Interview: Graham’s O’Brien’s Drum Controller Video Series

Drum Controller - Graham O'Brien

Graham O’Brien is an exceptional and inventive drummer, composer, and producer. It has been my privilege to play with him at dozens shows and on at least five separate projects over the last eight years. His latest solo endeavor is a series of five videos titled Drum Controller. Graham had discussed his goals for the project with me, but when I saw/heard the videos I was immediately impressed. I wanted to know more about how he was able to trigger these beautiful and complex electro-acoustic arrangements without touching anything other than his minimal kit of kick, two snares, high hats, and a ride.

Note: Graham will be performing music with his Drum Controller setup and Thomas Nordlund on guitar at Honey in Minneapolis this Sunday, June 5, 2017. Read on for the interrview and a look at his video series. Continue reading

Moogfest 2016 Workshops

Moogfest 2016

I’m pleased to announce that I will be giving two workshops at Moogfest 2016. Audiovisual Scores for Electronic Music is on May 19 from 5 to 7pm and Sound Art and Sonification is on Friday from 2 to 4pm. The location for both workshops is 21c Museum Hotel, Gallery 6 111 N. Corcoran St, Durham, NC 27701. Details are on the Moogfest schedule site.

Thank You, Prince (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)

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There will be volumes written about the icon known as Prince, AKA the artist formerly known as Prince, and originally Prince Rodgers Nelson in the next few days. I am just one of hundreds of humble musicians who have lived their careers in the shadow of this physically diminutive yet metaphorically giant monarch of Minneapolis. Prince’s influence is inescapable in this town. Virtually every artist here owes some fraction of their success, vision, and motivation to his legacy. Prince put Minneapolis on the map maintaining his presence here despite his celebrity. Wherever I have travelled, anywhere around the world, and told people I live in Minneapolis the first words out of their mouths are, “Ah! Prince!” Whether or not you’re a fan there’s no denying the enormous talent of this man. Although few artists from Minneapolis sound quite like him, he helped define the music scenes in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Working as a musician in the town that Prince built leaves no room for slouches. Regardless of style or genre we have had the impeccable musicianship, virtuosity, creativity, and showmanship of Prince to live up to. The Twin Cities, Minnesota, and the world at large are simultaneously mourning and celebrating Prince’s life and music for good reason. Every show of his I experienced was unforgettable. My heart goes out to everyone he touched. He was “dearly beloved” and will be dearly missed. Thank you, Prince.

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J. Anthony Allen on Art + Music + Technology

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J. Anthony Allen is a fascinating artist with whom I have the honor being a colleague and collaborator. J was recently interviewed by Darwin Grosse for his podcast Art + Music + Technology. Give it a listen to learn more about J’s background, artistic direction, and projects at large.

In addition to the podcast J also will be releasing a remix album titled Conic Arias of which I played a part by remixing the track Time Givers from Aniscorcia. The album comes out April 5th, but you can hear it now on SoundCloud:

DSI Tempest Users Appeal for an Update

DSI Tempest 2016

The Tempest from Dave Smith Instruments is a monstrous drum machine designed in collaboration between Dave Smith and Roger Linn. The feature set that DSI took on for this beast is beyond ambitious and five years since its release it is still missing some features and suffers from a few significant bugs.

By no means does this make the Tempest unuseable. I constantly use my Tempest for live performances and in the studio and I love its capabilities. The problems arise under specific circumstances. For example, a legato mode with glide for monosynth sounds has yet to be implemented, so I can’t use it play bendy lead lines with portamento as I am wont to do. For me this isn’t so bad because I can play those lines on another synth and focus on using the Tempest as a very flexible drum machine.

However, we all use the Tempest in different ways. Because I have many approaches to it I often have to jump through hoops or find alternatives. Other users have found that it doesn’t live up to its potential and either sell the machine or shelve it in hope for an update. A community of users at DSI Forums have created a petition to DSI for an update. If you own a Tempest please follow the link below to participate in the petition. The Tempest is a great machine that’s still in production, so it makes sense for DSI to invest in a little bit of fine tuning.

Help make the Tempest a priority for Dave Smith Instruments

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