Number 51

IMG_4950

Also known as the EyeTron.

So this is how this happened:

For anyone whose talked to me for more than 20 minutes might know, back in the fall of 2016 I finally got my act together enough to a.) be invited to speak at an international conference on synthesis and b.) also perform at said conference, with the focus of both talk and performance being the sound system I’d been parting together by creating a standardized interface to several of my past creations. In theory, this seemed like a fairly easy task – pack the gear, talk for a bit and jam the same set that I’d been jamming in the states for a second. All I needed to do was get there – wherein lied the challenge. Case in point – voltage. I realized that most of my stuff was DC powered and could be run off my usual power supply with a British adaptor – should be easy enough – but what about my mixer? Little known fact about mixers – most of the ones that are most compatible with international travel are neither compact, nor inexpensive. So a special voltage converter needed to be obtained. Same went with a case for travel – looking to keep everything pre-patched for the sake of explanation and setup, I picked up a decent flight case for my wares – only to discover that the latches were a little underwhelming, among other things. Not wanting to lose my gear in the belly of a plane, I decided to find a suitcase to toss it in – only to discover that the dimensions of the case and bag were basically an ongoing string of compatibility errors. And so on and so on and so on. The good news of this all is that for all essential purposes, the conference went well, or at the very least I didn’t completely embarrass myself. Maybe I was a little out of place since I was one of the only builders working within their own format in a sea of EuroRack people, but I knew that coming in. For my performance, I was maybe a little loud (which I’m always a little guilty of – I’ll chalk it up to an aesthetic crutch, but it is what it is – at least I know what I’m doing), but eh, so it goes.

Ok – rambling – let’s bring everything back in focus. So what does this all have to do with this box? Nothing and everything, as always. First, I realized that I needed to reinforce some my my builds – while DIY is great, instruments built into cigar boxes and cutlery trays are slightly lacking in the stability dept – and even an industrial flight case may not be enough to prevent damage when tossed into the cargo hold of a wide-body Boeing on a transatlantic flight. At least one of my babies (Number 27) came back with some battle damage and not wanting to grind these things into dust, I decided that it was time to rethink, retire and rebuild. So Number 27 got a gallery hook attached to the back of it and Number 51 was fast-tracked through production. Ala timeframe, I’d actually been working in this for a while – since at least the spring of 2016 when I started Number 50. After years of having what seemed like an inexhaustible supply of cigar boxes provided courtesy of LX Rudis, I was finally down to the final four. I’d made some sketched of what I wanted them to be, but was also running into a new twist in my routine – namely a certain toddler becoming much more aware of her universe. Case in point, the studio became a bedroom, the living room became a reduced studio, naps became less of a thing and active quality time was the new norm. Not to say that’s a bad thing – in fact its kind of a great thing – but time to build wacky sound things was greatly reduced. Hence the whole taking over a year to cobble this particular unit together. I never thought something this simple would take this long, but the one thing I’ve recently come to terms with is the fact that while it seems like I don’t have much free time, I actually have a decent amount of time to deal with. I’m sure some people have have respect for deadlines, but in the end, does it matter? No one ever died due to there one less synthesizer in the world. Or have they?

Ok, enough yapping – this is what it is and how it does it: It’s basically 6 Eyecillator circuits in one box – 4 single Eyecillators and a double Eyecillator from the workshop that I taught that one day at Rhizome when things got a little too alt-right fr its own good. In short, nothing too fancy. But the thought was to make it classy, keep it compact and set the stage for where VF was beginning to veer off into come 2017. Ala performance, I only used it a few times, most notably during the Sound System’s performance at Oberlin College in March of 2017 as part of John Talbert’s retirement festivities. Since then, its been a bit of a conversation piece and was nearly officially retired until it took a trip to Boston in December 2018. I was asked to perform at a house show by way of bassist Nate Varga and found myself playing my first song live. How’s that – I’ve been doing the music thing for half my life and I’ve only done serious compositions and noisy improv odysseys. Hows that for confusing? Either way, things actually went well. I’ll probably limit touring with this guy, but I believe for the time being this particular unit may still have some life in them yet.

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