February 28, 2016

Playlist Week of 2016-02-27

* J.S. Bach/Sandor Veress: Suite No.1/Sonatas, etc. (Demenga, et al.) (ECM CD)
* Satie: Works for Piano (Ciccolini) (selections) (EMI 5CD)
* Alexander Knaifel, et al.: Lux Aeterna (Demenga) (ECM CD)
* Charles Mingus: My Favorite Quintet (Jazz Workshop/Fantasy LP)
* McCoy Tyner: Reaching Fourth (Impulse! LP)
* McCoy Tyner: Together (Milestone LP)
* Cecil Taylor: Unit Structures (Blue Note LP)
* Human Arts Ensemble: Whisper of Dharma (Arista/Freedom LP)
* Eberhard Weber: Yellow Fields (ECM LP)
* Enrico Rava: The Pilgrim and the Stars (ECM LP)
* Kip Hanrahan: Coup de Tête (American Clavé LP)
* Bill Connors: Step It (Pathfinder LP)
* Mark Nauseef/Ikue Mori/Evan Parker/Bill Laswell: Near Nadir (Tzadik CD)
* David Torn: Prezens (ECM CD)
* Bill Frisell: Before We Were Born (Elektra/Musician LP)
* Jon Hassell: Power Spot (ECM CD)
* Marcin Wasilewski: Trio (ECM CD)
* Marcin Wasilewski Trio w/Joakim Milder: Spark of Life (ECM CD)
* Christian Wallumrod Ensemble: Solfienberg Variations (ECM CD)
* Steve Roach: Streams & Currents (Projekt CD)
* Conrad Schnitzler: Ballet Statique (m=minimal LP)
* Grateful Dead: Memorial Auditorium, Utica, NY 1981-03-13 Ix (SBD CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Manor Downs, Austin, TX 1981-07-04 (d.2) (SBD 3CDR)
* Mingo Lewis: Mingo (Columbia LP)
* Stomu Yamashta: Go Live From Paris (Island 2LP)
* Hawkwind: Space Ritual (EMI 2CD)
* Pete Bardens: Heart To Heart (Arista LP)
* Solution: Cordon Bleu (Rocket/MCA LP)
* Jennifer Warnes: Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (Cypress LP)
* Beck: Sea Change (Geffen/Mobile Fidelity CD)
* Beach House: Depression Cherry (Sub Pop LP)
* Beach House: Thank Your Lucky Stars (Sub Pop LP)
* Wild Nothing: Gemini (Captured Tracks LP)
* Nothing: Guilty of Everything (Relapse LP)



Daffodils! The harbinger of spring!

February 21, 2016

Playlist Week of 2016-02-20

* Imaginary Landscapes: New Electronic Music (Elektra/Nonesuch CD)
* Ornette Coleman: New York Is Now (Blue Note CD)
* Air: Air Lore (Arista/Novus LP)
* David Murray: Live At The Lower Manhattan Ocean Club Vol.1 (India Navigation LP)
* Billy Cobham: Spectrum (Atlantic LP)
* Billy Cobham: Total Eclipse (Atlantic LP)
* Pat Martino: Consciousness (Muse LP)
* Pat Martino: Joyous Lake (Warner Bros. LP)
* Pat Martino: Exit (Muse LP)
* David Torn Prezens: Saalfelden, Austria 2007-08-24 (FM CDR)
* David Torn Prezens: Barcelona 2008-01-09 (AUD CDR)
* David Torn Prezens: The Vortex, London 2008-01-14 (FM CDR)
* David Torn: Only Sky (ECM CD)
* Unconscious Collective: Unconscious Collective (Tofu Carnage 2LP)
* Unconscious Collective: Pleistocene Moon (Tofu Carnage 2LP)
* Möller + Knutsson: Latitudes Crossing (Atrium CD)
* Grateful Dead: Civic Center, Hartford, CT 1980-05-10 II (d.1) (SBD 2CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Uptown Theatre, Chicago, IL 1981-02-27 (d.2) (SBD3 CDR)
* The United States of America: The United States of America (Columbia/Sundazed LP)
* Can: Saw Delight (Spoon SACD)
* Neu!: Neu! (Astralwerks CD)
* Neu!: 2 (Astralwerks CD)
* Neu!: 3 (Astralwerks CD)
* Le Orme: Felona E Sorona (Philips LP)
* Ethos: (Ardour) (Capitol LP)
* Steve Roach: Fever Dreams (Projekt CD)
* Japan: Quiet Life (Hansa/Carrere LP)
* Yo La Tengo: Stuff Like That There (Matador LP)
* Lambchop: Mr. M (Merge CD)
* Wilco: Star Wars (Anti- LP)
* Tortoise: The Catastrophist (Thrill Jockey LP)
* Sleep: Vol.1 (Very Small/Tupelo LP)
* Opeth: Deliverance & Damnation (Music For Nations/Sony 2CD/2DVD)
* Expo 70: Kinetic Tones (Oaken Palace LP)
* Kadavar: Berlin (Nuclear Blast 2LP)



Well, I have gone down the wormhole...

The only thing really lacking on the Moog Sub 37 is any kind of onboard effects -- and, of course, it would be absurd to expect them in an analog mono synth. But, boy, do those wonderful sounds cry out for further tweaking.

Well, what do you know? Moog also provides full line of Moogerfooger all-analog effects boxes, all with the added benefit of built-in low-frequency oscillators (LFOs) and extensive control voltage (CV) connectivity. Combined with a CP-251 Control Processor, they could potentially turn my Sub 37 into a semi-modular monster synth!

So, obviously, this is where I'm headed...down the wormhole.

I've started out with two essentials: The MF-102 Ring Modulator and MF-104M Analog Delay. Beautiful hand-built instruments, these things are built like tanks, with deliciously solid switches and knobs that feel so good in the hand. But it's the sound they make -- oh my god, the sound!

The ring modulator produces everything from gentle tremolo to clangorous noise, with the LFO and CV-connections adding to the available chaos, just perfect for what I'm after. The analog delay, though, is an absolute beast! No longer being produced, I had to resort to eBay to get ahold of one --but, dang, it was worth every penny. There is just nothing like that old-fashioned "bucket-brigade" delay, which sounds gritty, dark, and downright lo-fi compared to modern, pristine, digital delays. Add in some of that variable waveform LFO and, heck, I can listen to it self-oscillate for hours.

Although visually impressive (and a joy to use), the Moogerfooger's extra-large form factor means they take up considerable space. Should I ever have a full complement, I will have to seriously re-configure my tiny studio. Well, that's part of the fun, too -- but it's the sound that matters.

Stay tuned for further wormhole adventures!

February 14, 2016

Playlist Week of 2016-02-13

* Ohm: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music 1948-1980 (d.2-3) (Ellipsis Arts 3CD)
* Charlie Parker: Charlie Parker With Strings: The Master Takes (Verve CD)
* Elvin Jones: Genesis (Blue Note LP)
* Eric Dolphy: Copenhagen Concert (Prestige 2LP)
* Joe Henderson: Canyon Lady (Milestone LP)
* Anthony Braxton: [Quartet (Sao Paulo) 2014] (SESC 2CD)
* James Carter: Layin’ The Cut (Atlantic CD)
* Tom Rainey Trio: Hotel Grief (Intakt CD)
* Ingrid Laubrock: Anti-House (Intakt CD)
* Ingrid Laubrock: Ubatuba (Firehouse 12)
* Ingrid Laubrock Octet: Zurich Concert (Intakt CD)
* John Fahey: Red Cross (Revenant CD)
* The United States of America: The United States of America (Columbia/Sundazed LP)
* The Red Crayola: The Parable of Arable Land (International Artists LP)
* The Red Crayola: God Bless The Red Crayola […] (International Artists/Charly CD)
* Mayo Thompson: Corky’s Debt To His Father (Texas Revolution/Drag City LP+7”)
* Can: Unlimited Edition (Spoon SACD)
* Can: Landed (Spoon SACD)
* Can: Soon Over Babaluma (Spoon SACD)
* Can: Landed (Spoon SACD)
* Can: Flow Motion (Spoon SACD)
* Cybotron: Sunday Night At The Total Theatre (Dual Planet LP)
* Steven Halpern: Chakra Suite (Inner Peace/Open Channel CD)
* Steve Roach: Light Fantastic (Fathom CD)
* Steve Roach/Byron Metcalf/Mark Seelig: Mantram (Projekt CD)
* Talk Talk: Laughing Stock (EMI/Universal LP)
* Locrian: Infinite Dissolution (Relapse LP)



Happy Valentines Day from Tennessee!

February 7, 2016

Playlist Week of 2016-02-06

* Bartók, et al.: The Wooden Prince, etc. (NY Phil, et al./Boulez) (Sony Classical 2CD)
* Bartók, et al.: Concerto for Viola, etc. (Kashkashian/Eotvos) (ECM CD)
* Eric Dolphy: The Berlin Concerts (Inner City 2LP)
* Eric Dolphy: Copenhagen Concert (Prestige 2LP)
* Don Cherry: Modern Art: Stockholm 1977 (Mellotronen LP)
* Don Cherry: Hear & Now (Atlantic LP)
* Bobby Hutcherson: Total Eclipse (Blue Note CD)
* Jack DeJohnette: Made In Chicago (ECM CD)
* Gateway: Homecoming (ECM CD)
* Bobbi Humphrey: Blacks And Blues (Blue Note LP)
* DJ Spooky: Optometry (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Heeltop Home Studio, December 28-29, 2015 (FLAC)
* Love’s A Real Thing: The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa (Luaka Bop 2LP)
* Tim Maia: The Existential Soul of Tim Maia: Nobody Can Live Forever (Luaka Bop 2LP)
* Earth Wind & Fire: Gratitude (Columbia 2LP)
* Earth Wind & Fire: All ’n’ All (Columbia/Legacy CD)
* A Taste of Honey: A Taste of Honey (Capitol LP)
* Eric Siday: Ultra Sonic Perception (Dual Planet LP)
* Eric Siday: Sounds of Now (Dual Planet LP)
* Blue Cheer: Vincebus Eruptum (Philips LP)
* Blue Cheer: Outsideinside (Philips LP)
* Joni Mitchell: Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter (Asylum HDCD)
* Tangerine Dream: Rubycon (Virgin LP)
* Cluster: Cluster 71 (Philips/Bureau B LP)
* Heldon: Live in Paris 1975 (SouffleContinuum LP)
* Heldon: Live in Paris 1976 (SouffleContinuum EP)
* Harald Grosskopf: Synthesist (Sky/Bureau B LP)
* Savant: Artificial Dance (RVNG International 2LP)
* Craig Leon: Nommos/Visiting (RVNG International 2LP)
* Steven Wilson: Hand. Cannot. Erase. (KScope Blu-Ray)
* Steven Wilson: 4 ½ (KScope Blu-Ray)
* Ensemble Pearl: [ensemble pearl] (Drag City 2LP)
* Minsk: With Echoes In The Movement Of Stones (Relapse/Exalt 2LP)
* Minsk: The Crash & The Draw (Relapse 2LP)
* Windhand: Windhand (Force Field LP)
* Windhand: Soma (Relapse 2LP)
* Windhand: Grief’s Infernal Flower (Relapse 2LP)



I have wanted an analog synthesizer ever since I was a little kid back in the late-70s, hanging out in Don Elliott's studio in Connecticut. As I recall, he had (amongst other keyboards) an Arp Odyssey, an Arp String Ensemble, a Yamaha CS-60 and weird old polyphonic Casio, with little plastic tabs like organ stops. I was in heaven.

That sort of gear was ridiculously expensive back then, especially for a kid. Moreover, the digital revolution was right around the corner.  I can totally understand why everyone went whole-hog down the digital pathway in the 1980s: those old analog oscillators were inherently unstable and would wander out of tune worse than a cheap ukelele. With the advent of MIDI those classic synths were immediately made obsolete.

But what goes around comes around, apparently, and analog synthesizers are back big time, with the choices proliferating every year. After messing around with the Arturia soft-synths for so long, I increasingly longed for real knobs and switches rather than clumsily clicking the mouse on a screen. While Arturia's own MiniBrute was mighty tempting at less than $500, reports of shoddy construction combined with its inherent limitations made it less appealing. Then Korg came out with an 86%-sized Arp Odyssey at around a grand, which looks to be mighty cool -- but the miniature keys and plastic-y construction ultimately put me off.

Then there is the mighty Moog. At only $900, the venerable Sub Phatty is highly regarded for its killer sound -- but its minimalist layout means lots of menu-diving to get the most out of it. So the more I looked the latest Sub 37 Tribute Edition, the more I realized this is what I really, really wanted. Not only is it an honest-to-God, made in America, all-analog synth, but with its 72 knobs and switches you get an intuitive, MiniMoog-like interface along with other incredibly useful features like duo-phonic splitting of the oscillators, a full-sized  three-octave keyboard with aftertouch, a built-in arpeggiator/64-step sequencer, plus the ability to save and edit patches on the fly. Considering its sturdy metal construction and handsome wooden end-caps, the Sub 37 seemed to me like a bargain at a mere fifteen-hundred bucks.

Of course, to bring it in at that price point, there some minor compromises. While there are control voltage inputs for expression pedals (which is incredibly useful) there are no CV or gate outputs, which limits its integration into a fully modular system. And purists might quibble at the absence of a true sinewave output from the oscillators, opting instead for continuously variable triangle/square/random/PCM waveforms. I am certainly not complaining, though. The deeply expressive possibilities of the Sub 37 make it a fine musical instrument that will surely go down as a classic Moog synthesizer. I couldn't be happier.

Space is the place!