Jimi’s Odyssey

New toys! I had a secret “bucket list” for buying synthesizers I really wanted. Recently I could finish off the list with placing orders for the ARP 2600 and the ARP Odyssey. ARP Instruments, Inc. was an American manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, founded by Alan Robert Pearlman in 1969. Unfortunately, the company was declared bankruptcy in May 1981. In 2015, some ARP instruments were revived by Korg. 

The ARP Odyssey, an analog synthesizer introduced in 1972, arrived today at my home. There were several versions of the Odyssey over the years, and it was reissued by Korg in early 2015, in cooperation with the original designer and ARP co-founder, David Friend. As always, Jimi was very interested to see what was in the box. But he preferred to go for a walk outside in the garden and to the bedroom for a nap afterwards.

And introducing in the photograph, the new guardian of my electronic devices, a retro tin robot from a Berlin shop. I call him Metal Pete, in analogy to the classic John Foxx song ‘Metal Beat’ from his legendary 1980 album ‘Metamatic’. Metal Pete is very terrifying, he doesn’t feel anything, especially not mercy. It looks like nothing can stop Pete, except rust, perhaps.

Meanwhile, Jimi was grounded for a long time. He found several ways to break out of the garden (via espaliers, the roof of my pavilion, and various trees). The cat-friendly fence doesn’t seems to be working for him. Jimi managed to get back in my garden after wandering around in the gardens of my neighbours. Unfortunately, one day I got a call from one of my neighbours. Jimi was stuck in their garden and I had to catch him quick because they have 2 dogs; one is a mean big dog, from the breed that likes to hunt terrorists. This is such a shame. Mr. Bowie never tried to get out of the garden in 10 years time and was happy with the area he had to wander around. It shows that all cats are different. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to explain this new situation to Jimi (the adventurer & acrobat) and he doesn’t seems to be happy after going outside for 5 weeks. It was so great spending time outside with Mr. Bowie all those years. I’m afraid it’s going to be very difficult and unpleasant to do this without Jimi.

Oh, stop whining, you human! There are worse things in life; like queues for food in democratic and civilised countries, recurring police brutality and crazy lying politicians all over the world. Snap out of it, get yourself another espresso and watch some clips of the amazing Sarah Cooper! It’s a mad world out there…

Update: I’m letting Jimi out again with a new strategy. He can go for a walk in the morning (around 7 AM) before he gets his breakfast. After a while he comes back inside because he’s hungry. The rest of the day he has to stay inside. He seems to accept the new situation. Thank goodness.

I want to thank you with all my heart. All your heartwarming comments in the Teared Up A Little Bit post made me feel better and helped me get through this empty and sad day. I sincerely apologise for not replying to your comments.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Delta Echo Foxtrot

What’s in the box? Yes! After searching for years to buy a vintage Roland RE-201 Space Echo I finally found one in absolute perfect, near mint condition. The RE-201 Space Echo is an iconic audio effects unit that produces delay and reverb effects and inspired a generation of musicians. It was produced by the Roland Corporation from 1974 to 1990. I used to own one decades ago but sold the unit to buy a digital delay and reverb. Nowadays, a lot of musicians miss the real analog, moody, warm, gritty and unique sound of the Space Echo and they call it “the holy grail piece of equipment”.

I’m so happy that I found this iconic Roland Space Echo at a company in Antwerp, specialised in pro audio equipment and instruments. Anyone with even a passing interest in music production must surely have heard of the Space Echo at some point. Even Jimi was very interested. So I’m a happy musician and Jimi is a happy cat.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

The Spirit of Mr. Bowie

Adapting to a new environment. Adjusting to a new home is never easy, but who is to say that it’s impossible? Jimi’s adjusting quickly to his new home. It almost seems an invisible force guides him, as if the spirit of Mr. Bowie guides Jimi in his new forever home. Sometimes I notice an astonishing resemblance with Mr. Bowie, but on other moments he reacts completely different. Well, I guess we have to get used to each other.

Meanwhile Jimi likes to keep me company while I’m working in the studio. He seems to like my musical projects but I had to turn down the volume. In fact, Jimi can complete a traineeship for the job of studio technician. He’s very interested in all the wires and cables and maybe he can hit some hot jazz notes too!

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Man/Cat At Work

It’s oh so quiet… I have noticed nothing much is happening on HoB. But I’m still very busy and helping a crew is always fun. I’m giving my house and recording studio a complete makeover. The studio was rewired and got new furniture and equipment. All the (6m high) walls , ceilings and doors will be painted in colours based on black and two grey colours.

These are exciting times for Mr. Bowie. It’s a big challenge of supervising the painters and becoming friendly with them.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

A Day in the Studio

Musical update. Recently, I created a new customised work area in my recording studio. I’m working more ‘in the box’ instead of using my hardware equipment and analog synths. I bought a controller keyboard from Arturia, the KeyLab Essential 61. It gives me seamlessly integration with virtual instruments and DAW software. Right now I’m working on various contemporary orchestral songs using the great libraries from Spitfire Audio and Sound Dust.

Mr. Bowie, the studio technician, likes my new way of working. But when everything is up and running he prefers to take a break in the bathroom.

Mr. Bowie is still on his special weekend antibiotic medication. It looks like he’s alright and the situation is under control. Next month we’re going back to the hospital for a medical check-up.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Very Noisy

94.5 dB. Right now I’m working on a new song using a heavily compressed and saturated jazzy drum loop in combination with some rare and vintage samples from a popular sci-fi tv show from the 60’s. You can lose your hearing when working or spending time in a noisy place or listening to loud music a lot, even without realising it. So you better stay away from loud noise or music as much as you can.

Unfortunately, I have to use a vacuum cleaner regularly. It looks like my vacuum cleaner is a hard rock and heavy metal model…

Mr. Bowie, a very wise cat, made a strategic retreat and found a safe haven.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

He’s Back!

Finally! Mr. Bowie’s back… but actually, he was never gone. Guess he was only trying to keep a low profile. Right now Mr. Bowie’s looking forward to spring and summer, just like the rest of us in this part of the world. He’s right on top of the really important issue: getting the garden ready for new catnip plants! He has become a real expert on harvesting, storing and drying catnip. I wonder if I should give up my career as a musician and get started into the catnip business…

In the next post, we’ll talk about “eastern European gangs of thieves” and how Mr. Bowie deals with it.

Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Coolest Jobs in the World

Think about it. Some of the coolest careers also rank among the world’s rarest jobs. In life, we often say cats have the most important job in the world. Except for one of the most popular jobs in the US of A, and probably in some other parts of the world.

Mr. Bowie, a well known studio technician, loves his job. He sets up and adjusts synthesizers, microphones and headsets in recording booths, operates mixers and audio control panels, and advises performers on how to adjust their vocals. Don’t underestimate the value of an excellent studio technician. So I don’t complain when he’s sleeping on the job. On the other hand, I call myself a rock musician and my music is inspired by Kraftwerk, the pre-1980 Pink Floyd, Depeche Mode and Trent Reznor. There must be something wrong with the volume, the tempo or the bass…

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Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Yellow Submarine

Breaking news! Upgrading my studio monitors already had a serious impact. An English rock band, formed in Liverpool, arrived in my studio today. I was very happy about the way in which the agreement with the band came about. However, I was a bit amazed when they arrived in a weird and wonderful vehicle.

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Thank goodness I got by with a little help from my friend and famous studio technician, Mr. Bowie. And our friends are all on board and the band begins to play… It’s easy. All you need is love.

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Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

KH 310 A

What’s in the box? Sometimes a cat’s mood can get “stuck” on sad. When this happens, it affects our lives. Mr. Bowie wasn’t pleased when I decided to return two boxes back to the store. But the next day, his mood changed so quickly when he saw the new and bigger boxes. Immediately, Mr. Bowie had the situation well in paws.

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The story behind the story. Eleven months ago I got myself two Neumann KH 120 A near-field studio monitors. Due to my tinnitus ear problem, I have to work in a lower volume level. I was missing some depth and punch in the sound of the KH 120 A’s. Totally by coincidence, the guys from the local music store made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I could exchange the monitors for a more powerful model, the Neumann KH 310 A active studio monitor. The KH 310 three-way active tri-amplified monitor is just perfect for tracking, mixing, and mastering my music at low volume levels. At the end of the day, I was happy, Mr. Bowie was happy. Isn’t life grand?

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Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

OB-6

How to make a cat and his human happy. A big box from San Fransisco arrived yesterday. Sender: Dave Smith Instruments. Hallelujah! Dave Smith Instruments is an American company based in San Francisco, California which manufactures electronic musical instruments. Inside this box: the OB-6 Desktop, a 6-Voice Polyphonic Analog Synthesizer. The OB-6 is a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between the two most influential designers in poly synth history, Dave Smith and Tom Oberheim. The OB-6 sound engine is inspired by Tom Oberheim’s original SEM, the core of his acclaimed 4-voice and 8- voice synthesizers.

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This is an example of an activity we both enjoy, making music and a studio technician living in a box. Our aim, as I told you before is to rock you, some day soon.

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Enjoy this beautiful day, my friends, wherever you are. Peace, love and understanding.

Play It Loud

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Turn up the volume! Having spent days, it feels great to finally finish mixing a new song. There are many differences between experiencing a track on different speakers. A well produced song should sound great on everything from laptop speakers, cheap small speakers to a high-end hi-fi. I prefer mixing on speakers at low volumes but my studio technician, Mr. Bowie, prefers to hear loud, dynamic music.

Soon we will rock you.

Blackstar

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Studio closed today. I’m not feeling guilty for taking a break today to enjoy and discover Blackstar, David Bowie’s 25th album, released on his 69th birthday.

PS: Let there be no ambiguity: Mr. Bowie isn’t named after David Bowie. His name refers to Lester Bowie, an American jazz trumpet player and composer.

A.I.

Artificial Intelligence? No! Only a new Audio Interface. Mr. Bowie, a respected and world-famous studio technician, told me that the studio needed an audio upgrade. Up to now, a USB connection on the mixer was used to and from the Mac to record and play live sound. The specs promised us CD quality to and from the Mac. Well, we didn’t hear that.

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Mr. Bowie recommended to buy the Apollo Twin Interface from Universal Audio. With its class-leading resolution and Realtime UAD Processing, Apollo Twin sets a new standard for desktop music production. This 2×6 Mac Thunderbolt interface allows you to record with near-zero latency through the full range of UAD Powered Plug-Ins — ingeniously merging classic analog tones with cutting-edge features.

Mr. Bowie also told me he needed active studio monitors. He preferred something from Neumann because he liked the shipping boxes. The KH 120 A studio monitor is designed for use as a near-field loudspeaker. The KH 120 A represents the latest in acoustic and electronic simulation and measurement technologies to ensure the most accurate sound reproduction possible. It’s perfect for tracking, mixing and mastering in music, broadcast, project and post-production studios.

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One day soon, we will rock you.

Back to Work

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A working studio technician is a happy studio technician. It’s Monday and Mr. Bowie is getting himself back in the groove, after taking some time off on the sofa. Getting great work done isn’t always just about finding a rush of inspiration, it’s also about defining your goals and setting yourself up in a productive work environment.

Mr. Bowie thinks it’s about time to buy a new box with a synth inside. He’s checking out the new Prophet-6, a 6-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer with a modern twist.  It’s Dave Smith’s tribute to the poly synth that started it all—the Sequential Prophet-5. But please, Mr. Bowie, I told you before, you must keep an eye on the studio budget. A studio technician usually performs this routine task. Get back to work, Mr. Bowie!

Sofa Part 2

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How do you know when you’re ready to go back to work after your time off? Going back to work can be stressful. Are you really ready, Mr. Bowie? I’m laying down the tracks of a new song. Issues of timing, dynamic, pitch and tone need a critical ear.

One of These Days

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Recording studio technician at work. All right Mr. Bowie, make sure that you are sitting right in front of the display and that your face is at 90 degrees to the center of the monitor while working with Logic Pro X. I know friends and followers are waiting to hear some music. But one of these days we will rock you.

On Your Mark

IMG_7694 Cats on your mark, get set, go! Monday. Ready to start a new week? Weather forecast looks very promising and temperatures are set to soar above 30 degrees Celsius. We’re not going to spend much time with electronic devices in the recording studio. Yeah, we’re gonna be so cool. Twisting by the pool. And ice cream. Do I even need to say anything more?

Cat on a Wire

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Just another day at the studio. An attempt is being made to untie this Gordian knot by Mr. Bowie, the studio technician. How many cables do I need to record a pop song?

Dilemma

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You must accept either A, or B. A dilemma is a problem offering two possibilities, neither of which is practically acceptable. I want to record a drum track in real time without looping. Mr. Bowie wants to take a nap without earplugs.

Fall Asleep at Work

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What’s causing you to be sleepy? This afternoon I was working in the studio on a new song. I was laying down a rough version of the drum track and programming bass sounds on the Minimoog Voyager. I caught the studio technician, Mr. Bowie, sleeping on the job. So what’s wrong here? Do I have to pump up the bass, speed up the tempo, increase the volume level above maximum or learn how to write a really good song?

Falling asleep on the job can risk your employment, Mr. Bowie. Okay, maybe he was taking a power nap. Sleeping just 20 minutes helps activate the right hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for processing and storing acquired information. I think I need a nap too…

Studio Technician

Job description. Studio technicians, also known as sound engineers, operate equipment used to process and record sound for radio, TV, movies, DVDs, CDs and multimedia. They set up and adjust synthesizers, microphones and headsets in recording booths, operate mixers and audio control panels, and advise performers on how to adjust their vocals. Some recording technicians have only a high-school diploma and receive training on the job from more experienced staff or audio supervisors. However, many employers prefer an enthusiastic cat like Mr. Bowie.

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Boys Keep Swinging

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“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” – Pablo Picasso

Boys always work it out. The recording studio is almost up and running. I’m experiencing some minor issues regarding the communication between a MIDI interface and the synthesizers. A MIDI setup is the physical connection between all the MIDI devices and the computer. A typical setup consists of a MIDI interface, a computer, and the actual MIDI equipment such as keyboards, sound modules and synthesizers. I’m working to find fixes for the problems. Meanwhile, Mr. Bowie is passionate, excited and eager to learn to play the synthesizer…

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