Listening Rig

I finally had to buy an external hard drive to house my music library. (I’d replaced the old Mac Mini’s internal one 5+ years ago.) Below is my current daily listening rig.

Intel Core 2 Duo Mac Mini (circa 2007)
1 TB WD Elements external HD
OS X 10.5.8
iTunes 10.6.3 (<– a version that’s still good!!)
160 GB iPod classic (<– best ever!!!!!!!!)
Library: 35,000 items; 100 days of music end-to-end

The iPod will die some day – it’s already been through a few total fritz-outs and and full re-syncs – but that’s survivable. (This will probably be the event that prompts me to enter the smartphone era.) I’m not sure I can go on living without iTunes 10 and my library, though. I probably need to investigate some kind of solid state drive machine that will boot Leopard.

Or maybe there’s library management software on Linux that could replace iTunes.

“Utopia Parkway” 20th Anniversary

The other week as I read the liner notes for Fountains of Wayne’s Out-of-State Plates while importing it to iTunes (yeah, still do that) I realized the 20th anniversary of their album Utopia Parkway had come and gone this past April, and I hadn’t seen anyone mention it.

Below is a lightly edited version of the email conversation Cory and I had about it.

Continue reading “Utopia Parkway” 20th Anniversary

Monotribe Modding

A couple months ago I impulse-bought a Korg Monotribe synth. It proved even more fun than I expected to play, but its variety of sounds are necessarily limited.

After a lot of googling, planning, and testing, parts arrive tomorrow for a suite of modifications that will expand the Monotribe’s palette in some moderate but meaningful ways.

Enhancements include:

  • Hi-hat, Bass drum, and drum mix (snare when the other two are used) direct outputs
  • Hi-hat and snare noise decay toggle switches
  • Bass drum and snare frame decay knobs
  • Drum mix momentary mute button
  • VCA de-click trim pot and toggle switch (the Monotribe’s amp envelope is notoriously clicky)
  • VCO mute toggle switch
  • VCF touch-sensitive cutoff control

Together, I hope these mods will take the Monotribe from the top end of the “fun-to-mess-around-with” bracket into the lower end of “serious instrument” territory. I fully intend to make a Monotribe-focused Night Mode record or two, and make it the centerpiece of a travel/jam synth rig with a very small footprint (think briefcase).

My hat is off to Korg for this incredibly creative and inspiring design. There are a lot of features that may not be obvious from the front panel, but that make the Monotribe incredibly musical, including:

  • The various LFO modes
  • Per-part active step (polyrhythms!)
  • Gate length and amp level automation
  • Wide mode on the ribbon controller
  • Flux mode on/off on the VCO sequencer
  • The interaction of the sequencer and the VCO active steps, which allows some really distinct sequences to be made easily

I could go on. Nothing could replace the MS-20’s place in my heart of hearts, but for instant playability I don’t know what beats the Monotribe.

Nash on Songs

“Songs, they have to be recorded or they drive you crazy just being inside your head.”
— Graham Nash, summer 2019

What pushed Graham Nash, the quiet one, to record his solo masterpiece

Rings true to me.

Sometimes it’s not even songs; it can be synth patches, or guitar sounds, or circuit ideas. Wrestling ideas out from the imagination and into the world.

Today it’s a drum beat, and maybe some synth mods.

Who knows what it might be tomorrow.

Neighboring Artists

My music library makes for some interesting bedfellows. Here are the real alphabetical neighbors for Mr. Furious artists:

Big Star

Cool Drugs
Cory Kibler

Cosmic Ground

Echo & the Bunnymen
Econoline Crush

Gift of Gab
Girl Talk

How to Destroy Angels

Maroon 5
Mars Lights
The Mars Volta

Pat Benatar
Pat Bradley
Paul and Paula

Robin Pecknold
Robot, Creep Closer!

Saint Vitus
Sally Ride
Same Old Crap

Shabazz Palaces

h&s Sound + Vision Dates

This is more for my reference than anything else, but I recorded drums for V for Voice at Sound + Vision / Lawrence Public Library on September 22, 2016, and March 6, 2017.

I remember both dates clearly, and it doesn’t seem like the September one could have been three years ago. At all.

I had some nerves, both about whether I’d play well and about being in a new studio. I can feel the weight of the drums as I walk up 7th street from my parking spot to the library’s front entrance. I feel as at-home on those streets now as I did on the streets of my hometown growing up.

Anyway. The recordings went pretty well those days. The tracklist was basically set already, so on the first date I played When Breathing through Beams, then the rest of the record on the second date.

Time is deeply strange.