Audio Damage has a multiband distortion plugin called Kombinat in development. Chris has been providing updates here and there on Analog Industries about its development progress. As always with AD plugins, I have the privilege of testing Kombinat while still in beta. It’s a fantastic, ridiculously versatile signal shaping tool.

Here’s an example of the range of effects you can achieve with fairly simple adjustments to a set configuration. You can see the settings I started from in the above picture.

Audio Damage Kombinat demo clip

This clip has first a dry recording of some skin drums, followed by four affected iterations. In each instance, the settings are exactly the same except for a few changes: it starts out set to multi mode with the input gain at 40%, then input gain is set to max, followed by the same iterations in serial mode.

With only a few minor adjustments, you can go from tame to destroyed quite easily. Which I think stands in nice contrast to its most obvious competitors, Izotope’s Trash and Ohm Force’s Ohmicide, neither of which are what I would describe as straightforward and simple to use (both have their merits, but personally I think they’re both too cluttered up with a lot of useless junk that obscures the good stuff).

I think folk are really going to like this one. It has a very responsive gain structure that has a nice effect on the sustain/gating of the distortion (much more like a proper fuzz pedal than most plugins). And it has a fantastic, heavy-handed one knob compressor thrown in for good measure. I’m really hoping we see a separate plugin of just the compressor with its parameters broken out.

One little site update, my webhost, Dreamhost, is in the midst of the slow process of restructuring the file servers this site uses. Sadly this means that my site’s going to be slow for a little while, so please bear with it.

While I await Big City Music’s reply to an email regarding a more substantial purchase (since their web store can’t handle international sales) , I had an urge to go out and buy something. Usually I resist those urges by convincing myself the shop doesn’t have what I was looking for (or I remind myself of the last thing I bought on an urge, the disappointing in every way EH Holy Stain). But today chose to resist resisting, so I went out and got this:

It’s a BenFox Dual Tone Generator. The toggle is all silver instead of red on mine, but that’s essentially what it looks like. Click on the picture to go to the BenFox site. He’s a French effects pedal maker, who has a few little sound boxes on the side. It’s really just two oscillators with pitch control, voltage starve and a mixer. The circuit itself doesn’t look particularly complex, pretty much just a big old IC. I paid too much for it, I’m sure, but I’m comfortable with paying for good stupid fun once in a while. And this is good stupid fun and way cheaper than a Tenori-on.

The voltage starve sort of acts as fine tune for the oscillators, and at really low settings will break up, but isn’t a particularly significant effect. Much of this thing’s tone is governed by phasing from the oscillators. Here’s what it sounds like:

Benfox Dual Tone Generator

Not a particularly elaborate example, but you should get the idea. You can hear it dry at the start and then run through a pitchshifter pedal and digital delay, just for some context since I’m not likely to run it dry. It actually sounds really cool through my Smokey amp. Maybe one of these days I’ll take it out and busk the subway system with what must come close to being the smallest electronic performance rig in the world (I can use little bits of metal on the Smokey’s speaker for filters and effects, surprisingly cool results doing that).

I read a fair amount of music-related publications, web-based and otherwise. There’s been a lot of talk all over the place about the future of music (for recent examples, see this post at Analog Industries or this post at EM411, or, god help you, google the idiocy that is “Music 2.0″). Trouble is, so much of it speculates on what will be the ultimate outcome of current trends, say five or ten years down the line, but little of it addresses anything of any practical use, for example the next twelve months.

Now that Intelligent Machinery is no longer a collective, my immediate future plans are up in the air. I could start a label. I could just sell my stuff on my own, either downloads only or CDs or wax cylinders or whatever as well. I could just continue the formless dabbling I’ve done up until now. I’m not opposed to any of it, except that I have little interest in losing money. As long as breaking even is viable, anything is up for consideration.

So, what should I (or anyone else seeking to do something a little broader than just keeping a website and writing some tunes) do as a next step? Ultimately I’ll make a choice of what to do and get on with it, so there’s no crisis to be resolved, but I’m interested to hear what any of you (the few readers this blog nets) have to say about it. In the next twelve months, what would be a wise or unwise step to make in expanding one’s role in music? Are labels and discs as they exist today still necessary for at least the next five years?

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