Saturday, 26 April 2008

And bend two three....

As some of you (if there's anyone out there !-) might have gathered we like a bit of circuit-bending or modding here at GCHQ.

As we were luck enough to find ourselves with a few hours to spare (okay we should have been working but hey), Mr Hoodee got his tools out (ohh err) and got to work on our Realistic reverb.

For anyone who's never come across this beast, it was made and sold in the UK by Tandy (Radio Shack in the US). Although it says reverb on it, it's much closer to s slapback delay unit. It's rough, sounds a bit odd and we love it. We're not the only ones because those clever types at audio damage (one of the best plug-in makers we've found) made a software emulation of it.

Anyway Mr hoodee had a poke around and added 5 switches, which you may be able to see to the left and right in the photo above). The unit now squeals and screams on it's own, goes into mad feedback loops like a tape delay and also will crunch up, distort and add very strange reverb/delays to whatever you throw through it.


Friday, 25 April 2008

Heavy boom bap!

We've never been very good at the whole self-promotion thing but here goes.

We've just finished a HipHop/Urban beats download pack for The Loopmasters.

If you're interested you can find more details here


Monday, 21 April 2008

Something old, something new(ish)

We've forced ourselves to have a couple of days off here at GCHQ. Well our bodies have anyway as we've been beavering away for the last 3 weeks pretty non stop, doing dance samples for quite a large (and top secret - okay not really but we can't tell you) project.

The result is pretty much bad tempers, yawns and aching ears - none of which is good for a creative atmosphere in the studio. Sooo a few days off seems in order before we start on the next commission in the que.

To raise spirits ( and make the drum machine geek in all of us here at the lab wet 'emselves) we've just got hold of an Oberheim DX drum machine. A true child of the 80's and smaller brother to the mighty DMX, the DX is big, brash and yet very funky. It uses gritty samples written to Eprom chips and is built like a brick privy.

Almost as large is the us/uk step down transformer needed to run it - good ol' Maplins. We've got a downloaded manual for the V2 of this machine, but ours is the V1 (pre midi) model - so if anyone out there has a copy of that manual get in touch.

Because (as you may have noticed) we don't really like to do things by halves, we also got hold of a Jomox airbase 99. This is a now discontinued, rackmount, totally analog (save lo-fi samples of the clap, and hats) drum synth - really a great 909 clone. Although we haven't really had the time to plumb it's depths yet, it has some heavy punch and a huge kick drum.

So at least we are rhythmically content.

For now at least.......

Friday, 11 April 2008

Tape delays and daleks

As we post this blog the latest (and 200th) issue of Future Music has just hit the shops.

For this issue we did a highly enjoyable collection of samples harking back to the early days of sound design and the work of the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

To emulate the basic sorts of tools the workshop had to hand, we cut down on all the modern (and vintage) sound sources available to us and tried to strip it all back to basics.

Because we didn’t have access (or the time - we have quite tight deadlines to work to) to an audio test oscillator, the main source of early Radiophonic tones, we ended up using our battered Akai S01 samplers’ built in test tone as our main sound source. This Innocent enough sine wave was then sent through all the vintage effects and transposed up and down in pitch by hand on the fly.

Of course to really get the right feel we heavily lent on our two tape delays, a Watkins Copycat and our Roland Space echo, including feeding the output of one into the input of the other to get some really abused delays

As well as the tape delays and spring reverbs we heavily used the moogerfooger ring mod as both a sound source and effects box. Pretty much everything got shoved through it in the end.

We wanted to do some cheesy Dalek vocal samples as well, the current DR Who uses the moogerfooger ring mod, but it was only after a couple of hours that we realised how important the voice of the actor was in making the whole thing sound right (and not crap). Unfortunately we didn't get beyond crap so they got binned.

If we'd have had more time it would have been fun to try getting into some tape loops and such like - maybe next time.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Frankfurt Knobs!

As ever apologies for the slapshot regularity of our posts but 2008 has started off in quite brisk style work-wise, so it's been all hands to the wheel to get our deadlines done.
Anyway we've a few things to post about so will try and get 'em up here as and when.
First up we had another enjoyable trip to Frankfurt for the Mussikmesse, we ended up going on public day rather than blagging in on press day (as normal) and it was a bit mad.

We sat a dreamed at the Moog stand and caught a sneak peak at the new Linn drum 2, being put together between Rodger Linn and Dave Smith - looks very tasty, if only we thought we could afford one when they get released - sorry for the quality of the pics, our phone's not really up to the job.

Everything else that caught our eye was distinctly retro - like the monster modular above. No we wouldn't have a clue how to get a sound out of it either.

One great stand was put together by a German synth mg (whose name escapes me) and it was the biggest collection of vintage synths we've seen for a while -all there to be played with (a brave move on their part we thought). Great fun and a chance to fiddle with some synths we've not had the pleasure of abusing.

Anyway we rounded it all off by watching our good friend Simon Edgoose demonstrate Yamahas new electronic kit, whilst trying to fight off punters attempting to put his in-ear monitors in their dirty lug-holes.

Finished a long but fun day by watching Hoodee's brother-in-law (who lives in Frankfurt) play in his Status Quo cover band (fab) and drunk too much German beer. Much like last year then....