Dirge for 27


vsls – Dirge for 27



  1. Everything largely has come full-circle, though we seem to have less to deal with now in some regards
  2. Things are much darker


The genesis of these recordings began in Manchester. Or rather, with a trip I took to Manchester to deliver a paper on synthesis and instrument building. Keeping in mind that this is the Manchester in England, not New England. Looking to showcase my slightly-more-fragile-than-commercial-grade instruments in an academic setting and not have to worry about transit, patching, setup, missing cables, etc. I decided to use the proceeds from a workshop I conducted at Rhizome in DC towards the purchase of a flight case for my rig. In theory, this would have been a great idea, but seeing that this is me, I went for the cheap flight case and quickly realized I was at risk of snapping a latch over the Atlantic and arriving empty-handed. So I then had to buy the largest suitcase available to transport this box and when all was said and done, I probably could have simply purchased a decent flight case from the get go and have been done with it all in one fell swoop. Especially considering that upon arrival I discovered that one of my instruments, Number 27 to be exact, had been damaged by way of brittle plexiglass, gravity and a fairly tight cable run. Whoops. I was able to make due for the performance, but after returning to Baltimore, decided it was time to redesign certain aspects of the analog rig, as well as put this particular synth out to pasture. Or in this case, mounted on the wall with gallery hooks. Oddly enough, when I first started building, I imagined the walls of my studios adorned with various instruments I’ve built – granted this is only the first and the studio currently also doubles as the living room, but it’s a short step in the right direction.

That said, these recordings represent a farewell of sorts to the active life of this instrument. The sounds are pretty dark. But then again, it was a dark time. I recorded these tracks shortly after the deaths of my grandmother as well as one of my academic mentors, which was also shortly after the deadly Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, Ca. I’d just also totaled my car and was relying on bicycle in the winter for basic necessities and the was of course the pending inauguration of a certain mound of opulent corrupt filth and his freshly-assembled collection of geriatrics looking for one last score before the grave claims them, and hopefully the old-world imperialist lenses they color their worlds with as well. Tangent aside, yeah, dark. Which is strange, because I actually kept Number 27 as a synth because it was one of the brighter, more poppish builds I conjured. Hell, I even re-engineered it to function off CV and changed the original machine screw interface for a solid patch bay. But alas, for all good things, there is inevitably an ending. In the words of Walter Sobchak, “Goodnight Sweet Prince.” – you served me well from 2012-2017. May the rest of your days be peaceful and pleasant.



Travis Johns – VauxFlores Number 27 and Eurorack format modular synthesizer.

Baltimore, Md. December 2016

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