It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like F&#% This
Volume 9: November 25, 2021
Now I like openin' doors
Pickin' up (Yeah) her hanky off the floor
Treat her like a lady
Light her cigarette if she smokes
Even help her with her coat
Treat her like a lady
Compliment her on her hair
Even help her with her chair
Treat her like a lady
She's a bad son-of-a-gun
I'm her lovin' Don Juan
Treat her like a lady
The Temptations Treat Her Like a Lady (1984).
Today in America, we celebrate Thanksgiving.
And with the exception of our revisionist history, and need to delete paragraphs of Critical Race Theory and why Thanksgiving may not be the day we honor except in only the most delusional way. Even in the most optimistic days, it's when we can expect our racist grandmothers to spout diatribes about the date we choose...ironically because we knew it would elicit responses. We see the cousin that we see only when the parole board allows travel over state lines will tell us why the government doesn't work. The relative that was once married to another relative but now not technically a part of the family structure anymore only there to speak ill of the relative that we DO have clear bloodlines to, who choose not to dine with us knowing she was going to guilt us into inviting. And that drunken uncle that likes to corner you and tell you how much you've developed and let me touch, albeit grope, your bicep, and oh yeah, you are going to be a fine man someday, and you can come and visit and stay any time.
Oh no, we have absolutely no need for Critical Race Theory because we already have Revisionist Family Theory that we have to account for and remember the rules for specific gatherings and note what has been redacted from our localized collective familial history. Besides, who needs to speak about the greater travesties of Thanksgiving when we have Christina Explains It All. Apologies in advance if "this video is not available in your locale."
Beyond the misery of relatives and martyrdom of turkeys, today marks the start of the season of Mariah Carey, as well as the horrors of the prog-metal Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
It is no wonder that even in the most neuro-typical person, seasonal depression has an onslaught that can be identified as originating on this date and not subsiding until February 15 of the following year. For the rest, please...double our Prozac.
I'm not one to pile on the hate of Ms. Carey; she is a fine artist and a bit of a diva, but who wouldn't be when you are the Queen of Christmas. Honestly, that outranks Mrs. Claus in the scheme of things and one or two steps below Baby Jesus. No, the hatred comes from the overly manicured personae and the constant barrage of her same three Christmas tunes that will blare out at every Target in America for the next 30 days, her appearances on Good Morning America, and the take over of local radio stations that have inexplicitly decided that the public has a desire to play All I Want For Christmas Is To Punch The Lazy Program Director In The Face. Grammarly has informed me that this is a "run-on sentence" and "hard-to-read."
In the end, it is what the public wants. A beloved artist to pillory for being popular and confident. And again, with a well-manicured facade that her former studio label husband curated to the point of ridicule when Ms. Carey fought to be more than just this. In 1995, she wrote, recorded, and produced a "goth grunge" album that focused on the types of music she loved. Knowing the studio would never release if she were the lead singer, requiring her to beg a friend to do the frontwoman parts while Carey focused on the songwriting and backing vocals.
Honesty, I want to know more about this side of Mariah and less about the commercialized parts of her.
And this brings us to the other musical portion of the season I look to with disgust — the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Originally a prog band that wasn't happy about just taking the fun out of metal, they wanted to reach for the soccer moms that Ms. Carey had taken as their own. Savatage, and can we say this together -- SAVATAGE -- decided to branch out into the Christmas scene. It was as if Kenny G f**ked Dream Theatre under the bleachers at a Pink Floyd planetarium show, and someone commemorated it with a Hallmark Movie.
(For the record, the ONLY Hallmark movie worth watching is Melissa Joan Hart in Holidays in Handcuffs).
The truth be told, Hallmark sponsored the original tour and probably many more after this. Formed in 1995, the group now covers the entirety of North America, with shows playing in almost every major city for a 30-day run. The claim is there are only two' bands,' but we know that, like Santa, it would be impossible to blanket the world all by himself. My publisher, Zampino Il Gato, assured me that while there is a 'west coast' and an 'east coast' band, hundreds of other helper bands are staffed by parents whose children are too old to believe anymore. We disagree on musical tastes, but you can't argue with his knowledge of all the music that matters -- progressive rock and progressive metal. I believe him, and so should you. For me, I look at prog-metal the way Hank Hill looks at Christian rock. Oh yeah, and skip the next 40 seconds as you watch this next clip as the rawkin' doesn't start until then.
So, of all the things you have to look forward to this next month, a raging pandemic, a sleepy President that now makes us wonder if the last one's coke addiction made sense, a divided nation, a divided planet, Mariah Carey and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
So yeah, it's beginning to look a lot like f**k this...
On the Toobs
One of the most joyous Youtube channels I've 'discovered' in the last year was that our friend and partner in a former incarnation of Sonikmatter, C.K. Haun's channel. As of this date, he only has 70 subscribers to his channel, and I hope to change this.
Over the course of his videos, you can watch as he builds a Eurorack synth from the modular power supply, to individual effects, sequencers, and different sound sources. Other videos focus on just the art of soldering as he puts together ebay'd kits. While not a 'teaching' channel, I've learned a lot just by watching him put even the simplest of practice kits together.
The latest video was released yesterday and focuses on a Dual Mini Synth from Division-6.
In all honesty, his videos have been the source of building my own modular synth, with parts arriving weekly, awaiting time to put them together. I am currently waiting on 2.5mm nuts to hold the few rackable pieces I own into the vector rails that will form the internal structure of my kit.
'Grams I'm Watching
Drew Schlesinger has been documenting synthesis and had posted on the book of faces that he was looking for subscribers to his page. And I am glad that he did as it is a one-stop shop for learning just a LITTLE MORE about all the topics we love. Nerdy synths and the nerdy nerds that love to nerd out on them.
Me? My gram is just Legos and Puppy Dogs and Bad Selfies. Only a fool would subscribe to mine.
Apps I'm Digging
Moog has just released an update to their Animoog iOS application, currently titled Dragonball...no that isn't right...Animoog-Z. It is a unique waveshaping synth that sounds incredible and one of the few I prefer playing directly from a touch screen.
In a surprise move, they made this a Mac OS app as well that works wonderfully as an AudioUnit that you can use in the sequencer of your choice as both a soundsource as well an fx module.
While the app works great on the iPad, on the Mac? The interface looks a bit off. Moog tries far too hard to capture the touchscreen on an interface that can't be touched except via mouse. Or MIDI. And yet, it fixes the #1 complaint I've had with this from day one -- the ability to run it on my computer without connecting a USB hub to my iPad, connecting a device compliant MIDI interface, an audio interface that wasn't simply headphone outs, and hoping that I have enough juice to run everything and the iPad not die halfway through recording. Yes, Grammarly, I know. Another long run-on sentence. C'mon, you know I only proof as I write, and if I don't do it now, I will never post this!
But yes, the interface looks...bad...on a computer.
And beyond this, it feels like a step backward from the previous incarnation in many ways. Hell, I hate the new icon. The keys feel a little less polished, and even the Model-15 App has the old-style keys. The 'Orb' window has moved into the world of 3D, looking as if we've moved from Tempest to Battlezone.
And honestly, this was all I was looking for in the upgrade. I haven't even explored much more than that. Patches from the old Animoog have to be imported and reprogramming some ideas that I have had since the original.
Currently priced at $6.99 and slated to go up after Black Friday, this is a must buy if you are on the Mac or have an iPad. No upgrade pricing from the previous version, of which I paid $19.99 for the base and probably as much in soundware to go along with it. New patches are around $4.99 for each soundbank, and the last had invited several different artists over its 10-year run. I can only expect the same from this over the next decade of Animoog-Z.
Animoog Z is an evolution of Moog's award-winning software synthesizer for iOS, Animoog. At the heart of Animoog is the Anisotropic Synthesis Engine (ASE), a multidimensional take on wavetable and vector synthesis. Accompanying ASE is a beautiful and dynamic visual representation of each ASE voice, with glowing Comets orbiting around a Path that can be animated during live performance. Combined with classic elements of Moog subtractive synthesis – like Envelopes, LFOs, Filters, and effects - Animoog established a brand new paradigm of advanced and intuitive synthesis.
In honor of the 10th anniversary of Animoog, we're proud to present Animoog Z. Animoog Z retains the sound and functionality of the original Animoog (indeed, it is even compatible with original Animoog presets), while expanding nearly every feature and adding new ones. From the added Z dimension and the three-dimensional Wave Cube display, to advanced Envelope/LFO controls, to the extended Mod Matrix and new Effects, to macOS and AUv3/AUv2/VST3 compatibility, Animoog Z truly adds a new dimension to the Anisotropic Synthesis Experience.
Sonikmatter: Mind + Music + Technology
I have edited the tagline of this publication to "An Occasional Newsletter," as I know myself. While I have big plans to write an article each week, it just never happens. I have piles of drafts that I never finished more than a few hundred words and walked away. Over the last few months, I have backed away from several projects and focused on my mental health. And I believe it is working. This is honestly the first time in years that I've gone into the end of November without seeing a dark spot on the horizon that I can't take my eyes off of regardless of how I try to look away.
I've had a few setbacks -- I'm writing this on a 12-year old Macbook as my main machine has died on me. That was a little problematic, but with the new Mac Book with the M1 Pro out and tax return season coming up, I may be writing more. In the past, minor setbacks like this would be traumatic, as is the case with depression. But this year, I am optimistic.
I am hoping for the best for you and yours. Thank you for reading — ccm
Sonikmatter is an occasional newsletter and barely fact-checked with a focus on Mind + Music + Technology...and whatever I feel it should be each time I hit publish.