New song on Bandcamp and YouTube – “downotocot”

Last month I finished working on something I started at Mono Lake in mid-January.

Back then, it was 10 degrees, with the wind chill often dropping below zero. Three feet of snow on the ground, and the long driveway half-plowed, with a stalled backhoe blocking the last 300 feet. The property’s solar panel arrays had 3 inches of iced snow stuck to them. To get power to the house, the ice had to be chipped — gently — off the panels. It was my first extended experience wearing snowshoes. Parts of it were painful, but, mostly, I enjoyed working to be independent off-grid.

Last month, when I returned to the space, it was the hottest weekend thus far this year in Mono County. The temperature on the veranda was 95F, and I heard the fans start up on my MacBookPro for the first time since I bought it.

After a few hours of sweat, and too many bug bites, I figured the track was ready.

This Friday, August 4, “downotocot” will be made available on Bandcamp. It’s available to be streamed now.

The accompanying video was recorded in January, during my approach to the Mono property from the east, since 395 was closed due to snow between Bridgeport and Conway Summit. You may notice there was only one other car on the road, most likely because it wasn’t that smart to be driving on roads that were, sometimes, less-than-half plowed.

As always, thanks for listening. And watching.

New Track: “Wilder So”

Today is Bandcamp Friday. This morning I recorded a new track, “Wilder So.” This afternoon and evening I worked on a video to accompany it. This is the result.

The track can be streamed and downloaded/purchased on Bandcamp.

Thanks for your support, and thank you for listening.

Special thanks to Kate Burkart and Ruth and Glenn Garland. And this track would not have been possible without the assistance of Dan Phillips.

New track: “Se Pivoti”

This is a new 19-minute track accompanied by a video I shot in December 2019.

There’s a shorter version of the track that’s currently a pay-what-you-want item on Bandcamp. Price will be raised to US$1 on or shortly after January 1, 2021.

Here’s hoping for a vastly improved 2021.

Thanks for listening.

What Month Is It?

Mono Lake, December 2018. Shot with an iPhone 7 by Paul.

Now for sale on Bandcamp — “What Month Is It?”, a track recorded on cassette in 1988 in a frumpy ground-floor townhouse rental in Davis, CA. I think this might’ve been one of the few things I worked on that didn’t cause the upstairs neighbors to bang on the floor.

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.

Firmware update via Modal app apparently fried the USB port on my Argon8

This is what I’d ba seeing on my laptop if I could still connect via USB. Photo courtesy Sound On Sound

Earlier this month I lugged my new Argon8 wavetable synthesizer to Mono Lake to do some recording.  I hooked it up via USB to my laptop, and fired up the Modal app for some patch editing. The app informed me a firmware update was available, so I downloaded it.

The synth was updated in less than 90 seconds. No problems.

Except the Modal app and my laptop no longer recognized the USB connection to the Argon8.

I rebooted everything. No luck. The Argon8 didn’t show up in the MIDI panel on the laptop. Hitting “refresh” on the app did nothing. Reinstalling the app did nothing. Running the firmware update again did nothing. The app still couldn’t find the synth.

The synth worked fine. The reason I brought it on the trip, however, was to modify factory patches. It’s reasonably easy with the app, but since the app wasn’t finding the synth, I had to do it the old-fashioned way: twisting knobs and saving custom presets.

I went back and forth with Modal support in the UK over the course of a week. They were patient and helpful, but finally told me they suspected the USB card on the Argon8 was hosed. They admitted this had never happened before. They offered to put me in touch with their US distributor, Voltage, but I never heard from the latter, and I’d already talked with Sweetwater, the reseller who originally shipped me the synthesizer.

There was no delay and no fuss — Sweetwater sent me a new replacement Argon8 immediately, along with a prepaid return label for the defective unit.

All that’s left to do is dump my custom presets as SysEx data so I can load them on the replacement unit when it arrives.

Thank you, Sweetwater (and Modal), for a fairly painless resolution to a situation that could’ve been a much bigger ordeal.

UPDATE (March 25, 2020): Let’s just say the process isn’t / wasn’t as “fairly painless” as I’d hoped. I can’t figure out how to dump the sysex patch data over MIDI without the Modal app — and, apparently, Sweetwater can’t either. Voltage, Modal’s US distributor, and Modal UK aren’t answering support requests. Hope to hear back from at least one of the three entities in the next day or so.

UPDATE (March 26, 2020): Voltage, Modal’s US distributor, didn’t “reach out” as Modal said they would on March 17. I sent Voltage a followup request on March 25, and another on the 26th, with no answer, no acknowledgment or autoreply.

I’d received some info from Sweetwater and, today, finally, Modal (after opening up yet another ticket) regarding getting the patch data off the defective unit using SysEx Librarian. The recommended process seemed like it was missing a step or two, but I tried anyway, in several different ways.

But after hours of various attempts to dump the sysex patch data into a laptop running SysEx Librarian with no luck, I’m giving Modal support one more day to see if they respond with more details. This has been going on since March 10, so it seems I’m jumping through all the requested hoops.

UPDATE (April 17, 2020): I finally got a call back from Voltage on March 30. Two of their employees were sympathetic and helpful over the phone. They offered to have me send back the defective unit, put a new USB card in it, dump the patches I’d made, then send me the patches so I could load them on the new synthesizer. This involved shipping a demo unit from Wisconsin to their office in LA. However, after several attempts to contact them again to work out the shipping address and other details, I got no response. After waiting two weeks I gave up, and returned both the defective Argon8 synth and the replacement for credit at Sweetwater.