Channel 5 ident

February 24, 2011

Lucy and I were asked to write the music for a couple of idents for the Channel 5 rebrand, the first of which is being broadcast today:

Keep an eye out for it when you’re watching the Gadget Show or CSI!

The second ident is due next week sometime; I’ll update this post when it’s on.

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A small slice of gear lust

December 2, 2008

Well I don’t often enthuse about music tech gear here, cos to the non-electronic musician it’s a bit irrelevant and probably fairly dull. So for anyone who doesn’t have a passionate electronic musician’s interest in firewire plug-ins and EQ can probably skip this post.

Good, you’re still reading. A sensible decision, bravo!

So, I’m about to embark on the completion and mixing of our second album, and to make it a bit more fun and hopefully to make it sound super sweet I have bought an SSL Duende Mini, which is an external firewire box that contains 16 mono channels of EQ and dynamics. That might sound a bit dull, but it represents one of these:

This is an SSL XL 9000K SuperAnalogue mixing desk, and it will set you back around £100k, minimum. I don’t actually know how much it costs as it’s not the sort of thing they give a list price for. SSL pretty much own the top end mixing desk market and any proper ‘big’ studio go will have one, or a Neve, or a couple of other ‘Ferrari’ level makes.

Despite being founded in 1969 (in Oxford), SSL are moving with the times and have released the Duende Mini, which is based on the 9000K above. I say ‘based on’: what they’ve taken is the EQ and dynamics (compressor) that you find on each channel strip. The obvious difference is that you only get 16 channels on the Mini, and the above is a 64 channel monster with aux-busses, automation, and god knows what else.

Actually, I do know what else: as a demo addition to the Mini, they include the ‘Bus Compressor’ from the above (which is different from the channel compressor), and if that isn’t a button that should be marked ‘please make my song sound like an expensive record’, then I don’t know what is. Unfortunately that demo times out after 10 hours, so I’m going to have to use it sparingly!

Which isn’t to say that the EQ & dynamics it does come with aren’t great, cos they are. Frighteningly good in fact – and I’m going to have to be sparing with them to begin with, as I suspect it’s as easy to ruin a record with them as to make a great one. It’s gonna be fun learning!

The other exciting thing is that this isn’t an ’emulation’ of SSL EQ – it is SSL. For only a few hundred quid. This sort of thing is what makes being a modern electronic musician such a thrill.

So, hopefully when I start posting demos of our new tunes, you’ll notice a difference (for the better!), and if not let me know, and I’ll ask for a refund.


Cat-in-a-box

February 25, 2008

Ever since I got rid of my lumpen old 19″ CRT monitor, our cat Magnus has had great difficulty in finding a good sleeping spot. The old CRT was great (from a cat perspective): it was warm and had a lovely large flat top he could sit on and watch all the procedings in the studio. However, ever since I upgraded to a lovely (from my perspective) LCD display, he’s really been getting in the way, as there’s just no other suitable surface in here.

He’s tried the monitor, which has the TC Electronic Konnekt 24D on it:

lolmag2.jpg

He’s tried sitting in front of the controller keyboard:
mag3.jpg

He’s even tried hiding behind the Moog: (cue lots of hi-larious puns relating to mogs and moogs)

mag5.jpg

An Access Virus, is hugely comfy too…
mag10.jpg

Or he just tries to sit on my lap, which is no good either, when you’re trying to simultaneously play keyboards, hit record and twiddle the Behringer rotary controller thing.

This has gone on for ages, and I’ve felt a bit bad that I’ve taken his favourite sleeping place away and the situation has not been fun for either of us.

But today, I had an epiphany! Cats are boxophiles! Put any shoebox, suitcase, cardboard box, somewhere in a flat, and they will sit in it. I looked around – and there was a nice MacBook box, just begging to be used as a cat recepticle. Placed it open on the floor, and voila! 3 minutes later, problem solved – Cat-in-a-box!
mag7.jpg


Gakken SX-150 – a gift!

September 3, 0208

Well, it’s not everyday you receive a mystery gift through post, but today was officially mystery-gift-receiving-thru-the-post day!

It wasn’t 100% unexpected as I had an email from a Japanese fan called Tsuyoshi saying that he wanted to send me a toy synth – and it turned out he wasn’t joking!

Only a few days later I took delivery of a large parcel covered in Japanese Kanji writing bearing a Kyoto mail address, and this is what I found within:

Inside the box!

‘Synthesizer Chronicle’ & The Gakken SX-150
Attached to the box is a lovely full colour glossy synth magazine with lots of exciting pictures of classic synths from the MiniMoog to the Roland SH101, and 100’s more. There’s even a pic of Graham Massey (808 State) playing a Moog Prodigy, same as wot I got.

There’s also the circuit diagram for the SX-150, plus instructions on it’s assembly and some example patches.

Lots of articles to read, but unfortunately (for me) it’s all in Japanese so I can’t understand a word of it!

The Thing!
Carefully removing the magazine reveals the box of circuitry and bits that comprise the Gakken SX-150 synthesizer.

To my surprise, it really is a proper (albeit amazingly tiny) synthesizer with the controls one would expect to find on any synth worthy of the name: LFO (sine or square), Filter Cut-off & Resonance, a Pitch Envelope and Attack/Decay.

Even more intriguingly, it has a stylophone type continuous pitch controller. (Can I call it a pitch ribbon? Yeah, why not!)

However, there are important differences between a stylophone and the SX-150. The stylophone (invented in 1967) has a stylus operated keyboard so you can play actual melodies and offers no sound altering possibilities. The SX-150 is the exact opposite – the pitch controller is continuous (making picking out notes quite tricky!), but is able to make a much wider range of sounds with the LFO, filter and pitch envelope all working to make quite a surprising array of sounds and effects for such a ‘simple’ device.

Particularly good fun is setting a high pitch envelope and sweeping the LFO rate up and down for some serious pitch modulation!

Not only that, but it has proper sockets for output and you can even feed an external audio signal in (not tried that yet, but I will).

As soon as I get a moment I’ll record some bits and pieces with it and post them here, but in the meantime you can check out what it sounds like on these links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XNESJBvPrs&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–tJr_fwknM&feature=related (first 25 secs is good!)

I’d just like to say a really big thanks to Tsuyohsi for being so generous in sending me this gift – and I hereby publically promise to use it on the next Cassette Electrik song as a little gesture of thanks for his kindness!

Tsuyoshi is also in a band, in Kyoto, called Flicks, and you should have a listen to his electro/experimental works influenced by everyone from The Slits to Debussy:
myspace.com/flicksjapan

Enjoy!