For the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to morph Learning Modular from learning how to make sounds with modulars, to how to make music with them. 2022 was a pivotal year in that progression, as I spent most of it performing live under the name Alias Zone with Pandora’s Box: my new hybrid modular + laptop system. 

I’ve also been recording those performances and rehearsals (plus two from 2021) as source material for several albums, one of which – Water Stories – I released at the end of the year. Along the way, I documented it all for my Patreon subscribers, and made select posts public for others to benefit from as well (such as the TB-303 article mentioned below).

2023 will see more of a focus on studio time, editing my recordings into new album releases, and recording new works using my Monster studio modular as well as the other hardware and software synths I’ve been accumulating. I have a mini-tour planned for April, and in addition to some spot appearances, I’m hoping to go out on the road again around October or so.

But that’s the past and future. Let’s talk about the present – namely, the contents of this month’s newsletter:


  • featured article: What did I learn assembling and performing with a hybrid modular + DAW system this past year?
  • Alias Zone updatesThe new album Water Stories is out; the CDs should be shipping shortly.
  • Learning Modular updatesWhat makes Roland’s TB-303 sound like a 303? Can you emulate any of its desirable characteristics with your modular?
  • Patreon updatesBreaking down my last set of the year, a pair of posts on the process of going from a series of rehearsal and performance recordings to a polished album, as well studying whether or not different VCAs sound different.
  • upcoming eventsI’m staging a mini-tour for April 2023, leading up to this year’s NAMM show.

Alias Zone Updates

Learning Modular Eurorack Expansion Extended

My latest album – Water Stories – has been released on Bandcamp. It has received a number of very nice comments and reviews, including landing on the top albums of 2022 list in the Space/Ambient category from Lloyd Barde (formerly of Backroads Music).

I polled my followers on Bandcamp and Patreon about whether or not to release physical CDs, and based on that feedback I’ve decided to order a limited run of CDs for each new release – starting with Water Stories. I originally thought they would mainly be for selling at gigs; I was pleasantly surprised when roughly 1 in 4 people who have bought the release so far ordered the physical CD version (which comes with the downloadable streaming version as well). 

The CD has finished production, but the shipment has been delayed thanks to the winter storms that have been plaguing the US recently. I expect to start shipping current orders during the week of January 9. (If you’re curious to see what it looks like, click here for a 3D animation Discmakers created of the package.)

Learning Modular Updates

One of the most popular articles I wrote for my Patreon subscribers is looking at the overall schematic and sequencing approach in the classic Roland TB-303 (inspired by an excellent article by Tim Stinchcombe), discussing which portions are contributing to its unique sound – for example, the overall schematic has more filter poles in it than most people reference when they’re trying to reproduce it, how to replicate it in modular, and how to exploit some of its tricks for other patches. I’ve decided to make that post public so more people can take advantage of it – click here for more. (It’s a good example of the kind of content I’ve created in the past, and which is in the archives, for my Patreon subscribers…just saying…)

Patreon Updates

The Learning Modular Patreon Channel is the “access all areas” pass to what I’m currently working on and learning about. Posts I’ve written since the previous newsletter include:

The first three posts are available to +5v and above subscribers; the last one on VCAs is available to all subscribers. 

Click here to check out the index of all past articles I’ve written for Patreon. 

Upcoming Events

I have booked a mini-tour in southern Arizona & California in the first half of April, leading up to the 2023 NAMM show. Stops will include:

April 4: I will be part of Steve Roach’s Ambient Lounge series at the Century Room in Tucson, Arizona. (My set should be about a half hour.)

April 8: Jill Fraser and I will be playing at the very funky FurstWurld in Joshua Tree, California. (Our sets should last about an hour each.)

April 12: I will be giving about an hour-long performance plus a talk/Q&A at 17th Street Recording Studio in Costa Mesa, California the evening before the NAMM show (the studio is only 15 minutes away from the convention center). Basek will also be there talking about some of the gear he uses, plus there is a promise of something special from the Vintage Synthesizer Museum to play with. And did I mention there will be pizza?

Last year was a bit of a challenge, trying to perform live nearly every month while navigating Covid and recovering from a broken leg. The payoff was gaining a lot of experience with performing live, plus recording source tracks for a few new albums that I will be releasing this year – along with some new material. As always, thank you for coming along for the ride.

grateful –