Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Casio au Naturel

When folks out there use cheap Casio, Yamaha or Bontempi toy keyboards, they usually drive them into bad distorsion to hide the supposed low quality of the sounds, or worse, circuit-bend them...
Me I proudly record them in their natural, lo-fi glory.

Drums are Roland SH-32 through Small Clone analogue chorus through Moog filter.
All the other parts are Casiotone MT-11, with a little bit of reverb.

Casio au Naturel

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Machines are your Friends!

Join the Man-Machine Brotherhood!

Just some fun with the Moog Little Phatty and Juno-1.
Drums : Electribe EMX passing through the Moog filter.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Showroom Dummy

Now that my setup is complete (I mean, for the time being), I think the time is ripe for a little explanatory tour.
As you can see, my studio is mostly hardware, which I tend to prefer for workflow and audio quality.
As usual, the pics links to higher resolution images.

The analogue bunch :

Moog Little Phatty : monophonic analogue, 2006 Tribute Edition, the signature Moog sound, all basses on my songs are played on this, and obviously it excels in leads. With the new arpeggiator, it's also a good source of interesting effects.

DSI Prophet 08 : polyphonic analogue (8 voices), 2007... beautiful and sophisticated sound. It's the instrument I usually use for lush, warm textures. The on-board sequencer and the ability to layer two patches are most useful to create loops and percussive grooves.

Roland Alpha Juno-1 : polyphonic analogue (6 voices), 1986... this is the one for eighties sounds with a lo-fi, dark edge. The classic Juno sound, in a punkier sort of way.

The virtual analogue connection :

Korg Microkorg : polyphonic virtual analogue (4 voices), 2002… a most successful, retro looking and sounding instrument, often derided for its toy-like appearance, but it’s a serious, surprisingly deep instrument, with great arpeggiator and a vocoder full of character.

Korg Electribe EMX-1 : polyphonic virtual analogue (16 voices), 2003… most underestimated drum machine and synth module… great sounds, great effects, and a handy 5-parts synth sequencer, allowing you to program a whole song in there.

The digital collective :

Roland D-550 w/ PG-1000 programmer : polyphonic digital (16 voices), 1987... one of the finest digital synths ever, cleverly using truncated samples to add "realism", which sounds dated today but that's what I love in it! Great strings, ethereal pads, but also a fantastic source of strange effects.

Korg Wavestation : polyphonic digital (32 voices), 1990… another fine digital instrument, of outstanding depth. The lack of a proper filter renders the sound a bit cold, but it’s the perfect tool for soundtrack or ambient work. With a little bit of programming, a single patch can provide a whole complex atmosphere.

Yamaha QY70 : portable workstation… in my bag on most vacations and weekends, a great tool to work out song ideas on the move, with very decent sounds.

And various Bontempi, Casio and Yamaha...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Unearthing Oldies : Electribe EMX and SH-32

I did this as a jingle for a (now defunct) design company.

Almost all Electribe EMX, including the crazy arpeggio, and probably (memory's a bit fuzzy) a touch of Roland SH-32 as well. The melody was re-used on the "Uniforms of Snow" album.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Unearthing Oldies : fiddling with the Moog

I did this in the early days of Moog Little Phatty proud ownership, but never really developed it into a finished track...

Moog and Virtual String Machine.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Unearthing Oldies : a Microkorg demo

This is a sketch from the "Uniforms of Snow" album's early recording.

I did this on vacation back in, er, winter 2006 or something, with a laptop and the oh-so-portable Microkorg, and later on the beat and melody were recycled into "Kadath Onward", as featured on the final album.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Harry S. Truman at Hiroshima (Final Cut)

This is the final version, expanding on the sketch posted some days ago.
Roland D-550 strings, Prophet 08 pads, Moog Little Phatty bass and lots of Gforce Mellotron.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sergueï is Back

Another great Sergueï video, with new score...

"La séance de Sergueï" is a series of tongue-in-cheek cinema lessons by Simon Dronet...
It's in french, but I figured I might as well post this one here anyway because it's very visual and easy to understand.
This particular lesson is about split-screen, and I was asked to do an action tv series styled soundtrack.

Here's the music (you may notice there's more than in the actual video, which is often the case) :

This is the main chase cue... pretty much all Roland D-550, perfect to convey that "tv show fake strings" feeling...

This wasn't used... it's Prophet 08 for the beat and Roland D-550 for the fx.

This is the suspens bit... same setup.

A little fast paced techno fragment, done with the Korg Wavestation.

And the video itself :

envoyé par laperitel - Sitcom, sketch, and standup comedy videos.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Ed Wood Project?

Finding that Lugosi track makes me think I should record some kind of instrumental album in the "vintage soundtrack" vein I've been exploring these last years, with a more fantastic/horror tone... something retro, with lots of creepy mellotron, spooky beats and scary synths... maybe with more Ed Wood samples...

That's to ponder...

I love Ed Wood's work, by the way.

I first encounter the name in 1992 when a "Plan 9 from outer space" video game was released on Amiga and Atari, with the VHS film as a bonus.

Then of course was Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" starring Johnny Depp and Martin Landau, one of my favorite movies ever and the best Burton work in my books. It triggered my interest in the original movies, and I have a couple of things to say.

1 : Ed Wood is NOT the worst director of all times. I've seen an unhealthy amount of Z movies (or nanars as we call them in France), and there are many more incompetent directors in the history of cinema. Fred Sears, Godfrey Ho, I could name a few... Burton romanticized his subject a bit, but Wood really was that dedicated, creative guy with a vision.

2 : His movies are NOT the worst ever made. "Plan 9" is awfully wrong in many places, but then again, I've seen a lot worse, oh my, yes... "Bride of the monster" is a decent B movie (Burton exaggerated about the fx quality and stock footage abuse) and after multiple viewings, I take "Glen or Glenda" to be one of the craziest docudramas ever made, with flashes of pure graphic brilliance.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Unearthing Oldies : Moog and Lugosi

Looking into my backup files, I ran across this little instrumental...
It was done for a modern dance video, but I can't recall if it was really used...
I'm not all that thrilled about it because it seems that I was asked to do something very "electronica-glitchy" and it sounds a bit cold, but anyway, what you got here is lots of Moog Little Phatty and Microkorg, and audio clips from the great Bela Lugosi, off one of my all-time favorite films (and I'm serious!).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Upcoming : the 3rd album

Releases keep coming on, as you can see!

My third commercial LP, "Strawberry Blonde", will be available soon.
The style is electro pop, with a measure of analogue funkness.

This will be a digital release, meaning that you'll able to purchase it through iTunes, Virgin and most MP3 providers.

I'll keep you posted, and meanwhile, a video preview.
"The Way to Dusty Death" is the closing song, as performed by Miss Roxanne.

Friday, May 1, 2009

New free album : "Uniforms of Snow"

That's right, it's out there!

You'll also soon be able to purchase a jewel CDR version from that site.

About the album itself, check out the release info or see the post below, I'll concentrate here on the instruments, since this blog is a lot about them...

"Uniforms of Snow" was mostly composed and recorded on the Microkorg.

I actually started to record it when I first got the Microkorg, and it's all over the place... for instance, you can hear its arpegiator on the intro to "Elder Things", and the middle part of "At Last, Leaving" is also all Microkorg lead lines.

Later on, when I purchased the Moog Little Phatty, I tried to deepen the overall sound with some analogue basses and leads (for a good example, the little counterpoint thing on the second half of "Albino I").

I used the Gforce M-tron, most notably on "Elder Things" and the female choir on "Song of Ghosts".

Then I bought the Gforce Virtual String Machine plugin, and replaced some of the early freeware string machines pads with better Solina, Eminent and the lot...

The final addition was the coda to "Kadath Onward", when the theme is reprised... that's an all Roland Juno-1 arrangement.

So in the end, it's a "setup in progress" album, and I considered for a moment re-recording it with my current studio, but decided against it, as it was too much trouble and would have altered the sound too much.
It's a very Microkorgey album... the little beast from Korg is responsible for most of the little thin retro sounds, that work quite good with the more solid Moog basses and the ambient strings of the Virtual String Machine.