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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2018 » March » 02

Polivoks gets a $500 post-Soviet sibling, realizing a dream from 1990

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 2 Mar 2018 8:26 pm

The original creators of the legendary Soviet Polivoks synthesizer are back with an edition that’s small and affordable – completing an idea they had in 1990.

It’s again a collaboration of two generations. As with the ultra-limited run Polivoks reissue, Russian engineers Alexey Taber and Alex Pleninge team up with original Polivoks creator Vladimir Kuzmin and the woman who evidently conceptualized that original design, Olympiada Kuzmina.

The first Polivoks was an artefact of the last years of the Soviet Union, as produced by the Formanta Radio Factory. (Go ahead – look up Kachkanar. This is definitely into the huge swaths of the Russian Federation I’ve never seen!)

And so its reissue reimagined that model, minus the keyboard, as original creator Vladimir Kuzmin worked with engineers Alexey Taber and Alex Pleninge.


Now, again, we get a meeting of two generations. Vladimir Kuzmin and Olympiada Kuzmina, the woman who evidently conceptualized that original design, now work with the talented young Moscow-based engineer Arseny Tokarev of Elta Music Devices.

But this is no reissue. The mini was conceptualized in 1990 – but now sees the light of day as a 2018 product. And it’s a perfect way of making the mysterious sound world of the Polivoks more accessible and affordable today.

In case you can’t read the Cyrillic alphabet, there’s a Latin version of the panel:

The basic workflow of the original Polivoks is maintained, down to the distinctive use of the modulation (LFO) on the upper left corner and the signature knobs and labels. It’s just nicely simplified – one oscillator (“generator”) instead of two and streamlined controls.

They were clever enough not to just stop there, though. So there’s USB and MIDI. The oscillators are now self-calibrating – sure to disappoint fans of the unpredictability of the original oscillators but please everyone else. So no more waiting for the synth to warm up in winter.

But you still get that wild-sounding Polivoks filter, which screams out as you turn it, and the particular sound of the Polivoks multimode filter. That is, don’t look at a control and assume it sounds like a Moog – it most surely doesn’t.

Here’s the somewhat poetic narrative they’ve made with more details:

The idea of the Polivoks Mini analog synthesizer came into mind in 1990, as the junior version of its older brother well known Polivoks full synth. The aim was to develop a way simpler and lighter device that has less components, offers the same broad capabilities, and removes possible flows of the Polivoks full synth. As the result of this research a new minimalistic schematic appeared. It has fewer controls that are compensated by greater functionality.

For example, in the Modulator section the Form switch has been replaced by the controller with triangular oscillation in the middle position and sawtooth shape oscillation smoothly falling in the extreme positions. The controller for the envelope filter input set to zero in the middle position and smoothly increasing its value by turning the knob clockwise while turning the knob counterclockwise increases inverse voltage of the envelope generator. The main synthesizer sections, such as generator, famous Polivoks filter, multimode envelope generator are essentially the same as Polivoks’s ones and have their unique sound. In addition to that, the main generator of the Polivoks Mini doesn’t require any thermal stabilization or adjustment.

In general, the simplified schematic delivers the sound appreciated by wide range of musicians by minimal means but with new capabilities. The Polivoks Mini will be released as the keyboardless version with integrated USB and MIDI interfaces. The overall design of the Polivoks Mini is made in collaboration with Ms. Olympiada Kuzmina, Polivoks full synth concept designer.

Availability: Expected to ship April/May
Pricing: “Around” US$500


Vladimir Kuzmin walks through the design in a video (Russian only, but… everyone speaks synthesizer):

You know, at some point this was all about post-Soviet chic or the exoticism of instruments from behind the Iron Curtain. But I think a funny thing has happened – the synth world has actually re-calibrated to the point that musicians want to make these left-of-center sounds. And that makes this thing totally delightful.

Just as I’m excited for this year’s Superbooth in Berlin, I’m equally eager for Synthposium in Russia. I’m lucky to have my visa and get to meet people who love the same unruly sounds I do.

The post Polivoks gets a $500 post-Soviet sibling, realizing a dream from 1990 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Mr HumbleTune brings us his newest creation, Tardigrain, a granular synth for iOS

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Fri 2 Mar 2018 9:45 am

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Erik’s work. Since his first app’s like shapesynth and Sinusoid right up to his amazing and truly unique FX apps like nils and frekvens (which you should seriously check out if you’re looking for iOS FX that are different from the norm).

But his inventiveness really knows no end. He’s experimented with integrating Sphero into his apps for motion control, and built and app for Gameboy called chord. I’ve also been experimenting with his chip / PocketChip / Raspberry Pi app phase, which is well worth a look if you have any of those devices.

Now he’s launched a new app for iOS. Tardigrain is a granular synthesiser for iOS that runs as a standalone app or as that can be integrated with your existing host of choice as an AU plugin. Sounds are created by taking smaller fragments of a sample and playing them back in a non linear fashion, with settings for grain size, direction, step size and more. Process the sound further through effects like reverb, wave shaper and sample crush.

Tardigrain supports connections with AudioCopy, AudioBus, Inter App Audio and AUv3. Plus all audio parameters can be modulated by MIDI, as AU parameters and by aftertouch on the build in keyboard.

Here are some of the key features of Tardigrain

  • Audiobus and Inter App Audio
  • AUv3
  • Core MIDI, Inter App Audio MIDI and AUv3 MIDI
  • Factory presets
  • Record custom samples or import using AudioCopy
  • Save and load state and samples
  • Full modulation of audio parameters

Tardigrain is on the iOS app store now and costs just $4.99

You can see Tardigrain in action in this video:

And if you’re really interested, here’s Erik’s shapesynth app being used with a sphero:

And finally, one that I made along the same lines

The post Mr HumbleTune brings us his newest creation, Tardigrain, a granular synth for iOS appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Making War Audible: Bernard Clarke

Delivered... Thomas Burkhalter (Norient) | Scene | Fri 2 Mar 2018 7:00 am

The irish radio broadcaster Bernard Clarke creates intense radio pieces that combine contemporary music with history and recent politics. In «Tracing A-7063» he narrates stories of Holocaust survivors through audio memories. From the Norient book Seismographic Sounds (see and order here).

Bernard Clarke (Photo © by Promo, 2014)

Bernard Clarke is an award-winning radio broadcaster with RTÉ lyric fm, Ireland. He hosts his weekly news programme, Nova and combines contemporary music, history and issues of our time in intense Radio Art pieces. In «Tracing A-7063» he narrates stories of Holocaust survivors through audio memories that incorporate dialogue, music and sound. In «Human Shields» he aims to capture the Gaza war through the ear.

A Voice In Terrible Distress

[Thomas Burkhalter]: Your «Savage Bull» series deals with the Holocaust and with the war in Gaza. What was the audio material you worked with for these radio pieces?
[Bernard Clarke]: It’s a diptych: the Holocaust section was based on one new interview with Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor and archive interviews with other witnesses. The Gaza section tries to reflect on the insanity of war. It’s edited from a great amount of audio material.

[TB]: In your piece on Gaza we hear footage from radio archives and documentaries: Palestinian music, propaganda speeches, explosions, screaming people, a father crying about the loss of his son. In «Tracing A-7063» you mix Mozart’s «Requiem,» «Sieg-Heil» chants, a narrator, and other sounds and noises. How did you edit these pieces, and how do you know when a piece is finished?
[BC]: How I proceed depends on the project and also on luck. I made a first 8-minute draft of «Tracing A-7063» in a few hours. The expansion of it took a week of solid effort. I wish it were like that all the time! But it just came out of me; I knew exactly what to do as it emerged. I think I managed to bypass critical thinking and listening and went with pure instinct. It’s difficult to describe. «Human Shields» took eight weeks—which is still fast work. I’ve been working on and off on a James Joyce piece now for three years and the end is nowhere in sight. I think we «grow up» in creative work. The Joyce piece will tell me when it’s finished, not the other way round.

[TB]: What took the most time when working on «Human Shields?»
[BC]: There were many false stops and starts with it. I had ninety-eight programs from the RTÉ sound archives that dealt with Gaza between 2012 and 2014, so I was overwhelmed with sources. I realized I needed a kind of narrator. So I turned to filmmaker Sami Moukaddem, a man who knew the terrain, knew invasion (he had fled from the Lebanese Civil War), and knew the historical situation. It’s all in his voice. I wrote the script but he embodies it. He also gave me unused footage from his film of the Palestine/Israel conflict, so now I had Palestine itself as well as the many voices.

[TB]: Can you narrate what happens in the first minutes of the piece?
[BC]: It opens with the voice of Sami and deliberately puts a hook into the listener: «My friend has a story, it’s not my story, listen…» It is a call to attention. Then we hear a voice in terrible distress, in Hebrew. One doesn’t have to speak Hebrew to recognise the pain: it’s there in both men’s voices, one Palestinian, one Israeli—the theme of the whole piece, in that few seconds. Air raid sirens follow that have an eerie association. Anyone I have spoken to from Tel Aviv mentions them: they warn and protect but they are also full of foreboding. Technically I have taken the air raid sirens and car horns and sustained them: they have been stretched out so as to ring out/sound out continually. Then there is music from composer Troels Folmann, a work entitled «Lost Angels.» It has a soaring and earthly melancholy, a rich sadness. It’s very simple, technically speaking, but it doesn’t need to be any more or less than it is. Everything that will develop is essentially contained within these opening few minutes.

When Lies Get True

[TB]: Producing with audio software allows you to manipulate sounds and voices to the point at which they are not recognizable anymore and become something new. Do you play with these possibilities?
[BC]: Yes, radio has the power within the listening moment to present lies as truths and truths as lies, where even jesting Pilate stays for an answer. In «Tracing A-7063» there’s a sequence that sounds like a nightmarish train journey, but it isn’t: it’s a Nazi officer’s screams detuned and transformed into a chorus of rattling boxcars. Within that are panned voices of Holocaust survivors. The same voice also comes in at the end where I found a way to make it also sound like a baton hammering on iron, like a jail cell. I used that then as a pattern for the final woman’s voice who recounts the shocking murder of a Greek girl by Nazi dogs. «The Monarch Creates His Own Rivals», another piece I did on Gaza, is littered with irony and bitterness. I took the RTÉ prime time television music and put it through various things to suggest a kind of nightmare guitar, nightmare synth, and whooshing fighter jets. The transformation of what is supposed to be balanced, objective reporting (the news jingle) is revealed to be what it is: an organ for propaganda. Over that is Irish poet Dave Lordan’s sardonic take on Machiavelli, and samples from RTÉ news broadcasts, reporters, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush and so on. In «Human Shields» the irony and the truth/lies/lies/truth reversals are everywhere, woven into the very texture of the piece.

[TB]: You have neither experienced the Holocaust nor the war in Gaza personally. One could critically argue that you make art with the blood from others. You turn war into a fascinating spectacle—similar to composers before you.
[BC]: How do you know if I have or have not experienced the Holocaust? Because I appear before you now in this guise? I don’t believe in Time, as we measure it, nor do I subscribe to its tyranny. I’m «Irish» because I’m born in Ireland—what a load of shit. Or I’m Christian because they stuffed Jesus into me every bloody day of my childhood? It’s convenient for me to answer to the name «Bernard Clarke,» but I am not fooled by that cypher. I could just as easily be Thomas Burkhalter or Meira Asher. I’m passing through a world of evil, making a few noises on the way trying to say «Hey, Cypher: wake up, smell the coffee, smell the corpses.» I will make work with whatever I like be that blood or shit until I drop. Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin: wake the fuck up.

Hearing Is More Immediate Than Seeing

[TB]: Is this activism or art? Or far beyond that?
[BC]: I am not an activist. I don’t consider myself an artist either. The people I most admire don’t call themselves anything; they are about the work at hand, that is everything. There is no activism in «The Savage Bull.» There is a conscience; there is outrage, sorrow, irony, bitterness, melancholy. Doubtless these energies drive activists to protest, but I am not in anyone’s club or party: what you see is what you get.

[TB]: What were your goals with this project artistically, socially, politically, or as a human being?
[BC]: Immersion is everything for me — I want to immerse the listener in whatever experience is unfolding. Socially, I will not stand by and watch people being abused. Politically, I will march and vote for change. And though I am not a religious person I do believe in a basic morality and will resist all tyranny with every fiber of my being. I am also fighting myself, my own shadow, my own darknesses. In working with this kind of material one opens oneself up to all of these conflicting energies, screaming voices, revelations and seductions. The Irish composer Roger Doyle talks about working «in the moment» — invoking chaos, darkness, light, whatever — and having one ear on the forces and one ear on what’s whirling around you and «going with it» and rendering it all in a soundfile.

[TB]: Is it possible to render the terror of war in radio art?
[BC]: Yes, the immediacy of radio suits the now-terrifying events that constitute war. Also its power to evoke without proscribing, depict without determining. For me hearing is more immediate than seeing, richer in its evocative power than even the greatest cinema. Radio can be much more flexible than television. It can be done on a smartphone there and then. It can also be beamed instantly to the Internet or any radio station willing to accept such a spontaneous broadcast. Alas, its greatest weakness is that it is often in the hands of State power or commercial interests and both usually strangle innovation and set establishment agendas. And yet the rich sonic history of radio is also dazzling. Today we have some great radio dramatists and radio artists as well as composers, experimentalists and sound artists. For war(s) listen to Bernd Alois Zimmerman, Raymond Deane, Arsene Jovanivic, Gregory Whitehead, Meira Asher, Amandine Casadamont & Angélique Tibau, Ilinca Stihi and so many more.

The text was published first in the second Norient book Seismographic Sounds. Click on the image to know more.

Read More on Norient

> Arie Amaya Akkermans: «Fantasies Of War»
> Heinrich Deisl: «Der Gaza-Krieg als Radio-Kuns»
> Norient: «Audio Collage: The Sound of War»
> Monzer Darwish: «Syrian Metal in the Civil War»

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