Andrulian's blog

Creating sounds | Making music | supporting fellow musicians | reflections in time

Review of Ultratap delay effect by Eventide — August 28, 2017

Review of Ultratap delay effect by Eventide

 
Eventide have introduced Ultratap, a versatile multi-tap delay effect capable of a huge range of effects from rhythmic and glitchy delays, volume swells, tremelos and many more. It is available from Eventide’s website in VST, AAX and AU formats in 32/64 bit versions typically priced at $79 although is currently available at the discounted price of $49 for a limited time. A demo is also available. Ultratap uses iLok activation.

Ultratap started life way back in 1982 with the world’s first rack mount programmable audio processor, the Eventide SP2016, where a flexible 64 tap delay debuted as part of its Factory Program suite. By the late 80’s UltraTap had migrated to the legendary H3000 Harmonizer effects processor and then to the DSP4000 and H8000. Thanks to advances in technology, Eventide were able to include UltraTap in a portable compact form factor, the H9 Harmonizer stompbox. And now UltraTap has come back to the studio via your DAW and FOH environment, where it all began 35 years ago!

In summary, Ultratap is an excellent plugin which is very easy to start using and get to grips with. It comes with a very generous selection of presets which are excellent in their own right but also help you to learn how to shape and create your own effects. As well as the standard reverb / delay effects I especially like some of the more unusual glitchy and swell type effects that it can produce. I’ve really enjoyed using Ultratap and have created an album, unseen consequences which is embedded at the top of this post. I’ve used Cataract (Glitchmachines), Cassette 909 (BPB), Grain Voyager, U-Drone, Groove Matrix (Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3), Synthmaster 2 (KV331 Audio), Noisetar (Nusofting) and Subvert (Glitchmachines). It was recorded live in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3 and mastered in MuLab 7 using Overtone (Soundspot), Stage (Fiedler Audio) and Neutron (iZotope).

ultratap2

Ultratap has a clear, well defined interface although it isn’t resizable. The control knobs are large and allow easy adjustment of the controls to shape your sound as desired. There are 2 additional controls which give you further control over your sound. The ribbon allows you to program 2 settings for any controls and morph to any sound between the two. Hotswitch is programmable to instantly change to an alternate sound. The controls are designed to emulate manipulating hardware and I’d say they achieve this.

The input level is on the left hand side with a meter above and the output level is on the right hand side also with a meter above.

The signal flow is essentially input -> pre-delay -> tone -> slurm -> chop -> tap delay -> out.

The controls are pretty self explanatory.

Mix is the dry/wet setting. This control has a non-linear taper which puts most of the knob travel in the most usable range.

Length is the total time of the tap spacing with sync settings of your host or timing up to a maximum of 4 seconds.

Taps is the number of delay taps from 1 – 64.

Pre-delay is the amount of time before the taps start up to 1 second.

Spread is the rhythmic spacing. This can be a constant interval or a speed up or slow down setting.

Taper controls the fade of the taps. You can have equal gain, fade up or fade down.

Width – for stereo instantiations, this can be from centre panned to alternate hard left / right panning.

Tone is a simple control adjusting from darker to brighter sounding taps.

Slurm is a setting which adds slurring and modulation. Essentially as you increase the setting you lose attack and definition to get an increasingly ‘smeared’ sound.

Chop is a pre-tap chopping tremelo or auto-volume. The tremelo has several waveform options; auto-volume can produce swells or a gated effect.

Chop speed, ride or release is determined by the setting chosen on the chop dial. It’s a multi-functional control which sets the LFO speed for chop waveforms, the swell rise time or release for the trigger setting.

Tempo sync has 3 settings. When off, the tap button adjusts values for length and/or chop LFO waveform speed. You can also choose sync to sync to your host DAW tempo or manual to set times as required.

ultratap

The Ribbon is an innovative feature designed to emulate hardware. You can program left and right ranges and morph between them with the ribbon which looks like an electric arc.

It’s as simple as clicking on the white dot in the arc which shows the position of the knob dial in the range of travel and dragging it to the left hand side of the ribbon. You then click the blue dot on the opposite side of the arc and drag it to where you want the right side of the ribbon to represent. You can then adjust the range of ribbon settings by moving the dots or right click to delete them.

Active turns the effect on and off.

Hotswitch allows you to adjust settings so that you can switch between effects. It’s easy to set up, long-press to enter programming mode, make the required changes and then long-press to exit programming mode. When you press the hotswitch button you toggle between the two settings.

Tap controls are determined by sync mode. If tempo sync is off, tapping this button will update length and/or chop LFO waveform speed value to match a quarter note at the tempo being tapped. If tempo sync is manual, pressing this button updates the tempo value. It has no effect in sync mode.

The top part of the display has presets. There are about 150 arranged by effect type – delay, modulation, pad and ambient, glitch and stutter, artist name. These are excellent quality sounds and give some great starting points to experiment with, tweak or use as they are.

You can load/save from this menu bar and there are handy options to ‘compare’ whioh toggles between current settings and the last saved or loaded preset. Mixlock enables all presets to be loaded at a specific mix setting.

Advertisements
Review of Amalgame multi-fx (filter/delay/glitch) VST by Inear Display — August 24, 2017

Review of Amalgame multi-fx (filter/delay/glitch) VST by Inear Display

Amalgame is a multi-effect plugin aimed to streamline the creation of complex signal processing chains.

It is available as VST and AU formats for Windows and OS X in 32/64 bit versions from Inear Display’s website typically priced at 59 Euros plus VAT. A demo version is also available.

It features a library of 23 effects from filters and delays to more esoteric and glitchy processors. You can select upto 6 effects which can be dropped onto an X Y pad where the X and Y parameters of each pad can be sequenced with independent rate and length for each sequence.

Starting the review with the conclusions, Amalgame is very easy to use, has a great sound and really encourages you to dive in and start experimenting. It can produce a massive range of sounds from reverbs and delays, harmonic type effects to glitchy metallic sounds, filter sweeps to distorted saturated sounds.

It works really well on a whole range of sounds – synths, drum loops, pads in fact pretty much any sound can be processed in interesting ways, for instance drum loops can have a subtle glitch, metallic or distorted effects to filter sweeps and more unusual effects.

I’ve created an album embedded above which was recorded in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock III using a number of the in-built samplers – u-drone; grain sampler; x-fade looper along with Synthmaster 2.8, Noisetar and random triggered samples all processed with instances of Amalgame. The album was mastered in MuLab 7 using Overtone, Stage and Neutron.

As with other Inear Display plugins, the user interface is clearly laid out and easy to use and navigate.

The top section contains the preset controls – load, save, settings etc.

fx library

The section below is the effects library. These are sorted by coloured thematic groups and are simply dragged into a slot below. Each slot has 3 tabs. The PAD tab enables the XY view where moving the pad will alter the parameters of the current effect; X SEQ and Y SEQ tabs allow you to sequence XY pad movement. These tabs have a dot on the right hand side which toggles the sequence on and off. Sequence data can be edited by clicking and dragging over the steps. You can also adjust the rate and length of each sequence using the dedicated controls below.

The bottom section has very handy randomise controls as well as global controls for input / output and mix controls.

Amalgame comes with 34 presets which give a good idea of the sort of effects that can be produced although it really encourages you to jump in, start experimenting and see what sounds result.

It’s very easy to start using Amalgame, the effects are colour coded into categories of utility, filter, delay, modulation / timbre alteration, distortion and special processors (there’s also a THRU which acts like a bypass) which gives you some idea of the range and possibilities of Amalgame.

Once an effect is dragged into a slot, the little bar changes colour to that of the effect group and displays its name. Clicking on the title turns the effect on and off. Above the title bar are the three buttons to select the PAD, X SEQ or Y SEQ tabs with the PAD the default view.

pad

The coloured circle represents the XY parameters which are automatable in your DAW or can be assigned to a MIDI controller. The XY parameters can also be controlled using a dedicated sequencer.

Sequences are inactive by default, you need to enable them by clicking on the dot on the right side of the tab. There are controls for rate which adjusts the duration of one step according to host tempo and length which sets the number of steps in a sequence from 2 to 16. There’s also a play mode button which has left to right, right to left and random settings. There’s also a RND button which sets all steps to random values.

Sequences offer many possibilities from simple automation, LFO type effects, arpeggiator effects to evolving sounds with sequences that play at different rates with different numbers of steps.

The randomiser is a very handy feature. There are 4 randomisation options – XY to randomise X and Y positions; FX to randomise effect types; SEQ to randomise sequence settings and steps; ALL to randomise all 3 of these.

Review of ‘Ghost in the Polaroids’ album by Jubilee Club on Ramber Records — August 17, 2017

Review of ‘Ghost in the Polaroids’ album by Jubilee Club on Ramber Records

 
It’s really difficult to pin down the sound of this EP, it’s got future garage, dubstep, electronic and indie influences blended into Jubilee Club’s own unique sound. The EP is really well arranged and produced with excellent synth and guitar sounds and superb vocals.

Ghost in the Polaroids
Delayed panned percussive sounds, strings and bell / chime riff to open create an atmospheric opening. The vocals enter to set the scene and the bass gives a good momentum. The processed vocal snippets add an excellent element. The drumming / percussive pattern is processed with distortion / bit crush which adds a great edge.

Reasons
Atmospheric opening from pad, background conversation and electric piano chords. The vocals have a great presence and add an edge of tension. The drumming pattern enters with a bell / chime riff and give a solid momentum. Nice change of feel when the kick and bass enter. There’s a great ambience to the synth riff.

Actions
Another atmospheric opening with background sounds, shaker type sound, electric piano and guitar riff. Superb vocals again, a great angst to them. The opening has a pensive quality given a defined momentum when the drumming pattern enters. Great contrast between the laid back and more uptempo elements.

Move Over
Distorted, delayed percussion with emerging strings to open, the vocals aren’t as upfront as other songs, sitting quieter in the mix and having a more ethereal feel. A great contrast between the drive of the kick and more laid back atmospheric elements. The vocals take a more spoken style and are more upfront with a great presence.

 
Ramber Records website | facebook

Jubilee Club twitter | facebook

Review of ‘These Small Things Rebuild’ album by Ghost Signs — August 15, 2017

Review of ‘These Small Things Rebuild’ album by Ghost Signs

 
This is an excellent album, there’s a superb ambience from drones, guitar riffs and strings. The songs are excellently arranged, often with contrasting elements and an edge of tension. There’s great use of tape loops and subtle use of spoken vocals.

Black and White Dreams of a Distant Faded Past
A slow evolving opening with drone and rattling wind chime type of sound, there’s a barely audible voice in the background which adds a great element. A subtle movement in the sound, an excellent ambience.

Angelflicker Dying on the Cold Cathode Ray
Guitar riff sits low in the background with a similarly subtle drone a bit like a buzzing insect. The strings similarly emerge subdued and there’s a background looping recording. Bass drone slowly evolves to give a pulsing type of effect. It’s a captivating sound, kind of draws you in as the different themes and elements emerge and grow.

This Town was Built on Landfill and Salt
Evolving drone with subtle bass and almost reversed harsh string sound, there’s a ringing bell that adds contrast and a movement in the sound like a looping quality. The emerging guitar lead adds an excellent element. Another excellent evolving soundscape, the feedback and noise to end builds a great tension.

What Comes After the Bomb?
Slow evolving opening with subdued strings which ebb and flow with a distorted, subdued feel. Emerging vocals have a distant feel building tension to a release.

Hazy Recollections of Another Miami Morning Coming Down
Another brilliantly evolving soundscape, the piano has a pulsing looping quality with a bass drone. A melody emerges and the spoken words have a distant, ethereal feel. Distorted guitar adds a great element. Tension builds slowly to a final release.

Ghost Signs website | twitter | facebook | soundcloud

Review of ‘Ether’ by Demian Castellanos on Cardinal Fuzz and Out Of Phase Frequencies — August 10, 2017

Review of ‘Ether’ by Demian Castellanos on Cardinal Fuzz and Out Of Phase Frequencies

 
Cardinal Fuzz and Out Of Phase Frequencies are proud to announce a new release by Demian Castellanos of ambient and otherworldly music. The album is released on Black Vinyl in an edition of 250 and comes in a sumptuous Metallic Gold screen printed sleeve with full colour insert. It’s also available as a digital download from Cardinal Fuzz and is embedded above.

Demian Castellanos is best known as the man behind the London psyche rock outfit The Oscillation. Recorded in Cambridge 1995 Demian returned to the recordings in the winter of 2015 where the tapes were transferred and mixed at Xibalba Studios.

This is presented a single piece, 30 minutes in length. Ether has a superb flow, an excellent ambience and hypnotic sound. The arrangement and production is spot on, each sound has its place and has space to evolve.

The opening creates a superb tension with delayed guitar creating a swirling, ebb and flow feel accompanied by deep bass and sound effects which create a great soundscape. The tension resolves to a more ambient feel with a riff, swelling bass and percussive sound effects. A really subtle change with a distorted trem guitar and swirling background sounds. The reversed guitar works really well too. A shimmery riff and distorted phased / flanger sound builds the tension and is propelled by bass and delayed strummed chords with a great release to a more laid back feel with a slow solo and just an edge of tension with a slow release to end.

Cardinal Fuzz twitter | facebook | website

The Oscillation twitter | facebook

Review of Yagow s/t album on Crazysane Records — August 8, 2017

Review of Yagow s/t album on Crazysane Records

 
This is an excellent album with a psych / stoner feel and a hypnotic sound. There are some excellent grooves propelled by solid drumming and bass. A great variety of guitar sounds from cleaner to a heavy distorted sound. There are some excellent background sounds and great use of delay / feedback. The vocals tend to sit low in the mix and have an ethereal kind of feel which suits the style of the album really well.

Horsehead Nebula
A pulsing, swirling opening from bass and background sounds, the riff has a brooding quality, slowly building tension to the introduction of drumming which gives a great momentum. The vocals sit low in the mix and have a laid back, ethereal feel. The song has an excellent psych / stoner vibe.

Snake Charmer
Delay and feedback leads into a riff accompanied by drumming and percussive rhythm. The song has an Indian feel, it’s another excellent groove with a shimmery, repeating riff and laid back vocals. Some excellent sound effects lead into a more distorted riff and superb change to an uptempo groove.

Moss and Mint
Slow Distorted riff to open leads into an excellent groove propelled by solid drumming and bass with a more acoustic sounding lead. The vocals again have a laid back feel. There are nice changes in feel, some excellent background effects and a solo / lead which really compliments the vibe.

Time to Get Rid of It
Opens with a slow riff then is propelled with solid drumming and bass and superb heavy, distorted guitar. Vocals again are laid back and sit low in the mix, it’s a solid groove with a heavy feel and nice contrast with the less distorted riff. There’s a great release of tension before the heavy groove returns to round out the song.

Non-contractual
A pulsing opening propelled by drumming, a slightly distorted guitar riff is accompanied by vocals leading into a solid groove. It’s a hypnotic sound.

Nude-on-the-Moon Dance
There’s almost a tribal feel to the opening with bass drone, drumming, subdued guitar riff and shimmery guitar chords which create an excellent layered sound. This leads into a more uptempo groove with a heavier sound and great vocals again.

Review of Hawkeyes / The Radiation Flowers split LP on Sunmask / Cardinal Fuzz — August 3, 2017

Review of Hawkeyes / The Radiation Flowers split LP on Sunmask / Cardinal Fuzz

 

 
Hawkeyes are a 6 piece instrumental heavy psychedelic space rock band from Kitchener Ontario. Their claustrophobic wall of sound flows from heavy, dark, and monolithic textured ambience towards more spacious soundscapes that always worships at the altar of Pompeii.

Saskatoon’s The Radiation Flowers revisit classic shoegaze and the 4AD sound with a heavier guitar driven edge. Dark, smoky ambience with floating vocals play off against analog fuzz guitars and a solid pulsing low end.

This was released as a limited pressing of 350 copies on eco colour vinyl with full colour printed inner sleeve and limited CDr release in vinyl replica jacket on 7th July 2017. Unsurprisingly the vinyl has sold out although the tracks are available digitally from the respective bandcamp pages which are embedded above.

It’s an excellent pairing for a split LP. Hawkeyes have a brooding, heavy sound with superb grooves propelled by solid drumming and bass, great changes in feel and excellent soloing too. The Radiation Flowers similarly have a distorted sound and superb grooves propelled by solid drumming and bass on 33 Floors up but demonstrate more of a shoegaze feel with dreamy vocals and laidback grooves on Always on the Ground and Never Fade.

Hawkeyes – Atom Heart Motherfucker
Acoustic riff, bass and sparse riff create a great vibe to open with excellent change of feel when the distorted riff enters. It’s a slow groove, purposeful with a great edge of tension. The solo sits low in the mix, gradually building tension to a release followed by uptempo riffing, drumming and bass and an edgy solo which releases to a slower groove ending with distortion / feedback.

Hawkeyes – Creator Destroyer
Acoustic riff to open accompanied by subtle bass leads into a distorted, harmonised groove propelled by solid drumming. The solo adds a great tension leading to a release with slightly distorted riff and subtle background conversation. Drumming enters to give momentum and tension builds to a final, sudden release.

The Radiation Flowers – 33 Floors Up
An excellent opening momentum from riffing, drumming and bass which creates a solid groove. Nice change in feel returning to the original groove.

The Radiation Flowers – Always on the Ground
Organ chord vamp, bass and drumming to open give a great feel to the groove, the guitar riff and wah solo build on this. The organ adds an excellent element. The vocals are superb, laid back with a dreamy feel. Distorted guitar riff adds a great tension building to a final release.

The Radiation Flowers – Never Fade
Distorted riff and chords to open, a slow purposeful groove propelled by solid drumming and bass. Superb vocals again with a dreamy feel. The song has great psych / stoner / shoegaze qualities. The solo and organ add excellent elements.

 
Cardinal Fuzz twitter | facebook | website

Sunmask Records facebook | discogs

The Radiation Flowers website | twitter

Hawkeyes facebook | website

Stand with Bandcamp this Friday 4th August in support of Trans Rights — August 1, 2017

Stand with Bandcamp this Friday 4th August in support of Trans Rights

Bandcamp is a platform for artistic expression, and all manner of variance in experience and identity, including gender and sexuality, is welcome. They support their LGBT+ users and staff, and they stand against any person or group that would see them further marginalized. This includes the current U.S. administration, and its recent capricious declaration that transgender troops will no longer be able to serve in the military. That this announcement was motivated in part to help fund the border wall exposes it as part of the administration’s cynical, discriminatory agenda.

In response, they will be donating 100% of their share of every sale on Friday, August 4th (from midnight to midnight Pacific Time) to the Transgender Law Center, a nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to change law, policy, and culture for the more equitable. TLC does critical policy advocacy and litigation on multiple fronts, fights for healthcare for trans veterans, defends incarcerated trans people from abuse in prisons and detention centers, supports trans immigrants, and helps trans youth tell their stories and build communities.

When an Executive Order was issued earlier this year barring immigrants and refugees from seven Middle Eastern countries from entering the United States, they held a wildly successful fundraiser for the ACLU. They hope you’ll join them in now doing the same in support of trans rights. To participate as a fan, simply purchase music through Bandcamp on Friday and they’ll donate their share of the sale to TLC. To participate as an artist or label, send some or all of your share of Friday’s sales directly to TLC here, and let them know your plan in the comments so that they can help spread the word. Thank you!

—Bandcamp Staff

Below, you’ll find a sampling of some of the music made by trans and gender non-conforming artists on Bandcamp. We hope that as you listen to these albums, you’ll discover some great new artists from all walks of life, who share their experiences in song.

Pandemix’s Poetic Punk Politics
Vocalist Shannon Thompson explains how she uses the genre’s tropes as a jumping-off point for her struggle to understand the world.

Glasgow’s Poisonous Relationship is an Unlikely Dance Music Genius
Jamie Crewe is an artist and filmmaker who explores gender, sexuality, mental health, and politics through surprisingly personal and poetic dance music.

Tica Douglas’s Theology of Uncertainty
The Master of Divinity student talks about how theological studies informs their identity and their haunting new record.

How Oakland’s Experimental Scene Became Browner, Queerer, and More Femme
Conscious efforts to be more inclusive have opened up space in the Bay Area noise and experimental scene for artists like Kohinoorgasm, Spellling, and Beast Nest.

Popper Burns Preach to the Punk Rock Choir
The Austin queercore/no-wave group create a drag world “bigger than an idea” where their audience can feel empowered.

TRNSGNDR/VHS and the Art of Confrontation
The Baltimore artist uses harsh noise to question accepted norms.

Theda Hammel on Giving Sondheim the Synth Treatment
On her EP SondHamm, the self-described “major trans celeb” turns classic Broadway showtunes into synth odysseys.

Vocaloids: Our Friends Electric
Computer-generated vocalists are helping artists like transgender musician Jamie Paige discover their voice.

Mykki Blanco Rips Up the Rule Book
Her new record finds her pivoting from wistful longing to fire-breathing on a dime.

Art-Pop Genius Oblivia on Martyrdom, Sainthood, and Stripping to Cat Power
Armed with a voice modulator and a drum machine, Local Honey, the trans femme performance artist behind Oblivia, says that her music aims to weaponize femininity to heal the wounds of patriarchy.

Tyler Holmes, San Cha, and Vainhein Imagine Experimental Queer Utopias
Three performance artists and musicians found inspiration to survive—and thrive—in their own ways, together, by channeling their rage to build something beautiful.

Hi Bias: Interview With Forced into Femininity
The latest tape by Forced Into Femininity (Chicago-based musician and performance artist Jill Flanagan), is only 10 minutes long, but its five songs pack a ton of power.

Big Ups: HIRS’ Queer Thrash Fury is Taking Over America
The Trans Girl Take Over tour takes the Philly collective to some unexpected places. Meet some of the bands they’re excited to share the stage with.

Album of the Day: ANOHNI, Paradise
On Paradise, ANOHNI imagines a utopia free of violence and masculine authority.

Album of the Day: Sweeping Exits, Glitter and Blood
The Portland glam-rock group switch up the power dynamics of horror.

Album of the Day: Aye Nako, Silver Haze
On Silver Haze, Aye Nako lulls listeners into comfort before turning the room upside down.

Review of ‘For the Sad, the Mad and the Lonely’ by Trium Circulorum (TCT4) —

Review of ‘For the Sad, the Mad and the Lonely’ by Trium Circulorum (TCT4)

Trium Circulorum is a recording name of Martin Kristopher who also records under 3dTorus, 3rd Witness and Kanal Drei. He is a prolific producer of consistently high quality albums and I’d definitely recommend checking out his back catalogue, there are a number of reviews I’ve done previously on my blog.

 
This is an excellent album, it has a hypnotic feel and is really well arranged and produced. There are some great synth sounds and development of percussive rhythms contrasting with the driving kick rhythm. There’s a looping / repeating feel and some of the tracks are like alternate versions.

Part 0
Noise and a looping pad type riff sitting low in the mix creates a great ambience.

Part 1
A 4:4 kick pattern with percussive impacts creates a great rhythm. The emerging synth riff sits low in the mix gradually increasing in volume with the kick rhythm becoming more urgent. It’s really well layered and produced and has a looping / repeating quality.

Part 2
A 4:4 kick rhythm to open with a synth riff sitting low in the mix, this song continues where part 1 left off, it’s like an alternative version. There’s great development of percussive rhythm and excellent layering and arrangement again.

Part 3
A great kick rhythm with a synth riff sitting low in the mix. I really like the development of the percussive rhythm which gives a greater urgency.

Part 4
Again an alternative version with different synth sounds, there’s a great interplay between the synth rhythm and kick rhythm. A drone adds a great element. The development of the percussive rhythm adds a great tension.

Part 5
An excellent opening with synth riff and developing percussive rhythm. The tension builds gradually with a great build and release.

Part 6
The kick rhythm has a subdued feel with percussive impact sounds and evolving drone with great movement which sits low in the mix gradually increasing in volume. The song has a hypnotic feel and a darker edge.

Trium Cirulorum twitter | bandcamp