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Hannes
Author

Hannes

Graphic designer, illustrator and soundmangler. He makes music as kurodama and as part of the electronic music duo kvsu. Together with his wife Elizabeth he runs Papernoise, a small design studio located in northern Italy, specialised in graphic design for the world of music.

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What I Am Made Of by Elizabeth Busani.

When we defined the main concept behind Horizontalpitch, the main idea was to make something closer to a magazine, than to a blog. For this reason, we really like the idea of having a cover that changes periodically.

This new cover photo comes from Elizabeth Busani, who is an illustrator and photographer from Italy. While not making any music herself, she happened to marry a man affected by incurable modularitis, and hence came into contact with the wonderful world of Eurorack.  You can see more of her work clicking on the links below:

www.flickr.com/photos/elisabethbusani

www.behance.net/sbrizz


You can submit your own pictures if you want, if we like them, we might publish them as the next cover!

Cover Photo, Summer 2015

What I Am Made Of by Elizabeth Busani. When we defined the main concept behind Horizontalpitch, the main idea was to make something closer to a magazine, than to a blog. For this reason, we really like the idea of having a cover that changes periodically. This new cover photo comes from Elizabeth Busani, who is an illustrator […]

HannesHannes

We’ve launched this blog only two months ago, so we’re basically in what you could call “beta” phase. Things are subject to testing and revision. As part of these revisions we decided to change Some Exciting Examples Modular Music into this new series called Chosen Waves. We didn’t just change the name, we also tweaked the concept a bit: we’ll usually feature only one track/video at a time and in exchange for that we’ll hopefully post more often. Sometimes we might add a little interview.

So let’s get this started with this recording of a live performance of the French project amnésie. Here’s what he says about himself on his soundcloud page:

amnésie is the solo project of Wilfried Thierry.
It began back in 2001 with lecollectif17ans a noisy and iconoclast crew. At that time he released some tracks on various compilations (Skam, Idwet) and won an Autechre remix contest.
He then joined Ego Twister Records and released his first EP, Redken Style.
After that he released many tracks and remixes on various compilations, mixing weird electro and ironic vocals.
Now he’s back to what he loves most : mixing noise influences with electro, digging into synthesis using his modular synth.

This one is been sitting in my bookmarks for a long time and I keep getting back at it again and again. As you can see from the photo he performed this live with a lot of modular gear. The recording spans over 45 minutes and is a dense, brooding mix of distorted basses, noisy sounds and electro/techno beats. It’s one of those immersive and hypnotic sound voyages, best enjoyed in the dark, late at night. I suggest you listen to it in one go. Without spoilering too much, the best part comes at the very end, but how you get there might strongly influence its effectiveness, so don’t rush it.

If you liked the above track, amnésie recently released an 2-track album on the French label Ego Twister records

We couldn’t help but get in touch with Wilfried Thierry and ask him a couple of questions about his music and his approach to live modular performances.

Horizontalpitch: I know from personal experience that performing live with a modular synth can be a tricky thing to do. How do you approach this?

Wilfried Thierry: Yes it’s tricky, but I prefer things that are not 100% perfect but really done live. I’ve played electronic music for years and the modular is the first instrument that gave me a total freedom and control over everything.
I’ve had a duo with Yan [from Ego Twister Records, Ed.], called FUTUR and I experimented with him the use of modular on stage. We played improvised music, and as we were two, it was simpler for me to start this way. You can find on youtube a video in Le temps machine [Youtube link, Ed.].
The sound is also very important to me. I’ve been using analog synths on stage for more than 10 years. I don’t want to cheat the audience with fake analog sounds coming from a computer.
I feel more like a live guy than a studio one and want to use instruments that inspire me.

HP: The complicated thing might seem the inability to store settings or patches, which you can just recall during a live performance. Do you start with a patch and then work on that or do you have more “configurations” prepared and then just switch between those?

WT: Well that’s not a problem for me. My patch is mostly prepared and I can switch between different parts of the patch when I need different elements. But I also patch live when necessary. I rehearse a lot so that everything is under control, I know my instrument by heart, that doesn’t seem more complicated to me than when I play guitar.

HP: What else do you use in combination with the modular? Or is it just the modular?

WT: When playing with amnésie, I use my modular and a DSI Mopho X4 for chords. That’s all. I’ve built my modular as an advanced “groovebox”. I just sometimes regret I don’t have a third hand !!

HP: Final question, what’s your favourite module?

WT: My favourite module is the one that led me to eurorack : Make Noise René. It’s the first one I bought and I still love it as day one. Using it live is really great. For amnésie I have programmed two scales that I play in many different ways, I don’t know any other tools as versatile (except a very old MiDi sequencer I used when reedited by Cycling 74 : M).


So that’s it for today’s Chosen Waves, we might talk a little bit more with Wilfried Thierry about his music and modular synths in the future.

In the meantime, if you have tracks or videos you’d like to share with us, leave a comment below or send us an email using the link on top of the page!

Chosen Waves 001 – amnésie

We’ve launched this blog only two months ago, so we’re basically in what you could call “beta” phase. Things are subject to testing and revision. As part of these revisions we decided to change Some Exciting Examples Modular Music into this new series called Chosen Waves. We didn’t just change [...]

HannesHannes

Interview with Meng Qi

<a href="http://www.horizontalpitch.com/2015/05/interview-with-meng-qi/"><img class="size-medium wp-image-956" src="http://www.horizontalpitch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/140921-By-Li-Huajun-1-700x525.jpg" alt="Meng Qi, photo curtesy of Meng Qi" width="700" height="525" /></a>

HannesHannes

[ecko_quote source=”Louis Barron (on Keyboard Magazine February 1986: 54-65)”]This life-like quality makes our approach very different from what’s called the classical electronic music studio, which uses oscillators, filters, equalizers, and other laboratory instruments, […] Luening and Ussachevsky were getting started with that at the same time we were. I felt that that was the wrong direction, because laboratory instruments are made to be very precise and very definite, and people aren’t. Art isn’t.[/ecko_quote]

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In our sonic microcosmos we have the modular and the world around it, with only a very narrow path connecting the two. It all starts in our mind, we imagine a sound, or at least we imagine an action that will result in one. We interact with the instrument by turning the knobs, pressing some buttons, sliding our fingers over capacitive touch surfaces. Through our gestures the outside world enters the modular and becomes electric tension and digital data. These then exit the circuits as vibrations, speakers make the air move. The sound has been released into the world.

Now, if you’re like me, you’ll sometimes feel that this narrow path, connecting the modular to the outside world, could be made a bit wider, or the paths could be more numerous. Musikmesse 2015 brought us some modules that might be doing just that. Let’s see them in detail.

New Ways to Control your Instrument

soundmachines already have a wide selection of control modules in their portfolio, from the very basic (but also very useful) LS1lightstrip, to the more exotic BL1brainterface EEG sensor module. At this year’s Musikmesse they presented two new modules: a heartbeat sensor and an alcohol tester module. While it has to be seen if the latter will be more of a gag, than a really usable device, the first one opens up some interesting possibilities.

The soundmachines booth at Messe2015, photo curtesy of Davide Mancini – soundmachines

The soundmachines booth at Messe2015, photo curtesy of Davide Mancini – soundmachines

In 2014 I was involved in a project called sen | xor, which focussed on the use of biometric sensors to control modular synths and other electronic instruments. For that project we developed both a brain-to-modular and a heartbeat-to-modular interface. Both sensors were applied to the listener and the resulting data was used to control the music and the visuals. The heartbeat was used to generate a clock signal, which we used to sync the modulars to. This resulted in a very human rhythm, which would change over time and create interesting feedback effects (since an increase in speed would in turn affect the heart rate of the listener). While this might be a bit too specific for “everyday use” it’s still a very interesting addition to the limited landscape of currently available control modules.

To get a taste of what their new modules do I’ll refer you to the excellent Messe coverage by Tuesday Night Machines.

A very promising newcomer on the eurorack market this year has been Bastl Instruments, based in Brno, Check Republic. Apart from cranking out 17 (yes seventeen!) new modules in what feels like a very short time, they also have some really interesting ones! For example they have an upcoming any-type-of-analogue-sensor-to-CV-or-GATE module which opens up a huge array of possibilities. From using standard light dependent resistors to modulate parameters, to converting water drips into random gates. These modules are quite obviously the development of Václav Peloušek’s diploma work, which we had seen last year. In case you missed it, let me post that video again!

The Motorised Modular

Bastl has a lot more in store for you though! What really caught our attention (apparently everybody’s attention from what I see online) are the new motor modules. You get one module for every type of motor on the market, be it solenoid, DC or servo. Again, the possibilities are vast and extremely exciting. From using your system to play an acoustic drum set, to creating that mouse organ you’ve been dreaming of. Again Tuesday Night Machines has a nice video about these modules.

Btw. if you’ve been hiding on the dark side of the moon lately, check out their channel for a complete Messe modular coverage.

We’ll soon be back with two interviews: one with Davide Mancini from soundmachines and another one with the guys from Bastl!

Musikmesse2015 – the Modular and the World Outside

In our sonic microcosmos we have the modular and the world around it, with only a very narrow path connecting the two. It all starts in our mind, we imagine a sound, or at least we imagine an action that will result in one. We interact with the instrument by turning the knobs, pressing some […]

HannesHannes

[ecko_quote source=”Nick Cain (columnist chart, outer limits, Wire 371, Jan 2015)”]2014 saw the usual slew of albums from artists dabbling with modular synthesizers and vintage electronics, lacking the gumption to realise the potential of their equipment.[/ecko_quote]