20 December 2007


I've just uploaded my first CCCL track: Haz Chem (beta3). I can't really say it was recorded using any of the modded, bent or self-built gear I've been mentioning lately but I thought I'd put it in 'the wild' anyway as it's one of the first experimental pieces that I've committed to a recording NOT using my usual (C&C+TG) gear.
The set-up was as follows:
A Gameboy ASP running a couple of Nanoloop sequences > into a Boss PQ-4 parametric EQ, mono out > into a Boss PN-2 Panner (square-wave pan setting), stereo out > into a Boss RV-5 reverb (Gate setting), stereo out > into a Boss DD-6 digital delay (modified), stereo out > into a Mac G5 recording (via MOTU 828 mkII) into Soundtrack Pro. All realtime tweakery (mostly the PQ-4 + DD-6), no editing.
From small acorns...
Boss'ed Nanoloop
Set-up for Haz Chem (beta3)

You can hear the track at this link >

05 November 2007


One step closer... I'm a lot nearer now to actually putting (what could be) the sound of CCCL into the wild.
After a lot of R&D, patching, experimenting and modifying I'm almost ready to put my 'No Guitars!' pedal collection (well most of it) into a flight case and wire it all together. When this is done I plan to do some 'live in the studio' recordings direct to disc (no guitars, no MIDI, no editing). When I say soon... I mean soon'ish, as it will probably be within the next 1-2 months.

No Guitars !

'No Guitars' beta version - before casing...

20 October 2007


The Casio MT-30 project (earlier details below) is 95% completed.
After stripping it down and giving it a good spruce-up I replaced all the noisy pots and switches. The new pots are smaller and smoother than the previous and the new switches have a more positive 'click' action. I had to remove the internal speaker to accomodate the new circuitry and I also removed the old (unreliable) rear phono output socket and replaced it with a regular jack socket. Same procedure with the old DC input socket.
The newly included ring-modulator is the only thing I'm not entirely happy with. At the moment both the carrier and modulator are being fed by the MT-30 audio so it acts more like a kind of harmonic octave shifter (upwards). But I've left a hole on the rear of the case to take a switched jack socket for feeding in external audio (an oscillator, or whatever) to the modulator input, which should be fun.

Casio MT-30 Modified
The newly refurbished and further modified Casio MT-30 keyboard.
The internal speaker in the photo below was removed to accommodate the new circuitry.

Casio MT-30 mods

Close-up view of modifications in top right panel.
Includes: the fixed/variable master clock, tune, primary octave switch, variable digital distortion, ring-modultaor balance and a psuedo/semi random function.

Casio MT-30 modsClose-up view of modifications on the left end column.
Includes: 'quick' memory select function, secondary octave switch, vibrato rate (slow or slower), vibrato depth (none or shallow) and hold.

All these modifications work in addition to the existing Casio controls.

10 October 2007


OK, so this is the first physical evidence of my CCCL experimental music project.
It's a self-contained noise synth consisting of: self-built Ring Modulator and two modified U-73 Synthesizers.
Amplification in this photo is via a Boss MA-1 micro monitor amp.

Chemistry Lessons 1st Build


This has been my workflow using First Build .
More to follow, including sound examples...

01 October 2007

CASIO MT30... and more

CCCL has taken (yet another) detour since my last blog.
As I'd previously said: it became apparent that building many of my rediscovered/resurrected circuits into self-contained battery powered units was going to be impractical, but that I was not abandoning that 'format' entirely. Well over the last week or so while 'rationalising' our (not inconsiderable) archive I found some more discarded effects pedals, a Casio keyboard, a drum machine, a percussion generator (a slightly clapped out 'Clap Trap' to be exact) and a drawer full of original synth books and brochures from the 1970s'. And surprisingly (to me at least) all of these units still worked.
The Casio keyboard, a heavily modified MT30 (see below), still sounded great, although the extra custom pots and switches are noisy/failing and all need replacing. PLUS... I also found few circuits and instruction sheets of further MT30 mods I'd never got around to installing. So first on my long CCCL 'to do' list is to renovate the MT30 to it's former glory and add the extra mods. This (particular) MT30 already has a very unique sound, due entirely to the mods: a variable clock rate, adjustable vibrato, octave shift, variable digital distortion and an LFO for extreme modulation. I'm also going to include a ring modulator and a band-pass filter.

Naked Casio MT-30

08 September 2007


As people may or may not know I just love effects and processors, in fact it's pretty much a fetish. I started using (and buying) effects in 1968-69 when I was about 15 or 16. I scrimped and saved and bought myself a WEM Copicat and a few pedals: a Cry Baby, Fuzz Face and a wah wah pedal whose name I've forgotten that included sound effects (a siren, sea surf etc.). They were fed by a small reel/reel tape deck and an industrial signal generator going through an Eagle mixer. But once the bug had bitten I also started making pedals for myself and friends. Then in 1977 I discovered Boss pedals. The PH1 phaser was my first Boss pedal purchase, followed quickly by a DS1 distortion and a BF2 flanger, and I still have those original pedals (and all modified, by me). Since I bought my first Boss pedal I've probably owned and used around twenty or so of various types, sizes and configurations, plus of course a whole load of Roland effects units (actually it's even more if I include using many of Cosey's 30-year collection). I'm not entirely sure what it is but there's something about the sound and aesthetics of Boss (& Roland) effects that I really (really) like.
Naturally with this compulsion for effected sound I've had (have) many other effects gadgets too: mainly Korg, Zoom, Yamaha, Arbiter and a couple of Behringers. Now I come to think about it they're all mainly Japanese or European units. It's not that I'm anti-American or anything, in fact I always wanted some MXR pedals but was always put off by how expensive (like for like) they were in the UK. But either way no effects come as close to the satisfaction I get from playing with and using, and owning, Boss (& Roland) effects (like I said before, it's more like a fetish). Although I must say Korg comes pretty close when it comes to things like the Kaoss series, particularly the KP3 and miniKP pads, two of my current favourite effects gizmos. Of course I get the best of both worlds by mixing and matching all my pedals and effects units, this is doing the 'modular' thing in its purest form I guess. But... now I only have half a dozen or so Boss effects left. I sold the bulk of them in a moment of madness a few years ago when I though 'down-sizing' our studio seemed like a good idea. It was a brief mental aboration (I also sold my Roland modular system!) and I no longer talk about that period of my life.
Anyway... what with rediscovering my old 1970s' circuits and then recently a few more pedals that escaped my 'night of the long knives' purge of madness I've started combining and using them again with my other remaining bits of ancient gear (keyboards, drum machines etc.). And I have to say I'm very encouraged at the kinds sounds and textures I'm producing, which I also find hard to describe. It's a sort of conglomeration of lo-fi digital and analogue effects, but not in an 'industrial' way, it's too slow for that. I'll post some early stage CCCL audio clips here before Xmas.


This has been my CCCL workflow recently.

07 July 2007


Well, seemingly out of nowhere CCCL takes a not inconsiderable step forward to becoming (more of) a reality. A few days ago I took delivery of a Eurorack unit (Doepfer & AS style) and a dozen or so blank fascia panels of various sizes. The Eurorack, bought for a decent price on ebay, is a 6U unit with built-in PSU, but currently sans modules and empty (see below).

Doepfer A-100 Rack

Originally my intention was to build most of my resurrected circuits into small, individual, self-contained, battery powered boxes and plugged together as needed in a 'modular' stylee. But this proved impractical with many of the circuits: too many controls, boards too large or incapable of being battery powered, plus I've been getting through 9v batteries at an alarming rate, distinctly not 'green'.
I am not abanding the 'pedal' format altogether as I am still going to build a few basic 'boutique pedals', with each box having a DC socket instead of a 9v battery. However, after a few discussions with fellow enthusiasts, including an interesting chat with Daniel Miller about Euroracks and esoteric modules I have decided that my new (secondhand) mini modular rack will become the primary receptacle for the majority of my functioning circuits.
These new Euro sized modules won't be the usual 'run of the mill' types you'll find in regular Doepfer and Analogue Systems racks (excellent though they are) but will include my original 1970s' boards: vactrol effects and oscillators, unusual modulators & LFOs, random noise generators and various types of distortions. Plus some new designs: a 'multi-micro-sequencer', a 'penta-mod' ring modulator, a 'chaos-mod' multi-oscillator AND a unique Dual-Gristleizer module I'm working on.

In progress sounds and photos to follow... I promise!