Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Massive press onslaught: Interviews in Orkus, Sonic Seducer, Negatief and more

Check out the May 2010 issues of Sonic Seducer, Orkus and Negatief magazines for interviews with Shiv-r! 
These are major print magazines in Germany with widespread distribution and you can even pick them up in German supermarkets, along with all the teen and gossip magazines.  In fact, last time I was in Germany I recall seeing a Sonic Seducer billboard-sign alongside a highway near Berlin!

If you can't get to a newstand in Germany, we have also done an online interview for Chaos Tune e-zine, which you can read here

Additionally, last time Kong and I were in the same country we did a VIDEO INTERVIEW in my home studio wherein we discuss our album and how we work on our productions.  Check it out here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Acess Virus TI Desktop

The moment anyone plays with one of these babies, they have to have one, and I am no exception. For those people who dig on observing the back of my head (and who doesn’t?), here am I getting my first taste of Access action while working in Virul3nt’s studio on a remix…

For anyone interested enough to be reading this, you all probably know what the Access range is all about, so I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say, these are probably the best sounding DSP machine around, and Total Integration pretty much puts it at the pinnacle of usability, especially for lazy types like me who grew up on welfare cheques and cracked soft synths… anyone who disrespects me for that can take either their trust fund ass, or their born before the 1980s ass, home.

Chances are you live in a city where a slice of Access action is available at every corner shop, but Bangkok is a different matter. It was magical and mysterious journey tracking one of these down. After a lot of phone calls and confused secretaries I finally narrowed things down to two shops (first thing to do is pronounce it Access “Wirus”… if you are ever in the neighbourhood). The first shop didn’t have any in stock, but was willing to order one in at a ridiculously inflated price. The second had just the one in stock, and had been using it as a showroom piece. So the showroom it would be and this lead me to an obscure little shop with blacked out windows next to a smelly canal. A big fat white guy (who used to run the national radio station of Bhutan or Brunei or something… how the fuck do people get these jobs??) explained that he occasionally got them in because he has a friend who works for Access, and probably only sells about one per year.

In the end this was all quite good luck seeing as I got a nice price for it, all be it for a synth that has been sitting  in a glass cabinet for a couple of years and 25% less processing power than the current TI2 line (more about the processing power later). Setup and OS upgrades were absolutely painless and experienced very few of the glitches that earlier versions of the TI concept seem to be notorious for. So far, so good (incidentally, OS updates take a long time, don’t try this ten minutes before you have to go to work), but what kind of review would this be without me making my bones…

The DAW:

First of all, I am a Cubase user and I am using SX 3.1, the minimum DAW requirement. Like Virul3nt, I find other DAWs confusing and infuriating, so don’t you fucking dare suggest I try anything other than what I know. It works quite happily in SX 3.1, but certainly not at its full potential. In Virul3nt’s comments there were issues with external audio inputs not working through the usb connection, which was rectified by upgrading to 3.1, and I can confirm this, mine is working with external inputs just fine. My issue is that it is not possible to route cubase channels back into the Virus. It would be very nice to be able to do this, and I actually have some other stuff permanently plugged into the virus external inputs so I can take advantage of its gorgeous delays etc. I would like to be able to do this with audio tracks in cubase as a virtual route, but as it is the only way I could do this is with physical patching. This seems to be a pity given how well the rest of the synth functions inside the DAW. It is possible to do this is in Cubase 5, but I don’t have any plans to upgrade anytime soon… so I am just going to have a bit of pout now, and move on with my life.

The Polyphony:

You will get both sides of this in internet opinion land. While one person will say they have never run out of voices, another will say they kill it after 5 parts. Chances are the former writes simple electro, and the latter writes trance or some kind of shitty new age music. There are plenty of people screaming that Access exaggerates their polyphony count. People don’t seem to be able to except this is NOT some polyphonic analog where you got x number of oscillators and it will be the same under all circumstances, thinking the 80 or so voices Access promises should be available under all circumstances?? Think again, chump. I’m sure with very simple parts you could easily get all 16 possible slots on the virus going simultaneously, but start throwing in unison, hypersaws and fx and this possibility goes out the window, welcome to cpu-ville. I often kill mine after about 5 parts, but then I like my fx and unison and just have to accept it. And if one were thinking in terms of it dying after just 5 parts, the extra power of the TI2 is really only going to buy you one more voice, so I don’t especially feel like I missing anything by having a TI1. To be honest, though, I did expect a little more. I would like to commend Access on how well it handles cpu overloading. Rather than the expected stutters etc., when the cpu overloads a voice cuts out gracefully and doesn’t disturb the others. I would also like to point out that is one were tossing up between the Nord Lead 2x rack and a slightly more expensive Virus Ti Snow… well the Snow a) sounds better b) TI motherfucker!! And c) with a 20 voice polyphony count, the nord will be chocking a lot quicker than the virus.

Snap, Crackle, Pop:

I had heard that it will give will bursts of static/noise fairly randomly when the series was first released. After about 3 months of quite heavy usage, the little bastard has done this to me once or twice, and the machine wasn’t even especially stressed. It seems usually just one patch confuses it, but fortunately it works ok when the offender is solo-ed, and rendering it sorts out the problem. Just to clarify, I am using the BETA version of OS4 at the time of writing this, so I could be making too much of a point with this…

The Default Patch:

When the TI software boots, it automatically goes to clean patch called “init”… and I fucking HATE it. For one, it loads with a 50/50 mix between osc 1 and 2, with osc 2 slightly de-tuned. This gives you a slightly pusling open saw wav, the worst sound in the world. I would ideally like osc 1 straight up, straight up saws being the sound that inspired Adam to bone Eve. I usually start my patches from osc 2 because it has more modulation possibilities, but I can appreciate how silly it sounds to have the default patch outputting just osc2, so I will leave that issue be (though I think osc 1 should have more modulation… yadadada, I will stop with that now). The second issue is that the two filters load with linked cutoffs as low pass – low pass. Noooooooooooo, I want LPF to HPF by default. I’m sure some people feel ever so analog with the current default… but I specialize in scratchy annoying sounds and love my HPF action. I know I could fix all of this by overwriting the init patch, but the next OS update would probably just throw me back to square one.

Total Integration:

This is awesome. I mean just awesome. I am fairly certain that most synth manufacturers will be following Access’s lead on this one and creating vst instrument like software for their hardware machines. I barely know how to use the Virus from its front panel controls at all. My bone is that a lot of the Virus’s functions are, as of yet, are not represented in the vst software. I only actually have one example of this, but I’m going to jump to assumption there are more examples, because that’s just how I roll. When I run an external input into the virus, there doesn’t appear to be any place in the software to control the levels. I searched in vain, and finally discovered that there is a control, tucked away under a few menus on the actual synth’s front panel screen. This required me to stand up and go to the synth and press some buttons, and this filled me with potato baking rage. I want the virus to be a box that I can plug in and then handle entirely from software. On something analog, there is a great deal of pleasure turning knobs and flicking switches, but on something horrendously complex and digital with the masses of multipurpose pots and menu scrolling, there is nothing but pain, confusion and wasted brain power. Thankfully, Access is on the money with their software updates, and as time goes by, I’m sure ‘Total Integration’ will become more ‘Total’.

The Final Word:

This baby can just about do anything you want, but that is a double edge sword. For example, I am not a great fan of wavetable synthesis. In fact, if you were to come to my house with a Nord Wave and offered it to me for free I would shoot you with my grandaddy’s shotgun. I can’t tell you how much I hate wavetable synths, the only sound they do well is drippy hippy pads that belong with whale samples… so it seems kind of stupid to have shelled out for a top of the range synth knowing in advance you’re not really interested in using half of its functions. My argument against that is that I reserve the right to change my opinions about things tomorrow, and hey!! when I decide wavetable synthesis and whale samples are the best things EVER, I have a synth that kicks ass at it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

This is The End - filmclip coming soon

On 27 March 2010 we shot a filmclip for our song "The End", which features on our upcoming album Hold My Hand.  The filmclip is currently in post-production and will be released shortly after our album.

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The story follows an "innocent" protagonist who is drawn to a club called "The End", despite warnings along her path.  When she enters the club she realises it is far more sinister a place than she anticipated but before she can make her escape she is seized, tortured and eventually transformed.  This embodies the concept of our album-title "Hold My Hand", inviting the listener to come into our world and experience it through our eyes.  We want you to trust us, to feel safe with us, but can you really?  There is something far more sinister at play here.  This is not a party, this is a place of punishment.  This is The End.

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