Sunday 30 September 2007

More retro beats

Okay, we just couldn't leave our vintage drum machine obsession alone (well an obsession with all things beat based really). So here's another couple of old timers to add to the collection.

The larger wooden box (which is frankly huge, it's designed to sit on top of an organ - no sniggering at the back) is a 1969 Acetone (founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi who went on to start Roland) Rhythm-Ace FR2. This was an Ebay bargain featuring all the usual preset suspects (tango, bossa etc) and allows the muting of cymbal, clave and snare.

Also like many of these vintage machines, it allows more than one preset to be pressed at once to create some interesting patterns. The kick on this old beauty is fab, although the cymbal sound is a real dog!

The smaller silver box is a bit of an oddity, a 12 pattern preset drum box made in the 70's by stompbox kings Electro Harmonix - a Rhythm 12.

Although made later, the Acetone pees all over this little box sound-wise, it dones have a certain charm (a reggae preset and a chicken-head knob! Yes, we're easily pleased).

All of these vintage beasts will be featured in a forthcoming Future Music sample commission and we love 'em.

Say it loud

Just got a batch of new Groove Criminals button badges made up with our logo and the rather fab 'beats not bombs' slogan - a sentiment I hope we all can agree on.
If you'd like one drop us an email.

Friday 21 September 2007

Sign of the times

One of our merry band of sample-heads teaches music tech to 17-19 year olds at a local college During the induction week the new intake of students were asked to identify a midi lead and the vast majority had no idea what it was.

Now we’re not going to harp on about the youth of today/falling standards in production and engineering skills/rose-tinted glances back on ‘the good old days’. Basically because we think that’s all a crock of sh*t, and also there’s plenty of magazines/forums that bore for Britain about that sort of thing all the time.

We think this shows is how things in the bedroom-production market have changed in a relatively short space of time. Most newcomers to production or making tunes will be using software rather than hardware. Fruity Loops/Reason/Garageband all live inside a computer and the majority of controller keyboards released at the moment are either USB or Firewire, without a midi cable in sight. Hardly surprising then those newcomers to music production don’t desire a 30u rack stuffed full of modules etc like we did when we first started out.

We like midi, it was developed specifically for musical instruments, unlike Firewire and USB, but we certainly won’t be getting on our high-horse about it either – it’s what you make, not how you make it that counts in the end.

Saturday 15 September 2007

Dit Dit Baw, Tish Tish Poot

Feeling pretty tired this week thanks to the mad scramble to finish the latest Future Music commission on time. Being the shallow gear heads that we are, to cheer our selves up (and a vain attempt to get moving on the next project) we indulged our love for vintage drum machines with another couple for the collection.

The Korg KR55 (the big one) is a preset rhythm machine (complete with foxtrot and 3 bossa patterns!), with that classic analogue sound. It is possible to midi-refit these machines so that the sounds can then be triggered from a sequencer- the KR55 as it stands can’t be programmed. We’re going to look into it and will let you know how we get on.

The smaller machine is a Boss DR110. We’ve wanted one of these for a while and it’s the last true analogue drum machine that Roland/Boss produced. Programmable but with no midi, it’s a great machine with a fantastic clap sound. When we can get our heads round our FTP program we’ll try and get some samples uploaded.

Saturday 8 September 2007

Back for a bit of boom tish

We’re back in the blog biz after a couple of weeks away (one week r&r and one week locked in the studio). Few bits and bobs to update you all on - Firstly Mr Hoodee span some tasty funk on our good friend PH5’s Sunday show The Soul Explosion on ICR FM. All of us here at GCHQ wish ICR all the best as it’s now hitting the legal FM airwaves as well as the net. A true sign of these internet-savvy times as Hoodee’s mum emailed in for a shout out!

On the gear front the Groove Criminals audio armoury has been swelling over the last few weeks. We’ve picked up another couple of truly fantastic Moogerfooger pedals (the mURF and the phaser) and a Watkins Copycat tape delay that is presently being serviced – we’ll post some nice pics when we get it back.

Finally we’ve been busy on a house –based set of samples for FM and got our mitts on a Quasimidi Rave-o-lution 309.

It’s an analogue emulating drum and synth groovebox that sounds great and has plenty of knobs for fiddling with the sounds. Ours has been expanded with the extra ins/outs and the drum/synth expansions as well. It’s a really cool bit of kit and there’s always something about step/grid programming that we really enjoy. Unfortunately Quasimidi have sunk as a company and finding a download of the manual was a bit of a pain – if anyone ever needs a copy (or arrives at this page via Google looking for one) drop us an email and we’ll sort you out with the PDF. Likewise if anyone knows where we can get hold of the rackmount kit, let us know.