my love/hate relationship with temp mixes

As a sound editor I have always loathed temp mixes – I always think of them as akin to having someone prepare to run a marathon, and a few days beforehand suddenly asking them to sprint it!
I.e. it doesn’t matter if you don’t achieve your ‘ideal’ goal/s, we just need you to run as fast as you fckng can, in the limited time available… And btw sorry, the actual goal posts are still at the end of the marathon…
but no one expects you to achieve them… It isn’t possible… but still… ready set GO!


Maybe its because I’ve spent 20+ years as a sound editor/designer (& have more of a handle on the parameters) than this, being only my third film score, but with music it feels so much more subjective.
You could pursue an idea, put your heart & soul into it, only to have it shot down in flames within ten seconds of the director hearing it, if it doesn’t help their cause…

So a temp mix, for a composer sucks!
If you do not contribute your draft cues, they will likely fill the film score with inappropriate/unachievable music from the last 100 years of film making… Which then start to establish themselves as some kind of reference! When all you really want to do is slowly investigate the heart of the film & express it through your own musical magnifying glass.

So how do you solve this impossible quandry?

You cant, you won’t and you don’t.

But to quote Yoda, try you must.

Sprinting a marathon – its my best metaphor for such suffering of the musical soul.
Whats yours?

ps the plus side:
– its a chance to try different approaches & see what sticks
– its a chance to hear the director express their intentions
– its a chance to hear what the dialogue & sound dept intend
– its a chance to hear what the rerecording mixers might expect
– its a chance to experience the context of the final mix, months before it occurs

If you’ve never experienced the cycle of the creation of a feature film soundtrack, then this will all be abstract/academic….. But when you do, you will….

Tomorrow never knows

Rest in peace Sir George Martin, 90 is a excellent innings especially when you consider your incredible contribution to music.

This particular track stands out for me as something I heard at a young age, and which even way back then my young mind began to wonder about how it came to be, how was it written, recorded and produced. Thank you for enriching our lives & especially our imaginations.

If you had to choose one song involving Sir George, for its unique production values, what would it be?

DIY Modular – build 01

Late 2015 I ordered a bunch of kitset eurorack modules from Thonk in the UK with the grand intention of building them over the Christmas holidays… So here I am at the start of March having actually built the first one: the Music Thing Modular Radio Music Module which arrived as a full kit with all parts included.
Just add some patience, a soldering iron and a few spare hours….


Ready set go!

The Radio Music Module is basically a sample playback module – 16bit 44.1kHz mono raw files are put on a microSD card, each of 16 folders representing a radio station, with the sound files in each folder able to be triggered with a user selectable start point in the triggered sound file. There is CV control for triggering the sound, and changing the ‘station’ which means there is some very interesting potential to use the modular synth to process raw sounds.

Following the build instructions I started work


First step, installing the resistors to the first board… followed by other hardware; diodes, capacitors, pots, microSD card holder, sockets etc


By the time I’d listened to these two Herbie Hancock LPs I was pretty much done* on the front panel & first board



Next was filling the second PCB, and adding the pins & sockets to mount the third PCB – the teensy cpu thingy


The Teensy requires loading the Radio Music firmware via USB, which caused a little confusion for me until I realised I was loading the firmware for an older version of the teensy and once I had actually selected the test firmware for the teensy 3.1, and verified it was loading & working correctly, I then loaded the RadioMusic firmware and got ready to test my hard work.

After plugging in my new module and powering up my modular…. nothing! Oh sh+t!
One thing I do appreciate with the TipTop power system in my modular is that if it detects a fault it shuts down, thereby hopefully avoiding damage. So I quickly powered off and removed my new module and started checking the power section of the second PCB. Sure enough some idiot (me) had installed one of the power diodes the wrong way around. After a bit of cursing, desoldering and reinstalling, the module booted up and appeared to be working… apart from the lack of sound!

OK, doubting my sanity I started checking what exactly else I had messed up. Comparing my build with the photos it suddenly became obvious I had missed a pin between the Teensy board and the second PCB. The vacant hole where the pin should live even had ‘Audio Out’ written beside it…
Sheesh, my powers of idiocy know no bounds!


I hadn’t noticed that extra pin, and had only soldered pins along the two longer sides of the board.

With my second error fixed, the module booted up & behaved as it should with the test audio loaded on the microSD card. And it made me smile to hear birds chirping from my modular (one of the provided test files)

Now to load it up with some of my own audio and FSU!

When I bought this kit I actually bought two of them, so my next build is to repeat this process, without the two mistakes!

Apart from the moments of frustration at my errors I really enjoyed building this module, and highly reccomend the kits from Thonk. Everything was labelled very clearly, and those labels meant I did not even have to decode resistor values. But as with many things, god is in the details.

Since building this I’ve been thoroughly enjoying messing with it, especially while loaded up with Pygmy samples – almost had a flash back to Altered States and Until the end of the World!

Music too

Produced by Hudson Mohawke and and Oneohtrix Point Never, from upcoming album


Holly Herndon – Chorus (thank Christine!)



Richard Eigner – When The Days All Tip From Nests And Fly Down Roads, new release on Cronica


new EP coming 25th March from Kyoka – inspired by her residencies at stockholm‘s EMS studios….


Detritus 381

Landthropologic, Earthworks In Motion from Paul Johnson via Colossal


▶ 10 buildings with extraordinary acoustics


▶ wow – Japanese farmer in Hokkaido is sick of people trespassing to take photos of a tree (know as ‘the philosophers tree’) so he cut it down 🙁


▶ very funny/sardonic reviews of the Oscar films



100 Pedals!? via dangerous minds


▶ SSD reliability in the real world: Google’s experience


▶ the art of anticipation


▶ love this – thanks Georgi @eesn


Wintergatan – Marble Machine (music instrument using 2000 marbles) via gizmodo


new HISSandaROAR library release

Very happy to release new HISSandaROAR library: GRANULAR IRL

Early bird discounted price is US$89, reverts to US$129 on March 12th

PS apart from usual soundcloud previews that you can check out I also did a couple of backwards ones, because… why not!


In Pursuit

screening dates listed here – SXSW next

Iceberg Songs


Have a listen to the effects of global warming via some beautiful field recordings of Icebergs groaning & shuddering – audition/download recordings here or listen via the soundcloud stream:

The recordings were provided by PALAOA/Alfred-Wegener-Institut and the project encourages interpretation and ‘remixing’ – the site hosts a number of remixes with an interesting visualisation..
Have a listen to these incredibly poignant sounds, get inspired and participate: Iceberg Songs

(Iceberg Songs is a project initiated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and by music artists)

Detritus 380

▶ “Craziness is something holy” – guess the artist?


▶ great read by David Byrne: The Echo Chamber


▶ “We fear we give away an award for most sound, not best sound,”


▶ affordable lossless streaming without using iTunes, thank you Stretta!


▶ Word up, Arvo Part – a beautiful book


▶ intensely satisfying gifs of the hammer blow in Mahler’s Symphony No. 6


▶ wow, check out this Wide-band WebSDR (thanks @r05c03) – the system is currently composed of a “Mini-Whip” antenna, a homebuilt SDR board which samples the entire shortwave spectrum and sends all of this via a gigabit ethernet link to a PC, where a special version of the WebSDR server software processes it…. sampling shortwave? At 999.90 kHz I managed to tune in what sounds like a mutant kermit the frog, reading poetry


▶ fascinating algorythmic composition work being done by Bruno Degazio, and his Transformation Engine – check his soundcloud for examples and here is a link to a PDF outlining his approach


Tubular synths?


▶ Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning – from infinity & beyond!


▶ interesting angle on old(er) people who dont listen to new music – as with all age related generalisations the blind spot is that some people are born 50 and some stay young until the day they die….


▶ D Fuse: Small Global is an interactive video installation with surround sound that translates data about global interdependence, consumption and its environmental costs into an immersive environment. Multiple layers of transparent screens create an invisible cube of projected images, with the projections echoing onto the walls, ceiling and floor of the space.


Sing it!


I think we’ve reached peak cicada here in New Zealand!