28 September 2009

Come to E-live in Oirshot 17th of October!

My new 'OceanoGraphy' CD will be released during the 'E-live' electronic music festival in Oirschot (near Eindhoven, NL) on the 17th of October. I will have a stall there were my CD will be available for the first time. I probably won't see it myself before that. So you can be among the first persons to get it from me personally there. There are much more artists with stalls and also some very nice concerts so be sure to come! Tickets are still available at a discount when you pre-order (until 6th of October) and of course you can also buy the at the box office. I'm sure you will not be dissapointed by this festival. I was there as well the last two years and it is always great. I hope to see you there and meet in person. More information on the festival can be found here: http://e-live.groove.nl

27 September 2009

OceanoGraphy Mastering Done

Last night I did another listening session with my friend Hans in my studio to spot some final adjustments and today we finished the mastering of my upcoming 'OceanoGraphy' album in Ron's studio. Hans was present today as well. We only re-recorded one track in the end and decided that it was good now. After that we did the leveling of all the tracks on the CD. Now they all sound as loud as the other ones and after that we made three CD copies of the end result. During the next days we will all listen to this CD carefully and report anything we think. So it could be that some minor adjustments in levels still can be made, but the tracks are musically done, the sound of the project is final and we didn't hear anything strange anymore. So the end is really in sight now :) In the picture you see my copy of the CD and also my Sennheiser HD650 headphones that I used during these last weeks and my USB transport disk to get the large files from my studio to Ron's studio. Now I need to work more on the text of the booklet. Time is running out for that as well.

25 September 2009

Synthesizers used on OceanoGraphy

Usually after the CD is finished people start asking me what synthesizers I used and most of the time I have to say that I don't remember. Personally I don't think it is very important information since it is the end result that counts, but apparently for a lot of you it does matter. So I tried to remember a little harder this time and also could recollect some information from the notes that I kept with my project this time. So here is the list:

Moog Minimoog Model-D, Moog Voyager RME, Roland Jupiter 8, Elka Synthex, DSI Prophet '08, Alesis Andromeda, Roland SH-09, Roland SH-5, Access Virus TI Polar, Roland V-Synth GT, Korg M3, Clavia Nord Wave, Anywhere Instruments Semtex XL, Cwejman S1 MKII, Analogue Solutions Red Square and maybe some more that I don't remember. If I think of something more I'll add it to this list. Good luck spotting them on the album later on :)

First Oceanography Mastering Session

The last two days I was in the Studio of Ron Boots of Groove Unlimited. As said before he is remixing and mastering the CD for me. In terms of remixing we didn't do much. Only in two tracks a minor mix adjustment was done. Just 1dB of the bass line of one track and another dB of the kick drum of another track. Here you see an old picture of his mix desk and PMC speakers he uses to mix on. It was nice that this time it all sounded much better right away than when we mixed my previous album.

On the right is another old picture but it shows the mastering equipment that was uses on the tracks. The most important piece is a Drawmer multiband compressor. Ron does more magic with the sound but for the larger part I don't really know what happens in the technical sense but the sound really freshen up and gets more depth and detail. And that is a good thing of course. So are we done yet? No. Tonight I'm going to my friend Hans to listen to the result of mastering and then I can make some adjustments. After that I will do another final session with Ron to finalize the CD. I had a nice time with Ron those two days and I'm looking forward to finalizing this project. Just a few more days and then I can finally take some rest :)

22 September 2009

OceanoGraphy music is finished

I have finished the music for my new OceanoGraphy album by now. I surely hope you will like it later on, since I've put in an enormous amount of work. I'm now very busy with the last minor mix adjustments and I'm exporting all the tracks and buses from my Sonar projects to separate WAV files. I promised to explain a bit more on this process. Tomorrow I will go to Ron Boots from Groove Unlimited to do the first mastering session in his studio. He can load these WAV files into his software and run them through his dedicated mastering equipment from his mixer. Usually it is necessary to adjust the mix also a bit then since for example a multi-band compressor and tube compressor alter the sound a bit. Ron has been doing this for over 20 years and knows what he is doing. Sometimes he also applies a bit of extra EQ on the tracks to make the overal sound over the album more equal and the same goes for the level of the tracks. So Ron's job really is the make the album sound even more as a whole story. He did this also on my two other albums and I think he did a fine job on there. Oh and in the picture you can see how I was working the last months or so day and night.

18 September 2009

Working on OceanoGraphy Artwork and Text

Next to working on the music for the project I'm also working with my friend Bart on the design of the rest of the artwork. The cover was already done, but there is more work to be done for the booklet of the CD. We used the whale picture from the cover as much as possible. First of all I love and and next to that I have to pay royalties for it since it is a commercial photograph so I better use it as much as I can then ;) In the mean time I'm also working on the text of the booklet. I got Photoshop files now from Bart that I will sent to Kees from Groove Unlimited who will finally put my text in the booklet and send it to to company that produces the CD and the booklet. I hope it will look as good on print as it does on my screen. That is always a bit scary since RGB colors on a computer screen are a bit different than the CMYK colors a printer uses. I'll start putting some of the text on my website soon as well so that you know what the tracks are about.

By now all 12 tracks are ready in melody and arrangement. So the final track lengths are also known. You can see them in the picture on the right and also on my website now. The total CD length will be just over 70 minutes so there is a lot for you to listen to later on. Kees from Groove will also put some more text on these images, like copyright notices etc. But I still like the WWF logo on the back. I'll write some more about my relationship with the WWF in the text of the booklet as well. So there is lots to read as well later on :)
OK that is enough updates for today I guess. I better get back to work. The clock is ticking and time is really running out on me. Wish me luck :)

Modular DIY Preparation

After my album is released on the 17th I'll be continuing to finish my studio (yes I still have work to do) and I'll will start working on my DIY modular project again. I'm really looking forward to that, since I did a lot of stuff already but when I was just about to test some stuff the work on constructing the studio started and when that was finished I had to start on my album. So it has been a long time ago since I worked on that project. One of the things I noticed is that I didn't have enough light on my modular desk to solder properly so I bought this new lamp. It is a TL so it gives bright white light and I can adjust it to be just over my workspace. Also there is a magnifying glass on it to see what I'm doing when I have to do really small stuff.

I also ordered some stuff the last months that I also need for the big modular project. To start with I bought two power supply kits from MOTM. One has only +12V and -12V and the other one has +12V, -12V and also +5V. Some modules need this. I also ordered some power distribution boards for inside the cabinet. This way it is easy to get the power everywhere I need it. I thought there was more work to be done on the power supply kits, but it looks like it is only wiring it to the frontpanel components and fitting it on there.

In the picture on the left you can see the front panels that came with it. Just a switch and a power connector on there actually. I probably will need one or two more power supplies later on to power the whole modular, but for now I have enough to start with and I also still have the lab power supplies that I can use in addition. I'll start by testing the modular on the lab power supplies anyway since they are short circuit proof ;) Just in case something is wrong with the electronics I build. I just have to figure out a neat way to get power to the front of the units.

I also bought some other stuff. Here you see some new PCB's. I'm planning to build a MFOS sequencer and also a Klee sequencer from Electro-music.com. For the Klee sequencer I also got a front panel from Bride Chamber and hopefully they will have a front panel soon for the MFOS sequencer. From Elby Designs I ordered the front panel components for the ASM-2 I'm building. So I don't think I have to be bored the coming period :) Of course I'll update you with nice pictures (and hopefully some sounds) during the construction of all this nice equipment. As said before I can't wait to start working again on this. And hopefully relax a but during the process. I really need it!

Backing up OceanoGraphy

I still can't find much time to update you on here. But since my friend Hans is coming tonight for another session in my studio, I'm taking it easy today. I don't want to be tired and stressed when we even have to start working yet. I only have one week left before the mastering of the CD starts and I'm really starting to get stressed and tired now. In this period with no time for recovery anymore I'm always very careful with the data of my project. So I'm backup up a lot. The Cakewalk Project of the album is now already 41 Gbytes big and still growing since I keep adding stuff and start recording audio from tracks I played from synths with midi before. Here you can see my storage arrays. There are three Intel RAID-5 systems, one Conceptronic RAID-1 and a NetGear ReadyNAS NVX. The last one is new and now my main storage device, but I make backups on the other ones from there. I use them also for my work by the way, not only for my music. All the data is also on a RAID-1 system on my audio PC itself. So I don't take any risks here. Next week I'll start rendering the tracks and bus outputs of my project to WAV files to that Ron Boots from Groove Unlimited can remix and master them. I'll explain more about that process later on.

15 September 2009

Electronic Circus 2009 Report

Last weekend I visited the Electronic Circus festival in Bielefeld with my friend Hans. It was nice to get out for a few days in these stressy last days in the studio before the release of my album. We had a bit of trouble on the way there since an accident happened just in front of us on the highway and we had to wait until the road was cleared. We unfortunately missed the concert from fellow Dutch man Meesha that you see in the picture next to me. We heard it was very good. Well we had a stall next to each other so we talked a bit there.

Since I had this stall we didn't go in the concert hall much. Luckily you can also hear the music that is playing inside in this area. The atmosphere is great on this festival. Many musicians to talk to and nice music playing on stage. And luckily I also sold some CD's even :) We also went out to eat in a Turkish restaurant. The same place we went last year. It was so good then that we actually waited for a long time to get a table. But it was worth it again. In the picture you see a bit of the area where all the stand are, but there is much more.

I think this is the nice thing about this festival. You can listen to music all day and actually listen to music. Here you see me talking to Frank Gerben one of the organizers. I think they did a great job again and if they organize another festival next year I will surely go, and so should you ;) Well thanks to everyone for a great time and also a special thanks to Thomas Wilberg Photography for the pictures. For more information on the festival visit the website ->

The next festival I'll be attending will be the E-live festival on the 17th of October where my new CD will be released. So you can get it there directly from me if you like. For more information on that festival visit -> http://e-live.groove.nl/

10 September 2009

Culture Vulture on Lead Sound

Last week I was tired of sitting it the studio and needed to go out. So I took the car for a ride and eventually visited I4 Muzique in Eindhoven. That is one of the two shops that I buy my equipment from in The Netherlands. I just also went there to see what was new. But not much on that side. But one of the things I spotted was this Culture Vulture which is a very cool tube distortion. It can be very hard but it can also be very subtle. One of my musical friends Bart has one of these and he had some very neat stuff coming from it. So I asked if I could try it out, and they agreed.

And then last week I was working on a lead for one of the tracks of my new album and I couldn't get it right in the mix. I decided to put a tube distortion plugin on it and it work, but not exactly like I wanted to. And the I decided to hook up the Culture Vulture. I put a very ingenious device under it as you can see to tilt it up a bit ;) That way I could look on the VU meters a bit better. Man this thing is very touchy, but when I got it setup right it was worth it all the way. What a nice piece of equipment. It makes almost everything sound better that you run through it :) So I must add this one to my wish list I'm afraid. But the lead sound is going to be recorded with Culture Vulture for sure :) So you will hear it on the album later on.

09 September 2009

Leak repaired (Again?) Hopefully

Yesterday our constructor came by to demolish our wall again. This time he exposed more are around the leak so that there was more room for a decent repair. We are very afraid that last time it just wasn't enough to completely fix it. I was a bit scared this afternoon because they did remove the old repair but the guy that was going to repair the waterproof materiaal didn't arrive yet and it started to rain a bit. But luckily it was only a few drops. And on the end of the afternoon this guy arrived. Here you can see him burning to surface clean that he needs to put on the repair.

In the picture on the right you can clearly see that a much bigger patch was put over the leak this time. The guy that repaired it was very careful to put enough heat on it but not to burn the house. Last time he thought he was to careful not to overheat. Behind the wall is isolation material that can catch fire very easily so this time he also brought a fire extinguisher :) Well luckily our house didn't burn down ;) We will leave the hole open now longer to wait for a couple of rain showers before we close the wall again. Just to be sure it doesn't leak again.

I made a final close-up shot of the repair. You can clearly see now that the material has melted good around the edges. Last time I didn't see this happening actually. So I'm quite confident now that no water can go in there at all. And when we have another leak maybe we should look in another spot I guess. Well I hope that is not necessary and that we can keep our feet (and equipment) dry from now on. If something changes I'll let you know for sure. Now back to some other stuff again :) I'm done with this.

08 September 2009

Remote Recording with Tranzport

As you know I have lots of synthesizers and even though they are all midi connected to my PC and I can play on them from my master midi keyboard on some synthesizer it is just nicer to play on it directly, because of the expression you can give on them with the controls on the synthesizer itself. But then you are not near your PC to start recording. For that I use this little gizmo. It is called a Frontier Tranzport and it is a wireless DAW controller. You can use it anywhere in the studio to start/stop recording arm, solo and mute tracks en there is also an undo button on there. You can can record the solo remotely and when you are not happy just undo and record again. You can even see VU meters on the display for your track level, the name and some parameters so it is two way communication. My friend Hanz told me that they are going to stop producing this thing so I would say get one before it is too late. It is not very expensive and I couldn't work without it.

In this picture you can see how small it actually is. You can littelary put it on top of almost any synthesizer. On the other side is a wireless transmitter that you can just plug into your PC and the drivers are the most stable ones I have ever encountered. There is support for a lot of software. It works perfectly with Sonar at least. In the picture you see the V-Synth GT on top. I used this synthesizer to play some of the leads on the new album. So you will hear this on back for sure :) Look on this page when you are interested in the Tranzport:


06 September 2009

UPS in the Server Room works!

I told you yesterday that I had a small power outage. I was actually recording for my new album at that precise moment. And even though the lights went out my equipment didn't. Recently I put the whole studio behind a bigger UPS. It is a 6 KVA and can deliver power enough to keep the whole studio running for about half an hour when the power fails. And that gives me enough time to finish an ongoing recording, safely save my files and shut everything down correctly when it lasts longer. And yesterday it proved to work. The 6 KVA unit are the two bigger ones stacked together in the rack in the picture. The lower is the battery pack and the upper the intelligence. Below that you see another UPS that feeds the rack itself. Another neat thing about the big Tripplite is that it is an online UPS. So it produces a clean new power for my studio. A newly generated sinus wave without any noise from the outside power grid and also I put the Voltage down to 220 Volts in stead of 230-240 Volts we have nowadays since I have a lot of old equipment that is from the 70's that could be damaged or its lifespan shortened with a higher power.

05 September 2009

Studio Leak

Last night I was working with my friend Hans on some track for my upcoming album. Suddenly Hans heard a sound he couldn't place in the song. We stopped the song and we still heard it. We found the source quickly. Unfortunately it was water dripping from the ceiling on the floor :( I had a leak before in the server room but that was repair so this looked like a new leak. But the first thing we did was get some material to catch the water. Luckily is was only over the carpet just in front of the modular desk in the back of my studio. So no equipment was wet.

At first the water appeared to be coming from this whole. It is a ventilation channel where air is being pumped out of the room. But when we removed the cover that is over it normally we saw the water was coming from just next to the hole and later we found also that on the places water was dripping straight from the ceiling. We decided to stop working because I was quite pissed of at the moment actually and couldn't concentrate anymore. I had a bad night sleep as well since I went down stairs a couple of time to check what the status was. But it kept dripping all night.

I looked in the server room as well and found that there were also some drops of water coming from the hole that caused the leakage last time. So I immediately concluded that the repairs that have been done last time we had a leak were not sufficient. I called the constructor this morning and told him the bad news. They will come by next week to tear down the wall again :( I hope that until then it stays a bit dry. I can't go anywhere now when I know it is going to rain, because we have seen before that the water comes out on different places every time. And I need to take precautions where something happens. This afternoon I also had an unexpected power fail downstairs. So I'm afraid some water hit some electric wiring :( I hope this gets solved quickly.