Reverb and Patterns

Cistern from Claudia Esslinger on Vimeo.

The Old School II (2016)
The Old School II (2016)

My art and image making have gobbled all my creative time for a year. (This puts the couple of hundred or so hours of recording activity in 2014 in bittersweet relief.) At the moment the only way to join the two creative urges are to contemplate their meta-integration at the one counterintuitive spot that a bridge is possible.

The bridge, existing right now as a vague complex archetype, integrates reverberation and symmetric pattern.

This Kamelmauz track from 2014 captures what I’m dreaming.

Piscina Mirabilis – Salvatore Carannante in Spare Parts Sound Project. from Salvatore Carannante on Vimeo.

Last year the blog visited The Tank

Zimoun «Sculpting Sound» : The Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, USA, 2011/2012 from ZIMOUN on Vimeo.

musical table & pendulum sound machine live at pola museum annex from kyouei design on Vimeo.

Aspiration and Visualization from kevinballon on Vimeo.

Kamelmauz envisions this bridge in 2012:

NAMM Aspirational Targets

Roger Linn Linnstrument

Omnisphere 2

Now that Winter 2015 NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) has ended, I add to my very modest gear lust list.



Either one will do:

Simmons Genesis E9 fixed copedent economy/professional

GFI Student E9

Stage One E9 would be okay, too!

Goodbye Alchemy, Hello Alchemy


Relative to actual human problems and the delicate equilibrium of the mortal coil, waking up one morning and learning that the software synthesizer you’ve made the biggest investment in over the years is no longer available, no longer being developed, and has come to be a casualty of its developer’s own unknown game plan, doesn’t count as a problem. Ben Gillett shuttered CamelAudio without notice last week.

He and his team developed plug-ins, and, CamelAudio released in the fall 2011 an IOS version of their flagship desktop synthesizer Alchemy. The IOS app was a boon to my own direction. Two and half years would lapse before I started using the iPad to control the desktop Alchemy. This provided another wave of inspiration. Alchemy is a unique combination of a sample-based resynthesizer connected to a very array of deep modulation concepts.

CamelAudio disappears, so my immediate problem-solving has to do with how to secure Alchemy remaining a central music-making tool on the laptop, and, on the iPad. The unknown future prospect is that the legacy installs will become broken by future updates. Luckily, both my four year old MacBookPro and three year old iPad 3rd Gen. can be dedicated to their legacy set-ups. This enables me to protect Alchemy and use it far into the future.

As for Camel Audio and Ben Gillett, I hope the sudden closing reflects the transfer of their intellectual property into hands that will honor CA’s innovative software by using it as the basis for amazing new capabilities and software. Amidst all the hand ringing and passive aggression which flavored the music making community’s response to the news, I dropped my own best wish: that Apple turns out to have been the purchaser, and uses Alchemy to burnish Logic X’s capabilities, and, deploys something like Alchemy as a flagship audio app fit to the large screen real estate anticipated to be the main point of the upcoming iPad Pro. It is even within the realm of possibility that Logic X will come to the iPad were ARM CPU’s to come to Apple laptops.

Hold onto to your Intel MacBooks!


Top IOS Music-making Apps, for Kamelmauz, for 2014

Three track live-in-studio; iPad based: (1) TC-Data controlling AlchemyPro mobile synthesizer (2) “C” controlling Mitosynth (3) eBow processing pedal steel guitar [July 2014]

1. Alchemy Mobile Pro
2. Mitosynth
3. Animoog
4. Photophore
5. Gestrument (sf2 synthesizer)

1. Gestrument
2. Xynthesizer
3. TC-Data
4. ChordPolyPad
5. SP Electro

1. AUFX:Space
2. Crystalline
3. Ultra Phaser
4. Audio Reverb
5. AUFX:Dub

During 2014, for the most part, Kamelmauz improvised in the studio in little mini-sessions during small slices of time. There was no point after January that he would focus obsessively on particular recording ambitions.

Kamelmauz: “The trick was sliding into the player’s chair ready to go with two iPads set to go, one as a synthesizer station featuring Alchemy Mobile Pro, Animoog, Mitosynth, and an iPad MIDI controller, and, the other iPad set up as a MIDI controller via wifi for an plug-in synth or sampler in Logic. This allowed me to quickly render two track recordings somewhat on the fly.

I heavily leveraged MIDI controllers to trigger composed sequences and improvs. On the iPad, the excellent Xynthesizer, ChordPolyPad, and, at the end of the year, SP Electro, all could be employed to design melodic progressions. I especially like Xynthesizer‘s random boxes which can be shaped as a generative elememt inside its equivalent of a piano roll. For improvising and ambient sound design in real time, Gestrument was my main tool for a second year. TC-Data proved to be good for recording intuitive hits and stabs.

On the laptop side, using the iPad as a controller really refreshed my approach to using go-to AudioUnit tools in Logic. Although my long-in-the-tooth MacBook sometimes balked at real time two track live recording, once I removed the iConnectMIDI aggregate device and went back to routing audio individually from the iPads into the laptop’s Focusrite I/O interface, everything worked much more smoothly. The other mode I used was recording audio from one iPad and using the other to control via wifi MIDI my favorite software synths, Alchemy, Absynth and the sampler Kontakt. This was a completely successful workaround to any direct recording overload, with clock set by the Focusrite interface.

It is easy to overwhelm processing bandwidth on an iPad. I did a lot of tinkering. For me, Audiobus is nifty for recording to the iPad Air, but, I do not load up the signal/effect chains. I found InterAppAudio to have better overhead, so, by the end of the year I was using Audioshare as my down-and-dirty iPad recorder. In the aforementioned two track set-up, besides recording to a bus, I would usually use effects in Logic rather than on the iPad.

The biggest fault of the iPad is inconsistent levels at the output of the interfaces I use, the Behringer UCA222 and the Line6 Sonic Port. The former does have a level wheel, whereas the otherwise solid Sonic Port does not. My sense is the configuration of gain in the IOS Audiocore is tied to hardware considerations because I have found it usually advantageous to back off the internal gain by one increment.

My hope is 2015 will provide me with some obsessive washes of studio time to start to deal with approximately 200 hours of raw recordings, recordings that were the fruits of many a ‘short late night session.’

Kamelmauz: Mercy, Whom I Have Never Met (new recording)

What I term workshop tracks get uploaded to the never-ending album, Infinity, at This new track didn’t need to be pieced together. It’s a slightly contracted version of a nine minute improv using Xynthesizer as a controller and means for intervention, and, using it then to control (play) the new flocking synthesizer Photophore and Alchemy Mobile Pro. Both are in Audiobus and run through the Crystalline effect (from Holderness Media.) The audio stream was captured in Logic on a laptop, re-panned and lightly mastered using Native Instrument’s new delay Replika, and my go-to reverb, 2C Audio Aether.

Mercy, Whom I Have Never Met is in a minimalist vein I have been spending little slices of free time wandering within, so-to-speak.

Grabbing little moments to do audio experiments means that at the end of 2014, I’ve got two workflow modes I can deploy quickly. The basic Kamelmauz workflow is either in the “A” mode, where both iPad are piped into Logic on the laptop. The most complex array I manage at once involves setting one iPad up to execute a composition translated to MIDI or otherwise programmed into an iPad MIDI controller–such as the superb Xynthesizer–and then this controls one or two synthesizers slotted into Audiobus. The other iPad then is used to be the live, or performance, foil. I usually use Gestrument, my go-to controller for the past two years, to control either an iPad synthesizer or to control a software synthesizer or sampler in Logic (DAW.)

I spent the first half of the year trying to get iConnectMIDI4+, an audio I/O and audio and MIDI router, to consistently work as an aggregate device in Logic, but I have given up. I’m back to charging the iPads to 100% and running the older one through a Behringer UCA-222, and the newer Air through a Line6 Sonic Port, then routing iPad audio with direct 1/4″ stereo connections to a Focusrite Saffire audio I/O,then into Logic.

In A Mode I improvise on one iPad against my own compositions being played via MIDI on the other iPad. This is equal to a live set-up were I playing out.

B Mode is so simple I use it to sometimes play myself to sleep, late at night with the iPad Air on my chest. Here I just take the composer’s set-up in A Mode, and much more actively intervene to play the controller controlling iPad synthesizers in Audiobus, and recording the playing and interventions using Audioshare or Multitrack DAW. Audioshare gives easy access to Inter-App-Audio, so a full chain can look like this, for example,

TC-Data (MIDI controller) –> [AUDIOBUS] Alchemy Pro Mobile->AUFX:Space (reverb)->Audioshare [IAA]->Ultraphaser
Gestrument (MIDI controller) set-up to execute a drone –> [AUDIOBUS] Animoog->AUFX:Space->Audioshare [IAA]->Ultraphaser

Although MIDI routing is crude within CORE MIDI on iPads, all one needs to differentiate controller streams is the ability to designate the different MIDI channels, and, so it is easy enough to do so if you choose capable partners such as TC-Data, Gestrument, Alchemy and Animoog. Xynthesizer makes this easy too, and so it’s also straight-forward to get a composition going while stabbing against it using Gestrument.

In Mode B, all audio is being processed by the iPad. Later, I export it to the laptop. I don’t have any hangups about quality because it is on a par with what my regular Focusrite I/O can render using digital synths as a source.

Kamelmauz & Duty Free Records Update


Rainbringer (with guitars) and Naked Strands (no guitars) would have been both completed this year if I had not spent the lion’s share of my creative time doing visual experiments. The last two months I’ve been preparing pieces to be printed in very large formats on canvas.

I still take over little slices of time to document sonic experiments, recently on the new iPad synthesizer, Photophore, and have been spending most of my soundwise time with that synth and Gestrument, Alchemy, and then I’ve taken to some great iPad MIDI controllers, Xynthesizer, TC-Data, Gestrument, and deployed those to play via wi-fi, Kontakt and Absynth on the laptop.

Alas, Naked Strands and Rainbringer are delayed until the summer.

A Synth Continuum; and What I’m Using Right Now

Moog ‘porn’

Ototo by Dentaku – plug-and-use sense and synthesize

One of the classes of objects I am on the lookout for, and often find during my summer garage sale hopping, is the class of anything that makes an interesting sound. Understand such objects would be repurposed into sound sources when I get down to deploying stuff in my little collection.

This goal makes the Ototo more appealing than the Moog collection. All the virtual synthesizers on the laptop and iPad add up to endless possibilities. Still, I am fascinated by modular synthesizers but then I do the math, calculating two thousand dollars buys the next 200 iPad virtual synths. I’ve been stockpiling synth apps for the iPad because the apps are inexpensive.

The acid test is which synths do I utilize right now? Arturia just released a huge sounding, basically nasty Oberheim emulation, iSem. It is plugged into the end of my top five ‘apps of the moment’ and the synth ‘bench.’

1. Gestrument
2. Alchemy Mobile Pro
AMP’s older sibling Alchemy is, with NI Absynth, my go-to synths on the laptop.)
3. Animoog
4. DroneFX
5. Palm WaveMapper

6. Mixtikl
7. Waldorf Nave
8. Crystal Synth XT
9. Grain Science
5. Artutia Isem

8 String Pedal Steel Guitar Pentatonic Tuning

Pentatonic TuningI’ve changed the E9 steel guitar to this, (or, “yet another,”) experimental pentatonic tuning.

This tuning seems workable as a hybrid between the open pentatonic and being able to pedal 7 of 12 chromatic notes at the same fret; the rest are within one fret. The B pedal Emaj and Bmaj chord grip and C/D pedal Cmin move is obvious. The 6th is inverted. I might put the minor change on the D pedal by switching the G and A. I’m going to play around with the lower C pedal changes–might lower string 6 a half step. I haven’t plotted it all out in Excel yet.

The string gauges, shown here from the down and dirty change over of the old E9 set will change when I re-string the guitar next week.

(The other pedal steel remains in B6, a tuning close to E9.)

The Flow of IOS Audio at an Early Phase of the Revolution

Nick Batt and Gaz Williams issued the most thought provoking edition so far, in their ongoing IOS audio series, Sonic Touch, May 14.

It’s titled Session Interruptus. It will interest anybody who is using IOS devices to create music, and no doubt most such persons have not only viewed the video but have already encountered work flow problems. Frustrated, Nick and Gaz drill into the challenge.

(Sonic State at YouTube)

The iPad, released in 2010, and gone through four generations, is not designed, in the sense of being ‘through-designed,’ for the purpose of creating music. Shall I gleefully specify the hardware functionalities that need to be improved and better integrated? (No.)

There will never be specialized iPads for audio production. There are plenty of comment threads around roiling with discussions about whether or not IOS and Idevices are professional grade or otherwise are deemed worthy, or not, for serious music creation. The severest denigrations of the various platforms all seem to reference their being too much like toys.

I’m an avocational music creator so I count my sense of the landscape to be relevant only to me. Yet, my sense is simple and my experience with professional musicians suggests many would feel the same way. What is useful and what brings unique possibilities to my creative tool box? I’ll take up any tool I discover to be useful and unique.

I’m very taken with the possibilities which exist nowadays because the sum of a lot of brilliant engineering has been brought to bear on the refinement of the touch interface, and, on tablet-based audio production. We’re still at the beginning of the revolution.

Thank goodness for Audiobus, delivered to work around the sandbox. And MIDI, via Core-MIDI IOS services, is more essential to my workflow than is Audiobus. I lean heavily on MIDI’s light serial and instruction footprint.

My 3rd Gen. iPad is easy to overload. Its limitations are well-known to me and rarely cause me frustration. The touch screen paradigm is wondrous at the same time the iPad touch screen is not impressively responsive.

As for workflow, my own take is blunt: by plugging the iPad and iPhone into a mixing boardf or directly into the laptop’s external I/O my own workflow is largely implemented without hassles. This isn’t a work around, it takes advantage of the laptop’s greater versatility and much speedier hardware.

Workflow in my production environment is largely focused on how tools are advantaged by making direct connections to processing power. Nick and Gaz attempted an experiment only to discover they did not have enough processing power in their workflow. 

One cannot have too much processing power!


Apple Squeezes Out Logic Pro X, Finally

“Yippee” intoned softly, (almost as an aside.) Other than the disappointing elimination of the bridge to 32bit audio unit plug-ins, the surprise release of Logic Pro X, replacing Logic Pro 9, is inspiring. But, I’m a Logic fan boy because even the long-in-the-tooth version has great work flow.

Synthtopia announcement.

The transport is now at the top and the library is now on the left side! Video by David Earl aka SFLogicNinja

When major updates drop the ‘audio geek’ internet goes from burbling to percolating. 95% if you are interested you already have sped over to the KVR Logic forum.

Proof of Concept: “Sure!”


The goal of several recent experiments in the sweltering third floor studio was to test a performance concept: playing live on steel guitar against generative content streaming from an iPad track and an iPhone track (into Logic on a laptop.)

I have been spending most of scarce studio time with Gestrument, a terrific generative sampler for iPad. There are any number of generative audio apps for IOS. On the iPhone’s side of the equation, I reached first for Mixtikl, Immersion Station, and the trio of Eno-associated apps, Bloom, Trope, and Air. Once I imported a slew of Camel Audio Alchemy patches from the laptop and, instantly, Alchemy became part of the potential mix.

This process of trial and error resulted in an initial upload to Vimeo because I exceeded Youtube’s time limit. To my bemusement I realized I didn’t record the live mix into Logic because in all the excitement I didn’t punch the recording in. Fortunately the camera’s mic did a good job of picking up the monitors and also some of the pedal sounds from the Fender steel guitar and buzzing strings from the eBow.

It is not possible in the current physical set-up to mix live as well as play live. Because this is all oriented to my slow music you’ll see in the video how shifting back and forth works out.

Dark ambient drone.

Ambience for Pedal Steel Guitar and eBow from Stephen Calhoun on Vimeo.

Rigging for “Under the Seat”

nogutsnoglory studio set up

My raw sonic load depicted above was SCAPE on the iPad; DrumJam on the iPhone; meeblip se synthesizer controlled by a PCR-M80; and, an Industrial Rail lap steel sounded using a cello bow. Experiment: combine programmed, and generative, and, ‘through’ sound designed, audio in real time. My Focusrite Saffire interface was out of commission, so I routed the four track mixer right into the single stereo input of my back-up single input interface.

Under the Seat I & II


New Synth in the Toolkit



“The MeeBlip is the creation of James Grahame, of Retro Thing and Reflex Audio fame. (He tells the full history of how it came to be.)  The MeeBlip, from code to schematics, is open source hardware. You can hack it, read through the code, make your own and sell it. At the same time, just because it’s “open source” and “hackable” doesn’t mean the MeeBlip is just for hackers. On the contrary – we wanted a synth anyone could play. With the Quick Build Kit, you can assemble the MeeBlip without a soldering iron or, really, much skill, in a matter of minutes. Plug it in, turn some knobs, and you can make some sounds. And if later you decide you want to go deeper or even change the way the instrument works, you can do that, too. ”
via createdigitalmusic 2010

MeeBlip is integrated into the set-up at noguts noglory studios. I use the Triton le to control this little box, rout output into iPad or laptop DAW, and stir with effects patches.



Kamelmauz Finds Little Bits of Slow Time

Kamelmauz reports, two new EPs will be released by Duty Free Records via Bandcamp in March. The above track, however, is slated to be completed and included on the delayed O meu toque, forthcoming, to be released in May 2013.

Kamelmauz Rainbringer

Kamelmauz Naked Strands

Produced primarily on an iPad using the touch paradigm and a handful of amazing IOS audio apps, both reflect a great deal of experimentation unfolded on the temporal margins of a fairly wild last half of the year. First the flood, then the house hunt, then the leaky ceiling in the studio, and, finally a new place–but, today, still on the far side of the big, heavy move in a week.

The upshot of all this volatility in comparison to the usual determined and laid back approach has been a lot of recording activity, but activity committed in very small blocks of hardly-available-at-all time.

The fuel for these hot little bursts have been an amazing surge of interesting sound creation tools released for IOS platforms; in my case, the iPad. I’ll be highlighting the wonders of Gestrument, Borderlands, Feed, Scape, and DrumJam, once things settle down in the new place.

The other element is that the calming effect of sitting down and transforming catch-as-catch-can time slots into brief creative immersions readily evoked elliptical improvised or generative drones, or, combinations of improvised and scripted sound. And, no guitars had their feelings hurt in the making of a surprising inventory of iPad-based ‘slow music’ over the past months.