Midcentury modular - snow

Today, I am releasing a new record called snow under my midcentury modular project. It came together pretty quickly in the midst of a few other longer form projects that I have been working on. It is available digitally on bandcamp:

The goal with this record was to render feelings and personal attachments I have to snow and wintery weather. It is my first record (I think?) where I’ve started to try to capture the sounds of physical/real world things with synthesis (not really from a super realistic or modeling perspective, but more like an impressionist painting or something). Specifically, by track:

snow is about a particular snow day during college where I stayed at a friends place, and he, his roommate and I made the mile or so trek over to a local breakfast place and hung out for a few hours. It’s a bright, sunny (but still cold), happy memory. I attempted to render the sound of steps crunching though packed snow and the feeling of being snug in a bunch of winter outer-clothes.

hurt paw was created a couple months ago after a bout of anxiety I was dealing with when I accidentally stepped on my dogs paw after taking him outside during a cold, wet evening (he is totally fine btw, thankfully!) I was having a really hard time not harping on it so I tried to make some music to get my mind off of it. I feel like my mental health generally takes a dip during the winter (anxiety flares up, frequent depressive/super-tired evenings), and so I wanted to include something that was a part of that feeling.

tundratic was created a while ago…an excerpt for a live performance I did. The recording had the low roar of the wind I liked, but I attempted a rework, most notably manipulating a cassette deck manually to get some warbly higher stuff going on to complete the picture a bit more.

wind against the window I added to this collection when I went through my archive to find things that fit this release. It’s some guitar noodling several months back I did while exploring running my guitar through my modular. For me, it sorta brings to mind the feeling of snuggling up in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate when it is super cold outside. I also thought it was kind of silly and fun to cut to mono for a brief second in the middle of the rest of this stereo record.

thaw is about the feeling of “coming to” after the snow and ice begins to melt. It’s kind of a sludgy, chaotic mess. A funny thing with this one is I was accidentally recording automation in ableton when I was tweaking eq for the mix, so there are some really crazy moves I decided to leave in (slightly taming) cause it kinda fit that messy vibe, hah. you can find an early mp3 rip of this one on the Mobenthey/Ciat-Lonbarde (synthmall) thread which has recently become one of my favorite places to go to get inspired to explore and create by figuring out new stuff to do with my plumbutter.

From a technical standpoint, snow and thaw were created with a Ciat-Lonbarde Plumbutter, Meng Qi Rollz-5+, and the Norns app Bounds. hurt paw was the Plumbutter and Beads (slowly pitching feedback up until it was out of hearing frequencies). tundratic was made with various eurorack modules, can’t remember exactly what as it’s been so long. wind against the window is a guitar recording. Everything was ran through a Marantz PMD-430 tape deck, with various types of physical manipulation applied during the process of dubbing (i.e. wiggling and pressing down on the tape and spindle as I was dubbing). I mix and mastered things myself.

The art is a closeup of a marker-based drawing I did with copic markers and liner pens, as well as posca paint pens. Below is an instagram post with a few videos that show some close ups of the piece (and I will hopefully have some prints available of the larger piece in the not so distant future, will share that here when it’s ready).

https://www.instagram.com/p/CMCgpAOhmCH/?igshid=a687mefiuhem

A huge thank you to a lot of people on lines for helping this one become a reality. Specifically, @samule.edmoon, @papernoise and @Tyresta for helping provide feedback on a few mix iterations, @youngest_brother, @renegog, and @andrew for their suggestions on the leaving records discord with the art, @pftjschute and @mlogger for help navigating some different recordings which opened space up for this one and @Justmat for the bounds app that I’ve probably made at least a dozen tracks with at this point. I’m probably forgetting a lot more people from here who have specifically helped and I apologize about that, so a general thanks to all who make this place a great place to share and discuss creative stuff.

In terms of discussion, I’d definitely be interested to hear if anyone else has any art they’ve made to capture “winter”, experiences with making synth sounds that sound like real world things, or whatever you want to ask me about this.

Thanks for reading/listening!
John

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Thanks for the kind words! For the cl-based tracks, my method was basically to tune all the sound makers (just by ear to things that sounded pleasing w each other) and then the performance/composition is fading these sounds in and out (with the output mixer…for 1 and 5 I had bounds on send and return controllable with my korg nanoKONTROL faders too), as well as tweaking non pitch based parameters. I really like using the cl stuff with pitch changing loopers/delay/granular type stuff so it turns just a few notes into more and helps to keep things moving (or messing around with the arrangement in the daw with pitch/timing as is the case on 2).

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I know what you mean, I think about it like a puzzle to figure out, it’s pretty fun!

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Woo Hoo! :black_heart:

Love some musical Plum

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really cool. i’ve been obsessed with snow my whole life, watching (and waiting on storms) the weather channel as a kid, and spending a lot of time out in it. during the last few seasons at a local ski resort, i’d fantasized on recording the sounds of a particular ski lift, at its upper station. it had a sort of peaceful, industrial vibration/lulling repetition/resonance that vaguely recalls the star destroyer (interior/garage area) sounds in the old star wars movies. and just, the sounds of snow packing beneath my snowboard, slowly. getting carried away here

enjoying the impressionistic, tenuous vibe and detail of the first track… it also (strangely) recalls the atmospheric intro of Heat (Michael Mann movie) … sorry for the random tangent. nice work

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I think winter definitely has a ton of cool sounds. I agree that I hear dark, creaky industrial things as being a big part of winter for me too.

Never seen that movie before, will definitely check it out. Thank you for the kind words!

I’m really enjoying this, thanks for sharing! Really really good textures abound here and you did a good job capturing the feel of winter. I definitely feel you… mid Feb through mid March in Vermont has been hard mentally pretty much every year. Definitely ready for spring over here.

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Yeah…I can’t Imagine what that is like. I’m in NC which doesn’t get nearly as cold and icy as imagine it does where you are (though we will have extended bouts of rain, rain, slightly icy rain for days).

Was actually hoping to release this on a snowy day here, but it wasn’t ready in time for our one snow day this year and I self-imposed a deadline for today.

i’m busy today but HAVE to devote some time to this and share feedback

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Excited to hear what you have to say, I hope you enjoy it! I feel like you (and also another friend who makes music under the name Frugivore) both have this really playful/surprising approach to mixing (if that makes any sense at all) that I definitely felt inspired by as I was prepping this stuff.

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This is phenomenal, thank you for sharing. I’m fascinated by the percussive element in the first track - it almost sounds like it comes in pairs, like pushing in and pulling out a diaphragm or something. How’d you do that?

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Thanks so much!

Do you mean the kind of tonal pulses that fade in at the start of the song and continue thoughout? Those are Plumbutter and Rollz-5+ gongues…which are essentially filters pinged with an “envelope” (in the case of the CL stuff a spikey DC voltage from rolls) on the edge of self-oscillating.

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Really beautiful, I can totally relate with that warm sunny day in the freezing snow vibe. Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks so much, I’m glad you enjoyed :slight_smile:

Yes, that’s what I mean. I guess the “in-out” sound is from the rising and falling edges of the envelopes?

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Yeah, I think so.

In a more traditional filter design, you could ping with even a sharp trigger. There’s a natural attack that’s created (not unlike a vactrol would do in an LPG) and then the decay is from the feedback of the circuit…so it depends on both the pitch and the resonance as to how long it will ring out. As far as I underrstand it, the CL gongues have an added stage which takes the input and runs it through a sort of “translator” circuit which turns the potentially very irregular/noisy rollz signal into something more “regular” and periodic.

The really low bass-y ones are from plumbutter, which has a bit of a pitch bend to the decays (the rollz5/paper circuit ones are more of a static pitch), not entirely sure what in their circuit causes that.

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this is my kind of mess :smiley:

it was my fav track but actually served as a contrast…more in line with what i’d expect from rollz + norns improvisation (snow and some others were an enjoyable, surprising departure)

tundratic was also quite beautiful

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Sweet, glad you enjoyed it! I feel like both thaw and tundratic were the ones I had the most fun with finishing up towards the end.

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