Other Music we Like!

::: 808, 303, 909 on the BBC :::

The BBC just did a great program on the use of Roland 808, 303, and 909 machines in he history of rap and electronic music. :::

Excerpt : "Listened to much hip-hop or dance music? If so, then you would have undoubtedly heard the sounds of either the Roland 808, 303 or 909 - but what are they and what do these numbers mean? BBC Radio 1's Kutski discovers how three small electronic boxes from the 1980's sculpted the sound of both Hip-Hop and Dance music. He makes it his mission to track down the team that worked on the Roland 808, 303 and 909 machines to see if they had any idea their inventions would have such a massive influence on contemporary music. He plots their integral role in the development of hip-hop, house and techno; and the myriad of sub-genres that have spawned from these. Kutski chats to DJ Premier, Richie Hawtin, Seth Troxler, The 2Bears, Flostradamus and Pete Tong amongst others as he founds out why producers around the globe continue to be obsessed with these sounds, more than three decades after they were first created"


Here's the page link, but the program is no longer available for streaming.

808s, 303s and 909s

BUT, Someone captured it and put it to the synth list so here it is:

BBC Radio 1's Stories 808s, 303s and 909s 11-03-13


::: $1000 Caviar and Criminal Cigars :::

A friend of mine did a remix album of several Mat Maneri jazz records.  The music is simultaneously jazzy classy post Aphex Twin glitchy.  It makes for a stimulating listen. He uses a Kurzweil K2000, Access Virus and lot's of LoFi bit reduction software in the remix!

Side note: Those old Kurzweil samplers are something else, they have an internal synthesis engine called V.A.S.T. synthesis.  Great modulation sources and great overall sound.  The internal processing sounds very hifi and the sampler version came with 2 analog inputs, 4 analog outs,  and 2 digital ins /outs.


::: Simmons SDS-V of the Future :::

I've promised these and so fresh for 2013 here they are!  Extensive photos of the inner life and workings of a Simmons SDS-V with the MFB SEQ-01 sequencer built in. But first, a little background.

Simmons electronic drums were developed by Richard James Burgess and Dave Simmons.  Burgess' idea was to make a fully electronic drumset that could be played  by a real drummer or a sequencer.  He pioneered this idea while working on the first Landscape album From the Tea-Rooms of Mars... To the Hell-Holes of Uranus ( a great soundtrack styled listen BTW ).  In 1981 he produced the Spandau Ballet hit, "Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)".  It was the first breakthrough hit with a real drummer playing the now famous hexagonal pads and the first production Simmons SDS-V brain.

They offered a Kick drum, Snare drum, Toms, and even High Hats and Cymbal modules although the Cymbal and HH ones are super rare.  Seven of any combination could be housed in one brain and triggered via octagonal pad, sequencer, and even acoustic triggers attached to drums.  There was even an open/closed HH pedal input to trigger 2 different variations from the HH module.  You could program your own sounds via the front panel of each module with full controls for 3 presets on the front and one 'factory' set inside that are all adjustable.  The Brain did double duty of allowing trigger inputs while offering basic mixing of the internal sounds via a stereo and mono output ( with individual out as well ).  These brains quickly became cult like in their status and were used in everything from jazz bands by Bill Bruford to rock groups like Def Leppard ( by the one armed Rick Allen ) and of course funk and dance groups like Prince.



And i never get bored of this song:



I had picked up an SDS-V brain with a Kick, Snare, and 3 Tom modules.  But there was those two empty slots at the end... hmmmm... Then it occurred to me, What if i turn this Brain into a full DRUM MACHINE!!! Lo an behold, a few Googles later yielded my plan of attack.  I could fit a modern modular sequencer into this old brain and make an instrument of the future past! There's some technical hurdles to surmount in adding a sequencer to the SDS-V brain.

1, The MFB SEQ-01 is designed to work in a modular synth case.  the SDS-V case is of equivalent hight but the mounting holes are not lined up. So, more accurately, the MFB fits vertically and horizontally but the mounting holes don't line up.  To avoid damaging the original mounting setup i opted to temporarily put  washers over the adjacent screws to hold the sequencer in.

2, The MFB SEQ-01 needs to be routed to the trigger or sequencer inputs on the SDS-V cards. I had a few options here.  One was to connect the sequencer outs to the Simmons' native sequencer inputs.  The other was to hook it up to the trigger or pad inputs.  I opted to use the trigger inputs ( counter intuitive, i know! ) because this gave me a gain adjustment on the face plate of the brain for each trigger from the sequencer to the drum module.  The SDS-V drum modules are very dynamic and it's useful to be able to hit them with sequencer trigger more or less to taste.

3, Lastly, The MFB SEQ-01 needs to be powered and it runs at a different voltage than the SDS-V. I had MFB modify the Seq-01 to run on 15 volts in the SDS.  Then i connected the power from the +/-15 volt rail in the Brain to the power input on the MFB edge connector.  Pretty straight forward!



Photos by J-poo.


Future plans for the SDS-V:

1, So, there's one quirk in the Simmons SDS-V design i'd like to point out.  The audio outs are wired pin 3 hot.  This is the XLR wiring convention used by many old British companies and it's the opposite of the US convention of pin 2 hot.  Reversing this would be great to more easily interface with other equipment.

2, I'd eventually like to disconnect the back panel sequencer jacks from the SDS-V modules and instead wire them to the MFB SEQ-01 outputs.  This way the sequencer outs  could be used to drive more than just the Simmons modules.  there's actually 12 sequencer slots and the Simmons SDSV can only hold 5 cards with the sequencer installed. Maybe someday!



Simmons SDSV with MFB SEQ-01

Simmons SDS-V - Wikipedia

Simmons Synth

::: IF :::

::: Computer World ::: Computer Love :::

I (james) being one of 3 members to post on this blog have a problem. The problem consists of listening to suggested music and treating it with the same respect as the music I already love. Respect is probably not the best word choice, but the point remains the same. I love what I love and anything that comes into my field of hearing usually ends up being scrutinized too heavily and never given the chance it deserves.

Kraftwerk managed to bob and weave their way past the Wilco, Stereo Lab, Talking Heads, fortress and plant themselves into an unexpected place apparently reserved for them already. Computer World is the first record I had a chance to sit down with. I love it. It has all the things that make me feel as though I should be on a highway driving towards some unknown destination. Ambient electronic pop, whatever description you apply it's great. There are people who can describe them much better than I (Nick Z, XBS Blog master) but that wasn't really the purpose of this post (sorry, feeling lazy). More than anything it's a suggestion to go out and give them a listen. They are assuredly not for everyone, but if you've never listened than it's well worth it. "Computer Love" is one of my favorite tracks. If it sounds oddly familiar there's a reason. Listen and find out.

::: I Feel So Logical :::

Well, it's early but i may have found my personal fave ' album of the year ' already! and it's only february!

these guys are great ( the first album is anyway )...

They do for Doris Norton what Kraftwerk did for Germany.  taking all the robot angularity, quirk, and synth pomp and focusing it into a perfectly honed  soundtrack to my life.


This album was produced by Hideki Matsutake.  He was a computer programmer and considered the '4th Beatle' for YMO ( Yellow Magic Orchestra ) in the 70's - 80's.

Hideki Matsutake

Yellow Magic Orchestra




this track is another fine example of Kraftwerkian quirktopia





::: IF :::

::: I Are Dream Robotic :::

I don't know a lot about these peeps.  They are awesomely cut from the same material that Attitude and other robot funk music between 1980-1983 were cut.

::: At I Tudinal ::::

They are more difficult to research than most.  With a name like Gift Of Dreams there's no easy way to google them!

Band : Gift Of Dreams

LP : Mandroid

::: this one holds down the italo line fantastically :::








love the arpeggios!!  it's sooooo italo...

::: and this song is so funky! :::








::: IF :::

::: Thanks Don :::

I know we've mentioned Don Cornelius before:

He was a visionary dude who brought a lot of great music to a higher place.  From the dance moves and 70's soul of James Brown and Marvin Gaye to the amazing crossover into elecro and funk that was S.O.L.A.R. records.  Don Cornelius and Soul Train did MTV first.

SOLAR Records

Soul Train maker 'kills himself'

We've been meaning to do more so lets have one more awesome track from our fave time period :::






C U In Outta Space DON !!!!

::: I.F.:::

::: Primary Color Thangz :::

XBS Loves this record. Its one of those one-dollar-freebee-practically-brand-new-vinyl delights that only the old record store can offer. The Deele : Material Thangz . Album : Material Thangz . 1985 Produced By Antonio " L.A." Reid . Associate Producer : Kenneth " Babyface " Edmonds

On another note this was originally issued on SOLAR records, that's Sound of Los Angeles Records. SOLAR was founded by Soul Train's Dick Griffey and Don Cornelius and was responsible for acts like: DynastyLakesideMidnight StarKlymaxxCallowayThe Deele, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.


XBS is so infatuated with the 80's urban territory sometimes that we even get worried!  It's finding great electronic sounds in a catchy, fun, and well put together package that we love.  The records from back then come off of the turntable like an explosion.  Love the Simmons, Love the Bar Kays style breaks and Love the outfits.  So Crayola, so Future Shock, and SO Androgynous!

Also sprinkled with those great funky Prince-isms evident in all electro funk of the 1980-1985 time period.

::: IF :::

::: It's Passion :::

XBS loves getting new Vinyl.  Especially if its really old and was never played!  We just scored an original Mirage Records copy of It's Passion by The System  for one dollar and it RULES!  This reminded me that there have been no XBS posts on The System yet.  It's a travesty!!  XBS will do more we promise!  XBS will post that performance from MIAMI VICE at some point as well...

XBS owes a lot of art time inspiration to this band.  More than making some fun jams back in the day, they also inspired our love of Oberheim and the pre midi sequencing capabilities of  'The System'.

So, The DSX is the sequencer and it can control a DX or DMX drum machine and one Oberheim poly at the same time.  It can do 10 tracks of polyphonic ( 16 voices ) to an OB X, Xa, SX, or 8  via 'computer interface' and 8 CV / Gates on the back panel for mono synths simultaneously ( US scaling and polarity ( invertible! )).  It could record up to 6000 notes, record patch and controller type changes on a dedicated data track, and do real time transposition and track track muting!

So much fun!

Our OB-8 has midi so the DSX can actually control anything in the studio!  We upgraded the brains with some help from, you guessed it, Paul at Electron Gate!




We've been saving that dry hump macintosh gif for ever, now it has a raison d'etre...

Here's an awesome jam from the first System record. Note they have a PPG in the video for no reason i can guess other than they are dancing in space!!!:


David Frank  is a Special and Visionary dude.  Thanks dude!

::: IF :::

::: Peace be a Computer :::

Well, XBS can't wash the Doris Norton out of our brain.  It started with  Artificial Intelligence,  That Meth Tetris love child of a Casio SK-1 and an Apple II. It's just litered with dog bark samples, Roland J-106 arpeggios, time code leaks, and Sysex tape dumps.  Doris Norton is what XBS describes as a great Litmus Test artist.  People either love it or hate it.  And both for all the right reasons!  ;-D This track has been a fave of mine this fall and it seems to not be leaving rotation any time soon!


::: Love the vocoder. Love the crazy future NOW! :::

::: Survivin' In The ( Insert Decade Here )'s :::

Well, another secret obsession of late has been Andre Cymone.  Original member of the Prince clan and electro solo artist.

I love how all the Prince protege people have that certain "je ne sais quoi" that sounds like Prince just lived at the studio and made everyones record better with magical pancake dust or some shizzz...

::: LOVE IT :::


Submitted for reference XBS also includes a little background info:

An Andre Cymone interview:


Pancake Dust:



::: IF :::

::: Operation P-5 Style :::

XBS lovz this jam!  It's so good at being a crossover between the robot funk and well, ROBOT FUNK!!! I kid though, the 4 Sequential Circuits Pro 5 synths lined up in a row just BLOWS THE MINDPIECE!!!


Love it and then LOVE IT AGAIN as an ANIGIF!!!

Also a screen grab of the P-5 party in mid jam:



::: Da Me En :::

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/29713772"] Track: The Bug - London Zoo - S.k.e.n.g.

This is the perfect song to accompany my new friend  infrared Polar Bear.

About my new friend, i found this polar bear jpeg while reading about scientific research regarding the tracking of said bears and how hard they are to see as they are camouflage but also because they do not leak heat and can't be tracked that way either.


"Everyone knows that polar bears are furry and cute, but few know that sometimes they can also be invisible. 

While still an ME undergrad at Berkeley, Jessica Preciado plumbed the icy depths of a question that already had the whole natural science community buzzing. 

A few years ago, scientists doing an aerial census of the polar bear population in the arctic encountered a problem. The polar bears being counted were hard to spot because their white fur blended into the snow. Scientists decided to use infrared, heat sensing technology for the survey, but found that curiously, the polar bears became invisible. Scientists could see the eyes, nose and breath, but not the bear. 

“Everyone got really excited about this, particularly the military because it could have ramifications for creating infrared camouflage in cold climates,” says Preciado. 

The excitement calmed when it was hypothesized that the reason for the invisibility was the polar bear’s deep layers of blubber and fur, which trap body heat below their skins, making the polar bears’ surface temperatures the same as the snow. 

As an undergrad working in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Preciado decided to further pursue a mystery that the scientific world so quickly shrugged off. 

“Infrared detection functions not only by surface temperature, but also by the radiative properties of hair and skin. The last time people measured the radiative properties of polar bear hair was 50 years ago, and now we have much better equipment,” she says. 

Preciado took advantage of the advanced light-source technology at LBNL (one of the few in the country) to take a closer look at polar bear hair procured from the San Francisco Zoo. “Not many people have access to the technology they need to measure something this small, I was lucky to have the advanced light-source telescope so close,” she adds."

Original Article: http://coe.berkeley.edu/engnews/fall02/3S/polarbear.html


...and  I appreciate the pre brostep dubstep...

D, U No Whu U r!!! HaPy SunDae!!!!!

::: Black Devil Disco :::

I always come back to this record.  It has just the right amount of organized and free-for-all which can be a hard line to ride. It's truly a set it and forget it on repeat all day kind of record.  I like that about it too.


::: Were #! :::

Well, i just can't stop listening to this track!  And i thought Giorgio's version of Metropolis was strange... But the seasoned blend of Disco Angularity and Cocaine Abuse embedded within this song is truly SPECIAL!

It was hard not to choose beat the clock as it's the obvious 'single' from this record.  I just prefer the John Carpenter-ness of the openning track, it also reminds me more of the Giorgio soundtrack work too ( i just wish the Freddy Mercury song from metropolis was more like this! ). And the Simmons motif is pretty sweet as well...


This makes me all gooey inside:

These guys aren't making the cut!:
Will he WIN the GAME?????