Blk/Mas @SPNF 2017

Last night, Blk/Mas took part in the landmark 10th annual St. Pete Noise Fest. I’ve been lucky enough to be included many times in the last ten years, and last nights show was yet another stellar showcase of challenging sounds. This years edition took place at Cage Brewing, an hip little craft brewery in a thriving downtown…. right across from Haslams Bookstore (a huge and highly recommended bookstore that the late Jack Kerouac himself frequented, and some even believe he still haunts). We were lucky enough to check out sets from Vasectomy Party, Hell Garbage, Durastatic, Whitey Alabastard, as well as discover several others new acts.

It’s been a fun decade, here’s to ten more!

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Blk/Mas returns to Noise Fest

It’s almost that time of year again! Central Florida’s loudest tradition returns on November 11th when St Pete Noise fest returns for its historic tenth year. Taking the form of a single day onslaught, SPNF will feature a myriad of some of the harshest, weirdest, and eclectic group of sound artists both local and national. The party starts at noon downtown in Williams Park and continues through the evening at Cage Brewing.

I played my first SPNF way back in 2010 with Stickfigure, and have played several since as one-half of Blk/Mas. I am happy to be a part of the milestone tenth anniversary, and to be a small part of the last decade of noise.

If you’re a fan of strange music/sound, or just plain curious I hope you’ll check out SPNF in some capacity. Click here  for the complete line-up of acts.

Come on out and say hi!

 

Why Noise?

When faced with the walls of static/skeletal percussion/electronic blips and bleeps the average person has to ask, exactly why in the world would anyone make noise? Why would anyone listen to this stuff? I’ve fielded these questions on more than one occasion, and I never quite know what to say. I usually simply shrug my shoulders and just tell them “I dig it”. Yet, the answer may be more complex.

Why do anything? Why make music? Why write poems? Why paint a picture? All art comes back to self-expression; it’s a matter of what medium best suits you to express yourself. As an artist whose primary function is that of writer I can express most of my innermost feelings with words, and when words reach an impasse and can‘t adequately say what I am trying to say cut-up technique can take me even further.

However, there are things that are so unspeakable or literally beyond words and that is where sound comes in. Sound for me expresses those indescribable, abstract things that even I can’t put my finger on, or even know that I’m feeling. Noise expresses those primal emotions buried deep and beyond words. I can’t go those places within the narrow parameters of traditional music. How can I discover new places that are not on any psychic map if I’m following a very strict road map that dictates tonality, rhythm, and musical alphabets?

I am just not as interested in creating music as I am in creating sounds. I am interested in creating atmospheres, moods, and soundscapes. I am interested in how sounds interact with other sounds and I am interested in how they affect human consciousness. Much like with words, or interestingly enough most any medium I pursue, I am fascinated with deconstruction rather than construction. Above all, I am concerned with self-expression and navigating inner space rather than outer space. I am simply not interested in formula, song structures, tonality, rhythm, etc.

I am not “anti-music”, in fact, I find comparing music to noise very much like comparing apples to oranges, similar but vastly different. I’ve always enjoyed listening to traditional music but it did nothing for me as an artist. I suppose I could look back honestly and say it possible I did not have the discipline to become a talented traditional musician, but I could also wager it did not hold my attention enough to demand discipline from me. I listen to music a great deal, and sometimes I will sit around my house with my trusty bass guitar and play for the sheer joy of it. However, when I feel the need to express myself music does not come to mind as an option.

Let’s put all that introspection aside. As much as those are possible reasons many of us make noise, I’d wager it has little to do with what started many of us on this noise path. I stumbled onto noise as my path of musical discovery started getting more and more weird and extreme. I can’t put it any more plain than to simply say I thought it sounded cool. Soon after I discovered it was fun to do as well. I guess it really does come down to the simple fact that “I dig it”. The catharsis I feel after playing a set of noise is incredible, the places I go when listening to noise music is limitless. That is all I ask for in art: no limits.

Newest Noise

I’d like to take the time to remind you of the two newest releases that are still available over at The Awareness Factory.

The first is my newest release Angels, Death Dealers, And The Consciousness Of The Unreal. It’s a collage of mellower noise and cut up, with subtle nods to William S Burroughs and Brion Gysin.

The second is the newest release from Blk/Mas, the collaborative project from myself and Shawn Blackburn. This one is a haywire thrill ride of analog and modular madness, a dystopian roller coaster for the singularity.

I hope you’ll check them out. You can download by the track for a buck a piece, or download the entire albums for five dollars each.

Korg Volca Drone Machine Trick

From time to time I’m going to be posting not only some noise jams over at my YouTube channel, but also some tips and tricks for my various equipment… or using musical equipment in non-musical ways. The above video is the first of Volca Sample videos to come, this one is a simple trick to turn your Volca into a drone machine.

Hope you dig the video, if you do I hope you’ll take the time to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

First Impressions Of The Moog Mother 32

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A few days ago, I finally got my hands on the Moog Mother 32. This semi-modular synth has been out roughly a year now, but I am often a day late and a dollar short… or in this case, six hundred dollars short. However, as the saying goes better late than never and that certainly rings true here.

Before I go further, let me give you a disclaimer. I am not a technical guru, and am not a professional musician. I am a noise artist who is new to anything beyond your basic synths. If you want a technical review, it is probably best to look elsewhere.

First, a shout-out to Sweetwater Sound, I truly won’t order my gear from anywhere else. They offer fast free shipping and have impeccable customer service. No, they don’t pay me to say that. My package arrived safe and sound, and I had the contents ripped out of the box in record time.

The obvious first impression is that the Mother 32 is a gorgeous machine, sturdy and handmade like you’d expect from Moog. It also comes with a pack of five patch cables, and an extensive user’s manual.

This machine boasts all the controls you would expect on your average analog synth, but with the inimitable lowpass and highpass Moog filters… a difference you’ll notice as soon as you start tweaking knobs. I already had an Arturia Minibrute, which I love, but nothing can beat that classic Moog ladder filter. That’s not a knock on the Minibrute, which is still a valuable part of my rig… but rather a testament to how great Moogs sound really is!

The Mother also boasts a 32-step sequencer, which has a bit of a learning curve, at least for me, I’m sure more experienced, and knowledgeable musicians could dive right in. However, after just a little reading I am more than in love with its features, which include the ability to program in KB or Step mode, accents, ratchets, etc.

Then of course, there is the 32-point patch bay for extended modular possibilities. I have a lot to learn in this regard, but there are enough resources out there to get you started in the right direction. The patch bay was a major selling point for me, as I’ve always been interested in learning modular, and this is an affordable option. Once you find yourself going down the modular rabbit hole the Mother comes out of its desktop casing and is eurorack ready!

This synth also plays well with others via the patch bay and a MIDI input. I have hooked this machine up to other synths, sequencers, and even my theremin… as if the Mother wasn’t already awesome enough!

Whether you are a total synth novice or a seasoned pro, you will be having fun with this minutes after it’s out of the box. If you are like me and have always wanted a Moog, but didn’t necessarily want to spend the money, this is a great starting point.

I absolutely love this machine, and can tell it’s going to be a part of my live rig for a long time to come.