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Attack & Decay --init

Welcome to my little repository of morbid sonic indulgence. Here, will I keep a journal of all my exp
Attack & Decay --init
By RMBLRX • Issue #1 • View online
Welcome to my little repository of morbid sonic indulgence. Here, will I keep a journal of all my exploration, experimentation, and inspiration as well as smatterings of musings and misgivings regarding contemporary music production and distribution. Be forewarned though that this all comes from a rather dilettante perspective with far more vision than talent, let alone competence of craft, and a vision likely as dubious in quality as it is assuredly divisive.

A Note on Our Subject Matter
A good deal of what I aim to cover will require a modicum of familiarity with some rather esoteric areas of music, tech, and production. I’ll do my best to link resources or otherwise provide some context for these topics. Perhaps I can best convey the character of what I intend to cover right out of the gate with the following resources:
I Dream Of Wires 2014 documentary Trailer - Official
I Dream Of Wires 2014 documentary Trailer - Official
Reformat the Planet (Official Trailer)
Reformat the Planet (Official Trailer)
Europe in 8 bits Teaser in English - Vídeo Dailymotion
Europe in 8 bits Teaser in English - Vídeo Dailymotion
Blank Tape: Electronic Cassette Culture
Blank Tape: Electronic Cassette Culture
These 7 Blockchain Apps Could Help Musicians Get Paid More Easily - Noisey
So essentially, if you have any fascination at all with vintage or legacy hardware and media, novel applications of such in music production, as well as, perhaps, radical approaches to music distribution, you’re very well likely in the right place. Additionally, I may find occasion to share playlists (which I generally assemble for myself at a seasonal or semi-seasonal frequency), and you may have to endure the occasional plug of my own work or perhaps that of friends and collaborators.
Now, seeing as how the above resources cover plenty of ground for their particular topics in this issue, I’ve opted to cover more technical and fundamental considerations that I’m currently mulling over in my own work and process, specifically regarding analog and digital recording.
My ADAC Quandry
A matter that’s long vexed my efforts in hardware and acoustically oriented music production (being that my work is preferentially, though not exclusively, DAWless) is how to bridge the divide from predominantly analog output into digitally compressed form for archival and distribution. As an early adherent to the world of digital media distribution (music in particular) through Napster and its ilk as well as MySpace’s surprisingly revolutionary original venture into music and a current proponent of FLAC and platforms like Bandcamp, I value the portability and general ease of dissemination afforded by such formats. Thus far have I relied on either a computer’s builtin 1/8" line-in or a crumby Behringer UCA202, which has admittedly worked well enough for merely recording stereo output in Audacity, but has long (in my experience) borne spotty support and stability, less now than in the past but for my more recently complex needs, owing to an interest in exploring the open-source virtual modular synth platform, VCV Rack.
This has finally clued me in to the benefits of a quality DAC/ADC (I prefer ADAC, for short) with a greater plethora of inputs and outputs. At the very least, I would require four inputs, given that one of my choice pieces of recording equipment would be a 4track cassette recorder with four separate lines-out for each track (such as in the case of the beloved Tascam 424mkIII) and serves well as an adequate stand-in for an analog mixer.
That said, I have little need for the pre-amp capabilities of a typical USB audio interface (preferring to use a mixer for such purposes), but given my inclination toward Eurorack-based modular synthesis, reliable conversion of CV via USB would certainly prove useful. Thankfully, I discovered a handy little gem through my VCV Rack explorations:
Hybrid modular - The one must-have module: bridging Eurorack and VCV Rack, Softube (ES-8 and MOTU)
In particular, what stood out to me was the ES-8 module. It only later occurred to me that the device could be used just as well for multi-channel audio in and out for simple multi-track recording as well as authentic analog coloring or manipulation of computer generated sounds on top of the utility of piping out computer control of analog hardware (largely for experimentation as well as filling in the gaps in whatever hardware I might possess).
This being said I also lack for software which could make full use of such an interface, most of which bear licensing fees. Fortunately for me, this seems to be well-covered by an edition of the module which includes Bitwig Studio (an interesting little DAW) at no added cost:
Expert Sleepers ES 8 Bitwig Edition
Then, of course, there is plenty of room for expansion via modules designed as such or, more remotely, via ADAT. The only drawbacks I see would be the reliance on 1/8" jacks (in terms of mechanical sturdiness) and the need for a powered case just to make use of the module. As to the latter, this can easily be considered an advantage in the way that modularity is usually an advantage (i.e., extensibility, convenience of integration, ease of repair or replacement of parts to an extent, and upgradability of parts), not to mention the obvious fact of already having the need for a powered Eurorack case (and plenty desire for more of them down the line); still, this adds to the base cost and would clearly not be sensible without a pre-existing commitment to the Eurorack ecosystem.
In any case, I do believe I have found my solution, and a long-term one at that.
R2R Dreamin'
So much of what I aspire to musically is typically well within reach, if only gradually by some piecemeal approach of acquiring knowledge and equipment. One element that I’ve longed to incorporate and yet remains ever-elusive is reel-to-reel tape recording.
As a longtime enthusiast of compact cassettes for recording and distribution, I’ve learned well the joy and frustrations of the medium, and while I believe that cassettes will remain an integral part of my process and a lifelong object of fascination, I find myself increasingly frustrated by the quality and/or availability of the requisite equipment. This seems largely due to having been relegated to a quirky hobby with but a recent surge in mainstream appeal, uncertain perhaps to retain its place in the public consciousness so well as vinyl seems to have managed, despite it so recently outpacing the long-lived medium with both performing quite well.
Reel tape, on the other hand, has received a far more reverent treatment where it has persisted, despite having never achieved comparable mainstream success in any form, apart from within the recording studio. As such, new equipment and recording media produced today, albeit not widely so, is exclusively of a high quality with even vintage equipment and media (new-old-stock tape) also retaining a committed base of hobby and perhaps professional enthusiasts (and though cassettes have received similar treatment, if only but recently, they seem to run the gamete far more than reel tape in terms of quality).
Though while compact cassette does have some commendable HiFi chops with decent equipment (and to be frank, I’ve largely ditched any notion of including R2R in a HiFi system, while cassette and vinyl will remain for so long as I can imagine) and presents a cheaper way into analog magnetic media by far, it just can’t hold a candle to reel tape for multi-track recording or stereo mastering.
Alas, even the most basic entry-level half-track or quarter-track machines remain for me as of yet a less-than-sensible investment of money, time, effort, and space, particularly in regard to the expense of the media itself. I’ll be sticking for a while yet to come, I believe, with the aforementioned Portastudio 4-track and be glad of the sweet fruits of the compact cassette’s re-emergence (and bide my time using HiFi VHS for stereo mastering).
オープンリールコタツ会議 | Open Reel Kotatsu Session - Open Reel Ensemble
オープンリールコタツ会議 | Open Reel Kotatsu Session - Open Reel Ensemble
One Final Word
So you’ve hung in there. A true hero, you are. I’d like to take a moment to add a bit more personal context for this publication, seeing as this is the first issue.
What’s begun here is perhaps finally the fulfillment of an ambition held for so long as I’ve involved myself in music-making and production, which was simply to render relatively transparent the particular process and approach employed therein. While certain qualities of this process have been evident in the plethora of early and rough releases perpetrated under the peculiar persuasion of what has, since its earliest inception, been referred to as Moonside (more formally now as Moonside Productions, though that could well be considered as a smaller facet of Moonside-proper), I never quite managed to illustrate plainly the idiosyncrasies of its particular approach.
Suffice to say that in the intervening years of Moonside’s relative dormancy, the abstract and technical notions underpinning its approach (or intended approach) have matured; as well have those of its originating persona–RMBLRX, as it so happens. So herein might you find some elaboration of the striving under such by yours truly. I hope you’ll stick it out.
Seven Samurai (1954). Credit: Toho Co., Ltd
Seven Samurai (1954). Credit: Toho Co., Ltd
Did you enjoy this issue?
RMBLRX
By RMBLRX

The journal of a synth sound and music production hobbyist--Moonside Productions' own gravel-groaning, chiptuning magnetonaut and attenuatante extraordinaire.

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