I’m writing this newsletter while out in California, where I lived for over two decades before moving to my current home in New Mexico. While out here, I’ve played the Southern California Synth Society’s NAMMless JAMuary on January 22nd, spent two days at Richard Bugg’s Tonstudiochaos learning how to mix in quad (the subject of the main article this month), a day visiting the Vintage Synthesizer Museum (as well as the Virtual Van Gogh exhibit), and then a day at Jill Fraser’s studio listening to each others’ recent work and discussing a potential future collaboration. Earlier in January I also wrote a quartet of new posts for my Patreon subscribers, and released another of my Learning Modular Conversations to the public.

The week this newsletter is coming out I’m in Palm Desert, getting in some hiking, art-viewing, and shopping in between rehearsing for my performance at the Phoenix Synthesizer Festival on February 11 (more on that in the Calendar section below). No rest for the wicked, as they say! Let’s dive into the details…

  • featured article: I’ve started to learn how to mix my modular in quad, using Ableton Live. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
  • Alias Zone updatesThe video of my performance at NAMMless JAMuary.
  • Learning Modular updates: I shared a recent Alias Zone performance, as well as the fourth installment in my Learning Modular Conversations series.
  • Patreon updatesAnother installment in my Updating the Monster series, two installments in my new Going Hybrid Live series, and an Industry Stories piece on a mutant Moog Sonic Six.
  • upcoming events: Live performances in Phoenix, Arizona and Santa Fe, New Mexico, plus a streamed performance for SynthFest France.

Alias Zone Updates

I spent December and the first couple of weeks in January putting together and practicing with a new hybrid modular + laptop performance system. I’m very happy with how it’s working out; in just a couple of weeks I composed two new pieces with it and started on a third. 

I performed one of those pieces at the Southern California Synthesizer Society’s NAMMless JAMuary streaming event, linked to above (it jumps straight to my performance, but that video contains all seven artists from that evening). The SCSS normally holds an in-person “NAMM Jam” during the annual January NAMM music convention in Anaheim California, but due to Covid NAMM got pushed back to June, and it wasn’t a good idea to gather together in a club like they normally do. So instead, they streamed it from the patio outside of Trovarsi’s studio. Everyone was vaccinated and boosted, and passed rapid tests before showing up for this live performance.

SCSS performances tend to focus on techno and related forms of electronic dance music, so I rehearsed a piece that was a bit more beat-centric than my recent work. I think the result would sound at home on the “chill” channel of any number of streaming services – although I’ve since played around with a more open, ambient version of it as well. We’ll see if it makes it onto an album in one form or another later this year. Or maybe I should release this “chill” version as an EP? Opinions welcome.

Learning Modular Updates

My latest music videos get released first on my Alias Zone YouTube channel, and then a few months later on my Learning Modular channel. The piece above – Iceland – was the first piece I composed and performed after I broke my leg last year. I played it first in front of a live audience at an Albuquerque Electroniquè show in New Mexico, and being pleased with how it went, I recorded a studio version for SoundMiT 2021 – which is what you see above.

I also publicly released my fourth “Ask Me Anything” session for my Learning Modular Patreon subscribers, renamed Learning Modular Conversations. This one was with Steve Turner and his Australian Control Voltage (AU-CV) user group. Our main focus was on processing acoustic sounds through the modular synth, including breaking down a few different patch examples in detail. We also talked a lot more about what got me into synthesizers, as well as other subjects. That’s the video above.

Patreon Updates

I’ve been documenting the process of creating my new performance system for my Patreon subscribers. Two updates I posted during January covered dividing up the musical duties between the modular and the laptop, and how I pass sound between the modular and the laptop (including variations for studio recording, and quad performances). Both are available to +5v and above subscribers.

The studio modular has not been neglected entirely; last month I also wrote a post describing changes to the effects, mixing, and audio output sections of The Monster. That post is also available to +5v and above subscribers.

Learning Modular Eurorack Expansion Extended

Finally, I shared a story about a mutant Moog Sonic Six that I had inherited from John Bowen during my time at Sequential Circuits, detailing how Gene Stopp updated and modified it for me, and its return to John during a NAMM show a few years ago. That post is available to all level of subscribers.

As a reminder to those who are not already subscribers, Patreon is where I post my deep-dive content as I explore composition, performance, new synthesis techniques, and bits of synthesis history. Check out the index to get an idea of what I’ve posted so far, and consider joining me on that journey.

Upcoming Events

Assuming I remain healthy and that the world doesn’t implode again, I have performances planned for 9 of the first 10 months of 2022. Here are next two:

February 11/12: Phoenix Synthesizer Festival (Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, Arizona)

I’m very excited about this one. Friday night I open for Steve Roach, and then Saturday afternoon both Steve and I give workshops about our approaches to live performance. Saturday night features additional live performances including friends Trovarsi and Tsone, and in between they will be streaming pre-recorded performances by others including Serena Gabriel and CherishTheLuv, including breakdowns by each artist about their pieces.

Tickets to attend Friday and Saturday nights in person are on sale now. The workshops Saturday afternoon are free, but require tickets (not yet available on the web site as of the time I write this) to limit the number of attendees. All will be streamed for free, as well. Check out the Phoenix Synthesizer Festival web site for more details.

March 5: Sound for Art (Currents 826 Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico)

This will be something quite different: Performers will be spread out between different rooms in the Currents 826 gallery, performing extended ambient pieces. Attendees are free to wander between the rooms to create their own mix of performances (as well as view the high-tech sculpture exhibition that will be on display). We should be playing between 1 and 4 PM; attendance is free. Other performers include Jim Coker of Meridian Alpha, Trovarsi, Jason Fink, and Anthony Ballo.


I’m also tentatively scheduled to appear virtually at SynthFest France the first weekend in April, and in person at Mountain Skies in Asheville, North Carolina during May. I’ll share more details as those dates draw closer. 

As you can see from the above, this year is off to a good start. Here’s wishing you a great year as well.

best regards –