Pyramid’s Euclidean Rhythms Meet Novation Circuit

In the spirit of #JAMUARY2017 (thanks to Cuckoo for having the stamina to do it everyday!) I have made a video track using the Squarp Pyramid, Novation Circuit, Moog Sub 37, PreenFM2, Rhodes, Minifooger Delay, and Korg KP3+. I’m not great at making these (hence the shaky video), but they’re fun to do every so often.

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The track starts out with a Rhodes loop that I played into the KP3+ with an LFO sweeping a resonant high pass filter. Next I start to bring in Euclidean patterns on each of the four Circuit drum parts. These are generated through individual tracks on the Pyramid. I have it setup with four Euclidean patterns per track bank for a total of sixteen. This way I can mix and match all sixteen patterns on the Pyramid and even swap them or combine them with patterns on the Circuit.

I also use Pyramid to sequence the bass and synth chords on the Circuit. In addition I have a track for the Sub 37 that I mute while soloing, and a track for the PreenFM2. The Sub 37 is in “local off” mode, so whichever track I have selected on Pyramid determines what instrument plays. I find the keybed and flexibility of the Sub 37 perfect as a controller and sound source. Thanks for listening and check out my new album Isosceles for more like it that’s actually mixed and mastered properly. ;-)

The First Annual Rhodes Summit

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It’s no secret that one of my preferred instruments is the Rhodes electric piano, which is why I am very excited to be one of four Rhodes players for the first annual Minneapolis Rhodes Summit at the Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404. This concert is happening tomorrow night (Monday, December 7, 2015 at 9:00pm) as part of JT’s Jazz Implosion. JT Bates will be joining us on drums for the second set. So who is us? We are four keyboardists belonging to the Twin Cities scene including, Martin Dosh, deVon dVRG Gray, John Keston (that’s me), and Bryan Nichols. The four of us are known for playing Rhodes electric pianos either frequently, or most of the time. What does it sound like when four Rhodes players go at it all at once? I have no bloody idea, but I’m looking forward to finding out! Please join us for this experiment in Rhodes overload. $8.00.

Richard Devine Presentation and Performances

Left to right John Keston, Jon Davis, James Patrick, and Richard Devine (not shown Graham O'Brien) Photo by Dave Eckblad

Last weekend I performed with and attended a workshop from the extraordinary electronic musician and sound designer Richard Devine. His presentation was at Slam Academy (a Minneapolis based school for electronic music and arts where I am also on the faculty roster). Later that same evening Jon Davis, Richard Devine, Graham O’Brien, James Patrick, and I performed a couple of sets at the Dakota Jazz Club (photo by Dave Eckblad). This was quite different from previous performances. Richard brought in eerie ambient textures while I played Rhodes and Moog Sub 37 along with Patrick’s deep house rhythms, O’Briens acoustic drum-n-bass fills, and a solid foundation of bass grooves from Jon Davis. Finally Richard played a solo set at an afterparty back at the Slam Academy.

Richard Devine at the Slam Factory. Photo by John Keston.

It was a pleasure performing with Richard and his presentation beforehand shed light on his detailed knowledge of the history of electronic music. He brought up electronic music pioneers like Morton Subotnick, Tod Dockstader, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. He discussed equipment from the legendary ARP 2500 (only one hundred ever made) to the EMS Synthi, and followed it up with modern softsynths of note like the Madrona Labs AALTO. After all that he graciously exposed the contents of his “Current Live Setup” Eurorack in great detail. Thanks to the Slam Academy, the Dakota, James Patrick, Jade Patrick, Richard Devine, Jon Davis, Graham O’Brien, Gregory Taylor, and everyone else involved for a memorable day of learning, playing, and performances.

March of the Robot Field Mice

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Here’s another “straight-to-tape-no-overdubs” track. This time I gave myself the liberty of pre-recording a few MIDI loops in the DAW with the mutes routed to a MIDI controller. I used eight of my favorite instruments including the Rhodes, Roland D-50, Roland Juno-106, Roland MKS-80, Korg Volca Keys, Novation Bass Station II, and SCI Pro-One.

Incidentally, the title of this track was inspired by a comment on Japan, California, UK that reads: “If, within 6 months, this isn’t the soundtrack to an inspirational, animated montage where cartoon field mice build an aeroplane from junk and fly above their home waving down to their friends, then there’s no justice.”

DKO at FRANK Part 3: Everyday Music

This is another excerpt from a performance by DKO from the MCAD MFA open studio night on December 7, 2012. The document features Oliver Grudem (not shown) who produced the audiovisual score in real-time. The video and sound coming from the LED display and loud speaker below it was broadcast into the performance space as Oliver walked around the Minneapolis Uptown area during a snow storm. Listen for traffic, footsteps, car horns, and the occasional blurt of humans speech. The visuals and sound from his walk provided a “score” for the ensemble to respond to as we improvised. Oliver was also able to hear the musical reactions to the audiovisual score as he was broadcasting and respond accordingly.

The piece was recorded with my custom built binaural head microphone (Vincent) to capture the sound localization of the performance space. Remember that it is necessary to wear high quality, circumaural headphones to experience the binaural effect. While watching, imagine you are in the same position as Vincent. You should hear the bass clarinet in your left ear, the Rhodes and synthesizers to the right and the drums and video sound in front. The relative height of the sound should also be noticeable.