Since my last update, two new albums have emerged from Soviet Space Dog Central here in North London. Admittedly, they’re both quite short (40 minutes and 19 minutes), so together they would almost make one “normal” album. As they’re effectively free, I’m not too bothered. One of my excuses for not doing that much recently (and I have many) is that I’ve spent quite a bit of time working on old Kubusschnitt material, following a find of a lot of old rehearsal CDRs. If you haven’t discovered Kubusschnitt, these are a good place to start, here’s a blog entry about the last three releases.
On to the first of the two new Soviet Space Dog Project releases: Journey to the Basalt Seas. This was inspired by that epic first adventure to our Moon nearly 50 years ago (at the time of writing). It’s still amazing to think what we accomplished all of that time ago (if you don’t believe the conspiracy theories, of course). It did make me wonder if we could do it again now…?
Interestingly, if you ever travel to Iceland the landscape on the bus journey from Keflavík Airport into Reykjavík you will see (in my opinion) a landscape close as to a lunar one as you are likely to find. The time I made that bus journey was also in my mind.
The music itself has a lot of AE Modular (from Tangible Waves) and Bastl Kastle (from Bastl Instruments) working together to produce the ambient background. These wonderful, value-for-money synths work together perfectly, with easy cross-patching. The background sounds were the result of just sitting and playing, hooked up to a few effects pedals and recording the whole thing live. I cannot recommend these two highly enough, especially together, with the Bastl Kastle working as a complex oscillator for the AE Modular.
Also on this album is a lot of Arturia MicroBrute. As they say in their own advertising, “LOOKS TINY, SOUNDS MASSIVE” – that’s certainly true, that little synth does produce some punchy analogue sounds despite only having limited architecture.
The music itself was as live as I could get, setting up the ambient sections, the ‘tron sections and the sequences (recorded and tweaked live) and then mixing and soloing live to produce the final track. I did also fly in the sample at the end, just for fun.
The second of the two new albums is XVI. As a quick snapshot of my Bandcamp page shows, this is my 16th release – hence the name.
Here is a better look at the artwork.
Lots of AE Modular to create the ambience floating around in the background, with the first solo played by a Waldorf Blofeld. I bought a Waldorf MicroWave 2 many years ago as I always loved those PPG wavetable sounds and this was a relatively affordable way to access them – the Blofeld is even cheaper, for a lot of horsepower. I know they aren’t that popular and they are a bit difficult to master, but once you’ve got the hang of the Waldorf mindset, you can edit any one of their synths, in my opinion.
The second solo is a sampled Mellotron (‘tron) flute to give the track that real early Tangerine Dream/Edgar Froese feel. Loads of vintage reverb and a hint of phasing completes the sound – oh yes, and there is a decent delay on it as well.
The last solo was the Arturia MicroBrute, with a lot of real-time knob-twiddling combined with some reverb, delay and phasing courtesy of some effects pedals. For both this patch and the Blofeld patch, a band-pass filter was used, giving that hollowed-out feel.
The overall feel was a designed to be reasonably chilled, in the style of a Berlin School track. As I’m slightly limited live, it has quite simple sequencing. It came out at 19 minutes and 47 seconds, which was total coincidence – 1947 being the year Klaus Schulze was born and this track definitely was definitely in honour of some of his sounds. Oh yes, 16 is 10 in hexadecimal, but you knew that.
Also emerging from Soviet Space Dog Central recently was a submission to the AE Modular Patch Challenge – this one was to celebrate the tenth challenge and the idea was to celebrate the number “10” in some way.
I decided to consider the number 10 as a decade, in particular the decade in which a lot of music I love was created – the 1970’s. In particular some classic Klaus Schulze albums from the first part of the decade.
So I set about creating a simple organ and sequencer track. Both parts were recorded live, but two weeks apart and then mixed together. The Farfisa organ is a sampled instrument and the sequence was something I had been playing with on the AE Modular, using its SEQ16 sequencer module, played and manipulated live.
To get that real 1970’s vibe, the track was treated with a lot of tape compression and saturation, and some associated hiss and EQ was added.