I’ve had a Soundcloud account for a while, but not really done anything with it since signing up. I quite like its player interface, but as with other media sharing sites (Youtube, Flickr), I never felt compelled to use their services as I already have plenty of web space of my own. But perhaps the community/sharing format allows for a way to reach listeners I might not have otherwise, certainly that’s the proven to be the case with the broad cultural impact of the aforementioned Youtube and Flickr. So I’ve decided to give Soundcloud a try. It’s strangely laggy at times when it shouldn’t be, but otherwise could be a good thing to use. And I recently killed most of my social media footprint (no more Myspace account, no more Facebook account, had my store on People’s Music Store removed, keeping Twitter though) so I’m in need of spreading myself thin elsewhere.

I’ve been interested in the idea of rapid publishing for a few years. I used to do that sort of thing when posting to forums, finish a track and share it with the community. Many of my older releases – Low End of Wide Open, Machines, Coma – were done in that piecemeal way. One of the reasons I stopped doing that was my focus moved to larger projects, and forums are isolated, tucked away corners of the web for the specifically minded. Hopefully, Soundcloud proves to be more inviting to a broader range of listeners.

I believe the sound quality is better from Soundcloud’s site rather than through the embedded player if you want to make the jump. As it stands, I haven’t set these up for download. I likely will in the future, at least the one’s that pass muster during this prototyping stage.

The music that will be placed on Soundcloud will all be solo performances done on my shiny new modular synthesizer, similar to the approach I took on Held in Frame, although I’ll be a bit freer with post-processing, multitracking, etc. I’ve started recording tracks using only the modular primarily as way to learn how to play it. One of the things I love about a hardware modular synthesizer, especially in contrast to years of using software only, is that what sounds you make is less important than inventing ways of making them. The system I have is comprised of only a few modules, and each one can perform a whole variety of functions, so it’s invigorating working with the various trade-offs – i.e. if I use my envelope generator as an audio source, I’m now down one envelope and have to adjust the musical approach accordingly. I suppose in much the same way that the brain reroutes pathways after a stroke and the like. And I like that yanking a cable can itself be a musical act. I haven’t taken any photos of it, but through the miracle of the fantastic RackPlannner app, I have this mock-up:

I’ll be adding music there as I make it. Probably two more tracks will be added this weekend. On the first of these two tracks already posted, there’s clipping distortion in places, but I decided I liked the effect and kept it in. As always, I’m attracted to slow-moving music, full of minor noises and drones, so that’s mostly what folk can expect from these.

Update Aug 23, 2010: I’ve taken these tracks down to make room for others on Soundcloud, in keeping with the rapid publishing angle of what I’m doing there. I expect the best among these tracks will resurface as a full release.

A new SIGHUP release is now available.

Held in Frame is a collection of four solo performances done throughout 2009 with the Bugbrand AudioWeevil08. Some time last year, a bunch of threads coalesced into the idea to explore the AudioWeevil as a solo instrument: I had been listening to blindoldfreak’s Buchla-centric album 1 a lot, and was both intrigued by its focus on a single instrument and filled with modular-envy (which I’ve since quelled by starting a Euro modular system); a post about noise synths (a general term encompassing a whole bunch of DIY/small-run tabletop-sized synthesizers often based around 555 chips or CMOS hex inverters for oscillators) over at the 12k forum in which someone asked about using these devices for subtle musical applications; and I took up playing the ukulele and was drawn to the notion of folk music in its most general sense, just idling at home and strumming out tunes for the simple pleasure of playing.

So that’s what these are, an attempt at a folk music that is defined by the instrument and the player rather than any commonly-held definition of folk music. The recordings are all presented in mono, in keeping with the intended simplicity of the presentation. The Audioweevil is the primary sound source, run through a few effects pedals (I think the only three I used at various points here are the Boss PS-5 pitch shifter, the Catalinbread Semaphore Tremolo, and the Malekko E600D bucket-brigade delay). I used the Trogotronic 666 as accompaniment on the final track (it’s making that zippering sound).

A slightly different version of the first track, February 19 2009, first appeared last year on a compilation put out by my friend Mark over at the Just Not Normal netlabel (that version was processed to be stereo-ish, to better sit within the context of a diverse compilation). This release is streamable or downloadable from Bandcamp, in any format you’d like, including lossless audio files.

Copyright © Steven Hamann. All rights reserved.