There is additional content you may be able to see if you log in.

PSA regarding Komplete Kontrol and Apple Silicon

PSA: If you’re running Komplete on an M1 Mac under a DAW which supports an Intel/Rosetta plugin bridge (such as Logic), DO NOT update Komplete Kontrol to v2.8.0! This WILL break compatibility with any Reaktor or Battery instruments you’re using! (As well as any other legacy Intel VST2s that you’re hosting by Komplete Kontrol for whatever reason.)

Komplete Kontrol 2.7.2 still runs under the Rosetta bridge, but 2.8 has been updated to be M1-compatible — but Battery and Reaktor HAVE NOT yet, and they’re not expecting to have those updated for a few more months.

There are a few workarounds:

  1. Launch your DAW under Rosetta (and lose your CPU performance everywhere)
  2. Convert the Komplete Kontrol plugin to directly use Reaktor/Battery (and lose NKI and preset browsing)
  3. Perish (or, y'know, wait for the plugins to update, same diff really)
Read more…

Another Novembeat compleat

This year I managed to do 25 out of 30 tracks, and some of them were even used in games!

I’ll be releasing the Bandcamp version of the album on Friday (which is, of course, Bandcamp Friday), and if you wait until then to buy it I get the full purchase price. (Better yet, buy my entire discography and receive a crapton of music spanning over 20 years of releases!)

Read more…

Novembeat 2022 plans

My plan for Novembeat this year is to produce music that would be suitable for looping background tracks on video games. Ideally this would be driven by folks making music requests for their game jam games!

As always I’ll be releasing the album on my Bandcamp and my itch.io page. Most likely I’ll have Bandcamp just have the “soundtrack” version and itch have both “soundtrack” and “bgm” versions (where “bgm” will be suitable for looping, as opposed to “soundtrack” which will just play in one-shot mode).

Read more…

Focusrite 18i20: A quick review

Yesterday my other big hardware upgrade arrived, a Focusrite 18i20 for my Mac mini in the studio, to upgrade the 18i8 I had before (which is now on the Mac Studio in the office).

The tl;dr: for most people the 18i8 is just fine and the 18i20 doesn’t really add anything. Consider the 18i20 only if you have a couple of fussy needs.

Read more…

Giving vinyl another shot

Several years ago I tried using Qrates to do a pressing of Refactor. Unfortunately it didn’t hit the minimum preorder size, so the project was canceled.

Recently someone at Qrates reached out to me and was enthusiastic about the idea of me giving it another try, and since Lo-Fi Beats to Grind Coffee To has somewhat broader appeal, I decided to give it another shot.

So, if you would be so kind as to visit the Qrates crowdfunding page and maybe even consider buying a copy or two or ten, it would be greatly appreciated.

Un-sticking from Bandcamp

So, within a day of the Bandcamp announcement, several folks had already started building their own tools for escaping from Bandcamp. Of particular note (and brought to my attention many times) is one called blamscamp, which is a web-based GUI that builds a web player bundle for itch.io.

This tool definitely has a lot of merit, but in the near term it only handles one specific use case, namely taking a collection of already-encoded-for-the-web mp3s and turning it into an itch previewer. The player itself is nicely-written, but this isn’t the sort of tool which works well for me.

So, I adapted the player engine into my own version, which is a CLI tool. Feed it a JSON spec, audio files, and ancillary data (album art and lyrics and such), and it automatically encodes and tags the album for MP3 preview, high-quality MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC, and builds a web player (based on the original blamscamp’s although it’s diverged quite a lot now). And, if you install butler, it can also automatically upload these bundles to your itch page!

Here is the first public demo of it.

With all that said, I do still intend to keep using Bandcamp as my primary music distribution platform; it’s been very good to me over the years, and just because they’re being bought out by a questionable company doesn’t mean it’ll actually go downhill. But diversifying my offerings is always a good thing, and by posting my music in both places, I get even more of a potential audience. Plus, the satisfaction of owning (a big part of) my own delivery pipeline.

The pyBlamscamp pipeline can also be adapted to anything that takes a bundle of files; it could also be used, for example, to simplify the process of posting albums on Gumroad.

At present the main difficulties of it are that it’s a Python application and that it relies on external encoders. One of my potential change sin the future is to have it self-host the encoder libraries which would make a lot of things easier, and would also make it more feasible to provide a stand-alone application.

It’d also be really handy to have tools that make it easier to create and edit the .json file. That’s definitely a rough edge that’s not suitable for general end users.

There’s also a heck of a lot of things that still need to be done even for my own uses. But for now, this tool is at least ready to get started with.

Studio hardware stuff, part 2349872984

My ongoing anxiety regarding recording studio computer stuff has continued. Yesterday while doing day 1 of Novembeat I found that my 2016 MacBook pro is still just like… way too slow to make music on (especially if I stream at the same time). And then I saw that there’s a bunch of deals on 2020 MacBooks happening right now.

I was about to buy a 2020 MacBook Air with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, but then found out that Apple had a deal on refurbished 2020 MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD for only a little bit more, and the refurb price is less than the equivalently-equipped MacBook Air’s price. So that’s what I ended up ordering.

Read more…

Studio stasis

For now I’m just going to stick with my 2016 MacBook Pro, and I bought a 27" 4K monitor for it to alleviate the display-size issue.

It’s a little slow and a little janky but a lot of my music stuff still doesn’t work right on M1 anyway, and in particular Native Instruments is taking their sweet time to update everything to be M1-compatible. Also, I could theoretically use my PreSonus FireStudio with the hacked driver, although it looks like that’ll probably stop working in macOS 12 and I can’t use it with my ADAT preamp anyway, so the only advantage to it is I could put my Scarlett 18i8 back in my office, which is a pretty low priority now.

(I suppose I could also make an aggregate interface of the FireStudio with the 18i8+ADAT, but I already have 14 functional inputs as it is and I barely ever use more than 5 of them at a time. 22 is definitely overkill.)

If I get desperate for an upgrade I suppose I could get a current 27" iMac but that doesn’t feel particularly necessary right now (and it also feels like a waste since Apple will stop supporting it sooner rather than later; I went through the exact same thing with the PowerMac G5 that I bought literally two weeks before they announced the Intel transition).

I also need to give both Reaper and Bitwig another shot because both of them seem like they’d be able to mostly replace Logic for me at this point, and I’m sick of being wedded to macOS. (But right now is not the time for me to learn a new DAW. Or maybe it’s the perfect time. I dunno.)

Or maybe I should see what the pre-trashcan Mac Pros are going for. The 12-core model would still be a pretty decent upgrade from the 2016 MacBook pro, and also has the advantage of having upgradeable SATA storage, plus PCIe slots that could theoretically take an NVMe adapter. On the minus side, no Thunderbolt 3 (not that I’d need it) and I’d also be stuck on macOS 10.14 without some sketchy patching. But it looks like they’re going for under $400 (shipping included), all the same.

Or there’s always Hackintosh.

But nah I’ll wait, the old MacBook Pro is fine for now.

Studio and cat updates

Studio

My basement studio setup is coming along slowly but surely. I ended up buying a used ADAT preamp to expand my existing audio interface (rather than buying a new interface/patchbay/etc.) and it mostly works great, although I’m going to see if I can hack an S/PDIF decoder into a word clock source for it so that the 18i8 can be master (which makes a couple of things easier to deal with).

For now I’m using my old MacBook as the recording computer. It only has a 500GB drive, though, and I couldn’t find the power adapter for my external HDD enclosure, so I decided to try just running Native Instruments off of my NAS over gigabit Ethernet. Nearly every install failed with a nonsensical “malformed XML document” error, which turns out to be a known issue with attempting to install to a NAS. Oh well. Hopefully that PSU turns up soon. I’m sure it’s in the bottom of whichever box I end up unpacking last.

(The PSU isn’t anything particularly exotic in principle, just a 12V 2A center-positive wallwart, but for some reason all the 12V center-positive wallwarts I can find can’t accommodate its extra-thick center pin.)

But anyway, today I finally got to the point where I could hook up my piano, and so I played piano for the first time since April, which felt nice. I can’t believe I let it be this long. I guess I really thought the backyard shed studio would go a lot more quickly!

Read more…

Finally setting up a recording space

I’ve been trying to make music in my small second bedroom/office, but it’s ridiculously constraining in here, and kind of frustrating. My long-term plan is to build a separate studio building in the back yard, but that’s slow-going and there’s a lot of barriers to it, and in the meantime, ever since I upgraded my house’s furnace to a ductless minisplit system, my basement actually seems to have enough space for my recording setup, so I’ve been looking into moving it down there.

Read more…

Songs of Substance preorders live

Every few years I’ve tried to do an album of my Song Fight! back catalog stuff. In 2009 I released foodsexsleep, in 2011 it was Love and Monsters, and in 2014 was Radio Ready. And then… nothing, for a while.

Many of my albums since then have had one or two Song Fight! songs on it (for example, 2015’s Refactor had two Song Fight! songs on it and one Circle of Titles, and a couple of Novembeat albums picked up some Song Fight! songs that I did as part of Novembeat), but due to a combination of not doing as much for Song Fight! anymore and rethinking a lot about how I made music, I kept on putting off another Song Fight!-heavy album.

Anyway, lately I’ve been getting the itch again, and my most recent entry finally sparked me enough to work on releasing an album while the fire is hot. Plus, I’d been meaning to properly release my covers of “Space Cadet” by Brother Machine and “A Problem of Perspective” by King Arthur for ages, and Charles (of King Arthur) had a recent health scare, so I wanted to release this while he still had a chance to appreciate it!

Ever since Good Luck Charm I’ve known that this album was going to be called Songs of Substance. Preorders are open now, and I hope to have the album ready for purchase by October 1.

Read more…

Song Fight! Live fight

Hey folks, the Song Fight! Live livefight is happening tonight (just 3 hours after this entry goes live) and I’m going to have a song and video in it. I would greatly appreciate if folks would watch the live stream and vote for the songs they like, in real time! (And hopefully my song will be one of them. As usual I entered as Sockpuppet.)

UPDATE: The livestream link got janked, see the new one above!

Song Fight! Apart and Together 2021

In a few hours will be the first night of Song Fight!’s annual live show (done not-quite-live again this year, thanks delta variant). Please give it a watch!

My individual set will be posted to the music section after the show. But watch everyone’s stuff and also join in on the chat. It’s a good time.

Current goings-on

Still on disability leave, and still in considerable pain. I’m trying not to work too hard on things, but it’s hard not to do things.

For example, I worked on a song with my friends Ken and Huan-Hua for this week’s Song Fight!; we entered the “We Did Everything We Could” fight under the band name Richard Donner Party. It was a fun song to make. Fortunately I didn’t have to even so much as look at a guitar. Most of my work was vocals, light keyboard work, and editing.

Read more…

Shoulder, unpacking, gardening, etc.

Wellp, I managed to screw up my shoulder again. Last time was probably from me using my cane on a fairly long walk, and this time was probably due to me overdoing it with my weed puller (which requires a snapping motion that does similar things to my cane). Bleah. At least this time I know stretches and things that might help, and I found a bunch more which feel like they’re helping. Hopefully I’ll still feel well enough to get my second shot of vaccine tomorrow. (Which will probably have me feeling pretty much immobile for a few days anyway.)

Read more…

DDR/Stepmania fun times

Yesterday I finally got ArrowVortex working; originally I was running it under WINE on my Intel NUC over xrdp to my Mac, which was kind of janky but functional, but after that stopped working (and was too obnoxious with latency) I just tried out Crossover WINE again and it worked like a charm.

Incidentally, Crossover’s gotten way better in the 10 years since I last used it and I might end up paying for it again!

Anyway, you can see the results of this: I have a very much work-in-progress song pack that you can check out if you’re so inclined. Beta feedback is appreciated as well. I’ll be adding artwork eventually but right now my effort is primarily on getting more songs and charts in.

If there’s any songs of mine you think would be a good DDR track, let me know!

Read more…