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November 2017
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Whorl

A quick feedback loop pedal I made,  not quite an original design but I had to figure out how to make it work the way I wanted on my own.

Adventure Bear

I put an album of chiptune stuff on bandcamp, you can download it for free here.

Blue Box 2

I made another Blue Box for my boss at Different Fur Studios, after he took my last one. I built this one slightly different in mind of what he usually uses this pedal for, vocals of all things. I used slightly different transistors that sound a little harsher to my ears, though it is hard to accurately A/B them. The Blue Box comes stock with a Low pass filter on the output that I took out which adds a ton more harmonics, volume, grit, and generally smears the sound, but I added a switch (Hard/Harder) to put it back in for a cleaner, smoother sound. Finally I added a switch to toggle between 1 and 2 octaves down, (Deep/Deeper) 2 being the stock Blue Box.

The joke came about that it should have a vagina on the front of it. I don’t really understand, something to do with the name. I decided to go all the way with the theme adding appropriate/inappropriate labels for all the controls. Mimi also did an amazing job with the difficult task of putting a giant vagina on the pedal but keeping the design classy.

I tried a new way of adding decals to the pedal, this time using just one large sticker which we printed the whole thing on. I feel like we were able to get a better level of detail and the pedal looks cleaner in general. However, I still had problems, finger prints show up and the ink doesn’t seem to dry well. I will try this way again giving more time for the sticker to dry.

 

My First Dwarf Fortress

 

My Favorite Albums of 2011

I was really involved in my own stuff this year so I didn’t get much time to listen to new music. I know for a fact there are some great records I just didn’t get a chance to listen to this year. So of the albums I actually listened to this year these are my favorites.

Knife Man – Andrew Jackson Jihad Andrew Jackson Jihad’s music has a way of getting straight to your heart and wrenching it around. Before this I had really only heard People That Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World (or PTCEPATLPITW) so I wasn’t sure how their music would translate to electric guitars and drums, but I wasn’t disappointed. Also, the pitch shift in Back Pack is the best part of the whole album.

Empty Days & Sleepless Nights – Defeater I like this album for all the same reasons I liked Lost Ground and Travels before that. This one follows the life of the elder brother from Travels giving a much needed insight to that character. However, the best part of this album is the group of acoustic songs at the end. They are so full of emotion and power it’s almost difficult to listen to. Not fitting exactly into the chronology they more play on the themes and certain events within the story.

Hypersleep – VYGR I couldn’t stop listening to this album, there was a good two months of this year where VYGR was the only band I listened to. The album is incredibly heavy but still manages to be atmospheric and spacey. Everything sounds huge and it fits perfectly with their dark futuristic space travel concept.

Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1Earth, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming – m83, King of Limbs – Radiohead, Empros – Russian Circles Angles – The Strokes, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me – Touché Amoré

I would also like to mention the bands Airs and Sun Devoured Earth, both are consistently putting out great music at a ridiculous pace, these guys have some serious work ethic. What I admire most is their DIY business model, they do everything themselves and ask for nothing in return, literally nothing you can get all their music for free here and here. However, if you really like them you can choose to throw some money their way in the form of bonus content or just the physical media of your favorite album.    

Wooly Mammoth

I built a clone of the Z. Vex Wooly Mammoth for a friend. Mimi hand painted the enclosure with acrylic paint. It looks and sounds awesome.

Nickelback Through the Years

Really I didn’t actually go and listen to all these albums, but I feel pretty safe in assuming that Nickelback never rose above Nickelback.

Although I will admit, I really like the title track off Dark Horse!

Pedal Art

Worked on the designs for all my pedals.

Reworked not only the design for the outside of the Tube Screamer (now Green Skreamer) but also the mods. I got rid of the 808 to 9 switches as they didn’t do much and replaced it with a starve control that starves the circuit of power, essentially simulating a dying battery. You can get some great sounds with that control. As well I put in a filter switch, apparently the Tube Screamer has a built in filter at 800Hz! By flipping the switch you can bring it down to 250Hz a much more reasonable frequency for guitar. These two switches drastically change the sound of the pedal and for the better in my opinion, where as the 808 to 9 switches were too subtle. Also rather than the confusing letters representing diodes I just simplified the sides to clean and distorted.

A Little Circuit Bending

At the same time I started building guitar pedals I bought a bunch of toys with the intention of circuit bending them. Unfortunately I really haven’t gotten around to them, so they have just been sitting in my closet collecting dust. I have done a few simple little things though.

Mimi got me this little Casio PT-100 for 10 dollars at a thrift store. It sounds totally badass, but it doesn’t have any line outs and my tone shaping options are severely limited with only 8 different samples and a rhythm section.  So I did a quick little mod grabbing the connections to the internal speaker and wiring them to a 1/4″ jack. I made sure to connect them back to the speaker also, because it actually sounds pretty cool by itself. Where I was once limited I can now run the keyboard through my guitar pedals or even directly into my computer with a DI.

There are certainly a lot of more interesting modifications I could do to this, but I am a little hesitant as it is my only hardware synthesizer right now, and I broke the last keyboard on my first attempt at circuit bending.

This was my second attempt and circuit bending and my first successful one. It is a little steering wheel with various car noises. The two switches basically cause feedback loops, and are essentially the same. With only one or the other switched they sound exactly the same, and with both on everything gets just a little bit louder, with the exception of the red button on the left side, which makes a completely different, screeching noise. I don’t really know what I did, how or why it works, but that is part of the fun and mystery of circuit bending. Don’t let and nerds tell you different.

I plan to post some recordings later this week.

Tape Machines

I just got two tape machines for free! Unfortunately neither of them are working, but hopefully fixing them shouldn’t be too much trouble. The larger one is a TEAC A-4010s and the other is an Ampex 800. I have already started on the TEAC, everything powers up and the transport works fine it just needs a new capstan belt, and a lot of cleaning up.

The Ampex on the other hand doesn’t power up at all, and needs a lot more work. It may have to be scrapped for parts, depending on the cost of fixing it.  It sure is classy though, if not a little gross.