Molecular Exercises (new Bandcamp release)

Am pleased, and yet, humbled, to announce a new LP on Bandcamp: Molecular Exercises.
10 tracks, consisting of new material as well as extensive rearrangements of songs posted during my "free download" era. Tracks that had interesting beats (and little else) are mated with ones with mellifluous tunes (and little else) to make complete statements (until these seem incomplete).
This is my eighth release in 2014. Your support in the form of buying the LP or songs would be very encouraging, but all the material can be streamed.

Molecular Exercises - LP Liner Notes

Notes for the Molecular Exercises LP on Bandcamp. These are mostly tech jottings so I remember what I did. Any thoughts, questions, etc on the music itself are welcome at the email address on this about page -- the contact form on Bandcamp also works. This is new material as well as extensive rearrangements of songs posted during my "free download" era. Tracks that had interesting beats (and little else) are mated with ones with mellifluous tunes (and little else) to make complete statements (until these seem incomplete).

1. Electro Groupie 01:38

New arpeggiated tunes made with Native Instruments' FM8 synth are added to a beats-only track from 2009, consisting of 808 samples and "live" Vermona drum machine hits chugging along at 170 bpm. A sped-up version of a Sidstation tune, "C64 Stabhop," was added as a bridge-thing.

2. Aerobic Trumpets 02:58

A new intro using the Reaktor Aerobic synth/sequencer is added to an earlier tune "Trumpets" (also from '09) featuring e-piano and synthetic brass from Steinberg's Halion ROMpler.

3. Wandering and Squandering 01:43

Cubase has a new instrument, Loopmash, which is kind of plugin Ableton, adjusting the timing of various loops to a master track so you can mash stuff. This tune reconfigures a Rhodes-ish preset and then loopmashes some of my own material from earlier songs.

4. Aerobic 808 (Remix) 02:46

An Aerobic track gets a makeover. The synths are Loopmash (piano riff) and Linplug's Alpha synth with a midi echo insert for arpeggiation.

5. Slight Technical Difficulties 02:08

Percussion (an Aerobic riff with and without effects from Native Instruments' Guitar Rig) is added to a modular synth tune from 2013. I described the original as "another modular synth ditty, with an underlying intrusion of what the modular websites like to call 'FM madness.' The bass is the same pattern as the chime but with the Doepfer Quad ADSR syncopating it heavily."

6. Krolock's Dub 02:20

The Vermona drum synth with various digital percussion effects played using insert cables in the Vermona's individual drum channels. Two earlier tracks using this setup are played simultaneously, which causes the chord change near the beginning -- that's the bass from one of the tracks kicking in. The synth tunes are old (Reaktor Three Times -- the high pitched quasi vocal) and new (Native Instruments' Massive -- the clavinet-ish riff that runs throughout).

7. Skill Not Gamelan 02:26

A rearranged tune from 2012, with some delay effects. Here's how I described the original: "All sounds except the percussion were made with the modular synth, recording a few bars at a time and then overtracking them. (The percussion is from the Battery kit I made of samples from the Sidstation a while back.) These are my self-made patches, ranging from bassoon sounds to bells to 'fuzz bass.' Once the sound is nailed down, MIDI parts are played in Reaktor or Cubase that attempt to exploit the best of each patch. Results are unpredictable once the MIDI lines start getting added, which makes writing the parts fun. At this point many Eurorack-style modules are a mix of analog and digital sound generation. Most of the sounds here originated with a wavetable VCO, which uses digital waveforms. The bell-like sounds are analog, with some FM synthesis and filtering."

8. Odd Burbles (Sonic Ute Mix) 02:02

Two tunes from 2013, "Odd Burbles" and "Sonic Ute," are played simultaneously, creating some unplanned counterpoint. In both tunes, the Octatrack sequencer was used as a midi controller for my modular synth and also as a sampler and multitrack mixer of the sounds thus produced.

9. Pulsewidth Placeholder (Extended) 02:11

The beginning of this tune appeared on my previous release, Recombinant Youth, but sheared off into something completely different. This version sticks with the premise of the opening phrases. For the pad melodies I used Frame, a granular Reaktor instrument I'm really enjoying.

10. Biting Midges 02:00

This is the only older tune I'm presenting without alteration. Here's what I wrote in '09: "Furious scratching at beginning gives way to homage to a fave drum and bass melody from 1994. Some Linplug RMV snare and hat loops are used."

animated GIF history, part 3

Part Three of Paddy Johnson's "Brief History of Animated GIF Art" on Artnet discusses GIF projects on Tumblr.

Tumblr probably had more to do with animated GIFs becoming a "thing" (beyond their initial geek/underground appeal) than any other single factor. The platform had a large enough constituency of "creatives" (not just artists, as Johnson points out) to achieve a critical mass of interactions, and from there this gospel spread to the wider world of casual meme sharers.


A Tumblr-based art world, generally speaking, is defined a little more broadly than the art world defines itself. The dashboard removes context the way a Google image search does, so that may have something do with its democratic nature. Articles and lists about artists on Tumblr typically include artists with little to no connection to the art world—mathematicians, animators, computer programmers, etc—as well as artists who work the gallery and museum circuit.

Let's also add advertising art directors, fashionistas, musicians, and anyone else who sought to punch up a page with animated GIFs. Having all these non-self-identified-gallery-circuit-workers in the stew (making legitimate contributions) renders the would-be art historian's job next to impossible for the GIF phenomenon. An article like Johnson's is valuable because she was there, witnessing these sites as they came and went, and while her focus is Art she's not so dogmatic as to exclude other elements of the mix. While I have very little use for David Szakaly's geometric confections and prefer the more subtle manipulations on Stephanie Davidson's Rising Tensions blog, you can't very well cover Tumblr without mentioning Szakaly. I can also mostly not give a damn about GIFs taking a ride on popular movie clips (a la Three Frames) but that's also a factor a critic has to mention. There is a tradition of artists unpacking media clips, and Tumblr abounds with amateur and professional versions of that impulse.

One possible correction to Johnson's history: I believe Tumblr initially had a 500KB size limit for GIFs, not 1MB. I recall people complaining early on about the arbitrariness of Tumblr's GIF handling (some worked, some didn't).