Terms, reckonings and other statements of the obvious

•October 29, 2018 • Comments Off on Terms, reckonings and other statements of the obvious

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So hey gang – for those that follow this feed this should;t come as a surprise considering the general trend of how things are at HQ at the moment, but for anyone on the outside, this may come as a shock and surprise. Brace for it – I’m retiring the 23. Yup – the flagship, the bread and butter the one that the famous folks have, etc. Why? For the same reason that everything else is being put out to pasture – to make room for the new and exciting, not to mention some sort of long-awaited reissue 10 years down the line or something. I mean, I get it – some pedals are classics and will never go out of production – Rats, Muffs, Screamers, etc. And these simple circuits have floated an industry, provided jobs, lead to sick tones, etc. And then theres folks like me – this whole electronics thing is a bit of a journey – as much as I’d like to continue making the same thing until the cows come home with the mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the fact remains that I’d probably get bored of doing the same production for years on end. I mean, hell, it’s been 7 years already since the first 23 was cranked out in San José – and I still think they sound awesome, but for me, the time’s come to concentrate on something new and awesome. It’ll most likely be called the Sangre de Nieve and if we’re lucky and our bioluminescent dear leader doesn’t seal the country in a crystalline biosphere so that other countries can’t steal our air or precious fluids, the first special edition will be dropping in January. That’s right – special edition – because why start with production if you an kick it classy from the get go. More on that as it comes down the pike, but in the meantime, we clear the desk, both physically and spiritually. Thanks again to all the players and support over the years – it’s been awesome getting to know every single one of you and remember – you still have a lifetime warranty on that box, so if anything does happen to it, please let me know and I’ll hook you up. In the meantime, stay tuned – I’ve been touting the Sangre as my “masterpiece” of fuzz – it might not be the masterpiece of all fuzzes, but I hope it’ll at least serve as the culmination of what I’ve learned so far in the realm of analog clipping. After that, we go digital.

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For the appeasement of the highlighter:

•October 3, 2018 • Comments Off on For the appeasement of the highlighter:

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So for those that know me in the real world, you’ve probably noticed that I’m all about to-do lists and multi-colored highlighters. Ok – a quick proviso – the multi-colored aspect of this obsession with crossing things off a list has no organizational bias. Purple doesn’t mean financial accomplishment or anything like that (though maybe it should – will get back to you on that). At the moment, its strictly aesthetic – make pretty colored paper to look good while also exemplifying the general idea that you’re a high-functioning human – or at the very least give yourself something to do and remind yourself of your higher pursuits during those lulls at the office. Not to say that I’m not high-functioning there as well, but hey, we all have those moments. At at this moment, several of these moments have been exemplified by the ongoing pursuit of retiring more and more of the past products that I’ve carved out of the usual industrial supplies over the last decade or so. In all, its been pretty beneficial – providing closure, allowing me to focus on new projects and indirectly, forming a narrative on where I am at the moment and how I managed to get here. That said, today we reflect on the Eyecillator.

So for those who read these things and not just look at SEO-provided eye candy on the various aggregate sites, I half-provided the story on how the Little Furry Oscillators came to be. To summarize, I was freshly back in this country, broke as a joke (a recurring story in the meta-narative), and only able to afford the most basic of components, though also in possession of a fair amount of faux fur due spending nearly two years touring with the Raro installation. So in order to raise some capital, pay a bill or two and source some materials for larger boxes, I made a couple silly opto-synths and glued fur to them with my favorite industrial substance, 3M 77 (which, if they have an artist grant or residency, please nominate me – or at the very least, sponsor me like some skateboard kid from the ’90’s). This was before the “boutique pedal boom,” as a former coworker from Baltimore described the general scene of things over the weekend, so the were slow to sell, but they eventually found homes and I got a trickle of cash in my pockets. Yay, lucky me.

Fast forward a year to mid-2014. We’d just moved to Baltimore to a small one-bedroom with no lawn, balcony or other form of personal outdoor space. Cross-ventilation in the apartment was pretty nonexistent and we were also pregnant. So the notion of using industrial adhesive was a floored motion. Not to mention that the lions share of the fur was also in Costa Rica. And as much as I’d like to go to town with spray cans in the alley, the crazy lady who spent most of her day chain-smoking in her bathroom across the way would probably call the cops on me for looking suspicious and a migrating addict would probably scoop up the boxes while staggering through. I doubt there would be any malice in said imagined act, but hey, slow moving object attracted to shiny things and these shiny things are covered in permanent glue. So the design need to be modified a tad to compensate. To do so, Pau carved a pretty awesome lino cut of an eye with an oscilloscope in the center and I finally got to use the embossing powder that’s lived in my parents basement since I was in Cub Scouts. The result was a semi-rubberized logo on unfinished metal – and inadvertently a lower cost of production that having to source fur and glue. And a faster turnaround. Topping things off, I added a simple CV output to the synth that mostly worked (with voltages centering around 0-7 V – good for filters and other Eurorack applications) and priced it under $50 – making it one of the cheapest fully-functional synths on the market that could interface with Euro stuff. In time, I also released a “deluxe” version, as well as a “double” version and all said, these guys sold fairly well. A rough count has about 50 or so out in the wild. Not much by production standards, but cool to think that every single one was hand-made at my desk during Xime’s infant nap-cycles. Plus it got a Harmony Central review and was listed on one of Reverb’s cool-product lists. I’m actually not sure if either of those things exist anymore, but it was a pretty cool indication at the time that I was fighting the good fight.

So what happened? Things just kind of evolved and free time became less available and increasingly sacred. The last ones were made as Christmas presents for VauxFlores Industrial artists, with a select few also serving as the basis of a workshop at Rhizome in Washington DC. The remaining circuitboards were used as the brains of the Orden Natural synths that were exhibited in Oberlin and Washington – and later incorporated into my live rig before being replaced by new brains used in our show in Ithaca, as well as in the 2018 Sonic Circuits Festival. There was also a “mega-eyecillator” produced that’s currently hanging on my “wall of fame” at home, but that’s a story for another day. In the meantime, I think its safe to say that even though the influence of the Eyecillator is still felt in some of current work, the commercial Eyecillator as it was known is now officially  dead. Long live the Eyecillator. Tomorrow morning, someone’s breaking out the highlighters.

Fur Evolution

•September 25, 2018 • Comments Off on Fur Evolution

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A quick one as we prep for this year’s Sonic Circuits fest – just a heads up that I’ve decided to officially retire VF’s Little Furry Oscillator run. So it goes and feel free to pour one out if the spirit so moves. Also, I loved building them – and they were the first things I built after moving back to the US. And n a sense they also represent a stylistic shift from physical computing, sensors and field recordings in Pau and I’s gallery work in favor of raw electronics. But, just like the 24’s and the Platanos, it’s time to hang a few hats up to concentrate on the future. More on that in a bit. But in the meantime, enjoy some analog jams from Jorge and I that we recorded all Postal Service-like last spring.

Printwork – 08.10.18

•September 11, 2018 • Comments Off on Printwork – 08.10.18

Ok – so one day after pulling 5 prints in a performing arts center modeled after the globe theater, Pau and I opened Orden Organico at Ithaca’s Neighbors Gallery. More on that in a bit, but for the sake of posterity, here’s the prints that were pulled from that performance. No banjo or modular synth stuff for this – this one basically only features the sculpture itself as the sole input for image rendering. Sooner than later I’ll post up a new post to my portfolio about this series, but in the meantime, here’s some stuff for the intrepid viewer into abstract digital imagery as realized by a room-size sculpture filled with oscillators in Central New York.

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Printwork – 08.09.18

•August 26, 2018 • Comments Off on Printwork – 08.09.18

Another quick post documenting some new print adventures on the visual art side of the playground. These 5, potentially representing the first of a compositional series I seem to be embarking on were pulled as part of the Upstate Sound Meetup at Cornell University on August 9, 2018, forming the first prints rendered as part of Composition for sculpture, electronics, amplified object and digital printmaking array. I’ll drop the more artistic explanation in bit, but the general idea is to expand on my old Bioprinting performances, but using inputs other than worms. In this case, the inputs were some new sound sculptures Pau and I made, my Eurorack synth and the banjo I picked up earlier this year. These prints were pulled in performance at the Schwartz Center for the arts in Ithaca and each represent a period of about 3 minutes or so. Anyways, enjoy, gang.

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One more for the summer

•August 25, 2018 • Comments Off on One more for the summer

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So hey. Been a second. Been busy. Been in the northwest, been looking at houses, been performing and talking at conferences. Had an art show, maybe even did some soldering. Any and all will eventually be explored more once some free time opens up, but first and foremost, a new release from the net label, featuring a collab between me and Dereck Donohue, aka Horseflesh of Chambara Records fame. It’s called Very Fine People. And yes, that is kind of a political reference – not to say that there’s any kind of implication left or right to it, but rather just that a brunt of the recording occurred right around the time of Charlottesville, 2017. Come take a listen, yes?

Water is the blood of snow

•June 25, 2018 • Comments Off on Water is the blood of snow

So hey, we’re officially one and a half months snow-free! Gotta admit, while I’m typically accustomed to winter, this one was rough. It wasn’t the cold or the snow that did it, though – it was the length. There’s something about snow in late-April that simply does something to your programming. Actually, make that all biological programming. Maybe Baltimore just was light on the nature, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much pollen as I’ve seen this spring in Ithaca. Seriously – we’re talking tumbleweed-sized balls of oak pollen, white-outs of dandelions, yellow rings around every puddle and some sort of strange white plant-fluff down by the lake. I’m usually not allergic, but the past few weeks have been a non-stop flow of sniffles and congestion as my poor nose goes into overtime just keeping the stuff out of my lungs.

And then there’s the rain. Days are usually nice. Then it rains and suddenly the temperatures are in the 40’s again. I keep hearing stories from friends and co-workers about snow in July and August up here and at this point, I’m beginning to believe them. Not to imply that I didn’t, but after living in a top-floor brick walkup where try as it might, the air conditioning was never going to stave off the congestion from the roof and brick exterior in Baltimore, I’m happy for the weather – the rain, the cold and everything in between. Not to talk exclusively about the weather – lot’s happening, hence the radio silence. More on that all later – first up, hey, it’s summer. That means new releases!

First up: The Wind Harp Ensemble, by The Norman Conquest. It involves a wind harp and an ensemble. Not to mention a bunch of synths and voices and Norman’s trademark production. Grip it on the pic:

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Next up is Dirge for Eight and Twenty (The Teeth of Baltimore) by vsls, which I thought was my moniker for when I use laptop stuff, but this is definitely all analog. Not to say that there has to be a logic behind any of this, but I think the logic was that the first “dirge” EP was credited as vsls, so why not continue for consistency? Either way, here it is.

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Finally, we’ve got Tim Walters’ Austerity Measures, which combines Tim’s formidable SuperCollider prowess with some analog nastiness courtesy of Chimera Electronics and VauxFlores. It’s good. Listen to it right now.

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So that’s what’s up. Or at least in the immediate vicinity. More on peeps being published, a string of shows (mostly unrecorded), awards won and upcoming art things when I have a second.

Until next time,

t.