randy's Recent Posts

That's a very fair question but very broad, have you decided what DAW (host) you are using?

(we sorted this out over email)

I have an extra, email me!

Hi 3david3, I would update to 10.14 (Mojave) if you can. It might work on 10.13 but Mojave is the earliest OS version I will be testing.

Thanks so much! Can't wait to get the finished version into your hands.

For sure, I'm very excited to support CLAP.

Hi, I think the 20ms is a lie. (not on purpose) What happened is that preset was made when I had a shorter minimum delay at one point. Then the release version changed the minimum but I didn't change the preset. So it will be clamped to 50ms in reality even though it says 20.

The time had to be a that length because of the pitch tracking if I remember correctly.

Sorry for the confusion—
Randy

No news but it's my top priority besides Sumu.

We have updated all of our software instruments—Aalto, Kaivo, and Virta— to version 1.9.5, bringing native Apple Silicon support for M1 and M2 Macs. The new versions are Universal Binaries, which support both Apple Silicon and Intel processors. Users with Apple Silicon computers should be able to run 30% more voices or more, as compared with the previous versions in Rosetta 2 emulation.

This update is free. Installers contain Universal Binaries for both VST2 and Audio Units V2 versions.

Windows versions are unaffected by this update. Aaltoverb, previously released with Apple Silicon support, is also unaffected.

Hi Zef, I didn't see this until now—release in December.

Sorry for the delay in replying. I've been so deep in the coding. Because I'm very busy finishing up and the actual release is quite close now, I've stopped adding people to the beta list so I can focus better. Thanks for your understanding.

This goes from Soundplane directly to norns. A big deal! I did get a Norns so one of these days I can try the combination here and see about maintaining it (does it work on newest MacOS, etc.)

please email me and I'll send you one.

For me too! I'm happy to be near the finish line.

Please chill. I just develop on Mac so things come out first there. Vutu for Windows comes out after Sumu beta.

Helpful ideas, thank you!

Nope. Still working on Sumu. Thanks for your interest.

Dream Weaver: The Otherworldly Music Of Seattle Producer enereph

by Dave Segal
photo: Twyla Sampaco

Amid the dozens of oblivious customers playing pinball and pool at Seattle's 4Bs Tavern on a Tuesday night in July, something extraordinary and unexpected was happening. Enereph (31-year-old electronic musician and Patchwerks employee Connie Fu) was flaunting sound design as complex and unconventional as '90s-era Photek. Her merciless, unpredictable beats flitted and pummeled with scientific rigor. Her sound was perfectly poised between physicality and braininess.

Against the odds, enereph's music cut through the clamor at this monthly showcase headed by Matt “EZBOT” Piecora with a distinctiveness that made me think that one day she would laugh at these ludicrous circumstances, as she prepares to take the stage in the near future at the sort of prestigious festival that gets covered in publications such as The Wire.

The journey to enereph's current status as a musical force on the verge of underground notoriety is both typical and atypical. As Fu was growing up in the Detroit suburb of Northville, her parents enrolled her in piano lessons taught by Ukrainian instructor Isabella Vilensky. From age 5 to 15, Fu learned how to play works by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Mendelssohn. She competed often and participated in an annual Michigan Music Teachers Association achievement test. But she didn't really think of herself as a musician, but rather “as a person who was playing piano,” she says in an interview.

As a youngster, one of Fu's favorite songs was Shakira's “Whenever, Wherever,” to which she would often sing. “I was really into random pop music. But as a kid growing up in suburban Michigan, I wasn't exposed to a whole lot of music. My parents are also immigrants. What they played at home was essentially Celine Dion and a selection of Chinese folk songs. It was quite a weird mix. Between classical piano repertoire, mainstream pop, and songs of my parents’ youth, which I had little context for, I found it really difficult to grasp the concept of music.”

It wasn't until Fu started studying visual art and art history at Harvard, that she discovered her true path to becoming a musician. A class devoted to Surrealism Between The Two World Wars drew her into an obsession with art history. This led to Fu engaging in painting, installation art, and performance art while at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. “I began scoring my performances. That's how I found my way back to music—specifically electronic music and scenic music through this concept of writing an accompaniment or sonic expression of what I was doing in physical space.”

Fu's interest in electronic music was further sparked when, during her first stint in Seattle, a friend introduced her to the blog Listen To This, about out-of-print records, many in the ambient and New Age genres. There she encountered Hiroshi Yoshimura's Wet Land, which remains one of her favorite albums. “It's a super-iconic ambient album.”

When prodded to offer other inspirations, Fu says Meredith Monk. “It's mostly about the way she weaves together materials and mediums to discover new modes of perception."

“I'm drawn to art that comes at you multifaceted, as a force. You have to reckon with that force with your whole being, and that attention breeds deep listening and observation. Looking closely at things reveals how incongruous they are, and that is a huge source of inspiration for me.”

While attending grad school in New York, Fu often frequented a club called BASEMENT by herself. “I didn't know what I was going to experience, necessarily, and didn't have anybody to share it with; I was sort of a fly on the wall, inserting myself into the situation where it's very dark and dungeon-y and hazy. [BASEMENT is] in what used to be a glass and steel-frame door factory. So there were all these nooks and crannies full of crumbling brick. It would be all red and dark, and I listened to a lot of techno there.

“Those are some pretty transformative experiences, too, because I felt like there was a heartbeat of the world going on. That along with the beautiful, open expanse of ambient music, those extremes drew me to start producing electronic music... In a way, they are two sides of the same feeling—this extremely transcendent feeling but also a very rooted feeling.” Seeing hardware-based techno artist Headless Horseman perform at BASEMENT “was pretty influential as well—the whole outfit, with the black fringe and the face... it's like this very mysterious character.”

Artists such as Headless Horseman made Fu ponder the notion of her persona. “I haven't always been a forward person with aspects of my personality. And I feel connected with artists whose personas are more subtle. Almost like the lack of persona is the persona—in a general sense, there is mystery. But there are many ways to shape that mystique and mystery. On the level of persona I was drawn to electronic music because it felt like an easier realm to live in than that of rock and pop stars.”

Enereph's early recordings already revealed promise. The 2020 track “Andromeda” is abstract techno full of tantalizing textures and spluttering beats, as if she conceived a banger for the club and then decided to make disorientation more important than danceability. Co-written with John Nap and Jonathan Christ, “Spiral Is The Way” combines pastel, gossamer ambient pop with intricate drum & bass and then ends with a lament/chant coda. “As A Point” continues enereph's journey into nimble, featherweight drum & bass, enhanced by her own diaphanous vocals. The chilling, emotive ambient of “Reinvention” evokes Brian Eno circa Another Green World.

Reminiscent of Moebius' solo work, “clamorseeking” is a methodical, creeping, and bleeping piece that makes you feel as if a terrifying amphibian is sneaking up on you. More peculiarities ensue in a demonstration of enereph's most idiosyncratic production tendencies. This collage establishes her as a formidable experimental musician.

The World Unfound EP from 2020 represents some of enereph's most adventurous music, “New Chapter” brings dystopian sci-fi-flick terror fuel while “Hymn” offers a delicate, melismatic vocal intro into which come hard, spaced-out beats and “steel poles dropped on the factory floor” ambience. The track exemplifies enereph's stunning contrast between beauty and brutality. “Morning” classical-influenced IDM, shimmeringly oneiric and disorienting in equal measure while “Tomorrow” purveys desolate, forlorn ambient in the vein of Tonto's Expanding Head Band's “Tama” (with dreamy vocals à la Seefeel's Sarah Peacock), getting more turbulent as it goes. World Unfound was the first electronic music enereph released. “From start to finish, I was terrified. [laughs] So maybe that's why it sounds so dystopian. This is literally how I feel making this and releasing it right now. It was a huge milestone, because of the vulnerability of it all made it so scary. Making music is way more vulnerable than learning repertoire.

“Well, not to hierarchize it—they're scary in different ways. Stage fright is something I struggle with, so it felt important to take that walk from the innards of my soul, which, at the time, were kind of tattered.

“I was in my mid 20s and processing a lot. To take that walk through the wintry hinterland of the soul out into releasing that piece was really important.”

The forthcoming album music for weavers—which is projected for a 2023 release—shows growing confidence and skill levels in enereph's production. The opening cut “undressing” is a red herring: it's pensive ambient embellished with Grace Scheele's mesmerizing harp playing. After this, things swerve into much more rhythmic territory. “Drift toward” glories in the aquatic-/space-funk realm redolent of electro psychonauts such as Jedi Knights and Drexciya. “In december” and “rabbit bounce” embrace bruising, complex IDM that roils in hyper-modern sci-fi milieus.

Though a rhythmic brutality runs through enereph's songs, they also possess an erotic aura. Throughout music for weavers, enereph excels at creating depth and dimensionality in her songs. She generates a striking contrast between vaporous melodies and rugged beats and bass frequencies. Enereph's newest track “meant to be,” part of Delusional Records’ second anniversary compilation which also features tracks by Trovarsi, DateNite, Aria Bare, and Vutall, is swoon-inducing electro/R&B with Fu confidentially cooing the refrain, “life is better when you feel it.” Listeners may hear similarities with recent output by fellow Seattle producer Lusine.

“I'm working on some weavings right now and I'm getting into the family of patterns that go by the name 'overshot,' which is distinctly American family of patterns. With overshot, the weaver can create intricate patterns using a relatively simple loom. You can create all of these wonderful curved lines and patterns that seem intricate, but when you look closely at them, they're just little square blocks arranged in different ways. So it's like you're looking at pixels, but you're looking at a weaving. There are infinite variations. I appreciate how inexhaustible the pattern-making field is—expressed both through textiles and through music. I'd like to incorporate overshot patterns in the visual accompaniment to music for weavers.

“I've also been thinking more about the music being the sonic expression of the loom, a score-writing instrument. If I were more of a literalist I'd call myself out for that, because really I was trying to make some dance music and didn't quite make what I set out to do. Maybe the connection to the loom is there, too, in that the relationship of human to machine is never as seamless as one imagines. I set out to do something and discovered I was much more interested in another idea that only faintly related to the first one. Or it was some kind of new pool of thought only revealed to me by embarking on the first idea.

“It's all connected to me wanting to make dance music, but feeling quite separate from club and DJ culture. I've had meaningful times at clubs, but the most meaningful times I've experienced alone.”

Fu is at the stage of her creative life where she's trying to figure out how her studio work relates to what she chooses to perform live. I ask her if she views her music in the context of functionality and if so, what is it useful for? At the time of our interview, Fu was working on music for weavers, but says, “It's not like I'm writing the music to carry out the function of being listened to while people weave at the loom. But if there were a character in a story with that concept, that's the picture I’m more interested in capturing. It's not literal; it's purely conceptual.

“Whenever I sit at the loom, I remember how very piano-like it is. It's a mechanical instrument with many intricate parts. You sit on a bench facing it and there are pedals and a horizontal bar with a metal comb that threads come through. You beat the bar forward to situate every row, and that's how your cloth builds, row by row.”
“I'm toying with this idea that the loom is an instrument that I'm playing, which is essentially silent, but the music it would make is the music that I'm writing. It makes fabric that's almost like a score. What would the musical output of something like the loom sound like?”

Fu says that her new music is “connected to the idea of [Madrona Labs' software synthesizer] Kaivo, which is why these days I've been spending my time either playing the piano or mixing these tracks, which are kind of rhythmic. I kind of wanted to make dance tracks, but I don't necessarily know that they would be played in a club context. “It's more like, the rhythms are a driving force in the way that weaving a cloth would be. It's a driving force to create something, but your body is actually not free in its movements. Your body is the one driving the force, so you're not necessarily the one dancing; you're more the person producing the rhythms. How does the person producing the rhythms also dance?

“This is why I find it hard to identify fully as a musician; these are thoughts that don't feel like they fit into a musical genre or tradition. They exist as a body of thought.” And that's what makes enereph's music interesting: It's not beholden to any genre or tradition. Its elusiveness is its strength.

Speaking of Madrona Labs, Fu discovered the company during the pandemic via a Discord server from her friend Aaron Turner (aka British producer/instructor kk junker). The subject of Kaivo arose in a channel for instruments and plugins; Fu clicked on the link and bought it soon after. At that point, living in an isolated, tiny house in Poulsbo, Washington, she was using an Elektron Octatrack, a Korg Minilogue, and her computer. She had moved from Cleveland and decided to record an album by herself. Having no community or scene to nourish her, she felt confused and depressed. The album wasn't coming together.

“When I found Kaivo, it was like, this is maybe a harbinger of what's to come; it's semi-modular, it's interesting. Conceptually, it's so inspiring. There are a lot of plugins that are emulating things that exist in the real world, whereas Kaivo comes right out the gate and says, 'This instrument is something that you cannot find in acoustic instruments.' Literally, you're taking a granular synthesizer and you're giving it a physical body and resonant material. It doesn’t exist outside of software and that’s why you should use it. That's super-compelling as a musician. In this sea of thousands of plugins, I could be completely broke if I bought all of the plugins that I wanted. But this is one that I can't not have. Because it's using the medium of software to produce sound that you can't otherwise do.

“What Randy Jones is doing is awesome. And [with Madrona Labs] being based in Seattle, I was feeling a connection. Things that are made in particular places are a product of those places and are inextricably tied to them. Even if it's software and anyone around the world can get it, and it functions just as well and you can contact Randy for support and there's an online community, so it doesn't matter where you are, it still feels meaningful to me that somebody in Seattle made it.

“Seattle is bursting with musical history, so it makes sense.”


photo: Daniel Briggs

“I've only been here cumulatively five years, but it's the longest time I've spent in any place other than [in Northville]. I have this infernal conflict: It's very hard to live here, in many ways. But there are certain things that keep me feeling like there's still something here. Like Madrona Labs being here, Valhalla DSP being here, or various module makers, or very niche music communities overlapping. They make me feel like this is a place where I can still subsist, despite X, Y, and Z.”

Fu is currently working on a film photography project with collaborator Twyla Sampaco, funded by 4Culture, which will eventually be presented publicly with musical accompaniment. It's part of her masterplan to integrate visual art and music (she's also a teaching artist at Frye Museum). “Most of these tracks are tied to specific places. For one of them, I went to Golden Gardens at night and recorded the waves. For another, I did this Kaivo recording where I sampled and resampled the output of Kaivo—ran it back into itself many times—so some very warbled vocals came out. Then I did mushrooms and listened to it and thought, 'This is really interesting.' Afterwards, I still liked it, which was amazing.

“Where that happened was in a little cabin in Bow-Edison. I kind of want to do a photo diary situation where this character that's not quite human, not quite sheep, not quite anything, and is sort of faceless, is in these different locations, living a parallel life to what I live in Seattle—but not quite the same.”

Although Fu is a distinct minority as a woman of color in the Northwest's electronic-music scene, she doesn't like to dwell on obstacles or challenges she's faced due to that. Seattle, she says, has provided her ample opportunities to perform as well as support from various communities. The barriers she feels more sharply are those imposed on her from within.

“The internal lack of confidence, lack of self-worth, or feeling that there's so much happening, why would my contribution matter? That's the stuff I struggle with over time, but I'm starting to be able to see past a little bit more now. But it's only because I've allowed myself to continually make things.

“And now that I have a substantial enough body of work, any time I start to feel that way again or feel really frustrated with myself, I can point myself back to those places and say 'Hey, it's not that you're trying to do this; you have been doing it a long time.' There's momentum, so it's okay, is what I'll say to myself.

“I don't see a ton of other people who are like me in terms of background in the electronic-music community, but then again I do: Everybody is such an individual, and yet I meet and connect with people over one thing or another all the time. I have a lot of hope because I've experienced such amazing opportunities here.

“I want to be a steward of more people to feel that way, to feel confident and like they belong. That's the most important thing.”

“I've been listening to Jlin a lot recently and am inspired to push myself to develop further and deeper in composition. Jlin says in an interview in Electronic Beats that 98% of music making is not music-related, but about figuring out who you are as a person. That resonates with me a lot right now as I find myself fighting to craft a voice that I can firmly stand with.”

https://www.patchwerks.com/
https://enereph.bandcamp.com/
https://enereph.com/

I love your synth expeditions. This one is truly epic!

Thanks for the question.

Sumu has 64 bandwidth-enhanced, frequency-modulated partials. So it's really comparing completely different things, to compare it against other synths. A single partial in Sumu would be a musically useful oscillator all by itself.

If your additive synth can make wide-bandwidth noise, then it has enough partials! Then the fun is in figuring out how to control all the parameters of a voice meaningfully and expressively — I'm much more interested in this "how" than in "how much" or "how many".

getting there...

Hi, thanks for posting.

You have the right idea about OSC. As far as I know there's nothing really that records it so you just record the audio.

MPE is just MIDI, so any DAW should be able to record it and play it live. If a plugin / synth supports MPE, you can play with all the multi-dimensional control a Soundplane can offer.

I wish I were more up on the Soundplane -> CV possibilties. If the Reaktor thing you are using does MPE that should work. Also you could just get something like a Polyend Poly and send it MPE MIDI over a USB cable.

It shouldn't be hard. I would try to interest someone else who is a Reaktor user and can write the software. I don't have time to work on it but I'm happy to answer questions.

Wow, old thread... but a good idea! Thanks for posting.

Thanks for writing. What you ask is totally reasonable. At the very least an alias should work, which it does not seem to, now. So this is on my list to fix.

I'll appreciate the info, thanks. As far as I know this is an AU-only and computer keyboard-only problem.

I just received my first Apple Silicon-based computer this past weekend. Of course I was excited to find out how all the Madrona Labs software worked on it, so I dove right into some informal tests and benchmarks.

None of my plugins are yet released in native versions for the Apple Silicon-branded ARM processor in the new Macs—rather, they run using Apple's Rosetta 2 emulator which translates their Intel code into ARM instructions. Kaivo is definitely capable of putting a heavy load on the CPU, so I used it as a basis for testing. Because Ableton Live is the hosting environment my customers use the most, and also because it's not yet released for native Apple Silicon, I did the bulk of my testing in Live 10. So the test is all in emulation, and hopefully gives a good general indication of what moving your existing software setup over to an M1 Mac would be like. I tested both the M1 and my 2015 MacBook Pro, which is my daily driver and a pretty typical machine for a lot of my customers out there.

I said above that these tests are informal. That means I didn't take the average of multiple runs, I just did my measurements by looking at Apple's Activity Monitor, and my reports of inferface speed are subjective. That said, I have seen the same behavior while working on the new Macbook Air over the last few days, and everything is consistent with the reporting I've read on these new computers.

Tests

Configurations tested:

New Air:

  • MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
  • 8GB RAM
  • macOS Big Sur v. 11.1

Old Pro:

  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, early 2015)
  • 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5
  • macOS Mojave v. 10.14.6

Common software:

  • Ableton Live 10.1.30
  • Kaivo 1.9.4

All tests were run at 48000Hz, with Live's sample buffer size set to 512. Built-in audio was used. Each voice used the factory patch "peaking lights," a high-CPU patch with all the resonators and body code in use.

I looked at the CPU percentage used when no Kaivo windows were visible. In addition, I noted if there were any audible glitches, how Live's UI performed with one Kaivo window showing, and how warm the computer was. Here's the data I collected:

Test 1: 32 voices of Kaivo (4 instances x 8)

New Air:
%CPU: 138, ± 1
glitches: none
UI: a bit slow but usable
heat: warm

Old Pro:
%CPU: 310, ± 10
glitches: many
UI: unusable
heat: warm, fan audible

Test 2: 16 voices of Kaivo (2 instances x 8)

New Air:
%CPU: 82, ± 1
glitches: none
UI: fast
heat: warm

Old Pro:
%CPU: 133, ± 5
glitches: intermittent
UI: slow but usable
heat: warm, fan audible

Test 3: 12 voices of Kaivo (2 instances x 6)

New Air:
%CPU: 78, ± 1
glitches: none
UI: fast
heat: cool

Old Pro:
%CPU: 101, ± 2
glitches: no
UI: slow but usable
heat: warm

Discussion

An Ableton Live project with 32 voices (4 instances) of Kaivo is totally usable on the M1 Macbook Air, with only a little bit of UI slowdown evident with a Kaivo window open. The same project is definitely not runnable on my old MacBook Pro.

Interestingly, looking at the eight cores of the M1 running all these voices, it appears that only four of them are doing the heavy lifting. This probably accounts for the fast UI response even under the most load I tested. The M1 has four performance cores and four less powerful efficiency cores—my guess is that cores 5–8 here are the performance cores. Right now it takes more esoteric tools to really determine this.

On my old MacBook Pro, I can add up to around 12 voices of Kaivo before glitching is audible. (This is over two instances of the plugin. The same number of voices over more instances will take a little more CPU because of the overhead of each instance, but may be less glitchy because the scheduling is easier, soooo... it's complicated.)

It may not seem too amazing that a new machine is much faster than a five year old one. But remember, both Live and Kaivo are compiled for a different processor and running in emulation! This is an impressive feat, especially if one can remember the lackluster performance of the original Rosetta's PowerPC to Intel emulation.

I tested my five year old laptop against the M1, not to be mean, but because I don't have a newer one. Since the work that Kaivo is doing is basically CPU-bound, looking at relative CPU benchmarks for newer machines should give us a decent guess at how they would perform in the same test. Geekbench gives us the following numbers for multi core tests, where higher is faster: New Air: 7614 , Old Pro: 1358, Recent 13" MacBook Pro (13-inch Mid 2020): 4512. So going from my old Pro to a current 13" model should give us roughly (4512 / 1358), or three times the number of voices, or what the M1 can do in emulation.

Summary

If you have a Mac that's more than a couple of years old, the upgrade to any Apple Silicon Mac should be a big leap in speed, even when running applications that are not yet native. If you have a high end or more recent Mac, one that pulls in a Geekbench 5 multi-core score of around 5000 or higher, it probably makes sense to wait—either until your favorite apps are all native, or for the next generation of Apple Silicon computers.

I have not tested on M2 personally but I think a lot of my customers have M2 computers by now. If there is an issue on your new computer, I think it's more likely to be software related than to do with the M2 chip.

Can you please give more info about what you mean when you say it doesn't work? What specifically is the symptom? What did you expect to happen and what happens instead? Thanks.

Thanks for writing. I like the platform and still want to deploy on iOS. The pricing is hard. I wouldn't want to charge you another $89 for Virta iOS! Ideally one purchase would cover both platforms in the future but Apple makes it hard to do this. Fortunately we have smart friends with the same problem and I know we will figure something out, given time.

Sorry, I stopped adding people to the discord while I'm finishing the beta. This is because I have as many people as I think I can handle now. There's currently no beta to try anyway but I'm getting close!