Thursday, 28 February 2013

Music Man Cave + Kaossilator

After my old flat mate moved out to go live with his other half, I've had plenty of time and opportunity to move everything non-music related into another room, which is larger and suits as a bigger bedroom. The practical upshot is that I've now got my old bedroom all to myself as a man-cave and I have completely devoted it to music making...okay, and playing video games as well. This also means I've been able to make use of another table top for more space and can keep my MicroKorg and Minibrute next to each other.

I've also been meaning to take some photos and as the missus is out of the flat tonight, I've finally had a chance to take some photos and get them uploaded. There are plenty of photos available via a Google Plus photo album for your amusement (see link below for more). I knew that old UV light would be useful for something moody and of course the Synth Cat in the form of Hello Kitty.

More photos:

Korg Kaossilator

I've also picked up a Korg Kaossilator for £50 via Gumtree and a nice chap called Colin even took time out of his lunch break to travel in to town and drop it off for me. Beats the £129 price tag of the new one.

It's a lovely little unit, with some good varied Arp/Gate patterns and very useable synth lines, chords, basslines and SFX sounds are good enough to play around with and make jamming loops.

The retro, plastic exterior belies its powerful synth engine, which seems to be derived from the MicroKorg, complete with reverb and delay effects built in. While you can't edit individual sounds, at least the built in effects give the sounds some depth and the chords in particular are quite pleasant to listen to. You can always hook it up to another effects processor and have more fun - in my case, the Mini KP2 - and do dub style echos and other choppy weirdness.

One of the main downsides is the problem of playing it accurately and I have seen plenty of guides on adding a grid to the XY controller and using a stylus for note-perfect playing. I am in two minds about this: on the one hand, you could make better use of the sounds on the Kaossilator. yet on the other hand the XY controller is all about random expression and coming up with something unique and satisfying by happy accident.

Yes, there is a Kaossilator app for the iPhone which is priced at around £20 that I could have used, but the bigger, clunkier real estate of the original unit makes up for the higher price and it's a cheeky little purchase that won't break the bank.

Oh, and UK owners are advised to take a look at Maplin for third-party power supplies. I don't think Korg would be able to beat £13.50 for a power supply. Just look for a variable power supply that can supply 4.5V and at least 500ma with the required plug connector like this one. I bought two for the Kaossilator and Mini KP2, as both only last for about 5 hours on batteries.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The logic and reasoning of Jack White

If the story of the demise of HMV in the UK has managed to fly past you, the record shop is in dire straits and is in possibly the worst shape ever. I have already blogged two different lengthy articles covering HMV and its alternatives, but there is hope in the form of the Record Store Day movement in the 'States, who have  recently chosen musician Jack White as their spokesperson to extol the virtues of going into a record shop.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Goldrunner Theme

I think it's fair to say that there were more than enough shooters saturating the arcades and home consoles in the early days of videogames that it's difficult to find some standout and unique examples of the genre that were not just clones or ports of their arcade counterparts. This is probably in part due to the standout success of Space Invaders, Galaga, Galaxians, Defender and the rest, with all of these coming to Commodores, STs and Amigas at some point. To say it bluntly, I think it was quite difficult to come up with something different for home video game makers in their bedrooms.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Doin' The Do in 16bits / Magic Pockets - Bitmap Brothers

Again, how the hell can you get a fairly decent sampled version of a hit track (of the time) and a really detailed game into just 720Kb? I will honestly never know. Betty Bo - Doin' The Do, for those who don't know!

Magic Pockets was a charming little platform game from a time where platformers were all over the place and it was very hard to differentiate from all the titles out there. Bringing their wonderful design sense to the fore again, the Bitmap Brothers make use of all 16 colours of the Atari palette with cheeky character design, lush platform interiors, loads of different power ups and pickups with a toy / sweet theme. 

Original for a bit of nostalgia!