Make Noise QMMG Demo

Couldn’t find a demo of the QMMG on its own and since I just got one the other day, I’ll take it upon myself to make one. So, I’m sniper rifling two birds with one bullet by testing out a)Make Noise’s Quad Multi Mode Gate (qmmg) module and b)Flip’s UltraHD camcorder. I wanted to share a video of how extreme the module can get with normal Tip Top Audio and Cwejman waveforms. I first preview all four channels without activating the gates. Then I turn all the channels to VCA, Both, LP and finally HP modes. After that I manually mangle the sound and return back to VCA mode. Everything is coming out of the summing mixer. So in short you get a Mixer, VCA and multimode filtering. Why don’t you have this yet?

Photos from the T_A Meetup in Chicago…

Well, I forgot to post these back when it happened, so I am doing it now! I am also getting ready to move Trash_Audio headquarters into a more suitable area. We’ll do this again once all my wires are covering the new place…

And there’s more in the Flicker set here!


These four artists have been working on an installation piece for the past 2 months and its ….. well, you’ll have to see it for yourself. Maybe if I tell you what I’ve done so far, you can imagine the size and density of the piece. So far I have eight speakers that will be hidden in the structure, four on the top landscape and four on the bottom cavern. While the structure has a vague story, each speaker will emphasize it with partnering the neighboring objects with voices and sound effects. The best way I could describe it is if the internet manifested itself physically (without goatse and the like), it would be this thing. Anyways I hope to see some of you guys on Saturday for the opening but honestly, I’d wait for another day when the structure will be there but the loud crowds won’t. Of course if you like socializing, mingling and flexing your muscle, see you then Saturday.

Workspace and Environment: Abre Ojos

Almost 11 years. I was a bit of a late starter to sound focusing more on the visual art side of things until a friend and I went out to his rehearsal shed (a brick storage unit, tin roof) in the middle of summer and found anything that could make or process sounds. 40+ degree heat in rural Australia and noise making go hand in hand. From that point I figured out that I didn’t have to have 15 years classical musical training behind me to create sounds. I have been kinda stubborn about staying untrained in music theory, instead skilling myself up in music technology. Occasionally I dabble with the idea of learning some music theory but prefer (mostly due to laziness) to stay on the idiot savant side. Motivation is easy, its time that’s the problem…. I’m sure time is speeding up.
I have two main projects- Look To the Skies and Abre Ojos. Look to the Skies is a collaboration with Rob Jones ( where it is a hardware vs software/analogue vs digital improvisation project. Rob and I come together, me hardware, him software, with whatever gear we are working with in our own projects at the time and play and record. We played around with different distro ideas and finally settled on the podcast format and have done over sixty of these 20 min tracks.
My main solo project is Abre Ojos where I am exploring the fusion of sound and vision. It’s the attempt to balance my visual art background and passion for sound. It has been a dilemma to workout how to present the work as each track is created in one take with the sound and visuals recorded at the same time, with the vision reacting to the sound. So it’s important for it to be read first as an AV track although with most tracks I do release an mp3 version. Some reviewers of my tracks in the past have got this around the wrong way taking the music first and then the visuals as a video clip, I guess that is the way it has been for so long for so much music that I’m pushing shit uphill. I don’t think that AV tracks are the way of the future, they may gain strength with portable video capable devices way past the tipping point and with other great artists like Richard Lainhart and Robin Fox blazing trails in the AV area, but stand alone music whether digital or analogue will always be the front runner.

Favorite Hardware
Predictably it has to be my euro rack modular, two years ago I would have said the DSI Evolver, but the modular has eclipsed that. Patching is akin to playing chess, or raking a sand garden, it’s a blank slate with a kazillion options and if you manage to explore every option just swap out a module with another one and suddenly you are back to option 1 with a kazillion to go, oh and it sounds good too. The resurgence of modular synthesis has to be an indicator that humanity is getting better.

Software Favorites
There are so many great manufacturers out there, Camel Audio, Audio Damage, Urs, Native Instruments, its hard to pick but Absynth has been a favourite of mine for a long time; the modulation options in it with its envelopes are astounding.
Because of my history with Absynth, I have just made the brave move into Kore 2 with the Komplete package on its way. It’s only been a couple of weeks and so far Kore feels like my missing piece in software/computer/user interaction. I have found it mostly intuitive with a few quirks to double check in the manual, but even after two weeks I can navigate a performance just from the controller without looking at the laptop. NI are getting better with their marketing but Kore is still one of those things that people go “What is it exactly?” I know that was the case for me, until I started researching and reading some of the articles over at the CDM minisite
Other key software in my set up is Ableton Live, which I’ve been keeping up with since v2. Its flexibility through my different musical dabblings, (IDM glitch, to noise, to drone dark ambient stuff) over the years speaks volumes.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
From early on music making spaces were friends lounge room floors, storage sheds, shearing sheds, wobbly tables in a dorm room, a 1 foot wide desk in a studio flat in London, so I learnt to utilise any space, any time with any available gear. I’m now lucky enough to have a spare room that functions as studio and DIY space.

Ideal location… I’d love to spend some time and develop work at the developing COSM Art Sanctuary, the dynamic from working together in a dedicated space with like minded individuals is invaluable. I also want to return to the wire instrument I built with Alan Lamb in Wagga Wagga NSW and interface the modular with it sometime soon, but again its time….

First Piece of Gear? The Last?
Two pieces almost at the same time- a Roland R5 Human Rhythm Composer and a Casio CZ101. These were bought just after the summer noise sessions and were thrown into the cacophony, I had no idea on how to use them, it was just turn em on, hit a key or pad and when a interesting sound occurred, try to remember what I did, which led to some uncomfortable situations while playing live, those spots where you fumble thru a table full of equipment looking for the device that is shattering all the glass behind the bar.
Last bit of kit was a Flight Of Harmony Choices Joystick, Flight makes such great stuff and is a shining example of the development of the euro format! I’m waiting impatiently for the FOH noise/osc module.
What is on your current ‘wish list’ for new hardware or software?
Some new powered monitors would be about it. After 10 years of buying and trading stuff my music making equipment has just about hit a perfect set up (if there is such a thing). The modular will continue to evolve and grow, I have a desk full of PCB’s to build, but recently there is not a single piece of equipment I’m wishing for, gearlust can be a dangerous production assistant for me.

The mobile setup and live set up are basically the same, consisting of the modular suitcase, Macbook Pro for modular & vocal processing in Live plus Quartz Composer for visuals, some pedals, an X-station for audio interface and midi control duty and an Evolution X-Session for Quartz Composer control. Now it’ll be interesting to see if I can swap out the X-station with the Kore and lighten the load a bit.


Tip Top Audio: Z2040 Audio Demos

I worked on some demos for the Tip Top Audio Z2040 and they can be found: Here!

Since it’s there are no details on the Tip Top Audio page, I’ll take a second here to explain how the Z2040 fit into these tracks.

– Plagues was done in the typical Surachai fashion: Jamming a bunch of synths tracks together with a metal ensemble plus a little devil worshipping and viola. Specifically though, on the synth side there is a lot going on actually and the patch was too large for me to remember. It was one of those patches where every module in my system was used and the output was being filtered with the Z2040 at the output.

– Thirteenbreaths was a simple track using only two Z3000’s, Z2040, Logic’s crappy piano and some ghost sauce.

– Tacid was composed live with Justin McGrath on the Xoxbox and two Z3000’s then later edited down. Everything was being run through the filter except the drums and Justin’s attitude.

– Bpshiedv1 was actually an old track sitting on my computer for a few years with parts laid out for strings and winds. I tried to recreate a orchestral feeling using only the Z3000’s and the Z2040 filtering them.

All these tracks were done in a course of a week and are mixed with a ‘demo’ mentality. Enjoy.

Find out more information on Tip Top Audio: Here!

Live: Surachai, Xrin Arms, Sir Vixx

I claim no responsibility for the flyer. Though… I wish I could, I’d be getting all sorts of freelance rave poster work. I have to say that this is one of the rare occurrences where the venue image is appropriate to the sound.

See you next Tuesday, July 14th at the Cobra Lounge in Chicago.

Starts at 9 and is free! Come hang out with Justin and I.


Xrin Arms

Sir Vixx

Steve R Gives Us Monorocket

I noticed Steve R counting down on his twitter as the days went by and when R-Day came we were gifted with news of a line of fully customizable cases: Monorocket! And my initial thoughts were “ABOUT TIME!” – I’m so glad someone is taking it upon themselves to offer alternatives from the portable Doepfer cases and not just any alternative but an intelligent and customizable alternative. Also, who better than someone who’s been in the industry for a while! I shot some e-mails back and forth with Steve to ask him how deep this venture goes. If you have some questions for Steve, please let me know – I’ll ask and post them up here with his permission.

My primary background is really marketing/sales. I was a factory rep for computer hardware/software companies in the 90’s and consumer electronics in this century. For the last 5 years my day job was leading teams of people who build and maintain a lot of what’s called “the buying experience” when you go into big box retailers. This would probably a good time to apologize in advance for any buzzwords, marketspeak and hyperbole I may use. Its a language that’s been difficult to lose.
My history with synths is actually pretty short. I’m a guitar player – synths were always something someone else had. Specifically, it was my friend Mike Brown (Livewire). He started talking to me about the idea of doing modulars and stuff controlled with CV around 2003. I was around for the launch of Livewire and worked for Mike in the background doing things like building modules, doing deliveries, special projects and booth duty at NAMM. In fact I’m still involved with Livewire and always will be to the extent I’m needed.

Building cases really wasn’t an original idea. One of my favorite things about this community is that all the end users will flat out tell you what they want even when there are few working examples to refer to. I’m willing to bet more than a few can actually make the things they buy. I can’t think of how many times I saw a post online about the possibilities for a manufacturer to produce alternatives to what was already available. It was probably the community reaction to a custom project Livewire was involved with in 2006 that served as the catalyst for Monorocket.

What do you feel is missing from the market with cases?
Variety in features and pricing. That may sound cold, but this is a normal occurrence in the evolutionary cycle of any market. Apparently I wasn’t alone. Monorocket is one of three companies producing cases that launched in June of this year. It was like we all appeared on the same day.I just found out that ModularWorld is already selling out of inventory and – good for them – it’s a indication that there’s still room for more vendors. Even though Eurorack has seen an explosion of module manufacturers, we’ve basically had one case manufacturer, with a couple of choices. All someone had to do was listen to the things that end users – like you – were saying (and watching you do things like screwing mults directly into unused space) and make the stuff they wanted.

Do you think changes could still happen after your product launches?
Absolutely – yes. Monorockets current line only deals with “the known” – the things that all modular users say they want. The next step will be to come up with features/options that haven’t been imagined yet. We (Monorocket) need to become just as creative as all the new module manufacturers popping up over the last three years. We’ve tried to go a little beyond what’s considered traditional for modulars, but I think all we’ve done so far is offer “mass customizing” of things that have already been custom built (in most cases by the person who actually uses them).

Can you tell us of some specific features?
(buzzword hyperbole alert) Monorockets features fall into three categories: Individual appearance, Individual Application, Pricing Options.
Individual appearance: 40 plus shades/textures of tolex, ATA cases have a choice of veneers (solid colors, metal flake etc)

Individual Application: we’ll vary dimensions to accommodate specific gear set ups, include routed cable channels, create gear mounting solutions, add circuitry and power options (you personally asked about switchable input voltages – 120v vs 240v – it’s already being explored)

Pricing Options: more price tiers between bottom and top No wheels on anything yet. But if that’s what you want, we can do it.

Can you give me an example of a customization job?
One example would be the Mission line. It would have been simple to take a cue from what’s already available in an ATA case and just sell it at a lower price, but my personal approach is more about delivering something that will “make more possible” rather than racing to to the bottom by making something that already exists and pricing it lower until it becomes a loss leader for other things a company sells.

Using the example on the website – Instead of putting in 3 rows of Eurorack – we opted to make it possible to mount non eurorack gear and even take the extra controls resulting from circuit bending and integrate them into the case. We can still give you 3 rows of eurorack if you want, but Mr Doepfers already doing that and – honestly – it would be a better buying decision to purchase something that’s already been done by a more reputable company (especially when Doepfer has the distinction of giving us the format to begin with) I’d rather give you reasons to take a chance on Monorocket.

Another example would be the Commander. It started out as a guitar pedalboard concept and currently has one row for modules. I made that decision based on what I know could be possible for processing audio signals. Once you consider that it could also be a solution for LivePA, then additional rows for modules doesn’t seem like overkill anymore. I also have an audio routing solution that will reduce the cable clutter and still leave the possibility for changing the audio path on the fly.
It’s my hope that everyone will look at the units on display at the website and just think of them as a place to start.
It takes very little time and effort to add functionality like mults, audio patching, simple circuits (like inverters, headphone amps, manual triggers, silent switching), etc into the enclosure itself. The more that space is used – the less space it occupies on the rails, leaving more room for complex circuitry represented by the modules. I really can’t wait for the first person to order something done in burnt orange tolex : )

Do your products appeal to more than synth users?
It’s possible. On one hand, there are plenty of instrumentalists more interested in “sound” than technique (whether they have it or not). Integrating different formats (ie. Eurorack and effect pedals) is a means to that end. One the other hand, if it’s conceivable that someone could look at Monorockets stuff and add things, it should be equally conceivable to take things away and/or adapt our processes to produce a piece for something other than Eurorack. I just decided to start here because I was already involved with the Eurorack market.

Are there any base models that beginners can indulge in?
Sure… All the base pricing will be based on what you’re probably referring to. But it should also be pointed out that a lot of beginners come into this after seeing performers like you and you’re a big part of a pre-purchase education that happens online. They’re going to know what they want earlier as beginner than you probably did because of your experience. In the long term – I’d like to see this community to keep customization and individuality as it’s primary appeal.

Lexington – available August 2009 pricing tentatively set at $1000
Rack6 – available Sep 2009 pricing tentatively set at $250
Commander – availability TBD pricing tentatively set at $900 (ATA version. Non ATA version in development)
Mission9 – availability TBD pricing tentatively set at $500 (includes 1 12v ps, 3 rows 84hp wide, 2 utility rows of mults, external jacks and IEC connector with fuse)
Eurobuss – available August 2009 pricing tentatively set at $30 (includes power lines attached to female Molex style connector)
(all features subject to change prior to release)

Additional questions:
Stiev A: When building a Eurobuss (nice: the AS-style connections), why repeat the imho error Doepfer made. Why does nobody use framed connectors (hope this is the right word, I’m not a native speaker) that are use e.g. in motherboard-design? The plugs (?) would sit tightly in the right place and no chance of reverse connection and destruction of modules.
Steve: Since an overwelming majority of the eurorack users and manufacturers don’t adhere to a standard for keyed connectors we decided that labeling the buss to orient the red band was sufficient.

Expert Sleepers: Silent Way

A smaller company, Expert Sleepers is taking control! They’ve developed software to control your modular synthesizer by a VST or Audio Unit in both PC and Mac. Motu’s Volta is only AU and Mac compatible and requires an iLok dongle, ick. As with most small companies, their prices are more than reasonable: Silent way is $49! I honestly haven’t read too much into it yet but these are exciting times to be a modular user. – via Muffwiggler Forum

JazzMutant Interviews Richard Devine

Honestly, I’m receiving a lot of audio news from Twitter and while it may be a fad, its ‘working’ for me at the moment and since most people have it in our Workspace and Environment series, I suggest you follow them. Anyways, JazzMutant has conducted a series of interviews on how artists use their instruments and since we’re mutual fanboys of each other, I’m linking you to the Richard Devine interview Here!

“The fact that you can customize it to the point where you can do pretty much whatever you want really was one of the things that really hit it off for me. Right out of the box, when I tried it with Reaktor I was already getting sounds that I was not able to get using typical CC automation, mouse or other controllers. Having a hardware controller with 8 knobs, and faders was a bit limiting for me. I wanted something that would offer me way more flexibility.

With the Lemur I realized it could go as far as I wanted, or I could create as many graphical controllers as I desired. You can have a ball bouncing around in a room with zero friction and have these automating parameters very quickly. Or it could be doing frequency modulation – you could even have ten of them! I love the idea of this chaotic free-flowing sort of manipulation and connection with the sound. It’s really amazing, like having extra hands doing the work for you. “

You can read the rest of the interviews they offer Here

Workspace and Environment: Medusa

I spoiled you people when we first started the blog because we’re now definitely dragging our asses on the Workspace and Environment series. I’ve decided to start brand new and not harass artists that have been ‘working’ on their interviews for the past year + or so. And with that banter out of the way, I present James Bauman of Medusa/Racebannon…

I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and moved to Bloomington to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University. During my time in Bloomington I fell in love with the town, convinced the rest of my band to relocate, and we’re still here. We’ve had our ups and downs in Bloomington, and lately I have felt the urge to move on. We have all discussed the possibility of relocating again many times. But, for now I’m happy enough to stay. I started playing the violin when I was 9 or 10 years old. I sort of wanted to play the drums but my mom wouldn’t let me. Then I switched to the guitar around 14 or so. I didn’t really get started making records until about ’97 or ’98 when Racebannon started happening. But, hearing ‘KISS Alive!’ on vinyl when I was 8 is what really did it for me. That was the moment I realized I wanted to make loud, noisy, feedbackin’ guitar riffs. And, I still do. Damn you KISS. Now, I play guitar in Racebannon and Medusa. Both bands are active and release records with worldwide-distributed labels. Racebannon has been putting out records for over a decade. Medusa just released a debut album and is just starting to really go somewhere. You can find both bands in your favorite record store, hopefully, or on the damn interwebs. Just look ‘em up. Do it. I dare you.

What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
That’s hard to say. But, I do really like my AKG Perception microphones. They sound so good and I find them useful in just about every setting.

What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
For multi-tracking/mixing I really like to use Cool Edit Pro 2. It’s a really user-friendly program and I’ve never had any real problems with it.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
Well, I really think a clean space makes it easier for me to focus on what I’m doing. Also, being surrounded by instruments helps me to feel inspired. I have several guitars around me, which makes it hard for me to forget about being creative or wanting to play. Really, an ideal location to me is anywhere that I have everything I need right at my fingertips. However, a one-level underground solar-powered soundproof lair with 30-foot-high ceilings close to the beach would be nice.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
I do remember my oldest brother giving me a huge Peavey mixing board with a Peavey P.A. head and Dr. Fong stage monitors when I was in high school. That helped get me started with my first few bands and I have no idea what happened to any of it. I really wish I still had that mixer. I remember it being pretty awesome.

What does your live setup look like?
I’m pretty pleased with my setup these days. I’m using an Emperor 6×12 cab that sounds pretty damn heavy. I usually only play Gibson SGs live. For Racebannon I play an SG with a Dirty Fingers pickup and for Medusa I play an SG with a Duncan Distortion pickup. I don’t really get into effects pedals much and try to keep a pretty stripped-down sound. Occasionally for Racebannon I will use some sort of random pedal for a few songs or a Digitech rack-mount delay. I’ve always been a fan of the Digitech Delay units and am currently on my fifth one. I guess I get a little too rough with them.

Are you involved in any projects outside of your own music?
Well, most of the time I am working on my own projects. However, I have recorded some local hip-hop over the past few years and soon will be recording a new Kentucky Nightmare (Bloomington band on Standard Recording Co.) album, which should be a good time. Right now, though, I’m trying to finish up the new Medusa recording. Everything has been tracked and there is still some mixing left to do. I’m definitely excited to finish it and release it to the world.

Medusa Official
Medusa Myspace

Racebannon Official
Racebannon Myspace