Even bloggers must take vacations and I am on one.
I felt that I attempted the impossible interviewing Paul Slocum last month about his sample remixer without actually having used it: the Q&A went on and on but it was like the proverbial sight-impaired men describing the elephant.
So I traveled to Texas to get a demo (and visit family members).
In the interview I asked Slocum how his software differed from Cubase or similar music production programs.
The differences are described below.
Like the sample remixer, Cubase allows you to load a long (song length) sample, cut it up into any number of clips of varying lengths, place those snippets on tracks so they play simultaneously or staggered, with on-off commands triggered by a vertical cursor passing through all the tracks. You can also copy and paste any number of sub-sequences of clips to other points on the editing grid.
Where the Slocum sample remixer differs:
1. The random loop point finder is a quick way to generate interesting-sounding clips and add them to the grid.
2. The interface is very fast because it is text-based. In other words, instead of wasting CPU resources drawing graphics of clips (with little pictures of the waveforms), the Slocum device simply shows an asterisk against a colored background.*
3. The point is not to make conventional music with a common tempo and key--the goal is abstract or semi-abstract music that is polyrhythmic, a-harmonic, and glitchy sounding, yet obeys a set structure. One could do most of this is in Cubase or Sonar but not as quickly or with the same sense of liberating experimentation this device gives you of creating random loops on the fly. (I don't know how close it is to Ableton live in terms of speed.)
4. The interface is elegant and "lo-fi"--like an ASCII version of Cubase.
*Afterthought question for Paul: how long is an "asterisk"'s worth of music? Is it the entire length of the sample, or does the on-off grid cut it off at the note length? (I assume it's the latter.)
Update from Paul: "The asterisk is a half measure of music. So a half-note at whatever you have the tempo set to. "