Good news, sad news…

The good  news is that resident scriptmeister, Mario Krušelj (aka ‘Evil Dragon’ on the music forums) married his fiancé, Jelena, in Croatia on Saturday, 3rd of May …

mario2

By all accounts, a good time was had by all. I was planning to attend but couldn’t make it. And Mario took his Kurzweil and old Korg 01/W along and played in the wedding band afterwards with his sister belting it out on vocals. I wish Mr and Mrs Krušelj well, obviously – two lovely people.


The sad news is that an old friend of mine in Japan passed away recently. 竹村さん (Mr Takemura … literally Mr Bamboo Village) was one of the senior engineers at Akai Professional Japan R+D and a great bloke … and a great engineer. One of the ‘back room boys’ who designed circuitry for many of the classic products Akai made which are still in use today by all sorts of people from hobbyists to serious professionals across the world. In a world of DAWs and software samplers, the Akai DPSxx and S-xxxx are still very popular as are the older MPCs and he a hand in all of those.

He was a man of few words. He didn’t speak English that well but he he understood it very well. It was always a joy to get a fax or email bug report…

When the stuff use disk, the road is crushed

As in…

When the staff use use the disk mode, loading crashes

We all had to learn ‘Takemura-ese’ smile

Delightful and clever man and will be sorely missed. He was only 60 and it was very sudden (brain haemorrhage, I think) so all of us in the UK who worked for Akai Japan are a bit shocked and sad … as are the ex-employees of Akai Japan (many of whom attended his funeral).

RIP Takemura San

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Spring has sprung…

The grass is ris
I wonder where the birdies is

I couldn’t give a rat’s arse where they are. What I do know is that all the damned flies round here are here in HS Towers … a real infestation – same as last year. But whatever…

This was released last week…

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 22.16.34

It’s a recreation / emulation of the old MKS70 made by a certain Japanese manufacturer back in the 80s…

mks70And its PG800 programmer…

PG800It sounds mighty. It ships with 70 presets (6 more than the original) created by us and industry patchmeister, Ingo Weidner..

It’s available now. £20

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Is it nearly the end of the month?!

It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating New Year here at The Towers and now it’s the 24th! shocked  Tempus is indeed fugiting faster then ever!

The H1 Christmas Special proved to be popular as did the vKS20 and thanks to all who put their hands in their pockets for them and continue to do so.

Had a great day with Gareth ‘Gaz’ Williams, he of the band Rocketgoldstar and other ventures including the weekly Sonicstate podcast. Top bloke. He was attending a 70s themed party in nearby Pontyclun (his dress sense left something to be desired for the occasion) and he dropped into The Towers en route. He was due at the party at 8pm; he left here at 10.10pm we were having such a chat and a giggle. The astonishing thing was how many mutual acquaintances we both have. For example, Rocketgoldstar had an album recorded by my ex-next door neighbour, Thighpaulsandra, 100 years ago…

thighpaulsandraBeing a fellow Welshy, Gaz also knows loads of people I’ve worked with over the decades. The best was when Gaz produced this from his bag and was enthusing about it . . .

Wahoo_photo_1It’s the Sonuus Wahoo pedal. I asked Gaz where it comes from. He said “Some bloke called James, a Scotsman in Cambridge. Cogs whirred in my addled head – a Scot called James in Cambridge…

Not James Clark, is it?” I asked

Yes – that’s the one” said Gaz

Jeeez H on a bike” I said … “I worked with him for something like ten years with Akai, Japan“!

This biz we call ‘music’ is quite – no, very – incestuous smile

In other news, this arrived the other day …

MTIThe MTI ADL100. It’s a clone of the Solina ensemble section … that rich and swirly sound. Everything sounds fab through it. It’s a relatively rare device, originally designed/made in Italy.  that was given to me by an old chum in the US (another bonkers engineer called Dan – are all mad engineers called Dan?!). He found two on eBay some years ago and put in bids on both (in case he lost one of them). As it happens, he snagged both. But he’s having a clear out so let me have his spare … which was nice. Where it differs from normal chorus units is that they (typically) have one delay line modulated by a single LFO which can make the effect repetitive and cyclic. The MTI, on the other hand, has three delay lines, each of them modulated by different phases of the LFO to create a rich ensemble sound. Not just that, but unlike modern digital chorus/ensemble effects, the MTI uses old analogue bucket brigade devices (BBDs) so the MTI adds a nice texture, sort of somewhere between a chorus unit and a Dimension D. I am really looking forward to getting this little beauty involved in future stuff.

Anyway, must press on … so much to do, so little time.

Cheers,

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What a festive season…

It’s supposed to be a time of rest, relaxation and reflection. My arse. We’ve been busier than ever. For Christmas we released the H-1…

H1That was great fun to do. I was chatting with a regular HS customer, James Gardner, who revealed that he rescued a whole pile of valve gear from a skip/dumpster, one of which was the Advance H1, a test tone generator from the early 50s. He very kindly sampled it for us and we put it out as an inexpensive Christmas Special. It’s great fun to play with. Not just the raw waveforms from the original but also via a sh!tty cassette recorder and a broken reel-to-reel. Valves, distortion, tape saturation, wow and flutter – what’s not to like?!

Very ‘radiophonic’.

But then we had our new year/hogmanay biggie – the vKS20 … a recreation of a digital piano made by an eminent Japanese manufacturer back in the 80s…

vks201We (obviously) couldn’t resist tinkering so added sounds of our own plus layering…

vkslayer… keyboard splits, effects and so on.

So while you were chomping on mince pies, we were busy!! But enjoyably so – it’s what we do!

Hoping you enjoyed the festivities and a happy new year to all.

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Put this out recently… MLM Suite II

Even we find it hard to believe that nineteen Music Laboratory Machines have rolled off our conveyor belt here over the last two years – that’s almost one a month! But they’ve been great fun to do and a lot of people seem to enjoy them and they’ve been used in all sorts of projects from hobbyist noodlings to albums and film and TV sound tracks (some award winning) and I am not at all embarrassed to admit that when the MLMs have been reviewed, they invariably receive 5-star reviews … which is nice.

Last year, we released there MLM Suite but with a bunch more MLMs under our belt, it was time for MLM Suite II…

SteampunkMLM2aThe gorgeously wonderful DATAMANCER steampunk computer is not included. Sadly.

What IS included, however, is 130p, Advanced Noise Generator, Cathotron, Altaerion, Tesla Coils and all the MLM ‘lites’ – Cronkotron, Sawpad, Squarepad and Stringodyne – and as an added bonus, Jay Pea…

130pMain

ang

cathotron

altaerion_panel

tesla_panel

cronkotron_panel

sawpad

SquarePad

stringodyne_main

HSJPTen instruments, 2.5GB of data and at £40, the package offers a 20% discount over buying them all individually. And a varied range of sounds to play with, a lot of them (in typical fashion with the MLMs) a bit off the wall but also suitable for all sorts of genres.

In other news, my old US chum in the US – Tracy Collins of INDIGINUS – has done a great little video walk through of our DRUMBOX which you can see at my new Vimeo presence…

I’ll be having Tracy doing more of these – he just has all this video presentation stuff sorted whereas I am a bit shite at it all.

Since wandering around Vimeo, its fantastic to see how some are using and abusing my stuff…

Also, Roger at Synthesisers.com has a calendar coming out and the HS Towers’  Dotcom modular  will be featured with pics as taken by Neil Fellowes of Geigertek. Photographist and synthesist by night; undertaker by day – don’t ask! But spare a thought for him – his partner, Anne, has had some issue with booby cancer! After surgery and a lot of unpleasant treatment, she looks to be out of the woods but a little way to go yet. A brave pair of people who have had a lot to contend with but are keeping a brave face in adversity. Some good vibes in their direction would be appreciated.

I’m not one for superstition but I think that if someone knows others are rooting for them, it can provide a lot a of succour, consolation and a positive attitude in the healing process. IMO. Gotta think positive.

In the meantime, we’re working on this…

vKS_provIt’s turning out to be bigger than I imagined but should be well in time for Christmas. I shan’t go into details – this provisional panel shot should give you enough clues.

Busy, busy, busy here – stupidly so sometimes!

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This arrived yesterday…

And very nice it is too…

MKS

Roland MKS20 Digital Piano (as the more observant amongst you will have noticed in the photograph). But it’s not a sampled piano – it uses Roland’s Structured Adaptive Synthesis and sounds remarkable. It very successfully ‘models’ various piano types with several ‘acoustic’ pianos and electric pianos. It also does a harpsichord and clavinet but these are only so-so – the vibraphone is quite charming though.

As you can imagine, this will be a forthcoming library and we will be building in the option for layering different sounds together as well other goodies – we’ll add some other sounds as well for layering.

But it sounds great.

The MKS20/RD1000 were released in the mid-80s and were very popular in their day (the RD1000 was Elton John’s piano of choice back then) and they gave the Yamaha DX7 (famous for it’s electric piano sounds, of course) a run for its money. The MKS/RD acoustic piano modelling was quite astonishing, especially for the time, and it would be 30 years until Pianoteq did something similar.

But the advent of the big squigabyte sampled pianos and faster computers with shedloads of RAM that could handle them kind of put an end to the MKS20/RD1000.

Shame really because these old Rolands were damned good.

More news as I get it.

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Updated FreePack

We put this out over the weekend…

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 18.06.35

Mario and I were chatting (well, Skyping) last week and we thought it might be nice to update the Bass Station FreePack.

I’ve made it available for ages. The samples were created by my good friend in the US, Dan McCullough who sampled his original Bass Station…

BSpic

There are also samples from Dan’s Super Bass Station in there…

superBS

At first, I made them available as a simple Kontakt instrument. Then I (sort of) learnt a bit of KSP scripting and added controls you could tweak. However, such was my lack of talent in the scripting department I had to do three batches of NKI patches – poly, mono, unison.

But with my outstandingly talented Croatian scripter in tow, it was possible to give these samples a massive overhaul. We condensed everything into one (though I say so myself!) attractive GUI which allowed us to add resonance to the lowpass filter, an ADSR amplitude envelope (as opposed to the AR envelope of my sad attempt at scripting the thing). I added an LFO for simple vibrato and a simple EQ for further tonal shaping and Mario scripted a wonderful UNISON section so this one panel can give you poly, mono, unison, single or multiple triggering and two types of GLIDE (portamento).

But best of all, perhaps, is that it’s totally free. As the samples were given to me, it felt a bit churlish to charge for them.

They are a great collection of not only basses but also leadlines and polysynth sounds.

If you like what you hear in this FreePack, you might like to have a look at Novation’s new Bass Station II.

You’ll find the updated updated Bass Station FreePack on the FreePacks page of the HS site along with several other goodies.

Cheers

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