My First Solo Album in Seven Years

Isosceles by Ostraka

Dear ACB readers, I am pleased to announce my first solo album in seven years, Isosceles. This one is an eighty minute long departure from my usual esoteric experiments. Instead it is full of unapologetically funky and tonal instrumental synth tracks. Many of these were shared as works-in-progress here on ACB.

Years in the making, this collection of tracks was carefully picked from dozens of compositions. Vintage and contemporary electronic instruments and processors were used alongside each other to create a unique yet familiar sound. The album is full of thick analog arpeggios, punchy bass lines, earthy beats, and ballistic leads. The anthology is interspersed with contemplative moments reminiscent of the promise of space exploration and discovery. It is a journey through light years of exploratory sound design, future thought, and galactic musical manifestations.

The gorgeous artwork is by Benjamin Montag and the impeccable mastering was handled by Tom Garneau. The album was released on Unearthed Music and is available on Bandcamp as well as the usual suspect (iTunes, et al). Tonight I’ll be performing at Acadia in Minneapolis to celebrate the release.

Composed and performed by John C. S. Keston
Ablum art by Benjamin Montag
Mastered by Tom Garneau of Audioactive Returns to Being Ad Free


Today, on a whim, I decided to remove all advertising from Ok, not quite on a whim. I thought about for about three minutes. I guess what prompted this for me was hearing a video ad blare out some garbage at me when I was viewing the page on a school computer. This is the first time I’ve heard sound from the site without it being explicitly triggered by the user. I considered trying to block the offending ads, but I quickly decided to remove all ads instead.

Advertising has helped me pay a fair chunk of the hosting expenses for AudioCookbook over the last few years. However, the reward is not enough to warrant the intrusions. This is in no way a condemnation of advertising for other sites! I do believe in advertising as a way to monetize web sites and applications. In fact, I do not use ad blockers for that very reason, and occasionally click ads on sites that I visit frequently. Please enjoy AudioCookbook ad free and thanks for your support!

Note: This post was brought to you by sunsets. Sunsets are a great way to contemplate the meaning of life. Allow sunsets to impact your disposition and improve the quality of your life’s bottom line. Please enjoy sunsets responsibly. Sunsets Inc. will not be held responsible for blindness due to staring into the sun for long periods of time or jabbing sharps sticks into one’s eyes.

Bloodline at JT’s Jazz Implosion


Bloodline, a trio featuring Cody McKinney, Peter Hennig, and John Keston (myself), has been quietly performing at a handful of obscure venues in the Twin Cities for about a year and a half. On Monday, October 3rd we’ll poke out heads out of the shadows for a set during JT’s Jazz Implosion residency at the Icehouse in Minneapolis.

JT’s Jazz Implosion at Icehouse is one of the hottest jazz scenes in the cities. Featuring bands that study strong jazz composition, the performances consist of a variety of modern jazz songs with an improvisational flair. The bands that perform are emblems of originality in the modern jazz scene, oftentimes receiving national attention for their jazz genre knowledge and assimilation of multiple influences. The series appeals to a variety of listeners, providing multilayered compositions for every jazz fan.

For a taste of what Bloodline is all about, please have a listen to a few excerpts from one of our recent performances at Jazz Central Studios:

My New Piano or How to Become a Hermit

Kawai K5

Recently my wife, dog, and cat moved into a new house and downsized going from over 1400 square feet to 725. In this process I sold off and gave away a number of space hungry instruments including a chopped Hammond, one of my three Rhodes electric pianos, and my 1916 Wesley Raudenbusch & Sons farmhouse, upright-grand piano (see photo below). Sadly I had been neglecting acoustic piano in favor of Rhodes, synths, and an excellent Steinway Model D plugin from UVI. You can see this in the photo because I had allowed my wife to cover the top with the cat’s food and water, a cat bed, and decorations. Yikes! Continue reading

The Most Powerful Tiny FM Synth: PreenFM2


The purpose of AudioCookbook is not to promote or review musical instruments, electronic hardware, or audio software. This site is a more personal (perhaps narcissistic) look at music composition and sound design techniques. “Recipes for Sound Design” is one part of that, but experimentation also plays a significant role. I understand that some my experiments are interesting for ACB readers. My approach has been, if it’s interesting to me then I’ll write about it here. In this case I’d like to highlight an extraordinary, boutique, FM synth that has been unfairly overshadowed by the Korg Volca FM. This amazing musical device for sound design and experimentation is the PreenFM2 designed by Xavier Hosxe.

This synth is by no means new. I first heard about it in August of 2013 on At that time I was fully invested in the Yamaha FS1R and didn’t see a need for another FM synth in my setup. However, more recently I started researching it because I wanted a portable polyphonic synth for live performances. I’ve brought luggable rack synths to shows including the FS1R and Roland MKS-80, but it’s expensive, awkward, and risky to transport them. I love the Korg Volcas for their sound and portability, but both the Volca Keys and Volca FM have a mere three voices available for polyphony.

PreenFM2 Metal Case Designed by Papernoise

The low profile and compact PreenFM2 can be purchased pre-built or in kit form with either a sturdy metal case or an elegant plexiglass design that shows off the inner workings. Either option takes up little space and is effortlessly packed up and transported. Its looks belie its broad feature set and massive capacity for sound design and experimentation. But one of the main reasons I recruited it for polyphonic duties is just that: polyphony. Depending on the algorithm the polyphony ranges from eight to fourteen voices. In comparison the Volca FM has a maximum of three voices.
Continue reading

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