Straight from the Campsite#2
Tools, toys and tech-talk from Soundcamp at Unbox Festival, 2012.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to press colourful buttons that make sounds (be honest, you would do it for a living if you could), then stumbling into Soundcamp’s soundlabs at The Unbox Festival would have been nothing short of the best thing that happened to you this year.
With 8 producers from 3 countries in 2 makeshift-studios for 5 days, each one equipped with tools and toys of the trade- this week, there were more knobs than there were musicians to tweak them- always an ideal situation.
One of my new favourite finds- Asvajit’s (Sri Lanka) MIDI Fighter (DJ Techtools), featured in loads of digital/analogue jam sessions that went down in these studios (plasticky-non sticking buttons for the win!)
Between that and his NI Maschine, we had sampler-style rhythm sections rigged up and ready to go.
(Asvajit uses a 14 channel Alan&Heath mixer and a pair of Yamaha HS 80’s back home in Colombo)
Other controllers included Suryakant’s CME U-Key bought from a godown for a very reasonable price, the keyboard comes with some of its own sounds which Suryakant (Peter Cat Recording Co.) has never used, and will never use. (“I won’t let anybody else use these sounds either”), and Vinayak’s Behringer BCR2000- which he uses mainly for his finer sweeps.
(Vinayak produces on FruityLoops 10, with a Motu 828 MK III soundcard and a pair of M-Audio BX 8a’s)
Outside of the MIDI-zone, there was as much to play with in the analogue domain.
TL Mazumdar’s Nord Electro 3, with a stunningly warm piano patch, can be heard in raw recordings of releases due from the camp. Paired with Dave Smith’s Mopho (an absolute mother of a bass unit) the setup can produce full-fledged soundscapes, beats included.
Ron Schneider’s synth- the star product from the mind and hands of a genius/engineer/musician. In case you’re wondering if you read correctly: this handmade synth took 4 years to build, and is aptly named ‘the Punkbox’.
If ‘build own synth’ is on your bucket list too, here’s what we learnt about the Punkbox:
With one oscillator, 5 LFO’s (which can be used for modulations) the synth has 2 filters.
The first one is an analogue chip (an SSM filter chip), the resonance for which can be modulated too, and Filter # 2 has a Moog filter design (using discrete electronic components ie. an arrangement of transistor cylinders). Sound can be patched through both filters.
It’s also got a 16-step sequencer, 23 LED’s and 50 knobs (!) (funky stickers notwithstanding)