experimental

Learning Modular Synthesis in 9 Simple Tracks with ((konexo))

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Artwork for The Shortest Days

((konexo))’s album, The Shortest Days, reaffirms my growing interest in modular synthesis. All the tracks were made using MakeNoise eurorack modules, in single takes. That’s the beauty of modular synthesis and having knowledge on what the individual modules can do. Modular synthesis allows one to create their own unique instrument.

The first track (I’m going to shorten the names for the sake of typing them out) xmas jugband is pretty good start to the album. It introduces the odd mix of freedom and order that one will find using this type of instrument. loose ends somewhat highlights the frequency range of instrument and beckoned astray provides a fun random, yet organized, arrangement.

sharp signals is definitely one of those improvisations you hear in demo synth videos. It’s blend of non-sinusoidal waveforms grabs your attention, the arrangement is recognizable but curious. Modular synthesis also allows for sonic opportunity. See how beeps can make a rhythmic progression, an organically made digital beat in beginners luck. Where guitar players use a wah pedal to alter the sound of the tone, a synth uses a filter while altering the cutoff and resonance. This can be automated on modular synths, which is most likely the case in march forth. Or it was done manually. Or I’m completely wrong.

 

While listening to evening snowstorms, I tried to imagine an orchestra playing it. It’s a very dynamic piece, certainly lending itself to be transposed. home alone is also very dynamic. The phrasing and space in it, like the other songs on the album, is what keeps things interesting while still sounding repetitive at times. Ending with grey sunday, ((konexo)) displays how the modular synth can create a kick sound, bass and a high pitched flute.

This shit just makes me want a modular synth even more. I’ve been looking at the Lifeforms System by Pittsburgh Modular. So thanks, now I’m closer to making that purchase.

Essential Track: sharp signals

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Review: Togoland, and the realm of musical deconstruction and destruction.

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Taken from Bandcamp page

I like Togoland because they’re pushing some barriers that usually make people uncomfortable and really helps address the conversation of what defines music. What makes something musical?

Music, by definition, is organized sound. Take that how you want it.

In this review, I’ll do a few short reviews of Togoland’s Demos (there are four of them) and then end with a short review of the recent release Harsh Noise. I tried to figure out a more interesting way to do this review, but it was taking too long. All the albums are available for streaming on Bandcamp. I posted a link at the bottom.

Demos

Demos is an in your face barrage of noise. The mix of frequencies making love being recorded on a cell phone and laptop. Not for the faint of heart, or those tripping on LSD (if anyone wants to try the latter, please let us know how that goes…). Five tracks of destruction, with Bomb Sounds being an appropriate introduction. Sounds like heavy unnatural winds in while riding the subway. Togoland is from New Jersey, so maybe a quick visit to New York City provided some sound sources

Demos #2

This one opens up with a more drone approach, evolving into a more defined form of destruction. Bird Seed features distorted drums in a hypnotic rhythmic loop that is complimentary of the drones and evil tones which make the harmonic structure of the album’s shortest track, at a little over 6 minutes. The almost 14 minute drone, Sustained String Tension Line, was made from the sound of the melting phone in Fail-Safe. This song also challenges the definition of music.

Demos #3

Demos #3 opens with the return of unfiltered destruction. Slint is perhaps the more matured track, provided the cinematic drum made by a slowing down a recording of a bongo. When listening to Drive Thru, try to imagine a chair being dragged around in a classroom. Because that’s how the song was made…

Demos #4

Demos #4 is strictly noise. Though most of the songs may be difficult to listen to straight through, the reward of noise and drone music is bringing the listener to new mental states. The state I experienced in Music Is Over, was a state that made me hear melodies that might not have been heard otherwise. And screams…Which hopefully weren’t real when I listened at 3am here in New York…

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Cover art for Harsh Noise

Harsh Noise

The thing about noise music that it can sometimes tend to sound the same. That’s the curse of it. But it is rewarding to listen, as well as craft, noise music that can lend itself to new experiences. Harsh Noise is exactly what you’d expect. It’s harsh.

Harsh Noise is perhaps the most challenging of all of Togoland’s releases. It’s demonic and, not sure if intentional, provides a concept that can be felt in nightmares. It is manipulative and explores the deepest fears of aural perception, which can be worse than visual nightmares. You can hear and feel the darkness in Chain and Fear of Rain.

My favorite thing about experimental music is its manipulation of sound and the ability to make ordinary sounds in to incredible atmospheres. Since Togoland clearly has a feel for darkness and destruction, I would recommend them to explore binaural audio and make a literal aural nightmare. It could be interesting and perhaps even groundbreaking.

Essential Track: Slint (from Demos #3)

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