Mudlogger - Monome ISMS / Whimsical Raps LP

Sorry this might be a long answer because you mentioned mastering in the question and I had a few decisions to make regarding that, specifically for this album :slight_smile:

Everything was pretty much done by ear during performance. There’s a few things I’m doing per song, so there’s a lot of multitasking going on. The monome / Arc is front and central, so I am playing them and triggering patterns. In the middle of the actual case there is a submixer that everything is going through which I use to fade in and fade out different sections by hand. At the same time my right hand is also live looping with a W/ on the far right end of my case. My left hand on the far left is on a Count to 5 for live looping and 2 Eventide pedals. I have presets on the Eventides set per song, a little bit like a guitar player does. So my stance is bit like a pinball machine player looking at the cockpit of of 737 whilst juggling :slight_smile:

Playing this music live in a club sounded fine but mastering that sound into an album was tricky. I initially mastered the album myself but was never really happy with the results and partially because my studio room / speakers are not sufficiently treated for bass and it’s a small boxy room. To confirm my suspicions I posted those masters to a few friends and asked them to make technical comments and if they could hear certain things. They couldn’t. With those comments from friends I sent the album out to be properly mastered and EQ along with comments made by my friends per track plus a comparable YouTube/Bandcamp link per track of a professional artist whose sound I liked, that related to that track. The main issue was not hearing the bass and EQ’'ing on certain tracks with multiple synth lines. The other issue was dynamics which I knew my mastering lacked.

My previous albums were done on an Easel and Serge and i mastered myself. Those were pretty easy, as they are systems that are voiced and EQ’d already, the dynamics are fine and I knew from the start the sound eq / bass was fine when I sent versions to friends. With this Eurorack system, the voicing is very different and mixed up, different modules, live looping, multiple synth melodies and I’m using samples also from the er301. It’s a lot more tricky to master correctly, that’s the reason I had it done professionally.

The chose of the mastering guy was important. They will colour your sound with the way they work, their techniques and equipment and they will put their stamp on your music. It’s very much a personal thing about who you choose as they all have their own strengths.

I asked a mastering engineer friend if he could recommend anyone initially and I also looked at other recommendations in the mastering thread on here but they weren’t quite what I was looking for. There’s a certain type of sound and vibe I’m going for that’s difficult to explain but I can tell very quickly whether it’s for me or not. For me it’s like dialing in a sound, I know straight away whether it’s for me or not. I’m pretty clinical when it comes to knowing what sound I like.

In the end I used my ears and listened to lots of records that i physically owned that I liked the sound of, then looked at who mastered it on the back cover after I listened :slight_smile:

If I like the sound of the mastering guy, I go a bit deeper and start to look for more stuff they have mastered and particularly before and after samples. I also look at the equipment they are using, the studio setup, particularly the monitors and specific mastering outboard gear they use and whether it is something similar to what I use. But really, it’s not about the gear, that’s a more secondary thing, after like the sounds. There’s certain mastering guys with brilliant studios but not that keen on the sound they are going for. So it’s mostly about the person and what your ears are telling you.

The other thing was I’m not bothered if they have mastered lots of electronic named artists or particular modular artists before. Because of the variety of material on the album I needed to find someone who had worked with a wider range of material. I more look at the wide range and variety of stuff, something from West African, Ambient, Folk, Pop, Thrash Metal, Hip Hop, Country and Western, Indie, as well as the more electronic side. I do this as some of the best mastering guys, master stuff I don’t necessarily listen to.

Sorry for the long answer!

I also wrote a couple of things about both the way I play live Performing Modular Live and also the way I record a modular album Executing the modular album I think they are both interchangeable and valid for this particular album


Wow, that was a super informative answer! Thank you! I feel like I come from a world where I’m comfortable composing and playing, but really don’t know much on the mixing or mastering side of things. I find myself now making the decision of whether I play a rehearsed piece in one take, or multi track and arrange as necessary in post. I’d like to put a collection of original pieces on tape as well, and found the tape thread super helpful too. Any chance you’ll have a second set of tapes for sale in the future? Somehow I missed this thread until today :frowning:


It works for me, but for others maybe not for them. It’s a workflow thing, I multitracked for many years, forever tweaking and adding things and the track never finished. I used to spend time adding more and more layers and when i did that, i lost the original feel of track completely and it became something else, usually mush. It’s sounds stupid to some, but I don’t enjoy the process of going back and relistening to a track, over and over and thinking what i should add. If i have to do that, then the composition in the first place wasn’t right - so i start from scratch and record it again, rather than try to fix it in a mix. Its pure stubbornness on my part. I just prefer a live feel to a track, rather than a cut and paste job from different sessions :slight_smile:

With regards to tapes, If there’s demand for it, i would consider doing more but it wouldn’t be be until later in the year.

1 Like

Really enjoying the album! Especially compelling coming from a comparatively small system like yours.

Quick Q: do you have a larger version of the picture of your case all patched up like in the above instagram image?

1 Like

Thanks, glad you like the album - OK i found the photo but its not very hi res

The only thing missing from that patch is i connect 4 long patch cables from Teletype to er301 because my er301 hasn’t been modified for i2C yet. I can setup and soundcheck at a gig in about 15 minutes. The oscillators are permanently patched to the tuner module, so i can tune on the fly, if any knobs get moved. W/ is at the far right at the end of the modular chain before the master out. i put sticky markers on the critical knobs on the modular and also on the pedal effects. The ISMS case has a built in switch in the top left corner so i can switch between sequencers Earthsea / Ansible without unplugging the grid. When i want to use Teletype i unplug the switch cable from Ansible and move it next door to Teletype. When i want to use Arc i unplug the switch cable from Ansible and plug in the Arc. So you can see the sequencing part is all on the left side of the case. The analog oscillators in the middle and the sampling stuff on the right which is split by a tiny 2 hp sub-mixer. Just Friends is used as an oscillator on some tracks (Teletype Grids Ops) and as an envelope generator on others (Ansible Sequencing). I do have 2 x Just Friends but no space in the case. Earthsea is used with the er301 only and i hand play samples on the grid (last track on the album) and also the title track. There is a 2 hp blank next to W/ because i was waiting on a second one, which i have now. Also i have a second Ansible as a backup in case Earthsea or Ansible breaks.


Finished the third listen through of the album, and piecing it together with the pictures of your setup is incredibly inspiring. I’m currently in the classic down scaling phase of the modular cycle, and that setup is functionally my dream setup.
Massive, textural sound, small setup.


thanks! There are certain things i do to to fill out the sound because in theory, there are only 2 oscillators. But i actually use 14 different oscillator outputs. Mangrove i use 1. The Dixie 2+ i use 3 outs, including a sub out. On the er301 i use another 4. Then there is another 6 oscillators on Just Friends controlled by Teletype. On top of that i live loop with W/ and the Count to 5 and that can feel like another oscillator, especially on certain tracks were i loop and pitch shift a sequence. Then it also gets pitchshifted with the eventides delay and reverb so it does sound big. When you look at the system it can be a surprise. The variety of tracks is really because the er301 can cover a lot of things that i don’t have space for, like extra envelopes, oscillators or drum sounds or granular soundscape stuff that i can trigger. I also have a whole bunch of self generating patches on there using just the er301 on its own, as a backup, in case any of the sequencers go down.


Thanks for explaining all this. The subtlety and constant shift between the oscillator levels and presence makes it a little adventure to try and guess what parts are looping, what are new sequences and what are hanging effects.

I guess this is all punched in my hand? Or is the W/ controlled from teletype?

Yes, its punched in by hand, but what i do is watch the grid sequence running and hit record and play at roughly the same time / same place after x amount of repetitions. Different songs use different numbers of repetitions. I don’t want the loop to match perfectly because i want it to slowly phase. So i let it run and phase and when it gets too much i pitchshift it, usually up. W/ is actually really good at making breakdowns in the middle of tracks, especially when pitching down - you can hear me do that on the Merriweather track.

You can hear me messing with W/ on the last minute of the 1st track, Continental Shift (Teletype Grid Ops - Fugetta script), but it is a lot more obvious on the 4th track KFW (Kria) and the 7th track Merriweather (Teletype Grid Ops). I try and use W/ in a musical way and its a bit of a relief when it works live as sometimes i screw it up rehearsing. The main thing is i clear the tape and reset W/ before i start the gig.


if you listen to this track (not on the album) its a self generating er301 track using W/ and Count to 5 pedal. Its a track i normally play live and i just randomly record and loop sections with W/ and pitch up and down. The track is driven by 1 attenuverter knob connected to the er301 that shifts the notes of 4 oscillators up and down, whilst adding random elements and adjusts the filter cutoff. The Count to 5 comes in at around half way. This was a test track for me trying out W/ and a Count to Five for the album.

1 Like

Listening now, imagining a backlit figure, frantically re-plugging usb-cables. :grinning: It must be an amazing tool to have ready.

1 Like