Category Archives: Music

Music in general. Albums, concerts, festivals, shows, sound, personal music projects.

She’s an Algorithm, She’s the Dance

The holy algorithms of the modern web give blessings to frequency over length, and music rankings is no exception. Favorite producer PERTURBATOR has dropped a new EP, “New Model”, and it’s worth it. Definitely more of the PERTURBATOR sound you and I love.

I had hoped for a full-length album, but a man’s gotta go up against the robotic charts and win, right? This EP’s definitely got its hooks — hammered into meat hooks welded to an air ratchet fueled by MDMA, motor oil, and sin.

Get it at Bandcamp.

Space Black

You should probably know this: I secretly adore this band Black Mountain. Their Vancouver-meets-high-desert-rock sound hits me in the yes-yes place every time.

Space to Bakersfield” is the closing track on their latest album, “IV” (2016), and is arguably the best god-damned soul jam I’ve heard in a long, long time.

This live session recording in the KEXP studio in Seattle is remarkably close to their studio album. That’s quality, y’all. God, just listen to that open space, that sizzling air, the baleful riffs, that wayback Hammond B3, that Mellotron, that fluted vocal warble, that passion.

The stars are singing for you to join them. Are you listening?


Adverb for agreement and consent. Amen.
Statement of “so be it”. Amen.
Punctuation to a long prayer. Amen.
That is the past. These are our hopes. This is our intent. Amen.
Please let us move on, dream on, go forward into the dark night. Amen.
Pushing to the sunrise of our souls, of our world. Amen.
Leaving all our shadows behind. Amen.
It’s time to turn the page and love again. Amen.
Lifting up our prayers like a billion lights in the sky. Amen.
The past is gone for good. It’s time to say: Amen.
Amen. Amen.

Is Life

I never thought I’d say this, but Banco de Gaia is life. Actually, Toby Marks is a decent fella who has a history of making solid music regardless of fanfare. All told, I can totally respect the guy for being out on the fringes. He keeps going. Given my own history of nothingness, I have a strong respect for his tenacity.

Here’s a gem from his early days.

And here’s a gem from his most recent days:

All told: Solid.


The Roland D-50 is a very popular synthesizer produced in 1987. I found one years ago in a pawn shop and have enjoyed it quite a bit since. Lately I’ve taken to learning a little bit about it so I can actually program the thing instead of relying on the stock patches (some of them cliché by now) to make my nights move along.

The unfortunate thing about the D-50 is that it is monotimbral, playing only 1 patch at a time. Fortunately, Roland designed the synthesis algorithm with two parts (operators) per patch: Upper and Lower. Each part can have a different sound. So in the right control mode, the synth can be split to play bitimbral sound controlled by two different MIDI channels.

Unfortunately, that increases the complexity of programming and makes the manual twice as thick. Fortunately, digital multitracking has made recording medium cheap and there’s no need to play two timbres at once. It’s not like I’m using it to perform on stage (where lugging a stack of synths can be costly). And, really, who wouldn’t want a more lush, thicker sound on a single track?

So tonight I learned some of those complexities, and how to configure the mode to “solo” (monotimbral, monophonic), how to correctly configure portamento so it glides between pitches (portamento on D-50 is weird in non-solo modes), and how to configure some of the basic parameters of a patch. This synth was designed in an era where technology was not cheap, and processing power, memory storage, and performance came at a high cost, monetarily and architecturally, so they had to make clever compromises for their end-users.

What resulted from my learning tonight was a really cool solo whistle sound, mostly square wave and a touch of sampled attack transient with some slippery chorus. A real sprightly sound. Check it out below (I call it “Whistler” and it’s a live, raw recording, so be kind):

I mean, this is really basic stuff I’m learning, baby steps. But I hope to learn more about the particulars of the parts, oscillators, filters, envelopes, etc., really soon. The more familiar I get with this synth, the more joy I’ll get out of it, and joy is where music comes from.

And, yes, in pure synth idiom, earlier I tried to play the solo keyboard part from Emerson Lake & Palmer’s “Lucky Man“, because I sometimes like clichés. Yep.