UnPopular Electronics (Robair + Djll), Lx Rudis, Franck Martin at Robotspeak

It’s been a little while since we last attended Church of Thee Super Serge at Robotspeak in San Francisco, but we made a point of going this past weekend.  For those who have not been there or read our past reviews, it’s an almost-ever-month show on a Saturday afternoon with live hardware-synthesizer performances.  As the name suggests, some acts do include Serge synthesizers, but it is not required, and a wide variety of instruments are used.  All three sets are featured in our most recent CatSynth TV episode.

The first set featured Lx Rudis performing on an Oberheim Xpander, a somewhat underappreciated instrument from the 1980s.

Lx Rudis on Oberheim Xpander

At its heart, the Xpander is a 6 voice analog synthesizer, but with a complex array of digital controls that can be programmed and applied independently to each voice.  Lx Rudis took full advantage of these, especially the LFOs and lag generators, to create subtle and minimal metric patterns.  He constantly moved voices in and out, configuring them on the fly, in a way that was very expressive and musical.  I particularly liked the sections which had staccato rhythmic textures against slowly moving timbres deliberately out of sync with one another.

Next up was Franck Martin, who performed a solo set on a modular synthesizer with several standalone instruments.

Franck Martin

Martin’s setup included a Moog Subharmonicon, which he built while attending Moogfest this year (we at CatSynth are a bit envious), as well as a DFAM (Drummer From Another Mother).  There were also additional voices provided by Braids and Plaits modules from Mutable Instruments that he could bring in and out using a touch-plate interface.  The result was a slowly changing beat pattern with an eerie inharmonic voicing and gentle undulation.

The final set featured our friends Gino Robair and Tom Djll teaming up as the brilliantly named Unpopular Electronics.

They had a wide variety of gear, including Serge panels in addition to Eurorack modules and standalone instruments from Bugbrand and others.  In addition, Gino had an interesting small case that included touchpads.

The music was frenetic and intense, an avalanche of pops and hits and loud cloudlike tone clusters.  And there were trumpet sounds entering into the mix at various points.  But there was an exquisite detail to the madness with changes among the different instruments and sounds, and musical pauses and rests before the pair dived back into the frenzy.  There were also many moments of humor and not just Djll’s book about why there aren’t any Zeppelin-style airships in the United States.

In between sets, it’s fun to browse around Robotspeak and see what’s for sale, or on display in the big glass case.

It’s also quite dangerous, as I am often tempted to leave with another module or instrument.  On this occasion, I exercised restraint, but probably not next time…

CatSynth Pic: Yoli and Moog Sub Phatty

Beautiful white cat Yoli is making a monophonic drone on a Moog Sub Phatty synthesizer.  From yolanda.yolanda.yolanda on Instagram.

The Sub Phatty is perhaps the most under-appreciated member of Moog’s Phatty line of synthesizers, which includes the popular Sub37.  We have one at CatSynth, and it has served us well both in the studio and in live performance. You can view my recent video on the hidden features of the instrument below.

It has been a frequent setting for CatSynth pics over the years featuring many different cats, including CatSynth Video: Moog Sub Phatty Purrs.

CatSynth Pic: Gracie, Moog, PPG Wave, and More

Gracie returns!  This time we see her testing out one of her Moog synthesizers (a Sub37 or Subsequent 37).  We also see a Korg vocoder below, and an Oberheim in the back.  In the background, we see a PPG Wave, a rare DK Synergy below it, and a few other synths that we leave as exercises to the reader.  Gracie always has such an impressive collection 😸

From Alsún Ní Chasaide via Facebook.

CatSynth Pic: Otto, Moog, and Keyboard

Some new pictures from our friend The Synth Witch, this time featuring Otto sitting atop a Moog Sub 37.

He certainly is a handsome fellow, and clearly knows it.

 

If you have a cat-and-music-gear picture you would like us to share, you can submit it via our Facebook page, tag #catsynth on Instagram, or tweet us @catsynth.

CatSynth Pic: Zook and Moog Sub 37 (and Yamaha CP4)

Today we have Zook posing next to a Moog Sub 37 synthesizer and atop a Yamaha CP4 stage piano.  Submitted by Scott Blasko via our Facebook page.

This is a beautiful photo, and the lighting and texture are incredible!  We can see Zook’s black fur, expression, and silhouette even against the dark background and the dark surface of the keyboard.  Well done!

New CatSynth TV: Hidden Sub Phatty

We have a brand-new CatSynth TV!  This one demonstrates a couple of the hidden features of the Moog Sub Phatty synthesizer.

In particular, we look at filter-topology selection and Oscillator 2 beat frequencies.  The filter selection makes the instrument much more powerful, moving between the extra crunchy 1 and 2-pole filters to the smooth 4-pole that is “quintessentially Moog”.  The beat frequency is a bit more esoteric – it maintains beating frequencies across different pitches, leading to some odd detunings in different registers.  But it can add a new timbral-metric component to compositions – something to explore in more depth.

We also look at the Editor/Librarian software from Moog, which is really handy for accessing these features as well as saving patches.

If you have not yet subscribed to our YouTube channel, please do so 😻

CatSynth Pic: Cat and Moog Sub 37

It seems like it is a week for Cats on Moogs, and in particular cats on Moog Sub 37.  From Drew Millar via the Facebook group Synthesizer Freaks – part of the same thread that included Monday’s Cat-on-Sub-37 photo.

CatSynth Pic: Moggie on the Moogie

Moggie on the Moogie

This “moggie” has found a nice warm resting place atop this Moog synthesizer.  From Campbell Dye via Facebook.

We’re pretty sure the Moog in question is a Subsequent 37 😺 [CORRECTION:  It’s just a “plain old Sub 37”.  They do look alike.]

Passover Synth Jam with the Matzoh Man

The Matzoh Man returns for Passover on CatSynth TV, this time accompanied by a Minimoog, Roland VP-03 vocoder and our trusty Nord Stage EX.

The Dayenu song is a tradition on Passover.  The word dayenu approximately translates to “it would have been sufficient” and is used as a phrase of gratitude for each of the miracles recounted in the Passover Hagaddah.

Chag Pesach Sameach!

CatSynth Pic: Carmen and Moog DFAM Again

Carmen returns with her Moog DFAM (Drummer from another Mother), courtesy of Julia More, aka The Synth Witch.  And yes, this is clearly her DFAM 😸

You can all of Carmen’s appearances on CatSynth via this link.