Just doing a Drone test with the E370 and E371 Expander prototype Quad VCO. It’s a combination of features from the E340 and the E350 using a new class of ARM processor with high-quality Cirrus Logic audio DACs. The audio was ran through a new Mutable Instruments module for light processing. :-)
Form Volume II consists of four archived performances and four new recordings. Form Volume II can be found on Bandcamp. The vinyl is shipping out around December 16th, 2014. Since most time, effort, and money went into the physical product – I’ll start there and work backwards.
As a response to the deluxe presentation of Ritual and because Form Volume II wasn’t supposed to exist, I decided to keep the theme of non-existence with the vinyl and artwork by calling it the Void Presentation. Firstly: there is no artwork. The vinyl is clear and with no center sticker making it an entirely transparent vinyl record. Again, the record is pressed at GottaGroov Records. The transparent information card was manufactured by Offbeat Press and the reference I gave them was the winning ticket to Fhloston Paradise from The Fifth Element. The clear jacket is also clear and originally intended for picture discs. If you’re not looking for this album, you’re not going to find it – basically its a marketing nightmare.
Pre-Master & Mastering
Because all tracks were recorded in single takes to stereo or mono tracks and mixing was performed on the fly, the results were raw, hugely dynamic, and sometimes lackluster. All tracks were mixed afterwords and pre-mastered with the Thermionic Culture Vulture Super 15 with a couple dynamic processing UAD plug-ins. I turned these pre-master versions into Shawn Hatfield of Audible Oddities to officially master the album and tame the inconsistencies between the tracks while preserving the dynamics.
“In general, I used all the different input/output transformer stages on my gear, driven just enough to saturate a little. Dave Hill Titans were used to add weight and body, Knif Vari-Mu II mid/side compression to glue things together and further enhance the stereo information followed by a BAX EQ to help open things up a little more where needed. And I also ran them through some custom op amps built around a 1970’s design that impart a smooth character.” – Shawn Hatfield of Audible Oddities.
Despite the length of time between recordings, the recording sessions were almost identical to each other: construct a patch, tweak the patch anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 weeks, record the patch, keep the 1st or 23rd take. There were no limitations of modules used and as you can tell in the videos, there were plenty – although the last track is using only one module.
Form Volume II is not supposed to exist. The album started with Aaron Funk requesting source audio files from a few Form session videos. That was an easy ask: track down the sessions folders, zip up a few bounced files, and send them over Dropbox – that should have been the end of the transaction. But this small request spiraled into obsession to the point where I found myself finishing an album I hadn’t known I was working on for more than two years – in the mountains of Tennessee. The first four tracks were previously recorded from June, 2012 to August, 2014 in Chicago and the last four tracks were recorded in a weekend with Richard Devine and his live system in Tellico Plains, Tennessee in August, 2014.
I’m writing this a day before the official release and am confused after looking at Bandcamp’s best seller’s column for electronic vinyl. Currently, Make Noise Records: Shared System Series – Surachai 7” is number 1 and Form Volume II is in third place. What does this mean? For Make Noise Records, its makes a bit of sense – We’ve released some of the top names in experimental music on our short 5 record, 2 year stint and mine being the last, the momentum is expected. As for Form Volume II being a top seller, initially I’m skeptical. I haven’t utilized active PR for the past 3 vinyl releases and am constantly hopping labels and switching musical styles. The only thing I can think of is that I know who you all are. I order, assemble, pack and ship the vinyl to you and that must mean something. Whatever is driving the sales, thank you for the support over the years.
Form Thirty Recorded in Chicago, IL. June 9 2012
Form Thirty-Two Recorded in Chicago, IL. November 12, 2013
Form Thirty-Four Recorded in Chicago, IL. May 3, 2014
Form Thirty-Five Recorded in Chicago, IL. August 12, 2014
Form Thirty-Six Recorded with Richard Devine in Tellico Plains, TN. August 31, 2014
Form Thirty-Seven Recorded with Richard Devine in Tellico Plains, TN. August 31, 2014
Form Thirty-Eight Recorded with Richard Devine in Tellico Plains, TN. August 31, 2014
Form Thirty-Nine Recorded in Tellico Plains, TN. August 31, 2014
Limited to 250 copies of vinyl
Mastered by Shawn Hatfield of Audible Oddities
Released by BL_K NOISE
Some great insight of the beginnings of Make Noise and Make Noise Records. Make Noise Records is currently experiencing delays with the pressing plant for the MNR005/Surachai release. No release date yet.
What prompted you to assemble The Shared System and develop a Music series?
Tony: I was thinking about advertising and thought for $2,000 why not put out a record? So we contacted artists that work with and support us. They do cool videos, talk to people about the modules and our company, so we decided on something that would be good for everyone. We’d give five artists the same collection of modules, called The Shared System. With all things equal, the variable wouldn’t be the studio, the recording process or instrument, it would be the artist. We’d see how their personalities would shine through. I feel like reverb is such an important part of electronic music, so we let them use their own reverb, but everything else was the same. Hopefully, the records would get people talking about the Make Noise Shared System, but also what someone like Richard Devine did with it. I met with Surachai, in New York City, at the Control Voltage Fair. He loved the idea and wanted to curate it. I didn’t want to have five artists make five records that all sounded the same, and felt confident he would pick artists who were diverse enough to show all the directions you could go with a modular, but were also well-versed with our system, so they could get started fast. Like you noticed when you borrowed ours, even for someone who knows how to use modulars, there’s always a massive learning curve. So much of music technology today is designed to do some specific task. You can get an app to make hip-hop beats or a compressor to give you the vocal sound of The Beatles’ records or whatever. What’s gorgeous about the modular synthesizer is that it’s the exact opposite of that. Often, at trade shows, people will ask me, “What problem is your product solving?” Typically I say that it’s creating them. This product does not solve a single problem, unless you say it solves the problem of inspiration. It provides a great deal of that.
Kelly: The Shared System series shows people that there are many different ways to make music with it. Richard Devine did the first record, the second one’s by Alessandro Cortini, then Robert A. A. Lowe. Surachai makes a sort of synth-inspired black metal, so we have no idea what his will be like. It’s all to showcase that people are making music that spans a lot of different genres. Five in the series, 500 copies, pressed to vinyl. Trash Audio is selling most of them, but if you order a Shared System, we include whatever record is currently in production. Our dealers that sell the modules can also order them. We’re talking about building another system and doing an Acid series.
So achieving that on Clark meant mostly using software?
Yeah, I learned Ableton on this album—I had used Logic before—and it completely changed how I worked. I really went into it, and like a month later, I thought, “Yes, this is the program.” It’s so good. My Logic arrangements were like 60 tracks and a timeline that goes on for an hour—like, “There’s a sketch there, this bit is a sort of counterpoint…” It was just a mess, but my Ableton song files are so streamlined. That’s when I started getting my confidence back.