Another Maschine Studio Mini Live Set

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I had so much fun doing my last Maschine Studio live set, that I had to dive right in and make another one right away.  This is another short set, only 16 minutes long:

I’ll likely combine the material from this set with my last one, giving me an hour of music to play with.  Expect a new recording once I get it all tweaked and ready to play.  Until then, enjoy the trippy textures of the new set!
Tarekith

Electribe Live Set 05-30-2015

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Video:

http://youtu.be/4TboTDpd28M

Audio:

http://tarekith.com/mp3s/Tarekith-ElectribeLiveSet.m4a

Well, I knew I was going to start working on an electribe set after I wrapped up my Maschine Studio live set, I just didn’t expect it to be the very next day!  Sat down a few times throughout the day to polish up what I was working on in the electribe lately, and decided to cull a few songs that just weren’t fitting the vibe I wanted.

I started getting an idea for a new electribe project while I was doing all this, but I knew that I had to put some of these current songs behind me before I could wipe everything and start from scratch on a new project.  So, I decided to record a short live set with some of my favorite patterns at the moment.

I was mainly using the Wet Reverb master effect to help with transitions between patterns, I haven’t been able to figure out a smoother way without knowing the track order ahead of time.  This is probably a good bit more basic sounding than my Maschine Studio live set, but I still enjoy working this way and seeing what kind of music I can write when using tools a bit more limited.

Happy that I was able to use some of these ideas I’ve been carrying with me as I journeyed from one continent to another, but also looking forward to starting over on a new electribe project now that I’m settled.  Expect some more grey Korg box music shortly!  🙂

Enjoy!
Tarekith

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Maschine Live Set Follow Up

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I’m glad that a lot of people have been enjoying my new Maschine Studio live set:

Even more surprising how few people are using Maschine like this to perform, and how many people have thought about it.  I’ve had a few more questions about some of the specific of the set, so I figured I’d talk some more about it.

All of the sounds came from the Maschine Library, except for an atmospheric texture in each track.  These were live recordings I made at various forest preserves here in Luxembourg, using my iPhone and the Rode iXY-L mic I recently purchased.  It does great stereo recordings, doesn’t seem overly sensitive to handling noise from the phone, and the Rode app is something I’ve been using for a long time since it’s based on Audiofile’s old FiRe iOS recorder.

So in this set typically I would layer one of these recordings over everything else, side-chain it to the kick, pile on some effects and play with the pitch to make it sit well with the other sounds.  It was a hair-brained idea one day I thought, but it actually worked out better than I expected.  Nice evolving sounds, and it’s got something that’s a more personal connection to my memories of making the set since I was the one who recorded all the samples. I’ll probably do some more of this in the future, turned out to be a neat technique.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, each Group in Maschine was what I would consider a separate song.  That gave me up to 16 different sounds per song, though I didn’t ever use that many.  Typically each song had 9-10 tracks.

To switch from one song to another, I would in turn mute all the sounds from one group, while un-muting sounds from the next group.  This of course meant before I played the set, I had to go and manually mute each sound in Maschine ahead of time, then save this as my performance template.  Sometimes I would first turn the volume down on a sound, then un-mute it.  This would allow me to fade in some sounds, and not have everything sound too much like it’s just being muted and unmuted.

I also had 8 macros assigned to the master channel, and I would use these during song transitions too.  I had a high pass and low pass filter, some dynamics shaping tools, and a stereo delay assigned to the macros, allowing me to filter, chop, and delay the audio from the entire set in one go when I needed to.

I was originally going to create macros for each Group too, but I realized that most of the controls I would likely want to map were already on the front page of each synth.  Easy enough to get to those, so most of the hands on tweaking was done on the synths and effects directly.  This worked out better than I figured it would, so not too sure how much macro making I’ll be doing in the future.  Fine with me, that’s one of the few things you can only do on the laptop and not the controller 🙂

Video recording.  People are curious about this more than I expected.  In this video, I’m just using an iPhone6 attached to a mic boom arm with a Joby Gorilla-pod for the above shots.  The side-angle shots were done with an iPad Air2 set on top of my speaker.  I used Airdrop to transfer the videos to my laptop.  Easy.

The set audio was recorded by hosting Maschine in Ableton Live, and routing the host track to the input of an audio track.  That’s why you can see me closing and opening the laptop lid at the start and end of the set, I needed to start Live to get the Maschine plug-in to start playing.  Monitoring was via my Lynx Hilo and Tyler D2x’s, no headphones needed for this set.

To combine the audio with the two camera angles I just used iMovie.  It’s a little fiddly at times, but usually pretty simple to use and exporting the final movie is fast on my MacBook Pro.

Anyway, that’s the rest of the story.  Next up most likely will be recording an electribe live set similar to this one.  At least, that’s the plan.

Until next time, peace and beats.
Tarekith

Maschine Studio Live PA 05-29-2015

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YouTube version of this set:

http://youtu.be/D7V8HvRLXfo

Audio version of the set:

Maschine Studio Live PA 05-29-2015

This live set has been a long time coming, something I’ve been trying to do with different gear for awhile now.  After bouncing around for what seemed like forever trying various different set ups, I finally decided that the Maschine Studio controller would be something I could really dive into.

This entire set was created and performed entirely using the Maschine Studio controller, the laptop was closed the entire time as I wanted to treat the set as if it was purely done on hardware.   There was an NI limiter on the master channel in Maschine, otherwise this was recorded directly from Maschine with no additional processing after the fact.

An earlier attempt at doing this showed me I needed to really pay attention to my CPU usage, it’s easy to get carried away using lots of the bigger plug ins from the library.  I have Maschine set up so that each Group is a basically a separate song, so I need to have enough CPU available to load 8 songs at once in effect.

I started by keeping the drums mainly sourced from samples, both in the Maschine library, and some of my own found sounds (more on this later).  Other than the kick drums, most of the percussion and cymbal noises are various odd sounds I sampled in various forest preserves near where I live.  Editing, tweaked, effected, and pitched all over of course.

I used “Group I” in Maschine to host a global delay and reverb, and sent just about everything through that to save more power.  There was also a few filters, EQs, a transient shaper, and delay on the master channel.  These were assigned to Master Channel macros so that I could effect the entire sound of the set if I wanted to.

This left me plenty of CPU I found to get a bit more indulgent with some of the instrument sounds.  Time to dive into Massive and some of the new content in the Komplete Select sounds from the Maschine v2.3 update recently.

This video was actually my very first trial run of the set.  I was mainly trying to see if the cameras would record long enough, and if Maschine could handle running that long as well.  I ended up having so much fun I just went for it, and happily all the camera and audio aspects worked as expected too.  I still have quite a bit more I want to do to fine-tune the set and a couple of the songs, but I’m still really happy with how it turned out.

Maschine Studio ended up being a lot better than I expected from a performance standpoint.  Doesn’t take long to really start knowing your way around, and with things like the mixer, macros, and synth tweaking only one button press away, I was surprised at how quick I could move around to keep the set as fluid as possible.  Good stuff, and I look forward to doing some more live music with this set up!

Hope you enjoy the music!
Tarekith

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Building A New Live Set

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Now that things are settled down a bit from the move, I finally have the time and mindset to really focus on getting some new music written and recorded.  Probably even performable if all goes well.

The Electribe live set I was working on was giving me a few issues so I decided to shelve it for a bit, and the Traktor S8 live set didn’t pan out the way I wanted, so that was a dead end too.  I figured it was time to dive back in on the Maschine Studio as a live tool, see if I could come up with a way to use it to write and perform and entire live set from.

I won’t lie, this video of Dapayk Solo helped kick my interest back into high gear:

He’s basically using the exact same way of organizing the set that I was planning on, and despite a couple CPU dropouts he said, everything worked fine for up to 8 songs.  At least now I knew it could be done, and I wasn’t so hesitant to spend the time prepping something of this magnitude.

I set myself a self-imposed deadline of June 1st to finish the set.  Well, slightly self-imposed anyway, I might actually have a live set to play that night.  Details pending.

The basic idea was to use each group in Maschine as a self-contained song, so that I could have multiple songs all in one self-contained project.  After some experimenting and talking to other Maschine users trying something similar, it sounded like limiting the set to 8 groups (songs) was the best way to go.  Beyond that you start running into CPU load limitations, it’s just pushing things too much IMO.

Even then, I knew I needed to try and be as bare-bones as possible when building the set, the more CPU in reserve the better.  If nothing else it gave me plenty of power later in the process when I really wanted to fine-tune things.  By sticking mainly with samples for my drums and a few instruments per song, I was able to write 95% of the set with my CPU meter barely lighting up in Maschine.

Oh yeah, the set came together really fast too, the bulk of it created over maybe a week?   Plenty of time to meet my deadline now!   I think it helped that I had just gotten back from a nice relaxing vacation to Amsterdam (my first time) a few days before.  But I also know that it had been awhile since I had written and released any music I was happy with, and the itch was there to just get it done.

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I’m still impressed every time I use the Maschine Studio, I admit it.  Other than a few things I can do quickly at the start of a session like start a new project, everything can be done from the hardware.  And it’s really fun to do so.  The more used to Maschine I get, the more I realize there’s so much potential there with how quick it is it to write and EDIT your music. Didn’t help that the new 2.3 update for Maschine hit right before I dove in, new goodies are always fun to play with of course. 🙂

In a couple busy days in the studio, I managed to get the core of 8 new songs written for the live set.  It’s mainly a dub techno, deep weird house sort of set, dance or nod, it’s your choice.

I still need to do some final mixdown tweaks, figure out exactly how I want to video record a run through of the set (everyone loves YouTube versions after all), add in a few fills here and there, and start assigning all the controls I want to tweak when playing the set to Macros for each group.  6 days, easy.

If all goes to play, hopefully I’ll be playing a new live set on June 1st, or at the very least have a practice run through of the set online.  Back to it!

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

 

 

Crossing Channels DJ Set

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Crossing Channels DJ Set <- Right Click to download

Been wanting to get a new DJ set recorded ever since we arrived in Luxembourg.   Finally managed to get a break from mastering long enough to get this recorded, and I’m really happy with the way it came together.  On a bit of a dub techno kick lately, so this one is both something you can chill or dance to.  This set was recorded live on May 13th using Native Instruments Traktor Scratch Pro v2.81 and a Traktor Kontrol S8 controller.  The link above is a high-quality AAC version of the set.

Here’s the tracklist:

Time – Artist – Track Name – Label
00:00 – Subset – Worlds Of If – Deeptakt
07:45 – Subset – Lecithitrope – Deeptakt
13:49 – Goran Geto – Chords And Clouds (Subset Rmx) – Drift Deeper
18:41 – BRK – ML3 – Energostatic
22:23 – Caldera – Hold – Drift Deeper
27:33 – Micro G – Aquatic Warbler – Vertical
33:10 – Caldera – Caldera – Sonic Moiré
38:10 – If I Had A Hi Fi – Kontinuum – Kopoc
44:34 – Aspect – BP4 (Fingers in the Noise Rmx) – Cold Fiction Music
48:50 – Goran Geto – Chords And Clouds (Zoltan Ban Remix) – Drift Deeper
55:38 – Atabey – Cold Peace – Energostatic
62:22 – Akusmatic – Lunar Chicken – Self Release
68:02 – If I Had A Hi Fi – Silica – Kopoc
72:27 – Yagya – Reverbs and Delays – Kilk
76:02 – Minimal Boffin – Jardin d’Acclimation – Complex Textures
81:54 – Caldera – Be With You – Sonic Moiré
87:14 – Kogyp – Oceanica – Energostatic

For those of you who prefer Mixcloud, here’s a link to the set there as well:

 

As always, hope you enjoy!
Tarekith

Over-engineering Musical Solutions

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One of the more interesting aspects of living in Europe compared to the US, is how differently they build things.  Lots more concrete, no drywall, attention to air quality inside, more stringent energy saving devices, etc.  Of course, sometimes better is not always better.

Case in point.  The bathroom in our new apartment has a fan and vent system that’s tied into the overhead light.  When you turn on the main bathroom light, after a few seconds the fans in the vents start.  This provides not only fresh air, but also helps get rid of any moisture in the air after say a shower, preventing mold building up and the like.  It’s a great idea on paper, however the people who designed it over-engineered the concept because said fan will stay on for up to 30 minutes after you turn off the light.  Even if you only turn on the light for a few seconds.  And it’s very loud, so loud you can hear it in all of the other rooms.  To the point where it’s extremely annoying, and it basically creates a larger problem than it solves.

As a result, instead of being a practical solution we appreciate having and use frequently, my wife and rarely use the overhead light in the bathroom and instead use the much dimmer one built into the wall.    The point of this post isn’t just to whine about my new bathroom though, because I see music producers doing the same thing all the time when it comes to writing music.

For instance, people will be working to make two instruments sit together better in a mix by using some EQ on both parts.   They’ll go to great lengths to create these radical and steep EQ shapes that precisely isolate specific frequencies, and yes the sounds do fit together better afterwards.  But at the same time, they also lack any warmth or presence, making the mix sound thin and anemic.  They’ve in effect not just fixed a problem, but created a worse one in the process.

Another example I’ve seen has to do with a song’s arrangement.  I was mastering some music for a couple of DJs, and they had written their music so that every 8 bars was more or less a perfect loop.  The thinking was that this way DJs could just pick and choose their favorite parts of the song, loop those, and ignore everything else.

It sounds like an interesting idea on paper, but when you’d hear the songs from start to end, they sounded very disjointed and just didn’t flow that well.  It sounded like…. well a collection of loops.  It was doubtful any DJs would buy the tracks in the first place as they were, much less spend time pulling out their favorite loops.  Luckily I was able to make some suggestions to make things flow a little better, and there was still the ability to grab loops of the important parts of the songs if DJs wanted.  We had to un-engineer the tracks if you will.

There’s dozens of other examples we can all think of I’m sure, but point of all this is just to keep in mind that sometimes the best solution is one that is just good enough to fix the problem.  That putting too much thought and planning into something can occasionally take a good idea and turn it into something that lacks the soul that made the idea good in the first place.  It’s good to step back once in awhile and rethink what you’re doing, make sure that it still solves your problem without creating new ones you didn’t perhaps realize were a possibility before.

Too much of a good thing can sometimes be a bad thing as they say.

Until next time, peace and beats.
Erik

The Best Laid Plans… S8 Live PA

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I seem to be on a roll lately when it comes to prepping a new live set, lots and lots of work that seems to ultimately not pan out the way I intended.  This time I had decided that it was time to explore using the Traktor S8 controller as the center of my live rig, indeed as my entire live rig actually.  Ever since I got the S8 I’ve been intrigued by the idea, since it gives you so many hands-on controls for the Remix Decks in Traktor.  Not to mention a 4 channel mixer, 4 seperate effects units, and built-in soundcard.  It’s not a small device by any means, but if it’s all you’re carrying to a gig, it’s really not as bad as setting up multiple bits of gear either.

It’s been awhile since I played live of course, not since I sold off my Elektron Machinedrum and Octatrack a couple years ago really.  I realized that even with that set up, I was rehashing material that was by now 3-4 years old anyway.  I’ve released quite a few songs since then, and I had been slowly gathering them all this last year with the intent of grabbing stems from them for a live set I’d perform one one way or another.  With the S8 live pa once again coming to mind, seemed like a good way to kill two birds with one stone as it were.

So for the last few weeks I’ve been going back to my old song projects.  Stripping things down, combining sounds, adding new fills, enhancing things to work better in a live setting, revisiting mixdowns, and generally doing what I could to capture the essense of each song in 8 stems that were 32 bars long.

Long enough to avoid being repetitive sounding, but not so long as to be wasting disk space for no reason.  It really forces you to get to the core of each of your songs and see what’s important.

After weeks of work I had my stems balanced, level-matched, tagged, and finally imported into two Traktor remix decks, one for each side of the S8.  Drums and bassline on the left deck, synths, guitars, and pads/fx on the right deck.  This was not easy actually, as Traktor is a bit clunky when it comes to assigning lots of sample loops to the remix slots.  For one thing, there’s no way to delete a sample if you make a mistake and put it in the wrong place.  WTF?

Also, Traktor guessed the tempo of my perfectly trimmed loops wrong every single time.  Literally, all of them.  Surprising in a lot of ways as it’s excellent at guessing the tempo of whole songs and setting beat grids these days.  So it was a pretty arduous process getting it all set up, but I kept plugging away and eventually it was done.

Once I started practicing the set though, it became apparent that things were not as ideal as I had thought.

For starters, I was having issues triggering all 8 stems at once and actually getting them in sync.  Of course I had Traktors Snap and Quantize on, but for some reason even though I KNOW that I was pressing all the remix pads at the same time and hard enough, one or two of them wouldn’t trigger at the same time as the others.  They would be late by whatever the quantize value was set to (usually 4 beats).  Or worse, hitting them all at once would cause a slight hiccup in the audio no matter what my latency was set to.

All in all, just didn’t feel reliable enough for a live gig.  Who wants to build up a song to an epic point and then have the critical sound not trigger on time?

The other thing I wasn’t expecting, was that when you use the Remix Decks in Traktor, the only way you can apply effects is using the performance knobs set to send mode.  Basically this means that you get a send knob for each column of loops, and it controls the send amount for that column to all effects units the deck is assigned to.  If you don’t use Traktor I’m sure that doesn’t make sense, so I’ll explain it another way.

I had planned on using two effects units for each of my decks, and each deck has 4 loops playing.  Because each effect unit can also be a group effect with three effect types, this means I could have up to 6 seperate effects for my drums and my bassline, and 6 additional effects for my synths, fills, and pads.  When you’re working with only audio loops, you need as many ways to manipulate them as possible, otherwise it’s just a some what rather boring to perform DJ set.

But with this send effect limitation, that means I could only apply all 6 effects at once to each sound via a wet/dry control.  There was no way to send the kick and snare to one effect, and my high hats to different one.  This greatly reduced my ability to shape and manipulate the sounds the way I was intending, and more or less put me back into a DJ mentality (to be fair, this IS a DJ controller afterall).

At the end of the day, it just seemed a little too limiting for what I was trying to achieve, so I might just have to write this one off as experimentation and move on to something else.  I’m going to mull over some other ideas over the next few days to see if I can still make this work, but it’s looking less and less likely.

Oh well, sometimes you have to fail to learn, and at the very least it helped me prep some stems in case I think of another sample-based method for playing live.

Now if only Korg would release that bug-fix update for the new Electribe.  Hmm…..

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Stay tuned for more adventures in prep work!
Tarekith

Inner Portal Is Open Again

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Well, it’s been a long time coming, but I’m happy to announce that Inner Portal Studio is once again open for business!  My gear arrived in Luxembourg last week, and luckily everything made it safe and sound.  Took me a few days to get everything set up the way I wanted after playing with the location of all my acoustic treatment, but I’m really happy with the way everything is sounding in the new studio now.

I know a lot of my regular clients have been very patiently waiting for me to get back up and running, and I wanted to thank you all for sticking with me during this transition.  I expect that I’ll be pretty busy the first few weeks and that my usual delivery times might be a little bit longer than normal, but I’ll do my best to keep the delays to a minimum while maintaining the same level of quality you have come to expect.

I’m really looking forward to getting back to work, and I can’t wait to work with everyone on all your musical projects for the remainder of 2015.
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Other than working on getting the studio in working order again, it’s been a busy few weeks for me writing music and working on a new live set again.  I decided to revisit some of my more more recent releases, and get them prepped to perform live using only the Traktor S8 controller.  It’s been something I’ve been considering doing since I got the S8 and saw how flexible it is with the remix decks.  So far the project is coming along well, and I’m excited to finally try this new way of performing.  Of course I’ll post more details and hopefully a video of a trial run once I get it all ready for prime time.  🙂

I’m still working away on the Maschine Studio I got (again) a few weeks back too.  I was originally going to try and do a live set using that, but I think for now I’m going to just focus on creating some really strong song foundations first.  Once I get enough for a live set or an album, then I’ll decide which direction I want to take. Busy busy!

Im hoping now that things are starting to settle down with the studio, I can focus on the blog some more too.  I’m always looking for new ideas to discuss here, so if anyone has anything that they think would be interesting, or questions they like to see me address, please put them in the comments as usual.

Thanks!

Peace and beats,
Erik
(Errr…. Tarekith)

And…. Maschine Studio again.

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It’s been almost a year to the date since I last owned a Maschine Studio, so I figured it was time to buy one again.  🙂  Ok, maybe it wasn’t for that reason alone.   What led me back to this piece of gear, especially when I was planning on spending most of my time working on the new electribe?

Well, unfortunately, the electribe hasn’t quite worked out the way I had hoped.  I’ve been having a ton of fun using it, don’t get me wrong, definitely not selling this one!  But my intention from the get go had been to use it as a standalone box for doing live sets, and more and more it was looking like that might not be possible for a few reasons.

The biggest issue I was having was due to voice-stealing, hitting that 24 voice limit the electribe has.  To be honest, I was concerned about this before I even bought the electribe, I know I tend to like richer soundscapes in my live sets.  But I figured with careful programming and limiting myself to using only 8 parts at once, I could probably get by just fine.  The Korg website also says that certain OSC types and effects might reduce the maximum voice count.  But it doesn’t really tell you much more than that, so it’s hard to know exactly what to realistically expect without using it.

It turns out that in use it’s actually really easy to reduce the voice count with those features, and I started running into sounds dropping out or effects being cut off with only 5-6 parts playing at a time.  Usually 3-4 simple drum parts, and 2-3 complex synths.   Occasionally I’d have voices drop with only two parts playing, obviously some kind of bug going on when that happened.  I was planning on keeping things minimal anyway, but that’s just a bit TOO minimal for the music I like to make.  Shame really, as I was getting some really awesome sounds out of this little box, just not enough of them at once.

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While that’s the main thing holding me back from using the electribe the way I wanted, there were a couple other small quirky bugs I’d occasionally run into.  A few hard freezes requiring a power cycle to fix, some clicks in certain sounds almost like you get when samples have non-zero crossing points, and the master effect level occasionally jumping around for no reason (I wasn’t recording motion sequencing for it).  And of course the obvious one where parts could be unmuted when you only selected them in some Trigger Pad modes.   These were usually very rare, but still a little annoying for something I wanted to use live.

The good news is that other electribe owners had been in contact with Korg about these, and Korg had told them a new OS update is on the way shortly that will fix the bugs.  In the end I decided to hold off on going much further with the electribe until the OS update is released and some of this stuff gets sorted.  Like I said, I’m really enjoying using the box otherwise, and I didn’t want to end up in a position where I was just beyond frustrated and tempted to sell it.

You know how I can be 🙂

So for now I’ll just use it occasionally for synth parts and coming up with cool riffs, perhaps some solo drum machine duties, much lighter use that I know it can excel at.  Of course that leaves me in the position of still not having a live set, and at the same time really not wanting to just work on single tracks in a DAW on the laptop.  So I started relooking at what my groovebox options were, everything I had used in the past, and some other options I hadn’t yet explored like the Dave Smith gear or the Roland Aira range.

In the end, they all had certain limitations that I felt I didn’t want to work around at the moment, and more and more I kept remembering how impressed I was with the Maschine Studio.  I said back in my original review of it that it was probably the best groovebox I’ve ever used, and I kept remembering how few limitations it had in terms of sound quality, the number of sounds you can use at once, and the way you chain endless effects.  I hadn’t been happy that it was still something that was tied to the computer then, but I think more and more I’m coming to realize that for the kind of music I want to make, that’s probably an inevitability anyway.

So, once again the Maschine Studio found it’s way into my studio (err, what will become my studio anyway) and I’m already happily writing away on it.  I still plan on creating and performing a live set using just the controller, and luckily my time away from it has given me a few new ideas on how to do this now that I own it again.  I’ll share the specifics as I get further along.

In the meantime, I’m refreshing the Korg page daily waiting for that OS update to drop (errr… not really) and I can’t wait to get back on the little grey box once things are a little more settled down.  I can’t wait for my monitors and the rest of my gear to get here either, I swear they shipped them on a sailboat or something….

That’s it for now, stayed tuned for more about the new live set, as well as further adventures setting up a studio in Luxembourg.

Peace and beats,
Tarekith