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Archive for March, 2009

The Waterphone

waterphone.jpgIn the early 1970s a percussionist friend showed me a Waterphone, a hauntingly beautiful percussion instrument invented a few years earlier by Richard Waters that also happens to hold water. You play it with a bow, mallets, your hands, or in any manner that comes to mind. Custom crafted Waterphones can be purchased for upwards of $1,000 from Waters’ Web site. If your budget is not quite up to the real thing, you can get a huge, 4.3 GB, meticulously sampled version for Native Instruments Kontakt 2.2.4 or later from Tonehammer for $99. Both Web sites are worth a visit to see their pictures, videos, and audio examples of the Waterphone in action.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Len Sasso |

Richard Shulberg and the Secret Museum

My Dearest friend and musical enabler, Richie Shulberg, AKA Citizen Kafka swooped this sphere on Saturday afternoon, March 14th, 2009. For those who didn’t know him, Richie was the leader and the brilliant, chaotic brain behind the Wretched Refuse String Band, whose odd mixture of influences included bluegrass, old-time string-band music, electronica, traditional jazz, bebop, and free jazz, Lord Buckley, Slim Gaillard, and Ernie Kovacs.
Shulberg’s contributions extend well beyond Wretched Refuse. Along with musician Pat Conte, Shulberg produced “The Secret Museum of Mankind?, an eclectic, brilliant, and ear-opening collection of music from around the globe; the project clearly embodies Richie’s (and Pat’s) madcap eclecticism.

Radio Station WFMU hosts an archive of Shulberg and Conte’s radio shows, showcasing such themes as diphonic singing, Country music of Puerto Rico, and post-war African guitar, all culled from their collections of 78-rpm discs. You can listen to these and many more musical mindbenders here. Rest in Peace or Give ‘em Hell, Richie!

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Free Live Fodder from Puremagnetik

Puremagnetik Artist KitsPuremagnetik, purveyor of numerous instrument and clip libraries for Ableton Live, Native Instruments Kontakt, Apple Logic, and occasional other formats, has just introduced a new series of free downloads for Ableton Live. The Artist Kits series features Micropaks contributed by Puremagnetik artists. These serve to highlight the artist’s work, provide fresh material for Live users, and, of course, draw your attention to Puremagnetik’s other offerings.

Current selections feature artists Gregory Shiff, Eligah B Torn, Kamoni (Puremagnetik founder Micah Frank), Neon Stereo, and winners of Puremagnetik’s recent Selector contest. Drum Racks weigh in heavily including a variety of bent-circuit kits. You’ll also find an extensive collection of Effects Racks and dozens of MIDI clips for playing the Instrument and Drum Racks.

I can think of few better or cheaper ways to blow a Sunday afternoon.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Len Sasso |

Richard Thompson in Concert

In all the years I’ve been attending concerts, I could count the number of flawless performances I’ve seen on one hand. Happily, I saw one of them Saturday night, when Richard Thompson appeared at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte. An original member of British folk-rock outfit Fairport Convention, Thompson has carved a reputation for himself as one of the world’s finest singer/songwriters, and Rolling Stone named him one of the top 20 guitarists of all time.

Thompson tours in two different formats, either with or without other musicians. Saturday night’s show was a solo concert, and the McGlohon’s superior acoustics and intimate environment served the audience well. I’ve never seen a musician captivate his audience so effectively with not only his music, but his wit and charm as well. A raised eyebrow, a sideways glance, or a sarcastic quip were all he needed to punctuate his songs and get his point across.
Richard Thompson, March 7, 2009

Standout songs included “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me,? a tribute to the tribulations of a foot soldier fighting in Iraq; “Hots for the Smarts,? hilariously praising the smoldering sexuality of brainy women; and “Crawl Back (Under My Stone),? a bitter tale of rejection and heartbreak. His playing was spectacular and emotionally moving. It’s been years since I’ve gotten so excited watching someone play a guitar solo (and that was Daniel Lanois playing at the Orange Peel in Asheville). Steve Howe, Mark Knopfler, and Jimmy Page have nothing on Thompson’s acoustic chops. Although he switches between electric and acoustic when playing with his band, for his solo appearances, he plays a Lowden L27FC acoustic guitar with a Sunrise pickup, processed through an array of stompboxes—in particular, a Uni-Vibe Leslie effect he uses to thicken his sound.

Thompson’s current tour has only a few dates left this month, in southern cities that include Knoxville, Orlando, and New Orleans. He returns to the American road in June, and then it’s back to the U.K. for additional appearances. If you have the opportunity to see him perform, you won’t want to miss it. (Photo courtesy of Diann Krewson)

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Related Topics: Emusician, Geary Yelton |

Gleetchlab 3.0 Just Released

gleetchlab3.jpgIf you liked Gleetchlab 2.3 (EM’s June 2008 Download of the Month), you’ll love Giorgio Sancristoforo’s Gleetclab 3. It’s no longer donationware—it’ll set you back about ten bucks—but it’s more powerful, more glitchy, and more fun than ever.

The developer notes, “I have changed many things, without betraying the original formula that made of GLEETCHLAB, a popular software among IDM musicians and sound engineers.” Notable changes include temporary store and recall of parameter settings, quad mixing, MIDI control, new built-in processors, and VST effects plug-in support.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Len Sasso |

Tim Conrardy

Tim Conrardy passed away suddenly on February 28th.

He was among my very favorite sound designers; I always looked forward to his work. His genius shines through Camel Audio Alchemy and Cameleon, His very own AlgoMusic synthesizers, M42 Nebula and M51 Galaxy; Greenoak Crystal, and many others.

I felt very honored to have a few brief email conversations with Tim, in which I had a chance to express my admiration and talk a bit of shop. He was a hell of a good guy, too.

You can find more about Tim, hear some examples of his sounds and music, and follow a link to express your condolences here.

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About

The Bus, EM's editorial blog, features posts from all the EM editors on topics related to gear, recording techniques and much more. It's also home to posts from a selected group of guest bloggers.

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