electronica

My Coolest Piece of Audio Gear

I’m currently working on a number of projects which for various legal reasons can’t be posted here yet. In the meantime, lest you think I have vanished, I’d like to post about the coolest piece of audio gear I own.

It was built in the late 1990s by a good friend of mine (Hi RoverT!) as a dedicated interface for a piece of revolutionary software that was blowing all of our minds at the time: Propellerheads Rebirth. For those of you younger than a certain age, you have to appreciate that this app came out right at the dawn of the VST-engorged era we now live in. Rebirth is dead simple: it simulates a bunch of classic Roland gear: two TB-303 bassline synths, a TR-909 drum box, and an 808. It provides the same knobs and controls that the original synths had, and it was designed to be real-time controllable.

There was nothing else even remotely like it in 1997. In fact, I’d go as far as saying Rebirth kickstarted the virtual synth revolution. Sure, there were other synths around at the time – VAZ springs to mind (loved that) -  but nothing else had ever been so accessible, so easy to use, and frankly, so AWESOME SOUNDING.

RoverT built a hardware interface for it, so that he could control it live without having to fiddle with a mouse. It was a prototype for a much more elaborate interface that he subsequently built for himself, which had a bunch of sliders instead of knobs. When he completed the next generation, he gifted the old prototype to me.

Check it out:

The Box

As shiny and cool as his new box was, I love this piece of gear more. The fact that it’s built into a cigar box ramps up the coolness factor for me by an order of magnitude.

This controller basically handles Rebirth’s two 303 synths only – one row of knobs per synth. The telephone keypad on the left maps to the pattern controllers for each synths (you had to pre-sequence your notes on the 303) – eight pattern buttons per synth.

The knobs control Filter Cutoff, Reso, Envelope Mod and Decay – pretty much everything you need to make the synth express.

Life progressed and we moved onto other things, but I kept using The Box. After all, it has gorgeous knobs – seriously, they’re far chunkier and solid than anything you find on a dedicated hardware interface today. And they send out standard (although hardware fixed) MIDI messages.

All I have to do is remap them on the software side to whatever DAW or synth function I want to control, and I get to carry on using this epic piece of kit. I cannot imagine my life without it. I will be heartbroken when it finally dies (although, touch wood, it is showing no signs of doing so).

Incidentally, Propellerheads now gives away Rebirth for free as something of a historical oddity. I totally recommend grabbing  a copy, it’s an awesome synth.

Remix: Slide’s “Dime Store Queer”

Kicking 2010 off with a bang, here’s a kick ass remix of Slide’s new single, “Dime Store Queer.” This is the second remix I’ve produced for Slide, the electro rockers from the USA’s west coast, and follows on from the equally clubby “January (Feel Like Dancing)“, which recently garnered a Platinum Auddy award on uPlaya.com.

I’m really proud of how the Dime Store Queer remix came out – this one roars. There’s a lot I like about this song – not just the catchy chorus hook or the solidity of the bassline, but the fact that underneath its glitzy pop sensibilities it’s got a serious message: don’t let these bastards push you around.

Don’t let them hurt you, don’t buy into the vicious labels they attach to you. You won’t always be stuck where you are. Keep your head up and stay fabulous, because some day soon you’ll grow up, get ripped, and tear all their heads off. Kinda.

Have a listen to the radio edit:

Dime Store Queer (Mdavisto’s Mix) – Radio Edit by mdavisto

Untitled Dystopia

It’s been a while since my last post; couple of major changes in my life and a move to a new town will do that. Without further ado:

Untitled Dystopia

A month ago I completed work on the soundtrack to Untitled Dystopia, a film written and directed by Martin Lejeune. It was a fun project for me, as Martin had very clear and interesting ideas about what he was after.

You can watch the full movie via streaming video here.

I have been writing pure classical to picture for so long, it was fun to let my hair down and do something completely different for a change. Here’s a clip from the end credits:

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Aylos – single released

Album coverWell, Guffy gave us the go ahead, so it is with great pride that we present the first of what we intend to be many “CD singles” sold through Amie Street. The album art is the work of my frighteningly talented brother Christopher.

The term “CD single” is of course redundant in this day and age – it’s a digital download of 3 different mixes of Aylos’s track “I’m Beautiful,” all completely DRM free. If you want to burn it to CD, be my guest.

I posted a version of this track a few weeks ago, so for variation find below a much harder, much clubbier, much more radio friendly version.

Dig it:

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If you like it, play it again :) If you feel like owning it, pop over to Amie Street, where it is available free for a limited period.

Remix: Aylos – I’m Beautiful

This is a mix that Terry and I did, under the our 3Headz moniker. The vocals and lyrics are by a singer from Durban called Aylos – I think she’s going places. This mix will appear on the new album from DJ Guffy (for the umlungu, this is inexplicably pronounced “Goofy”, just like the Disney character).

Aylos has a solo album coming out soon which will feature the original version of this song.

Enjoy the mix:

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Remix: Zos

It is the ZosThis is a club remix I did for up-and-coming Johannesburg artist Zos, whose album is into the final stretch of being mixed here in Studio 1 at SSI. The album version is more hip hop, a bit slower and has more words. And more pianos.

Obviously it’s unashamedly a party track. The original features some guest vocals by MXO that seem to have got lost somewhere, I guess I’ll check under the couch cushions and see if I can find them.

The rest of the album is nothing like this one, and there are some smoking hot beats on it, which I hope to post as we get closer to completion.

This is my full length DJ remix, hence the long build.

Update: Goggi took a copy of this remix down to YFM, and DJ Chilli M is now rocking it on the drive time show.

Listen:

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Remix: Nighthawks

Artist the band I’ve not posted any music here in a while, partly because I’ve had my head up my bum, and partly because of running around organising projects. Several are coming to fruition all at once, so expect more posts like this in the coming days.

I’ve just completed this remix for Canterbury-based band Artist, aka Artist the Band, who have just released their first album entitled A Muddle and a Mess.

I went the sort of mellow House route, which is the cheezy way my brain works.

Here is a clip of the original song:

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Annnnd here’s my remix:

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I can’t feel my nose

Nothing can stop himDamn but it’s cold here in Cape Town today. There are chunks of ice falling out of the sky, and I am wayyyyy pleased I don’t have to go out there for any reason.

It’s been both gratifying and humbling to see how many of you have downloaded the Intrepid OST – thank you very much. It turns out I made a screwup in the mp3 pack, Track 17 was wrong. This has now been fixed, but if you’d like just the correct track without having to download the whole thing again, you can grab it here.

Now then. Karl and I had a great doef-doef session today where we dusted off something we began ages ago. It’s coming along really well, getting a good solid feel in this track. Bonus points if you can identify the source of the brass samples in use, though I can’t imagine anyone but a member of my family guessing this.

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If you’re a female vocalist and you can do house and kwaito vox, please get in touch.

Annnnnnnd as it’s Friday:

Weird Scifi Sewers
This is a gallery of pictures of the Japanese sewer system. It is mind bogglingly cool – the structures down there are massive, and remind me a lot of elements from HR Giger and Bladerunner and The Lord of the Rings … check it out, it’s extremely cool.

Unfortunate product placement
I have a love-hate relationship with advertising. On the one hand, I really think that a lot of it is art. Or can be. But I also hate how it’s everywhere. This page has a lovely list of instances where the message of the ad got a little warped by it’s placement. With picturey goodness.

Tiny little PC
Okay, you have to be a bit geeky to appreciate this, but I think it’s genius. A PC the size of a paperback novel – and cheap! It won’t run the latest games, but that’s not what it’s for. 12 out of 10 for form factor. I want one. Heck, I want two!

Wizards that could kick Harry Potter’s ass
It’s technically redundant, because we all know that without his wand, any one of us could kick Harry’s ass. Were I in Fight Club, I would fight Harry Potter.

Ahhhhhh cute!
It’s a doggy this week. I don’t normally do doggies, but this is gorgeous.

We’re back!

Da turntablezKarl and I have been on a sort of enforced hiatus due to our mutual work pressures, but today we managed to get together and make some of the banging thumping noises we so enjoy. Below is a clip from our current remix work.

Bonus points if you can identify the original track (thus giving away your age). And yes, we are looking to collaborate with singers, so if you’re in the Cape Town area and can belt out a decent House vocal, please drop me a line.

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In other news, the permissions issue around the Intrepid soundtrack has been resolved, so expect the entire OST album to be available for download some time next week – I’m just waiting on cover art at this point. The cover is being designed by the multi-talented Jeff Hayes, which I’m feeling very smug about.