Musikmesse 2011: Toyification of Music Hardware

Musikmesse 2011 wrapped up a couple of weeks ago and there was actually some pretty good news that came out of it. It certainly seems that analog gear is back in favor with people, which I think is a good thing. We are probably just on the pendulum swing back from the prevalence of all digital software synths which we have seen dominate over the past decade or so. One thing that really seemed to strike me though with a lot of this hardware and analog gear that was coming out though was the apparent cheapness of all of it. Almost everything I have seen seems to have a toy

quality to it, almost as if the gear is meant to be a novelty to noodle around with rather than create serious music with. The most high profile of these of course is the Korg Monotribe, which was initially highly anticipated and then once announced sort of took the air out of the room. I personally come from the groovebox breed of artists and used them to this day for the majority of my music creation, so the prospect of a new electribe and an analog one at that come me really excited. What we got instead was a small cheap little box. There really is so much potential here that is lost and all Korg really had to do to make this really interesting was give it a serious sequencer like the rest of the electribe X series has. 

The other addition to this field of course is also from Korg and is the Mini-Wavedrum, and while I may be picing on Korg here a bit, there are other culprits as well. The Teenage Engineering OP-1 falls a bit into this category as well. Ok, I know your rolling your eyes at me on this one. Is it a cool little synth? Yes, but on the the same token the design doesn’t seem all that effective for really working on it for longer periods. 

April 2011 Reading List

It has been a while since I posted my currently reading list. I meant to be doing this more often, but it just sort of slipped my mind. Life has been rather crazy at the moment. 

Over the past month I have worked by way through a couple of books. The first one I cranked through was a hard Sci-Fi book called Blindsight. You can actually pick it up as a free ebook over at Goodreads.com. I have to say that I really enjoyed this book quite a bit. There are a lot of complex ideas going on here about consciousness, intelligence and the human psyche.  It actually was picked up as the book of the month to be read over at the Sword and Laser podcast. You also might want to know that Blindsight was a 2007 Hugo Award Nominee, which makes the fact that it is free all the more impressive. 

The other book that I read this month and the one that I actually just finished last night was Tahn. This was a free ebook that I picked up on my Kindle several months ago and just now got around to reading.  Conceptually I actually really liked this book a lot.  The basic overarching concept is that an assassin sets out to save the daughter of a noble family that his organization is assigned to destroy. The make story arch fro there focuses on the relationship between the assassin and his”hostage” as they struggle to understand each other. Thrown in for added complexity is the fact that the assassin needs to save children for the same fate as himself and  you have the grounds for a great book. The
only thing that really got to me however is that there are a lot of christian overtones, which ordinarily would not be a big problem for me if they fit in with the characters of the book. Unfortunately for me though, they came across as just the author forcing christian values into every nook and cranny as she could and too often they felt forced and preachy. If you can get past that though there is actually a decent story of retribution and self-realization here. 

So that leaves me now looking for my next book to read. I know there has been a lot of hype recently surrounding the new Game of Thrones series on HBO. I read through that first book over the winter and have to say I enjoyed it immensely. I probably ranks up there as one of my top books of all time. It was certainly a huge undertaking however and it took me near three months to get through. I don’t believe I am ready to quite tackle the next book that large. If anyone has suggestions for some new books to pick up let me know. 

February Month in Review: Recording Some Music, Gaming, Etc.

Music

The past couple weeks have been incredibly busy ones, but actually fairly productive for music production. I have a couple of songs sitting in the pipeline that I simply need to sit down and record. I hope to perhaps to get some of that this weekend since I had an opportunity to clean off my hard drive on my laptop to free up some recording room. I am very much due for a new computer, but times have just been busy and I am actually waiting for a re-fresh of the iMacs from Apple. 

I also need to sit down and finalize an album out of the faux 8-bit tracks that I recorded in most of 2010. They are all done, but just need some polishing before re-recording them. 

On a slightly related note I need to finalize the albums page here on the blog so people can once again find my albums on the net. That page has just been languishing over the past month as I worked out details for the new blog format. 

Reading

I am slowing working my way through A Game of Thrones, which I hope to have done within the next couple of weeks. It has been close to three months now on it and I have to say I am fully enjoying it. Not quite sure what book I want to read next, but I will definitely have to take a break from this series. I don’t think I can handle another 900 page book. 

Gaming

Over the past month I have enjoyed a few games and I worked through Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and Singularity. Both are fine enough, but Singularity took me a bit by surprise. I have also gone back to Halo: Reach for some multi-player action which has been quite a fun time. I have also had a really good time with Onlive and the micro-console. The service is by no means perfect, but there are some good games on there and I have really been working through Trine over the past couple of weeks. The game is quite fun, but a bit long for what it is. 

The Passing of Brian Jacques and How Redwall Shaped My Life

It is not often in our lives when artists, musicians, poets and writers touch us in such a profound way as to shape us for our days to come. This past week I read on several blogs and book outlets about the passing of Brian Jacques, the author of the Redwall series of books. I personally have not actually read a Redwall book in probably fifteen years, with the last one probably during my junior high days. For some reason though this pronouncement touched me in a very profound way. 

I first found the Redwall books when I was in grade school when I saw Salamandastron in the Scholastic book catalog, that I presume all school children are familiar with. This was my first introduction to the Redwall series and if I remember correctly, one of my first introductions to a full novel as well.  I was instantly taken to the book as its stories played out the adventures of the noble badgers in the mountain, their leader and a weasel assassin. I quickly fell in love with the series and after that read several more of the books. 

Over time though I outgrew the books, mostly because of my immaturity in assuming I was too mature for them. They always had a place though in my favorite’s list and I often found myself recommending them to some of the most unlikely of people. Just six months ago I actually recommended Salamandastron to a coworker of forty. 

A blog post on Tor.com though this morning hit home though when I read about how the author discovered and ingested the Redwall series of books. As I read comments on the blog post, almost all of the stories were so similar to my own. Young boys in grade school discovering a series of books about adventure, intrigue, honor, friendship and to some extent war. It is perhaps the perfect mold for a young boy in many ways and it certainly solidified my love of fantasy on the whole. 

I often remark on how Brian Jacques does not get his due credit as being one of the best young adult authors of his time. He touches on so many relatable subjects for the young male reader and in a world where young adult books are increasingly being catered towards the female crowd, young boys need something they can identify with. 

As I mentioned before, these books in some way changed me as a child and shaped my tastes and personalities and it has taken perhaps years to fully realize how something that I read when I was twelve could do so. If you have not read any of the Redwall series before I highly encourage you to do so, and if you happen to be a parent I encourage you to share these books with your children. 

Experimenting with Trackers

Over the past couple of weeks I have taken a new keen interest in trackers. Some of them of the more traditional sort, some of them not. For years I used to use Buzz, before switching entirely over to hardware. With the rise of the iPhone though there has been an increasing amount of software for music creation on the iPhone itself, and what do you know, some of the traditional tracker concepts seem to work well on the iPhone. 

I hope to continue my work on the hardware side, but as a side diversion I plan to play with some software both on my iPhone and on my laptop in short increments. 

Hopefully in the next several weeks you will see some song snippets from Nanoloop, MilkyTracker and Sunvox as I begin to learn these programs and dig my fingers into them.