I’ve moved back to Japan! It soothes the heart and soul. It’s also been a great boost to creativity. Don’t get me wrong. Sweden has a lot going for it as well, but the darkness and the cold was like a wet blanket on my musical energy level. Tokyo has a ton more venues, stores and events to inspire. Probably also makes a big difference. :)
I’m building a new modular. I sold off all my old modules and cases about 2 years ago in a confused and misguided phase where I thought I was through with synths. Not going to happen again. It’s going to take a while to rebuild to the point where I left off, but it’s already great great fun to be back patching.
On that note, the world of modular has changed a lot since I bought my first LC9 case back in 2013. It’s amazing to see the breadth and width of modules and tools available these days, not least the forays into digital modules that where so frowned upon back then. :)
The Elektron Digitakt is awesome. I don’t care that the detractors and forum commenters say. I haven’t had this much fun with a box since I built a cardboard house in the basement 35 years ago! (And no, I haven’t experienced a single crash or bug yet.)
Don’t buy a lot of tiny synths. Spend the money on modules instead. They will make you happier and more creative. If you have to spend outside of modular, go for the big and powerful stuff, or boxes that completely complement the modular domain (e.g. the Digitakt).
I actually did perform a tiny live this year. We had friends over for dinner and I set up the instruments in the living room for an improvised techno session. Good fun and goofing around!
I have found a fantastic teacher who will start teaching me melody and song composition at the start of 2018. Look forward to more and hopefully better releases!
Linn is getting frighteningly good at the piano. Go Linn!!
My goal for 2018 is to release a follow up to Cumulus. Stretch is to perform it live… Scary to think it’s already been 4 years since I recorded it almost by accident in the bedroom in San Francisco…
The one thing I will take with me into 2018 is stop making excuses and just get down to making more music! I might not update the blog more frequently, but I WILL make more music in 2018.
What is the one bullet YOU will take with you into the next year?
Let’s just get it out of the way, building your own pedals will probably never be cheaper than just buying them.
That is, unless you plan on building a lot of pedals. Economies of scale will likely never work in your favour, but if you stick with the hobby for a while I suspect you start to build up a supply of various components and tools, to the point where you can experiment with new builds with almost no additional investment.
Then it might just start to make economic sense…
Then again, I guess very few builders are into this stuff for pure economic reasons. I know I’m not. I do this (or I want to do this) simply because its fun. And educational.
My goal is to get to a level where I can experiment with effects that I dream up myself. I already have several ideas that I’ve been carrying around since I got into modular synthesis.
Hopefully this time around I’ll actually realise at least some of them!
A while back my good friend Niklas from NOR and Norator visited me here in Stockholm for an epic synth weekend (featuring amongst others Kraftwerk and Cold Cave…) and helped me modify my Doepfer LC9 boxes from north american voltage (110v) to the swedish (230v).
Its a relatively simple modification if you’re handy with the soldering iron and know the basics of electrical engineering, but since I wouldn’t put either on my resume Nicklas volunteered to perform the procedure.
Below are some shots from the operation.
Start by loosening the screws in the back…
That hold the cover for the actual PSU (the one that say you will DIE if you tamper with it…)
Next break the two soldering bridges that north american units ship with, and create two new ones to match the spec of the european units…
And that’s it! My LC9 boxes are now fully compatible with the swedish electrical standard :). Many thanks to Niklas for taking the time!
Now that I’ve gotten most of my gear in place I’ve slowly started to work on material for the next Cumulus compilation. The track below is a sketch, not yet complete but I thought I’d share the working versions along the way. Have a listen if your interested.
The track was made in one take entirely on my modular system. Live 9.1 was used as a recording device only.
The first Cumulus EP is complete and uploaded to Bandcamp!
The tracks on this album represent different fantastic visions of abandoned environments that could or perhaps do exist somewhere only the clouds travel. The tracks are meant to be heard in order as a continuous journey.
All tracks were recorded using my modular synth (The Cumulus Machine) with Ableton Live as a recording deck. With the exception of a few overdubs the tracks were recorded ‘live’ as continuous takes.
Download it now!
It’s free, or you can pay any amount you want
if you feel generous and like what you hear :).
Special thanks to Adam Watson for mastering and feedback!