Peace + Noise

Lorre-Mill Double Knot V3 (left) and Landscape NOON (right)
Meng Qi Wing Pinger (foreground) and Eurorack modules
The Wing Pinger fits nicely in my old Yamaha trumpet case, alongside my trusty 1965 Benge.

Having recovered from a demanding/rewarding Europe trip that filled all of May and June 2023, I spent July and August recording and learning some new gear, not always in that order. Some of the results can be heard on the recording the album THISTLE, which exploits the Landscape NOON, a highly idiosyncratic, not to say subversive synthesizer, billed as a “drum machine” but not really. The thing about it that’s so unusual is that the circuitry is entirely passive. It doesn’t use any constant power source such as batteries or a 9 volt DC converter. Nothing plugs in except whatever control voltages you put into it (also audio). These voltages provide the power to start up whatever channel you plug it into. As soon as that voltage stops, the channel powers down again. The sounds of the electronics powering up and down in this fashion shapes the sound to a tremendous extent. It is the essence of NON-LINEARITY. In addition to sounds from the NOON, there are a few dozen other sound sources and voltage sources that populate the tracks with snapping, hissing, popping, crispy-fresh free jazz funck. You can hear the results here.

The Wing Pinger is a more peace-oriented bit of kit, although it, too, can bring in da knoise, when pushed to the edge. It is very much an instrument that runs on “edginess,” the edge being the crest of resonance that each of two filters is designed to generate. It’s feedback, pure and simple, albeit highly controllable. From that resonance are derived voltages which are used as data points to populate two shift registers, from which are extracted further voltages used to drive the other parameters of the instrument. The entire architecture was inspired by the work of the late Rob Hordijk, inventor of legendary electronic instruments the Blippoo Box and the Benjolin. In addition, the Wing Pinger sports two touch-sensor keyboards as well as control inputs, MIDI ins and outs, and audio inputs (to process other instruments or sounds). I’m enjoying it all a hell of a lot. It can proceed smoothly from peaceful drones or placid major-pentatonic bells to dancing kalimba sounds and video-game PWEENGs to sheer hellish sonic wall-dom. No sonic samples online as of this blogging.

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