Endless Exploration

Plumbing the depths of a module from Blukač

There’s a synthesizer module called the Endless Processor made by the company Blukač, which is based in Ukraine. The Endless Processor uses various techniques, including what’s called granular synthesis, to achieve a “clickless stream while preserving the timbral and tonal character of the original” source audio that is fed into it. The result is quite beautiful. You send the Endless something and it captures a brief moment (details at blukac.com), which it can then hold indefinitely. There are numerous devices that accomplish similar end results, each with its own sonic qualities, and the Endless has caused several musicians I follow to explore and document its inherent characteristics.

A musician going by the name Olio, who is from Trentino-South Tyrol in Italy, released an eight-track set of quavering drones of varying types, simply titled Endless:


And Ras Thavas, based in California, produced three tracks that constitute Endless Processor Studies, including a 20-minute one you can really get lost in:


Settle into both albums and listen for the hallmarks — the watermark — of the Blukač Endless Processor. In effect, while the Endless synthesizer module was designed to identify and hold the tonal qualities of a specific moment in time, musicians like Olio and Ras Thavas are helping identify and hold the tonal qualities of the device itself.

Flip (Book) Over This Korg Demo

Beginning with the fundamental

One of the largest if not the largest synthesizer events just wrapped up in Germany. This would be Superbooth 2023, a huge showcase for companies that design and build synthesizer (and related) equipment. As the years have passed, it’s become easier and easier to experience Superbooth from afar (I’ve never been), thanks to the magical portal that is YouTube. I wanted to highlight one piece of gear in particular, and less so the gear than the manner in which it was presented. 

Tatsuya Takahashi, founder of the Berlin spin-off of the Japanese firm Korg, unveiled an “acoustic synthesizer,” and while the device itself is quite interesting, I was particularly struck by the simple means by which he explained how its unique sound-producing technology functions: the Korg Berlin team printed up a bunch of paperback flip books, a page of which is shown above.

At about the 1:41 timecode in the video, Tats, as he’s called, compares the physical motion within this synthesizer to that of a ruler on the end of a desk being plucked and “bobbing up and down.” Each flip book shows a different frequency, beginning with the fundamental, the lowest one. When Tats shows the first overtone, the flip book displays how the “arms” of the element within the device move in a different way than they did for the fundamental, and so on. The synthesizer itself looks (and sounds) quite interesting, but the presentation is a testament to what a clear communicator Tats is. The interview is well worth watching. It’s just 12 minutes long.

Scratch Pad: Muzak, Dreams, Scores

I do this manually each Saturday, usually in the morning over coffee: collating most of the little comments I’ve made on social media, which I think of as my public scratch pad, during the preceding week (or in this case, the past two weeks). These days that mostly means post.lurk.org (Mastodon).

▰ I’ve read some great Chinese fables that characterize something akin to hell. None of them mentioned the piano rendition of “Living on a Prayer” playing in this restaurant while I wait for takeout.

▰ I experienced something this morning I wrote about a few weeks ago (in the context to a scene in a film), which was waking to an alarm I first experienced in my dream as something where my brain tried to insinuate the presence amid whatever narrative was unfolding, and eventually I woke to what was actually happening. In this case, the alarm in my dream first sounded like loud insect noise, until recognized what was actually happening.

▰ Can the new Pixel Tablet UX be installed on a Samsung Tablet (it doesn’t really matter, ’cause I 99% of the time just use the Samsung as a Duet extension of my MacBook).

▰ I’ve come to wonder if this electric car I’ve been driving turns off the fake engine noise when it hits a certain speed, and if there’s a speed when the sound of the car moving is quieter than the combination of a slower speed and the fake engine noise

▰ Nothing spoils a TV/movie thriller quite like rote music. If the director approves rote music, it undermines every other decision they made.

Tape Loop

Digital chatter about analog tools

I know a few people who have actually left social media behind, but a lot of the time people who argue for exiting social media mean one thing by it, while participating — sometimes quite heavily — on another: no Facebook, but plenty of Mastodon; no Twitter, but loads of Instagram; no TikTok, but knee deep in Reddit. It’s a bit like people who mention with some frequency how there’s no TV in their home, but thanks to the “it doesn’t count” screen called a laptop or a tablet, they’re more than fluent when it comes to the latest prestige series.

Like many things, social media in moderation — both in frequency and subject matter — can be fine. This was all on my mind as conversation unfolded on a post I made the other day about a hand-me-down Sony cassette player-recorder — not here, but on Instagram, where the benefits of #hashtags brought people I didn’t even know to the post. And they, along with others I do know, shared their experience with cassettes, including (see the screenshot above) tips about the object in hand.

Catching Up

Some posts of note from the past 30 days: