New SIGHUP release “Face” now available.

This is a free release and the second Intelligent Machinery single (following the excellent Interrogate recently released by Jack & Chloe, from which “Face 1” was partially inspired). Click the picture to go to the release page.

Two tracks in all, totalling somewhere around thirteen minutes. The tracks started out as demos for a new sample pack of one shot drum sounds released this week by my good friends at Real Music Media. Once I had both tracks complete, I liked them as a whole and proceeded to make some adjustments so that they fit together nicely. They are slow, dusty affairs, lots of faint, repeated sounds, machine noises and the occasional drum part. You’ll even hear my new tape machine being put to use in these.

Cover relief illustration taken from the three volume “Oeuvres D’Architecture De Jean Le Pautre” published in 1751, digitized by the fine and masterful folk at BibliOdyssey.

This past weekend, I went down to the weekly antique/old junk sale at St. Lawrence Market and picked up this:

I had been considering getting an Ensoniq Mirage there, but the guy wouldn’t budge from his $100 asking (I offered $80, $100 being still a reasonable price for the Mirage, but like I really need another keyboard around, 8-bit sampling capabilities notwithstanding, so $80 seemed a good enough a deal to have another keyboard, $100 seemed more sobering). So I got a reel to reel instead (from the same guy). It’s an Akai 4000DS, nothing particularly to write home about in ideal condition, of which this is is in less than ideal condition. But, I got it for $20, so for my intentions, it was worth it any way I look at it. Not as exciting in a “what’s the weird old thing” way as Mystahr’s recent find, but to my mind, still a good spot of fun.

I’ve mostly figured out how to work it. I realized as I was doing so that my experience with reel to reel tape was limited to this old video recorder that my father got in the late 70s, which I, at the young age that I was, used mostly as a TV in my basement. Which really amounts to no experience, although I used to do a lot with cassettes, which are of course not the same.

I’m pretty sure that the thing is stuck in mono, since no sound comes out of the right channel, and the right input gets mixed in to the left. At some point, I might get ambitious and take it apart to see if I can fix that. I’ve managed to find the service manual on-line for free, but everybody wants as much as I paid for the stupid thing for an operator’s manual. I found a really good outline of how reel to reel machines work over here, which removed any need to hunt down the manual.

I picked up a used reel of tape at a local junk shop and have gotten it to record properly (albeit only one channel). I’ll likely be using it mostly for tape loops. Sadly, the tape only contained some crappy Eagles album in full, so no exotic and mysterious finds there.

This week I’ve been shopping around for a small mixer for a live rig.

I’m amazed at just how crappy most options are, and especially, just how inappropriate most small mixers seem to be for musicians who deal in (primarily digital) tabletop electronics. Of course, I realize electronic musicians are in the minority when it comes to live settings, and most live mixers are great for two guitars and a singer, but surely the niche is big enough to warrant something aimed at it.

I’m working out how to do a SIGHUP set live without a PC, which has required some creative thinking since SIGHUP is primarily a computer-based recording project, and I’ve never gigged it before. I don’t have a laptop, I’m not eager to get one, so I’ve decided to come up with something with the gear I have.

Using an MPC500, a Jomox M-resonator and some kind of digital delay/multi-effects unit (for now it will likely be a Korg Kaoss Pad 3, which has the added benefit of playing double duty as a sampler. I had thought about using my Akai S-20 alongside the MPC, but the KP3 will save me the pain of having one more thing to carry). To get all things working in a nice little setup, I’m going to add a mixer.

But here’s the problem: all the things I’ve mentioned have stereo ins and stereo outs. And I kind of like it that way. But finding a 100% stereo small mixer is a big pain in the arse, in the “I couldn’t find anything but crap” sort of way. The only fully stereo things I could find were DJ mixers, which a) are two to three times more expensive than plain old console mixers (perhaps because of the stereo signal path, but I also suspect that the DJ market is easily fleeced and as such encourages making merry with the pricing model) and b) tend to be filled up with all sorts of stupid DJ gewgaws (phono, filters, DSP, and all those blinking lights!), of which I am uninterested.

For now, I’ve settled on a Tapco Blend 6, since it is cheap and sturdy (and so cheap, I won’t ever feel bad replacing it). It should do until I find something that better suits my needs. What I would love is a four stereo-channel mixer (maybe throw in a mono channel with XLR in just to cover the “might need a mic at some point” angle, but even then, I won’t be brokenhearted by its absence), with two stereo aux sends and two stereo aux returns, all line level, balanced or unbalanced, and all 1/4″ jacks.

If something like that exists for under $400, please point me to it. Or, in the event that my way of thinking is messed up and naive, please correct my way of thinking.

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