27 November 2011

Àsino Elettronico LIVE - CK13, Novi Sad

A few weeks ago I went to Novi Sad, some 80km north of Belgrade, to play live with Associative (ex Xiqhhyiecryn), Andrei Korre (Nemanja Lazic) and Abadroza, all together under our Àsino Elettronico LIVE label. We've been developing this concept for almost a year now and the basic idea is to present people with something that seems simple and obvious but is apparently lacking nowadays - completely live club performance. No DJ-ing of any sort, just "you, us and the machines", as the poster for the event had already declared.

Each of us would perform separately with his own set of equipment, 50 minutes to one hour on average. If you can read Serbian, I strongly recommend you visit a blog entry by our friend Ves, if you can't read it, at least enjoy her video takes which are (despite all the sound distortion) far more faithful to the energy felt there than our "official" sterile recordings by the club, which are by the way in mono (don't ask me why, I am as puzzled as you might be).

To be honest, by the end of the evening I had thought I screwed up the performance a bit too much and had the feeling my friends were far better in every way. Actually I still feel much of it is true, but according to others it wasn't really like that at all and mistakes weren't as obvious to others as they were to me at the time. Still, performances like that of Associative really gave me the insight of how proper live electronic music in a club should sound and feel:

Which is why I decided to literally scrap everything I did and prepare future performances from ground zero. I've learned that making things sound good in a room only unnecessary complicates the live situation. Many small details are lost anyway and it's really important to keep it simple and straight to the point, lively and intense.

In case you are wondering, I've used the following equipment:
- Korg Kaoss Pad 3 for loop sets
- Korg X3R synth module with Behringer UMX25 for a bit of a keyboard action
- Behringer Xenyx 802 to mix it all together

There was one thing that, apart from musical style itself, separated me from others is the way I had to bridge annoyingly long gaps between tracks. The gaps are due to the loading time on Kaoss Pad, which takes one minute on average - quite too much to leave it in silence. So the only plausible solution was to playback prepared ambiental passages from an mp3 player. It did fit well but in effect it would cool down any excitement in crowd each and every time.

This shouldn't be a problem anymore since a new concept is on it's way (and one crucial new piece of equipment is already here ;). Quite possibly a new name also, for a sound that should be quite different.

28 July 2011

Yamaha DX7 IID

Recently I got myself an old but still decently functional Yamaha DX7 IID. Out of the whole Yamaha DX lineup of synthesizers that changed and defined the sound of the '80s, DX7 was by far the most popular and accepted. Vintagesynth.com calls it "one of the most popular digital synths ever". It introduced FM synthesis to the widest possible audience, yet it got the reputation of being extremely hard to program (mostly because of it's unfriendly interface), so pretty much everyone stuck with presets that plagued great majority of records released at the time.

My introduction to powerful and extremely flexible FM synthesis was through Ableton Live's Operator which got me instantly hooked. To be honest, apart from FM (and my Korg X3R's own unique algorithm), I haven't got that much clue about more usual synthesis methods. Which is a bit strange considering how many people are in exactly the opposite situation. That's why DX7 seemed like the most natural choice for me, and is supposed to replace X3R in time. And I admit - it's also a bit of a fetish thing :)

The model I purchased is the second generation DX7 (tagged DX7 IID) with few considerable advantages, such as keyboard split and dual modes and pan control (the original was entirely mono).

All in all this is just one short post obviously meant for bragging. But I intend to seriously devote my time to this classic machine and for that purpose I opened up a separate page (see the link near the bottom of the right side menu) to stock up all the useful resources for like minded DX7 enthusiasts.

27 June 2011

Abadroza & Koneyn - Live at Porub #6 (Rex, Belgrade)

Earlier this year I have been invited to perform live by Borjan Grujić, a young designer behind Porub. Porub is an event that serves as a platform for local experimental/alternative artists involved in audio and visual media and it's commonly organized several times during one year. I've been there in the audience several times myself and that's how we got in contact in the first place. We've discussed getting together for one of the Porub evenings long time ago, yet I wasn't prepared in terms of technical issues and more important available material that could be done live. Luckily my dear friend Abadroza from our Asino Elettronico label stepped in without hesitation so we could make something together especially for this night.

Edited version of video showing the second half of the performance

The idea for us was also to finally break the ice and go out public, since none of us have had any experience in playing music live up until that moment. Abadroza threw aside his PC long time ago before I did even consider such a thing, so him being the beat master on his Korg EMX-1 was a no fail situation. I, on the other hand, challenged myself by acting out as a keyboardist with my new pet machine - old Korg X3R synth module controlled by a compact Behringer 25-key MIDI keyboard. I also filled up my Kaoss Pad 3 with a few vocal samples just to spice up what would have been an overly instrumental set.

Some were curious about "that VCR look-a-like black box" (Korg X3R)

You can catch a glimpse of the atmosphere from the video posted here - it was really a great evening altogether, both for us and I'd daringly say for the audience as well. The giveaway CDs we've prepared and left in front of us were gone in matter of seconds right after we had finished, which leads me to think we did a good job on promoting the label as well. I may have made a few ugly sounding mistakes while playing keys and we've lost focus a bit here and there, but in the end it was really a live performance that is rarely seen (at least here) in electronic music and it got praise by virtually everyone who talked to us afterwards. What was the most important aspect of it for me personally is the fact the whole experience gave me a lot of motivation and confidence to push this "live performance" thing further with my own project. Surely I will miss head-nodding and knob-twiddling shoulder to shoulder with Abadroza, but there are some serious plans for all of us on the label to tour locally together so the fun sharing moments will always be there.

Special thanks to Ves for being there to support us and taking care to record the video.

August update:

Complete and unedited recording of the performance by Ves, as well as a report in Serbian and extracted mp3 file, here on her blog entry.

29 May 2011

T.A.Z. [video]

My first music video, made by yours truly alone.
T.A.Z. stands for Temporary Autonomous Zone and it was insipred by the same titled book by Hakim Bey, Tarkovsky's Stalker and most of all - my childhood.

T.A.Z by Koneyn

Free mp3 download under Creative Commons licence:

22 March 2011

SHARE Conference - sound logo

SHARE Conference is a new kind of festival created by the State of Exit Foundation. For the first time in the region, a host of internationally acclaimed internet and social activism experts, new media artists and renowned musicians will be present in one place at the same time. The festival has two main program units: the innovatie SHARE by Day education platform and intensive SHARE by Night with Tuborg parties. Belgrade will thus become the hot spot for sharing knowledge, ideas and fun at performances, lectures, workshops and exhibitions featuring representatives from Google, Harvard, MIT, Obama's marketing team and the likes. Dom Omladine with its 3 halls is the festival's main venue, and another 8 clubs will host around 700 regional opinion-makers, as well as 15,000 local and international visitors. A single wristband will grant access to more than 100 events of the festival.

Just as we found out there will be no Dis-Patch festival in Belgrade from this year on, which is quite sad news, we got ourselves some kind of substitute in form of SHARE Conference. While it may not be as revolutionary and new as their advertising team suggests, it certainly bring quite a few big names into the game - Carl Craig, Murcof, Alex Smoke, Tricky, Josh Wink and MJ Cole, to name a few. It's just something that small independent festival like Dis-Patch wouldn't be able to handle, possibly due to lack of financial support that otherwise stands behind EXIT team, who runs this show.

Everything is on a whole different level now. So are the entry fees. Which is quite understandable, but still not easily affordable.

I got myself a lucky way in, though. There was a small competition that required from producers and sound designers to create an under-10-seconds "sound logo" for the conference. One of mine got into the selected few, so I will receive the wristband which allows me to be there day and night.

Here is the entry that has been selected:

Dive in Share by Koneyn

13 February 2011

Kaoss Pad 3

I've been saving for this one for long time now, and I must say it was definitely worth it. Truth to be told, at first I've had some other options in mind when it comes to solving my lack of equipment for live performance, namely KP3's younger brother, Kaossilator Pro, but after many reconsiderations and a few budget cuts, I went for this little widely underestimated box.

Kaoss Pad may be quite a popular toy actually, but it seems that the vast majority of users don't go beyond it's most immediate and obvious functions (at least judging by countless YouTube clips I've seen), simply playing around with effects, or in more interesting case, using it to make beatboxing more crazy than it already is (and I mean in a good way). It's not so surprising, considering how relatively poor manual seems to be when it comes to more detailed informations.

Yet, coupled with a separately purchased SD memory card, KP turns into a self-sufficient loop&effect box, capable of delivering enough options for inspirational and varied (albeit still inevitably repetitive by nature) live performance. For example, you get four banks with loops of up to 4 bars of length, which is what everyone knows, but you can also make more variations by simply chopping up that 4 bar loop into 8 equal parts that can be turned on or off, which creates much more room for creativity than simply pressing ABCD pads on and off. It also means that, having this in mind, you can create and load really interesting combination of sounds/rhythm packed into each of those 4 bar loop banks and go crazy with the thing.

Solvent by Koneyn

Maybe not really a prime example of creativity with Kaoss Pad, but this is the first thing I've done with it, after only several hours of actual use (got it two days ago), and if you listen more or less carefully you can notice it doesn't quite seem like just four loops going on and off. I'm already satisfied with this test and frankly can't wait to try out more.

March 2011 update:

First try at recording video while improvising with Korg Kaoss Pad 3, with a little bit clumsy intro and a few (I hope) minor mistakes here and there. Sounds were prepared in Ableton Live 7, exported as loops and imported onto four sample banks on KP3.

Recorded directly from the Kaoss Pad's LineOuts into E-MU 0404 PCI, no extra sounds added or editing performed, except for the slight compression on the final recording to increase loudness.
Sorry for such a poor video quality, my cheap camera isn't quite fond of dim indoor light.

15 January 2011

The Slave Ship [unreleased]

Just something that has been left lying under the carpet for a while.

"The Slave Ship" or "Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying—Typhoon coming on" by J. M. W. Turner

The Slave Ship by Koneyn

In memory of James Stinson.
Recorded in Spring of 2010.

Free download under Creative Commons licence: