When I wrote this, I was in the final rehearsal push before going on a mini-“tour” during the first half of April, ending up at the NAMM show in Anaheim, California. Last year played 9 live events, traveling to each one individually; I’m seeing if I can be more efficient about that this year. 

One of my goals this year is also learning how to play longer sets without bringing more gear. That’s requiring an overhaul of my performance system, which I outline in the main article this month. Other topics include:

  • featured articleHow can I play a wider variety of musical material on the same setup – without making the audience wait while I re-patch?
  • Alias Zone updatesTone Science: Cause and Effect (plus, stickers!)
  • Learning Modular updatesCreating some custom tools for both the studio and performance.
  • Patreon updatesIn addition to a demo of my favorite Mutable Instruments modules, I’m also starting two new series for my subscribers: details on the updates to my performance system, and what features I look for when I shop for specific modules.
  • upcoming eventsI’m staging a mini-tour the first half of this month (April 2023), leading up to this year’s NAMM show. Plans are also coming together for another tour in October’

Alias Zone Updates

Learning Modular Eurorack Expansion Extended

I am proud to announce that I have a track on the next Tone Science modular compilation, Cause & Effect, which will be released April 21. Ian Boddy of DiN records has created a sampler/teaser edit of it on SoundCloud; click here to listen.

Also, there’s a few generalizations you can make about modular musicians (and, well, electronic musicians in general): they tend to like cats (you’ve seen the cats on synthesizers in space memes, right?), and they tend to love stickers. So, I printed a set of stickers based on my album covers, which I will be giving away at my performances this year. If you can’t make one of my performances, and would like a set of stickers, use the Contact form at the bottom of this page to send me your address, and I will send you a set!

Learning Modular Updates

This is an example of where my right-brain Alias Zone pursuits and my left-brain Learning Modular pursuits cross over: As I compose and perform music, I’ve learned that there’s a few tools I need that don’t quite exist in a form I like – so I’ve been working on creating them (or cajoling others to create them for me). One is the alternate wave banks for the ModBap Osiris I mentioned briefly above; I’ll be writing more on that later when it’s finished and ready to be shared with others. Another is an alternate arpeggiator for Ableton Live that is better suited for slow harmonic evolutions.

The one that is ready now (more or less? we think it is?) is alternate firmware for the Ornament & Crime (o_C) general purpose Eurorack module. I’ve been working with Nick Michalek (aka DJ Phazer) on this, and he’s done a great job. In short, it provides four channels of:

  • quantization – either to semitones, or scales (including user-defined scales)
  • octave and semitone offsets (semitones are replaced with scale degrees when you select a scale)
  • tracking adjustment, with sharp/flat “tilt” in the pitch control voltage adjustable in 0.01% increments (no need to tweak the trimmers on your oscillators!)
  • pitch offset, with sub-cent precision (no more fighting with fiddly fine tune knobs!)
  • optional sample & hold capabilities, holding off changes to just transposition or to both input voltage plus transposition until a trigger is received 
  • four user presets of all of the above, saved in non-volatile memory
  • all with a very flat, immediate user interface 

Later this spring when I have time, I will create a video demonstrating this in detail. In the meantime, click here to download the firmware (part of Nick’s Phazerville Suite for the o_C hardware), and click here for the instructions on how to use it.

Patreon Updates

During March, I did a live Zoom demo for both my Patrons and subscribers to Trovarsi and ALX-106’s TheSoundLab channel on several of my favorite Mutable Instruments modules (and clones). Thank you to all of my subscribers who voted on which modules to cover. For those who could not attend, Trovarsi will be editing the video and posting it later; I’ll let my subscribers know the link when it becomes available.

Other posts last month include:

In the near future, I’ll also be breaking down the most recent track I composed for my upcoming tour, and what I find interesting as the upcoming Superbooth show in Berlin.

For those who are not already subscribers, the +5v level – $5/month – gets you immediate access to a library of literally hundreds of posts as well as new ones each month, while $12/month adds access to my Eurorack-focused online modular synthesis courses. Why don’t you consider subscribing, if even for a month to catch up on all the stuff I’ve written about already?

Upcoming Events

I am looking forward to my mini-tour in southern Arizona & California in the first half of April, leading up to the 2023 NAMM show. Stops will include:

April 4 – Tucson, Arizona: I will be part of Steve Roach’s Ambient Lounge series at the Century Room in Tucson, Arizona. Doors open at 7; we start playing at 8. Steve’s wife Linda Kohanov will play first, live-looping and processing her five-string electric viola. I will then play a new, roughly half-hour set, followed by Steve. Tickets are available by following this link. The $15 ticket gets you a seat at one of the front tables so you can more closely watch what we’re doing. (Plus the bar has some really inventive drinks, with and without alcohol.)


April 8 – Phoenix, California: I was supposed to share an evening with Jill Fraser at FurstWurld in Joshua Tree, California, but unfortunately they ran into permitting issues. So instead, I will be headline a large private house party in Phoenix, which will include other acts like Tony Obr’s trio Slender Loris (seen above). If you live in that area and are interested in attending, use the Contact form below and I’ll see if I can get you in.


Learning Modular Eurorack Expansion Extended

April 12 – Cost Mesa, California: I will be giving a performance plus 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!). Doors open at 6; I’ll be going on at 7, followed by other special guests. It should be quite an event, and a nice way to socialize in a more intimate setting before the NAMM show starts. Did I mention it was free? And did I mention there would be pizza?

I am also piecing together a tour around a few cities in North Carolina the first half of October of this year. I might even be in the New England area before that. And, I suspect I’ll be playing the Chill Out Room at Knobcon again this year in September. I’ll keep you posted.

I always feel a mixture of excitement and apprehension when I get ready to perform: I am anxious to share what I’ve been working on with my fellow electronic musicians and music lovers, but I also worry about whether I have prepared for every contingency in case something goes wrong. This is heightened by having updated my gigging case, plus bringing along a few new items (including hand percussion) that I’ve not performed live with before. This is offset by really enjoying the music I’m creating these days, and wanting to make a connection with more potential listeners. I hope you’re one of them.

moving forward –