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For relaxing times, make it Tenori time.

I forgot to mention another thing I’m going to this month, a free demo/concert of the nifty Tenori sequencer this Friday night featuring a bunch of random electronic musicians like Pole, Sutekh and Safety Scissors. I am psyched to see the Tenori in action, the designer is a Japanese artist named Toshio Iwai who creates interactive audio/visual installations and has brought that same playful and exploratory music-oriented mindset to videogames and now a sequencer. I loved his Elektroplankton music game and I am curious to find out how useful and inspirational a fully realized piece of music gear designed by him will be.

I saw Stars of the Lid last night and they were fantastic, very intense and moody and thick sound combining waves of textured distorted guitar, gorgeous synth chords and deep bass, and a string trio. Best concert I’ve been to in a while.

One show I’m not going to is Goldfrapp at the Warfield on April 26th, because I already have tickets for Mum on the same night. I had forgotten they were going to be here, and I’m a little bummed out because they are one of my favorite electronic groups and their new album is very good, but unfortunately I can’t be in two places at the same time. Also, I might go see Stephen Malkmus of ex-Pavement fame at the Fillmore on the 27th and re-live my mid-90s indie phase. Why does everyone have to show up to play in SF the same month?

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Another updated plugin, out of town this week

Audio Damage has released a free update to their Dubstation analog-delay-modelled plugin. Super easy to use, super cheap, sounds great, and now has a lowpass as well as high pass filter for extra dubby feedback goodness. You’ve gotta love getting new features for free.

I’ve been in Arizona all week so there has been no progress with finishing up slowburn. I forgot to bring along headphones, so my plan to knock out a couple quick remixes was also thwarted. I should get back to SF this weekend and start things up again, I’m really getting eager to finish it up and move on at this point.

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Even more plugins..?

PSP Audioware updated their MixPack, which I bought a while ago and haven’t used that much, just in time to finish up these mixes. The pack includes a plugin called MixSaturator, which is the one I bought the pack for and use the most. It’s nice for adding some analog-esque distortion of various flavors and subtlety to tracks. Another plugin called MixTreble now has a transient shaper, although I’ve been super happy using the UAD one so I may not use this one much, and also has a stereo enhancer which can be nice on pads and noise effects. They also added a gate plugin to the pack, I’ve been pretty happy with the Sonalksis gate plugin but I’ll try this new one too.

I’ve also been trying out a free plugin from Massey called TapeHead. It models the distortion you get from recording things hot to tape. It is super easy to use with just two controls, it sounds pretty nice on drums, and it’s free.

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Radiohead jumps on the remix bandwagon…

You can buy the individual audio parts from Radiohead’s song “Nude” on iTunes, and they’re having some sort of remix competition. Weird how Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails seem like the only two big bands pushing the mainstream boundaries like this and using the internet to their advantage. NiN was first with the remix contests (note that they released all the parts from all the songs on their last few albums, and they were free), Radiohead was first with the pay what you want mp3 album release which NiN then tweaked a bit. They also both have licensed multiple songs to the greatest music videogame ever, Rock Band. Anyway, this is my favorite song off “In Rainbows”, so add another remix to the list of things I need to work on once slowburn is done.

Also, here’s an article about Radiohead, plus they will be headlining the Outside Lands music festival in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in late August along with my other favorite rock band Wilco.

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Free Fresca for everyone if slowburn not finished in 2008

Any time I feel like this project is taking waaaay too long, I try to cheer up by reminding myself that Axl Rose has spent fifteen years on the next would-be Guns’N'Roses album “Chinese Democracy”. This doomed project has been spinning its wheels in the mud so long it has become the stuff of legend. Every so often they will give a release date, the last one was this month actually, and then when that date finally arrives they pretend it never happened. And now, apparently, Dr. Pepper has offered to give a free can of soda to every person in the USA (except Slash and Buckethead, for playing a part in delaying Axl’s grand vision) if the album finally gets released this year. This is a strange promotion, and I’m not sure if Guns’N'Roses are part of it or if Dr. Pepper just decided it was a funny way to get a bunch of free publicity. If the latter, obviously it worked.

Anyway, submodern is currently in negotiations with the Fresca corporation for a similar deal for “slowburn”. Stay tuned, we will hopefully be able to make a formal announcement via worldwide press release sometime around April 1st.

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New plugins from Universal Audio

Universal Audio released another couple of plugins for their UAD card. The first one is yet another compressor, this one modelled after the DBX 160. I had zero intentions of getting this, because I have enough compressor plugs already, but I activated the free trial and found that I really like sending drums through it… plus it has very few controls and is incredibly simple to use, which is always a plus. So I may have to get it, we’ll see. The other one is an enhancer plugin, which is something I wanted and expected to maybe buy, but so far it is just sounding okay on the slowburn tracks. I need to play with it some more and read the manual, maybe it’s more complicated to set up than it seems and I’m just using it wrong. In theory I would use this one on tracks that were sounding a little boring to enhance/excite them and bring them to the front a bit more.

The full slowburn mix has been put together and I am listening to it a couple times a day, and coming up with to-do lists for each track. I’m planning to post the to-do lists up here to help keep track of what’s getting done, and embarass me into working on it more. The album is sounding pretty good at this point though, I think. I’m particularly happy that the latest tracks I’ve worked on are sounding the best, and the earliest tracks are the ones that need the most work. This tells me that my skills and process were improving as I kept working on the songs and the extra time was well spent.

We are also now scheduled for another appearance at the Transistor Festival in Denver in June, which will hopefully prod me into finishing the album up so we can start work on a live set.

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Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D

I got this Nine Inch Nails remix CD a while back but forgot to mention it. They included all the multi-track masters for all the songs on their latest album “Year Zero” on a bonus DVD that’s included with the CD of remixes. The tracks are pre-formatted for Garageband or Ableton Live, and also include the raw WAVs if you want to use another program to mess with them. Remixing is a great way to dip your toe in electronic music production, and it’s also a nice, fun side project if you are hitting roadblocks with your own music. This CD/DVD combo is well worth picking up just to play with the master tracks!

After the album is finished up we will try doing a NiN remix or two using these. We will also try to get some of the slowburn tracks up in this format so other people can play around with them, something we’ve been meaning to do for a long time now and I just never got around to…

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New Moog pedal

There haven’t really been any new products that have caught my eye lately besides the occasional plugin. The NAMM show was a big letdown, usually there are a few new things that at least spark a little interest, but this year it was pretty boring.

One exception is this new pedal from Moog. This is a control pedal, unlike the Moogerfoogers I already have (phaser, filterbank, delay), it doesn’t make any noise itself. But it lets you map all sorts of LFOs and buttons and the pedal itself to various CV outputs to control the Moogerfoogers or other effects. You can set ranges for the outputs, so your LFO will just go from 50-80 instead of 0-127, and you can have the pedal affect that so if the pedal is down it will send out 0-10 and as you bring it up it slowly moves towards 45-90. You have multiple CV outputs, so you can be controlling multiple parameters, with different ranges, at once. It can also do MIDI. This would have been really cool to have at the beginning of the project, coupled with the KP3 Kaoss pad it would pretty much cover all your real-time synth and effects parameter tweaking needs. Like the KP3, though, it’s kind of pricey…

In the past I’ve had a bit of a psychological block in buying expensive things that don’t make noise themselves. This even has extended to effects, I had always preferred to buy another new expensive synth and just kept using cheap effects. This project has shown me the value of spending money on effects, which have a huge influence on the final sound, as well as the value of spending money on controller devices such as the Mackie Control, and likely this pedal, that make using the powerful but complicated features of what you already have much easier.

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Headed to Seattle

Progress is being made, some days good progress, some days just a little. I’m headed up to Seattle for the weekend to visit my brother’s family and temporarily drop the hermit routine. I’ll have about three weeks left when I get back to finish things up, so time is starting to get tight. The drums still need a lot of work, I have set up an okay base for them but they just sound boring. The songs overall need to be less upfront and more subtle. I need to draw more attention to the key parts while keeping others in the background, start implementing all the ideas I have to make each song unique, work more with the stereo field and reverbs, and add strange sounds at certain points along with the drums to increase tension and release. I also need to make sure I spend time enhancing the parts I like rather than just fixing all the things that bug me. At least I still don’t hate it, which is good…

Reference mix playlist, aka the Slowburn Cheat Sheet, version 1.0:

hummin
bola, “forcasa 3″
air, “la femme d’argent”
cocteau twins, “cherry-coloured funk”

puppy
autechre, “bike”
metamatics, “liquid gel”
mouse on mars, “saturday night world cup fieber”

lemonz
gui boratto, “the blessing”
booka shade, “body language (interpretation)”
trentemoller, “evil dub”

bubble
herbie hancock, “chameleon”
parliament, “give up the funk (tear the roof off this sucka)”
bomb the bass, “bug powder dust (k+d mix)”

laguna
global communication, “5:23 (maiden voyage)”
higher intelligence agency, “skank”
ulrich schnauss, “knuddelmaus”

rollover
fila brazillia, “bumblehaum”
the orb, “earth orbit one – little fluffy clouds”
orbital, “attached”

lurp
pink floyd, “on the run”
future sound of london, “smokin’ japanese babe”
david morley, “stuntman”

flicker
irresistible force, “nepalese bliss”
spacetime continuum, “funkyar”
plaid, “new family”

upbeat
aphex twin, “pulsewidth”
boards of canada, “roygbiv”
sly and the family stone, “spaced cowboy”

tea&toast
brian eno, “2/1″
aphex twin, “cliffs”
biosphere, “the things i tell you”

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Nice interview with Dr. Dre

You won’t find many recent interviews with legendary producer Dr. Dre, one of my heroes. Eight years later, he is still working on his long awaited and much postponed Detox album (and you thought slowburn was taking a long time…).

Here’s an article from the LA Times.

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