can mean the opposite of polyphonic — capable of playing only one note at a time — or it can mean the opposite of stereo, a single audio channel instead of two.)

The KVR forum has been having a fit of silliness over a recent spate of “what’s your favorite reverb?” threads, with the parody threads now outnumbering the (possibly) serious ones. Many of them are dumb and it’s getting tiresome, but some of them are a bit clever (e.g. “What’s your favorite winter reverb?” after a “What’s your favorite spring reverb?” thread.)

But I do have some new favorite reverbs. Native Instruments Raum has been at the top of my list more recently, but I just picked up Audiority Xenoverb in a ( s i g h ) Black Friday sale. It’s got a number of algorithms, some of which I don’t much care for but some have a really nice ambient/weird vibe to them.

Bigger though: Valhalla Room, a reverb plugin dating back to 2011, was just updated with a 2.0 version that adds a Space control as well as low-cut EQ. Space is an incredible addition — adding a feedback loop for the predelay and early reflections, which means you can get all kinds of echoes with varying diffusion and modulation. This is part of Raum’s appeal but here it’s better and more varied — you can get a nice retro vibe or a crazy ambient wash just from the early reflection section, and can still blend in the late reverb. This has pushed the plugin to my personal favorite reverb, above Valhalla Plate, Raum, Desmodus, Xenoverb, Twangstrom and the rest. Of course there’s still room (if you’ll pardon the pun) for a variety of different reverb plugins since they all have their own characteristics.

Also Valhalla Supermassive was updated too, with two new algorithms — I missed that originally. One of them is particularly good for me, with relatively sparse taps, putting it in that Imitor/Desmodus space that I like but with its own twist.

And… not a reverb, but the Make Noise Spectraphon is supposed to have a new firmware version tomorrow with two new oscillator modes! It’s like Christmas, but on Thanksgiving!

Zorlon Cannon mkII arrived, and I played with a bit. I actually forgot how great it is. It took a little time to reacquaint myself with its features and I think I actually understand it better now than I did before.

Oh man, I love this thing.

Without getting too deep into details, this has two identical sections. Each can be clocked externally or internally, slowly or at audio rate. Each section has four binary pattern generators with editable pattern length and a tap scheme for generating the pattern. At audio rate, more regular patterns create square/pulse waves while longer and more irregular patterns give crunchy digital noise. There’s a mixer to blend the four patterns into a single CV or audio output. Combinations of different patterns can create octaves or chords…

It’s great fun to mix those four outputs externally with Planar, or crossfade them or treat them as individual voices. I had a patch going last night where the top section was providing the pitch sequence for the bottom section as well as four envelope triggers, so there was a coherent but complex, polyphonic ensemble going on that sounded a lot like Karplus-Strong string synthesis, thanks to sitting somewhere between noise and square waveshapes.

For use as a pitch sequencer, it’s a little more fiddly to dial in than Enigma. The loops that are produced can be more complex, since they come from mixing four different patterns with independent lengths (there’s that polymeter thing again). But overall this is so much more capable and inspiring to me, and I’m glad to have it back in my rack again.

Years ago I had a friend (and coworker, roommate, co-religionist) who was into essential oils — not aromatherapy as in “this will cure cancer” claims, but the art/aesthetics of fragrance, a beautiful thing that makes you feel good. I got into it a little bit, different oils and incense and whatnot. Several years later I tried some stuff from Bath Sabbath, a heavy metal/pagan themed brand of scents and beard oils, and that was fun. But it’s been a while.

In a search for synth stuff on Etsy, I accidentally came across a fragrance named Synth by Cinis Labs. Curious, I looked into their other stuff and wound up getting a sampler pack of four.

  • Synth itself I’m not sure about. I don’t feel like words are a good way to describe fragrances unless you can compare it to something familiar, but even though this a synthetic fragrance (mostly Iso E Super) it seems “perfumey” though not quite floral, almost powdery. It’s not going to be a favorite… on its own. The description does say it can layer with other things, and right now I have it with FNF (below) and that seems to work.
  • This Splendid Vertigo was described as being somewhere between masculine and feminine, so that intrigued me. Mostly I got the floral aspect of it rather than the leathery notes. I feel like it got better as the day went on, though.
  • Forgive Not Forget is better, more incense-like (well duh, it’s mainly frankincense based). I can get behind this.
  • Black Sheep isn’t the fourth one I ordered — that was supposed to be Nibiru, which is vetiver-based. But this is probably my favorite of these four. It’s not even listed on their site but apparently is birch and vanilla.

Other stuff they have is Absinthe IX (I don’t think it’d work for me), Nibiru (which I’d still like to try), Unholy Water (citrus/incense, could work) and… oddly, Fueled Up which is supposed to smell like gasoline, motor oil, metallic notes and some woods and spices. I’ll skip that one.

Fragrances, it strikes me, are a bit like music in that they are non-verbal, non-visual and abstract, but have a deep connection to memory and emotion. Music for the nose, if you will.

title goes here

Starbucks isn’t a habit for me, just an occasional thing. Forget PSL, for me it’s the chai. They are known for getting peoples’ names wrong, and this morning they decided my name is “Dae.” I’m finding it kinda cool actually. I’ve occasionally contemplated what I’d want to be called if I were really going to present myself as nonbinary (instead of just quietly being nonbinary and not really thinking about it that much) and that could maybe work. Maybe. But since I’m not really doing that, consider the idea filed away.

I’ve gone and bought a used Zorlon Cannon mk2. I’ve missed mine ever since dropping it for the Drezno — but as much as I like Drezno, what it does is too different to act as a substitute. All the older Harvestman stuff is hard to find and has only gotten more expensive, but this price was significantly less than what it’s been selling for on Reverb. I’m going to let go of the ALA Turing Machine trio, because it hasn’t turned out to be the continuous inspiration machine I’d hoped for based on playing with the VCV Rack version.

Once I manage to resell everything I’ve got posted, I’ll have spent less on synth hardware than software this year. But that reselling is going slowly — people aren’t buying nearly as much as they did during the height of the pandemic, and that includes used stuff. I’ll wait until after our Thanksgiving travel and lower the prices a bit more, but thankfully I’m not in that much of a hurry.

The next album is progressing, in fact I’m pretty close to done, I think. Even after a couple of tracks I decided not to include. I’m still thinking about how to handle Bandcamp, but the tentative plan is to go ahead and release this one there, while holding off on rereleasing my Ambient Online contributions.

My parents’ house purchase seems to be marching on. The details of the final walkthrough (with me) and closing (remotely, via notary) are arranged. I guess the seller did wind up responsible for some repairs as a result of the occupancy inspection, but I haven’t gotten the details on that. It’s unlikely they’ll move during the winter, so we’ll probably still drive down to Georgia for Christmas (and might end up hauling some boxes with us for them on our way back up).

In the world of games, I’ve been continuing to play the same old stuff. Art of Rally got its first (and probably last) DLC, Australian stages plus four new cars, as well as an update which fixes a few things — hopefully including the Unity crashes I occasionally experienced even after resolving the XBox controller driver mess. Soulstone Survivors got a huge update that reworked runes, the Chaos skills, and some interface quality-of-life stuff including the ability to assess skill performance in the midst of a game — so I’ve been remaking my notes on that. The new WRC game by Codemasters, unfortunately published by EA, has been released but I’ve held off — leaving it both as a wishlist item and something to grab once they’ve worked out more performance issues and bugs. And I’ve been thinking about doing another round of Guild Wars 2, probably not bothering to finish Heart of Thorns but I might jump into the third expansion and claim my boat. After that I might get back into Elder Scrolls Online, since I seem to recall they’ve got some new stuff.


My parents are now under contract on the house. Whew! Now there’s paying the earnest money with the title company that will hold it in escrow (I’ll take care of that since they had to head back home), getting a boundary survey and an inspection, any negotiations that result from that, getting the mortgage and actually closing. I think that’s all the steps? Plus moving of course, which probably isn’t going to happen until spring, getting some new furniture, and selling the old house. But they’re not in a hurry and don’t have to juggle jobs or kids in school either, so there’s that.

I recorded one more track for the next album. I took several different samples from my little “Noise Project” (which I’ve finished with, and just need to whip up a simple web page), crossfaded them with random LFOs in Bitwig Grid and processed them further. On top of that, I played a bass improv, highly processed with both Harmonic Split and the fantastic Melda MUnison among other things (lots of feedback in delays/reverb), sounding more synthlike than stringed. It fits the mood of the Halloween music I’ve been listening to — horror soundtracks and gothy stuff.

But then I decided that the previous track I’d done just doesn’t fit. It’s too beat-oriented and sounds like some of my older work in a lot of ways, even though I didn’t get into odd time signatures or Middle Eastern rhythms or anything. It’s not a bad track really, but there’s something that feels “not right” about it somehow, and it really doesn’t fit the vibe of the album. So it goes.

We’re into proper autumn weather now — actually a little colder than usual, as if to try to make up for reaching 80 in the past week. We get the chill and the gloom and a full moon just before Halloween to set the mood. Thumbs up.

Several week ago, Noise Engineering had to end production of their most popular oscillator modules because the chip they were using is no longer being made. But to no one’s surprise, they just recently released a new platform, Alia, with changeable firmware/faceplates for various oscillators including Basimilus Iteritas and Manis Iteritas, as well as the new Debel Iteritas (4-op FM/additive, and it sounds as gnarly and industrial as you’d expect from Noise Engineering).

It’s a pretty good system for people like me who can be indecisive. I enjoy all of the Noise Engineering oscillators, but they tend to be flavors I don’t necessarily always want to have, so swapping them freely is a good thing. (In fact I just switched my second Versio from Ruina back to Melotus.) It’d be nice to not have to unrack the module to switch, but it sure beats having to trade modules entirely!

So, I suppose I could get it and swap it out for Ataraxic Iteritas, so I’d just have a dedicated slot for “an NE oscillator” though which one would vary. I don’t feel immediately compelled, but the addition of Cursus Iteritas Alia firmware might change my mind — it’s one where I feel like I’d rather have it in Euro than VST. And I’m hoping for a revisited Loquelic, where the main encoder is for A pitch but the ratio of B is on a knob, making it easier to dial in tuning and timbre more separately than the original.

hunt for house, October

My parents have been visiting the St. Louis area a second time looking at real estate. This time has gone better than last — Mom was a little bit more prepared, with some candidates to look at that she found on Zillow, mortgage pre-qualification and whatnot. But she still didn’t talk to any realtors in advance, so it’s a good thing that one of the houses where we scouted the exterior happened to have an open house the next afternoon and they met a buyer’s agent.

After some ups and downs, some doubts and reassurances and comparisons, it’s looking like that first house is going to be the one. Fingers crossed, because I think they really should move here closer to family and put all the associated stress behind them. I think they’re going to like that house — the small things that they want to nitpick are all either easily corrected or the sort of thing where they might grow to like it eventually. (The downsides of the other strong contender were harder/impossible to fix.)

So anyway, my last 6 days have been a lot of driving them around, looking at Zillow and Google Maps and Crimegrade, eating in a lot of restaurants and having way too much sugar (thanks to Culver’s and Crumbl), reminding them that I have less experience buying houses than they do and that I’m not a handyman and that basements are normal, and trying to find a way to get comfortable while waiting around in their Extended Stay room that has two twin beds and a questionable office chair. The mental and physical stress has led to back pain, leg cramps and poor sleep, not to mention our routine is all out of whack. But I think this is going to work out this time.

disband camp

I have another entry for my coffee ratings: New England Coffee Witch’s Potion goes on the S Tier. Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, anise and vanilla, in perfect balance (too much anise could easily have ruined it).

I went ahead and grabbed Seqund. Playing with it for just a short time and using it with more percussive sounds yields some great rhythmic bits. If there was an option to use Euclidean sequencing for the gates that’d be even better, but I definitely can’t complain. Also there are a couple of features I didn’t notice originally — each lane has its own direction control (which can be random)

Bandcamp is in crisis. Back in March 2022, Epic Games bought them, which seemed weird. They promised not to break anything and apparently wanted (A) some kind of connection to Fortnite and (B) to use in their legal fight against Apple’s app store. For quite some time, they held up their promise; Bandcamp Daily continued and expanded, Bandcamp Fridays continued and they kept treating artists right.

And in May 2023, the workers of Bandcamp voted to form a union, Bandcamp United. They have been in negotiations…

And then recently Epic laid off 16% of its workforce and (among other things) announced that they were selling Bandcamp to Songtradr, which is a company that arranges music licensing deals. They claimed it’d be a good fit but the culture of Songtradr is very obviously not the same — Bandcamp has always been about musicians and fans, but Songtradr is very much marketing-speak and does business-to-business stuff. This was cause for some concern…

…and then Bandcamp’s workers started hearing “some of you might not survive the transition but that’s a sacrifice we are willing to make” from management. And some of them got locked out of essential functions required to do their job and didn’t get any communication about it. And Songtradr didn’t answer any of Bandcamp United’s requests to talk. And Bandcamp’s executives “vanished” as far at the workers could tell.

And most recently, “50 percent of Bandcamp employees have accepted offers to join Songtradr” according to the announcement… but what that really means is 50% got laid off.

It is no coincidence that this 50% includes all 8 members of the Bandcamp United bargaining team. 40 of the 67 union members. 12 out of 13 of the union-eligible support staff. Yet Songtradr claims they “didn’t have access to union membership information.” Suuuuuure they didn’t.

Pitchfork isn’t being too alarmist when they ask Is Bandcamp As We Know It Over?

This is extremely frustrating and disheartening. What am I going to do?

  • I’ve taken Bandcamp gift cards off my holiday wishlist.
  • I already have downloaded everything I’ve bought, so that part isn’t a concern. I highly encourage others to do the same. (Apparently there’s a Chrome plugin to help automate that, but I haven’t looked into it.)
  • I exported my mailing list. I don’t know if I’ll ever use it, but the option will be there.
  • If Bandcamp Friday does happen for November, I will buy everything left on my wishlist, just in case that’s the last chance.
  • I will buy nothing through Bandcamp except when the service forgoes its cut, at least unless things are satisfactorily resolved.
  • I will buy nothing from Epic Games. This is their fault.
  • I will continue to follow the news about this, updates from Bandcamp United, and about viable alternatives. I will support BU in any action they take.
  • I was planning to release a collection of the tracks that I contributed to Ambient Online compilations. That is now on hold.
  • I’ll delay the release of my next album if things are still in flux at that time.
  • I’ll remove all my content from Bandcamp if necessary. Whether I have to host it on my own site or find another service, we’ll see.
  • I won’t go back to any streaming-only services either as a musician or a listener.

stepped in it

There was an internet thread. People were overreacting to something. I didn’t stay out of it. I should have.

I just wish people would have some basic fucking respect for other human beings. As a former game developer, I got really tired of being called lazy, greedy, stupid, and evil — and getting death threats — because I wasn’t satisfying whatever whim an individual gamer had. Maybe we changed the balance of something. Maybe we expected to be paid for our work, or expected to be able to sleep sometime and not dedicate 100% of our existence to someone else’s entertainment. Maybe we prioritized one project over another one. Maybe we introduced a new feature instead of fixing a bug, or maybe we fixed a bug instead of introducing some new feature. It doesn’t matter, the response was always the same: we were evil lazy greedy scum and they hoped we’d die.

It took a surprisingly long time to go from “not all gamers are terrible” to “I play games, I’ve made games, I grew up with games, I was inspired by games but I will not call myself a ‘gamer’ anymore.”

It’s sad to see the same thing with musicians. Somebody makes a pricing decision you don’t like? Offers something as a subscription rather than a one-time purchase? Releases a piece of software for PC without Mac, Mac without PC, PC and Mac without Linux? Announces a product far in advance? Teases a product? Doesn’t build enough of them fast enough to satisfy the market? You guessed it: lazy, stupid, evil, greedy, deceptive…

It’s tiring.

But I guess I shouldn’t have bothered to speak up, because that just gets the same unreasonable assholes directing their spew in my direction. I’m apparently “smoking something” and “lack comprehension” and am “a company shill” (even if in every post I also said the subscription was a bad idea; I simply dared to call it an unwise choice rather than an intentionally devious one).

I don’t personally know anyone at that company, and I really don’t care about that particular product. But I’m a software developer myself, and I know some music gear makers who are great people. I’m also a human being and understand what compassion and understanding are, and not immediately assuming the absolute worst about people. I just thought those other musicians might also be human beings with feelings beyond just anger and distrust. Sigh.


The SSD I bought arrived a little early, and I got it installed and cloned and booting in less than an hour total. The biggest delay was probably cleaning out accumulated dust and finding the second M2 slot on my motherboard (it was behind a weird psuedo-heatsink thing).

Samsung Magician cloned my drive in less than 30 minutes, and also automatically expanded the partition without even needing to ask for it. Getting it to recognize the new drive as C: and boot from it was just a configuration in the BIOS, no need to switch the chips around. So smooth.

5 songs recorded for the next album. #5 had lots of drum stuff going on — mostly weird stuff with a bit of industrial flavor to it, and a bassline that is, dare I say, a little bit funky. It’s like I’m coming full circle in a way I never expected.

Part of that is coming from experimenting with sequencing options. Over the past few days I have tried:

  • Midinous. Only available on Steam, and that means having to run Steam while it’s in use, which I normally close while working on music. It’s a standalone MIDI sequencer where you drop points on (or off) of a grid, and connect them with paths. The length of the paths determines rhythm, and the points determine the MIDI messages (notes, CC etc.) that are sent. You can have a path that branches to multiple points simultaneously, randomly or in round-robin fashion, and insert logic gates as well. It’s pretty creative, but it also felt kind of fiddly to me and I don’t really seem myself wanting to work in that way.
  • Seqund. This is a monophonic step sequencer with separate lanes for various note parameters — gate, velocity, two pitches (and a probability-based lane to choose between them), octave and note transposition, MIDI CCs etc. Each lane can be a different length, giving it a polyrhtyhmic and somewhat modular feel (in real modular you could also clock every lane independently, although you do have the choice here to clock every other lane either from Gate or the master clock). It’s fun to work with, and well suited to plugins like Basimilus Iteritas where sequencing a few parameters opens up a whole linear drumming experience. I used the demo to record a looped section, and I expect I will buy the full version.
  • Riffer. This is a bit more like a piano roll sequencer, with some random generation abilities. Not super thrilling to me — except that there are four of them simultaneously, which can run at different clock divisions and lengths and can be transposed and muted live (as well as edited live in the plugin itself). The result can be quite nice for Berlin School polyphonic sequences. I’m thinking about picking it up too, especially if it goes on sale.
  • HY-ESG. A free Euclidean trance gate — it uses Euclidean rhythms to fire off envelope gates that are applied to the sound passing through it. This isn’t super exciting for drone parts, but using it for accents on already existing rhythmic sequences, or placed inside Bitwig Split effects it can be pretty fun. Combined with MAGC, which tries to bring the level to match what it was at some previous point in the effects chain, even more so.
  • More techniques that combine Bitwig Grid, Bitwig modulators, and hardware. Step and gate sequences, selectively muting MIDI channels, switches, the Transport module under the LFO section, the Curve modulator, etc. Clocking Eurorack gear or Minibrute 2S with gate sequences. Using drones from hardware but envelope-controlled VCAs in Bitwig Grid to minimize latency.

But it’s not all gear-driven experimentation. I’m curious about these plugins and techniques because I’m more open to playing with sequencing (and percussion/rhythmic parts) now.

I’ve been reading the final “Secret Project” book from Brandon Sanderson — and reading it with a mistaken impression of who the main character actually is in previous Cosmere history — I could have sworn the character was called by that other person’s name. There’s been no small amount of confusion as a result. Some of the character’s thoughts and actions fit with what the other one might have been like after all the time that passed, and some was just confusing. Now that the “Big Reveal For Dummies” part has happened I kind of want to start over from the beginning.

Overall, it’s a bit less YA-ish and light than the other Secret Project books, though it’s still recognizably one of them. It’s a bit more like the rest of the Cosmere: a lot of grim desperation and trauma, a shadowy organization or two, a couple of big moments of glorious triumph.

One thing about Sanderson’s stories is that as the Cosmere progresses, there is more travel (significantly more at the time of this particular novel). Increasingly to know what’s going on you have to remember events, characters and magic systems from several different worlds. I liked it when the connections were looser and there were a very few worldhoppers and we didn’t really know what was going on with them. I’m not sure how well it’ll hold up when every page has a reference I need to go check a wiki for to jog my memory.