Rookie producers

naviarhaiku436 – lightning thunder

There was a black-out yesterday, so I turned my attention to the haiku shared by Naviar Records.

My aim was to create a bassline that sounded like thunder and a rain-like synth part to go with scattered drums.

When you are skydiving


Disquiet Junto 0541 10BPM Techno

The Disquiet Junto project this week involves music at ten beats per minute.

When Marc tweeted he'd misread 10PM Show as 10BPM Show, I had an idea it'd be a Junto assignment.

We did one like this a while back and I discovered that Ableton Live only went down to 20 BPM.

It turns out my JX-08 also only goes down that far.

Sorry that it sounds a bit peak-y as I plugged it straight into my camera.

Anyway, since my internet has been off all afternoon and evening, I recorded my guess of the Junto assignment and missed making a slow techno tune with crowd noise.

I've been mixing

Disquiet Junto 0540 5ive 4our

The Disquiet Junto directions this week are to make music using a 5/4 time signature. 

It took me a while to find my groove and I nearly didn't complete this project.

I've used a few of my Roland Boutiques and decided to use the SH-01A, although it's a bit noisy.

One night with Lucas Abela

Last night I drove to Wagga to see and hear Lucas Abela, famous for his performances using broken glass.

I last saw him perform during 2006, when the last of the “unfamous” Unsound Festivals was held in the city.

(The more famous Unsound is the Polish version that began as a sister event inspired by activities in Wagga and the region, that then overshadowed the original by being invited to curate performances in New York and Adelaide.)

Abela offered to talk through his modular effects before the performance and he outlined some of how his process has developed over recent years.

Back in 2006 he was known as Justice Yeldham and I think he might’ve worn a mask, but I could be getting confused with the Judge Dredd-style characters evoked by the name.

He favoured large pieces of broken window glass as his instrument, which still uses a quality contact microphone to amplify.

As an aside it’s worth considering how few contact mics were available at the time, although I’d been introduced to them by Alan Lamb at the Unsound in 2004 and worked with him for performances in 2006 (and in turn shared his insights with local artists and musicians).

Abela’s performance back then was still a noisy event, largely characterised by distortion effects and sometimes culminated with broken glass (with the risk of blood loss being part of the drama).

He mentioned something that seemed to suggest that bloody performances were a thing of the past and, I guess it might be part of performing under his own name, as his noisy act has undergone a few changes.

During the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns, I’d watched on Facebook as Abela sold most of his guitar effects pedals and invested in establishing a modular rig.

He said he’d been resistant to modular “techno” until a friend had observed that he’d been trying to use the pedals like the wiry patch bay of synthesiser modules.

The chain saw his contact mic go into a pre-amp, which included a high-pass filter that reduced handling noise, then into a compressor and the first envelope filter (which included a low-pass filter to reduce hiss).

This envelope led into a series of delays, which broke the signal into different effects chains that included a few oscillators and further envelopes.

A key part of these parallel effects seemed to be a VCA that created a gate-like effect, accentuating percussive characters and further reducing the noise floor.

During the performance it was clear how much this new effects chain has elevated Abela’s sonic dynamics.

He sat barefoot on the Art Gallery’s lounge among the exhibition by Vic McEwan (which included a contact mic in the installation that I’d recommended to him ahead of his show in the same venue during 2012).

Abela swayed with the fluctuating delays and at times I imagined him as paddling on a dinghy into choppy waters.

The audience listened to a fluid-like improvisation that soared from low growls into cascading shrieks, with percussive interludes and surprising moments where multiple vocalisations crashed into each other and mutated with timbres.

It was wonderful to be washed over by the sound waves coming from the quadraphonic set-up and occasionally hearing the decay of notes within the acoustically bright environment of the main gallery.

When I first saw Abela perform I was more indifferent to noise as a genre of audio and now I feel as though the Unsound experiences and experimentation in my own practise has better equipped me to appreciate his art.

And it was interesting to reflect on how the influence of his visits to the city continues to reverberate. 

Disquiet Junto 0539 Control Breath

Since the Junto started being published before bedtime on Thursday, there's been Disquiet in my dreams.

This week the assignment is to "Let your slow breathing guide a piece of music" and my process involved a tale worthy of Dickens.

The Ghost of Juntos Past reminded me of project number 0219, where I'd remixed intimate breaths shared with my partner.

The Ghost of Juntos Present gave me opportunities to record today.

When I awoke I saw the gear I'd been playing yesterday, which was patched with the SE-02 take CV/gate from the TB-03.

My partner agreed to let me record her breath while I pleasured her and I thought it'd be fun to listen on repeat while I created the musical parts.

The TR-09 kept wanting to play a programmed riff, rather than the simple MIDI part to counter the TR-08 and the delay on the TR-06.

At the last minute I decided to play the laptop keyboard through the SE-02.

The Ghost of Juntos Future will likely arrive when I use the stems from the three takes for a remix.

Disquiet Junto 0538 Guided Decompression

The Disquiet Junto direction is " guide someone from a place of intense stress to something more sedate."

When the instructions arrived, I was packing ahead of driving 1000km to return from a holiday on the coast.

It felt as though I had to recover, so I drafted my ideas on Sunday and recorded them today (Monday).

naviarhaiku432 – Spring blossoms fading

The haiku shared by Naviar Records arrived as I was playing with my Roland Boutique TB-03 and TR-06, so the theme of spring growing old seemed to resonate like these recreations of older equipment.

I heard


Disquiet Junto 0537 Penitent Honk

The Disquiet Junto project this week asks participants to: "Think about what a car horn would sound like if it were apologizing for the driver’s actions."

I like the idea one might give a cheers-like gesture to toast a fellow road user, as a way of apologising for something.

So I created a simple melody using wine glasses.

Boutique freak

I'm late to the Boutique series of Roland's products, but have been fascinated.

The Boutique range always seemed like a reaction to the Aira series not being enough of a recreation of the classics.

Then one commentator I heard on Youtube recently explained that it required negotiating the company ethos of innovation. 

Did the Roland circuit-modelling framework provide a way for the company to look backward while moving forward?

The consumer demand for Roland classics seems a direct result of the massive influence they’ve had in popular culture.

So, in a world where Roland heritage is being raided by many competitors, it’s interesting to see the balance between outdated and new possibilities when a Boutique iteration is released.

I developed my ABS (Acquisition of Boutique Synths) after buying a TR-06 drum machine, which caught my interest for the Autechre vibe and built-in effects.

In contrast, the TR-08 that arrived secondhand soon after seemed of offer less functionality than the original drum machine.

Synths weren’t initially appealing to me, but I tried the SH-01A and loved the Chemical Brothers sound.

As I started looking around and thinking about another, I became curious why the Juno synth has had two Boutique iterations: JU-06 and JU-06A.

It’s not uncommon for products to be refreshed within short timeframes, but it seems interesting that a recreation was relaunched rather than a new firmware.

It has a switch to move between Juno-60 and -106 sounds, with the former having a wonderfully gritty low-bitrate sound that is beautifully underwhelming at recreating brass instruments.

No wonder the Juno makes me think of Zelda soundtracks.

Anyway, maybe I don’t understand building synths but it does appear that Roland are 100% behind the “limited edition” wording in the Boutique marketing.

I hope they’ll look at the ridiculous prices being published alongside TR-09s and release a new version with built-in EQ sweep effects.

Another aspect that attracted my eye is the design.

When you put a bunch of Boutiques together, have a look at the Roland logo.

As a sometime graphic designer who works with corporate style guides, it seems curious how the placement and size of the logo varies.

Then, while you’re hooking up those Boutiques that you’ve assembled, have a look at how to access a basic function like assigning MIDI channel input.

There are a different series of buttons to press, depending on the Boutique module.

While some might protest that the original hardware mightn’t have had MIDI, it’s surprising how much this aspect of the architecture varies.

It’s like each Boutique has their own character, which is the sort of thing a parent says.

When the parent is named Roland, I hope they’ll start sleeping around and create more Boutiques.

The collaboration with Studio Electronics that gave birth to the SE-02 offered the only analog Boutique, so who knows what IVF treatment could provide for Roland fanboys like me.

I was stoked to see someone had developed a mock-up of a Boutique modelled on the TR-707 (with a switch for 727 sounds!) and hope that Roland will announce this product. 

Disquiet Junto 0535 Jigsaw Disjunction

The Disquiet Junto prompt this week gave me an idea to use the cut-up technique on the national anthem.

Since Marc has started scheduling the project details to appear online ahead of the email, I've spent more time pondering how to respond to the Junto activity.

Last night, when I read the Disquiet post, I started reworking a popular Queen song and then thought better of it.

In previous Juntos I've referenced the Cut-up technique and re-written the Australian national anthem, so it interested me to combine the two.

(Also, it provided a process I could represent in the video visually -- although I've another idea to process 'Happy Birthday' that I might try over the weekend.)

My oldest sings in the choir at school, so I knew he'd provide the material.

My partner joked that I might get arrested for butchering the national anthem and it's a contentious song for me anyway, since the second verse has been at odds with Australia's offshore detention policies this century.

I think it was William S. Burroughs who thought the Cut-up technique revealed hidden meanings in text, and it seems to me the Australian national anthem has language which seems to infer the white Australia policies of earlier eras.

The result is unmusical and I tried singing the new arrangement to the existing melody, which improved it but seemed at odds with the Junto directions this week.

naviarhaiku429 – over the moon


The haiku shared by Naviar Records led me to consider beating something, like the crow beats its wings.

So I took two takes on my tongue drum and layered them together.

Disquiet Junto 0534 Transition Capsule

I spoke with my son about the Junto project and he told me they already do this at his high school. 

Apparently there’s music over the school intercom, so it crackles and mostly the selection is ordinary – although my partner said she heard Iron Maiden one time.

naviarhaiku428 – end of rains

The haiku shared by Naviar Records seemed playful, so I've had a jam on my Roland Boutique sound modules.

Nobody can drink and work


Disquiet Junto 0533 Numbers Magik


The Disquiet Junto this week activity involves remixing material from the trios projects earlier this year.

In the first round of those projects, RPLKTR hailed me as a fellow Youtuber and I'd wanted to respond to his track.

It has a lilting melody in a pop song structure, played on a little synth that sounds like an interpretation of a little Asian stringed instrument.

At the time I was stuck for how to contribute.

Last night, as I was finishing my track, I worried I might've become unstuck!

I'd looped a drum part and bass line, then had the idea to record through Volcas.

The Korg Volca range are fun and cheerful products, but I struggle to make them fit in a track.

When I played my son the recording, he thought it had smothered RPLKTR's track.

Dr Dre has this hardware


Memory of Nofi

At, Marc remembers Jeffrey Melton and it's interesting to me that this memory of Melton's passing arises as we re-approach the Trios Junto projects.

While 'communing with Nofi' in '13, I had the delightful experience of discovering a Junto participant had chosen to jam with my response.

Lee Rosevere's drumming alongside my bass was a rare thrill for a musician.

It was one of those moments where I heard my music elevated by someone more skilful.

So inspiring, even when I think back on it.

That was my first Junto Trio and, in hindsight, I can see it encourages that thing musicians need to do and is central to the Junto's objectives: listening to each other.

My other recollection from the 66th Junto is that I spent a while listening to Nofi’s recordings and appreciating the way Melton sampled.

Nofi’s jams often hung on a well-known riff, such as Michael Jackson’s 'Thriller', but he’d take a bar or so and build a scaffold around it.

The result was like a construction site, where you could see through the mesh hung on the fence and glimpse an outline of the landmark.

naviarhaiku427 – marbled dawn

The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week reminded me of seeing Venus and Mars in the sky before dawn recently.

My track developed from a jam with the Omnichord and my collection of Roland Boutiques.

Disquiet Junto 0532 Other Means

The Disquiet Junto assignment this week is to "Make music about something you find difficult or unproductive to talk about." 

This song is about my online shopping habit.

Naviarhaiku 426 – the long night


At first I considered recording the neighbourhood dogs that can be heard barking, as part of a response to the haiku shared by Naviar Records this week. 

That seemed too literal and, after I'd set up my microphone, the little yappers across the street fell silent. 

So I had a jam on my Omnichord, although I ended up reworking the MIDI instruments in Live afterward, so you can't hear any of the devices flashing during the recording.

Straight from the sauce


Disquiet Junto 0531 Noise Sculpt

The Disquiet Junto project this week is to "Listen for a mirage of your music within white noise." 

At first I wasn't sure I wanted to listen to noise for an extended period, then I considered other sources. 

I settled on one of the recordings I made on my last visit to Valla Beach and worked with Ableton Live to explore the key of the crashing waves. 

After a while, I recorded piano and bass parts to accompany the vocoded synth pads that are hidden in the background noise.

naviarhaiku425 – Looking, not seeing

The haiku shared by Naviar Records arrived as I was helping my son Oscar with an assignment. 

 I've been throwing ideas at his bass line and the piano part was a melody he developed with his teacher, who recorded that instrument and likely played it too.

Disquiet Junto 0530 Minimally Viable Music

Recently I’ve established a tiny corner studio based around an Omnichord. 

It came to mind for the Junto this week, as I’m trying to connect the minimum number of devices via MIDI to see if it doesn’t sound naff. 

This week I took a recent jam, edited bits to cover a bad performance and tried not to mangle it too much in Ableton Live. 

However, it seems the Omnichord still required a couple of VST synths and delays on top of the trio you can see blinking their lights.

Lyrics / beat


Disquiet Junto 0529 Squared Off

The Disquiet Junto assignment this week asks participants to "Explore the number 23."

I decided to count back through my Juntos in increments of 23, then remix elements from those tracks together.

It turns out that I didn’t join in project 0414, so there were four Juntos to use this week:
  • Sunset [disquiet0506]
  • Lettera [disquiet0483]
  • Blossoms [disquiet0460]
  • A (distant) neighbour might be a pianist [disquiet0437]
The result is one of those unlikely Junto tracks, with a rock band supporting a typist while accompanied by a field recording.

When you're trying to DJ


naviarhaiku424 – sunset in snow


The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week prompted me to put on a red shirt to match all the red LEDs on my equipment.

My Omnichord is going through Roland's TR-06 and SH-101a, as well as Korg's Volca Keys and FM synth.

Then I saturated the stems and mixed them together.

Music theory


naviarhaiku423 – scattering ginkgo leaves

This haiku shared by Naviar Records arrived as I was plugging my Suzuki Omnichord into various bits of gear.

I like the line "faint sound from the wind" and, because I live in a semi-industrial setting, those sounds often carry noises from industry.

So my recording brings those to the fore.

Disquiet Junto 0528 Landscape Architecture


The Disquiet Junto prompt this week is to "Think about the concept of creating an unobtrusive path through the musical equivalent of fragile vegetation."

My mind immediately went to a blackbird recording I made last spring.

Then my mind went to a recording I'd made of an omnichord jam.

A photo can't hurt you


naviarhaiku422 – the edge of the world


The haiku shared by Naviar Records suggests a treacherous trail.

My track developed as I wanted to make use of the drums I'd recorded for the Disquiet Junto this week.

As I played with ideas, I flicked through the randomised options in a 303-style VST and liked the way the slide worked with the beat.

Disquiet Junto 0527 Magic Number (3 of 3)


When I started listening to the Disquiet Junto tracks from last weekend, I had an idea that I might program a beat on a drum machine.

Then I realised it'd be more nuanced to play the drums.

I didn't leave much time, so I didn't bother setting up a mic and just used the camera.

As a result I had to spend more time trying to make it sit in the mix.

In the end I used phasing to take the force out of the drumming and tried to make the different parts sit together, although I'm not sure if more compression would help or hinder.

New mixer


naviarhaiku421 – White and white

The haiku shared by Naviar Records reminded me that I had footage to edit.

It's been a busy year for these white butterflies, which seem to have crowded out all the other varieties that I've seen around my flowering mint. 

I've used the chords from Shark With Lasers' piece for a recent Disquiet Junto.

The key to happiness


Disquiet Junto 0526 Magic Number (2 of 3)


For the second part of the Disquiet Junto's asynchronous trio project, I jammed along with Shark With Lasers' track 'L Chord Pulse'.

If you want to join us, the audio (wav file) and video (mov file) can be downloaded from these hypertext links.

Since this Junto allows further contributions, I've joined Seramind on the track 'Skrap' with a drum track.

I've used gates to try and tame my playing, as well as saturation to make it sound at home.

Again, if you want to join us, the audio (wav file) and video (mov file) can be downloaded from these hypertext links.

What happened to him?


What is your general approach

What is your general approach to making art? Some people are feelings/intuition-based. Or for some people, they have this idea or this question that they’re wanting to explore. Or others, there’s a certain technical skill that they’re interested in developing or focusing on. Obviously, for some people, it’s a mixture of all those approaches. I’m wondering what yours is.

Disquiet Junto 0524 Sunset Waveform


The Disquiet Junto activity this week asks for an interpretation of this sunset photograph as a waveform.

I saw a guitar in the image, as it reminded me of the many variations there are on this idea of the instrument in the silhouette of trees.

So I recorded a couple of takes using the gated guitar rig and tried to keep in mind the shape of the treeline.

There are a number of inputs all triggered by the guitar, through its pickups and the MIDI and the Submarine pickup on the lower strings.

It’s largely a single take, although I added a little reverb in post.