Monday, December 26, 2011

ether^ra FILM MUSIC

I am delighted to see my music being used in a filmic setting. This beautifully mysterious clip from the film-maker hellopicadilly featuring my music is quite breath-taking. See more from hellopicadilly on Vimeo.

Friday, December 23, 2011


With the arrival of the Serge Animal, my modular banana-cable mayhem continues unabated!

SAMPLE & HOLD : cabaret voltaire / three mantras

Cabaret Voltaire's 1980 release THREE MANTRAS, thought by many to be a secondary effort from this Manchester electro-dada-noise group, proves itself with history to be quite compelling. While the Eastern Mantra falls short, the Western Mantra that opens the album presents the listener with many of the sonic strategies that make Cabaret Voltaire essential listening...cracked vocals from Mal, eastern modal insectoid guitar lines from Richard H. Kirk, and all manner of noise from Chris Watson from Farfisa organ swells to dada-dystopian tape noise and synth stabs...20 minutes of essential Cab fun!..but where's the third mantra?

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Armed with both the Buchla 200e and the Serge Creature, this recent sound file presents a vision of the future imbued with the spirit of 1950's sci-fi nuclear bomb horror and the dystopian future that may well result from it. Can a metaphorical leap be unhappily made?, enjoy?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : throbbing gristle remasters

Remastered by Chris Carter, these discs finally present Throbbing Gristle as they were meant to be heard. While these discs were remastered by Chris earlier, the technology at the time did not permit the listener to fully appreciate the sonic details, each release sounding somewhat thin and harsh (as they intended?). NOW we have some warmth AND low end, without sacrificing the transgressive nature of these, no doubt, the best of what Throbbing Gristle had to offer. Each 2-disc release contains a live disc that convincingly attests to the in your face sonic dada-ism that was TG live. Somehow all the material on these remasters sound timely in a world increasingly populated by monoculturally-obsessed, unthinking sheep entertained to death.


Made from thin wood veneer, the Ray Power designed LINK-S pendant lamp made by the Spanish lighting company LZF is arguably one of the most compellingly beautiful lamps ever made. As light as a feather, this object 'd art is composed of organically sculptural moebius strips piles on top of each other producing an aesthetic object that is at once breath-taking and as thought-provoking as an Escher print. The curvilinear forms suggest any number of natural objects, but, to my eye, reference Alvar Aalto's iconic vase, another classic of 20th century design.

When the lamp is turned on (pictured), the grain of the wood veneer is displayed in all its material beauty. It is my belief that the best modern art objects are the rare ones that offer the poetry and deep pleasure inherent in simple forms brought to life by materials that speak loudly of a beauty absent and fleeting from a life unexamined. This lamp, like John Cage's "silence," offers an opportunity to embrace a magical world.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

AMNESIA : no fun fest 2009

My brother discovered my unused ticket to NO FUN FEST 2009. Unused because I found myself deathly ill on that particular sunday, a rarity for me, but my fever did not allow me to leave my bed that day! My brother ventured to Williamsburg alone with hopes of being immersed in noisicians' heaven. He did get to speak to Giffoni and Rehberg (of Mego fame), but the late Conrad Schnitzler was not to be seen or heard (Keith Fullerton Whitman stood in for him). Skullflower was much less than the hype would imply, as was Kevin Drumm. The Emeralds doodled around until something sort of jelled according to my brother and Merzbow cancelled!
That particular sunday night, as remembered by my brother, promised much, but delivered much less. Still, I would have loved to been at the seemingly last NO FUN FEST to grace Brooklyn.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

ether^ra PUPPETS for QUAYS

After much hair-pulling and a few bouts of depression this is the result of my first ZOe patch. In tandem with the 266e, 261e, 291e and the 250, the ZOe is producing a little FM noise and some twisted pulse waves. I could have listened for hours!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

ether^ra STOLEN FROM THIEVES vol. 2

From the soon to be available cd-r ether^ra STOLEN FROM THIEVES VOL. 2, "Erase" combines Buchla 200e/Serge sounds and found voice samples. Enjoy. Comp 91 / ERASE by ether^ra

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Finally got my hands on a lightly used ZOe...Let the exploration begin! Note the profound difference in module depth between the ZOe and a Buchla 259e. With this, the ZOe fits only on the far right of the middle boat of an 18-module cabinet. An incredible circuit-board sandwich produces insane sonic mayhem, clanging and liquid. Thanks to D.T. of the Synth and I blog.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The Master supplies great Buchla 200e sounds and a glimpse into his current gear. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cabaret Voltaire

A short taste of electronic greats Cabaret Voltaire, an austere vision that they embraced as a trio for which not enough credit has been given them. Great dystopian sonic smears of sound with Stephen Mallinder's grey monotonal vocals reflect their oppressively colorless Sheffield roots...a healthy dose of the Industrial black and white!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : planet-y / space station

Charles Cohen is criminally under-represented on cd. Mr. Cohen, master of the Buchla Music Easel, easily summons sounds on the Buchla Music Easel others just dream of, coaxing tactile restless insectoid wiggles and smatterings of sonic detrius that delight the ears of electronic music afficionados...and miraculously, he does this live!

On his Planet-Y / Space Station cd, performed live with Yanni Papadopoulos on guitar synth and Casio DG-20, Mr. Cohen delves deep into the Buchla, producing a single 28 minute exploration that points to black holes, cosmic radiation and spacey gamelan rhythms. Mr. Papadopoulos' guitar is mostly not guitar-like in any traditional sense, but more a vehicle for quasar-like noise. I was reminded of Pink Floyd's Ummagumma at times. Certainly Planet-Y sets the controls for the heart of the sun and takes us there, happily.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


With the arrival of the passive frame, I now have space for the Mark Verbos Harmonic Oscillator...insanity prevails!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Demon With The Glass Hand

My recent track "Just Gone" uses a voice sample from the classic 60's sci-fi show The Outer Limits. The episode titled "Demon With The Glass Hand" (1964) stars Robert Culp who has the fate of mankind literally in his (glass) hand. Cabaret Voltaire famously featured a voice sample from this episode in their "Yashar" piece from the 2 X 45 album. The office building in Los Angeles where the episode takes place also featured in the film Blade Runner...quite a pedigree!

Friday, October 14, 2011

WORK IN PROGRESS : stolen from thieves vol. 2

I'm busy working on new tracks and finalized a cover design for ether^ra Stolen From Thieves vol.2.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Serge Creature / Seq A

I've been busy with my Serge gear as of late. With the multiple function potential of each banana jack, the creative potential is boundless, but at the same time it is simply a daunting task. Great!...confusion is the first step toward enlightenment. Check out ether^ra Soundcloud for sounds!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


With voice samples in tandem with compelling dystopian noises from the mighty Buchla 200e, STOLEN FROM THIEVES makes use of a time honored sonic strategy beloved of both Steve Reich and Cabaret Voltaire, the sampled speaking voice. Available from ether^ra for $10 pp.

Friday, September 30, 2011

STOLEN FROM THIEVES : zerozerozero

The newest in the series STOLEN FROM THIEVES that explores voice sound samples. As a child of Cabaret Voltaire and Steve Reich, I find this creative strategy a compelling and endlessly inviting music-making proposition. Look for a cd-r of these sketches soon.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


The result of a moment's spurt of creative frenzy, this video combines our love of non-tonally centered music and, seemingly the non-verbal communication apparently inherent between twins. I quite like the results. Camerawork is by my brother.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Comp 42 / DAYLIGHTSWIM by ether^ra

The 285e is quite a rewarding module and so much fun to indispensible addition to any Buchla 200e system!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

LIBRARY : electronic music : systems, techniques and controls by allen strange

At the suggestion of Jason R. Butcher and several other Buchla-ites, I finally got my hands on a (pricey) copy of Allen Strange's classic 1972 tome on modular synthesis. I look forward to devouring the sections on Buchla modules and then PERHAPS my tweaking will be somewhat purposefully informed. There goes my savant status!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

ether^ra : TEN PIECES FOR BUCHLA 200e cd-r

10 Pieces for Buchla 200e further explores what seems to be the endless sonic possibilities presented by the Buchla 200e. Aided by only an intuitive sensibility and a discerning ear, I "play" this magnificent instrument....and certainly "play" is the operative word here; I'm having a great time!

Monday, September 12, 2011

NEW MODULE : Buchla 285e

With little regret and the blessings of the great Don Hassler, I traded in my Infinite Phase Shifter for the Model 285e Frequency Shifter/Balanced Modulator and Ring Mod. This is an amazing module that even right out of the box created a wide variety of sonic modulation and mayhem. Thanks to Buchla and Associates for allowing the trade that helps to tweak my evolving 200e sonic signatures.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : lehn/schmickler

It must be emphasized that to speak of a ''performance" of electronic
music is meaningless: performance and composition are here an
indissoluble act...
---Milton Babitt

Improvised music presents quite a pointed question...Where is all this going?...Rather can the musician take the listener on a journey where the ride may be challenging but with the promise of sonic events that are somehow rewarding? In a cultural universe where patience is not a ready virtue, the arts suffer. Moreover, the idea of aesthetic process goes out the window...and process is what improv is all about. The negotiating of collective music making that takes place in real time with the goal of some kind of compositional commonality that "works" (defined by the artists as they proceed), is at the core of improv.

Lehn/Schmickler's Navigation im Hypertext presents two veteran electronic improvisors doing what they do best...having a dialogue with violent eruptions, whispered asides, murmuring, and biting arguments. Recorded live at a number of venues, Lehn on EMS Synthi, Schmickler on digital synths/laptop, these pieces suggest the tension and release of Romanticism. Quiet interludes are followed by tumultuous onslaughts of sonic debris...a kind of musique concrete filled with fluid transformations, dislocations, and transitions the result of a knowing improvisory relationship between musicians and machines that can, as a result of intimately knowing each other and their instruments, create a deKooning-esque bouyant smear of sound that is both exciting and ultimately rewarding.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New ether^ra cd-r

The newest ether^ra cd-r entitled BRISTLED ELIMINATION featuring 10 Buchla 200e improvs is now available for $10 postpaid. Contact

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I thought a short film starring my japanese friend might be fun. My Buchla 200e supplies the soundtrack. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Studio Changes / ::vtol:: instruments

In trying to impose a draconian order in my studio, some devices have been relocated, hopefully to my sonic benefit. My ::vtol:: sound generators are now gracefully and invitingly together in the hope of getting more use. Thanks to the ever-creative Dimitry for creating such exciting devices! Pictured are the Volfram, the Cramola, and the Corvax.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : kangding ray / or

The cold austerity of much Raster-Noton product is not in evidence here! Kangding Ray's OR exhibits a warmth that is not only suggestive of analogue processes, but also of a poetic humanity that from track to track is beguilingly inviting. David Letellier insists that his work is a critique of modern civilization gone awry, and certainly the title's monetary suggestion may be just that. But it is simply so seductively beautiful...electronic music with the heart of french cinema, a primordial mythology that underpins european culture and contains a sadness that is at once beautiful and aching. To bring this aching beauty to the fore, in the piece "Pruitt Igoe" the tragedy of Echo and Narcissus is referenced, lovers doomed from the start.

This 2011 release from Kangding Ray is even more topical considering the present economic woes of the European Union. Mr. Letellier provides a beautiful soundtrack for immolation.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : the golden palominos / dead inside

Anton Fier's project The Golden Palominos had the habit of playing musical chairs with its participants and genre-jumping among numerous stylistic strategies. The 1996 release DEAD INSIDE was no exception. While previous releases utilized the talents of Michael Stipe and John Lydon, Dead Inside circled wagons around the text/voice of Nicole Blackman. These tracks, embued with a dread that is palpable, feature an electronic fabric created by Fier with the assistance of Bill Laswell, Nicky Skopelitis, and Knox Chandler. Hints of "drum 'n bass" pop up here and there, but never lessens the nausea-generating darkness that pervades this release. The listener is seemingly powerless against the droning waves of futility, lost in a black Ad Reinhart painting without respite, without hope...feel good, this is not. But this is a compelling release and an important one, destined to be forgotten in the moment's cultural currency of "awesome-ness" and committment intolerant i-pod "listening." A terrible beauty!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : family / fearless

I remember a peculiar event at Bill Graham's Fillmore East sometime in the late sixties. I had arrived at this venue expecting to see Keith Emerson's organ gymnastics with The Nice unaware of what was to about to expire before my youthful eyes. The british group Family took the stage by storm, creative musicians bent on making a lasting impression...and they did! During the very first number, if I recall correctly, Family's torn and frayed singer Roger Chapman, in the crazed passion of the moment, hurled the mike stand across the stage almost hitting Bill Graham. This was to be the last time they played the Fillmore...

Recently I re-acquainted myself with their 1971 album Fearless, a mixture of whiskeyed rock and blues influences, pyschedelica, brit-folk, and jazz. With Poli Palmer's vibes taking the musical lead role in many Family songs, jazz-tinged twists and turns are musically negotiated. And Rob Townsend's drums make a dynamic impression. But the record and their shows centered around Roger Chapman whose shredded vocal chord, stoned eyed vocals were truly scary as he stumbled around the stage spastically destroying tambourines and hurling microphone stands. His atonal screeches throughout the album track "Blind" are truly horrifying, the manifestation of a seemingly insane individual bent on self-immolation. While there are moments of melodic beauty, Family's intensity is indeed fearless and perhaps peerless.

Please note the unique cd cover, a facsimile of the original vinyl release.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Buchla 200e Complete

With the addition of Mark Verbos' 258v Dual Oscillator, Chris Muir's Eardrill Pendulum Ratchet and a Buchla Mixer/Present Manager, my 18-module 200e system is now complete...perhaps?

Friday, July 22, 2011

DON HASSLER : Buchla 200e

Time Skew 200e Study, 261e from don hassler on Vimeo.

Don Hassler, musician and creative artist, creates jittery cacophonous stabs of musical expression that defy definition. It is work that demands attention and rewards it!

Mark Verbos 258v Dual Oscillator Video

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mark Verbos 258v Dual Oscillator

I got my 258v today and I must say that this is one great sounding analogue oscillator. Designed to duplicate the Buchla 258, Mr. Verbos has done a wonderful job. In the short time I spent with it I was able to produce everthing from beautifully fat liquid tones to klanging ringmod-like noise! The two oscillators offer tremendous potential for processing and modulation. A sequence from my Buchla 251e thread through both oscillators offers miraculous results and then some! Thanks Mark!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Crazy Serge Patch

Somehow this patch is producing erratic Seq A cycling. Crazy, but quite wonderful. See ether^ra LIKE SAUCERS video on YouTube.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DONALD LOKUTA : in plato's cave

The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.
---John Berger

Donald Lokuta's series of photographs "In Plato's Cave" presents the viewer with people in the act of looking. Surprisingly, Mr. Lokuta has chosen to carefully blacken out the backgrounds with paint selectively creating black voids pregnant with meanings that while referencing Plato's allegory are pointed catalysts for examining today's shadowy media-imprisoned world. Mr. Lokuta's backgrounds are unerringly black. My initial thoughts regarding this blackness brought to mind the sound artists Haswell and Hecker's workBlackest Ever Black, a title derived from a scientific paper on "the blackest black ever made on Earth" seemingly an ultra-black coating for optical instruments that absorbs all the light that hits it. Not unlike the all-devouring media-machine that feeds us our notions of the real, this shadowy blackness suggests not only a jumbled multiplicity of perceptual points of view, but no small amount of fear-filled uncertainty that is our 21th century world.

Mr. Lokuta draws us in with velvety gelatin silver images infused with humanity. It is ironic nonetheless that this photographic art, essentially the manipulation of light and transparency, should be made to speak so compellingly about ourselves and our world utilizing not only darkness, but figures whose faces are turned away from us. Mr. Lokuta should be thanked for realizing art's ultimate goal to force us to reconsider the world we live in and our place in it anew. (above: Six People among Rocks 2008-2009) For more see

Monday, July 4, 2011

Paul Chan : 1st Light at The Whitney Museum

Paul Chan's 1st Light (2005) digital projection on the floor of the Whitney Museum has the power to awaken the spectator from the sleep of reason. With references to the 9/11 tragedy as well as the eschatological idea of the rapture, this ever changing series of silhouettes is literally quietly shocking. What starts as an expanse of evolving color cast on the floor, a kind of homage to earlier conceptual site specific pure light works becomes populated by a telephone pole and wires whose cruciform shape cannot help but be read in terms of religious implications. Soon we witness all manner of material possessions, cars, i-pods, phones, assorted pieces of furniture and more, ascending upward toward heaven only to be shocked when bodies begin to rain downward. This is especially shocking when a body closer to us falls past us nearly blackening the entire lighted frame. The Whitney's wall text regarding the work suggests this is a kind of rapture in reverse, a take on rampant materialism, and 9/11's trapped victims jumping from the stricken architecture as "fallen" victims of not only terrorists, but of their material desires. I walked away shaken by Paul Chan's questioning visual invention, one of the most powerful works of art I have ever encountered. Kudos to The Whitney for making it available...and please note that the word "Light" in the title has a line through it and consider the frighteningly weighty implications.

Buchla 206e

The Buchla 206e Mixer/Preset Manager has proven to be a wonderfully useful tool for live mixing and recording moments of sonic pleasure. I love the fact that I can drop detrius out of the mix instantly and bring up the volume of other components at will. I've yet to try the Preset Manager section but I'm certain it will become a much used part of my explorations. Thanks Don!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Buchla 266e

Check out this nice demo of some of the potential of the powerful Source of Uncertainty.

Monday, June 27, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : cut hands / afro noise 1

With a discography that explores almost every form of misanthropic mayhem, William Bennet, aka Whitehouse, purveyor of noise terror in the same league as fellow noise icon, Masami Akita/Merzbow, has, with the Cut Hands project, demonstrated a creative willingness to evolve sonically. Gone are the screeching menacing "vocals" that snow a flurry of misogyny on the listener. Gone are the lo-fi production values that were most certainly meant to produce the desired effect of elemental head-ache inducing miasma. Cut Hands simply sounds breath-taking. A unique mix of acoustic african percussion and electronics/synths suggest the noise genre has begun to negotiate a new direction...still darkly horrible and punitive in its implications regarding our world, but, for the listener, refreshingly transformative.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

ether^ra EMBROID


With little concern for aural decorum, THIS SECOND SLEEP created this example of sonic miasma to the delight of noise-niks everywhere. Featuring the 200e in all its unconventional glory. Kudos to AP!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Tom Bugs builds instruments, that is, fantastic instruments imbued with a knowing wink to the history of electronic music/instruments and a look toward the future. His company, BugBrand, provides an outlet for his creativity and his passion. He has created small standalone devices such as the Weevil Series and is now slowly producing modular synths that are not only beautiful but capable of producing a fantastic array of analogue sound possibilities...and his patching option is the banana cable...fantastic! He kindly answered 3 questions...

I know your are a guitarist; how did you make the jump to making and

creating music with synths and other electronic devices? Was there an epiphany
of some kind?

I wouldn't call myself a guitarist! I'm more a jack-of-all-trades (and certainly master of none) - guitar was my main thing for a while in solo work as Knowledge of Bugs, but also my early setup for that was mainly electronic hardware (in particular Nord MicroModular and Yamaha SU700 sampler machine). I actually started off on piano and trombone (you know, proper music lessons!). In more band setups I've tended to play drums and the recently have been playing as a duo with Silver Pyre where I mix acoustic and
electronic drums - lots of processed contact mic cymbals etc. Rhythm has long been really important to me and you can see that in the current range of module designs for example.

So, the jump.. Well, I guess it came from starting off using computers for audio - gosh, the landscape, power & potential has shifted enormously over the last 10-15 years. I was fascinated first by VAZ Modular software and then I started dipping in to Reaktor. But then I gradually got turned off computers and at a similar point I also was getting much more involved in electronics. Early designs tended to be standalone - the real epiphany moment was when I started trying some modular designs, both in terms of a scalable system and in the improved togetherness of the electronics. You can see the jump in the fundamental differences between the standalone Weevil designs (lofi electronics - very chaotic) versus the modular systems which are much more integrated electronically and thus much more stable (though still very capable of utter chaos).

So nowadays I don't tend to play so much (shamefully) but I still feel that I'm building and designing with a large focus on making a system *I* want to play. In my old solo music I got quite frustrated by how linear the computer based approach was - you had to really plan and I wanted some surprises to react to. It was when I started plugging together the early modular tests that the system 'came alive' and put a massive grin on my face -- when the electrons somehow form into a wonderful melody or rhythm. I see the systems as a sort of sonic clay - you gradually mould and shape as you play, hoping for a wonder to appear for you. And then you push too hard and it all falls apart into a mess and you have to start shaping afresh.

You've embraced the banana cable as your patching option of choice. Was
your choice influenced by Buchla and Serge?

I've actually had very little exposure to other modular systems (or 'regular' synths for that matter) - many design choices are probably more prosaic. I can't now remember why I made the first test modules with bananas - maybe it was due to some exposure to bananas at university while doing a technical course - the stackability was also something I was very keen on. But then there was also the cost and availability factors (which are often choices I have to make in designs) - I could get decent
plugs and sockets easily from my regular supplier and for good prices. Time-wise they're great too (very quick to make cables) and of course they're super reliable and colourful -- once I'd begun using them for my own personal test setups there was no way I was going to go back to jacks for any production modules. Foolish in business terms? Possibly, but I believe in what I do and that's more important to me than churning out loads of units.

So, no, my choices weren't influenced by Buchla or Serge - I've barely ever played any systems of either and have (very small) bug-bears about both systems. On the Buchla side I find it hard to understand the desire to have two different plug types separating audio and control as I see the boundaries of these areas being extremely vague. And on the Serge side I'm still puzzled as to why inputs and outputs are not differentiated between. But the few hours I got to play a vintage Buchla 200 series in Stockholm was really quite amazing - the module designs are mind-blowing.

Production of spectacular BugBrand modulars has been limited. What does
the future hold for BugBrand?

The growth of my setup has been very gradual as I've learned both the electronics approaches and how to design stuff to be replicated -- it took me several years to move from total DIY of the circuit boards to finding ways to get 'professional' PCBs made but in small quantities. The last couple of years I've moved to using surface mount components (bloody tiny!) and so probably the next logical step may be to get certain parts built by machines - eg. stuffing the boards with the passive components and then hand finishing them with the pots / switches / jacks. But, saying that, I don't really have the desire to really grow production all that much - I am very happy at present to be able to support myself (and a helper 3 to 4 days a week) and keep things 'real' - on my own terms and with friendly dealings with users. The close work with the modular system users is incredibly important to me, much more so than making lots of money or churning out loads of units.

The Modular stuff is really my main focus today, though I still do think on a few standalone devices too. I'm lucky to have generally had a situation the last few years where demand has outstripped supply - there have been a lot of people asking to get a modular system since I launched my range at the start of 2009 and I do want to get someway to meeting some of that demand, but also want to keep things personal and relatively small scale still. I do have to typically think in terms of systems because my choice of going Frac with Bananas means that I'm kind of out on my own - there aren't other people really building compatible modules etc. and that's why I've had to design the whole shaboodle of frames and PSUs to make complete systems. One thing that has also kept wider availability in check has been how the systems have grown - when I started offering them I imagined people generally having 2 frames or maybe 3 at a push - already we've got a few people rocking on 4 frames and a couple of brave explorers now trying to fill 8 frames. This is totally beyond what I'd imagined! And while publicly the releases may have seemed very limited in availability, we've actually made a staggering quantity of modules - at very rough estimates I think around 80-90 frames are now out in the wild so that probably means about 1000 modules in two and a half years.

So, really I want both to continue developing new parts for the existing systems (Sequencers being one area soon to be introduced) and also try to allow some further people entry into the group. Oh, and I would love to get some music made on the modular systems released on vinyl (blue, naturally.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011


With the usual excitement reserved for unpacking a new Buchla module, I carefully, with no small amount of anxiety and trepidation, opened the box containing the 251e. Yet another sequencer to make use of in controlling my noise outbursts wetted my appetite for sonic manipulation. the manual!
Here's a new video using my new Buchla 251e. Ineptitude sometimes aids in creation

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011


As a fan of banana cable culture, BugBrand, along with Buchla and Serge, perpetuate, with no small amount of invention and sonic verve, arguably the best of all modular patching options. This video makes a strong argument for Tom Bugs' place in the banana cable pantheon of greats!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


How disappointing!...May 21 brought not even a tiny apocalypse...the Buchla 200e running on uncertainty provides a nice soundtrack!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : autosalvage

Though not containing synths of any kind, 1968's Autosalvage is quite a satisfying listen. Containing rasping angular guitar work, pounding drums and percussion, airy harmonies, and touches of experimental eastern-tinged psych, Autosalvage, discovered by Frank Zappa, released this one great album and disappeared leaving behind arguably one of the great albums of the late sixties. Skilled musicians all, Autosalvage create layered songs that twistedly negotiate their way though sonic changes breath-takingly like a medieval chamber group intent on bringing us the evocative expressive power of the blues along with the complexity of progressive timbral exploration. Great stuff.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

LIBRARY : francis bacon / a terrible beauty

Francis Bacon / A Terrible Beauty presents the reader with a number of compelling essays that explore the inner workings of arguably Great Britain's greatest artist as viewed through the lens of the remains of his London studio now reassembled in Dublin. This autopsy fingers through photos, destroyed canvases, and mountains of "refuse" that became the idea fixe of Bacon's work and provides clues to the working practices of this enigmatic man. It is especially interesting in its investigation of Bacon's use of photography as catalyst and reference in the process of birthing a painted image; so distressed are these photos generally that one can easily see their relationship to these potent paintings, horribly beautiful, smeared with the painterly atrophied viscera the product of a knowing hand and a gambler's love of the game of chance.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

LIBRARY : vague terrain journal

For compelling information/essays regarding the sonic arts check out the following:

Ellerich's Fabelphonetikum

To read Jason R. Butcher's contribution see here:

JASON R. BUTCHER : buchla 297 experiments

s3.1-6 by Jason R. Butcher

Sunday, May 1, 2011


SAMPLE & HOLD : morton subotnik / volume 1 :electronic works

For any lover of that Buchla sound, this cd is an essential listen. While this is overall a compelling listen, I am particularly taken by A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur, a piece that explores the percussive sounds that can only be produced by the Buchla. The Opening section begins with chattering mallet strike sounds; around 8:17 the sky explodes with a tumultuous sonic cloud-burst that like the bursts of sound that Stravinsky used to tense displeasure in his 1913 Rite of Spring seems to smack the listener across the room. After this dense build-up, a period of simple quiet ensues, then...Dance, a percussive propulsive section that exploits that Buchla sound beautifully. Two minutes into Dance comes an abrupt silence and then a simple sonic motif finally populated by garbled tones that again fade to silence that slowly evolves into metallic percussive tones, and sonic alien worm-holes that build to waves of layered cacophonous sounds. Percussive sound of a different nature inhabits the final four minutes...then flashes of melodic content begins to dart erratically, negotiating percussive jabs. What has slowly evolved out of a aleatoric sulphuric chattering haze is simply genesis, a beginning.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : pauline oliveros / alien bog & beautiful soop

Another relatively unheralded lady of early electronic music, like the great Laurie Spiegel, Pauline Oliveros has produced many seminal works. This one, using the Buchla Box 100, produced in 1967, Alien Bog reflects her poetic reflections on "sounds from the frog pond outside the studio..." Armed with the Buchla and a tape delay system, Oliveros produced a sticky morass of sound, abstract yet clearly owing to her deep listening to pond life. For those interested in the early sounds coming from Buchla instruments Alien Bog and Beautiful Soop are mandatory listening.

Monday, April 18, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : he said omala / catch supposes

This 1997 release, essentially a G. Lewis statement, follows the same sonic template as the best Dome releases. All disjointed crunchy rhythms and synth/noise stabs and loops, Catch Supposes does not disappoint those with a fondness for Dome's experimental noise explorations. I'm curious how this wonderful addition to the Wire/Dome discography got lost. Though one of the song titles is Solid or Vanish (yet another in the list of beautifully ambiguous song titles found throughout their arcane discography!), this release is indeed solidly compelling; those who seek it out will be rewarded!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Rejecting the usual chromatic keyboard embraced by Robert Moog, Buchla's 222e Multi-Dimensional Kinesthetic Input Port, Folktek's Subharmonic Field, and Tom Bug's Bugbrand BoardWeevil offer the adventurous musician/noisician options other than the traditional keyboard. These instrument/controllers literally get you in touch with creative electricity!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Leather straps turned side-ways after opening.
After much separation anxiety my 200e returned to me with a stunning new cabinet and a 256e module. When my brother's 200e cabinet was damaged in transit, Don did some minor modifications using quite beautiful leather straps and snaps to hold it securely closed during transit...very nice indeed. Now all I have to do is fill the remaining five spaces...!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

SAMPLE & HOLD : interplay / john foxx and the maths

Listening to Interplay by John Foxx and the Maths I am reminded of my initial acquaintance with fellow Brit Peter Forrest's monumental two part tome The A-Z of Analogue Synthesisers, the sense of incantory sonic magic resulting from playing (with) an array of knobs and cables perfecting imperfection, all sonorous smears wonderfully summed up in Foxx's 1980 masterwork Metamatic..."" With the help of synth archivist/musician/artist Benge, Mr. Foxx, using pre-1985 synth technology (all listed for each track) has made a timely statement of analogue intent with great pop songs! If there was any justice in the world of electro-pop, "Evergreen" would hit the charts with an electric jolt! Sharing the same iconic british contradictory mindspace that allows for the home of the Industrial Revolution AND the timeless bucolic garden world of some far-off arcadian England to live together, Foxx, along with other fellow analogue synthesists like Ghostbox's Belbury Poly, have returned to a simpler world devoid of laptop menus and perfect pre-sets...Foxx sings " There is a place we once knew...Forever evergreen..." and the "forever changes" (a nod to Love?) of oscillators made beautifully unstable by temperature and moisture...a future nostalgia. Benge's contributions, sequences,synths, electro-percussion and treatments add layers of analogue grandeur, the summed sound of which is stunning in its direct percussive and atmospheric expression. Foxx and Benge have breathed fresh wave-shapes into a genre Mr. Foxx helped to invent. Bravo!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

LIBRARY : the san francisco tape music center

With interviews with Don Buchla and Morton Subotnick, The San Francisco Tape Music Center / 1960s counterculture and the avant-garde edited by David W. Bernstein, is, excuse the expression, a "heady" read filled with both historical and aesthetic insights into the arts, music, and the tenor of those revolutionary times when anything seemed possible. Warmly recounted, these innovative times meticulously detailed remind us that there was a time before the internet and laptops when artists gave birth to masterful expression with limited means and indeed, to paraphrase William Blake, saw heaven in a wildflower and stopped to tape it!