This month’s newsletter is a little late as I am performing as Alias Zone in three different events this month, and was waiting to confirm time slots before I sent this out. Details are in the Upcoming Events section further down, but the short version is I have two sets* this Saturday May 8 – Mountain Skies and ModularWorld – and then another Friday May 21 as part of the Synth Society Summit. 

(*As the Firesign Theatre would ask, “How can you be in two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all?” By streaming on the internet, of course…)

For these sets, I used a “hybrid” setup where my studio modular synth was at the core, but I also used samples, played pads on digital polyphonic synths as well as some acoustic percussion, used a few virtual instruments while mixing everything in Ableton Live as I performed.

Although many may think of me as someone who is into modular synths, the truth is I’m into sound. Now, modular synths are my favorite way to create and perform sounds! And I used modulars almost exclusively from 2015 through mid-2020 to see what all I could use them for to create my own music. But the long term goal was always to bring back into the mix some of the other ways I’ve enjoyed creating music in the past, and integrate them with the modular. An initial “progress report” on this initiative is the main article in this month’s newsletter.


New Videos & Blog Posts

I’ve been writing a series on generative patch techniques for my subscribers on Patreon. Recently, I showed a variety of ways I use Mutable Instruments’ Marbles – but realized that before I demonstrated them, first I should demonstrate Marbles itself. Since this is a module that many have or have considered getting, I decided to make that introductory post freely available for all – click here to read & watch it.

Patreon Updates

I’ve been continuing my Thoughts on Generative Patching series with a four-part installment based around the Mutable Instruments Marbles, plus wrote another Basic Concepts piece based on a question from a patron.

Thoughts on Generative Patching 4: Using Marbles (first post free to patrons and non-patrons; remaining posts for those subscribed to the +5v level and above):

I have new Notes from the Studio installments planned, as well as breakdowns for each of the three pieces I’m performing this month.

Upcoming Events

I have three performances planned for this month:

Mountain Skies: Saturday May 8, 12:30 PM PDT/3:30 PM EDT/9:30 PM CEST

This will be a half-hour audio-only performance of a new “space music” piece I am creating this week, tentatively called Sputnik’s Ghosts. It will be streamed on Radio Spiral.

ModularWorld First Anniversary: Saturday May 8, ~3:20-3:30 PM PDT/6:20-ish EDT/12:20-ish Sunday morning CEST

This will be a 10 minute video performance of an upbeat little piece called Four O’Clock – Raining, followed by a short interview. This is part of a 30+ hour, 130 artist event, so timing will slide around a little bit; the two acts before me are Elin Piel and Sequenox, and John McKenna is after me. It will be streamed on ModularWorld’s YouTube channel.

Synth Society Summit: Friday May 21, somewhere between 7-10 PM PDT/10 PM-1AM EDT/4-7 AM Saturday CEDT

This is another ~10 minute video set, of a “spiritual” piece called Devotion. I do not have the exact time yet; I’ll announce it on both the Alias Zone and Learning Modular Facebook and Instagram pages when I do. It will be streamed on the Southern California Synth Society YouTube channel.

If you miss the original broadcasts, I’ll place the videos of Four O’Clock and Devotion on the Alias Zone YouTube channel after those events. I have not decided yet what I’m going to do with Sputnik’s Ghosts, as there will be no video; if it goes well, I’ll post it on the Alias Zone Bandcamp page.

One More Thing…

There is an enjoyable, educational new documentary called Sisters With Transistors on “electronic music’s unsung heroines” including Clara Rockmore, Bebe Barron, Suzanne Ciani, Laurie Spiegel, Daphne Oram, Pauline Oliveros, Delia Derbyshire and Eliane Radigue, created by Lisa Rovner. It can be streamed on Metrograph through May 6 (subscription required – just $5 for one month), which includes access to a Lisa Bella Donna concert, Laurie Anderson’s Home of the Brave, and other experimental videos with soundtracks created by composers mentioned in the documentary.

The documentary can also be viewed in the UK through the Modern Films web site, and other parts of the world through Vimeo. This is a limited-time engagement, so watch it soon!

As the pandemic lock-downs were starting last year, I teamed up with my good friends Ben Wilson (DivKid) and Kim Bjørn (co-author of Patch & Tweak) to create the streaming Feeding the Monster series, explaining the reasoning behind every module in my studio system as I installed it, and ending with a few quick demos. One year later, we’re considering doing a follow-up, showing which of my initial plans worked, explaining which modules have been replaced, and possibly ending with a little performance or more demos. We’re tentatively talking about doing this in June; stay tuned for updates.

enjoying life –