CatSynth TV: Wicks Looper (with Korg Delay Monotron)

One of our CatSynth TV episodes this week featured a close-up demonstration of the Wicks Looper by Rarebeasts, a tiny musical instrument that can make beats, loops, and all sorts of noises.  We also added a Korg Delay Monotron for filtering and delay effects in the last portion of the demo.

The Wicks Looper is a fun instrument that I have used in several live performances, though less so lately.  Its audio jack is a bit fussy at times, but as long as I remember I know how to make it work reliably.  Both it and the Monotron should see more use again this year as I plan out new ideas for solo performances.  And we still love that cat logo that looks so much like our dear Luna.  But there is also a (non-black) Luna who lives with the human who created the instrument, a fact involved in our discovering it in the first place.

Rarebeasts has moved on to newer custom electronic instruments that are quite sculptural in nature.  You can see their work at their Etsy shop.

CatSynth Pic: “Mister Bluuuue Skiessss” (Korg VC10 Vocoder)

From Alsún Ní Chasaide‎ on the Facebook group Synthesizer Freaks.

Like I spent weeks restoring this & she can’t wait to get on it. If vocoders aren’t for sits, then why are they made of warm?

We at CatSynth had the opportunity to play with a Korg VC10 vocoder last year.  It is indeed made of warm, as are most analog vocoders 😸.  It also had a bit of the Korg grit that characterizes their vintage instruments, and best of all it allowed for external carrier signals (this is something I wish was easier to do on the Roland VP-03).

CatSynth Pic: Mister Kitty and RE-303

Our pal Mister Kitty returns to the pages of CatSynth with his new RE-303 bass synthesizer.

The RE-303 is a replica of the infamous Roland TB-303.  This one was assembled by Mister Kitty’s human, Prophei (aka Michael Dietel).  We at CatSynth approve of their choice of the black case. Oh, and it sounds great, too.

As a replica, the circuit board and CPU are compatible with the original TB-303, which suggests the parts can be used to refurbish vintage instruments in addition to building new ones. You can read a bit more in this Synthopia article from 2015.  Clearly, the statement about DIY kits turned out to be wrong, as evidenced by this article.  You can find out more about the RE-303 and kits here.

Meanwhile, we wonder what Mister Kitty may have in store for us next…

Farewell to 2017

2017 in review

Once again, it is time for our end-of-year collage and review. So many images to choose from in such a busy 2017 that took us in so many directions at once, both outward and inward.

At the end of 2016, I was still reeling from the loss of Luna and the election.  But I did welcome Sam Sam into my life and also promised myself that I would prosper and thrive in the new terrifying Trump era.  And we did, focusing on moving forward with the things from 2016 that did go well.  Lots of new music as a solo performer, with my new band CDP, and with Vacuum Tree Head.   There are now three CatSynth-branded apps for both iOS and Android, and a fourth on the way.  We launched CatSynth TV, with 22 videos under our belt since October.  And Sam Sam has blossomed into a sassy and thoroughly spoiled cat whom we love dearly.

If there is a word of caution on the personal and professional fronts, it is perhaps that 2017 was too much.  After a strong first half of the year through July, I scaled back on live performance to focus on other priorities.  I regret that, but it was also the reality of the many things going on.  I wish the apps, blog, and video channels were progressing faster, but it’s as fast as we can go with our myriad other responsibilities.  The last couple months, while still rich with experience, have been an exercise in paring back and trying to focus on the highest priorities; and also focus on health, self-care, and well being.  These are all very challenging, but I’m grateful to have the help of loved ones.

We cannot ignore the fact that our rebound in 2017 after two difficult years took place amidst a dark pall over the country and world.  Many friends have suffered amidst the monumental forces of hurricanes, flooding, fires, and human foolishness.  The latter is most visible in the face of the current regime that continues to embarrass and threaten us.  These are things we have to be vigilant about as we move in 2018.  I do feel personally in the cross-hairs on multiple fronts, so I hope we can continue to survive and prosper as well as we did in 2017, and maybe at the end of 2018 we will look back and saw how the world became at least a slightly better place.

It is also interesting to look back to our end-of-year post from 2007, ten years ago.  It was a dark, cold time amidst major life changes – I couldn’t have imagined then what life would be like now.  Will we feel the same way in 2027?  And will there still be a CatSynth then?  Only time will tell…