Whats your Grotbox?

I was just reading this article at Sound on Sound from 2014, about options for secondary monitors i.e. ‘less than ideal’ monitors for checking your mix…. No matter what I’m mixing I always use the reality check technique of turning down the monitor level until its very low, to see which elements disappear & which still rate (or are too prominent) as it is easy to be seduced by great monitors…

And I know there is an Eno Oblique Strategies card about listening from another room, to again help identify any balance issues… But its made me think, it really would be wise to get a pair of crappy speakers for comparisons – so if you do already, what do you use?

Relatedly I screen capped this image of French electro producer Surkins studio from a promo video for Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet – watch the vid here – do the smallest speakers look like Auratones?


Also another question – I’d love to hear from anyone using one of the MOTU AVB interfaces, especially with ProTools. Considering getting one to route audio across Cat5..

update via twitter – thanks Keith!
@keith_robichaux Avatones in the pic. NIN/film composer Charlie Clouser loves AVB.

great interview/article with Charlie Clouser re his set up here and what great advice: “I’d just advise those starting out to not be afraid to try something new, different, or off the beaten path. The one thing I’ve tried to do, whether making records or scoring films, is to avoid doing what I hear everyone else doing. If someone out there is just killing it with a particular sound or style, then I try to steer to one side and find a path that hopefully fewer people are taking.

Sometimes I wind up hacking my way through the underbrush with a machete, wondering why I wandered off the road and into the overgrown bushes, but hopefully I’ll wind up in a nice secluded spot that I have all to myself. This approach might not work for everyone, but it seems to have worked for me.”

2am Jam


Finished reforming my studio – migrated to two Intellijel 7U performance cases + the big wooden custom Goikes case… And also moved my Toft desk so it is primarily now for the modular & outboard…




nuzic 8




▶ Atom™ & Burnt Friedman


Death Grips – Eh
Directed by: Sean Metelerkamp
Post production by: Christopher Bisset


▶ Self Indulgence with Buchla and Nagra – Giorgio Sancristoforo



▶ Have you ben following along with Olafur Arnalds Island Songs project, as he circumnavigates Iceland collaborating with locals?


new Rival Consoles due for release on 5th August 2016.


Detritus 399

▶ korg plugkey seems like a nifty idea, shame they aren’t bi-directional…


▶ pills!



▶ these are beautiful, almost look like calligraphy: the stark beauty of Japan’s soaring Cormorant population


▶ nice analogue studio – Kyle Dixon working on the ‘Stranger Things’ score


Wallwave Vibrations by Loris Cecchini


▶ love these tiny Japanese turntables


▶ Great interview – i love MUBI – but especially this part of this interview:

NOTEBOOK: When discussing your work, you are always replying in plural…

TARR: You have to know that Béla Tarr is a brand, not only me. First of all, it’s Ágnes Hranitzky, László Krasznahorkai, Mihály Vig and me. These four people were working together for thirty years and we were doing what we did. That’s why I prefer to reply in plural. I have never said any of those are my films because that is not true.

NOTEBOOK: How did the creative process work? Did you divide the tasks or everything was a collective effort?

TARR: Well, I had the final decisions all the time, but they have really big sensibilities and somehow, when we were talking about the life, situations or anything, they had the same point of view. Of course, Mihály is a musician and László is a writer. Even though we have a different language, we somehow think about the life together, not about a film.


a Northerly blast!

This morning I got up early & raced into town to see Werner Herzogs new doco LO AND BEHOLD, which was excellent – funny, profound and very thought provoking about the role of the internet past, present & future. Coincidentally when I got home the power was off = no internet!

Last night a big northerly storm arrived & it was still blowing a gale today, but about the time I came home from the screening coincided with high tide, and I was greeted with this as I drove around the waterfront:


Debris washed up on to the road.. and the waves were breaking right up onto the road!!


Of course I went home, grabbed some lunch & my 722 recorder & mics & camera… The ocean was fierce, but the wind meant the sound of the waves was very diffuse & not so interesting…


But the wind was fairly shreiking in the rigging of all the yachts in the boat club car park, so I left my 722 recorder rolling for half an hour while I went off & took photos….



Couldn’t help but wonder how it might sound, pitched down two octaves… & filtered…
Kinda retro/almost archival sub Antarctic doco sounding?

My neighbour Dave had also told me about an interesting sound he’d heard ages ago, so I went to see if I could find it. On the beach side there is a drain vent:


The drain runs under the road & into a covered concrete culvert, and eventually emerges 50m away – by the entrance to Karehana Bay park:


So I put my pair of MKH8040s on to a boom and had a listen to the quite freaky sounds coming from inside there, have a listen:

Wow – its almost like a blowhole, like distant explosions! As it was high tide, the beach vent was almost underwater, so I’ll have to try another recording mid tide…

Thanks Dave for sharing the sound!


I’ve had three different threads of ideas crossover in different ways today – all related, but from different angles… In reverse order, this from Marc at Disquiet made me smile:

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 2.30.07 PM

I’m very sure you could do the exact same with film scores – in fact it is the curse of the temp score. With the film I recently scored, One Thousand Ropes, I was blessed that the director did not want a temp score at all – he was happy to edit without music until such time as original music was available. Comparatively I worked on a film (as sound designer) a few years back where the temp score was so good the music editors had basically made it impossible for the poor composer to do better, borrowing from 50+ years of iconic film scores to pastiche a genius but irrepalceable score. So in some ways these are the extremes of references wth film scores, from zero(ish) to infinity!

Just now I was watching the ‘Making of’ for the UTP project by Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto & Ensemble Modern, and in part 2 Sakamoto nailed it (by ‘it’ I mean the deliberate choice to avoid references) – I will try & embed the right start point but if it doesn’t work, skip to 5’00”

This idea really appeals to me strongly: to attempt to create work with no pre-exisitng model or reference. Some would argue this is impossible, nothing is unprecedented… and I understand that. But the other extreme is sound-a-likes, as per Marcs gameshow, how close can you get without being sued? And could there be a worse way to spend your time & waste your unique creative ability… I appreciate some people like to practice emulating other peoples work to gain skills & experience (of a sort) but I fear that is like the covers band who say ‘one day we will get around to writing original music’

Of course everyone has influences & references – we are all the sum of our individual life experiences. And in many ways references are a means of clarifying the form a new project will take. Whether its a mood board, or a technique or even a technical process, when it comes to collaborators it can be a short cut to communicating abstract ideas. And such references vary in how evident they are in the final artwork. But if the references are very evident, one must wonder how original the work is…

The last coincidence was also voiced on Facebook: someone was deeply upset that a unique idea (to them) and which they had developed, had also been developed for a different platform by someone else. The (patronising) advice often given in such circumstances is that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” which as a phrase apparently dates back to 1820, so this is not a new problem.. although I think an earlier version from 1714 is closer to the truth: “Imitation is a kind of artless flattery”

Someone on that thread commented about an infamous similar occurrence, between two youtubers, and how one of them had created a video explaining their side of the story. Its worth a look if you’re interested in these ideas, its called “the Agonies of Parallel Creation” and in it, I detected a gradual shift in my own behaviour: that of unfollowing and completely avoiding exposure to some people (musicians, artists, film makers, creators, whatever) who I simply do not want to be influenced by. This seems like a simple idea, if the unfollow is due to simply not liking their work. For example, I do not want to be influenced whatsoever by the techniques used in Transforminator movies, so I simply do not see them – I have no exposure to them. But sometimes I find myself unfollowing people because I like their work, but as they are pursuing a similar vein to what I am exploring I do not want to be influenced by them – I do not want to know what they are currently doing. Then I am free to do whatever I choose to do, not because of them but also not in spite of them.

In this video, the bit I appreciated was at 2’30”

Sometimes ignorance (& freedom from references) is bliss!

So if you make stuff – music, sound, films, art – how much do you rely on references? I’ve read bits of that book that ableton released on solving music problems, and one bit of advice I remember was about starting a database of things you like, for example you hear a song that you like the bass synth in. Make a note in your database. Keep doing this with all and any aspects of music you like. So I can see how on one hand, this is invaluable advice to clarify what it is you aspire to do. And on the other hand it can generate the old film reference cliches of ‘this film script is like Betty Blue set in Mad Max” etc…



ToiToi shot with Sony a6300 + Zeiss Distagon Touit

Detritus 398

▶ Goat simulator IRL?


▶ Minimoog exploded diagram


▶ Shibuya x ray


3D Calvin & Hobbes! via Notational


▶ The 50 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far


▶ fascinating to hear Martinez describe Soderburgs process for score….
from BAFTA Conversations with Screen Composers


▶ the next Mars mission is going to include… a microphone!


▶ interesting interview with Ryuichi Sakamoto – great to know he’s completed two new film scores & started work on a solo album!


▶ so great to hear some of the SEAL VOCALS library used brilliantly in new Netflix series Stranger Things – great work by sound designer Craig Henighan – check out the series, it is very good!