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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2018 » May » 15

All the details on Moog’s new Grandmother semi-modular synth

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 15 May 2018 5:51 pm

Moog’s Mother line have all had patch cables. Now, the Grandmother adds something else – keys. Oh, and a heck of a lot of colors. We talked to Moog to get the inside scoop on the new Grandmother.

Patch-ability is all the rage these days. There’s the rack modular scene, of course. But then we’re increasingly seeing patch points on desktop synths and keyboards, too. The idea is, you can create different modulation effects and a wider range of sounds by changing the routing of signal through the instrument. And while that’s possible on some electronic instruments using switches or menus or other features, here you just plug a cable from one point to another.

Moog’s own Mother-32 brought that concept to their modern desktop rangorie, followed by its drum synth sibling, the DFAM (Drummer From Another Mother). Now, it’s the Grandmother’s turn. (Any bets on whether they’ll keep going with ‘mother’ names after this?)

The Grandmother moves the patch points out of the big matrix found on the side of the Mother-32 and DFAM, and distributes them across the hardware. That makes it a bit easier to follow where signal flow is – though you’ll also need longer cables.

And you get keys.

Plus this definitely comes in colors, as you may have noticed. The Grandmother plays up the modularity by color coding each section individually. At first glance, it appears as though the Grandmother is a rack of separate modules, but that’s just a visual flourish – it’s an all-in-one design. (If you do want a keyboard that lets you change modules, see products like Waldorf’s kb37, or Arturia’s RackBrute, which attaches to their MiniBrute range, or any number of boutique products.)

Full specs:

• Hardware Spring Reverb can be used to process external sounds
• ¼” External audio input for guitars, drum machines, and more.
• Semi-modular – no patching is required
• Easy to use Arpeggiator and Sequencer
• Store up to 3 sequences with up to 256 notes each
• 2 Analog Oscillators with selectable waveshape and hard sync
• Classic 4-Pole 10Hz-20kHz Ladder filter
• Patchable 1-Pole High Pass filter
• Analog ADSR Envelope Generator
• Analog LFO with audio-rate capabilities
• 32-note Fatar keyboard with velocity
• All normalized connections can be interrupted for full modularity
• DIN MIDI In/Out/Thru and USB MIDI
• Patchable bipolar attenuator
• Works with Mother-32, DFAM, Eurorack modular systems and more
• 41 patch points with 21 inputs, 16 outputs and a Parallel-Wired 4-jack Mult

That makes a really interesting instrument, though I think it’s worth noting that some of the competition comes from Moog itself – the SUB PHATTY has a pretty powerful architecture for roughly the same price, and while it lacks those patch points, still has some flexibility for routing modulation and analog I/O. It also has patch storage.

But I think there’s more to the Grandmother than specs, and the formula runs like this:

A semi-modular design + spring reverb = far out, man

Adrian Younge did this wonderful artist video that demonstrates that:


Grandmother price is US$899 street. (List is US$999.)

We talked to Moog Music about the thinking behind the Grandmother. Here’s what we learned:

Lots of space for patching. Moog emphasize that you can play this instrument even without patching anything if you want. But if you do want to take advantage of the semi-modular side, now there’s room to grow – figuratively and literally. Moog tell us:

In designing a keyboard instrument, we have more panel space than we do in the pure eurorack format (where space is always a consideration), giving us more room for the patch points. The patch point locations also make connecting cables to other devices, like Mother-32, DFAM or Eurorack much more convenient.

Having said that; Grandmother can do extremely complex things, particularly through patching. For seasoned synthesists, all normalizations can be broken and Grandmother can function as a fully modular instrument.

The Grandmother can be a modular gateway. You can patch the Grandmother, DFAM, and Mother-32 in various combinations – or it can be a gateway to Eurorack.

The origins of the Grandmother circuitry. There are some new sounds here – and they give you access to some Moog modulars from the past. Moog tells us: “All three instruments share the same oscillator genealogy, but the rest of Grandmother’s modules are based on classic Moog modular circuits. The Mixer is based on the CP3, the Filter is based on the 904A, the Envelope is based on the 911, the VCA is based on the 902, and the Spring Reverb is based on the 905.”

About those colors. Moog will definitely get your attention with that color coding. It’s obviously partly there for show, partly to make it obvious that the different sections have different functions. And back to the original Minimoog, our modern subtractive synths are essentially all derived from combinations of modules.

There is some history here. Moog points to their Sonic Six, the Concertmate / Realistic MG-1, and the Moog Source as instruments that all carried the Moog name. That’s actually a little surprising – Moog haven’t traditionally focused much on those chapters in their legacy, as they’re not connected with Bob Moog. (Not to be blunt, but that’s like talking to Ford PR and having them compare something to the Edsel.)

To me, the Grandmother really has the most in common with the Sonic Six. It used just one color, but the color overlay was meant to suggest the modular structure beneath.

I’m going to guess this design will inspire some love/hate reactions. But yeah, to be fair, there is some Moog history of “bold color choices,” as Moog tells us, other than, you know, brown.

The keybed. Moog: “It’s a Fatar TP-9 with velocity sensitivity, which is a really great and solid feeling keybed.”

You can gate the keyboard. Moog points out something else of interest:

“One other thing worth mentioning is the ( Envelope / Keyboard Release / Drone ) switch on the VCA. Envelope and Drone may be obvious, but the keyboard release selection is actually very useful. It works like Keyboard Gate on older Moog synths, where a pressed note immediately sets the VCA to maximum sustain level. The difference is when a note is released in this mode, the VCA will follow the release setting of the Envelope. This option opens up a lot of added possibilities while keeping the panel fast and easy to use.”

Built in the USA. Yep, these do get put together in Moog’s factory in North Carolina.

If you’re going to Moogfest this week: I’m not at Moogfest this year, but if you are, you get a special treat. Moog tell us:

For those near Durham, NC this week – Guitar Center will have Grandmother synthesizers available for play and purchase starting 10:00am this Thursday at the Moog Pop Up Factory (free and open to the public), where visitors can also watch as we live build the new instrument on site. Then at 3:00 on Thursday, Moogfest attendees can hear Grandmother used in a long-form Moog drone performance guided by Nick Hook and Gareth Jones of Spiritual Friendship.


The post All the details on Moog’s new Grandmother semi-modular synth appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

«Art Can Have Great Power»

Delivered... Thomas Burkhalter (Norient) | Scene | Tue 15 May 2018 6:00 am

Bishi Bhattacharya and Matthew Hardern have been working together for ten years now. Composer, artist, performer, and club impresario Hardern (aka Glamorre) tells us about the hidden politics and intentions of their project. Matthew Hardern aka Glamorre had a career as an award-winning video and short film director, club owner, musician, and composer. As the director of Gryphon Records, he now writes and produces music, art, and film. From the Norient book Seismographic Sounds (see and order here).

Banksy: One Nation Under CCTV London (Photo © by oogiboig/Wikimedia, 2008)

[Thomas Burkhalter]: Our commentators saw similarities between the video «Albion Voice» and «God Save the Queen». Were they right?
[Matthew Hardern]: Malcolm McLaren, mastermind of the Sex Pistols, is one of my biggest heroes. He showed what is possible through the language of popular music and media manipulation. I don’t think Andy Warhol or any of those New Yorkers have ever created a pop art statement of style and grandeur like «God Save The Queen.» To get the song to number one during the week of the Queen’s jubilee was just brilliant, genius. The Sex Pistols had launched a war against the great edifice of the British establishment and in doing so threatened the very core of it. All this with hair, makeup, attitude, and a pop song. That’s what I love about them. NWA and Pussy Riot are probably the only groups that have had a similar impact so far. This is what great art is about. Using popular language and not hiding behind intellectual words and works. Using popular language against the population. Dividing the population, causing civil uproar. Leigh Bowery, the performance artist, fashion designer, club promoter, and my best teacher, taught me: Art is far more than standing around in a gallery and chatting about somebody’s brush technique; and what I do is Art and that Art can be of great power.

[TB]: You opened several clubs in London: Smashing, The Mint Tea Rooms, Harder Faster Louder, The Siren Suite, and Kash Point. What were these clubs about?
[MH]: My clubs were at times more about torture than entertainment. In Harder Faster Louder we locked the doors at midnight, so no one could leave. Then we turned on the sound system. People without protective clothing and earplugs were hurt, some badly. We declared our club a totalitarian state, and I was its dictator. I love to immerse people into experiences. I want to take them on a journey. I wish to manipulate their worldviews.

When Irony gets Bourgeois

[TB]: What music did you play?
[MH]: Harder Faster Louder was loud, radical walls of «physical sound» that tore at your body and mind. We called it «speed darkcore.» It was also an aggressive roller disco — hence the injuries. Smashing, before that, was altogether different, we worked with what we called social irony—each record had a social, political, or philosophical antithesis to the one preceding. For example, «Let The Sunshine In» from Hair then «Drop Dead» from post-punk pioneers Siouxsie and the Banshees. Later on I realised irony was bourgeois — a pretense of knowing whilst, in fact, knowing nothing. In 1994, Leigh Bowery died. I remember standing on stage at Smashing with a microphone shouting, «I want you all dead.» Everyone was horrified. «I want a fucking steam roller to come through the wall and crush you all!» Then I said «Thank you, good night,» and that was the end of the club. I opened Harder Faster Louder two weeks later.

[TB]: Why so drastic?
[MH]: Smashing had become very fashionable amongst the grunge, Brit pop, and «YBA» art scenes. Pop stars, artists, photographers, and models stood wall-to-wall. It was the «cool» VIP London nightclub. But I didn’t believe in this crowd anymore. Our friends had become successful, powerful and were creating a «new establishment.» My clubs were experiments, I called them «sculptures in time.» They were about creating and reacting to the future before it happened. I have never opened a club that people did not laugh at first and then go on to become incredibley influential. They were anti-social, intentionally. Real nightclubs are exclusive, difficult, and offensive to the status quo. I am interested in the elitism of the marginal, the visionary. Two hundred people in a basement can start a revolution; I have been fascinated with this idea all my life. The history of aesthetics is populated by small groups of people coming together with very strong and clear ideas — whether it’s the Bauhaus or the Cubists. They impose their aesthetics and worldviews upon an unreceptive, disinterested, and often hostile public.

[TB]: How exactly does it work to impose?
[MH]: Through total belief, passion, promotion, and media manipulation (sadly like the Islamic State is doing now). How would Jean Cocteau have succeeded with his worldview without the cabaret La Boeuf sur le Toit in Paris? He became surrounded by famous and influential people. Together they decided and promoted who and what ideas were important to their cause. To be in this circle brought press and power. Clubs are (or were) the oxygen of publicity.

Bishi (Photo © Matthew-Hardern, 2008)

[TB]: How is the project with Bishi linked to your ideas?
[MH]: Bishi came up with the line «I’m Indian in skin and English of heart.» I thought, wow. She has guts to make such a blatant statement in a culturally «delicate» environment. My clubs have always acted as beacons for the dispossessed, the unwanted outcasts in society. I had wanted to work with immigrants for a long time because multiculturalism is a reality in the modern world. Yet, in Europe people of color are still outsiders in predominately white environments.

[TB]: What is to you the revolutionary aspect of the project with Bishi?
[MH]: There is a lot of hypocrisy and taboo in Britain when dealing with multiculturalism and race. In our video «One Nation (under CCTV)» Bishi reclaims the street. She is a strong Anglo-Asian woman who wants to be seen and heard challenging mainstream British ideas and establishment. The work with Bishi is about opening a debate without delicacy. For example, we declined to be part of a campaign called Love Music, Hate Racism because we thought it was backward and idiotic. Racism is not only a black and white issue—it’s more complex. Bishi provoked them simply by stating that she had experience of Jamaicans being racists towards Indians. The «all white» organization couldn’t grasp this and started to call us fascists, which was hilarious. But, as we don’t like to disapoint we said: «Yes, obviously we are fascists, so we will not be dancing under a banner that says ‹Hate.›»

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

Read More on the Web

> Judith Palmer: «Performance: The Mint Tea Rooms, London»

Read More on Norient

> Louise Gray: «Redefining Englishness»
> Nabeel Zuberi: «Making Ye Olde England Indian»

Move over Sia: how young Australian songwriters are making it big in LA

Delivered... Jenny Valentish | Scene | Tue 15 May 2018 2:56 am

They’re the brains behind the catchiest songs on Spotify but they’re rapidly becoming celebrities in their own right

You’ll be aware of the “Spotify mafia” even if you don’t know their names. The songs that dominate the streaming service bear the hallmarks of a select group of young international songwriters who have gravitated to LA. And they seem to be cleaning up.

Nat Dunn is one of them, part of a wave of Australian songwriters following in the wake of Adelaide’s Sia Furler. One of Dunn’s songs, Friends, was recorded by London singer Anne-Marie and DJ/producer Marshmello (who keeps his identity under wraps by never being seen without his marshmallow head). It reached number 21 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, clocking up nearly 300m plays on Spotify. With its no-nonsense chorus – “Haven’t I made it obvious? Haven’t I made it clear?” – it’s been dubbed “the official friend-zone anthem”.

Related: Eurovision: Jessica Mauboy sings up a storm to put Australia into grand final

Related: The Sia conundrum: if fame is so damaging, why pass it on to a child? | Bonnie Malkin

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