Thought Forms ‘Ghost Mountain You And Me’ [Video]

Thought Forms

Thought Forms is my new favorite band.

I first encountered this English psych rock trio a year or so ago. Depressed, hating everything, cooped up in bed reading about the occult, I googled the words ‘thought forms’ just to see if there was already a band with that name, because I wanted to use it!

Of course there was such a band, and to my surprise I didn’t hate it. In fact, it was exactly what I wanted to hear.

I loved the unpolished, laid back quality to their songs. Here was a band with two guitarists, no bass, and for the first time I wasn’t thinking “why the hell?” Their music is just effortless, enveloping, ethereal, and real.

Thought Forms is now preparing to release their sophomore album on Geoff Barrow’s Invada Records next month.

For a taste, watch the newly released video for Thought Forms ‘Ghost Mountain You And Me’, created by Sam Wisternof:

from Rough Trade Shops on Vimeo.

Eventide H9 Harmonizer Packs Tons Of Classic Effects Into One Bluetooth Controlled Stompbox

Eventide, H9 Harmonizer, Bluetooth, guitar pedal

The trend of tech getting ever smaller is unmistakable. From Malekko’s super slim Omicron Series to the newly announced Dunlop Mini Fuzz Face, the guitar world is wisely following suit.

nano guitar

We’d better all start buying nano-machines like yesterday – this nano-guitar is already old news!

Eventide’s pedals have always been beasts – maybe a little TOO feature full and just a tad too big to fit comfortably on your pedal board.

The H9 solves the size problem, while only adding to the sonic mayhem. You see, Eventide has decided to go truly digital, pioneering the iOS-to-guitar pedal phenomenon and offering a true marriage of hardware and software. With its single knob, streamlined, HAL-esque interface, the H9 can run ALL of Eventide’s famous stompbox effects. All of the sound editing controls are still there – just tucked away into software. Connect wirelessly via Bluetooth with an iPod, iPhone or iPad, and you’re not only able to fully control the H9, you’re ready to download MOAR SOUNDZ (available through in-app purchase) to add to the already impressive collection included right out of the box:

THE H9 COMES LOADED WITH A SET OF OUR MOST POPULAR ALGORITHMS TAKEN FROM EVENTIDE’S AWARD-WINNING STOMPBOXES:

From ModFactor:

Liquid Chorus
Organic Chorus
Shimmer Chorus
Classic Chorus
Phase XO Chorus
Bias Tremolo
Opto Tremolo

 

From PitchFactor:
H910
H949
Crystals
Tuner

 

From TimeFactor:
Tape Echo
Vintage Delay

 

From Space:
Shimmer
Hall

 

Plus a new H9 exclusive:
UltraTap Delay™

 

While the H9 is fully controllable via its front panel, a free iOS app, H9 Control, can be downloaded to your iPhone or iPad for live editing, creating and managing presets and changing system settings wirelessly via Bluetooth. H9 Control will also be available for your PC or Mac via USB.

The H9 features stereo audio I/O, MIDI I/O, Expression Pedal, and Auxiliary Switch inputs. All of Eventide’s stompbox algorithms and their associated presets are available for in-app purchase.

Eventide H9 Harmonizer will be available in March of 2013 through authorized Eventide stompbox dealers.

Flaming Lips “Sun Blows Up Today” Bonus Track Off Forthcoming LP The Terror [Video]

Wayne Coyne, the Flaming Lips,

If you haven’t noticed by now, I love psychedelic music/art/videos. The Flaming Lips are true masters of this art-form. They are also the very first band I ever saw live. And I think I love them more and more as time goes by…

The Flaming Lips released this eye-gasming animated lyric video for “Sun Blows Up Today,” which is the non-album, digital ONLY bonus track off their next record, The Terror, due in April and available for pre-order starting TODAY. Pre-ordering the album on iTunes gets you this song immediately.”Sun Blows Up Today,” along with the band themselves, will also appear in a Hyundai commercial during the Superbowl on Feb.3rd.

Check. It. Out.

I really can’t say this any better so read the press release…

The Flaming Lips will release their thirteenth studio album titled, The Terror, on April 2nd in the US and April 1st in Europe.

It is comprised of nine original compositions that reflect a darker-hued spectrum than previous works, along with a more inward-looking lyrical perspective than one might expect — but then again, maybe not. It’s up to you, the listener, to decide what it means to you.

Wayne Coyne explains, “Why would we make this music that is The Terror — this bleak, disturbing record? I don’t really want to know the answer that I think is coming. Maybe this is the beginning of the answer.”

The Terror is a bold and expressive journey that has evolved over The Lips’ nearly 30-year tended garden of sonic delights that ebbs and flows with extraordinary splashes of darkness and light, pleasure and pain, chaos and order. As we’ve come to know The Flaming Lips, the real beauty lies with the knowledge that to expect the unexpected is all part of the manic fun.

“If we have love, give love and know love,” Coyne says, “we are truly alive and if there is no love, there would be no life. The Terror, we know now, that even without love, life goes on…we just go on…There is no mercy killing.”

The digital pre-order of The Terror will begin [TODAY] Jan 29th, through the iTunes Store and other participating digital retailers. All pre-orders on iTunes will include an Instant gratification, Non-Album, Bonus Track titled, “Sun Blows Up Today.”

“Sun Blows Up Today” is also the music bed for a very cool Hyundai TV commercial by INNOCEAN USA which also stars The Flaming Lips and will air during the Super Bowl on Feb 3rd.

Track listing for The Terror:
Look…The Sun Is Rising
Be Free, A Way
Try To Explain
You Lust
The Terror
You Are Alone
Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die
Turning Violent
Always There…In Our Hearts

Non-Album, Bonus Track – digital ONLY:
Sun Blows Up Today

Pre-order The Terror

Arturia SparkLE Shines

Arturia, SparkLE, drum machine

I’m a sucker for sparkly things, and the Arturia SparkLE is certainly no exception.

SparkLE is a sleek hardware/software hybrid drum-machine that is bound to light up your life (nyuk nyuk) in a few different ways. Spaceship-LIGHTshow aside, this little beatbox is LIGHT, weighing in at only 1 kg (2.2 lbs.). And of course, it will simply deLIGHT you. (End of horrible pun.)

You can build beats using the step sequencer buttons or pound them out in realtime on the pressure sensitive pads. Throw down a groove with the Looper and then introduce variation with the touch sensitive XY pad, which can control 8 filter modes (including the classic Oberheim SEM filter) and 7 different Slicer modes. Engage the TUNE mode and play a synth melody on SparkLE’s 16 keys, or simply add pitch to a percussion sound.

SparkLE, Arturia, hardware software hybrid drum machine

The SparkLE sound engine boasts a wide range of ever expanding sounds, with layering, Virtual Analog, and Physical Modeling for further tweaking. The software component offers a Mix view, effects, automation & editing capabilities, and can be used as a standalone program or AU/VST/VST3/RTAS plug-in (without the hardware connected). Alternately you can map the hardware to control your DAW via MIDI, or use the included templates for Ableton LIve and Reason.

All this functionality is built into a seriously compact (284mm x 171mm x 17 mm) and portable (comes with a travel case) package. SparkLE is a truly versatile tool for a musician on the go!

Arturia’s SparkLE is an obvious competitor to Native Instruments’ Maschine Mikro. In the race to get smaller and smaller, it wins; the Spark drum controller is thinner, takes up less desk space, and the price tag is lower ($299 vs. $399 for Maschine). Although Maschine might fair better with MPC drum pad enthusiasts, I must say I prefer Spark’s keyboard/’TR’ style layout. I’d love to get the two of them in a room for a real sonic shootout sometime.

NAMM NAMM NAMM

NAMM, NAMM Show Anaheim, music trade show,

This past weekend the music world met at the NAMM show to ooh and ahh over lots of shiny new toys. And sadly I was not among them. But! My buddy and talented producer Drew Skinner (aka Duskrider) was on the scene to capture some gear pics for the rest of us to fawn over.  Behold:

Moog Voyager, Moog 10th Anniversary Voyager, Moog gold voyager, gold, synth, NAMM, Drew Skinner

Moog 10th Anniversary Gold Minimoog Voyager

Moog Booth, NAMM, Bob Moog, Moog couch, Drew Skinner

I need this couch for my studio

Korg MS-20 mini, NAMM

Korg MS-20 Mini

Modular synths, NAMM

I really wanna get weird with Wiard Modulars

Koma, Modular, NAMM

Going into a Koma

Radial 500 series 

Analog Alien, Alien Twister Fuzz,

Alien Twister Fuzz from Analog Alien. Even the photo is fuzzy! Another boutique builder I have never heard of. I wonder if this is what aliens sound like?

And! Here are a few of my favorite NAMM blurbs from around the web:

Fender, Diamond Legend Cabronita, telecaster, diamond studded guitar, Yuriy Shishkov, NAMM

Via themusiczoo: The Fender Diamond Legend Cabronita, built by Yuriy Shishkov, could be yours for only $120,000.

Wheelharp, Antiquity Music, baroque synth, steampunk synth, NAMM

Via catsynth“There are analog synthesizers, and then there are instruments that are even more analog than analog. The Wheelharp from Antiquity Music falls in this category. The Wheelharp is an electromechanical instrument in which a performer accesses 61 bowed strings via the keyboard. There is a cylindrical version, as illustrated in the photograph below, as well as a standard linear-keyboard version. The instrument evokes the Baroque era in its appearance, both the reversed coloring of the keys and the details of the construction and wood finish. The sound of the bowed strings in response to pressing the keys is quite eerie. This video shows part of the mechanical system that drives the Wheelharp as it is being played.”

Also via catsynth: Synthesist extraordinaire, Richard Devine, performing bleeps and bloops on Make Noise modules at the Analog Haven booth.

Visionary Instruments, video guitar, NAMM

You should probably head over to catsynth.com sometime, they’ve got lots of quirky stuff from NAMM that is right up my alley, like this Visionary Instruments video guitar.

Via synthtopia: The Buchla Music Easel comes in its own suitcase for easy traveling. This little Electric Music Box holds a special place in my heart, as I once got to use one of the original Buchlas while at NYU studying electronic music synthesis.

The good news is this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the crazy new music tech out there, so we can keep talking about this stuff indefinitely. Care to share any of your fondest NAMM moments?

 

The Synth You Want: KORG MS-20 Mini [Video]

With all the hooplah going on right now around NAMM, the synth on everyone’s lips seems to be the Korg MS-20 Mini. Who can resist its teeny tiny charms? Not me, that’s for sure.

Since vanishing from shelves, the MS-20 has gone through several new iterations: a plug-in, hardware controlled version, and most recently the iMS-20 iPad app (on a side note, if you can get your hands on the hardware controller, I’ve heard it CAN also be used with iMS-20 via an Apple USB camera-connection kit.)

Korg has now taken the much beloved MS20’s guts and stuffed them into a package that is only 86% of the original size. And with space at such a premium these days, this is a serious boon to the reboot of an already much sought after classic.

Korg, MS20, MS20 mini, Namm,

Even the patch cables have been miniaturized to 1/8″ mini plugs. The only thing Korg neglected to make smaller is the gooey analog sound, which remains true to the original’s sonic girth.

One modern twist is the addition of MIDI IN and USB jacks. You can use these to send MIDI or sequence the MS-20 mini from a computer or external device (such as an iPad running one of the countless alternative touch/sequencing apps out there perhaps?).

And possibly the most important reduction – the price! At $599 the MS-20 Mini won’t shrink your wallet as much as other analog synths out there. Release date is still to be confirmed, but the word on the street is April…

Check out official Korg MS-20 mini promo video and press release below:

Korg MS-20 mini official information

The classic MS-20 –resurrected in mini size!

An analog synthesizer that reproduces the original circuitry from 1978

Korg’s MS-20 monophonic synthesizer, first introduced in 1978, is still a coveted instrument to this day, thanks to its thick, robust sound, its powerful, iconic analog filter, and its versatile patching options. Over 300,000 people have enjoyed the distinct MS-20 sounds from the original, from Korg’s MS-20 plug-in synth, and the iMS-20 iPad app.

Today, the sounds of the MS-20 have been reborn as the MS-20 Mini. The same engineers who developed the original MS-20 have perfectly reproduced its circuitry and fitted it into a body that’s been shrunk to 86% of the original size, yet retains the distinctive look of the original that remains unfaded despite the passage of time.

The MS-20 mini will amaze you with its absolutely authentic analog synth sound.

Highlights:

  • Overseen by the engineers of the original MS-20; a complete replication of the original analog circuitry:
  • 2VCO / 2VCA / 2VCF / 2EG / 1LFO structure
  • Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion
  • External signal processor (ESP)
  • Extremely flexible patching system
  • Faithful recreation of the MS20 at 86% of the size
  • MIDI IN and USB connector
  • Replicates every detail of the original, down to the package binding and the included manual

A complete replication of the original analog circuitry

The MS-20 mini painstakingly replicates the original MS-20. A development team led by the original engineers themselves worked to recreate the original circuitry, and when it was necessary to substitute a part, these engineers made the decisions based on careful listening, in order to reproduce the original sound faithfully.

In fact, the sound of the MS-20 mini has a somewhat bright and extreme quality to it because its sound is that of an original MS-20 in mint condition at the time it went on sale, before any of the components aged.

2VCO / 2VCF / 2VCA / 2EG / 1LFO structure

The MS-20 mini reproduces the distinctive synthesis of the MS-20; two oscillators with ring modulation, and envelope generators with hold and delay. The VCA maintains the basic design of the original, but it’s been modified to produce less noise than the original.

Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion

One of the greatest characteristics of the MS-20 was its powerful filters, which provided resonance on both the high-pass and the low-pass. Maximizing the resonance would cause the filter to self-oscillate like an oscillator, producing a distinctive and dramatic tonal change that was acclaimed as inimitable, and was later used on the monotron and monotribe. The filter circuit was changed mid-way through the production lifecycle of the MS-20; the MS-20 mini uses the earlier filter, which was felt to be superior due to its more radical sound.

External signal processor (ESP) for processing an external signal

The ESP carries on the experimental spirit of MS-20; it allows you to use the pitch or volume of an external audio source to control the synthesizer. For example you can input an electric guitar and use the MS-20 mini as a guitar synthesizer, or input a mic and use it as a vocal synthesizer.

Extremely flexible patching system

The patching system provided to the right of the panel lets you create complex sounds by plugging-in cables to change the connections between the various units. The possibilities are limited only by the user’s imagination; different combinations of the modulation input/output and trigger, sample and hold, and noise generator can produce an incredible variety of sounds. By patching according to the MS-20 flow chart that’s printed on the panel, even the beginner can start taking advantage of these possibilities right away.

Faithful recreation of the MS20 at 86% of the size

MS-20’s design concept started by borrowing from the vertical layout found on larger and more expensive modular synths of its time, and then creating a more portable, inexpensive, and easier to use version.

To make it even more approachable, the MS-20 mini has been shrunk to 86% of the size of the original MS-20. In spite of its smaller size, meticulous care has been taken to accurately reproduce the knob design and the printing. The patch cables have been changed from 1/4″ phone plugs to mini-plugs, and the newly-designed keyboard is also 86% of the original size.

Replicates every detail of the original

Our effort to remain faithful to the original is not limited to the unit itself. Even the package that contains the unit replicates the original as far as possible. Also included are the original MS-20 owner’s manual and settings chart, explaining how to create sounds. Now you can experience the excitement of the MS20, just like it was during its original release in 1978.

MIDI IN connector and USB connector

The MS-20 mini provides a MIDI IN jack for receiving note messages, and a USB-MIDI connector that can transmit and receive note messages. You can even connect the MS20 mini to your computer and play it from a sequencer.

Fender Pawn Shop Series Takes You Back To A Past That Never Was

Fender Pawn Shop, Super-Sonic, reverse Jazzmaster,

The Fender Pawn Shop Series was designed to evoke the quirk of an old frankenstein guitar you’d find in the dusty corner of a store in some rundown town on say, Route 66 – an instrument thrown together from spare parts that is not quite right, but too unique to pass up.

I love Fender’s tagline “guitars that never were but should have been,” like they were pulled from a portal of yesteryear on some other dimensional plane.

This year, they’ve added a few more monsters to the maladjusted Pawn Shop family closet: the ’70s Strat Deluxe, featuring a Telecaster single-coil neck pickup and an Enforcer™ Wide Range humbucking bridge pickup, the  reversed Jazzmaster-styled Super-Sonic, the racing-striped Mustang Bass, and a totally re-imagined version of the long-gone Bass VI, equipped with a combo of Special Design Hot Jaguar® single-coil neck and middle pickups and a deceptively soapbar-shaped humbucking JZHB pickup in the bridge position.

Check out these demos and gorgeous brochure:

Super-Sonic

70’s Stratocaster Deluxe

Bass VI

Mustang Bass

eBrochure

Also new to the Pawn Shop Series is the Excelsior amp, which has had me drooling for weeks.
Fender Pawnshop, Excelsior, tube amp

This ultra-stylish little tube queen is welcome in my bedroom, studio or perched atop my gig-rig anyday. I can’t wait to actually get my hands on one to try.

The Excelsior is decked out in an open-back vinyl covered cabinet housing a 15″ Eminence® Legend speaker, and comes in Surf Green (my favorite of course), Sonic Blue, Antique Blush (creamy beige), or good old Brown. It’s a 13 watter, featuring dual 12AX7 preamp tubes, dual 6V6 output tubes, and three separate inputs for guitar, microphone, or accordion (super popular with the kids these days). For sonic fun, there is a tremolo circuit with speed control, and a bright/dark tone switch for treble or bass oomph. You can also take advantage of the 1/4” internal speaker disconnect to run out to an external speaker.

To sum it up: YUM.


And while it’s not exactly new, the little sister named “Greta” is just too cute to be ignored.
Fender Pawnshop, Greta, tube amp

This 2 watt tabletop tube amp with a 4″ speaker, VU meter, and elegant gold stylings might just take the cake as far as this whole pawn shop design thing goes. It’s loaded with a 12AT7 output tube, 12AX7 preamp tube, 1/4″ in and 1/4″ line out jack (so you can use her as a preamp before another amplifier), another 1/4″ external speaker out jack, and finally an 1/8″ line-in if you feel like hearing your ipod through a vintage sounding mono tube amp!

Ah, if only I could afford to adopt the whole damn family!

Moog Sub Phatty Is A Gnarly New Breed Of Analog Synth

Moog, Sub Phatty, subtractive synth, analog synth, phat synth, moog synth,

If the recent naked circuit video teaser made you moist, get ready for the dressed up version of the Moog Sub Phatty.

Moog is calling it their “grittiest synth ever.” The Sub Phatty is a compact, 25 full-size key, 31 knob beast that fuses the warm heart and soul of vintage analog synths with new sound transforming technology. The dual oscillators have been redesigned for extreme accuracy with almost no warm-up time needed. Making its debut as part of the Sub Phatty’s filter is the new Multidrive circuit, a combo of OTA distortion and FET overdrive, for dialing in a little dirt to full on snarly wow. A sub-oscillator lives in the mixer section, which can act as a third oscillator for extra texture, or to create some heavy low-end shaking bass. Add the nifty noise generator to the mix and make some gnarly sounds!

This psychedelic animated promo video was made by Adam ‘lilfuchs’ Fuchs of Adult Swim and features music by Flying Lotus. The track, called ‘Such a Square,’ was created mainly on a Sub Phatty prototype.

Here are some Sub Phatty demos and sounds:

The Sub Phatty will be available March 2013 and lists at $1099.

On The Road And Off The Grid

Hello!

Just thought I’d post an explanation for my recent radio silence…

For the past couple weeks, my wife and I were on a cross country roadtrip from NY to LA. We took the long and winding road, southern route, saw lots of cool stuff, and even went completely off the grid at points (no phone service or internet). It’s refreshing to unplug sometimes and just LIVE.

Anyway, we are now in Los Angeles seeing the sites and looking for work! So if you happen to know of any freelance audio/video, sound/graphic design, photo editing/retouching, writing or any other generally remote/telecommute type gigs, please get in touch toneluster@gmail.com!

Also please feel free to email me with any info on music tech type happenings in the LA area. I know NAMM starts tomorrow, but unfortunately didn’t plan well enough to score passes this year 🙁

And now, back to the latest music tech news for you, dear readers!

Nude Moog!

Moog, Analog, Synth,

Happy Moog gear!

Moog has shared a video of a mysterious as yet unnamed analog synth – without its clothes on! This naked circuitry gets its knobs tweaked by Herb Deutsch, who is credited with co-inventing the original Moog synth alongside Bob Moog in 1964.

Deutsch happily shows us the sonic functions, which include that classic warm Moog filter, multidrive (pre and post filter gain distortion), sub-oscillator, noise generator, and the added modern twist of oscillators that are in tune!

Professor Herb Deutsch, synth pioneer and collaborator of Bob Moog, visited the Moog Machine Shop during Moogfest 2012. While here, Professor Deutsch explored Moog’s next generation analog synthesizer, while still in it’s research & design phase. In the past, Bob Moog always tested his ideas, instruments and sounds with musicians and colleagues. This spirit of collaboration continues at the Moog factory to this day and is essential to our work. It is a key part of the product development process, as it furthers our ideas and helps us shape better tools for musicians.

Making its official debut at NAMM 2013, the first 24 of these new instruments are being handcrafted at the Moog Factory this week. Until you get a chance to see it in its final form at NAMM 2013, please enjoy this video. Love, your friends at Moog.