This Patch Had It All

Multiple effects paths, a feedback drone oscillator, kludged and alligator-clipped CV routing… what more could you ask for?

I’ve been synthing a bunch over the last week or two, mostly inspired by new and exciting ways to patch different things into the MS-20’s VCO2 input with the oscillator in ring mod mode. Most of the pieces are shorter and spontaneous, just things I capture as I try to figure out how to implement a certain idea for a patch I’ve been chasing.

I finally figured out something that’s as close as I think the MS-20 will come last night. I have to control a parameter manually via the wheel that I’d prefer was automatic, but it’s OK; that adds its own level of randomness and humanity to whatever the piece ends up being. It’s close enough to exorcise this patch idea from my mind and let me move on.

These pieces will eventually be collected under the name Only Mostly Dead and released as multiple digital Night Mode albums and a best-of single CD (as Selections from Only Mostly Dead).

Talking with Jerry

Listening to MR|10 the other day Jerry Chapman’s cover of “The Biggest Choice You Make (Every Day)” really struck me. I hadn’t heard it, or talked with Jerry, for a while so I reached out to him to let him know. He’s good!

It also made me realize that MR|15 would be this fall (!). We don’t have any plans to celebrate it, but it does make me itchy to get stuff out so that there will be enough material for a MR|20.

Jerry mentioned that he and Jason are hosting a Life In General cruise in about a year (February 2020 – details here – music! Cuba!). I’m too anxious about being on a boat far enough from shore I can’t swim there to go, but it will be a fun time and some of you all might really enjoy it.

New Console

I don’t remember if I set up a saved search on eBay for “soundtracks console” before or after Drew and I got our FME, but today I deleted it.

This old thing, older than the FME, arrived a couple weeks ago from San Diego on a price too good to pass up, and I’ve verified that most everything is basically working as-expected. Most of the knobs are scratchy so I’ll need to get in there with some cleaner/lube before doing too much with it, but it’s pretty exciting. Never thought I’d really do it, and when I showed the post to CA and invited her to talk me out of it, she closed with “I think you should go for it.”

We also got some new shelves for the studio/laundry/utility room, which aren’t greatly in evidence in the shot above, but make everything much more accessible. (Drums are behind the stack of guitar cabs on the left.)

It’s too late and the console needs too much work to mix h&s through it, but that’s OK; those mixes are sounding good (and I don’t want to re-do them…) and benefit from the hi-fi treatment in the computer. I’m not sure what the first project mixed on the Soundtracs will be. Maybe a Night Mode project, or maybe Drew will pass the Mars Lights duo LP back to me, or maybe something else.

I guess the laundry room is officially a hybrid studio now.

Every console needs a good snake

Fresh Cortez

On the left: purchased in the late ’90s at Siedhoff Footwear in Crete, NE with employee discount. Reduced to slipper service over the past several years as the upper-sole seams blew out.

On the right: fresh this week.

Who says the past is dead?

Big Mix Weekend

That’s what it’s been in frigid Lawrence, Kansas, as I work through our combined to-do list from the December h&s mixes.  That means a lot of hours looking at this:


(and that is only half of the tracks in the session :-o

We’re at the point where it’s not really fun to mix; really nitty-gritty details, trimming noise, checking pitch, and awful trade-offs like “I want this turned up 1 dB, but that obscures this other thing, and I’d boost the mids but that’s right where the vocal is…” The decisions are more technical and political than creative.  (Thank infinity I’m working in Reaper and not ProTools, though!)

I dropped a couple of the mixes in a mastering session, though, spent 30 minutes on them, and was 1) happy with the results and 2) instantly comfortable, relative to the pain of mixing.

It’ll be worth it. There aren’t really bad decisions left on the table; just different ones.

An email exchange about lyrics

From: h
To: Cory
Subject: another easter egg

remember have you gave me the phrase “broken land” for “goddamn” on Boots?

i think i’m going to call back to it in the last song on the mars lights double LP. really now that i think about it, that song could happen in the same universe as all of Boots. lyrically it totally fits in. cool. -h

From: Cory
To: h
Subject: RE: another easter egg

I do remember that! That’s awesome, I love that!

How would you describe the tone of ML lyrics? To me, they’re abstract enough that I hear them poetically, but have never tried to dig TOO deep, because sometimes I think it ruins the fun :)

Continue reading An email exchange about lyrics

The Best Music We Heard In 2018

Here is the best music we heard in the past year. Most, but not all, of Howie’s picks were released in 2018. Cory will explain his picks below.

Top 14 (in random order)

Honorable Mention:
Condor – Unstoppable Power (2017)
Hiss Golden Messenger – Hallelujah Anyhow (2017)
Judas Priest – Painkiller (1990)
Robyn – Honey
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Sparkle Hard

Need to check out:
Low – Double Negative (which almost certainly would have made the main list if I had spent more time with it)

Below will be a sorta goofy list from your main man Cory, on account of we had a baby in late 2017 that was supposed to come out of my wife in February of 2018, so it was an “early surprise family baby.” (Howie was there when it all went down; ask him about the howls!)

That meant I was AWOL for the year-end list in 2017, for the first time… so now I have to be extra WOL this year.

Well anyway, this post is going well so far and it’s just the beginning. Here’s some stuff I got excited about this year (and maybe last year! ):