Another Mono Retreat

View from the patio of my temporary Mono Lake abode (from December 2019).

In early December, I spent a week at my favorite place, Mono Lake.

The weather, for 7700 feet high-desert elevation at the eastern foot of the Sierra, in early December, was disturbingly mild. I was hoping for cloudy days and some snow, but there was none of the latter and little of the former. I did a lot of reading, writing, taking photos and videos, offroading in my truck, some volunteer work, and relaxing (somewhat).

I also spent some time working with the Korg wavestate, tweaking programs, recording, and tracking and processing some existing stuff.

Scrolling, cursoring, taking notes


A couple months back I traded in the defective Modal Electronics Argon8 for a Korg wavestate. The latter isn’t especially easy to learn, with a lot of menu-diving involved.

The stock “performances” that were oh-so-cinematic in the YouTube wavestate demos turned out to be, with few exceptions, not so alluring after a few listens; I spent last evening scrolling through program presets and making a list of favorites.

I’ve also been working on learning the ins and outs (and sends and inserts and returns and busses) on a new Mackie 1642VLZ4 mixer. Initial forays include incorporating blends from three different Buddha Machines, as well as continuing to digitize long-neglected Funharm cassettes dating back to the early-to-mid-eighties.

Funharm track on Bedroom Cassette Masters 1980​-​89 Volume X

Today Bedroom Cassette Masters released a free (well, pay-what-you-like) compilation on Bandcamp entitled 1980​-​89 Volume X that has some very snazzy PDF liner notes.

It also has a contribution from Funharm — track 13, “Ideal Planes”, from 1985. A portion of said PDF snazziness is screengrabbed above.

Thank you to Bedroom Cassette Masters for including my song, tracking down highlights from 80s (and 80s-influenced) home-recorded electronics, and putting together an impressive package.

(meanwhile, someplace just outside Lee Vining, CA)…

I find myself, as I often do, in the Eastern Sierra. I’m just north of Mono Lake. I head this way whenever I’m able to get time off work.

This time I brought more stuff than usual.

A couple months ago I purchased a demo unit of Modal Electronics’ Argon 8 wavetable synthesizer. Since then, I’ve been trying to learn its various knobs, patches, effects and other doodads.

The place I’m staying has no satellite TV, and very slow internet. It’s a good place to concentrate; the only real distraction is the view of the lake. It’s a good location for sketching out ideas and doing some recording (and re-recording).

I have an old M-Audio Firewire 410 interface that only works with old versions of OS X on old laptops. So I brought the old laptop. The Modal app, however — useful for patch editing and the like — only works on new(er) laptops. So I brought the new(er) laptop, too.

As misfortune would have it, the Modal app stopped recognizing the Argon after I upgraded the latter’s firmware this morning. The synth still works fine. So it goes.

More soon.

ultravillage interview

Mark Griffey interviewed me earlier this year for his ongoing Ultravillage project. While some aspects of the conversation seem a bit, um, exaggerated — I attempted to tone down certain portions after Mark graciously offered to have me fact-check — it’s flattering and more than a little overwhelming to see all this in print. And hey, there’s an embarrassing period photo to top it all off. </humblebrag>

you’re probably wondering why you’re here

Funharm?

Funharm was a low-fidelity home recording project that existed from 1981 through 1988. Most of the tracks consisted of improvised synth, guitar, and cheap rhythm machine, recorded straight to cassette, then overdubbed on a modified cassette deck.

Funharm issued two 90-minute cassettes that covered the first three years. For now, the 8.81 – 1.83 and Segments cassettes can be gotten via Discogs, and .mp3s, FLACs and other formats can be obtained on Bandcamp.

Other material is currently being located, edited, and cleaned up (but not too much). New music is being fussed over, as well. News regarding subsequent tracks and releases will be posted here.

If you’d like to buy stuff, need more information, or just want to chat, you can reach me at paul [at] funharm [dot] com.

Thanks for checking in.