Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Epsilon project

In the last months I've been busy with the Epsilon project. I was contacted by a guitar maker in Sweden who proposed me to conceive an ergonomic guitar and have a prototype built - and if things work create a company to have it released… We took plenty of time to exchange about what we really wanted and settled on this model, that I roughly built out of foam. The model should go to a luthier soon... More information on this project when things evolve!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

more sketches

music of the week: I easily listen to pop music from Mali or China or Nunavut, more rarely from France (I'm French for those who didn't figure it out), but I just rediscover the 1982 album of Alain Bashung, Play Blessures, and it's as good as it was back in the day - even better perhaps...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

more sketches

music of the week: I'm still listening to plenty of stuff lately, mostly electronic music, maybe due to my last acquisitions. And when it comes to electronic pop music, nothing can beat Liaisons Dangereuses, who kind of exhausted the genre in one album in 1981... After 30 years, each time I listen to it, I'm  still impressed - and I want to dance.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Standuino workshop and DIY synths

I've had another interesting week-end, since last saturday I joined a workshop to build a Standuino Micro Granny - a DIY digital granular sampler. This time I had reading glasses and a magnifier so I managed to properly solder about 200 points, including minuscule ones to connect a micro-chip and a micro DC card slot, also plenty of resistors, diodes, capacitors, LEDs and stuff. I'm very happy with this little noise machine, on which I can upload over a hundred samples and edit or modify them in real time (with bitcrusher, LFO, pitch shifter, and Standuino specific looping effect). Its MIDI socket  allows to plug it in a MIDI keyboard and use the samples as instrument sounds - and the sound quality is good enough to use it on stage like a more standard electronic instrument. And since I tremendously improved my soldering skills, I also acquired its baby brother, the Standuino Fra Angelico DIY digital synth, that I should build soon before I forget everything…

But what is Standuino you'll ask? Well it's a cool project from Czech Republic combining DIY technology, art and music, that released a few Arduino microchip-based instruments (as kit or not). They've been organizing several workshops in Europe to help building their kits and create an international network of musicians and artists (known as The Orchestra). They have a very interesting background, that they're happy to share while we're bend on our soldering. Like people of their generation, they got into DIY technology through the Internet and brand new digital stuff such as Arduino, that is now used by everybody around the world. But when they started to show their projects to their families, they figured out that most people from their parents and teachers generation who used to live in pre-consumer society Czechoslovakia had unsuspected skills in electronics, since they learned to fix by themselves all  kind of electronic devices that they wouldn't dump and replace when they'd go out of work - then created their own stuff. Standuino stands between these two influences, Internet-age technology and already almost forgotten modernist past, and it feels good.

We ended the workshop by a small improvised (though conducted) concert with more story telling (to know more you'll have to assist to one of these concerts!)(see the video at the bottom of this post). I've had a good time, learned a lot - including new skills -, had a lot of fun, met interesting and passionate people, left with a good instrument that I will include in the set of my new music project, and since I'm now a member of the Orchestra, I should perform all the future concerts that will happen in my area!

Thanks to Ines Birkhan for shooting the video and Daniel Schorno for introducing me to Standuino...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

more sketches

Music of the week: difficult to tell what music interested me most in the last days - I've seen a few good concerts, played one, listened to different things including many synthesizer demos... Lets say that what I remember the most is hearing Ryoji Ikeda's minimal glitch music in a dinner party and thinking that I don't listen enough to this kind of any more. And I heard a few seconds of the Dead Weather's next single, and it sounds great.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Yuri Landman Ensemble and M185 at the Siluh Records Label Night at Waves Vienna

I've had a pretty good time last Friday, as I joined the Yuri Landman Ensemble for a concert at the Waves Vienna festival.

The Yuri Landman Ensemble is an ever changing band project created, directed by, playing compositions of and performing together with experimental luthier Yuri Landman, with plenty of guitars and Yuri's trademark DIY instruments - the home swingers (see Yuri tuning one on the left) - plus bass and drums. Yuri picks up local musicians wherever the Ensemble plays and quickly teaches them a few minimal repetitive compositions with more or less room for improvisation.

The result is quite impressive - and this particular concert seems to have been a good one -, and that's the kind of music I enjoy playing. I've been part of some impro big bands such as La Pieuvre or LISIM and I always liked parametric improvisation allowing large groups of musicians to improvise together as a collective. Yuri's way is playful and efficient, and the music we played was both improvised and his music, at the same time minimalist and maximalist - all I like.

Also I got to meet some nice people from the impro Viennese scene, and I'm longing to go back on stage more regularly together with other musicians, I didn't do that for ages. After the show I went to have a drink with friends and when I came back to say good-bye to my new comrades, I got stuck in front of the next concert, in a completely different style, but no less excellent. Austrian band M185 plays what I'd call trance rock, with heavy bass lines, hypnotic beats, energetic guitar layers and cool Moog loops - and that's exactly the kind of music I want to listen to lately! M185 has something of the Black Angels but less referenced, less pretentious, more pop - well I really enjoyed it and I also discovered that Austrians can rock - I thought so far they're all just hipsters listening to 2000s minimal/kitsch electronic music.

PS. Actually on Sunday evening I went again to Fluc (the club where we played on Friday) for a minimal/kitsch electronic music concert and really enjoyed myself too (with Superskin and Bear Bones, Lay Low).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

MIDI vampire-I tiny synthetizer

This is my latest gadget - er..., I mean, instrument - the minuscule phantom powered MIDI vampire-I digital synth by Open Music Lab. You can see its size compared to the MIDI socket... It's polyphonic (4 voices) and has 16 wave tables and more effects you'd expect from a gizmo the size of your thumb. 

It sounds good enough for what I plan to do with it, but once I plugged it into my MIDI keyboard, I figured out that I can't really use my Oxygen8, since I only used the keys to play virtual instruments from my computer and never used the knobs... Gotta find the user's manual, somewhere in my paper archives.

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