Techno, Techno


Three days ago, someone left two computer monitors on the pavement at the end of my street. With a note saying they were in perfect working order, and inviting anyone who wanted a monitor to take one.

They're still there. Two 15'' CRT monitors probably worth GBP75 each if they were new, and nobody wants them. This says something - about human generosity, local pavements, and the computer market.

Everyone who's got a computer has a monitor. They sometimes upgrade the computer and occasionally the monitor. When they upgrade the computer they usually keep the old monitor, or if they do upgrade...they want a flat one.

In other words, you can't give them away.

Well almost. Last year I bought two second hand computers from Portsmouth University. I got two free monitors with them. And two bubblejet printers. And six PS2 keyboards and mouses.

I gave one of the monitors away.

I've come to the conclusion that most synthesisers sound awful. I've spent 48 hours trying out softsynths, looking for a a decent general purpose "analog" VST synth for making demos.

I don't need anything special - just two oscillators, a nice smooth lowpass filter, an LFO or two, maybe an FM module and a decent unison function. In other words, a basic 80s style synth for making pulses, bleeps, sweeps, chimes and pads - the standard fare of synthpop for the last 30 years.

There's some great synths for advanced sound designers - Pentagon, Blue, Albino, Rhino and others that can produce the most amazing and unexpected sounds. Provided you spend two months doing nothing but study and experiment with them.

There's also exquisitely meticulous software recreations of the classic Moogs, Korgs, Novations and Yamahas that cost thousands of dollars and sometimes took three people to carry in the early 80s. These have their place in retro-cool, but it's not really what I'm after.

No, there are hundreds of "workhorse" softsynths out there - some are free and made by enthusiasts, some cost up to USD75. And most of them either have the sonic impact of a wet strand of spaghetti, the warmth of fingernails on a blackboard, or all the flexibility of a stylophone.

Yes, you can get authentic recreations of the stylophone too. Though I've not yet seen artificial fingernails in software form.

Ubu.Com - the YouTube of the Avant-Garde. I stumbled upon it months ago, noted it as something to wallow in later...and promptly forgot the URL. Duchamp, Ono, Beckett, Maya Deren and a lot of lesser known names waiting to be discovered. The one by Genet and the one with the eye slicing bit included.

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