This Box Is Magic

After… two and a half months, tonight the SPFFy Loop Selector lives and breathes.

I’ll get nerdy about it on mrfuriousaudio.com later; the upshot is that I wanted to build this before starting h&s guitar parts, and now I have.

Mic placement for said parts begins tomorrow night.  I’m so happy to have this done.  It’s been a good learning experience and I’m going to use the hell out of it but I’m beyond ready to make music for a while.  Every h&s song will have its own guitar sounds, mostly because of this box.

I’m considering open-sourcing the design, because it’s a pretty gnarly build.  Mostly because of drilling / fitting the hardware.  I probably won’t make one more; it would be zero, or a bunch (enough to make making drilling templates worthwhile).

SPFFy!

Vox

I laid down two vocal tracks for Mars Lights last night.  We’ve officially started vocals for the duo LP & double LP.

Drew was excellent at clicking the mouse, telling me if my voice got too ‘Cher,’ and laughing about those Japanese baseball video game American names that have been making the rounds.

Two down, 18 to go.  (Counting Drew’s songs.  Nine to go for me.)

The Loop Selector Lives

This has been the view from the basement for the last several weeks, and as of this afternoon it’s finally working perfectly.

(Though it looks like a crazy mess.)

 

It’s a loop selector (yet-to-be-named) meant to replace my Boss LS-2, with some enhancements over that design:

  • True bypass (on the master, not the individual loops)
  • Two footswitches (master bypass and Loop B) for accessing any sound with one stomp
  • Three routing options:
    • Loop A into Loop B (series mode)
    • Loop A in parallel with Loop B
    • Loop A -or- Loop B (flip-flop mode)
  • Trails bypass on the loops (for things like delay and reverb) (doesn’t work on the master bypass or on Loop A in series mode)
  • Polarity inversion (for making sure the returns in parallel mode are in phase)

This is going to be a fantastic recording tool, and I’ve been pushing to get it done so I can build it and start recording h&s guitar tracks with it.

Though, now that I’ve written about it… I’m revisiting the idea of making it buffered bypass.  <thinking emoji>

I’ll draw up the layout tonight or tomorrow, order parts, and maybe record synths until the parts arrive.

Purple Rain (Deluxe Expanded Edition)

After absorbing Prince and the Revolution’s Purple Rain (Deluxe Expanded Edition) for a few weeks, I’ve had fun this week re-organizing the listening experience for myself.

The package has four discs:

  1. The original Purple Rain, remastered in 2015
  2. From The Vault & Previously Unreleased, which is entirely non-album tracks except for the “Hallway Speech” edit of “Computer Blue”
  3. Single Edits & B-Sides, just like it sounds
  4. Live at the Carrier Dome DVD

I prefer listening to my own vinyl rip of Purple Rain to the remaster, so I’ve combined all of the non-album material (from both From The Vault… and …B-Sides) into one playlist, and made an “Alternate edits” playlist of the original material using the longest alternate edits available (so dance mixes and the “Hallway Speech” “Computer Blue,” and 7″ edits if longer edits aren’t included).  Here’s the result:

From The Vault, Previously Unreleased, & B-Sides:

  1. 17 Days (B-Side Edit)
  2. Erotic City (“Make Love Not War Erotic City Come Alive”)
  3. Love and Sex
  4. Electric Intercourse (Studio Version)
  5. The Dance Electric
  6. Our Destiny / Roadhouse Garden
  7. God (7″ B-Side Edit)
  8. God (Love Theme from Purple Rain)
  9. Wonderful Ass
  10. Possessed
  11. Velvet Kitty Cat
  12. Katrina’s Paper Dolls
  13. Another Lonely Christmas (Extended Version)
  14. We Can F**k
  15. Father’s Song

Purple Rain (alternate edits):

  1. Let’s Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix)
  2. Take Me With U (7″ Single Edit)
  3. The Beautiful Ones (2015 Paisley Park Remaster)
  4. Computer Blue (“Hallway Speech” Version)
  5. Darling Nikki (2015 Paisley Park Remaster)
  6. When Doves Cry (7″ Single Edit)
  7. I Would Die 4 U (Extended Version)
  8. Baby I’m A Star (7″ B-Side Edit)
  9. Purple Rain (2015 Paisley Park Remaster)

(The 7″ edit of “Purple Rain” is just disappointing to listen to.  Not through any fault of Prince’s; it’s just not a song that can be edited and retain anything resembling its musical effect.)

The result is a very good new Prince double-LP (From The Vault…) that sits nicely between 1999 and Sign O’ The Times in a universe where Purple Rain never existed.  It’s not quite as strong as those records (both classics) but it’s close, and that’s saying a lot.  It’s raw, it’s loose, it’s raunchy, and it’s a lot of fun.  There are a couple clunkers in the second half (I’d say the same of Sign; really every Prince record has them, except for Purple Rain and 1999) but that’s part of the deal with Prince’s genius.  Getting a new peak-era Prince double LP in 2017 is amazing.

Hearing the alternate edits in a Purple Rain tracklist I know incredibly well is a good way to trick my ears into noticing new details in the songs.  Worthwhile listening on its own, it also enhances repeat listens of the original album, thoroughly accomplishing the point of releasing a deluxe edition like this.

Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain (Deluxe Expanded Edition) – 5/5, would go crazy again

Working On Mohs Fuzzes

Enclosures done; hardware set in place.

This is just my method, but next I’ll wire the hardware-to-hardware connections.  Then I’ll do the circuit boards, and finally I’ll wire the boards into the enclosures.I changed how I do my finishes slightly, with good results (purple knobs are the new finish vs. red knob on the old finish above).

PJ Bass Wiring Mods

Today I was back at the iron for the first time in a couple months, it seems, wiring in some modifications to my Fender Squier P-J Bass.

I wanted to try wiring the pickups in series, and figured I might as well do other stuff while I was in there, so I also added mods to put the pickups out of phase with each other, and a different tone capacitor.  The diagram is below.

Image adjusted to make it easier to read, in case you’re trying to do that

First off, I had the wrong value potentiometers (I used them anyway, but may switch them out for the correct values some other time).  The stock pots were 500KA for the neck volume, 500KB (not sure why linear taper) for the bridge volume, and 500KA for the tone.  I had 250KA for all (based on Seymour Duncan’s “P-J BASS, 1 VOLUME, 1 BLEND, 1 TONE” schematic).

Next, the volume controls were wired with the hot input from the pickup to lug 2 and the output on lug 3, instead of the opposite (which I think of as “normal”).  I followed the stock wiring, against my plan (I updated the drawing), but I may switch it to normal (hot in to lug 3, out from lug 2).

I used DPDT push-pull pots for all three controls; in all cases down is the stock wiring, and up is my mod.

The neck pickup volume control, when pulled out, puts the pickups in series.  This results in an overall volume boost and a tone closer to the neck pickup’s sound than the bridge’s tone.  It’s a great sound, and worth doing the mods just for this.

Pulled, the bridge volume control puts the pickups out of phase with each other.  It’s a thin, edge-y sound, not something I’d probably use a lot but maybe cool for overdubs, specific song sections, or if I ever start a post-punk band.

The tone control pulled engages a 33nF tone capacitor, instead of the stock 68nF.  This raises the cutoff frequency of the low-pass filter, retaining more treble, and it seems musically useful all the way down to its minimum setting.  (The minimum setting on the stock cap is way too bassy for any use I can think of.)

Overall I’d highly recommend the pickups-in-series mod, and straight up changing the tone cap to 33nF if not making it switchable.

I’m going to get some kind of black pickguard.  Maybe after that’s in, I’ll do a demo video of the wiring mods.

h&s Pseudo-Live Blogging

Scott recorded a bunch of sax the other weekend; it felt like more sax-per-minute than anything we’ve done previously, so i decided to revisit near and far, comets, signs, and the b-sides to see if that impression was accurate.  Here are my notes.

near and far

  • Through “Nexus” sax has only appeared twice, I think; “Well” (a long, really good solo after “Cornerstone”) and the pop solo in “Fourbee.”  This might have been a function of time; we tracked and mixed in 4 days, with a second round of mixes later, and they weren’t long days
  • “The Broken Anger” – I’d forgotten about the vocal processing in the outro.  Hearing it makes me feel better about some of the studio production trickery planned for V for Voice, like it’s not a new thing
  • At the time we recorded this I definitely thought just playing cool chord progressions (no lead voice) was interesting.  I’ve learned to put more sounds over those; the ear needs a hook to guide it along
  • I’ve unintentionally re-created some of the tracklisting flow of near and far on V for Voice; a down-the-middle opener, then a strummy follow-up, rocker at #3, experiments in the back half… for V we moved the genre exercise to the b-sides at least
  • It would appear from iTunes I haven’t listened to near and far in its entirety since 2010, at least.  That’s about halfway between its release and today
  • Interesting choice on the final note of “Constellations,” had forgotten that
  • The chorus effect on “Staircase” and “Under My Protection” makes interesting bookends to the record.  I don’t recall that being intentional
  • <Egregious drum jam>

comets

  • The intro to “Wait… You’re Where?” marks a huge stylistic shift, bigger than I remembered, especially going straight into it after “Under My Protection.”  I wonder if that’s how people heard it at the time
  • Much more interesting dynamics and textures here, though the songs still might benefit from some lead lines (“The Bridge” has some and sounds better for them, for example)
  • The musical ideas are holding up for me – there’s a palpable jump in excitement and interest from near and far (nothing against it) – and part of me wishes we’d had the time/money/experience/knowledge to execute the technical aspects of these records better and present them in more direct, even light
  • Five songs into comets, I think the only sax has been in “Major & Minor.”  There’s been lots of cool Scott drumming though
  • Listening to all the GK bass on comets, I realize for the first time that V for Voice will be the first time we actually use a real bass guitar
  • I’ve probably said it elsewhere but Scott deserves major credit for performing these songs as he learned them.  On many tunes, when we’d sit down to start recording, he might have heard a rough idea at practice months earlier, the guitars would have already been recorded to a click, and he hadn’t had much or any time to just practice drums and build his chops.  That all adds up to a really tough situation to drum in
  • Pretty decent Who’s Next tribute on “What Sounds Are Real?”
  • I’m noticing a more marked shift from chord progressions on near & far to riffs on comets than I’d heard before

signs

  • Signs and comets are really separate records to me, combined in one package just to get them both out at all.  Comets was largely written first and the songs stand alone, where the signs songs share a vibe (and, largely, a key and scale)
  • I still would like to re-record some of this heavier, in more of a Kowloon Walled City style, crushing and brutal but with space to breathe, at some point
  • The mastering sessions for signs.comets were a Friday/Monday, comets first.  Signs sounds better as a result; at Doug’s suggestion I put some body back in the snare and guitars over the weekend in between sessions.  Not knowing much about mastering I’d been referencing these mixes to “A Praise Chorus” (insane, in retrospect) and had kept trying to make things brighter and more aggressive to match
  • There’s sax on first song, unlike near & far or comets!
  • I like and appreciate “Choose To” and its place on the record more and more with time
  • The “Easter III” theme riff, while I love it, is a shadow of a weirder, better riff that came to me in a dream that I could never nail down

b.sides

  • It’s forever weird to me that “Hymn for our TMD” became a fan fav, but I dig it
  • Hey, “Say Something” is super catchy!
  • <Is reminded of Bush-era political concerns, when the wars we were against we were at least sure the President would start on purpose and not with a misunderstood tweet>
  • Some of this is really open and raw, lyrically
  • I’m not sure if the “Snow in the East” vocal is a demo I just decided to keep or what.  The outro might indicate that to be the case
  • “Was I In Bon Jovi…” from Furious Instance basically counts as a b.side here, being recorded at the same time as the rest of it (and the back half of it is really raw, too, for me at least)