Music

gear2

Montreal, 2005

 

I haven’t made any music in recent years, but there was a time where it’s virtually all I did. Below are a collection of recordings I made. Most are just loops: some good, some not very good, most incomplete. All were made on my own at home using recording software and various MIDI/audio gear.

 

1996-99 – First recordings

Collective Unconsciousness, 1998

I have no op, 1997

Scotophil, 1999

I was in my mid-late teens and living in Northern Ontario. After hearing Skinny Puppy, I was completely blown away and knew I had to know how to make sounds like that. So, I threw aside the guitar and bass I played in my early teens to focus entirely on electronic music with an emphasis on synthesizers and sampling.

Internet resources at the time were limited (as was my dial-up modem connection) so I picked up a book titled The MIDI Companion: The Ins, Outs and Throughs, and read it cover to cover. I’d pick up expensive issues of Sound on Sound magazine, and haunt Sonic State and SynthZone to learn everything I could about MIDI, audio, electronic music production, and all of the hardware and software that made it possible.

I had picked up a used Ensoniq ESQ-1 keyboard, and taught myself how to use Cubase VST (v2.x?). I had it running on a Pentium PC with Windows 98 SE and an “AWE32” sound card to step up from the Soundblaster 16. I don’t remember how much RAM or  hard disk space the PC had, but I’m sure it was laughable. I think I used Goldwave for audio editing.

 

1999-2001 – SOUND-TEST

 

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sound-test.org, 2001

 

8:23am

cleanfuzz

drumn8bitbass

endif

I have no op

in the jungle crawling

knoway

lookbig

nothanks

nunchaku

opiates

panflu

perf2

pianis2

thewayinisthewayout

tokyo bullet

uagoaway

waltz3

wdm3

yawn

 

In late 1998 I moved to Ottawa for college. Soon after I picked up a used IBM ThinkPad with Pentium II processor and whopping 192 MB of RAM.

Around this time I discovered the miracle of emulation, and started toying with the idea of using retro game sounds. I was the ultimate hipster: using NES and 80s arcade game sounds before it was cool!

I also attempted a few video game remixes, and submitted a Kung Fu remix to game remix site Overclocked under the moniker “badlsdtrip”. /cringe

 

River City Ransom NES (boss music remix), 2001

Kung Fu NES (remix), 2001

Contra NES (“Snow Field” remix), 2001

Shinobi Arcade (remix), 2001

 

Other gear I used at this time was a Yamaha TX81Z rack, and I had picked up a Mackie 1202 VLZ mixer. Love that Lately Bass patch.

Despite having gear, most of the music made during this period was done using Fruity Loops. I intended to use it as a scratchpad, but fell in love with its simplicity and especially its limitations. It helped me focus in a way that full-blown sequencers with endless possibilities like Cubase could not.

During this time I also taught myself basic web development, and put up a web page with tracks I made under the moniker “SOUND-TEST”, named after the sound test menus in old console and arcade games.

 

 

2004-2006 – FAKE ACID

 

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fakeacid.com, 2006

 

040304b, 2004

can u dig it, 2006

OSAP/fake acid-are you feeling anything, 2006

medicine man, 2006

thenews37, 2006

tk37, 2006

In 2002 I moved to China. That was such a huge change that music took the backseat for a while.

Later that same year, I returned to Canada and moved to Montreal. After getting settled, I started collecting gear and making music again.

I was listening to a lot of psy trance and acid techno, and it heavily influenced my work.

On the production side, I dropped Windows for Linux and started using seq24, a fantastic minimal interactive MIDI sequencer.

My setup was:

  • Pentium II ThinkPad running Debian with Fluxbox
  • Ensoniq ESQ1
  • KORG MS1X
  • Clavia Nord Lead 2 Rack
  • Novation Bass Station Keyboard
  • Novation Drum Station Rack
  • Emu Xtreme Lead Rack
  • Korg Poly 800 with black keys (!!)
  • Mackie 1202 VLZ
  • Boss DS-1 distortion pedal
  • Shure mic

 

I spent a lot of money on gear during that period, but I still wanted more. That’s the thing about G.A.S.

Looking back, the gear had very little to do with the quality of tracks I did. I should have focused more on technique instead of reading reviews and articles on gear websites and lusting over new hardware.

 

2006 – present

kongqiaoxiji, 2012

 

In 2006, I decided I needed a change. I sold all of my gear, moved back to China, and spent the following years living in Shanghai and traveling. In place of music, I put my creative energy into programming and app development, and that is where my focus has been ever since.

The last track I made was thrown together with – ironically – an iPhone app.