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19 February 2000: Welcome to the Machine

Participating: James, Joel, Steve.

For our fourteenth session, we tried something a bit different. That afternoon, James had thought of creating a Machine (well, I heard the capital) of us modifying the same sound source as a serial process, rather than a parallel process of multiple musicians - aiming for a more atmospheric approach. This brought to my mind vague remembrances of Coil's definition of the entity ELpH, which is how they personify the musical gear of the studio [going back and actually looking at Coil's accounts, they actually more anthropomophize and evoke the gear a as a separate entity rather than subsume themselves into a cooperative serial process, so my recollection was at least somewhat off-base. The idea was to try & experiment with one or more arrangements of gear that allowed all of us to influence the same tone generator. We tried three arrangements:

Machine 001 had James on his recently acquired Yamaha CS-60 keyboard, which fed into the Moogerfooger ring modulator, which audio output fed into the Moogerfooger 12-stage phaser, which fed into the PA. Where was Joel in all this? He was capturing samples from the speaker, tweaking and modifying them, and feeding them back into the PA through a microphone in a very large effects loop. I was working with the two effects. Settings:
Ring mod:
LFO amount 10 mix 10
square wave freq low
rate 2 freq dial 20

12-stage phaser
lfo amount 10 sweep 0 (effect pedal)
switch low 6-stage
rate 32 resonance 6

I set the ring mod to a roughly 2 cycle/second rate, then on an 8 beat cycle with James' keyboard changed the phaser's sweep from 0 to 10 & back while changing the freq on the ring mod from 20 to 80 & back. Further modulation involved adjusting the resonance of the phaser as well. Successful? Yes: a nice groove.

Machine 2 involved James on theremin running through the Kaoss pad, and Joel playing the CS-60 > ring mod > phaser combo. Not as successful: I felt I lost the coordination needed to modulate and coordinate the two musicians together and separately.

Machine 3 attempt was a further devolvement of the idea: Joel was working with the sampler, James was on the keyboard stright into the board while modifying the sound with the many effects on the board itself. I was playing the Zeta electric upright bass with the E-Bow, but only on open strings and holding the notes for over a minute at least. The Zeta went through the ring mod > phaser combo. This worked well, and ran fairly long (about twenty minutes).

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