Tuesday 16 November 2010

Flame on! Bonus samples for ya.

Because we work to quite tight deadlines time wise each month, sometimes we fluff our plans completely and fail to get our mitts on bits of gear we've got our eyes on in time for the samples we want it for...err does that make any sense?

Anyway, the above Flame Clockwork was one such toy we wanted to use for the recent set of control voltage samples for FM234. Even thought we missed the deadline we could resist throwing together 70 or so bonus samples for you using the clockwork driving the CV ins of the Moog Little Phatty and SH101.
You can download a .rar file of the samples here.

GCHQ V3 a work in progress

Ok, so it might not look much now, and it was full of a roofers swear words last week trying to work out how on earth the roof he put on was leaking (so spooky as it's like every other studio we've had)...But this in a few weeks (touch wood) will be our new home. Obviously still a lot to be done but even so, beginning to get just a little bit excited about finally having a permanent base of operations to make silly noises in!

Friday 5 November 2010

CV fun part 03

Ahh the theremin, quite probably one of the most difficult things to play we've ever come across, of course it might well just be us. The above beauty is a Moog Etherwave Plus we managed to blag for this set of samples for two main reasons; one, we thought it'll be fab to have a go on one (it is) and two, it comes complete with CV outputs for pitch, volume and gate. This means it can be used as an interesting controller for the analogue synths.

The above video shows how the Etherwave can be used to control the filter and gate on the Moog Little phatty via CV. The pitch (upright) aerial is controlling the filter cutoff point and the Volume aerial (the horizontal loop) is working the gate. The sequence is being triggered from an Future Retro orb hardware sequencer via midi. We used the Orb a lot during this sample commission as it has CV outputs as well as midi in/out.

Of course we couldn't have the Etherwave in our grubby liitle mitts without attempting to play it in a more 'traditional' manner, in fact as we own a couple of theremins you'd think we'd be pretty good at flapping away behind one - you'd be wrong. But anyway here's a few examples of some spooky wooowwweeeewwooowaaaawwwoo noises we coaxed out of it.

As with the rest of this CV theme there's a full set of samples on the cover DVD of the next issue of Future Music (issue 234).

Thursday 4 November 2010

CV fun part 02

Next up in our CV fun day set of samples was our extensive range of Moogerfoogers. Regular readers will know we love these little beauties so really needed no more encouragement for a play. Because of all the extensive CV in/out options it's quite possible to chain the 'foogers together to create a very basic modular synth. The sound source was provided by a waveform from the CP-251 or Osc output from the FreqBox. This was then filtered, modulated, delayed, sent through the ring mod and Murf - all synced (or not) with CV signals via the CP-251 control processor.

The above video give a taste of the sort of thing, apologies for the quality, video's not our strong point, plus MR Hoodee appears to be the size of a house (or expecting) in his un-ironed shirt! Oh how we chuckled, he however hasn't seen the funny side of it and is sulking ;)

ANYWAY, as ever there's some examples for your sampling pleasure here

CV fun part 01

We had some great fun with this months samples for Future Music (issue 234). Theme was control voltage and analogue synths which gave us some great new and rather unique toys to play with. Some of which unfortunately we've got to give back (boo)

First up is a couple of creations by our resident genius (and not of the manic laughter category...well not all the time) Andy. The rather fab box above is the 4 Steppa, a hand made 4 step sequencer built into an old video case. It features a CV output, tempo control as well as pitch dials and on/off switches for each of the 4 steps. Unfortunately due to Royal Mails somewhat over enthusiastic handling of the 4 Steppa it arrived here somewhat worse for wear and even after some emergency soldering it still wasn't really behaving 100% correctly. To be honest we think this adds to its unique character and it really is a fab bit of fun to use kit. We used it to run the CV pitch inputs of our Moog Little Phatty, SH101, Yamaha CS5 and the filter CV of the Juno-60. All of which it did without a hitch..most of the time ;)

Something else quite special Andy provided especially to be controlled by the 4 Steppa was this modded Stylophone. One of the modern re-issues it's been modded to include both a wider tuning pot (great for huge pitch drops) and also a CV input. When twinned with the 4 steppa and run through a few Moogerfooger effects this little beauty sounds fab ;)

There's a few examples of the 4 Steppa doing it's do with a Moog Little phatty, Sh101 and the modded Stylophone to download on our soundcloud page here.

Building and (lack of) sweet silence

Another month flys by and yet more blank silence from us, by hey you know the score by now ;). Unfortunately silence is a rare commodity around here at the mo, as i type this a roofer is thumping merry hell just the other side of the wall! The building works (and ultimate creation of GCHQ v2) are going well but it does mean working and posting is becoming increasing difficult - but worse things happen at sea, as they say.

Anyway us being us we couldn't let all this noise go by without throwing up a mic so there's some random sounds of destruction and tons of pouring concrete(!) on our soundcloud page - here and here

Tuesday 21 September 2010

On the move (again)

"ahh come in Mr Bond, I've been expecting you..."

There's a good reason Mr Hoodee's sat doing his best Gold Finger impression in the above shot (taken by Ecki on our last FM shoot) and that's it was the last time GCHQ (v.1.2) was seen in all its slightly cluttered glory. Yup after nearly 3 years (see the blog entry for Jan 2008 here) in our 'temp' home, we've had to pack up and in preparation for the builders to finally knock it down and build something a little more sturdy, solid, warmer....you get the picture.

Moving studio is never easy, especially as we've had to downsize our rig to fit it into our new temp working space whilst the building work begins around our ears. This meant a week of boxing, unplugging, unracking, re-racking, swearing, many leads coiled and many, many cups of tea consumed.
Our new (temp) home is in a spare room which at least is going to be warmer in the impending winter and the roof's not going to be in constant danger of leaking either!

As we cleared and boxed the gear away it really was amazing just how much audio tat we managed to squeeze into GCHQ v1.1 - at least this move we didn't find anything we'd got off Ebay and hadn't actually ever even plugged in...Okay we did but how that happened who knows ;)
But onwards and upwards (well, into Mr Hoodees spare room at least). We're looking forward to early next year when we should have a brand new studio to move into and finally call home.

Michael, Snake, Precinct 13 and me

Just a quick few thoughts about the latest set of samples we've completed for Future Music magazine (issue 232). The theme was the soundtracks of the great John Carpenter, so lots of sparse synthy drones, minimal drumbeats and analogue 3 note basslines wrapped up in some tasty spring reverb.

It was an enjoyable collection to work on and made a nice change to be almost entirely hardware (and analogue at that) based. If your wondering about the above pic it was an off the cuff idea Ecki and MR Hoodee had for the accompanying photos for the mag and not someone finally trying to get rid of those awful curtains.

We've thrown a few of the samples up on our soundcloud page as a preview, get 'em here.

Sunday 29 August 2010

Analogue percussion part 03 - twin drums of Vermona

Another piece of rather fab kit that features some more traditional drum sounds in the analogue percussion samples is our Vermona DRM1 MK3 drum rack. We'd lusted after one of these for a while and can honestly say when we got hold of one last year, were not dissapointed (not sure why we didn't blog about it at the time).

Featuring plenty of scope for hands on knob twiddling , we especially like the kick, snare, hat and clap strips which have a character of their own, whilst retaining some analogue fullness. You can grab some free samples taken from the vermona here.

Analogue Percussion paww pewww part 2

A quick video of us giving the Synare3 a swift thumping and random knob twiddling ;)

Saturday 28 August 2010

Analogue Pew..pew..Percussion part 01

Oh bloody hell, 3 months since the last post, has it really been that long?! Well sorry for the obvious slackness, we would try to convince you it's not going to happen again but hey I think we all know it's not good to make promises we may not be able to keep.
Anyway, onwards and upwards, we've just managed a couple of weeks away summer break but before we left we finished a nice collection of analogue percussion sounds for Future Music issue 231 and thought we'd take a look at a few of the tasty little beauties we used to make the samples.

First up is this gem; a Star instruments Synare 3 percussion synth, rescued from a dusty Swiss studio cupboard and passed to us to be shown some love (and hit, a lot). Full of UFO style this late '70s synth features twin oscillators, low pass filter and a white noise generator. All in all a bit of a beast sound-wise and a real hands-on joy to muck about with.
You can download some samples of the monster in advance of the issue from our Soundcloud page here and here

Tuesday 25 May 2010


We've slowed down a touch on the rabid gear buying around here at GCHQ lately err....well...a bit at least ;) This sudden tightening of the purse strings didn't quite stop us finally getting our greedy little hands on a Jomox Xbase 09.

This little beauty has been on our want list for a while now and we managed to grab one just in time for an Early Chicago house set of samples for next months Future Music. The analogue kick and snare (hats are samples) came in handy emulating the classic sounds of the 808/909.

We've uploaded a few bonus beats and some drum hits here and here on our soundcloud page for your sampling/mangling/programing pleasure.

Friday 16 April 2010

Dark Dub dub dub dub...dub.....dub.....dub

As time and samples wait for no man we had no sooner packed all those fab little boxes away before we moved onto our next little sound adventure - some dark dub samples for Computer Music.

As you can see from the pics we broke out the hardware effects to inject the right amount of analogue dirt into these samples. The drainpipe at the top is a Great British Spring reverb unit, we've mentioned it before in this blog and it's perfect for that honky verb sound.

Underneath is a new addition of our moogerfooger armoury (infact we only now are missing the new midi murf) - the analogue delay. An absolutely fantastic unit, we were blown away by it to be honest, just inserting an expression pedal to control the feedback made us smile for ages, we're a bit sad like that.

Another great feature is the ability to run the delay feedback through an external effect unit and back into the delay so the echoes get processed. We used a moogerfooger phaser to add some nice grimey shimmer and phatness to the repeats. Nice

Of course this little beauty has graced this blog before as well, our much loved Roland Space Echo tape delay. We'd be lying if part of why we love it so much wasn't to do with hope cheap we got it (and in such good nick). But mostly it's just how great it sounds.opicak
We also rinsed our other couple of spring verbs, a battered and crappy (in a good way) bucket brigade Frontline rack delay and out other tape unit, the bad boy of the two, a Watkins Copicat.
If you can't/don't want to wait for the mag we've uploaded a taster here

Those Bleeping boxes

Hi all, just a quick post to let you know that some preview examples of the FM 226 little boxes sample set are now up for you to download and abuse at our soundcloud page here.

Friday 2 April 2010

Lil' Boxes Part 05

Here's a couple of 'Buddha boxes', very low-fi playback boxes that contain various low bit-rate looped recordings of chants, mantras or music to aid meditation. How such crackly, hissy samples can aid any ones peaceful meditation is beyond us but they are an interesting starting point for some sound mangling. The packaging is really nice as well...

And rounding things of with some more shocking pink styling is this Korg Kaossilator. A really nifty little box of tricks, we really like the gate and arp options as well as the poke, stroke, tap and touch interface. For this set of samples we ran the Kaossilator through the Highly flammable filter to rough up the sound a bit.

Thursday 1 April 2010

'Lil Boxes Part 04

Here's a real treat, a trio of handmade marvels put together for us by our mate (and component/solder and all round audio genius) Andy Lemon. As well as making these little beauties together for us we also persuaded him to scribble down a few words about each , so over to you Andy...

Tupperware Party Synth
"This ones my own oddball combination of a few different experiments generating audio via monostable osc's using feedback, osc drain and stable oscillation to generate more interesting tones out of a very simple circuit. nice thing about this design is you could chain lots of these together to make monstrous drones :) plus it's insanely cheap to build! I've popped the guts of this one into a tupperware box bought in a multipack in poundland - who needs project boxes when you can get 3 for a pound."

Highly Flammable Filter
"This is loosely based on a Forrest M Mimms circuit from his lovely book "Op Amps IC Circuits" - the filter itself is a 'sallen key' lowpass filter. It has a lovely warm analog sound to it, with proper cutoff and resonance control based as it is off the 741 amp. the design allows you to plug in any sound source and give it a little filtering joy - instant grit and fatness. It's built into a ex rental video cassette case I had laying around for one of the old tapes that got eaten by my trusty VCR (great for building these things in). I'm currently working on a filter +overdrive combo unit based on this same design soon with clipping control..."

Punktastic Synth
"the punktastic synth is a bit of a hacky job of Forrest M Mims 'stepped tone generator' circuit ( which got renamed to the Atari Punk Console on the Internet as these things do).
My mods are really simple and involve just messing with the default capacitor types and values to produce a more interesting and warm sound. I used very high value pots to give to give a little more control to the user when making the beep beeps and trying to eliminate the total randomness of the sound generation. I built it into a little mint tin I had laying around - you have o remember to shield the innards of any metal box you use or otherwise you'll have all sorts of wonderful electronic grounding issues..."

Are we chuffed, oh yeah.......;)

Lil' boxes part 03

Carrying on the 'white box' theme, here is a Monotoniclabs N37 seq/synth that combines a simple 4 step sequencer with a voltage controlled oscillator for your noise making pleasure. With the clock rate low you get some fab 4 note sequences, turn it up fast and you get into computer game FX-type territory.
Check the guys website here.

From crisp while lines to our favourite yellow box of peril - the Bug Brand ICONweevil. A few years old now I'll leave it to the man behind it's truly chaotic audio madness to explain what goes on under its hood (as taken from the Bug Brand website).
"The sonic-heart of the Weevil is a bank of simple squarewave oscillators that are ring-modulated together to give a large range of sounds from drone to crackle. A range of circuit-bend techniques are then added - power starvation to make the oscillator section spin into chaos modes and body contacts which allow the player to touch parts of the circuit and directly alter the electronic flow."
A much more eloquent way of saying lick your fingers, touch the metal front plate and make it go bllleeepzzzywahhhhhwhhoooosshhhhhzzzzttt!

Lil' boxes part 02

This cheeky little devil is a Bleep Labs Thingamagoop. A rather fab sound/FX generator, the Thingamagoop contains an oscillator that is controlled by a light sensing photocell (the little buddys 'nose').

As well as reacting to ambient light the 'goop' has it's own 'LEDicle' sticking out of the top of its bonce. This LED blinks at different speeds to make the little metal dude spew forth all sorts of bleeps, burps and odd noises. Of course there's a little more to how the 'goop works but we're not going to go into too much tech spec here (as long as it works were happy :).

Now discontinued (Bleep labs have moved onto the Mk 2 'Goop) there's plenty of videos knocking around internetwebby land, of these boxes doing their thang - there's a good one here.

Next up is our Chimera BC8 synth, a mini marvel in white plastic that we've already had a quick look at last year (check a video of it in action here).

We love the BC8, it's truly one of those bits of kit that you're never quite sure what it's going to come up with each time it gets switched on. A trait we bloody love in a bit of kit.
Check out Chimeras website here for more great stuff

Lil' Boxes Part 01

One of the projects we had to get done before MR Hoodee headed stateside was the sample set for Future Music issue 226 - out later this month. The theme was sounds from out collection of little boxes that make noises (bleeps, bloops, squeekz, phartz ect and hardly a recognisable note in sight ;) and as we had limited space within the issue to go over what small but perfectly formed delights we used (and abused), we thought this might be a good place to into a bit of detail.
We went for a mix of commercially available boxes (although some are quite limited run units) and some one-off hand made boxes made for us by some of the talented audio-alchemists we've been lucky enough to meet/bother/stalk.

Okay then first up we have........

Gakken SX-150
Little Japanese lo-fi mono synth that comes in a simple kit and screws together (it also ships with a fab looking Japanese synth mag). The SX-150 has a choice of eithe square or sine waveform which is triggered by running the pen along the ribbon strip. Although it's pretty limited, the Gakken can make some great noises and fx and there are plenty of hacks/mods for it online.

Monday 29 March 2010

Back with a big apple.

Okay so we vanished off the face of the blog-a-sphere again, can't believe our last post was in January! Once again in our defence February and march have been extremely busy at GCHQ with a chunk of projects we had to get finished before MR Hoodee buggered off to New York for a week as a late birthday prezzie.

After much running around like headless chickens we managed to finish everything in time for MR Hoodee to catch his flight and have a great time in NYC - so pics below.

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Feeling lucky punk

We like twitter here at GCHQ as we don't get out of the studio much and it's always nice to have a chat (in 140 characters or less) with like minded people about gear, music, tea, that sort of thing. Another great love around the studio (as a quick flick through this blog will confirm) is quirky, modded or handmade gear. So you can imagine we were rather chuffed when we were sent a couple of handmade audio toyz by Andy, one of our ridiculously talented Twitter friends.

This little 2 knob wonder is a basic noise synth built into a mint tin (fab touch) and appropriately named the 'Punkastic'. You want a rude synth noise-maker, this is your baby - it splutters, burps, pharts and bleeps like a good 'en.

Of course we couldn't resist having a quick play and sorting out a few samples for you guys so head on over to our soundcloud page where there's some wavs to mess with (first few are taken raw from the Punktastic, the second half are run through the Moogerfooger MuRF filter array).

Check 'em here and for fellow Twitter heads follow Andy here

Wednesday 6 January 2010

New year kicking

Well 2010 and a new decade is upon us, all here at GCHQ hope you had a great Xmas holiday, apologies for the silence but ours started with our broadband connection being cut off (Xmas eve to be precise - great timing guys).

Anyway we're slowly getting things back to normal (still having a few email hiccups) and just in case you missed it here's a late Xmas prezzie - 100 or so kicks for you to download, chop up and make some fab rhythm with.

Check 'em here