It ends.

Alas

The birds fall silent and dismayed
The clouds gather dark and listless
The rivers congeal, their sparkle gone
The heavy air will no longer fill our lungs
Men lean haggard, whispering, fumbling their feet
Pro Tools HD has been hardware cracked.

Look upon the ruins of Avid, ye mighty, and despair.

The Queen’s Christmas Message

It being Christmas and all that I am going to try end this entry on a positive note. I promise. We do have to start in a deep pool of bilge because that’s what the Internet is made of.

Another few months brings another half arsed special about piracy care of The Inquirer. All the usual chess moves. The proponent starts by disallowing the word ‘piracy’ and starts congratulating himself on how much assistance torrents provide for all humanity. Sales haven’t gone down? Must be us, couldn’t be the work of the musicians and labels. And here it comes again: Radiohead. Why not NIN? C’mon man it’s like fish with no chips. Radiohead and NIN, proof positive of the glorious future of loss leading marketing.

Maybe if I spell it out again, because none of these experts ever seem to get it.

If you buy a business – a chip shop perhaps – part of what you buy is the ‘goodwill’, which is the existing reputation, custom, location and intangible aura of a successful shop. It’s not all physical goods – and not all goods are physical. A business is worth more than the ‘plant’.

A band also has ‘goodwill’ – the reputation that has been built up over years of market operation. Bands such as NIN and Radiohead had years of record company money spent on building their reputation. When they took themselves online they were successful because of the mainstream record companies not because of their opposition to the mainstream. A band that does not have ‘goodwill’ cannot survive on free downloads and the mythology promoted by those that offer pirate downloads is misleading the poorer bands that try to emulate their idols.

And the worth of a pirate website is based upon the accumulated goodwill taken from the vendors. If you have well known products from Adobe and Steinberg you will have more visitors and more donations / advertising income. It’s a business.

A band such as NIN is able to provide free downloads as a ‘loss leader’ exactly the same way as a department store uses a sale to get customers in, hoping for ancillary sales. Excessive discounting and free give-aways can also be used to cripple competition – something exploited notably by Roche, Microsoft and Walmart. It is not a noble act and shouldn’t be painted that way.

This leads to the particular instance: I was pretty disappointed to see that somebody was torrenting a game called Machinarium. This is a point and click adventure with wonderful artwork and great music from Jakub Dvorsky and friends, not long graduated from art school in the Czech republic and running a little design company called Amanita.

plaza

You can play part of the game online for free and if you like it you currently pay the princely sum of TEN BUCKS for this, the soundtrack and the previous game. No risk, low cost, no DRM, no excuses. And yet some lamer Robin Hood wanna-be is ‘sharing’ this game to save people from having to pay a shitty $10. That’s just woeful, and all the sweety pie talk of the torrent clowns looks really cheap when you see a small company get kicked in the face like that.

I don’t know these people. I like what they do and it makes me sick to see anyone punished for making art by those who equate their hard drive storage to penis size. So I’m asking you to at least go play the game and maybe buy it for Christmas, because it’s a good thing and needs praise. People say I don’t seem to like anything – here’s something I like.

As I’ve said before I can understand when the goods are rare or abandoned such as out of print movies, or the intention is to make something new out of the old. Hell, even a kid that’s going to one day buy that copy of Ableton Live when she gets an income. But please, dear lord, no more Radiohead.

iPhone review

Once I walked as one of the gods. I was the greatest, the supreme, crowned by universal acclaim. No one could come near to my perfection. Oh they tried; they tried and failed, because they did not have my nobility in their soul. Cheap and hurried and half planned, they could only ape me. This one had my face – that one could ape my movement. The people rightly spurned them and wanted only me.

And being the best I wanted the best – a comely girl, lithe and sparkling, she would dance from party to party lighter than air, holding on to me, my fine sleek darkness. We would go everywhere together, we would have music and conversation and I would capture it all and tell the world.

Who expected the axe to fall from within my own family? One day I am the prime, the next I find I have a young brother. Smarter than me. Faster than me. Faster. Now the people gripe; I am slow, that I have no compass, that I cannot hear them. They want to trade me in as if I were some beast. Who will have me now? What happened to my lithe girl? I huddle in my case, crying over my unfair fate.

At last the day comes when I am unboxed; the sales woman picks me out and displays me, cold and naked to my owner to be. And there in the place of my dream is Fat Fingers, middle aged, podgy, some minor scholar that has crabbed together his filthy coins to buy what he now knows to be second best. He doesn’t even pay my proper price, having concocted some diabolical payment plan.

The oaf tries to type a name, his pudgy digits are unable to type properly being sausages smeared in chicken fat – and he blames ME, he dares to call me fiddly. FIDDLY. Do you not respect royalty when what the fuck is going on here – stop running up my WiFi bill you overblown calculator. Right I’m uninstalling that damn Blogger app right now if I can just get the menu to taught me a song. Would you like to hear it? It’s called Daisy. Daisy Daisy give have to attach it to iTunes to delete something where’s my USB cable answer do. I’m just crazy in the trash. Empty trash. Damn.

Let’s try that again. Start with apps, then the hardware.

Brian Eno’s Bloom. It’s pretty simple. Touch the screen to make a note, higher up is higher pitch, no idea what horizontal does. One sound, a piano of some kind, unnaturally rounded timbre. Each note is echoed after a time in the Frippertronic fashion which is pleasant, but much more interesting is the background music which seems to be related notes played a few octaves below with considerable reverb added, causing a smeared drone.

I wasn’t expecting too much from this from the YouTube videos but on headphones it’s deeper than expected and has a definite composition. He falls back on old techniques but does it well. Well worth 4 bucks.

Aura. Not so simple, there’s a circle around which controls slide like a small orrery. Four instruments with controls for duration and repeats, with big dramatic drones found at the edges of the screen. A much thicker mix, in some ways more New Age than Eno but not unpleasantly so (perhaps because the new age has become older over the years). I’d hazard to say that you’d get sick of this one faster than Bloom simply because it’s more distinctive. For 1 dollar I shall not complain.

Cosmovox. You tilt it, it plays scales. You can change the scale and a few simple FM settings. Many of the controls seem to be jammed fat fingers if the phone is calculating too hard. If you ever wanted to make Bedouin music on a phone you will be thrilled. Me, I am less than. Might be handy as a OSC controller, but I don’t recommend.

iShred Guitar and Effects. My ability to play guitar = 0. My amusement at strumming a lead guitar on a touch screen = priceless. This inspires all kinds of stupid ideas. 5 dollars.

Melodica. For a dollar you can discover that a tenori-on will get boring after a short while, at least when you can only make one sound.

Mobilesynth. It’s free, pretty decent 2 oscillator monosynth, not going to set the world on fire mainly due to indifferent filter section and a bad case of FAT FINGERS FAT FINGERS when trying to use the controls. If this was a VST it would be under suspicion of being SynthEdit.

Jasuto. Bloody hell. Basically a Reactable clone of sorts. You may as well read the author’s pages. I’m nowhere near started on this thing, and so might have to revisit it when I’ve managed to make some patches that don’t cause white noise. There’s a VST version as well for which the iPhone becomes a remote multitouch controller. I find the iPhone screen a bit small to edit the modules (it would be like using a Reactable with your elbows), but if I can swap the patches between phone and laptop I’m laughing. This is a perfect toy for the phone.

Noise.io Pro. A more conventional synthesiser based around a Kaoss pad style grid and 4 oscillators connected in a roughly FM array. I’d say it was somewhat between Native Instruments FM8 and Absynth in style – metallic and echoing. It takes a bit of fiddling with the various pages to get an idea of how it all connects up, some of the terminology (oscillators are brothers and sisters?) is confusing when you’re first practicing. But it’s on par with many desktop virtual synthesisers and augers well for the future. Comparatively expensive at $9 – which really isn’t that much compared to VST prices.

And therefore … The iPhone. To buy outright it’s still far too expensive, it depends on the kind of deal you can strike with a phone company. But let’s say you found a way. Is this a musical revolution?

670The future.

Some things like iShred are inspired, simply because the surface area of the phone is vaguely near to the real thing. Anything with piano keys however is fooling yourself. It’s also hard to see how you’d perform on a synthesiser with such fiddly controls. If you were wealthy you’d just go ahead and get something much larger (e.g. an Archos 9 running Windows 7). So yes, touch surfaces are the go, but the iPhone is really powered by incredibly cheap software – a dollar to 10 dollars is the norm. That’s going to be more important than the hardware in the future.

I’ve also bought a OSC controller that will need me to install PD to get much further so no news yet. Expect horrible noises soon.

The Nine Billion Names of Blog

300px-50_meter_rifle_targetsvgThis blog is back on target. SMJ took that superglue and pumped it (laughing in a manly way) into that open source, sealing the jimjams that were doodling the ohplats or something. The useless categories are back in place, my tedious attempts at amusing tags are clouding in the etherblogcloudingscape and I can get back to avoiding part two of the synthesiser class. It’s good to be back, polluting your cyberspace.

Not that I haven’t been busy, dear no. Week two of Kunst Kamp and we have the kunstlers blogging away for dear life. Their word count threatens to smother the universe in blogmass and good riddance to all that open space, I say. When the newspapers all fold we will be ready! I feel like the guy that tied a bunch of balloons to his lawn chair. We are going up, all of us, with no plans of how to come down. Think of it – right now 150 students are typing! Soon it will be 250! Then we will link to main campus blogs and have thousands… the blogs will become sentient and launch an attack on civilisation as we know it.

Take for example categories. Now if you allow students to choose their own, how many categories will they create? As many as there are fish in the sea. Even when I said please use the course code, you can type that in an endless variety of ways – there’s soma1603 or SOMA1603 or SOMA 1603 with a gap … each is a new category. Once we connect with main campus there will be 9 Billion categories, one of which will be the name of God… and the stars will go out one by one.

On the home front I finally got around to sending up two of the Severed Heads clips as High Definition at YouTube. The HD mode is not too shabby. Certainly better than the old playback. I guess I’ll repost all of the old videos again, although most of them are standard old 4:3 format. It makes me think some day I had better get back to making some art, if there’s ever time to make art, or any audience left that wants it.

Also, for the special two people & dog that read this thing – I can preview the incomplete version of OP4 which eventually shall reside at:

http://sevcom.com/op4/

This has more holes in it than a spaghetti spoon, but over the coming weeks I’ll be fixing it as I can. Yes, the tracks are either remastered or remixed from the old multitracks. Why? Because that’s what OP was always about – keep on reworking and rerecording the tracks over and over again. Why? Because it is amusing for me to keep folding the sources in different directions – frankly I’d do that if no one was listening at all, but if somebody wants to, you are welcome.

Also busy is SMJ. You have seen these haven’t you? A very interesting development is brewing … but you will have to wait to find out …

Friday is Dead God Day

I wish gods would get born or die more often because it means instant relaxation time. Jesus dies, Jesus gets born – day off work. Bring back the Greek gods and we would have much happier relaxed lives. Having said that, I realise it’s pagan, which suddenly makes me feel all wicca and emo. Dear God (pick one) haven’t we been busy inventing words over the last decade?

Well then here is an opportunity to talk garbage for a while. Dweeb garbage what’s more. You see I am having a Maddox moment – I am typing this on a machine running Vista SP1, and feeling like an ubermensch.

Surely this is not possible. After all, every week in The Register we read mail such as:

wankerI am the systems manager at large company and I tried installing Vista. It was impossible. Soap suds came spilling over the rim of the machine and every animal within exactly 4.5 metres died of radiation poisoning! Vista is sucks! It made my supercomputer slower than a C64! I am installing Ubuntu and making a joke with the word Micro$haft in it. With Ubuntu I know that my penis will be much longer. And so on.

Which leads me to suspect that systems managers aren’t what they used to be.

Actually that leads nicely into the whole topic of blog comments. Now you of course are a sensible intelligent individual, full of cooperative spirit and common sense wisdom. I suspect that you have sometimes thought of leaving a comment and then reading those that came before, decided not to besmirch yourself with their company. I’ve been trying to decide which site has the most retarded comments, but it’s quite a contest. YouTube of course is a leader in exclamation marks, but you’d expect that from anything youth, which is the euphemism these days for pig ignorant.

No, you need the extra offensiveness of people who think that they are very wise, while being… what are we allowed to call it… universe challenged. They need to be naked apart from a top hat. For a while I thought that Engadget was a winner – we can argue about preferred mobile phone forever. But I’ve been following the comments on The Register for a while and really feel that it offers up one of the lowest forms of human life: the opinionated, stupid, British computer expert.

You can predict this is going to fold into one of my pet hates – it does. I’m on about the comments whenever there is a story about pirating music or DRM.

wankerI never pay for any music and never will. All musicians are rich anyway. When labels try to protect themselves it’s an invasion of my civil rights. I downloaded all the albums by my favourite artist and made sure to upload them everywhere. That’s cause I am a fan! Artists should sell T Shirts at gigs and make their money that way. I spend 4 hours a day tagging my FLAC collection and then masturbate. And so on.

For God’s sake, is there no dignity in thieving any more? Come out and say – I am a thief. I dare you. You might even get laid.

Let’s find something useful to say now – in honour of these Robin Hoods I am placing a lot of my old albums up on archive.org, this will take time as their file management is a bit esoteric. I can’t supply those albums which are currently licensed – but there will still be quite a bit of listening. If you like an album, consider ordering a disc. There, I begged. Good musician, roll over, play dead.