# Bovina Clovis

Shortly after their tour, the EYEBALL FRIENDS became infected with a strange and seductive sickness. They labored day and night, sleeping next to their tools, only to wake up in the same cold sweat, and with the same inexplicable drive to press onward. All told, the episode lasted a little under two weeks, but by the time it had run its course, a terrible and gorgeous new member of their band was born.

# MLEF: the blended fetal eyeball paste tour

Last week, MOLTEN LAVA EYEBALL FIEND played a few shows in Texas and a show in New Mexico. We're calling this our first tour, although we really see it as a dry run for a much larger tour around SXSW. For the most part, the networking and brainstorming was invaluable to the EYEBALL FRIENDS. Also, it was really exciting to find new audiences that seemed to enjoy what EYEBALL FORNICATION is about. Several recordings exist that document this:

On June 3rd, Cooper Baker and I performed this piece for amplified steel bar. It involves grinding and cutting the metal and processing it with an array of quirky homemade analog effects units. It was very loud, and emitted constant showers of sparks. We had way too much fun doing this, and we will most certainly be doing it again soon.

# DROP KNIFE

My good friends Claire and Reed make music in a project called KNIFE DROP. Their music is lovely.

# MUTANT SEAL HOMICIDE

MOLTEN LAVA EYEBALL FORCAST is:

Adam Goodwin: Upright Bass, Contact Mics
Joe Mariglio: Loathing & Disgust

This time the EYEBALL FRIENDS also incorporated a laptop into their noise matrix. This angered the mutant seals.

# G FORCE MOUNTING (w/ Drew Allen)

MOLTEN LAVA EYEBALL FRIEND w/ special guest DREW ALLEN!!!

Adam Goodwin: Double Bass, Contact Mics

Drew Allen: Sousaphone

# video of kids' noise workshops!

as promised, here's some more documentation of this workshop's final concert. it happened as part of the unsound festival's "silence and noise" concert, featuring mountains, tape, radian, and tim hecker. there will probably be more video coming soon from various parties. enjoy!! ^_^

# kids' music workshops at unsound festival!

from last sunday, february 7th, to tuesday, february 9th, a small but amazing group of kids, aged 6-12, built electro-mechanical instruments and talked about sound / music in ways even some educated adults might have problems comprehending. we didn't talk about scales, notes, or staves. we explored the sounds you hear every day, like dishwashers, telephones, and traffic. we discussed the multiplicity of sounds-- how each and every sound is different and how some are similar to others. we thought about where sounds come from and why they sound the way they do. most of all, we listened and played.

# keith's drone engine

i have been debugging this fm instrument i'm building for a client. (his name is keith o_0 ). i installed supercollider on his machine and updated his class library to accommodate for the requisite changes i made to the class library (see previous post- nothing has changed in that regard). the demo was pretty successful- this project is turning out to be really fun. there's something really satisfying about watching someone interact with something you've built for them, especially if it's a creative tool. for me personally, the tool's interface and paradigm weren't terribly interesting, until i put it in keith's hands and saw his eyes light up. then the inevitable feature requests came, although honestly i think i made more of myself than he did. ok, so i should qualify the above statement further, the demo was pretty successful *until* he tried to save and reload some previous settings. a bug showed up that i thought had been ironed out. i've now fixed it. the code may be found here. make sure, if you want to run this on vanilla supercollider, to make the changes documented in this file.

here's a screenshot:

the program consists of 16 oscillators, which can be routed into one another for frequency modulation. more rigorously, the synthesis process is phase modulation, since the audible effects are more sensible, at the expense of slightly weirder math. i like to think the sonic results are pretty intuitive. the interface itself is designed to look like a 16 channel mixer, where you can re-route any channel into any other channel. i know what you're thinking, but audible feedback is not allowed since each oscillator can go to only one output. the pre-amplitude of the input for each channel may be set with the "pres" row of number boxes. this value is kind of like a "trim" setting on the input of a mixer- all the incoming signal of the channel is multiplied by this value. among the feature requests i am entertaining for the next iteration cycle are ringing filters, noise generation, and delays.

check out that previous post (linked above) for a delightfully blissed-out video demo! ^_^

# hacksaw fuzz

i have been working on this fuzz / tremolo circuit on and off for a few weeks. i am very excited to put it all together, although at the time of the recordings below, it was not housed. i ran into some logistical problems with putting the circuit into the chassis of an old countryman di box, but i think i've figured it out at this point. its unhoused state was messy but totally functional:

the fuzz comes from a variation on craig anderton's circuit with two gainstages. the difference between mine and anderton's is that i used a 2n3904 npn transistor in the feedback path of the first gainstage, in parallel with a silicon diode. the result is a smooth, creamy fuzz with tons of overtones and plenty of sustain. it's nearly identical to the fuzz used in this previous post. the difference is that now the tremolo is optical, resulting from a blinking led and photocell pair. the trem has a variable speed and can also be completely bypassed. since i can't play the guitar to save my life, i invited my friend kunal prakash over to try it out.

here's an audio sample of a fast trem setting.

here's an example of a slower trem setting.

here's an example with less fuzz.

i was very pleased with this pedal's sound on a guitar. also kunal can really shred. we played for a few hours after these samples were made, using my ring mod to create a hybrid texture between his guitar and my laptop. i was livecoding on my eeepc in supercollider, starting with a simple sine tone to test the effect, and eventually experimenting with lowpassed sawtooth tones. sadly, i had stopped recording at this point so description is the only documentation i can provide. suffice it to say, it was lots of fun.

this morning, after naming the pedal the "jack chop fuzz," i tried to fit the circuit into the di chassis. in order to fit everything in, i ended up taking a hacksaw to it. thus, i arrived at the perfect name for this pedal: the hacksaw. unfortunately, the archive pages still say "jack chop," so i will accept either name, although "hacksaw" is more appropriate, in my opinion. housed, it looks like this:

i've already got one taker. who else wants one? ^_^

# up

click here to look at the code for generating the original pulse track.

click here to look at the code for turning the track into an irrational set.

this is a continuing experiment that extends my work in massive irrational rhythmic / harmonic sets. for some theoretical background, consult this earlier blog entry. i have been exploring the effects of taking many copies of a sonic event, retuning it to a large irrational set- generally some equal-temperament scale- and playing all of those copies simultaneously. the resulting copies begin perfectly aligned, but gradually move out of phase with one another and produce a doppler-like shift, with ever-increasing and expanding complexity since the sets never realign. i have tried other irrational sets, as you will see from my fairly messy code, but so far nothing has compared to the geometric series produced by many-toned equal-temperaments. the difference between this code and the earlier experiments is that instead of firing off events directly, i am retuning an entire track of audio to produce something like an irrational delay.

the one issue i have with the process is that the waves fall out of alignment very perceptibly quickly, and as this process progresses the changes become more subtle. the transformation becomes essentially less interesting as time goes on. i have found one way to combat this is to gradually speed everything up. this works to an extent, and i will continue looking into different curves that might aid this effect further. another set of experiments i have done in the past involved delaying the items in the set to cause the 'singularity point' to occur at a time other than the beginning. i would like to try that approach with this implementation, but that will have to happen later.

the original track, which i may also post later, is derived from a bizarre version of an excitation-response style percussion synthesizer. the filter responses themselves are irrational sets, which i have found produces a nice doppler-esque tail, similar to the inharmonic ringing of a piano string. the pattern itself repeats fairly quickly, and divides the pulse into fifths.

# reptilian blues

this was partially improvised in supercollider. my goal is to start re-incorporating rhythmic elements into my work, while avoiding certain tropes of electronic dance music. ideally, i'd like to continue playing with things like tempo changes and metric subdivisions as i had been before. this piece also uses massive irrational pitch/rhythmic sets, although the main rhythm remains more or less stable. the two samples that i use are a brief recording of contact mic'ed guitar strings and a single distorted kick sample i generated previously. neither of these sources are very apparent, as the samples are very harshly manipulated. the piece's meter, determined by the interaction between the source sample and the function that scrubs through it, is in some larger even multiple of 5, possibly 40.

# winter and bloom (dance set from 2007)

side one: winter.

side two: bloom.

i played this set in a basement in 2007. people seemed to like most of it, even the scary parts. i know it's ancient history, but i didn't have this blog back then, and steve wanted to hear it. so i've put it on archive.

set list:
//---winter---

pigs feet
a fern sullied
artichoke on the run
pay attention!

//---bloom---

blue bus (c'mon)
thingfetisher
equos onda
3 quarks for master mark (charmed mix) - feat. miles pearce on flute
piik

(180 bpm)

the set was made in supercollider, digital performer, and abelton live. it basically marked the end of my exploration of dance-music styles, mostly dark psy, happy hardcore, hard house, and drill n bass. in addition to these genres, compositionally i was (and continue to be) obsessed with microtonality, oddmeter and polyrhythms. the sound palette i used was very influenced by the work of curtis roads and iannis xenakis. i also regularly did studies where i'd use less than one second of sound material to generate entire 15 minute works. since then, i have almost totally moved away from beat oriented music, but i could definitely see myself revisiting this in the future. so wise up!

what was great about this night in particular was the sense of a truly open, positive community dedicated to experimentation and collaboration. everyone involved had something really unique and beautiful to offer, and i don't just mean the dudes with the gear (although they were awesome too!). only a few times in my life since have i felt such a sense of collective pride and accomplishment. one such night, in recent memory, was the night chronotronic played monkeytown. i sincerely hope to have more nights like this in the future.

let's make it happen!

# concept art for crudspds ginormous thing!!

crudspds ginormous thing will be installed at bent 2010!!! stay tuned for updates!!!

the crudspds ginormous thing is an interactive installation by steve litt and me. it will consist of eight self-amplified, electro-acoustic trash sculptures that are activated by steve's crudbox sequencer. since the crudspades ginormous thing derives its sound from amplified physical objects, the user can appreciate the source of the sounds and control them intuitively, creating a wide range of noises. the sound sculptures are constructed from recycled junk, both as a statement of resistance to the throw-away culture that created them, and to subvert their iconic visual language into objects of creative empowerment.

the â€˜brainâ€™ of the crudspades ginormous thing is the crudbox, an open-source diy step sequencer designed to turn other devices on or off. instead of playing sampled sounds or controlling a synthesizer, the crudbox works by simply sending power to one of eight outputs. plug any device into an output channel, and that device can be sequenced in a manner instantly recognizable to electronic music fans everywhere. two or more crudboxes can be synced over midi, for virtually endless possibilities.

the sculptures are each unique in look and behavior. they are all brightly colored, dumpster-dived, electro-acoustic instruments that either generate enough sound acoustically, or contain embedded amplifiers and speakers. while most of these objects come already set up, a few of them will be made available for the user to experiment with. this way, the installation will not only serve as a source of passive entertainment, but of active collaboration.

# confinement

this is a prototype i've been passively tweaking on for a while. i think it's near the point where i'd like it to be. all that remains is a true bypass switch. it's a fairly simple circuit that uses an fsr as an expression surface. there is a switch that engages this function, and it happens after the fuzz. the fuzz is generated with a variant of craig anderton's circuit, with an npn transistor's collector and base bridging the input and output of the feedback bus, respectively. in parallel to this, there is a silicon diode with its ground side facing the output of the feedback bus. schematics will follow once the design is completely set.

the transistor gives a warm, rich fuzz tone and the silicon diode adds plenty of harmonics. the expression pad is engaged such that pressing on it brings the amplitude up. this made the most sense for performance.

the recording was made from two tracks of a fender strat playing through the pedal, one note per track. the rhythms are the result of tapping the expression pad. i expect this to be really cool with my electric piano...

# sweet acceleration

click here to listen to the uncompressed aiff file (or play in embedded widget).

this composition was made from field recordings of the 7 train in long island city, and a few of the water treatment plant on the brooklyn side of the creek. i did the plant recordings in the fall, documenting the work in this post. the plant was recorded using a pair of coresound binaural mics, mounted to my head as i practiced my daily meditation on the roof. i recorded the 7 train this past week, late at night so there would be less wind and traffic noise. i used a pair of akg c1000's (cardioids) in an ortf configuration (17cm tip-to-tip, 110Â° apart). a big thankyou to my housemate jake for loaning me the mics and for freezing with me while we stuck those suckers on a pole and chased some trains. after a few hours of utterly frigid conditions, we retired to the court square diner for milkshakes with whiskey in them.

the composition was done mostly in supercollider and sequenced / mixed in logic. it had been a long time (two years maybe?) since i had worked in any kind of daw, and it was interesting to revisit that style of working. i understand that tools like logic are good at doing very specific kinds of things, and the spirit of the piece called for a few of those things. i also used soundhack to perform strict convolutions between streams of particles and the field recordings to derive spectral granulation. this was more efficient (although non-realtime) than performing a partitioned convolution in supercollider, a technique i also used in places. many of the phrases in the piece were derived from pictures of maps of the surrounding area, although i certainly don't expect people to be able to hear this. i also used other formal systems like fractals and irrational sets. when i was looking for inspiration for gestural phrases, i took all of these formal techniques and tweaked them until they said something like what i wanted to say with the material. when this turned out to be insufficient, i drew the rest in by hand.

with this piece, i tried to accomplish a very different set of goals from what i'm used to and comfortable with. for one, i wanted to actually get down to telling a story. so much of my work only implies a narrative, typically an abstract or formal one, instead of telling a concrete story about concrete things. i was inspired by the work of trevor wishart and robert normandeau specifically. actually, if you're familiar with normandeau's work, you might hear some threads of his beautiful composition "tangram" in my piece. i haven't lifted them, obviously, but i had been listening to that piece on repeat during the production and planning of my own piece. i have also been reading wishart's book "on sonic art," which is simultaneously challenging and uplifting to read.

a narrative piece requires very different treatment than other forms. in order to successfully tell a story, the storyteller must play to the audience's willingness to suspend disbelief. this sort of charisma is ineffable and difficult to achieve. this is where audio fidelity weighs in for me. i don't necessarily want to reproduce the exact sound of a train passing the listener at a distance of 3 feet, but i want that option available to me. i want to be able to make it sound like a flock of trains, or a broken train struggling with each inch of track. if everything sounds like washed out whitenoise with little dynamic clarity, then there won't be much disbelief to suspend. i believe this happened at the debut, where the sound system was fairly unsatisfactory and the room inappropriate for the kind of listening required to actually hear the piece. again, this is not a universal need. much of my music (and the music of my friends) loves to be compressed. to this particular piece, however, the effect was detrimental (see my previous post for details).

so with that, i leave you with the original recording as i mixed it. you may listen to it in any number of sub-ideal situations, if you like. or, if you want to determine if i'm trying to blame the sound system for my own dissatisfaction, you may listen to it on closer-to-ideal setups, if they're available to you. for a frugal alternative to monitors, i recommend decent headphones in a dark quiet room. enjoy!

# chronotronic wonder transducer strikes again!!!1

chronotronic wonder transducer is some kind of weirdo experimental arts collective (i think).

we are more or less comprised of the following personnel:

lori napoleon, ted hayes, steven litt, amy koshbin, mike clemow, oliver rivera-drew, and me (i'm joe mariglio, usually).

last night we played a show at monkeytown, in williamsburg. it was a lot of fun. everybody's performances were very dynamic, and i love the fact that each act is unrelated but the whole show is coherent somehow. also, monkeytown is a really wonderful space, and i'm sad to hear they will be closing after this month due to a legal battle with their landlords. montgomery was very nice to us (for the most part), and everybody there was super helpful. their food looks amazing, although i can't afford anything on their menu. and their taste in music for the front bar was refreshing! when i walked in, they were playing off the tellus audio magazine issue about just intonation! XD

all this being said, i was pretty unhappy about the way my set in particular sounded. while i intended the piece to be short and sweet, i feel like it came off as having not enough material. this was partly a pacing issue and also partly a dynamics issue. i spent the last two days of composing this thing on the dynamics alone. there is a huge difference between the loud and soft bits, which allows for a sensation of progression and phrasing that just didn't come through from where i was seated on stage. on speaking to people who had performed there before, i gathered that the system was intended to be heard from the sides, and that in the middle everything was muddy. the fact that everyone else's set sounded great to me supports this. but i think that horrible mackie sub they have only plays 80 hz, regardless of what's going through it.

i have learned a few lessons that i hope to take with me from this night.

1) it makes sense to "perform" a tape piece (ie pre-recorded), if it is in the spirit of the composition. i stand by the piece.

2) when you do a piece that depends heavily on faithful sound reproduction, make sure you either do it in a space meant for that kind of listening, or bring your own rig.

3) the next experimental music concert i perform will be much more lo-fi friendly.

4) i need to write a composition about the jz train now. (this will probably not be lo-fi friendly)

in the next post i will upload a link to the piece so you can decide for yourselves what it sounds like. i recommend headphones and closed eyes.

# scale calculator (there's >1 way to split an 8va)

click the screenshot for a browser-based demo. (once you calculate a scale, you will not be able to save it unless you download the app.)

this is a simple, geometry-based calculator intended to demystify some of the concepts in just intonation. the boxes correspond to possible notes in a scale, and the vertical lines correspond to positions of equal-temperament tones. these lines are visual guides, and the number of equal-temperament tones per octave is user-adjustable. the ratios become more "complex" (higher value divisor) towards the bottom of the window. to approximate an equal-tempered scale, simply select the number of tones you'd like, select the boxes whose *left* sides most accurately line up with the vertical lines, taking into account the occasional trade-off between simpler ratios and a closer approximation. when you are finished with a scale, you can either clear it by pressing "c" or return it by pressing "r". when the scale is returned, a small text file will be created with the date and time as its title, in the directory of the applet. this file contains the array of ratios you chose using the calculator.

KEYBOARD COMMANDS:
"+" - increase number of vertical bars (tones equal temperament)
"-" - reset number of vertical bars to 2
"c" - clear scale buffer
"r" - return scale buffer, printing to file named with date and time, located in app directory (file io won't work in browser version)

i provide this mostly for didactic purposes, but i also use this personally to obtain some of my scales and i thought it might help other people interested in breaking into microtonal theory.

enjoy!

# cold war fuzz

the above pedal is basically a squelchy octave-drop fuzz effect, with a fair amount of self-modulation and hard-clipping due to the silicon diodes used. the fuzz tone component and the octave-drop component both make use of cmos logic ic's, which is part of the reason why the octave drop is so easily fooled and modulates around.

the pedal has no bypass: the switch literally turns it on or off. at some point during testing, the unit was passing signal through without needing to be connected to power, however this is no longer the case. the three knobs are, from top (big red) to bottom: input gain, ???, output gain. a very nonlinear effect, the pedal's knob settings interact with each other and the source material in unpredictable ways.

i have tested this beast on guitars, electric pianos, and synths. a previous version also sounded great on bass and vocals. i love the inhuman, 8-bit sound of the dropped octaves. the fuzz is surprisingly smooth and complex. the build is also pretty solid. who wants one??

# keith's function generator

linked above is a demo of the first iteration of this compositional tool i'm developing for a client. the admittedly lame working title is "keith's function generator." this will most likely change as the development cycle progresses.

we decided early on that the layout should look and feel a lot like a mixer, since it's a familiar paradigm for keith. incidentally, that choice also makes life simpler for me because the requisite GUI primitives are readily available in SuperCollider/Cocoa.

it was important that this instrument provided a wide array of routing possibilities, while remaining simple and robust to operate. this required a few interesting (at least to me) programming sleights of hand, to ensure that all routing possibilities were useful and not destructive.

the intended application of this tool is not a performance interface, it is a compositional interface. this means that keith will use the program to generate preset files, and during performances he will select between these presets, rather than twiddling the virtual knobs on the fly as i do in the video. regardless, the video demonstrates basic tweaking, routing, and saving operations in the GUI.

(N.B. if you want to run the code on your own machine, you should take a look at this log file, where i list all the changes i'm making to the vanilla SC class library.)

# extant!=extinct

click here to listen to the aiff (or play in the widget above).

this is the first piece in an album i'm doing for National Solo Album Month 2009, with the current working title "sotiety!=society". the entire album will be finished by december 1st. it will include livecoding improvisations as well as homebrew analog stuff. this piece is a livecoding excerpt.