Journal Archive

Please note that this journal dates back to 1998, so the page is fairly long.

April 5, 2007. Lots of stuff going on during the interim. I recently purchased an Akai EWI4000, which I've has occupied much of my free time. There's a lot of power in this little wind synth, although it's been a bit of a struggle getting the software editor to work on MacBook to actually edit and create new sounds since the laptop keeps crashing. But, we persevere. I've been doing some experiments with long delays and looping with the Akai and some interesting possibilities are presenting themselves due to this line of working.

Plans for Electro-Music 2007 are shaping. Besides a solo set in the theater on Sunday night, I'll be giving a talk/demonstration on performing with just one synth. I'm also coordinating a jam with a bunch of other players over a two-hour period that should be a lot of fun.

February 23, 2007. RIP Ian. I grew up with a keen interest in the Islands-era King Crimson, based mainly on Earthbound with its funky jams. Since then I've enjoyed every live release of this era that DGM has put out. But having said that, my favorite Ian Wallace performance is on Dylan's No Time to Think. Although the tune is fairly repetitive, Ian kept up a nice variation of drum parts throughout the entire long piece. Besides being a great drummer, Ian was truly a very nice guy who wouldn't hesitate to have a quick chat with anyone who asked. Fare thee well.

February 20, 2007. About a month has passed since I last stopped in. In the meantime, the weather has been very cold. I finished all my base material for the collaboration with APK and I'm interested to hear what he comes back with. Much of the next synthblock album has been written, but I'm leaving it for a while to ruminate. I've gotten a little burnt out on playing electronic music so I've picked up the clarinet again. It took about a week to get my chops back up, but it's been fun. I've been also experimenting with playing over some of the backing pads I put together for APK. It sounds a lot more interesting than I thought and I'm considering doing some of this at this year's Electro-Music 2007 shows.

January 18, 2007. It's actually snowing, although not too much is sticking. Currently working through credit card snafus.

Finished sequencing the last of the APK collaboration pieces. Now just to mix and then record them. I ended up redoing the piano/pad/bass piece.

January 16, 2007. Nice long weekend. It's finally cold! We went bowling yesterday, which we all enjoy. I also did a bit of work on the collaboration pieces and I'm coming down to the wire. Just need to sequence an opening and closing soundscape. I also did an improvisational piano/pad/bass piece that turned out well.

A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning out a box in the garage and my youngest was fascinated with all the junk and old papers in there, which were from when we lived on Fox Street. I mentioned to her that I had a couple of similar boxes up in the attic that I need to go through, and ever since then she's been asking about it. So the other day I pulled them down and finally threw out a bunch of old papers that I haven't needed for years. I did find some interesting things, like some old pictures and official college transcripts. There were also a bunch of letters in there; some from old friends when I was in college, but many more from other people. Some who I remember and others who I just can't recall. After reading some of the letters I realized what a dope I was in some cases and how blind I was to other opportunities staring me straight in the face. Ah, the follies of youth.

January 9, 2006. Cool weather returns. Up at the alarm this morning, but did not rush out of bed. Lots of ice puddles on the way to work.

Spent a fair amount of time this weekend working on one of the tracks for the APK collaboration, descriptively and temporarily titled Metal Arp. I put down the whole basis for the tune, both the front and back soundscapes and then the middle bell arp section. I still need to add a bunch of stuff over the whole piece, but the basis is there.

Other than that, still listening to a bit of Reich and even more Jefferson Airplane. A little disappointed that there was no new version of iWorks announced today.

January 5, 2007. Rain again. It's going to be very warm this weekend. I saw some new grass coming up between the bricks in the back walk yesterday. Too much.

I've been enjoying You Are, a recent Reich recording, very much today.

January 4, 2007. How much warmer can it get? I don't ever recall the weather being like this. Basically, it's like an early Spring day in March.

A huge sigh this morning. Sometimes we forget to breath. A quick run through the new pad compositions last night, but there was not enough lead time to make them seem anything more than rushed.

It got dark quickly.

January 3, 2007. Quite warm again today. I went and took a walk without a coat. I feel a potential sickness coming on but it's early enough that I should be able to nip it with some airborne.

Curses to Borders for their never-ending supply of 30% off coupons. My latest purchase was Steve Reich's Phases box. I've been eyeing this for a few weeks and finally decided to give it go as it ended up being a little over $20 for five CDs. I never got a copy of The Desert Music on CD so that was the main reason, but I'm glad I've given it a fair listen. Some of the material is very good. I haven't heard much of this for years, even though the versions on this set are newer recordings. You can definitely hear the influence on Brian Eno and many other of my electronic brethren, although Reich uses traditional instrumentation instead of synths.

January 2, 2007. It's still unseasonably warm around here, with rain instead of snow. And now we enter the ninth year of this online journal, and the 25th year of the more personal offline variety.

Trying to reacclimate after a week or so off. Nice holiday celebrations and other doings around the Block household. We got through the entire five DVD collection of From The Earth To The Moon. Some episodes were better than others, but overall a nice viewing.

I've finished up writing the pieces for the APK collaboration. I'll spend the next couple of weeks rehearsing the tunes and then another few days recording them. Overall, very happy with the results. Three pieces with drums and three of the more spacey variety.

Many thanks to Stars End for making Escape Velocity and Means of Ascent two of their most influential releases of the year.

December 19, 2006. Up before the alarm this morning and wide awake. First effective sitting in a while. The cool air returns and the air is noticeably drier, which my nose does not like.

What was supposed to be a short session turned much longer last night as I ran through a lot of collaboration numbers. I used the headphones to do some mixing and discovered some strange drum sounds that don't really fit, but was able to rework those parts.

Received my last monthly order from yourmusic.com, which has just raised their prices making their deals less so.

December 18, 2006. Not sure we're going to get any snow this years, as the temps continue to be unseasonably mild. Sleeping straight through to the alarm recently.

Busy weekend. Friday night we lit the candles and then went to my office party. Saturday, we finally straightened out the viola situation after a lunch of middle-eastern delicacies. At night, off to my parents for the annual family Hanukkah gathering. Yesterday, we had our nuclear family Hanukkah celebration. That's enough gift exchanging for a while.

Did a little listening to the APK collaboration tracks. Almost ready to do some recording as I have lots of material for him to hear.

December 12, 2006. A little cooler today. Slept right through the night to the alarm. That hasn't happened for a long time.

Did some work on the APK collaboration last night. Created a nice pad out of two layered patches, in the spirit of ASOF. I also created the layers for a mellotron-based piece. I really have more music than is needed for this project, but I plan on doing some recording in the week before the new year to see what really works.

December 11, 2006. Spent the weekend recharging from last week's travel. Had a bit of dizziness, probably caused by inner ears not adjusting right after the flights. Everything seems fine now.

Finalized a couple of tracks for the APK collaboration. These two are more "composed." There's a couple of others that are more soundscape-based. One using a nice evolving pad sound and the other which relies on mellotron sounds.

Started on The Prisoner DVDs this weekend, which I haven't watched in about a year.

December 1, 2006. A new month and unseasonably warm weather. I'll be traveling most of next week, so it may be a bit until this page is updated.

November 29, 2006. A little rain today, but still mild for the season. Overslept slightly, but was actually ready earlier than usual, so it evens itself out.

More work last night on collaboration material for APK. I have three fairly complete ideas and another couple that are somewhere in between. Since I'll be traveling most of next week, I'm trying to get a bit down because I don't see accomplishing much then.

Stopped at Tower at lunch yesterday. Prices continue to fall as they close up shop. There's still a good selection of rock CDs, but jazz seems pretty thin. I picked up Wingspan and an Edgar Froese title for cheap. I'll probably go back some other time this week as there were a few other things I was indecisive about, but I should just get.

November 27, 2006. Mild weather returns after the Thanksgiving break. Trying to ease back into the regular routine. Too early to judge success or failure.

It was a nice break, with lots of forward movement on many fronts. Very nice Thanksgiving dinner. The next morning I was up early to brave the shoppers. This was the first time I've done this and it will take a lot of convincing to get me to do it again. I hit the one store I needed to before the sun was up. There must have been hundreds of people waiting in line by the time I got there. Luckily, I was able to get exactly what I needed quickly. There will be happy faces this holiday season.

The rest of the break was nice family time and music making. Good progress on putting together a bunch of ideas for my collaboration with APK. I also started the break with a rough outline of the next synthblock disc and ended the weekend with the structure well in place. The live improv piece, Struggle With the Magicians, started out as a two-part piece called Flight. At the time I though it needed a third part, and this past weekend the third part arrived fully formed. So I'm back to the concept of Flight in three parts. I played around with each part and determined where more layers would be needed for a studio version. I also worked on the drums and put those in order. The full piece runs about 50 minutes. I also have the formations of two other pieces that will precede the longer tune. The framework for each is set, and I'll cover those in more detail once that become more solidified.

I've updated the photo gallery with pics of the Gate gig. Means of Ascent is now available for purchase.

November 21, 2006. It gets dark very early here. I also just remembered that gas prices right outside of Philly were less than $2.00.

Picked up Townshend's Scoop 3 today. A combination of a coupon and another discount made it necessary to fill this whole in my collection. Many of the reviews I read make much of the lack of vocal material, but I don't notice that at all.

Currently lots of ideas cooking, a few which seem necessary for solo work and not the collaboration I need to focus on at the moment.

November 20, 2006. Colder weather has returned after a number of days of temperatures that were 20 degrees higher than normal.

Dave has now been and gone. He arrived last Wednesday morning and we spent the rest of the day just jamming around. A few ideas emerged that I kept in my mind for the next day. On Thursday afternoon we basically worked out a 40 minute foundation with some transitions and solo sections, some more upbeat others more ambient. We ran through this a few times, all of which Dave recorded and we were pretty much set.

He left ahead of me on Friday morning to meet his girlfriend at the airport. I headed for Philly around noon, stopping at Tower Records on the way to see what they had left. The stock was still pretty much full. I picked up a few gifts, and a couple of CDs for myself. Everything was 40 percent off. I saw more I would like, but will wait for a deeper discount. I hit Philly around 4:00 pm, we had dinner and then headed over to the Rotunda for the show. The set went well; a few bum notes here and there, and I went through a couple of parts to quick, but in the end we did well. Our set with Ben was nice too; very dark ambient at times. I got home around 3:00 am. Click here for some photos of our rehearsals and soundchecks. Still trying to track down some photos of the gig since Dave lost his memory card.

November 14, 2006. Mild and rainy, again. Woke up a little earlier than necessary this morning, but not tired. Morning routine fully executed.

Spent the last few days working through some sounds and have settled on a nice catalog to choose from for jamming with Dave. Also set aside some unique sounds for onstage with Ben this weekend.

Glad for a roof over my head and food on the table last night as the rain was really coming down. The wind has returned some leaves to the back yard, but the front remains clean. The world becomes bare without leaves on the trees or the ground.

November 10, 2006. I was going to take a walk, but it's getting dark already. It is, however, not too cold out.

Busy weekend. K has a dress rehearsal and then concert tomorrow. In between we need to rake the leaves at least in the front yard. It's hard to believe the Gate gig is in a week. Dave will be here in a few days. I've pretty much come up with enough sounds for at least playing with Dave and Ben. Some won't fit for either, so I'll put those aside. More next week.

November 8, 2006. Lots of rain today. At least the political ads have ended.

Ben sent me a few ideas he's working on and they sound good, almost veering into Fripp and Eno territory. I've come up with a large set of layered and split patches that complement what he's doing. Also have a surplus that I've put aside for Dave next week and a collaboration with APK. Lots going on.

November 6, 2006. Election day cannot come soon enough, just to get rid of the TV ads. You can't watch anything without seeing an ad every other second. And, there's no difference between any of them. The two parties look the same to me.

A bit warmer today after a cold weekend. Some leaves remain, but most are gone. There's some trees tho that will not give up the ghost. Had trouble starting a fire last night, but finally got it to catch.

A bit of work this weekend on sounds. I've setup three separate performances as I come up with sounds that I think will fit any of the three collaborations I'm work on. I've been coming up with some nice timbres that are different from what I usually work with. A very neat acoustic guitar patch with weirdness going on in the background.

I've been listening to the new Who album. It came with a bonus live CD and a bonus live DVD. The music is growing on me. At first it sounded like a Pete Townshend solo album with Roger singing a few of the tunes, but after about a week it does have some of that old Who magic. It is lacking in the bass and drums department, but that's not surprising. I hope they release a full DVD from some show of the tour.

November 3, 2006. Received the artwork this morning from Gears of Sand for Means of Ascent. It looks excellent; their artist did a fantastic job. Click here to see what it looks like and to hear some excerpts from the upcoming disc. If all goes well it should be released on November 17 and available that night at The Gate gig.

The weather has gotten cooler and the leaves have fallen. Fall will soon be gone. Probably start raking up the leaves this weekend and stacking up the wood.

October 30, 2006. Nice weather today, but with the clock change it is already getting dark.

Very windy this weekend and lots of rain on Saturday. Drained the pool cover yesterday and also covered the awning and deck furniture, although it took longer than it should due to the wind. We all watched Chronicles of Narnia in the afternoon. Very good movie, although a stretch of the imagination at points.

Created a bunch of new and interesting patches this weekend. I have two confirmed collaborations going in 2007 and I'm trying to get in the right frame of mind for them. Worked a bit with some guitar sounds as well. Also, there's some 2007 gigs on the horizon if I want.

October 27, 2006. Going to stoke up the fire tonight. There is a chill in the air.

Finished up the root canal this morning. Lovely. Then I discover a firmware update for my Mac that solves the random shutdown problems that many have a lot of trouble with. I've only had a couple, but it was still concerning. We'll see if this solves it.

More noodling last night on this new piece that emerged from the ether.

October 26, 2006. I've got planets in my palms...

Last night I was just playing around with some piano patches and one in particular caught my ear. I must have created it a while ago, but instead of a mellotron string that swelled up behind it, it was some otherworldly sound. I'm figuring that transfering the patch from the Fantom to the G must have something to do with it accessing different waveforms. Either way I started noodling around and ended up writing the framework for a new piece. Whether it keeps this piano sound or not is up for debate, but it's always nice to have some new music to work on. Now I have to get back to creating some new patches.

October 24, 2006. The chill has arrived and the leaves are caught between yellow, brown, green and fallen. Still clearing my head of the past weekend and ruminating some new musical concepts. I need to work on some new patches and ideas, but there's no real preparation involved before Fulton gets here next month. That's all for now. Darkness comes early.

October 23, 2006. The Marty Balin concert on Friday was excellent. He did all his most known tune, and he did them well. Good crowd, except for the individual who kept calling out for Good Shephard. Not sure why they thought Marty would play a Jorma tune, but there you go.

My gig was fun. A small, but appreciative crowd. Greg's visuals were excellent and it was nice to be able to see them since they were to the side of me instead of behind like at Electro-Music. Photos have been posted.

2007 is beginning to look like a full year of collaborations, which will be a nice change of pace. I'll also be joining Ben onstage for his part of the GATE gig.

October 20, 2006. Had a root canal this morning and the tooth already feels better. Lots of rain and wind today, bringing down most of the leaves that had already changed. But there's still a lot of green around.

Hit the point of diminishing returns last night regarding practice for this weekend's gig, so I unplugged the equipment and started to pack it up for the trip. Tonight, we go to see Marty Balin and then tomorrow we are off. Have a nice weekend.

October 18, 2006. Not the most restful sleep as I was disturbed by tooth pain. It's much better now and the x-rays show nothing out of the ordinary, although the dentist has identified two possible teeth that could be causing the pain. Up and out early today as I drop K off at chambers orchestra practice.

Ran through a few tunes last night. Dropped Plangent Bleating from the set. And the improv. piece, Struggle of the Magicians, closes in on the 40 minute mark now. Tonight I visit some first set pieces.

October 17, 2006. Up before the alarm, sit, eat and the rest of the morning ritual. Out the door and it was clear that rain was coming. And it did.

After four replacements, I was given a different model phone. The RAZR kept crashing due to checking email and surfing the web, and since I need to do that they would have either kept replacing it or offered me a comparable model, which I took. It a bit larger, but is much more customizable. So far, no software crashes.

Very close to dropping Plangent Bleating from the live set. It's difficult to play live and might be a bit too heavy for this weekend. I need to time the improv. tonight to see how long it actually goes naturally.

October 16, 2006. Up early and it's cold. We turned the heat on last night for the first time. I also prepared the wood stove for the winter and brought in all the necessary supplies. Nice dinner with friends on Saturday night and some relaxing times yesterday.

Means of Ascent will be released next month on Gears of Sand. It will probably be out in time for the GATE gig. I've never put out two discs in a year, but since it's done there's no sense in holding it back. Expect a page, cover and some sound samples in the coming weeks.

Confirmed last night that Dave Fulton will be joining me for the GATE show. He'll come out for a few days before, which will give us time to compose and get the music together. It will be a lot of fun.

Practice continues for next weekends gig. I'm just concentrating on the pieces that are hard to play live, such as Silver Sky and Plangent Bleating. It will be nice to hear these tunes loud and outside of the confines of the studio.

October 13, 2006. The coldness has returned making it hard to get up in the morning. But it has to be done, so it is done.

So Tower Records is closing. I remember when Tower had very competitive prices, but I must have missed when they decided to start charging above list. But they were always a great store to spend hours in browsing. I'll wait until the prices really drop to see what's left.

Trimming a minute here and there in a bunch of the pieces has made a big difference. The sets run much smoother and the music doesn't drag. I also did a long version of Struggle of the Magicians (the live improv piece) that was around 45 minutes. The second set is more fluid so that a piece can be played or not depending on how the improv piece flows.

And now for a relaxing weekend.

October 11, 2006. Up and out early to drop off K at school. Started cloudy out today and now the rain is here.

Forget what I wrote yesterday, the set remains as it was last week. I have a couple of ideas for edits in two pieces that really should have been done anyway. Really only a minute or two here and there, but they do tighten up the two pieces. I need to run through the improv. piece tonight.

October 10, 2006. Up early and wide awake so a leisurely start to the day and a focused sit. Weather continues to be nice and golden.

More work on a first set last night highlights that it's too long. A few tweaks in my head for potentially dropping a piece and moving some others around. But it's tough as I thought I'd pared it down enough. I'll have to break out the watch to actually time the set and figure out what to do.

October 9, 2006. Not much to update. Had a nice weekend away and now it's back to practicing. Columbus Day has waned as a holiday in these parts. I've noticed over the last 10 years that most banks now stay open, and the kids have had to go to school for the last few years.

The set list is pretty well set for Hyperspace so there's a pretty straightforward framework for practice. It's a delicate balance though of knowing material well enough to not mess it up too bad, yet still have an edge that makes it enjoyable to play and not just go through the motions. As the first set is more difficult overall, that's where my concentration is at the present.

October 4, 2006. Back earlier than I thought yesterday. A little tired but was able to don the headphones and do some mixing. It was fast as there's really not much more to be done except practice. An idea appeared for a third part to Flight, but two may be enough for a live show.

October 2, 2006. Off today. And the kids too. Hard to keep focused on what I need to focus on, and keep part of my attention on the day. Out for some time, picked up necessities for tonight's meal. About an hour's worth music, mainly on the improv piece, which gets better every day. It will be short night as I need to get a very early start in the morning to go to NYC for work.

October 1, 2006. The one morning the alarm isn't set. Up early and then fell right back to sleep. The day started with rain, then some sun, then clouds. Now dark. I can't see any stars out there, but the light is on in here and there's reflection on the windows.

Yesterday, I dropped K off at orchestra and then mowed the lawn. This is the first year in the 13-plus we've been here that the lawn continues to grow. Usually, there's a few weeks off in August as the heat is up and there's little rain. This year, not a week has gone by where the lawn does not need a cutting. No brown outs, and still the green remains. By now it should start getting dormant and down to every other weekend.

Lots of music making this weekend. Most of the work has been on the live improv piece, tentatively titled Flight. The sections are First and Second. I envision a third at this point, but it merely a hope out there. A bit of tweaking and practicing on everything else, in no particular order often, but there is a formative set list, a concrete start with numerous variations.

Tomorrow, drop one of the cars off, pick up materials for the break-fast, and other solemenities.

September 29, 2006. Leisurely wake up this morning. Cool, crisp fall day. Excellent chinese food for lunch and then a brisk walk.

Worked out the segue between the two live pieces. No gap between them really and it works well as one long piece. Have no placed it in an appropriate place in the set and will probably record a version or two just to see how it sounds in real life.

September 28, 2006. It felt like one of those nights when your head hits the pillow and the next thing you know it's morning. Met C for breakfast and then off to work.

Productive jam last night. There are many similarities between the two improv pieces, and after spending an hour tweaking them separately it occurred to me that they might actually work well as one long piece. Not sure how to integrate them together from a technical perspective although I've already figured out a way to bridge them musically. They each work at about 15 minutes, so it would make a 30-minute piece that would require moving some stuff around the live set and possibly ditching a tune or two. Possibilities to explore later.

September 27, 2006. More work last night on the second live piece, which may actually be played before the first improv piece. Added a bass part I can play in real-time so the piece is not as sparse. Did some more mixing tweaks and ran through it a couple of times and then turned off the gear. About 30 minutes later I went back and just couldn't get back into a groove. I should have left the equipment off. Also wrote down some potential new titles, but need to have those place those in my mind while I'm playing to see which ones resonate with the music.

September 26, 2006. Spent most of last night working on the first live piece. I have to keep reminding myself that these are meant for improvisational live playing, as I'm having the tendency to think of other parts to beef up the mix. The problem is that I'm intent on performing these completely in real time without sequencing. But this one is missing something that I have to work out. I'm also meaning to title the two improv pieces but nothing has presented itself yet. Tonight I'll take the second improv piece out for a spin.

After practice I immersed myself in the surround sound To Our Children's Children's Children. Great mix.

September 25, 2006. Up a little before the alarm, and leisurely started the morning. It was a busy weekend. So much so that it's hard to remember what I did. I did have a very nice New Year's dinner on Saturday night and was able to get in a lot of music yesterday.

It looks like Means of Ascent will be released by the end of the year. At first I was a little hesitant, but since the music is done I might as well get it out there. Like Escape Velocity, this release will be out on Gears of Sand, which is really a great label to be on. I've never had more than one release per year, but it reminds me of older days when bands did release more frequently. Expect a Means of Ascent page, with sound samples, in the next couple of weeks.

September 22, 2006. Up early in the cool weather. Time to retire the short sleeve shirts until Spring. Found out early that Boz Burrell passed away. RIP.

Did some work on both live pieces last night. Moved what was the second live piece to the first slot as the first has a lot of mellotron sounds and fits in better in the second half. I need to experiment more with that though. Also listened to the first disc of In Search of the Lost Chord, the only one of the bunch that's not in surround. I did run it through the prologic encoder and it has a nice faux surround sound.

Time to listen to some live Crimson from 71/72 in honor of Boz. Thankfully so much of it is available now.

September 21, 2006. Woke up well past the alarm, which made everyone have to rush around a little this morning. The weather has turned definitively fall, with crisp temps and falling leaves.

Ended up just going over Farthest Rille and Silver Sky last night. They are all set. I'll try to move on tonight, but I ended up getting the other three Moody Blues surround SACDs that were released the other day for a great price, plus a discount coupon, so I may be immersed in that tonight.

Two payments from vendors arrived recently and plans for releasing the next CD, Means of Ascent, are shaping up.

September 20, 2006. Up way too early. Last night I worked out a new live version for Silver Sky. I have to spend a bit of time practicing the lead synth line. I also added a mellotron patch that I can play over certain sections that gives the piece a slightly more eerie sound.

Put up a myspace page at the suggestion of some colleagues. In conjunction, I created a Downloads page with some full-length mp3s of Silver Sky, Swell and Slack, Shoal and Careful With That Fax Machine.

September 19, 2006. It was nice out when I woke up this morning, but now the rain returns at the end of the day. Last night I did some work on the live Farthest Rille. Muted the parts to be played live and added a few other bits here and there including an additional arp that can be played over the middle section. Also did some more practicing with In/to. Tonight I move on to Silver Sky.

September 18, 2006. Warm weather returns for a couple of days. Busy weekend. Set up the replacement computer. It's much more powerful than the one we had to send back. Also, many chores around the house. Yesterday, a flea market and the heat, but we didn't buy anything.

Did some fine tuning to the mixes of various live pieces this weekend. This week I move into practice mode to work out what will be played live and what will be sequenced.

September 15, 2006. Strange night of dreams. I awoke in the middle of the night, about 2:30 am, after what seemed like a very long dream. In a house I do not ever recall being in, with many people that I've never met before. There were some who I knew from the past, but no current friends. The strangest bit is that after I got up for a few minutes and then went back to sleep, the dream picked up where it left off and went on for another long while until I woke at around 5:00 am. Can't really remember what was taking place during the dream except for the setting and some of the people in it.

Another rainy day. Almost got out for a walk, but then it started up again. The replacement computer from Apple has arrived. It's one of the brand new Intel iMacs that were just released a couple of weeks ago. It will take a couple of days to get it up and running with everything that's been backed up over the last year.

Finished the mix of Drunken Shadows last night. Redid the two pad sounds and then finished up the drums. Also worked out using Means of Ascent as the intro and outro to the piece, in real time. A very droney pad with some synth overlays for the beginning and electric piano for the end, all played in real-time. So now it's Drunken Shadows in a Means of Ascent sandwich.

September 14, 2006. Damp and rainy this morning so it was a little tough to get up. But I was motivated, dropped K off at school and hit a store on the way to work. Rain most of the day, and I guess for the next couple of days.

Spent some time last night tweaking the mixes of Silver Sky, Soft Weed Factor and Plangent Bleating. Silver Sky has an entirely different feel with "real" drums. It's a bit more aggressive, but will still work well. Tonight I'll move on to Drunken Shadows. Once that's done it's time to actually practice the execution of everything live.

I was sent a link to some long footage shot by a couple of folks who lived 500 yards from ground zero. They decided to release the tape as long as no one can reuse and profit it from. Gives an entirely different perspective from all the footage you've seen to date.

RIP Richard Burmer. I'll have to give Bhakti Point a spin tonight.

September 13, 2006. Woke up early and then again when the alarm went off. Not too rushed this morning and everyone was up. The trees are beginning to turn in earnest and the stars come out earlier each night.

Pretty much have fought off whatever cold was coming on. Took a break from music last night and watched an old French movie, Grand Illusion. And then it was off to bed. Reworked a potential set list out today and it's about 45 minutes for each set, which seems about right. This means Sailor's Tale is probably out, but leaves a little more room to expand the two improv pieces. I still need to figure out how long they can be without being ineffective, and a couple of names for the pieces too.

September 12, 2006. Up early and still feel like something's coming on. Still fighting it off though. And now the day is almost over and not very much accomplished. Did download the latest version of iTunes, which finally has seamless playback for songs that flow together.

Entered Sailor's Tale into the live set last night. Now I have way too many pieces and need to decide what to keep so I can focus on practicing.

September 11, 2006. Woke up early and sat. Feeling slightly under the weather today as if something is trying to break through. Ignoring the news today as I don't need to hear the trivializing, sentimentalizing and politicizing today.

Finished the drums for Silver Sky and Soft Weed Factor yesterday. Silver Sky gets traditional drums and SWF gets electric ones. Also added a lead sound, distorted organ, that's closer to the original one for SWF.

September 9, 2006. Fall activities begin today. K to orchestra and J to karate. I stay behind and finish closing up the pool. The new one has no brackets at the bottom to hold the cords I usually use to hold the cover done. This year I've had to do with the wire and ratchet that came with the cover. I can already tell that any weight will be trouble.

Lawn in the afternoon. More leisure for the remainder of the afternoon and then off to dinner. I have sushi. We drive in to get ice cream but we have so much at home it seems redundant. Laugh with J and then off to the studio. Settled on the drums for Silver Sky, and while scrolling through songs I load Soft Weed Factor and quickly reimagine it for the Juno. Mostly electric pianos and variations thereof. The only real decision is whether to stick with "real" drums or go with a more electronic kit. There's quick thunderstorm that just past through, and now it's time to watch Are You Being Served.

September 8, 2006. Wake up quick and alert well before the alarm. Sit. Eat. Out the door leisurely. The weather is nice today and it looks like it's beginning to get darker earlier. Start to close up the pool this evening. We will get the defective liner changed in the Spring.

More work last night on In/to and the second live improvisation piece. I really need to come up with names for those two.

September 7, 2006. Woke up before the alarm. Typical morning rituals and then off. Weather is beautiful. Ate lunch outdoors, but may not get out there again until the end of the day.

More practicing last night of In/to. Also read some net reviews and comments on the Juno G; another synth that engenders either love or hate, but little in between.

September 6, 2006. Up at the alarm. Very groggy, but sitting cleared away some of the fog. Very nice day out; Fall has firmly planted its foot around here although it's going to be much warmer tomorrow.

Although I was intending on working on the second live improv piece last night, I ended up running through In/to a number of times because it's a lot of fun to play. There's always tonight.

Empty Glass is still the soundtrack to and from work.

September 5, 2006. Raining out again, although it was nice and cool earlier. Up at the alarm, get ready for the morning, gas up and then off to work.

Good session last night, mainly working on the first live improvisation piece, which is yet untitled. Easily flowed well for about 30 minutes. Based on this, and the other improv. piece, there's no point right now in resurrecting any more older material. I easily have well over two hours of material right now, which is still too much. Also, did a nice run through of In/to.

It's official, Dave Fulton will be joining me onstage for the Gate performance on November 21. We'll get together a few days before to work out a set and hopefully solidify some material we can record.

September 4, 2006. No alarm this morning, but up at a reasonable hour. We go off to the local bookstore and spend most of the morning there. Then some lunch. The restaurant we wanted to go to is closed, but a good one is across the street. Very good sweet potato fries. Then it's off to the music store to get get a book for K. The ownership has changed hands so they have a section in the back of books and sheet music for 75 percent off. There are hundreds of books so it takes a while to go through them. Couldn't find any clarinet books, but I do find a neat book on synths from 1982 and a book of Coltrane solo transcriptions. Get the pair for $7.00.

I'm not a big Moody Blues fan, but I picked up a couple of their recent reissues because they are SACD surround. They sound magnificent and the spaciousness of the surround mix helps. Some of their albums sounded too murky to me. These reissues are actually in 4.1 surround without a center channel and that's a mix I prefer. I find the center channel very distracting in many surround mixes. Also been listening to the reissue of Pete's Empty Glass. It has some nice demos from the sessions.

Posted a new picture of the studio today.

RIP Dewey Redman.

September 2, 2006. More windy than wet today, but still lots of rain. And now lots of leaves on the ground. Mostly errands today. A little music making, just jamming on some new patches.

September 1, 2006. Getting windy and the rain will be here tonight. I was able to get the lawn mowed, since it's been a couple of weeks and there will be no other chance this long weekend.

Spent the last couple of days on Block Island (no relation) for business. Nice weather and food. Although one night I ate way too much and paid for it later that night.

It looks like Dave Fulton will be joining me at the Gate show in Philly on Nov. 17. The plan is to get together for a couple of days of rehearsals beforehand to work out a short set. I'm sure some very interesting music will come out of all this. And now to finish out the day.

August 29, 2006. Woke up early and then fell back to sleep, making it tough to get going. Finally made it out the door and then a quick stop for some new sneakers before work.

In honor of Pip Pyle, I've been listening to Hatfield's Rotter's Club today. I remember back in the late 70s listening on late Sunday nights to a radio show called The Rotter's Club on a local station, which played only Canterbury scene recordings. Four hours of Soft Machine, Caravan, Gong and the like each week. Fitter Stoke and one of Egg's longer tracks are the only ones I can vividly remember hearing. The local station is still around, WPKN, and continues to play an eclectic variety of music.

Finished up Plangent Bleating last night and fiddled around with a couple of other tracks. Ressurected Magnetic Center as a quick ender and also decided to try out Half Awake after stumbling upon it yesterday. Haven't given the track much thought in years, but it's uptempo beat would go over well live. I do have the MIDI track and listened to it last night with just piano sounds. I need to go through my old notebooks to see if I can find patch information to make recasting it easier.

Much rain again today.

August 28, 2006. Up, breakfast, and out before anyone is really awake yet. Short sit and then to work. The rain has finally stopped. There were some moments of extremely hard showers last night. Thankful for the shelter we have.

Read today that Pip Pyle died yesterday. RIP. What a great loss. I have enjoyed listening to his playing on Hatfield and the North and National Health releases over the years.

Plan on finishing the live Plangent Bleating tonight and then revisit Silver Sky. If time permits I'll explore one more older piece to work on. I have room for about one more in the set, which gives me the option to swap tunes in and out of the lineup.

August 27, 2006. After breakfast I got ready to mow the lawn. Then it started to rain. And it has rained most of the day. Tweaked the drums a bit, changed a patch, and did some mixing work on the live Plangent Bleating. It's getting there. I have more than two hours of music I could do live now, but there are still some older pieces that want to be heard again.

Dinner and mahjongg at my folks. Back home and the Daniel Boone TV show marathon continues.

August 26, 2006. Wet again today. Got up leisurely, and then get J off to karate. Nice lunch and some minor shopping, then back home.

More work on Plangent Bleating. Finished the patches and did some preliminary mixing. Also pulled out the Drunken Shadows section from Orbits. It will work well live. The piece started as a standalone track that was originally slated for Sonic Approach, but didn't really fit, so it went on the shelf. Looking forward to playing it live in its original, although now changed, incarnation.

August 25, 2006. Rain on and off most of the day. Cooler. Darker later in the morning and getting dark earlier is noticed, so Summer is definitely on the way out.

Started work on Plangent Bleating last night. Got through creating and assigning a good amount of the patches, but need to work on a few more. One thing that I've noticed while recreating these older tracks is that trying to replicate the studio versions exactly ends up with the mix being much too cluttered for live play. I'm also not getting stuck on recreating the old sounds too much, and in some cases the new sounds are completely different. The drums will take a bit of work as the sequence triggers some strange sounds in the new kits that don't fit the piece at all, such as bird calls and some strange vocal sounds. I'm just creating a new kit that will have more appropriate sounds. The only requirement I have is that the bass drum, snare and toms have the power of the original.

Listened to Sonic Approach today and may recreate a couple of tracks from that release as well. It will be good to have nice, usable backlog of older titles to choose from for gigs.

August 24, 2006. Initially woke up an hour before the alarm. I should have stayed up. I fell back to sleep and woke up an hour later very groggy. No doubt due to the drinks from last night. Good food and conversations as well, so it is forgiven.

When is a planet not a planet? Apparently, Pluto has been "voted" to no longer be classified as a planet. Despite the supposed renown of those voting, I don't see the classification changing in the minds of the public for years. Ah, the dominion of man.

August 23, 2006. Beat the alarm again, this time by about 45 minutes. Minor breakfast conflict with J, and then out the door. Quick stop at CVS to replace the hair trimmer I dropped last week and then off to work. Only one of the attachments had broke, but they don't sell those separately.

More work on Silver Sky last night. It has a more aggressive sound than the studio version, which is good for live play. I was ready to shut the synth down when I scrolled past In/to. Ended up doing a fair amount of work on that one as well. Tweaked the pad patches that were too overpowering during the chordal sections and didn't cut through enough as solos. A fun piece to work on since there's no sequences; it's all played in real time.

No music tonight as I'm meeting friends for dinner.

August 22, 2006. Up at the alarm and a bit groggy this morning. Typical morning rituals. Relaxed, but to the point. J up when I went out the door. Weather is nice, breezy and mild. Should get even cooler by the end of the week.

Spent a bit of time working on Silver Sky last night. It's completely ported to the G now. The MIDI files I saved made that easy, but wasn't saved was the patch assignment. I've kept notes about every piece I've done, mainly maps to know what patterns were used, at what measures, and at what level. In some instances I do jot down either the patch name or at least a description of the sound. In this case, I did have some descriptions for each track and was able to use that as a guide in creating patches. Not quite there yet, but I'm not trying to get it to sound like the original. The one patch I've always recreated on every synth is the main clavinet line that inspired the original piece, with it's reverb delay. The hardest part now will be to create the drum line. That was done originally on the Quasimidi 309, and wasn't saved in any way. More work on this tonight and then on to Plangent Bleating.

August 21, 2006. Up earlier than usual to shave the week's worth of stubble. It's always hard to get moving after a vacation. Beautiful weather after a rainy night. It's supposed to be nice for the rest of this week, with cooler temperatures by the end of the week. Fall is just around the corner.

Did a bit more work on both new live pieces yesterday. I have to change a couple of the sounds, but from here on in it's more working on the structure. I also need to turn my attention back to retooling a few of the older pieces. I've definitely decided on Silver Sky and Plangent Bleating. I'll take on a third piece but haven't made up my mind on which one yet.

Testing out internet access via my cell phone this weekend. Since it accesses a high-speed data network and has a big screen, I decided to try out a month of web service. It's definitely fast and being able to set up the links via a desktop browser is much easier than trying to type on the phone's keypad. I've been able to access my email and navigate to other sites easily. I'll see how much I actually use it as the month progresses.

August 19, 2006. Worked a bit on a second live piece today. I ended up taking a couple of elements from another tune that fit this one better, but was able to quickly fill the gaps that were left in the first piece. Other than that, some basic practicing of riffs and motifs.

Also mowed the lawn and had a great middle eastern lunch, and ended up a the library for a while. Very humid out. We went Mexican for dinner. Evening slowly slipped by with rain, which is sorely needed. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

August 17, 2006. No alarm, but still up at a reasonable hour. Took the car in for the check engine light and found out there was a minor recall repair to be done. Everything under warranty, but just slightly inconvenient as there is no long any dealer in my town. We also renewed our cellular contract. Same plan and free new phones.

Spent a few days in Lancaster County. An anachronism as it's mostly shopping and eating in the midst of the simplicity of the Amish. It reminds one of the needless complexity we operate under.

Started a new live piece this evening. Mapped it out in my head during the vacation and created and set the different patches. Constructed with improvisation in mind I was able to get a lot of tones to work without every having to change patches during performance. I mapped the different tones to different parts of the keyboard. Just needs a bit of final tweaking.

August 13, 2006. No alarm, but up early. Weekend morning rituals and then out for a short while. The weather this weekend has been perfect. Cool, with a breeze. Did a bit of yard work and packing for vacation.

While doing some file work for the Juno I discovered that using the song files from the Fantom and Juno didn't work too well since a lot of the data on them is in patterns. What they did help with was for recreating a lot of the patches and performances I created in the past. The good news is that I had also saved many songs in MIDI format. Those translated perfectly to the Juno, so the combination of all the files gives me the pieces in the state they were in before I got rid of the Fantom. So I have all of Escape Velocity and what will be the next synthblock disc, which was already recording and is scheduled to come out next year. But it will be a big help for live work. Some of the older songs will be more work as the XP sound engine was vastly different. But, it is fun work.

I will be on vacation for most of the week without online access, so don't expect any entries until later in the week. Enjoy the nice weather if you've got it!

August 11, 2006. Up well before the alarm. It is cool and still out. Last work day before vacation. Short concert tonight.

After a week in transit, the Juno G has arrived. Some first impressions. It is very light, a lot lighter than the Fantom S. Most of the casing is plastic, except for the top metal panel, which folds over the back. Besides the plastic, the external power supply cuts some of the weight; at least it's not a wall wart. The Juno G is about as long as the Fantom S/X, but not nearly as wide. Lots of buttons and controls on the surface, so there's little empty space anywhere on the synth.

The first thing you notice when turning it on is the screen. It's much bigger than it looks in the pictures on Roland's site; very bright and very orange. Similar to the look of the XP-50 screen, but bigger text and a lot more information. The contrast knob has a wide range and makes the screen viewable from any angle.

Once you get over the plastic and lightweight feel when picking the keyboard up, the build quality is pretty good. The knobs are firm and have an even travel all the way through their range. The buttons are also sturdy. The sliders are smooth up and down, although they do move slightly side to side if you try, but they don't seem any better or worse than any other slider Roland has used. The data wheel is also solid, and feels like hard rubber instead of plastic. If you remember the data wheel from the XP-50, which often had a mind of its own, this is nothing like it. The keybed is not weighted and has a synth action. If you're used to the Fantoms, it will take a bit to get used to. It reminds me of the action of the XP-50 but a lot more firm and sturdy. It is velocity sensitive but does not transmit aftertouch. Strange, as you can set many patch modulation routings to respond to aftertouch.

The sound engine is the same as the latest Fantom series and sounds great. Very full and warm sounds, with noticeably more bottom-end than my Fantom S. Not much else to comment on regarding the sounds if you're already familiar with the range that the Fantoms provide. I will say that it has a few more "vintage" waves than the current Fantoms. But, I have to comment that the two mellotron patches (Tape Memory and Mello Tron), which don't use "mellotron" waves by the way, are awful. Other than that, no complaints. Pop in the SRX07 (Ultimate Keys) expansion board if you want Tron waves and a larger variety of vintage, organ and e-piano options. The bottom line is that you get a big complement of onboard waveforms (almost 1,300) across the map, but leaning more toward vintage and classic synth sounds.

The sequencer is also the same as the Fantom series, a direct descendant of the trusty MRC-Pro. Unfortunately, Roland dropped the ball a bit here regarding some functionality. Gone is the ability to record patterns; you can only record linear tracks, although you can loop them. Also not present is Roland's RPS function, which lets you trigger patterns on the keys (and pads for the Fantom). You also lose some deeper sequencer edit functions such as swapping track data, changing a track's velocity by a percentage, and the ability to extrack track data. All of these are functions I've used heavily in the past, particularly the pattern sequencing. Yes, I could use an external sequencer, but that's not the point. On the plus side you get a flexible arpeggiator and a rhythm pattern function, which is like having a built-in drum machine, easily customized and triggered from the front panel.

There are lots of controls on this synth. You get six knobs: two that are dedicated to cutoff and resonance, and four that can switch between frequency and amplitude envelopes, and LFO parameters. Roland's D-Beam is also there. Besides using it as a solo or theramin-like synth, you can assign a parameter to control if you'd like. There's also a third choice, called active expression, that's seems hardwired at the patch level. Buttons are available for accessing every main function, and the large screen makes editing at a deeper level easy. A tabbed interface helps here so you don't have to scroll through lots of menu pages.

I haven't mentioned some of the functions that I won't use much, such as the audio recording and sampling, which are as deep as the rest of the sound engine. My main quibbles are the lack of some key sequencer features mentioned above, and the absence of keyboard aftertouch is strange, but no one is going to confuse this synth with the Fantom series. It's also not really related to the Junos of yore, save for the style of the top plate text. Still, a very good and compact synth with great sound possibilities.

August 10, 2006. Up before the alarm and listen to the news. I'm glad I don't have to travel in the coming weeks. Usual morning rituals executed in enough time to get off leisurely. Edgar Froese's Aqua the soundtrack for the morning ride. Return an inexpensive digital camera for K that just wouldn't transfer photos. Pick up some small, unnecessary items while at the store.

Weather is cool and comfortable. The home computer is repaired finally. If it goes again it's time to play hardball with Apple. Spend the evening cleaning out the music library on the system and loading some new music, which is then transferred to my laptop.

New keyboard is due to arrive today. Thinking on restructuring some small parts of the web site: Making a separate page for the archive recordings off the main discography page and figuring out permanent navigation for live appearances. On a related note, a new set list is making itself know, including the structure for two pieces that haven't been written yet.

August 9, 2006. Up at the alarm. Listen to the results of yesterday's primaries. My state seems to be the focus of the reporting. Quick read of the paper for more news, and the comics, before going out the door. Sitting in the car. More of a dividing attention exercise but the same connections as usual morning sit. There's a Bennett saying: "one need not sit cross-legged to transform energies."

Physical work last night raking all the fallen leaves and flowers from the aforementioned tree. Then a quick dip in the pool. Much cooler out than last week. We even slept with the windows open last night. Of course the cat kept waking me up as she jumped from window to window. Extremely bright moon played tricks on me during the night as it reflected off different surfaces. The temperature in the house finally equalized with the outdoor temps at about 5:00 am.

Currently listening to some Tangerine Dream, which happens about once a year. Mainly Encore and Logos, as their live work is always interesting, even if these releases aren't completely live. Hard to be an electronic musician and escape their influence and impact, whether knowingly or not.

Good to see Krimson News back up and running.

August 8, 2006. Up at the alarm. A groggy sitting. Look out at the front lawn to see it covered again with debris from the mimosa tree. They are not meant for this climate and this one is giving up the ghost. It's huge and has been here for long before we came. All the moisture from the last six months has wreaked havoc on it. Bark has been falling off for months and now after looking strong it is losing all its leaves. A messy tree to begin with, now it's showing up everywhere.

The check engine light came on again in my car this morning after being out for a few days. It first showed up last week after an extremely hot day. It's an interesting light as it really means check the emissions system, not the engine itself. Not a critical indicator, but still makes its presence know glowing brightly.

Finished cleaning up the studio area last night as the keyboard stand sits empty waiting for the Juno arrival. Today a sound card for the synth will be here and a compact flash card is on its way. Mental preparations for next weeks vacation take hold for a short time.

August 7, 2006. Up before the alarm. Usual morning routine. Dark out as rain approaches. Out of the house before anyone is very conscious. Stop at Staples to pick up a couple of more pencil boxes. These are perfect to hold patch cords and other small items in the studio. Very cheap at two for a buck.

Excellent weather this past weekend. Gathered a bunch of old XP50 files that were on many different floppy discs. Also found a disc of many of the same pieces saved as standard midi files. These are all mainly from my first two CDs with some cover versions that were on compilations. These sound real interesting when played through QuickTime. Many just use a piano sound, but others are separate tracks and play different sounds. Arc for instance uses different percussion sounds for the main sequence lines in QuickTime so it moves from marimba to xylophone to steel drums. I'm going to work some of these older pieces into the live set. Plangent Bleating and Shoal for instance have linear drum and percussion lines that sound good via QuickTime so I'm sure they will translate well to the Juno. I have versions of everything in the Roland format so it will be interesting to see how they are interpreted. Based on moving from other Roland synths, the sequence tracks should be read fine, I'll just have to tweak the sound and try to reconstruct some patches.

I also came across some covers that I forgot about. One being Marillion's "Three Boats Down From the Candy," which I submitted for a compilation that never came out. Sailor's Tale and Soft Weed Factor were on these discs, although ST is missing a lot that was done on the Q309. SWF sounds good as a midi file since it's mainly piano to begin with.

August 4, 2006. RIP Arthur Lee. Forever Changes. Up at the alarm. Sit. Check the pool. Finish wrapping a package to be shipped. Off to work. The heatwave has broken a little, although it's still humid. On a lighter note, happy birthday to my wife. I'll be meeting her and my youngest for lunch today.

Mapping out some older pieces that I haven't played live for a while. Since I don't have a master keyboard at the moment it's figuring out in my head how different parts will port over from the older synths. I have saved all my patches and song files and Roland's file format seem the same on the new synth. But not sure how it will fetch the waves, which are different. I do write down a lot of settings as I create a patch so it will just be a question of finding a similar sounding wave in the new synth engine. The newer stuff is still fresh in my mind so I'm confident I could recreate it if I had to. Right now I'm planning on porting Farthest Rille, In/to, Escape Velocity and Proximity. I'll also try some real old material like Silver Sky and Ping. It's also a good way to relearn some of these pieces that I haven't played live for about six years.

August 3, 2006. Up a little before the alarm. Sit. The heat continues. As does the central air. Fingers crossed.

Some slight rearranging of the studio last night for the impending arrival of the Juno G. Mostly changing cables. Also brought the small mixer back out in anticipation of some upcoming collaborations. I thought the Juno would be here by the end of the week, but it's coming from the West Coast. Not sure why, as everything I've bought from this vendor has come from NJ. Maybe I'll be surprised and the UPS tracking info will change dramatically.

Either way, it's back to a main hardware synth. After a month of working with Reason, despite it's power and very easy interface, I just got tired of staring at a computer. Even though I could control most of the program from the Korg, I still felt somewhat disconnected when playing the keys. And there was a tiny bit of latency when playing an acoustic piano sounds. Also, it would take a bit of time to load the samples even though I have no lack of processing power. Luckily, the Korg was still within its return policy. Reason is on ebay and the auction ends tonight. I'll still use the computer for storage and some other small task, but that's it for music making.

I made the decision about a week ago and set off looking for a new workstation. I've always liked Roland sounds and the architecture of the sequencer, so I looked at the Fantom line again, but despite the upgrades from the Fantom S I had, the current line is too expensive, particularly for the low-end model. I also wanted to get away from the bulk and weight of the Fantom. The decision came down to a Roland Juno G or Alesis Fusion. On the surface, the Fusion appears more powerful and has an easily expanded OS. They both have a major shortcoming that neither supports pattern-based sequencing and are built around linear operation. I find it surprising that such a basic part of Roland sequencing, RPS, the ability to trigger patterns on the fly, is also missing. Not sure about the logic of this. The code already exists, it has been part of their workstations for years, and I don't think having it would confuse anyone with the Fantom line. Since much of my music has relied on pattern-based sequencing, this has been a big mental roadblock, but there's really nothing else out that inspires me. I've started to think of ways to work around this, and it shouldn't be a problem for studio work. Live, however, is a different story, as my live playing relies on being able to trigger patterns on and off on the fly. I'm sure there is a way around this via a combination of looping and muting. Regardless, I'm a big fan of the Roland sound engine and there shouldn't be much of a learning curve.

August 2, 2006. Heatwave made for a disturbed sleep last night, even though we have central air. Two sittings; one in the middle of the night, the other before the alarm.

After a number of days of frustrating work, I'm going back to a hardware synth. Besides a general disconnected feeling, I really don't want to rely on the computer for music after sitting in front of it for 10 hours a day. So now a Roland Juno G is on it's way. More about this decision tomorrow.

Looks like I have to move my Gate appearance to November, but this may actually be a blessing in disguise. Other news includes a potential collaboration in the works.

July 25, 2006. Up before the alarm but very groggy. New moon today.

July 21, 2006. Up before the alarm, but since I had an early appointment near home I did a short sitting and then listened to the news on NPR i n bed. Checked the pool, appointment and then off to work. Can't get my motor to start, figuratively.

Composed a secondary bassline for one of the new pieces last night. Funny how changing the rhythm so slightly makes a big difference in this piece. It gives it a sense of acceleration.

Here comes the rain.

July 20, 2006. Up before the alarm. Too short sitting. Stop and pick up some pool supplies before work. Enough to take us through the end of the season. Weather is nice today. Warm, but a breeze. Lots of inertia at the start of the afternoon walk, but it was gone by the middle.

The new cable out of the computer to the amp is a big improvement. The volume is up about a quarter, so the cable from before was very cheap. After a couple of hours work on the three new pieces it's clear they are very live oriented. And although all three are at reasonable stage there's no path evident that make them seem anything other than live vehicles. Right now that is fine. I have a CD in the hole and really have no desire to put another one together until after the Fall gigs.

July 19, 2006. Up at the alarm. Short sitting. Check the pool and pick up some stuff thrown around by the storm. Cooler today. There was a violent thunderstorm last night. Lots of hail and high winds. Before that I got a quick dip in the pool as the water was nice and warm.

The storm lasted over an hour and by the time it was over it was too late to get to music. I did get to do some recabling and to set up a back-up cable for live shows. Also caught the end of a James Cagney flick on TCM. Then bed.

July 18, 2006. Up way before the alarm. Took the opportunity to do a few quick things around the house. Then off to work. Hot yet again. Went out to Borders to pick up a DVD for C's birthday, and impulsively bought a cheap book for K, so had to find something for J, which turned out to be very appropriate. Updated EV reviews page with a very nice and long review by Bill Binkelman.

Listening to Miles Cellar Door box right now via iTunes. Love Jarrett on the electric piano.

July 17, 2006. Hot weekend and still hot today. I don't know why, but I took a walk this afternoon. Way too hot for that.

Discovered a small tear in the pool liner this weekend, which I patched. It's holding so far and will be replaced gratis at the end of the season. After accidentally breaking off one of the legs of J's doll we went out yesterday to get a new one. It took three stores to find one that was not expensive. Dolls I guess are not very popular these days.

A call from D opens the possibility of some recording and joining me on one of the live dates for the fall. That would be something. FIngers crossed. More work on the three new pieces. Two seem destined for something over time. The third, probably only a few elements will survive.

July 14,2006. Up early but then fell asleep. Got out of the house barely in time, only to receive a call that a bird was stuck in the wood stove. Back home to free the bird, which exited quickly out the door, only to hear a second on in the flue. For that one I had to take off part of the pipe and then a quick bang to scare it out. It too exited the house quickly.

Hot and getting hotter. Thankfully, the new pool is going strong. I read today that the Who are touring the US for the first time in 25 years. I though they were here a few years ago. And I checked the tickets then and they were way too expensive. They still are. I guess I'll buy the Live in Boston DVD from a couple of years ago. Oh well.

July 13, 2005. Woke up a half-hour before the alarm and listened to the news. Got a quick start in the morning. Checked on the pool in the dripping humidity. All is well so far but need to make some minor deck changes to fill the gaps.

Started a third new piece in Reason the other day. The easiest way to learn this program is to just dive into sound and composition. I've also solved any lingering controller problems so I can control just about everything through the Korg without ever touching the mouse. There's still a long way to go.

Listening to the Miles Davis Cellar Door box. Excellent stuff and quite cheap through yourmusic.com. Also picked up a used copy of the first David Gilmour album last weekend and have been spinning that.

Some live shows are being scheduled. Right now I'm confirmed to play the Hyperspace series in Stroudsburg, PA on October 21. Confirmation should be soon regarding The Gate series in Philly, which I think will be September 15.

July 5, 2006. Happy Birthday America. Yet more muggy weather and some rain, but not nearly as much as in the last few weeks.

Woke up exhausted this morning, no doubt due to waking up in the middle of the night, but feel fine now in the afternoon. So what has happened since the last entry? The company I work for moved a short distance away, received a very nice sleeve for my MacBook from Waterfield, learned I have an old tooth filling that has cracked and needs to be replaced, and Escape Velocity has showed up on iTunes. Currently listening to a selection of 1977 Grateful Dead. Now on is the fifth version so far today of Estimated Prophet, a tune I will never tire of.

Work continues on learning the new studio. Click here if you'd like to see a picture of the streamlined setup. Two pieces are emerging from familiarizing myself with Reason. These are more live-oriented pieces where I can easily switch patterns and sounds. But, there are holes and parts where I know more density is needed yet haven't figured out how to fill it up in real-time. I have a couple of gigs brewing for October where I'll need to have this all figured out. Experimenting with porting some of Escape Velocity and In Transit to Reason but it's a tough nut to rework much of the parts.

June 26, 2006. Hot, humid and rainy for days, and there's no break in sight. Went on Saturday to order a new pool, in the rain. Broke down the old pool yesterday and did some other miscellaneous chore. Lots of education work on Reason this weekend. New RAM is expected today and it's about time.

After posting this I realize how rote and rushed it was with no attention paid to its writing, but mostly to the afterward.

June 23, 2006. More work on getting used to the Kontrol49 and Reason. It's going to take months. I did construct a couple of nice evolving pads last night. There's definitely much power in this setup. It's also made the studio a lot more streamlined, and it was very streamlined before. I'll post a new studio picture soon.

The replacement MacBook is running smooth. No more screen or noise problems as with the last one. Pool disasters continue, but a logical, long-term solution is already underway. Went for a walk in the muggy weather and the same is forecasted for the weekend, complete with rain here and there.

June 21, 2006. Received my replacement MacBook today. The original one had some screen problems. This one is in perfect condition so far. It also runs much cooler. The Kontrol49 came in yesterday. Excellent native support for Reason. Just change the modules and all the controls for the Kontrol49 change as well. Makes it much easier to work with than the Novation controller. Now to take some time to explore the sounds and capabilities of Reason.

June 19, 2006. Not in the mood to update the journal, so I will update the journal. It's hot and humid today. Summer has arrived. Spring was short.

I returned the Novation Remote LE last week. After a frustrating night it just wasn't worth it anymore. Strange that a line of keyboards originally devised to control Reason have such a hard time controlling Reason. It's too bad as the keys felt good. After much research and banging, a Korg Kontrol49 is on its way. The best thing going for it is the seamless integration with Reason. Not really impressed with the key action, but compromises need to be made. So this will be the main studio controller. I will still pick up a 25-key model for lightweight traveling. I played one of the new Korg K series and it wasn't too bad. I really don't need a lot of controls on a smaller one now. So until the big Korg arrives I've been composing using the drum machine and pattern sequencer interface in Reason.

June 15, 2006. Reason arrived in the mail yesterday. After downloading the most recent update I also loaded some extra sounds and was off. Very powerful program and interesting interface. Already making some very neat sounds and drum programs. I also began cleaning and rearranging the studio to accommodate this new mode of working. Still evaluating a larger controller as 25-keys does not cut it at all.

June 14, 2006. You can see some photos from Electro-Music 2006 by clicking here. You can also download the Gears of Sand jam, courtesy of William Fields, by clicking here.

After playing with the Reason 3 demo for the last week I've ordered a copy that will arrive today. I don't see myself as becoming a "laptop" artist, I'm just separating the sound engine from the controller. The music still sounds the same. I bought a Novation Remote 25 the other day, but it's really not enough keys. I'll probably buy the 49-key version soon. It's nice to have a small, 25-key controller so that I can play anywhere in the house and it does make it more mobile when traveling, but I get the both ends and there's nowhere to go. I'm used to 61 keys, but 49 should still be effective.

I received the remastered Exposure the other day. It's great to have the original vinyl version on CD. I missed the original Hammill vocals as well as the extra talk in Haaden Two. Interesting to finally hear all the Daryl Hall vocals, but I can't say that I prefer any of them over the Hammill originals. It's a much better album in its originally released form. My only preference on the remixed version from the 80s is that Tony Levin's bass is more upfront in the mix. Either way, nice to have everything in one package.

June 8, 2006. A little rain today, but was able to get in a walk. Enjoying the demo of Reason, a very interesting software package. Nice old school interface with the ability to patch many modules together, both sound and effects. It's also a new version that is completely compatible with the intel Macs.

Pictures from electro-music 2006 coming soon.

June 7, 2006. Yet more rain. It just doesn't stop. Time to build an ark.

Electro-Music 2006 was great. I'm sorry I was not able to be there for all three days but will definitely plan to be next year. It's probably the best place to hear the widest range of electronic music out there. The music was pretty much non-stop from noon until midnight for the three days. I did a great jam session in the afternoon with fellow Gears of Sand folks Ben Fleury-Steiner, William Fields and Mikronesia. We did four different pieces. Three of them clicked really well despite our stylistic differences. My slot in the theater on Saturday night went well. Nice visuals projected, although I didn't really get to see them. It was great performing in front of such a receptive crowd. I played In Transit, Escape Velocity and Proximity.

Special thanks to Howard, Greg and the rest of the staff for providing such a superb environment. It was also great to meet other musicians and listeners, such as the already-mentioned GOS gang, Mark Mahoney and Mike Peck, Mike Victor, Mark Jenkins, Terry Furber, Ace Paradise, JEM, Stephen (lotus spray), and many many more. I'll be posting pictures from the event soon.

As I was driving down and going over bumps and potholes, it occurred to me that I should stop being such a luddite and look into software synthesis. I could just picture my keyboard being bumped around in the trunk. Also, I bought one of the new Macbooks, and it seems such a shame not to use that processing power for music. So for the last few days I've been exploring this way of making music. One of the problems is that there's not a lot of software out for intel-based Macs at the present. But, I'm using GarageBand as the sequencer and found a couple of free synth programs, Crystal and Automat, that I'm using to produce additional sounds. Still a lot more exploring to be done in this area, but so far it sounds promising.

June 2, 2006. If you're near a computer tomorrow (June 3) at 10:00 pm EST you can hear me live from at the Electro-Music 2006 festival in Philadelphia. Click here to listen.

I also have the lead track on their compilation, which is an excerpt of one of my new pieces, In Transit.

May 22, 2006. Vegas. Busy. Conference. More later in the week.

May 16, 2006. Nice write-up by Chuck van Zyl of Star's End of Escape Velocity, which you can read here. Thanks to Chuck for taking the time to write this up and for playing tracks from the CD for the last seven weeks on his show.

Preparations pretty complete for live versions and jamming sounds for the beginning of June. I'll be in Vegas for about a week starting Sunday, so I'll have a few days when I get back to tweak and lock down everything.

Very impressed with the new MacBook that was released today. I may be replacing my iBook sooner than I thought.

May 15, 2006. More rain, and more to come. In a Van Der Graaf phase.

This is a good example of why I only play solo or in small combos.

May 11, 2006. Time is a thief. More rainy weather, but was able to squeeze in a short walk with just minor sprinkles. In a bit of a VDGG mood. Other than that, nothing new to report.

May 10, 2006. I should have written earlier, I'm running out of steam. There was a break in the light rain before so I did get in a short walk. I need to burn off some serious calories.

Teaching the kids mahjong progresses. J won again last night. They pick it up quick. We are all still learning. Finished off the Red Dwarf 8 episodes last night and have moved on to the bonus features. Other than that, lots of work due to an upcoming conference. Until tomorrow...

May 9, 2006. Lots more energy today, especially in the morning. Unfortunately, there's been intermittent rain so no walk today.

I did buy the final season of Red Dwarf over the weekend and will be watching the last episode tonight. It's a lot better than I remember it from watching the series on PBS. The final season generally gets the biggest thumbs down, but it's still very funny.

Some of the titles of the tracks for In Transit are changing.

May 8, 2006. Low energy today, but the day is going fast.

Nice weather this weekend. Spent some time sorting out sounds for the live appearances. Also, lots of yard work and other chores. Taught J how to play mahjong. She's a fast learner and actually won the first game. Received the glasses this weekend, but they used the wrong frame color. At least the quality was good so should have those back by the end of the week. And that's a wrap.

May 5, 2006. Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

May 4, 2006. Very tired this morning. Real tough to get up and going. Not sure why because I got a full night sleep last night.

Contemplating a keyboard case to replace the gig bag I now use. In related news, besides the night slot at Electro Music I'll also be participating in a Gears of Sand jam session in the afternoon with Ben F-S and some other label members. Now that should be fun.

May 3, 2006. More light rain this afternoon, so no walk. I had planned to take one this morning, but realized when I got to work that I had forgotten my wallet, so need to go home to get that. I did have a walk last night with J, which was nice.

Other than that, just some reading last night. And some dominoes. Today has really flown by. Went to Best Buy at lunch to get the latest Red Dwarf, but they claimed they didn't have it, even though their web site said it was available for pick up at this store. Hmm.

May 2, 2006. Light rain derails the chance at an afternoon walk. I just realized Red Dwarf Series 8 was released today. I'll try to get it tomorrow during lunch. Not one of the best seasons, but still better than a lot of the junk out there.

Went over the live In Transit last night. Not much more I can do with this one except to keep practicing the solos. Also did a little work on the live Stations, but not much. It's time to start some new music. Or at least the framework for some live improv. material.

And finally a public thanks to Chuck Van Zyl, who has played a different track from Escape Velocity on Stars End over the last five weeks.

May 1, 2006. Nice weather this weekend. Finished cleaning the garage and put up the new mailbox and post. Some more work on the live music versions, but still a bit more to do. Pretty quiet other than that. New review of Escape Velocity here.

April 28, 2006. Another nice day. A bit foggy this morning internally due to some strange dreams, but the clouds cleared by the afternoon.

April 27, 2006. Very nice out today. First time this year with a walk without a coat. Everything is, or getting close to, blooming.

Did a bit of work for the live In Transit last night. This one is easy. Just doing the solos and then some tron parts over the intro, bridge and exit sections. Then a bit of tension which I successfully deflected. I'm learning to let go of much stress and not to absorb it to begin with.

A bit more work than off to sushi and saki.

April 26, 2006. Cooler today, but still a nice walk in the sun to the post office to return the glasses I got last week. The lenses are great, but the quality of the frames leaves a bit to be desired. This online vendor has higher-quality choices so I choose a designer frame that I saw in a local store and is made well. Bottom line is that buying online is half the price of local, yet the quality is equal.

The other day I saw yet another new edition of Beelzebub's Tales, this one in hardback that smoothes out some of the original translation to make it more understandable to english readers. The last edition that came out sought to go more toward the original. So I each edition goes back and the next forth.

I also learn that the company I left last year because I had an feeling they would be sold was, in fact, sold recently. I picked that one well in advance, but then again I have much experience in this arena.

April 25, 2006. A pause this morning for Yom Hashoah. We are master practitioners of a science of forget.

April 24, 2006. It's been very easy not to write. Yesterday it rained more than it does for the whole month of April typically. Luckily, no flooding at the house, but lots of large puddles everywhere, particularly in some neighbors lawns.

Spent some time trying to make a DVD of the family trip but keep having problems getting music to play for the whole time. Also, some photos get cut off. More ideas for solving this later.

April 19, 2006. Last night of quiet. Gas prices continue to rise, with very little reason. And as so often happens the attorney general of CT is reportedly investigating, over which nothing ever comes of it. Really. He's always investigating rising gas prices as long as I can remember and it has made no difference.

April 18, 2006. Up before the alarm by my internal clock. Very quiet in the morning. The cat does not know what's going on. Returned the dead battery for the deposit fee. Then off to work.

I'll stop at the store on the way home to replenish some minor provisions and to return the DVD. Ordered the glass online. I have little expectations but would like to be surprised. If they work out I'll try a sunglasses next.

April 17, 2006. Watched The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy tonight. Some funny bits, but it's no Red Dwarf. Other than that, work and a quiet house.

April 16, 2006. Second day of quiet. Up early but lounged in bed for a bit. Then off to clean the garage. Did about half of it. Lunch. Short nap and then some music.

Tried to register the new watch online, but the Timex site is down for the second day. Off to bed.

April 15, 2006. Up very early to deposit family at airport. Everything safe and sound. Off then to return some items at various stores. Then to the Timex outlet store for a big sale. Picked up a temperature/tide watch that shouldn't have been on sale. Some chores outside as it was beautiful. Then research glasses online. Did not realize how cheap glasses can be bought via the Internet.

Yesterday, the battery in the van died. Replaced and good for four years or so. The sun is now setting.

April 13, 2006. Beautiful spring day. Nice and warm. Noticed many things blooming while taking a walk today.

I've been listening to a playlist I put together on itunes of a lot of various songs. I have a whole group of playlist for stuff I know I can always listen to: ELP, Jethro Tull, VDGG, Jefferson Airplane. What I did was go through all of my CDs and found there were lots where I only want to hear one or two tracks, so I put those together, along with a track or two from the other playlists, and now have a 10 hour mix. It used to take many hours to put together a mix back in the cassette and CDR days. Now, importing and moving things around is quick.

My music area is currently covered in clothes and shoes for my family's trip next week so I don't even attempt to go back there until this weekend.

April 12, 2006. Happy 13th birthday to my eldest daughter.

Back home, still acclimating after the quick trip. It will be a fast week. Wrote an article from home today and preparing for Passover and birthday festivities.

April 10, 2006. Waiting at the gate for a plane to the West coast, a quick overnight trip. At least I got an aisle seat, although not in the exit row.

Warm day today and I'm traveling light. Nice news from work today and a pretty pleasant day all around. No music last night. It was hard to concentrate and it just seemed like a losing battle, particularly since what I'm working on is not critical.

April, 9, 2006. Getting warmer finally. Not a great night's sleep, mostly due to going to bed late. Lots of outdoor work. Finished cleaning the yard and started on the garage. I plan on finishing the garage next weekend.

Apparently there's a number of CDs out there called Escape Velocity. Perhaps I should have picked a different piece to be the title track?

April 8, 2006. Rainy, wet and cold. There was some snow and ice falling today. Some work outdoors to check the gutters. J to karate in the morning. I stopped by Borders and picked up the remastered Sandy, by Ms. Denny.

So many ways to die but leave it up to man, he'll invent some more. Who's going to save the world? The mighty groundhogs. You've got to like a band that can put together a song about the ills of the world from the perspective of a roll of toilet paper.

Family day today with two meals to celebrate K's upcoming birthday. Also got a good deal on a watch today.

April 7, 2006. Rainy and chilly. Flagging energy in the waning part of the day. Hopefully, the weather will turn nicer at some point this weekend so I can finish the yard cleanup.

April 6, 2006. The rumors regarding the latest OSX release (10.4.6) seem to be true. I've gained about a half-hour in battery life, currently showing about 7 hours.

Up before the alarm. Sitting. Breakfast. Out to work. Had a small liberation during the day from a material object. At the end of the day, off to see J get her latest belt in karate (blue). Then a moment that tries the patience of parents. Eventually a small release.

After dinner, I fixed K's viola case. On my way back in I pause to look at the twilight sky. A quarter moon and a couple of planets were already out. I didn't do much observing this winter, certainly not nearly the same as last year. But I did get some short looks with the binoculars. Wide views of the sky are the way to go.

April 5, 2006. Spring was here, but now it's back to cold and windy. There were reports of some snow around these parts this morning as well.

On the music front, work continues on live versions of studio tracks. Not much else to report there.

Good reminding factor today. I put on an older watch this morning that worked, but by mid-morning the battery died. I took off the watch, but still check my wrist every now and then.

April 4, 2006. Just a little break. Escape Velocity is now available through CD Baby and Hypnos.

I've been doing work on the live Escape Velocity and Farthest Rille. Pretty much worked out which parts to play and how to switch between them in a live setting. When I'm recording I don't often consider, from a usability perspective, how close patches are in relation to one another. Not from the sound but how close to switch between them, which becomes a lot more important when playing live. It's just a case of practicing the transitions now. The new pieces are easier as I'll be concentrating on playing the solos and some pads here and there.

There was an article in the NYTimes the other day about a collection of unpublished poems by Elizabeth Bishop. The gist was that she only approved what she wanted public during her lifetime. Fair enough. Although, I have the main collection of her poems and have enjoyed them, I've never felt a particular resonance with her works. Having said that, I can understand her wishes having read some of the unpublished works that are now available. Many writer now just delete their work and that's it if they don't want it public. I have boxes of old works, and although I have no reason to believe that they would ever be published, much less the poems that actually have, I have on occasion thrown away bits and pieces that I'd never want to see again. Actually, nothing that I wrote from ages 12-14 exists as far as know, although I wouldn't mind seeing what was going through my mind at the point when I first started writing poetry.

March 31, 2006 I don't remember not writing or posting a journal entry for the past two days. I do remember not doing it yesterday.

Finished adding the Fantom drums to Escape Velocity. Nice groove to it. Now I need to work on the parts I'll do live.

I'm scheduled to play on June 3, Saturday night, at the Electro Music festival. I'll be there both Saturday and Sunday and hope to participate at some jam sessions.

Also, Escape Velocity is now available through the Hypnos store, as well as the other outets mentioned earlier.

Have a nice weekend.

March 28, 2006. Back after a quick west coast trip. Slept and then did a bit of work. Firmer plans regarding Philly in June. I'll be playing June 3. More tomorrow.

March 27, 2006. Up before the alarm. Relaxing start to the morning. I'll be on the road for the next couple of days.

March 26, 2006. A few errands in the morning and then lunch. Quiet afternoon and evening. Helped J practice the piano and did some work. Also packed for tomorrow.

March 25, 2006. Up way before the alarm. Typical Saturday morning. J to karate and K to orchestra. Rest of the day out with the family for errands.

More work last night on adding Fantom drums to Escape Velocity. Still slow going.

March 24, 2006. Less foggy this morning. Short walk in the afternoon.

More listening to Shakedown Street last night. It just reinforces the notion of how limited Keith Godchaux was with just using the piano live most of the time. There's a nice selection of keys throughout the disc and Keith could certainly play. Great four song sequence near the beginning (France, Shakedown, Serengetti and Fire). The bonus live stuff from Egypt just begs to get a more expanded release.

March 23, 2006. Up before the alarm. Sit. Eat. Out to work. Fragmented and foggy, although an afternoon walk helped. Spent some time last night packing up promos for Europe.

March 22, 2006. Still waiting for spring to arrive.

Started replacing the drums for Escape Velocity last night. This is for the live version. The drums were from the Korg, but want to travel really light so I'm using the drums from the Fantom. My original thought was to just run the Korg to trigger the sounds from the Fantom and then record those but I may take this opportunity to just redo the drums. I'm also considering some other tracks from Escape Velocity. Farthest Rille is a given since the drums are already on the Fantom. I'll also be visiting a couple of older tracks to see how they translate. Silver Sky is always a live favorite, so that may be next. Many of the other older tunes would have to be done from scratch.

I was reading a book about the history of skateboarding the other day and it reminded me of my childhood. I skateboarded a lot in 1976-78, the second boom of skateboarding. I remember my first board had a fiberglass yellow top and I got it for my birthday from Korvettes. The bearings were open and after a couple of weeks the nuts on the axles started to strip and the bearings would inevitably fall out. I was able to return it and got a Makaha board from a sporting goods store called Hermans. This board had a grey plastic cambered top. I never did fancy tricks or anything, just riding around. I eventually built my own board. I bought some trucks, wheels and shaped the deck. Like an idiot I sold it a few years later. I've had a longboard for about six years now. Good for us aging folks as it's very stable. It's handmade by a company that's no longer in business called Motherload Longboards. It's a comfortable ride and lets me skate with my kids on our street.

March 21, 2006. Another day flies by. No walk today because I spent the time doing something nice for my kids.

Last night I started some work on converting pieces to their live versions. What this means is basically erasing some of the parts that I plan to play live. I already have a set pretty much worked out, consisting of released and unreleased material, as well as a few framework pieces that will serve as platforms for improvisation. No rush on this work, but I would like to finish it off in the next few weeks.

March 20, 2006. The day has moved to quick. It's chilly out but the sun helped warm today's walk. Nothing else right now.

March 19, 2006. Leisurely waking this morning. Colder and breezy. Started a fire and did some work. Then off to guide my daughter in maximizing the yield from a small percentage of birthday money. She did get a good deal.

The schedule is coming together for the electro-music 2006 festival. Right now, I'm the penultimate performer on the last evening. I'm still deciding logistics for going as I'd like to be there for the whole festival, but I may have to go the second day if I have to stay over the last night. Either way, there's a nice roster of diverse performers and it should be fun. There's some interesting jam sessions scheduled.

March 18, 2006. Saturday morning trips to the orchestra and then back home for housework. Family party today for Jessica. Also cleaned out the piano. I opened it up to check on a sticking key and found a piece of paper and felt were the culprit. Also gave it a nice vacuum. Found the original shipping slip and warranty info. This piano was from my parent's house. When we moved in here 13 years ago they gave it to us. The shipping slip is date October 1974. I took piano lessons on it for two years.

March 17, 2006. Escape Velocity is now available for purchase. Details on the discography page. Also finished the "making of" page and posted that as well.

Spent last night setting up the new used computer. Took a while, but was able to load OS X.

March 16, 2006. My youngest daughters birthday is today. She turns 7. Happy birthday!

While poking around the online management tools from my web host, I found a tool for creating an online shopping cart system. So I did. It was very easy. Typically, I try to send people to retailers, but for those who want to order directly it's a lot more convenient than the method I've been using.

March 15, 2006. Disturbed sleep last night as it was so windy. Could hear the wind when it was far away and coming closer. It was hard to pinpoint the direction, but somewhat eery that it was off in the distance. Did not walk today due to the high winds still around.

Received my artist-comp copies of Escape Velocity last night. They came out really nice; clean, interesting artwork by the label. I'll post the updated discography page once Gears of Sand posts their page and I can link folks over to purchase from them. We're also going to offer an exclusive download of Magnetic Center, which is not on the disc, to those who purchase.

Some tweaks to the In Transit disc mixes last night. Also made a 4:00 edit of the In Transit track for inclusion in the electro-music compilation.

March 14, 2006. Windy today but the rain ended and the sun is out. Just back from a walk. The temperature is dropping though.

I'll be playing at the Electro-Music Festival in Philadelphia on June 2-4, 2006. More details to come.

March 13, 2006. Up after the alarm. As foggy inside as out.

Many opportunities for dividing attention and separation as there were over the weekend. Continued discussions with other principals regarding recasting the OMC without the M as an effort to embrace other arts. However, the responsibilities that carries are the sticking point. Certainly related to this, aims that started 25 years ago reassert themselves.

March 12, 2006. No alarm and up by 7:30. Rug cleaning was the chore of the morning. In the afternoon we went to the mall for lunch and to Circuit City. I have a gift card from birthday, but didn't see anything. However, there's stuff coming out in the next couple of months that will be purchased.

Other than that, it's rainy and cool, wood has been brought in, the laundry is going and the afternoon is almost over. Current reading is Bennett's How We Do Things, the only book you'll ever need. The page I'm on talks about how an organized challenge is a reminding factor. My copy is the original Coombe Springs edition from 1974, which I purchased about 7 years after that in a used book store in Amherst that had lots of metaphysical and poetry books for less than they were truly worth.

March 11, 2006. Up well before the alarm. Sitting is done vertically. Breakfast and then get the kids off to their respective obligations: karate and orchestra. Spend a short time at Borders and then listen to the In Transit mix in the car without the background hum of the engine. Back home to stain the new front door and pick up the metal and nails that litter the yard here and there from the work a few weeks ago.

Now taxing the laptop to get the battery to drain quicker so I can recalibrate it. This is recommended by some to do once a month to keep the battery healthy, but I do it every three months. While usually a good thing, the 6+ hours the iBook battery provides now makes draining this a slower task. I'll pop a DVD in soon to really get it cooking.

March 10, 2006. Just back from a relaxing walk. It's quite mild today. I'm fortunate that most of my walk takes me through the older section of a typical New England town on the shores of Long Island sound. Lots of old houses and churches and old slate sidewalks. The other part of the walk is through a the train station with my ears being blown out by the passing trains, and the sounds of I-95 close by. Still, very worth it. It's a very similar place that can be reached by sitting, but it's walking.

A few mix tweaks last night, but stuff only I'd hear I'm sure. Also some thinking for a new piece I to do for a compilation. Nothing with structure, more trying to put the In Transit project out of my realm so I can concentrate on something new.

Put on the first set of the Dead's Closing the Winterland DVD last night. I was in the mood for some Shakedown Street material as I've been listening to the remaster lately. A very maligned Dead release, but one of the first I ever bought. There's a nice groove and sound to the whole album I enjoy, that was never really replicated live. As opposed to Blues For Allah, which is another great album but one I never listen to because the live versions on One From the Vault are just so much more beyond the studio takes.

March 9, 2006. Up at the alarm with a twisted neck, which has loosened through the day. Rest of the morning uneventful.

Last night I put together a new kitchen table and chairs. Not too difficult. My youngest was the assistant and was a pro at handing me the correct hardware. After that I finished up the mixing of the long piece. I believe we have a CD. The electric pianos now sit nicely in the mix. Still need a new name for the tune, but that will come. I've listened to it all the way through and will let it sit for a few days. Probably a few more tweaks, but another will be in the hopper. The release of Escape Velocity is imminent, while the release of In Transit will hopefully happen in the fall.

March 8, 2006. Up at the alarm, some sitting, eating and off to work.

Did the first mix of the complete In Transit last night. Haven't made it through listening to the whole thing yet, but already notice some tweaks that need to be made. The longer piece needs a little more reverb on the electric pianos and possibly some limiting. That tune is 40 minutes long, with the full CD clocking in at 67 minutes. Once Escape Velocity gets released I plan on posting some excerpts to In Transit.

I received iWork 06 for my birthday and have installed Pages and Keynote in hopes of using them instead of word and powerpoint. So far import and export tests have worked fine. The only glitch is that Pages does not have compatibility with Word's track changes option. But for the most part I should be able to use iWork about 80 percent of the time.

March 7, 2006. Up a few times during the night with some weird dreams. I'm not the only one. I wonder if it was the pizza we had for dinner last night? I ended up having cake twice. First at work then home. Many thanks for the nice gifts I received.

Finished the first two electric piano overlays to Mindpsore. I changed the second sound from a wurlitzer, which just didn't fit the mix, to another Rhodes with prominent tines for a bell-like tone. Tonight, I'll do both parts for the final section. Also contemplating a name change for the piece.

It's nice out today so time for a walk.

March 6, 2006. Out to lunch with my wife for my birthday. Back at work and surprised with cake.

Spent a large part of yesterday, in between chores and playing with the kids, working on Mindspore. Got down the entire backing track and most of the overlays. It's three sections that all blend together. The first section is very similar to the original version I trashed last week, while the last two are new. It's not much of drone piece now, but more spacey. There's even drums in the final section, but it's definitely not like the other two pieces for this disc. I now have to put down the electric pianos. A Rhodes in the first section, Wurlitzer in the second, and both in the third. I'll be starting on that tonight.

March 4, 2006. Got to sleep an extra hour this morning. Spared the usual shuttling of kids to spackle and paint new trim and windows. Short nap after all that was done in the mid-afternoon, and then out to a magnificent shrimp dinner.

Trashed Mindspore last night and started from scratch. I just found myself erasing part after part and decided a blank slate was the best approach. Still using the same sounds as before but have a new idea for having the drone for only half the piece and then a bit more space for the second part. I put down the drone and will do more tomorrow.

March 3, 2006. Up before the alarm. Kids delayed opening for school. Shoveled the end of the driveway before heading to work. Shoveled twice yesterday instead of saving it all for one muscle straining session. I also fixed the light in the garage yesterday as well.

Did some work on Mindspore last night. Did about half of one electric piano improv. over the drone. Stopped when it got to the middle because some weird sounds I don't remember making changed the mood of the piece. Still not sure if I'll keep them or need to redo this part. Also created one nice lead sound that's very mellow and with a long delay that may work in the fade out of the piece.

March 2, 2006. Up before the alarm. Usual morning activities. Also spent some time hooking up gutter extensions in anticipation of the coming precipitation, which is now falling in the form of snow.

Spent some time last evening working on Mindspore. There's two piano lines that evolve over the main drone. I was not happy at all with the results. But not happy in the sense of it needs more work, not that it won't fit. One of the electric piano sounds is perfect, but the other doesn't really sit in the mix well. Also had to tweak one of the drone sounds; one of the tones was an octave too high.

March 1, 2006. Up at the alarm, a few minutes to figure out where I was. Then, typical morning routine. Stopped at home depot for some supplies, then work.

The washing machine took minutes to fix. Apparantly a wash cloth got stuck in the bottom. The outside of the house is finished and looks beautiful. Feb. journal entries moved to the journal archives. Today's reminding factor is the clock on my computer, which I've changed from digital to analog. Everytime I look at it provides an appropriate wake up. And now a repost from another site regarding some composition thoughts:

I use my own shorthand for notating pieces. Similar to what you see on the back of some album covers (Eno's Thursday Afternoon and Jerry Garcia's Garcia). For others I do write out the music for some themes, but nothing major. For some pieces I've been trying to write out the whole thing because many parts I write from a bass or guitar perspective and would like to hear them played someday by a full band. A couple already have and it's a kick to hear them like that.

For the more structured pieces I usually just start with some ideas and others present themselves as I go along. Others I work out in my head so that they're pretty much structured and set before I even fire up the synths. Sometimes I just start with a new sound or patch and that at least dictates the beginning of a new piece. Then it's just a question of see what else a tune needs to be added or taken away. I spend a lot of time considering the space and the bits between the bits, deciding if the sound is too dense or not enough is there.

I often do covers just for fun, particularly taking something that was not electronic in the least and seeing where that goes. Other times it's in answer to a call for submissions, such as the Sailor's Tale. I follow the structure of the tune but take some left turns here or there. The first cover I ever attempted on synths was a version of Jefferson Airplane's Two Heads for a tribute cassette, which really doesn't sound anything like the original. Others, like ELP's Barbarian, which I did for a compilation, follows the original pretty faithfully. Most fall somewhere in between.

February 28, 2006. Up early to get Kali to school for chamber orchestra. Limited sitting. Ran some errands before work. Much more on the ball today.

Spent most of last night trying to fix our washing machine. The water wasn't draining and the motor was making a lovely grinding sound. After getting the clothes out and draining all the water, I was able to determine that it wasn't a belt, which I could have fixed. Actually, I couldn't find any belts so I think that it's a direct drive. Either way, it's out of my league. Luckily, we have a friend who is coming by to fix it.

Some music making last night without sound. I was just fiddling with some levels on the two completed tracks. Tonight, more.

Offered another gig that conflicts with a business trip. Hopefully, the gig date can change.

February 27, 2006. Up in the middle of the night, or early morning. Sitting to fall back asleep. Awake by the alarm but fell asleep again for a few minutes. As a result, I've been in a fog for most of today. The cold is not helping either. Dry, watery eyes today.

Just noticed some bad links, particularly to the Sailor's Tale mp3. It's fixed now.

February 26, 2006. Relaxing morning. Jam in the afternoon. I played mostly bass, but some keys on a few tunes. Luckily, I wore earplugs because it was loud. A bit hard to react to some of the dynamics as well as missing a few changes, but worth it to save my ears.

February 25, 2006. RIP Don Knotts. If not the funniest actor ever, in my opinion, then certainly one of them.

Windy today, up before the alarm. Lots of work around the house caulking, spackling, and hanging new shades, among many others.

Final mixes of In Transit and Stations. I'll be leaving these for a week to get some perspective. Monday work continues on Mindspore. Tomorrow a jam session in the afternoon with bass and clarinet.

February 24, 2006. Up before the alarm. Sitting. Got wood. Breakfast. Very windy today.

Finished the mixing of Stations last night and it passes the listening test so that one is done. In Transit just needs a bass tweak. I dropped the bass sound an octave and that works well, but there's a bit of boominess that I need to dial out. I hope to finish that tonight.

February 23, 2006. Up with the alarm. Sitting. Breakfast. Drizzle to work.

Just minor tweaks to In Transit and Stations left. Pretty much just lowering the volume on the drums and bass a tad. I ended up just dropping the bass on In Transit an octave and now it sits fine in the mix. The added reverb to the drums opened up the mix and made it breathe a little more.

Other than that, the housework is almost complete. A potential gig has presented itself in Canada in April, but I just don't know how I'll swing that. Still need to complete the Escape Velocity making of page. Also mulling the translation of some of my music to guitar. Some potentials are evident, but nothing is free.

February 22, 2006. Mixed Stations and In Transit last night. The first mixes. The tracks from Escape Velocity took anywhere from 4 to 6 mixes, so who knows here. I've only had a chance to listen to In Transit closely. My first impression is that it's very dense. The drums need more reverb and to come down in volume. The bass is too loud but not deep enough. And there's a recurring lead motif that's too loud as well.

After a mix, I listen back on a number of systems. The stereo in my studio, the main home one, in the car and on a portable player. I try headphones with most of these as well. Since I don't have a "reference" system, the sound is definitely different on each example. I try to isolate what differences each system introduces and then cancel those out from the listening task to hopefully end up with as a true a mix as I can.

February 21, 2006. Day is almost over. I plan on mixing In Transit and Stations tonight. Engaged in some interesting discussions with some other musicians regarding live performances. I've already sent out some queries to line up shows to support Escape Velocity. There's just not a lot of options here, or anywhere for that matter, for this type of music.

February 20, 2006. Finished the taxes, again last night. I'm glad 2005 is over from a tax perspective.

Finished recording the solos for In Transit, so now it's just down to the mixing.

February 19, 2006. No alarm this morning. Chores for most of the morning. Out for a chinese lunch alone with wife. The benefit of kids growing up is the built-in babysitting it brings.

Lots of progress for In Transit today. Tweaked all the solo sounds and added a few bits here and there. Finished the closing bit, and slowed down the intro to bring an entirely different vibe to the beginning. So instead of deleting it gains new life. Tomorrow i will lay down the solos. When building some of the solo sounds I came across two sounds that will form the basis for an entirely new piece.

February 18, 2006. Not up early. Breakfast. Visit to my folks. Lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Then home to do the taxes. A few hours later. Ugh.

More work on In Transit tonight. Added a tron pad. Started with that sound, worked through a few others before ending up back at the original patch. Added some other parts here and there that may have to go because parts sound too claustrophobic. Also added an intro that doesn't work. Have another idea built around layering percussion and fading in with that.

February 17, 2006. Up before the alarm. Sitting. Breakfast with the kids and off to work. Wind has picked up throughout the day while the temperature drops. It made for an invigorating walk.

Laid down a substantial bit of In Transit last night. Still have to add one pad and two leads. Also need to put down the ending, which I've already figured out in my head.

Some web site tweaks today, including updating and changing the format of the bio.

February 16, 2006. Up before the alarm. Sitting. Then some breakfast with the kids, writing, short doctor's visit and then off to work.

No music last night. Before I left work I accidently deleted an article I was writing, I thought it was on my removable drive, and had to spend last night recreatinig it. Ugh.

Mild today, so nice walk in the sun.

February 15, 2006. Three distinct dreams last night. One took place in a mall I've never been to before, but do remember the same setting from a dream a few years ago. Up early. Sitting. Fell back to sleep as usual. It's the quality not the quantity.

Recorded a percussion line for In Transit last night. Also tweaked the regular drum line. Then fired up everything, the drums, bass, pads, sequences, and did a few solos to find out what it sounds like. Pretty good, but still lots of work to do.

Also downloaded and printed out the cover for KC CD I downloaded the other day. A lot of work to cut and fit it. Way too much hassle for me. I guess I'll only be doing this once in a while.

February 14, 2006. Tired and low energy today. One of us had to stay home with Jesse last night since she was feeling sick so I missed the concert. I did, however, hear the pieces in their entirety at Saturday's rehearsal, so little loss there. It was my turn.

No music making last night, but I did download Crimson 10/81 from the official site.. Excellent energy for an audience recording.

February 13, 2006. Lots and lots of snow. About two feet. The snowblower barely got through it. I had to go out and shovel out the end of the driveway after dinner due to the plow finally coming by. Today, it's cold but the sun is melting away some of the ice.

Due to the snow, Kali's concert for yesterday was cancelled and is tonight.

Spent some time working on In Transit yesterday. Worked mainly on the drums, but did put down a modulating pad for another part of it. Some ideas for the ending, but too soon for now.

February 11, 2006. Took Kali to dress rehearsal for her concert tomorrow night. However, with the snow on the way, the timing is up in the air. In the afternoon, a chinese lunch and then to search for a new outside light. Nap and then out to dinner with friends. Now watching James Bond and waiting for the snow.

February 10, 2006. A blizzard is forecasted for tomorrow night. We haven't had snow for awhile. It has been cold though.

Did a lot of work on Stations last night. Worked out all the melody lines and a few extra sounds here and there. All that's left are the solos at the end. I'm going to try to finish up the piece this weekend and then it's just down to mixing.

Work continues on the house. New big window is in the front and some of the siding is already up.

February 9, 2006. Just in from a cold walk. I pulled a muscle in my back while sleeping last night and it only hurts when I'm up and moving around. Sitting is fine, but by the end of the walk it definitely felt looser.

Finished the drums last night for Stations. May change some of the sounds, but for the most part the percussion is complete. Also chose the lead sounds and a pad for the closing section. Once again, it feels like a piece to close the CD, not start it. Only 20 percent left to do for this one, all fun stuff.

February 8, 2006. RIP Elton Dean.

I just read that Elton Dean died yesterday. One of the great jazz-rock saxophonists, he often strayed into Coltrane territory. His presence was strong on a number of Soft Machine releases, particularly some of the live vault ones put out by Cuneiform. And of course the studio albums 3 and 4.

Welcome to the new site design.

Finished the transition to the closing section of Stations last night. I also settled on two lead sounds. One for the main part of the track and the other for the ending. Also spent more time with the drums, but still not satisfied with anything I've come up with.

February 7, 2006. Just realized I still need to pick up a couple of cards. I was at Walmart early this morning and forgot to look there. I did pick up the Wallace and Gromit movie, complete with a bonus disc (the reason I went to the megamart), and another Pink Panther disc that was too cheap to pass by.

Stations work continued last night. Finalized the structure of the piece and the entrance and exit of the main melody lines. Also spent a long time on drum sounds and lines, but this will take time. This piece is beginning to feel like the CD opener as opposed to the closer. Either way, out of the middle of creation of the piece. Before bed the way to transition into the closing section appeared and I rushed into the studio to lay down the idea quickly. Thankfully, I have equipment that facilitates this quick work. It literally took three minutes from the time I had the point of seeing until it was recorded.

February 6, 2006. More work on Stations last night. Mainly drum lines and a few pads for the ending section.

Watched Spirited Away with the kids last night, a film by the same director as Pom Poko and Porco Rosso. Great animation and a good story line. We also watched some of the classic Pink Panther cartoons.

Cold walk today, but necessary.

February 5, 2006. Some work on Stations yesterday. Added a bass line and worked out the structure of the ending section. Created a few sounds for this part, but haven't figured out exactly where they'll go yet. The night before I did a little more work on Mindspore. It takes a while to put down even one sound for this piece because it's so long. I had slated two new sounds as slightly atmospheric additives here and there, but one of them now seems more suited for the end of Stations.

Took out all the gutter guards, since the gutters will be down soon. Day two of draining the pool cover. It's been raining a lot over the past month. Not much of a winter. Pretty mild for the most part.

Settled on a new web design and started porting content into it. Expect it to be live within a month. I found I was looking for specific designs and was frustrated at not being able to interpret the code to figure out how to get text blocks to work. The new design settles out a lot of these problems.

February 3, 2006. Working on a new site design, but getting very frustrated. White text is just too hard to read sometimes. I may just need to try another font. Also problems with getting text to fit in a field. Time to leave it for a while.

Did some work on the long drone piece last night. I'm working simultaneously on three pieces. Two I started in the fall, In Transit and Stations, and the third, tentatively titled Mindspore, is the long drone piece. About an hour's worth of music so far.

February 2, 2006. Woke up at 3am and had trouble falling back to sleep. Did some sitting and then put on Music For Airports on the headphones. Fell asleep before the end of the CD. The effects of the disrupted sleep are making the midafternoon tougher.

Still tired last night so I didn't attempt anything productive. Watched an episode of the Saint and then read the latest MacWorld before retiring. This morning work on the house exterior started with the brick coming off the front with a sledgehammer. I hope the walls don't break.

Spent the last couple of days with some MS Office problems. First Entourage was not letting me accept any invitations unless I dragged them onto the desktop and then clicked the meeting. I trashed Office and planned to reload it this morning, but accidently brought in the disc for an earlier version. I'll try again tomorrow morning. I've been using Mail instead, which is alright, but doesn't tell me about undeliverable mail, which has happened in the last couple of days. Oh well, much to do, so back to work.

February 1, 2006. In a fog for most of yesterday due to drugs for a medical procedure. Slipping away, the feeling when you know your are losing consciousness and there's nothing you can do about it.

Not too cold today, so a short walk to get some fresh air. Other than that, just work for now.

January 30, 2006. Liquid diet today in preparation for a test tomorrow. Slight tweak to the web site design, getting rid of a thick bar that separated the top from the text section.

January 29, 2006. Cloudy this morning, then giving way to rain. Did some yardwork and brought in wood for the stove. Spent the rest of the morning on some music. Working on a longer piece, a bit of a drone. I have an idea for a title and that this would be the first of a series, but still in the ruminating stage about this. Also spent part of the time playing some clarinet over the drone.

In the afternoon I played dominoes with Jessica and then we watched a japanese animation film, Pom Poko, about shapeshifting raccoons. Neat film, with a realistic ending.

Now to watch an episode of the Saint before bed.

January 28, 2006. Early rise, but rushed all morning. Much shuttling of children and then a mattress, actually two back and forth.

Revisited Music for Airports today. 1/1 is still very powerful. Robert Wyatt wrote and played the main piano line that the entire piece is beholden to. A magnificent piece. The rest of the album can't meet the power of 1/1. It's still good, but somewhat of its time. Not in the sound, but execution. As a whole, a very relaxing listen.

Watched Office Space with Cindy. She had never seen it. Always funny to me after many viewings. The Bonus "Making of" was full of great interviews and bits.

January 27, 2006. A pause to remember those on the two shuttles and Apollo 1. And for the forgotten original crew of Gemini 9, Elliot See and Charlie Bassett.

More work on the making of page and some minor web site edits today. Last night took Orbits and stripped out a lot of the solo parts and rhythm sections to expose a nice long drone piece. Tonight, I'll try the clarinet over it.

Picked up the remaster of Steve Hackett's Voyage of the Acolyte for very cheap at Borders. Nice upgrade of sound and two neat bonus tracks, including an expanded ending for Shadow of the Hierophant, bringing the track up to 17 minutes.

January 26, 2006. After thinking about it for weeks, I did some clarinet soloing over a synth bed. Mainly one track I've been working on, In Transit, that's just a few patches creating a nice evolving drone. I also tried some single groove patches: basically a drum line with some nice enveloped pads, that worked well too. When I get enough motivation, I'll hook up a microphone to my Boss SX-700 and try out the effects. Right now the pure sounds of the clarinet were a nice counterpoint to the synths.

I've started writing up a "making of" Escape Velocity page detailing the writing and recording sessions for the CD. I hope to finish it by next week and post it on the Escape Velocity page.

Off for a walk.

January 25, 2006. Nice day, for January. Short walk to pick up lunch. News will be forthcoming soon regarding the release of Escape Velocity.

January 24, 2006. Sunny and cold, but the sun is now setting.

The first volume of Time Tunnel was released today on DVD. I watched the show when I was a kid and recently saw an episode; it has not aged well. The Rat Patrol, on the other hand, is a different story.

Basic practice last night with a piano trio for the quartet of swing tunes. As I was putting the clarinet away I noticed on of the post screws was coming out. I went through and tightened the rest up, just enough so they won't fall out. I had to go back a do a few. When they are too tight the keys get stuck. My current reeds are slowly dying.

January 23, 2006. The day just flew by. Snow, then rain this morning. Dried up a bit by the afternoon so I did take a walk, but it was cold. Packing up now for the short ride home.

January 22, 2006. I've been on battery power on the iBook for about 15 minutes now and the remaining time I have left on this power keeps going up. It started at about three and a quarter hours and is now reading over four hours. Zappa Zoot Allures, from the Zappa Plays Zappa disc is playing and I'm anticipating the Ship Ahoy section of this version (Tokyo in Feb. 1976).

Spent most of today aquainting myself with iDVD. I took four sets of our vacation pictures over the last couple of years and got them onto a DVD complete with animated menus and music. Excellent program.

Clarinet practice tonight was solo, working over the break; the hardest fingering when you go from a Bb to a B and beyond. Friday night was with a piano trio for an all-Coltrane program. Yesterday, again with a piano trio. Also tried with just drums, but it didn't click.

January 20, 2006. Sitting in bed, as usual this morning. Did not fall back to sleep.

Last night practiced a bit with the guitar trio and finished it up with piano for Naima. Then, I listened to some pieces by Zappa from the You Can't Do That Onstage Anymore series. Transferred a large selection to iTunes to listen to at work. Ends up being about six hours worth.

Flipping around the TV last night I end up on TCM for an animated film called Porco Rosso, which was actually quite good. I've never seen anything like it, but apparently it was Japanese and is typical for its genre. I'd like to see the film again. It takes place in Italy right after WWI, and there were some really nice animation sequences. A believable story too; well, except for the lead character, which was a pig.

January 19, 2006. Not as mild today, but sunny. As I was walking, I remembered the local library was having a book sale. Nothing. Walked back to work.

Clarinet practice with guitar trio last night. There was one point in Stella By Starlight where I sensed the harmonic structure and was able to solo over it without worrying about where the melody or chord structure was going. Fumbled a few other pieces here and there, but it's fun playing a bossa rhythm with a guitar trio. Come to think of it, I believe it may have been Autumn in New York, not Stella. Yes, it was.

January 18, 2006. Mild, windy and rainy today. No walk.

I listened to Escape Velocity for the first time in a while today. Decisions regarding this release need to be made shortly.

January 17, 2006. Had to walk into town today through the slush. the sidewalks were worse than the street. I did beat the rain though.

January 16, 2006. Very cold again today, but sunny. However, the snow will not melt.

Day off, slept late. Ran some errands and tried to pack away the tree. Reading and clarinet practice the menu for the rest of the day.

January 15, 2006. Gale winds, snowy and bitter cold today. When I woke this morning, the flurries were stopping. It was so cold it looked like fine, light snow. I thought it would be quick to shovel. However, since it had rained yesterday and was freezing rain in the night, the snow was very heavy and stuck to the shovel. It was so windy when I held the shovel out slightly, the shovel was blown all the way outward. The wind ripped our grill cover to shreds.

Played a couple of games with my youngest and then finished a vendor profile this afternoon. Eldest daughter made dinner tonight for a school project. Excellent meal. Salmon with lemon/ginger butter, mashed potatoes, steamed spinach with carrots, fresh-made bread, and fruit salad for dessert. I could eat like this every day.

January 14, 2006. Windy, rainy and mild today. Spent the morning taking the kids to their respective activities: karate and orchestra. Went to Borders. Used a coupon and remaining balance on a gift card and picked up Zappa's Roxy and Elsewhere. A mini-lp edition from japan for a domestic price.

Spent the rest of the day working on a presentation. Finished the day with some clarinet practice of the swing quartet: Lady Be Good, Blue Room, Bye Bye Blackbird and Avalon.

January 13, 2006. Foggy and misty today, but no rain. Still took a walk in the cold.

Lots of work, with no time for thinking. Realized a few insights today, particularly the force of willpower, or whatever you want to call it. It is cumulative, each step easier than the next.

Come citizen dog, we have chosen the short straw.

January 12, 2006. Mild today in the upper 50s.

Powerpoint X is extremely slow, much slower than the previous version. It also continually consumes lots of CPU. At first, I thought it was my machine, but a quick web search finds this is common and there isn't any solution. I may have to try iWork.

Sitting this morning felt like being in an anechoic chamber. It felt like my heart was beating outside my chest.

January 11, 2006. Colder today than the past few days. Beat the rain by a few minutes while walking today.

Spent most of the day working on a presentation; slow going. Not much else for today.

January 10, 2005. Another mild day today; well, mild for the time of year. Nice meditative walk today.

Just read up on the latest apple announcements. Intel chips in the iMac and a new powerbook. I just bought an iMac; couldn't wait until this year for tax reasons. Not really concerned at this point. I'm curious to see if there are any problems with the new chip integration. It's supposed to be much faster than the G5, but that seems pretty quick to me. There's also an OSX update, but it's native for the Intel chip. I'll be waiting on feedback before it goes into any of our PPC machines.

January 9, 2006. Website hosting transition is finally complete, and after trying all the links everything seems to be working correctly. Mail is also transitioned over. I'm still debating whether to change my email slightly to lessen the amount of spam, but it seems the four days offline for the account have already made a difference. I've also gone through all the pages and deleted direct email references so this should have an effect over the next month as well since the automated programs will not be able to read the address.

Smart folders are great in OSX. Using the spotlight comments field in the info. dialog for folders and files, I've added a short word and now all the files I need to backup weekly are resident in one folder (well, the pointers are, but its the same thing as far as archiving is concerned).

Mild weather today, about 50f, so I'm going for a walk.

January 8, 2006. My website will be down for a couple of days as I switch hosting services. The old one has just been barebones and the same amount of money buys a lot more options and service.

Decided to do some yardwork this morning, trimming trees to be exact, but got in over my head. Finished it with more tiredness than I had planned. Relaxing for the rest of the day. An hour of clarinet with just bass and drums. It took about 20 minutes to get warmed up and then some interesting sounds were coming out. Its tough to be consistent when you're dealing with reeds.

The laptop is currently reading close to 5.5 hours of battery life left. On the negative side, apple has a ways to go with their onboard calculators. You should be able to minus a percentage from a figure, to determine a sale price, but they make it too difficult.

January 6, 2006. Temperature is down a little from yesterday. Left work later than usual last night due to a phone call with an irate vendor. Invading the sitting a little this morning. But, I did realize an interesting musical segue during the sitting. I've been listening to a bit of the Dead lately and have been fascinated by some of their musical transitions. Many just start cold from the tune before and aren't really segues, but others do organically build out of the previous song. Anyway, the segue of Wishbone Ash's The Pilgrim into KC's Frame By Frame appeared and I ran over it a few times. They fit together nicely.

January 5, 2006. Just noticed I dated yesterday's entry 2005. Just answered an inquiry regarding podcasts. Business interest keeps raising on this. We'll publish some research on it in the next couple of months.

Practice last night consisted of some swing classics: Lady Be Good, Blue Room, Bye Bye Blackbird and Avalon. Avalon is a great tune, from a music standpoint that is. The words are typical of the period. Benny Goodman's versions are all good. The only ones with a neat descending, repeating riff toward the end.

Weird sitting this morning. I definitely fell asleep and dreamed I rear-ended an old car. I was extra careful this morning on the road. The rain never came back today so I was able to take a walk in the afternoon. Southport is a typical New England town: very expensive old homes. It's dark now. Go gently, dear readers.

January 4, 2006. I've started using TextWrangler to edit my HTML pages. It's more straightforward than the last editor I used, and I can ftp the pages directly from the application. Before I was writing the journal in a word file and then cutting and pasting, but this led to having to reformat in the editor. Now I just do it directly in textwrangler and then copy and paste into the KCNN diary page.

I found a pretty good book for advanced tips for OS 10.4, called OSX Killer Tips. Most books for OSX are really just beginner guides, but this one is just tips and covers well past all the basic stuff.

I've been watching the Project Mercury DVD set I received for the holidays. It's very comprehensive and goes from before the program, through development and on through each flight. One fascinating section is on Project Man High, which involved very high parachute jumps, some from over 100,000 feet. These guys were the first to see the curvature of the earth and break the sound barrier without a vehicle. Real pioneers.

January 3, 2006. A new year. Another beginning, again. I've made the same resolution that I always do. Lose 10 more pounds. Maybe next year I won't have to do this?

Nice few days off. Traditional new year's eve with the family. We ate beef fondue and watched the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers followed by the Blues Brothers. 2005 started off band and ended well. 2006 is starting off well. Got in some good clarinet practice over the break. I need to revisit some new synth music that's been sitting around for a couple of months. That's all for today.

December 28, 2005. I started this online journal 8 years ago today. I believe we've been through four web site design changes since then. I've been exploring some free blog software, but nothing seems better than just working straight in an html page for now.

Holidays have been ok. Kali has been sick and put a bit of a damper on the holiday spirit. I've been spending most of the time working, playing clarinet and figuring out ways to cut down our taxes for this year. I bought my wife a new mac for the holidays: an imac G5, and myself an ibook. Both very nice computers.

On the music front, not much has changed. Escape Velocity is currently in limbo. It's done, still needs final mastering, and I'm still searching for a label. I've been concentrating on the clarinet as my skill grows there. Still not sure if/when I'll be ready to take it public, but if so it will be in a jazz environment. That's all I'm playing on it.

Anyway, expect more frequent updates.

October 17, 2005. I start a new job in a couple of days as the Research Director at a firm called Sirius Decision (www.siriusdecisions.com). I'm very happy to get out of product management.

I purchased a new clarinet a few weeks ago, made by Leblanc. A nice improvement over the Selmer, which had strange key setup that really taxed my fingers. For example, the register key should be easy to reach with just a slight roll of the left thumb, but the Selmer always required too much of a reach. The Leblanc has a slightly smaller bore, which gives a little more warmth to the sound.

I've been playing from method books since March, in an effort to start off on the right foot as regards to sight reading, something I always have been meaning to keep up with for the bass and keyboards. Some of my practice time is also spent on just improvising, but never anything structured. A couple of weeks ago I pulled out one of my jazz playalong CDs and decided to see how it would go. Surprisingly, I was easily flying over the clarinet. So I now spend about two-thirds of my practice time learning different scales and tunes. I've already hit my first aim regarding clarinet playing, which was to learn Coltrane's Naima. The next goal is to learn Goodman's Airmail Special.

September 13, 2005. Listening to the big band channel on AOL Radio, which used to be Netscape radio. Good, free, internet radio. I typically listen to the progressive channel, but have the clarinet on my mind.

Practiced the clarinet this past weekend for the first time in a couple of months. I had forgotten where some of the notes are. I estimate it will take a week to get back up to speed. I've never stuck with it long enough to have the lapses in playing I can get away with regarding other instruments.

Picked up one of the Grundig wind-up shortwave radios a couple of weeks ago. Pretty good shortwave reception, although most of the bands seem to be Christian programming these days. Even more surprising is the AM reception. The other night I picked up stations in DC, Boston, Albany, Cleveland, Charlotte NC, and Montreal among other. This makes me want to buy a better receiver.

September 1, 2005. As an update, Escape Velocity is still in the mastering phase. I've also started a new disc that so far has three pieces in various shapes and sizes. One is Eardrum, Part 2, which uses a couple of elements of the original piece as a starting point for a new composition. No changes in equipment for this disc, which is a first. Two CDs in a row with the same gear. I expect the new music to be finished by the end of the year, with both being released in 2006 in some manner.

The situation down South just confirms that this country is wholly unprepared to meet local disasters. The scenes remind me of that movie from the early 1980s, The Day After. The bottom line is that there are too many people in this world. Zero population growth is a start, but we have to have some major negative growth or we may see Soylent Green in our lifetimes.

December 22, 2004. Warmer today. Spent the morning running errands and the afternoon working.

As is usual, when Circuit City is having a big CD sale, there's nothing I want. Still in a heavy music mood.

December 21, 2004. First day of winter and it feels like it. Bitter cold.

Sometimes it's more cost-effective to get a DVD of music videos or a concert, than the comparable CD of the same material.

December 20, 2004. Very cold, snowy and windy.

The break in communications is due to starting up a consulting gig.

This past weekend was good. Dinner with friends on Saturday night. Last night I went to see Jane Siberry. My wife is a fan; I've seen here a couple of times already and that was really enough. But, she put on a good show. The big surprise was a song and opening from an old friend's band, the Zambonis. They do songs based around hockey. Whether you're partial to hockey or not, they were very good. Check them out at www.thezambonis.com.

Dave Fulton is currently remastering the next CD. It should released this Spring. More concrete news as I get it.

December 1, 2004. The holiday lull has begun. Driving rain for most of the morning. If it had been snow, what a blizzard it would have been.

November 30, 2004. Given that I still have lots of time on my hands once I fulfill my daily obligations, I've started watching the Apollo 15 DVD set again. It's not the kind of watching you can do in little chunks, since it basically covers the mission from start to finish for 6 discs.

November 29, 2004. Nice Thanksgiving holiday. Very restful. Spent some time writing the "making of" article I typically do once a CD project is done. Also tossed around some ideas for the next project.

Finished both the Apollo 13 and The Saint DVDs this past weekend.

November 24, 2004. Did two final mixes of a couple of the pieces yesterday afternoon. Listened to the whole CD last night and this morning and decided that's it. I could keep going on forever on some of the pieces. It's just a question of how much forward the drums are in the mix.

I'm happy with the final mix and have sent it to Dave Fulton to be mastered.

To clear my ears I've been watching some episodes of The Saint and the recent Apollo 13 DVD set.

Have a nice Thanksgiving holiday. See you Monday.

November 23, 2004. Completed yet more mixes of some select tunes. The drums just seemed to recessed on some of them. Part of the problem is that it's hard to hear an accurate mix that is not colored by the sound system. I check my mixes between two different sound systems, with and without headphones. I also listen in the car and try with a portable CD player. The sound is different depending on the system, but I can usually approximate the true mix base on a combination of these.

November 22, 2004. I did two complete mixes of the CD this past weekend, and then a few more of individual songs. I believe I have a complete CD now ready for mastering. A few more listen throughs this evening and I'll send it off.

Other than that, watched a bit of The Saint and the new Apollo 13 DVD set.

November 19, 2004. Finished the lead track of the CD last night. Constructing the drum lines and they all fit in nicely. I have to tweak a couple of sounds here and there, but it's minor.

This morning I mixed In/to and Magnetic Center. I also fixed a few sounds and rearranged part of one piece. I expect the mixing and review to be done at some point next week. Then, I'll do a final recording and it's off to be mastered.

November 18, 2004. Hit the middle of the newest piece last night. The point where it seems like the tune isn't going anywhere, yet you must persist. It paid off because this morning I completed most of the rest of the song. There's a bit at the end that needs to be sorted out, and then the drums. Right now the tune has a particular mood to it. It will be interesting to see how the drums complement or transform the piece. The intention was for this tune to start out the CD.

November 17, 2004. I finished the solos for Magnetic Center last night, three of them: organ, synth and electric piano. The piece is now complete.

This morning I moved on to the last track for the CD and it's about 50 percent done. I expect this phase of the project to be finished by the weekend. Next week I plan on concentrating on the mixing, with recording to be done the following week. It should be ready for mastering at the end of the month. Right now I expect a Spring 2005 release date.

November 16, 2004. Finished the bulk of Magnetic Center last night. Tonight I'll do the solos and it will be complete. A nice, tight piece that runs about four minutes. I had originally had a latin-style percussion line fueling the piece, but it never seemed to fit right, so a new line was added that propels the piece much better.

Also did a little mixing on some of the other pieces.

November 15, 2004. Lots of studio work this past weekend. Laid down the solos for Four Days On. Also finished a resurrected piece called In/to. In addition, I'm about halfway through another new piece called Magnetic Center, which has a latin feel. I've also settled on some names for the other compositions. Also changed the title of Stations to Third Force. Drunken Shadows is now called Orbits.

That leaves one piece left, which is the title track. I have a tentative title and the piece is about halfway done. I expect to finish all recording in the next week and will then move onto mixing the CD.

Currently listening to the Crimson box and the Jazz Crusader's Chile Con Soul.

November 12, 2004. Rain and cold today.

Finished up with a rough mix of Four Days On last night. Spent some time on a new piece this morning. Well, actually, bits of two new pieces.

November 11, 2004. More work on 4Days last night. The piece has been essentially sequenced for a while so it's just a question of constructing new sounds to convey the tune.

As an experiment, I routed the drum machine through the Fantom's inputs. The synth has a dedicated effects processor for the inputs so it was easy to add some compression and other effects. The only problem is that the inputs are really designed for sampling, so there doesn't seem to be a facility to save any settings. However, it does keep everything in the digital domain and keeps the signal more pure by negating the need of a mixer.

November 10, 2004. Finished DS last night and did some rough mixing today. I will leave this piece for a while, although it's pretty much set. Now looking for a new title.

Started work this morning on Four Days On. I've tried recording this one twice before in the last few years, but it never seems to work out. This time is different.

November 9, 2005. On a roll last night and finished 95 percent of the rest of DS. I just have some mellotron overdubs to finish off tonight. I may attempt a complete mix tomorrow. The piece clocks in at 27 minutes.

I've been listening to the new King Crimson box set. It is fantastic. Very interesting instrumental edits of some songs. The sound is great, particularly on the live material form 1969. Much better than the original releases. Also, many of the edits that appeared on the Frame By Frame set are gone.

Please say a prayer for my sister-in-law, Annie, who is undergoing additional cancer therapy. Thank you.

November 8, 2005. Part 2 of DS is complete. Currently working on the final portions, which should be done in the next few days. Also came up with some parts for two other pieces for the CD.

My eldest daughter had her first concert of this season yesterday. This year she moved up to the next-level orchestra and their skill was evident.

Picked up a cheap new Crusaders compilation. Classic 70s soul/jazz fusion. A little lightweight at times, but a nice set.

Other than that, the job search continues.

November 5, 2004. Finished up the melody line for DS last night. When I woke up I had some ideas for rearranging the piece, which have been implemented. It makes the piece build up at a more leisurely pace. Also worked out an ending, as well as some lines for an earlier movement. So, part 4 of the piece is now essentially complete and mixed. I'm moving on to the second part, although I already have bits and pieces for other sections. Right now the piece maps out to about 30 minutes.

Also noticed some dust under my synth's display, so I took some time to take it apart and clean it off.

November 4, 2004. Spent a good part of last night coming up against the wall regarding DS. Finally, was able to construct pad sounds that fit, but I'd expected more progress. In the morning things went smoother: 90% of this part of the piece came together. All that's left is working out the two melody lines.

November 3, 2004. I really thought the Democrats had learned their lesson, but they really need to rethink their platforms and strategies or it's going to be a long time before they get back the White House. Too bad people are more concerned with abortion and other social issues to focus on the real ills of this society. Either way, you have to save yourself. The hypnosis of society as deftly described by G is as true now as it was 60 years ago.

Work was slow last evening and this morning on DS. I have finished the drum tracks, which took hours. Still have some other sounds that just aren't fitting where they need. I've also discovered that one of the original parts is in 3/4 time. This explains a lot.

November 2, 2004. Started work on Drunken Shadows last night. It really combines two pieces I was already working on and add a third one, which actually starts the piece. The whole thing maps out to about 20 minutes, so it will probably be the longest tune on the CD. I expect this piece to take a couple of weeks to work out.

Don't forget to vote today.

November 1, 2004. Finished Stations this weekend. I'll revisit it in a few days for a reality check of the mixing, but for the most part I'm happy with it. Ended up with a sly ending: a bit of a nod to KC's Lizard album.

Other than that, the usual lead up to Halloween. Perfect weather for trick or treating last night. Spent the morning clearing all the leaves off the front lawn. Everyone went to sleep early last night.

October 29, 2004. The new piece is shaping up nicely and will probably be completed by the weekend. Two-thirds of the piece is composed and sequenced. I need a few other lines here and there, as well as some discipline to the drums. An intro is also needed. Once all that is down, I'll pay more attention to the mix via headphones. Tentative title is Stations.

October 28, 2004. Beautiful lunar eclipse last night. Went outside a few times as it approached totality to see the moon covered. Stayed outside and caught the five minutes before and about 10 minutes after the totality. Perfect weather for it. The cooler air makes the sky nice and crisp.

Spent a couple of hours this morning working on a new piece. It's taking shape. I was also able to construct a few percussion lines for it. At first they weren't working out, but then I realized that the piece wasn't in a straight 4/4 beat, but rather the beats were subdivided by 1/12 triplets.

October 27, 2004. I keep waiting for a good sustained wind to blow the leaves off our lawn. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to the leaves changing this year. There's lots of trees that are still green, but a few that are varying states of colors or bare.

One tree in particular, which isn't indigenous to this area looks like it could go on for a while. It blooms late in the Spring, and sometimes not until the early Summer, and is the last to go as far as the leaves are concerned.

October 26, 2004. Wood for the Winter was delivered today. We got half as much as usual, so it didn't take long to stack. We have a bit left over from last season, as well as wood I've been seasoning since it was cut down last years. I've been splitting that for the last couple of months, slowly. Probably amounted to about a half a cord.

Since it doesn't look like flu shots will be available, I opted for a pneumonia one.

October 25, 2004. The month-long break from journal writing is over. Lots of activity -since the layoff. There's a lot of jobs out there. The most I've seen in years. I've had a number of interviews and expect to be working again soon.

In other news, work on the CD continues, albeit still slow. I had about seven different pieces in various states of completion, from done to not-even-close. Still trying for at least a complete rough version by the end of the year.

September 23, 2004. A week of endings. Just finished up a job. It's best it ended when it did. It's the first company I've worked for where the CEO was way too focused on what was going on with the company on a day-to-day basis, instead of being outward focused. People would tell me that if you said the sky was blue, he would say it's red and be incapable of being convinced otherwise. From my viewpoint he was a hands-off micro-manager.

In addition, my track for the Michael Garrison tribute was bumped due to space and that it didn't fit well into the overall flow. Not the first time this has happened. The net is that I have an excellent track for the next CD.

September 14, 2004. Whether you believe in a cosmology that is divinely initiated and influenced, or one that is strictly accident and hazard, it's no surprise that each generation is swept away. Even planets and stars. So, whatever "other" is at work here, the joke is on them, or "it." There has been little human progress, only technological progress.

We are not free until we are free from everything.

And on a lighter note. I spent last evening updating the operating system for my synth. This used to be a laborious affair with older equipment, either loading a disc or sending system exclusive data over MIDI. Now, it's all USB. Fast and painless.

September 13, 2004. Should have closed this pool this weekend, but will have to wait for the next. There just wasnÔt enough time. Actually, it takes a few days to get the correct level of chemicals for the winter, so I need to start before the weekend.

My oldest daughter had her first orchestra rehearsal on Saturday. The orchestra runs from 5th to 12th grade, and there are four different orchestras depending on the player's skill. So that translates into 2-3 years per orchestra. My daughter did well in her audition, so she moved up to the next orchestra quickly. It will be good for her to have more challenging music and to be playing with a variety of instruments in addition to strings. Proud father mode off.

September 10, 2004. I've started writing some lyrics. Not real impetus, except that a number of musician friends have asked for some over the last year. A few line came into my head the other day, so I started to write a few down. It's turned into a good writing exercise. I haven't written any lyrics for a while, especially without composing the music as well. The only difficult part is to make it clear enough what's a verse and what's not without dictating the form to the composer at all. I'm typically relaxed as far as what someone does to the words. They are free to change the structure to suit their needs.

I've had a few requests for promo CDs lately. It's been a year and a half since Sonic Approach was released, so I'm surprised there's still interest in this release. Obviously, that's a good thing.

Still working on new music, but it's going very slowly. I expect the rough form of a CD to be complete by the end of this year, with a final version ready shortly thereafter. I'm hoping for a release next Spring. In the meantime, I have one new track that is set for the Michael Garrison tribute that should be out soon. It's turned into a 3CD set, and includes a lot of different electronic musicians.

September 9, 2004. Lots of rain and wind, remnants of Hurricane Frances.

September 8, 2004. A little late with the weekend recap. In short, a pleasant, relaxing weekend. Visits from my brother- and sister-in-law, and another by my brother and another sister-in-law.

Broke down and bought the Rush In Rio DVD. I'd been avoiding it due to some very bad reviews regarding the sound, which revolved around too much low end and too much audience participation. Perhaps these are an issue with a 5.1 setup, but with two channel it sounds great. The only DVD I don't have to boost the bass for. Excellent song selection and performance. I'm sorry I didn't buy it sooner.

I also watched the combination DVD of two 1980 King Crimson videos. Brings back good memories. Again, excellent performance and sound.

I read Neal Peart's Ghost Rider book this weekend. It deals with his travels following his daughter and wife's death. It was interesting for the first half; I skimmed through the last part of the book.

My daughter's new viola came in the mail yesterday. Pretty much the same quality as what would have cost three times as much in the local store. I spent an hour positioning the bridge and getting it in tune. Due to the new strings, it's going to take a few days to settle the tuning.

Great jam session on Saturday night. It was too loud though. I moved over to the keyboard for a bit and had fun pounding out Rhodes, clavinet and B-3 lines. During one jam, we started to bring it down a bit and get somewhat quieter, relative to the volume for the rest of the evening. I added some choir and string sounds, but no one else knew where to go with that so it fell apart.

September 3, 2004. See you after the long weekend.

September 2, 2004. School started for the kids today, so Summer is over. The leaves are already drying out and soon it will be time to close the pool.

September 1, 2004. Vacation blackout ends.

Kids start school tomorrow. Big beginnings for both of them. One to kindergarten, the other to middle school, or what we used to call junior high.

Vacation was enjoyable and relaxing, starting with a great night at Radio City for Rush, a band I haven't seen live for about 20 years. They were quite good. Loud, but listenable. A very neat light and laser show as well. Lots of noise from only three people. Rush has been getting a lot of play in the CD player since then, mostly A Farewell to Kings.

Very little studio work over the break, but I have started the poem that will accompany the music. Usually, the poem comes last, so this may have some effect on the outcome of the music, or at least its intent.

Much planning and exploration going on for an aim that end on January 1st. I can't reveal more than that at this time.

August 18, 2004. Up and out early this morning to get an oil change for my car. So only a few paragraphs of reading this morning before leaving. At the shop I started reading Jeffrey Kruger's Moon Hunters, the story of the satellites that have visited all the moons, including Earth's, in the solar system. So far an interesting book. There are many that deal with our explorations of the planets, but this is the only one I know of that covers the moons. It was less than a dollar from an Amazon seller. As I mentioned in an earlier post, a very cheap way of getting excellent condition books.

Definitely in the middle of the GC history project. I haven't posted in weeks, although I do have a few more experiences to document. The consolation is that the whole project seems to have reached the middle, though I do enjoy the few post that are coming through.

August 17, 2004. My foot is getting better slowly. I have no problems walking on it, but it is still sore. I hope it will be fully healed by Thursday, as I have to go into NYC.

Picked up the expanded issue of The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads, a band I loved when I was younger but never got around to purchasing a CD of their material. All the compilations had too much later stuff. This release has all the early music, live.

August 16, 2004. Rain and wind was not nearly what they expected on Saturday night. It was worse today.

We had friends over for dinner on Saturday night. All the kids had a good time with boxes and boxes of sparklers. A little worried at the beginning though, because after everyone was outside I noticed a skunk walking across the lawn. It soon left without incident. The cat hid under the couch the whole night.

Yesterday was parents, Mexican lunch, the park and then chores at home, interspersed with a Monk marathon on TV.

August 13, 2004. I just realized it was Friday the 13th as I wrote this sentence. So far, I've escaped unscathed, but there is still the ride home.

Morning reading was interrupted so I'll need to read more tonight. Much will have to be reported after the fact.

RIP Julia Child.

August 12, 2004. Spent most of last night doing a full backup of files and programs. Everything is now up-to-date in case of any other hardware mishaps. Had the Utopia 1982 video on while I was doing this.

August 11, 2004. RIP Donald Justice. It's a shame he was too sick to accept the post of U.S. Poet Laureate.

Good to see that NASA seems fit to save the Hubble telescope, even though it's going to take a couple of years. They dropped the ball in saving Skylab so maybe this will be a small redemption. Personally, our continued reliance on low-earth orbit missions (i.e., the space shuttle and ISS) was a major step backward.

Quite stormy out now.

August 10, 2004. Foot is getting better. I can walk on it now. It hurts more after sitting for a bit because the muscles tighten and it takes a minute to loosen before I can walk properly.

Nicoll pages are moving from cosmology to the more practical and appropriate.

Still pondering a certain direction. I stumbled upon some information recently and I'm internally debating what I should do with it. If a tree falls.

August 9, 2004. I was doing some yard work yesterday, stepped off the deck and onto a bag of rocks instead of the ground. My right ankle buckled in, so I now have a nice sprained foot. It's getting better as today goes by. I can walk on it. Had an x-ray yesterday and nothing was broken, so it will just take some time.

Other than that, nice weekend, particularly on the weather front. Nice and cool. Watched Thunderbirds Are Go with my eldest daughter yesterday.

August 6, 2004. RIP Mr. Superfreak

Almost Fall-like weather today. No big plans for the weekend, except dinner tomorrow night.

August 5, 2004. Last night the kids had surprised my wife by constructing a birthday banner and setting the table while she wasn't looking. I spent the rest of the evening loading data and applications back onto the computer. So far, so good. I started playing around with Safari, the Mac browser, which I've never used before.

The family met me for lunch today at the local Chinese buffet/Mongolian grill. Good food and company.

Tonight, I'll be watching Utopia live in Japan from 1992, their reunion shows.

August 4, 2004. Happy birthday to my wife, who turns 42 today. She'll have some gifts to open this evening, and we'll go out to dinner this weekend.

I learned that it's cheaper, when it comes to shipping, to seek out the sites of booksellers who sell through Amazon. Amazon charges $3.50 per book, while it usually cheaper at the booksellers site. I was about to order a couple of books when I realized this. I'm not sure why I didn't think of it before. I ended up saving about $5.00 in shipping costs.

The computer is back. The hard drive was fried. I had most of the important stuff backed up, but it will still take time to load all the programs.

I was on the fence regarding the latest Abbott and Costello collection, but since it was on sale it ends up being less than $2.00 per movie.

August 3, 2004. Is it today or tomorrow?

Very muggy this morning. Quite foggy drive to work this morning, but it melted away once I got there.

August 2, 2004. My wife went to see Fahrenheit 911 this weekend. I don't need to spend money to learn what I already know: the current administration is the most self-serving and incompetent since Hoover's.

We went to a party at a friend of mine on Saturday. We lived together during college and he recently moved down the road from us. I saw some people I haven't seen in almost 20 years.

Other than that, a bit of yard work, swimming, and other family activities.

July 30, 2004. I was unable to get the computer to boot up last night, despite trying all the utilities and repair programs I had. After zapping the PRAM and calling Apple, it was clear it would need service. It seems the hard drive is fried. It is under warranty and a technician took it away today. Hopefully, they can retrieve the data from the hard drive, but I did have much of my stuff backed up already. My wife wasn't so lucky, but it doesn't seem as though it's the end of the world. I am buying DiskWarrior thought.

July 29, 2004. Went to bed last night later than usual and felt it this morning. By lunch I was fully awake.

Watched a Don Knotts films from the late 60s last night, Love God? Definitely of it's time. His earlier ones were much better, such as The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.

I understand the computer at home is acting up.

July 28, 2004. Rain, rain, and more rain.

July 27, 2004. Cooler today. Nice day for a walk. Lots of rain on the way though.

Ordered some web design books off Amazon today. They were used and cheap. Shipping on some was more expensive than the books themselves.

July 26, 2004. Went to see the third Harry Potter movie with my eldest yesterday afternoon at the local, second-run theater. Cheap tickets and popcorn. I thought the movie was much better than the first two; more unpredictable.

We had three birds end up in the chimney for the wood stove this weekend. Two on Saturday and one on Sunday. It may have been the same bird all three times. The first time it made it to the bottom so I just opened the door and it flew out to an open door. The last time I had to take apart the pipe that leads to the ceiling to coax it out. We've had a couple in the past years, but not like this.

July 22, 2004. Although I would like to see a bunch of musicians in the rock and roll hall of fame, I do believe the most deserving, who is not already there, is Todd Rundgren.

Lots of work accomplished today. Tomorrow we'll see what it leads to.

July 21, 2004. The new Thunderbirds movie looks pretty bad. At least based on the trailer. The vehicles look good, but the plot and cast not. I'll stick with the original series and movies. I guess Supermarionation does not translate to human actors.

July 20, 2004. Allowing the future to present itself.

I was reading a book, Turn On Your Mind, over the last few days, but I put it down last night and will not return to it. The book started off promising, documenting the history of psychedelic music. But when the author lumped Jefferson Airplane into the Grateful Dead category, that was the first clue. Now, I like the Dead, as witnessed by my large collection of Dick's Picks, but the Airplane is a different beast, regardless that both are San Francisco bands. Obviously, the author has not listened to much of the Airplane. The last straw was when the author was talking about Emerson, Lake and Palmer, consisting of, and I quote, "Keith Emerson from the Nice, John Wetton from King Crimson, and Carl Palmer from the Crazy World of Arthur Brown."

35 years ago, Apollo 11 landed in Tranquility. One small step, and so on.

July 19, 2004. Yes it is possible to see the future. For the most part, I do now. Draining a lot of energy in trying not to identify with the particular machinations at work the past couple of days. Either way the end is neigh. Thank the lord for family. All else is nonsense for the most part. Sorry to be so cryptic, but tact is called for.

July 16, 2004. Sitting early this morning involved the continual effort of separating myself from the inevitable. Identifying with impending doom is counterproductive. I was somewhat successful, but I still have a headache so I could only go so far.

Received some scans of the high school band I was in from a friend. Couple these with the ones I already have and all the pieces are filled in, sort of. I wish I had more recordings of that era.

Strange dream last night. It was a small course, perhaps 10 people. The site was upstate Connecticut. It was twilight. The sky had the look of Autumn. Streetlights came on one by one. We were in what appeared to be an old general store. No one had a guitar. Part of a Todd Rundgren song was playing on the radio, looped: "you want the obvious, you'll get the obvious." Someone asked when we were going to play guitar. He was ignored. There was a long discussion about the merits of going to see "Blazing Saddles" at the local theater vs. taking a hike up the mountain in the distance. Half went to the movie, the other half just wandered the streets and never made it to the mountain.

July 15, 2004. First walk in a week. Tough, but more from a mental perspective than physical one.

Struggling against identifying with the implications of an upcoming meeting.

July 14, 2004. Another pretty thing dead on the end of the shaft of the zen archer.

July 13, 2004. Rain, rain and more rain. Humidity all around my hat.

July 12, 2004. Amazing how quick a day can change. And it all comes down to identifying.

Gig Saturday was good. Different dynamic than usual with two female singers: one on guitar, the other on keyboards. I was surprised to find that we had three sets planned. We only got through one and a half. Unfortunately, some good songs were dropped, but we went through many I usually don't play. In those cases, it's just tell me what key it's in and I follow along as best I can. Other than the heat, it was an enjoyable afternoon. I had the amp up at ear level. I could hear everything I played, but I had to push the volume because it wasn't on the ground.

We got a new cat this weekend, Heidi, because it hides a lot. I came up with that name quick or we were going to be stuck with something like Fluffy or Snuggles.

July 9, 2004. Made some minor adjustments to the new site today, but for the most part it's complete.

Weather is expected to be nice tomorrow for the afternoon gig, but hot. We really could use more rain. The grass is beginning to brown.

Finished watching the last movie of the Abbott and Costello best of vol. 2 last night. It was the Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap. Not a bad movie, but they had many better ones. Either way the set was a great value of 8 movies for less than $20.00, all remastered. Volume 3, the last I believe, comes out next month.

July 8, 2004. Worked on the new web site design today. Simple and clean like the old one, but with a better style sheet implementation for easier changes.

July 7, 2004. Strong realizations regarding the "terror of the situation" today. Partly from reading the Nicoll paper for today where he basically talks about how that many things that happen are tied to your level. In short, you get what you deserve in many cases.

July 6, 2004. Long weekend is over. Went to a couple of bookstores on Saturday, and looked at the new Gurdjieff biography. Nice to see an introduction to his ideas that was written recently. For myself, I still prefer Making a New World by Bennett for the biography side. Either way, I think it's a good first book for anyone interested in G's ideas. I wish it was around in 1979 when I first went searching for his works. The only book available at my local bookstore at the time was the Gurdjieff Work. A compact overview, but pretty dense for a 16-year old.

Practiced yesterday for a party next weekend. Usual drummer, but the others are not the typical group. I was not looking forward to it, but the practice turned out OK. Not my choice of songs, but I do get to sing Eyes of the World, so all is not bad. I'm doing a solo at the end. Should be a fine gig, provided the weather cooperates.

July 2, 2004. Hot and humid today. I replaced one of our thermostats last night with a digital one that at least gives us more accurate control over the air conditioner. I will have to explore running the heating control wires to this thermostat so that we don't have two.

Posted another recollection the GC History site. This one deals with the performance challenge. I'm amazed I remember so much, and also so little. I didn't keep a strict journal while the course was going, so I rely mostly on memories. There are, however, some detailed entries from the week immediately following.

No posts likely until after the holiday weekend. Have a safe one.

July 1, 2004. So, 2004 is now half over.

A bit rudderless at some points during the day. The only way out is to focus on a larger aim. There are bigger things working here. In other words, don't sweat the small stuff.

I was at a large mall store that sells CDs and found Anthony Phillips Anthology Vol. 1, including the bonus disc that only came with the first 1,000. Not sure where this one was hiding, since it was originally released in 1998. Some very nice demos on the set, including early stuff with Mike Rutherford. I'm especially fond of the version of Lucy Will, which emphasizes the guitar lines.

June 30, 2004. Spent a large part of last evening explaining the difference between notated piano and viola music to my eldest daughter. She was reading a piece of piano music as if it was written for viola. As a result, she was playing everything a whole step higher. The easiest solution was to write the correct note name. Transposing on the fly takes a lot of practice, but she's got the concept down. We went through it together a few times, with me playing along on the synth.

I watched a hidden bonus commentary track off the Reno911 set last night. It consisted of the entire cast trying to recreate the particular episode from memory, including sound effects. Since the show is mostly improvised, this was no easy task. It's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. Particularly hearing them do the sound effects and the shows theme, which pops up repeatedly.

Today's theme from Nicoll involves recognizing internal considering in regards to negative emotions. Examples abound. There's a paragraph that I've never noticed before, but that contains much great insight with practical application. I'll have to reread it tonight.

I finally found the new reissue of Bless Its Pointed Little Head, complete with three extra tracks. Probably the best live album ever, in my opinion. Jefferson Airplane was untouchable on a good night. Thankfully, there are a few documented on this disc.

June 29, 2004. Nice, almost spring weather. Sunny and breezy.

Back to work after two days of sitting shiva. Nice to see some extended family, but not under those circumstances.

One generation now completely gone.

June 24, 2004. My grandfather, Samuel Waldman, left this world today. I went to see him at the hospital last night. I think I was the last person to see him. He was not lucid, but did seem to move his head to look at me when I first went up to him. He also squeezed my hand. He was breathing through an oxygen mask with great effort, and it was apparent he would not last long. I hope his last hours were without pain. Perhaps he is at peace now. I will remember him for his sense of humor, subtle though it was.

I have fond memories of spending holidays eating at my grandparents while growing up. My grandmother could put together an amazing multi-course meal. She also made the best hot dog and baked bean casserole you could ever have tasted. Now they are both gone. Farewell.

June 23, 2004. I recently received an Eno CD I purchased off ebay. The CD came pretty scratched up with a few digital clicks and skips. But, since it was so cheap, it's a waste to send it back. I'vee read and seen over the years many different products and approaches for repairing scratches, but have never tried any. On a whim, I tried some white polish (that I use for pipe stems) on a buffing wheel, since it's made to polish plastic. Well, surprisingly, it did polish the disc. What it really did is take off a thin layer of the plastic since it is a fine abrasive. I listened to the disc and it seems the scratches are gone. I'll make a copy of the disc just to make sure I didn't compromise the life of the CD. I'm not sure I would try this method on a scratch for a full-price CD, but it was worth it for this one.In the midst of renewing domain names and trying to consolidate them since the registrant and host I use has migrated to a new system. It's all a bit of a pain trying to remember the different user names and passwords. I've been back to reading one Nicoll paper each morning. It's good because it gives a theme to focus and work on each day.

June 22, 2004. Just realized today that it would be a good idea to keep a record of what DVDs and CDs I own for insurance purposes. It will probably take a few weeks to complete.

The yearly pool opening process is in full swing. Chemicals are almost balanced.

Blockage regarding the writing project. Currently working through it using various techniques. The most effective is to just write about small moments at a time. Lots of small moments equal some very large moments.

June 21, 2004. First morning of summer is almost done already. It was a very nice Father's Day. Received some great cards, the complete Thin Blue Line on DVD, as well as the Blue Brothers, which was my oldest daughter's idea. I know she's going to bug me to watch it. We saw it on TV a couple of months ago and they cut out all the derogatory language, which of course is present on the DVD. I'll have to be honest with her: she's not going to be watching the DVD; we'll have to wait for it to show up on TV again.

There are some things that just need to pass without judgement. I know when I can't compete.

June 18, 2004. Graduation last night was poignant. I just went outside to take a walk and discovered it raining. Time is a thief.

June 17, 2004. Clouds hold back some of the heat, but I wonder if this is a portend for an extremely hot summer.

Was very tired last night after work. K had her lesson so I hung with J until it was time for her to go to bed. After that, I watched an old episode of the Saint and some of the Focus DVD.

Tonight K graduates from elementary school. Everything changes come September.

June 16, 2004. Hot again today, but not as humid. The time has flown and not much accomplished.

Nice walk today with an exercise in dividing attention between the inner and outer. Formulations regarding the almost-point-of-seeing are welling up and are related to this, as well as stretching the present moment. Time like the words on a slowly inflated balloon.

June 15, 2004. Hot and humid today. My knees have been hurting due to walking in shoes everyday. I'll have to bring sneakers to work to change into.

Still considering recollections for the GC History project, but the middle is fuzzy. I'm trying to post chronologically.

Weighed down by a bunch of CDs that need to be returned. Others have found their way to ebay.

June 14, 2004. Rainy weather contributes to the low energy today.

The chicken continues to grow at a rapid pace and must go to its new home next weekend.

I've posted a few more memories to the GC History project. I'm surprised there are so few posts. I'm running to the end of actual memories and will have to move to effects soon. This thinking is difficult but necessary.

This past weekend was a lesson in my relationship to material objects.

June 10, 2004. Cloudy and cool today.

Unfortunately, my sister-in-law needed more surgery today. Please keep her in your prayers.

June 9, 2004. Very hot today. I'm waiting a little while longer to take the daily walk in hopes it will cool down a little.

Posted my first entry to the Guitar Craft History project this morning. Of course, guidelines were posted after I did that, so I know what to do next time.

The chick continues to grow and will soon be too big for its current home. The rest of the family grows attached to the little bird, so I doubt it will be gone this weekend as planned. I think how big it grows is going to be the deciding factor.

June 8, 2004. Day started very low, but has risen to medium. Many "why" questions this morning. In one case, I'm able to accept whatever happens, hopefully without any bitterness. It may or may not be the completion of a very long cycle that was sputtering in shallow water.

Ideas for the next CD are off in many different directions. Too many to complete a cohesive unit, so I will start something to clear the decks. The Farthest Rille was supposed to achieve this, but too much time has passed for it to be effective.

We have a new, temporary member of the family, a baby chick. They grow quickly and it will soon be off to my sister-in-laws to join some of its brethren. I had parakeets when I was child; chickens are birds of another feather completely.

The Brian Eno "rock" albums came out last week in remastered editions. I had decided against them, but Another Green World was on sale for a great price at Borders last weekend. Unfortunately, there is a pressing error on one song that ruins the disc. A manufacturer's error that will be corrected, but necessitated the return of the CD.

June 2, 2004. Started to take my daily walk, but then it began thundering and lightening so I decided it was better to forgo the walk for now.

Getting further on the early Peanuts book. Interesting to note that the first one to pull the football away from Charlie Brown is Violet, and she only does this because she's afraid of her hand getting kicked.

June 1, 2004. Cooler again today, the weirdest spring in ages. To backtrack the weekend.

Saturday was mainly spent doing outdoor chores. Spent a few minutes checking the gear for Sunday's gig. Also watched a couple of Abbott and Costello films. Nice nostalgia that reminds me of those movies from Sunday mornings on channel 11 (WPIX).

Sunday's gig was good, the best yet for the annual picnic. The big difference this year was that each tune was a springboard for jamming. Some jams were quite long and went to a lot of different areas, drum and bass solos included. It was good to put the new bass gear through its paces. The amp performed great: a nice solid, punchy sound. I was not pushing the volume much at all, even with drums, two guitars and keyboards. The Roland is a great, small amp. No noise and lots of tonal variations. I did some good solos with the tube drive for some overdrive. All in all, a good music experience. Looking forward to another gig with the same group next month.

Had to consciously move from being simply available to being helpful to my daughter regarding her music. I've tried to stay out of the way with the belief that too much pushing gives the wrong results. But sometimes you need to step in and set things right. I hopefully gave her some good techniques for making the most out of practice.

May 28, 2004. Still searching for clues¨÷

I heard the sound of the metronome coming from my daughter's room last night, so I believe our talk had a positive effect.

May 27, 2004. Warm out today, but foggy within. Nice walk today tho slightly unsteady.

Jamming gig set for Sunday.

May 26, 2004. Lessons in the fine lines of parenting last night. Let's face it. All kids need to be pushed somewhat to at least attempt to realize their potential. But how much do you push? I always look back on my own childhood for reference points. If intention and commitment don't come from within, then there will be no intention or commitment.

K has a particularly hard piece to complete for her private teacher. It is a very scale-heavy piece involving many notes across the fingerboard. To master such a piece involves repetitive practicing, the bane of every musician. I've offered my view on breaking it up into small chunks, say 16 bars each, and concentrating on one group at a time. That's how I used to learn hard pieces. She is intent on storming through the whole piece so that although she plays all the notes, there is lots of hesitancy present. I've suggested that by breaking down the piece and learning all the notes she can then move on to concentrating on the phrasing, flow and timing of the piece; the notes will happen since they've been internalized.

Now I will be available rather than helpful.

May 25, 2004. The first job that required I use a computer was in 1989. Before that I used a typewriter when necessary. I think I gained internet access in 1994. The first Synthetic Block website went live in 1997. I wrote a lot more poetry before the web.

I've been listening to a bit of Robert Palmer. I enjoy his albums up to the live one (1981). Unfortunately, much of his work is out of print, but I've been lucky enough to find a few things used and on ebay.

May 24, 2004. Intermittent thunderstorms throughout the weekend. Just did the typical yard work and family obligations. I keep thinking that I've gotten through all the major yard tasks and will just have to mow the lawn, but something always crops up.

Preliminary plans for some jamming gigs throughout the Summer. Pulled out the bass to do a little practicing.

May 21, 2004. Spent the last night in front of the TV. First I watched a DVD of Isaac Hayes, Black Moses of Soul, from 1973. Looks like it was transferred from videotape, and the sound is a bit off. Surprisingly, Shaft is missing. The best bit is a 30 minute segment of Never Can Say Goodbye, Power Of Love rap and By the Time I Get to Phoenix. Unfortunately, near the end of the rap there's few seconds of drop out/tape damage. It seems like part of the master, but I'll exchange the copy just to make sure.

I was going to turn off the TV, but saw that TVLand was running some Odd Couple episodes in honor of Tony Randall. It was like a best of. I watched three episodes. The David Steinberg interview show, the Password episode, and the ticket scalping/courtroom one with the classic "assume" segment. All excellent episodes. Some seemed very clean, almost like they were remastered and waiting to be released on DVD.

May 20, 2004. Bad day for allergies from what I can tell. I've only got a slight headache, along with the usual dizziness. I'm sure those who have bad allergies are not having a fun time today.

Energy continues to elevate as the day goes by.

May 19, 2004. To continue from yesterday. Around the same time in the late 70s I started playing guitar. It was a crappy department store type with a red burst finish, frets like railroad ties, tuners that need pliers to turn them, and action that is best left unmentioned. I ended up painting the guitar black, and ceremoniously smashed it Townshend-style in the middle of the road one night once I bought a better guitar. Or should I say, different. It was a black Sigma, which was Martin's low-end, that I got from the music store that used to be in the local mall. It was about 100 bucks and came with a case. I carved a pyramid with an eye in it on the headstock. I played Dead, Genesis, Pink Floyd and some other tunes, but have to admit that I was continually frustrated. Not much has changed. As I listened more and more to progressive rock it became apparent that this was not an experience that I could translate to my playing.

I slowly realized that bass might be easier, and was inspired by listening to Wetton and Lake in Crimson, as well as Bill McCormick's work in 801. Around the same time I found out that a friend of mine who played guitar was trying to form a band. I figured it would be easier to join a band playing bass, than guitar. Both not too well, I might add. I made long diagram out a few sheets of paper and drew fret lines and strings, along with the note names, so I could figure out some tracks. I was able to pluck some stuff out using the four low strings of the guitar and decided I should take the plunge.

I purchased a Fender copy for $35.00 and set out learning as much as I could. I picked up a couple of cheap method books and taught myself from them. Since I knew theory and how to read music from years of piano lessons, it was easier than I thought.

Eventually, I joined up with Mike and we formed Earthbound, stories of which I relayed at earlier dates. I bought a Hondo, another Fender copy and an Acoustic bass amp. The Hondo lasted about a year; then I went for an Aria Pro. I had that bass all through college and beyond. The Acoustic blew up one night after college. Then bought a Peavey, which I had until a few years ago.

RIP Elvin Jones and Tony Randall.

May 18, 2004. Rough morning after a rough night. I lost my temper with both kids last night. Sometime it's necessary as long as it doesn't go over the line.

The first albums that had a major impact on me were Thick As A Brick by Jethro Tull and ELP's Brain Salad Surgery. This was probably in 1976/77 when I was 12. Before that I had listened to a steady diet of FM radio and bought my share of singles and albums, but those two albums were played over and over again. I had them each on one side of a cassette that I used to play on an old Zenith recorder. This player had a bar/stick shift type thing for the controls and a microphone that was detachable from the unit. I had two of these units and used them to do some primitive sound-on-sound stuff in high school.

My eldest brother was also into ELP and a friend of his lent him In the Court of the Crimson King. I listened to it one day and was blown away. From there I was hooked. I remember visiting our local mall and buying cutout 8-track versions of Larks' Tongues, Starless and Bible Black and USA. They were probably about $3.00 each. 8-tracks were already on the way out in the late 70s. I still have a box of them.

May 17, 2004. My sister-in-law made it through her surgery and is home recuperating.

Cleaned out the garage on Saturday. Took hours, but it's nice to have more room. Not much to throw out. Just a lot of rearranging.

Yesterday was K's concert with the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestra. The last of the season at a local theater/auditorium with nice comfortable seats. The difference between the 1812 Overture compared to her school orchestra was marked. Not only as far as skill, but the commitment came through. The other orchestras were good as well. The senior orchestra did Barber's Adagio for Strings. Took a few measures to click. This is a difficult piece. Not necessarily in regards to the notes, but it is a piece where dynamics count for everything. If some of the players are off, it shows. They did an admirable job.

I bought The Complete Peanuts 1950-52 the other day. Great stuff. I really like the older Peanuts strips. Definitely all of the 1950s and part of the 1960s. I usually view the cutoff as 1966 when Peppermint Patty appeared. Don't get me wrong, there's still many great strips past that, but there's a charm to the really early ones. Charlie Brown is not the center character, has a plain white shirt, and it as mean as any of the other kids. Through the first year, Shermy is a main character along with Charlie and Patty (not Peppermint). Snoopy is on all fours and is nothing like the later character that would dominate the comic. Soon Schroeder appears as a baby, as does Lucy. It takes a couple of years for Lucy to become here trademark self. The nastiness is usually delivered by Violet in these early strips. Linus also joins in the second year, starting as a baby. I look forward to more of these as they are published.

May 14, 2004. Ended up making J's karate test. I'm glad I did. After that it was straight to K's school orchestra concert. One piece they did was the 1812 Overture. It will be interesting to contrast this performance with her other orchestra on Sunday.

May 13, 2004. Crazy day. Hot with a nice breeze. Overbooked. Unfortunately, I'm going to miss my youngest getting her new belt in karate. I will, however, hear my oldest in her school orchestra's performance tonight.

May 12, 2004. Warm again, but a nice breeze. Walked later in the afternoon.

Pool is not as bad as I thought. Just a bit cloudy, so I may not have to drain the whole thing.

Last night got away from me. Accomplished very little on the creative side, but finished a few chores around the house.

More ideas swimming around.

May 11, 2004. Wow, it's warm today. I should have waited and not taken a walk in the heat of the day.

It rained last night. Not usually a bother, but part of our pool cover was off and all the leaf drek ended up in the pool. This happened a few years ago and I had to drain the entire pool, clean it with a wet/dry vac and then fill up the whole thing. I hope not to do that again, but then there's nothing like new water in a pool. No waiting for the chemicals to balance out.

Picked up the Jetsons on DVD this morning. It says the complete first season, but there was really only one season of it in the 1960s. Eyed the Judas Priest box set, but still undecided. Had a couple of pieces of pizza for lunch. Not normally on the diet, but it felt right.

Doing a sitting before bed does not usually work for me. Makes sense to start the morning with one.

May 10, 2004. Introduced my oldest daughter to the great Blue Brothers movie on Saturday night. It was on network TV, so it was suitably edited for vulgarity.

Made a significant change this weekend. Moved the MIDI cable from the Korg Electribe from the out to in position to the Fantom.

May 7, 2004. Getting through a whole pile of new CDs, most purchased for cheap off ebay. Lots of Ozric Tentacles, but also Armageddon (Keith Relf's last band) and a new Al Stewart remaster of Time Passages.

My sister-in-law, Annie, has cancer and is going for surgery next week. Prayers are welcomed. Thanks.

May 6, 2004. Strange dream last night. I was at a level one Guitar Craft course. It was just beginning, taking place in a large field. There must have been 500 people there. I recognized no one. A few people who seemed to be in charge were splitting folks into smaller groups. The most interesting part of the dream is that no one had a guitar. Actually, this wasn't an issue, nor obvious. Perhaps it wasn't a GC course at all, but a different "craft" course. Seems the most sense from where my head is at.

May 5, 2004. More rain coming today. I did get a walk in after lunch. My weight holds steady, but at least it hasn't gone up.

I just read an article that there will be a movie advertisement on baseball bases in June. Baseball lost me years ago, but this is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the justification given in the news reports for this trend.

I read all my news online. I don't watch news on TV and I don't watch any of those commentary news shows. Let's face it, the world is either totally fugazi or mana, you pick. You can call it being apathetic, but I practice what I call "active disengagement."

And at the risk of being totally ironic, I sold a 12 second excerpt of "Arc" for use on a web site.

May 4, 2004. A stiff breeze today. C'mon it's May; enough already.

Climbed up to the gutters last night to clear out one drain that was clogged. Last Fall I put metal mesh covers on the gutters to keep out the leaves. They work as far as leaves go, but other small objects still get in.

Almost through the Apollo 15 DVDs. They are packing up to leave the moon.

May 3, 2004. The veil of inertia is fading. No, the wall of inertia is crumbling. It is no coincidence that the work day is almost over.

To recap the weekend. K played in the school orchestra on Friday night for the school's art show. Then we went to Home Depot to get some bags of rocks. Last weekend I had cut a small trench to separate all the grass from the mulch beds and I had the idea to fill the trench with rocks. I did that, with my other daughter's help on Saturday. It came out much nicer than I thought and gives the gardens a bit of an Oriental look. Also mowed the lawn. Tired at night and just watched some TV and more the Apollo 15 DVDs.

Yesterday, we went to Borders to use 20%-off coupons I had downloaded. I picked up Ozric Tentacles' Jurassic Shift, which I owned once before. It's in a digipack, which normally doesn't bother me, but companies should only put removable stickers onto cardboard. I lost a little of the printing trying to pry it off. This also happened last week with another Ozric's CD that had a large "made in England" sticker on the back of the slipcase. I also picked up a mini bonsai tree kit. I've been wanted to try bonsai out for a while, and at $4.00 the time is right.

Little actual studio work, but much in my head.

April 29, 2004. Very busy at work today, but managed a short walk in the nice weather. Committed to the final mix this morning in the car. I will send it off tomorrow morning.

Discovered some great healthy snacks from a company out of New York, called Glennys.

Looking forward to the drive home with some Ozric Tentacles playing very loud.

April 28, 2004. Went to K's school for next year for an open house. Interesting. Things have change quite a bit since I was in junior high school. It was very hard to resist the sweets set out by the PTA.

Finished yet another mix of Farthest Rille. Decide the drums are still just a bit too loud. Maybe a tad more reverb will push it back in the mix while still keeping the oomph.

Contemplating ways to keep the momentum going.

April 27, 2004. The final 5 percent of a tune is the hardest. At this point it's just a question of mixing: getting the levels right. Usually, a couple of parts need to be louder or softer. There is a danger of getting bogged down though where I keep going back and forth about things. The best plan at this point is to get a fresh set of ears to hear the piece. Also, putting it aside for a few days and then listening on a variety of systems is helpful.

April 26, 2004. Nice weather this past weekend for some yardwork. Broke in the new lawnmower. Much lighter and easier to navigate than the old one. Also bought a new car.

Almost done with The Farthest Rille. Every part is complete; it's really down to mixing now. Tried it at a faster tempo, but it just sounded too frenetic.

Picked up the Jethro Tull A remaster. In some ways it is a more consistent album than Stormwatch, even though it tends to get slagged. I always liked the addition of Eddie Jobson. The remaster comes with a bonus DVD of the Slipstream video. Very dated for the concept parts, but the live versions of Black Sunday, Song From The Wood and Heavy Horses are fantastic.

April 23, 2004. Colder today. Short walk for some California rolls for lunch.

More work last night on the Garrison tribute piece. I was doubling the melodies with other sounds, but will split them up between the melodies for greater effect. The piece has a call and response melodies and it opens up the piece with less layers for each melodies. Debated an atmospheric opening, but will stick with the full-on sound for now. Ideas brewing for a middle section, which I'll try out this weekend. Should have enough done in the next couple of days to begin to evaluate the piece from a sound rather than construction angle.

First mow of the lawn to occur tomorrow.

April 22, 2004. Tough one last night as significant others face the future.

Hit the middle of the middle with the new piece last night.

April 21, 2004. A bit colder today. Did not have time for a walk.

Began work on the melody and bass for The Farthest Rille last night. Only constructing the right sounds and getting them sequenced. Effects and mixing will come later.

April 20, 2004. Beautiful day out; took a walk. J does her first solo sleepover at the grandparents.

Not enough work on The Farthest Rille last night. I was tweaking the drum line and working some pads and getting a rattle from the synth that wouldn't go away. I spent an hour trying to get rid of it. Unscrewed the bottom plate and reseated it and that solved the problem. By the time that was done, it was too late to go back. Tonight I'll pick up where I left off.

April 19, 2004. Nice weekend until last night.

Working on a track for the tribute to Michael Garrison CD. A great electronic musician, M passed suddenly at the end of March. Quantum Records in Europe is putting out the tribute. I'm doing a short piece called The Farthest Rille. The drum pattern is written and most of the other parts have been formulated.

April 16, 2004. Long day. I'm going to lose 15 lbs. I started last week and have lost about 1.5 lbs. I plan on one pound a week. No fancy diet, just eating less and more healthy foods, particularly for lunch. Also exercise is key. Still, I'm hungry now.

32 years ago, Apollo 16 launched Young, Duke, and Mattingly a mission to the Descartes region of the Moon.

April 15, 2004. Heavy rains this morning, but sunny and dry in the afternoon. Took a walk after lunch today that cleared my head.

Had little free time last evening due to family obligations. Watched an hour of Apollo 15 on the moon. The first EVA. Very interesting stuff. During the viewing I had a conceptual shift regarding my next CD. The implementation is the same, but I may have hit upon a unifying concept. More about this as it solidifies.

April 14, 2004. Woke up early than usual, which is surprising given the dismal weather lately. Had a very disturbed sitting. What probably happened was I dozed during it. Anyway it cast a pall over the day, reinforced by an event at work that lasted shorter than it could because I was able to let it go.

Started watching the Apollo 15 set last night. Enthralling, but I was preoccupied that the packaging arrived in less-than-pristine condition. This is the third time box sets have arrived this way from a particular retailer. They just throw them into a bubble pack envelope and they don't make the trip too well. Which is interesting in itself because they are shipped somewhat locally. I will have to weigh these conditions against the low prices.

Played a bit of bass last night while watching the DVDs. There were many sections without air-to-ground transmissions, like during lunar rover training, so I made my own soundtrack. The DB-500 is a good, solid amp. The Fantom sat forlorn.

April 13, 2004. So much rain, it's almost time to build an ark.

34 years ago today an explosion occured on Apollo 13's service module. You know the rest of the story. A happy ending.

April 12, 2004. Happy birthday oldest daughter of mine!

I baked a bunch of cookies for K's class yesterday due to her birthday. I thought 11 was a little old to be bringing in treats, but I guess I'm out of touch with 5th graders. We certainly had none of that in my day, and I remember 5th grade vividly. Anyway, what kid would turn down cookies?

The keyboard did not get turned on at all, but I did play a bit of bass. I finally dialed in the sounds I want to keep on the amp. One is a basic tone, that adds a little drive as you dig in. The other is a slightly distorted one. Both sound nice with a touch of chorus.

Did a bit of yard work on Saturday, and just a little yesterday. Was not as warm as it should be. I was going to tackle a full cleaning of the garage, but the stars were not aligned.

Marathon watching of The Saint DVDs and Apollo 11 throughout the weekend.

April 8, 2004. I went for a walk after lunch. I thought it was going to be warmer.

Finished up watching the Gemini documentary DVD last night and then was not motivated to leave the couch so watched the bonus stuff: assembling and disassembling the spacecraft, desert training, etc. all without sound.

Pulled out an old tape from my high school band, Earthbound. This tape, however, was from a gig we did after our freshman college year. Just a trio for this gig. I thought we played more songs, but the tape only has Little Wing, an original (Don't Turn Back On Our Love), The Chain, Life During Wartime, Mood for a Day, Reeling in the Years. I may be forgetting one song. I resurrected Don't Turn Back when I did solo shows in college and I may have even done it a few times during Grad. School coffeehouses.

April 7, 2004. Went to lunch today with M, a friend from high school. Nice to talk about the past, but better about the present and future. We had a band together, Earthbound, which I talked about a couple of months ago. I have some pictures from those days, mainly from gigs (if you can call them that). He had pictures from practices, so we looked a little more relaxed. I had a nice P-bass copy I wished I kept. I was a bit thinner in those days.

Put the DB-500 through its paces last night and cranked it a little. Dialed in some pretty good sounds and for once didn't have to touch the treble. I put this down to the active bass I'm now using, which transmits a pretty good tone as it is. Look forward to a jam soon so I can really test out the amp.

Did some keyboard work last night for a potential web site job. Just tweaking some patches for a short segment. Concentrating mostly on not getting too dense a sound.

Work is almost complete on the bathroom for our den, which houses my studio. All the materials are now out of the garage, the workbench is clean, and this weekend I'll straighten out the rest of the garage.

Warm weather continues to mark its return.

April 6, 2004. Niacin's rendition of Red is blaring in the background. This great version notwithstanding, Deep is still a better disc overall than Time Crunch. I put on the DVD of Niacin over the weekend. I really like the clean/distorted tone that Billy Sheehan gets. Of course, I'm partial to trios. The less people the better!

The DB-500 arrived yesterday and I had a chance to use it for a bit after the Seder. It is much better than I remember, and the hiss that made me sell my first one is not present in this amp. Most likely it was the bass I was using at the time that was really accentuating the hiss. Nice built-in chorus too. I hope to put it through its paces more this evening.

Taxes were finally accepted by the government. They didn't like that I was trying to get the child tax credit again, but we couldn't find a record of what we got last year.

Slowly getting warmer. Most likely we'll move right from winter into summer. Pulled out some older journal over the weekend. Funny how I didn't think I had time for everything back then. If I only knew¨÷

April 5, 2004. Woke up this morning to very cold weather and ice outside. Winter breathes its last.

Lots of rain and cold this weekend. Finished up the taxes and submitted them, but got an email this morning that the file was rejected. I will have to explore this tonight. I was hoping to clean the garage fully, but will wait for a better day. Did purchase a new lawn mower. This one should last a while. Should also do a better job than the last one.Watched a bit of the Project Gemini DVD last night. Very interesting footage from the overlooked space program. Full transmissions from Apollo 15 (6 DVDs) is coming out next week. Hmm¨÷

Discovered today just how much cheaper FedEx ground shipping is compared to UPS. New bass amp should be waiting for me when I get home.

The new bass amp is due to arrive today, but the UPS tracking says there was a UPS routing mistake. Not sure what that means. The amp is a Roland DB-500. I had one of these before, but sold it. They are so inexpensive these days that I am taking another chance. It is a small, loud amp, with modeling capabilities. Either I can't remember the real reason why I got rid of the first one I had or I was just in a gear-changing phase, I will soon be able to re-evaluate the amp.

Some poetry flew by last night, but I missed it.

April 1, 2004. Rain, rain, rain.

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

Much reflection today on the why's and where's.

March 31, 2004. More rain. Decided on a new bass amp today and ordered it. Worked late. Some keyboard work in the evening, but not a lot of motivation.

March 30, 2004. Kids. It doesn't get any easier the older they get. You just trade one set of problems for another.

March 29, 2004. Nice weather this weekend. Did some yardwork and cleared off the workbench. Also did most of the taxes. Just waiting for a few more numbers.

March 25, 2004. Temperature hit close to 60 today, and I feel it in my head. Nice day for a walk, though.

The new bass arrived yesterday. Very nice for the price and adequate for my uses. Still searching for a portable amp.

Meditating on the effect of Guitar Craft on my life since the 19th anniversary was yesterday. Still hard to believe the course I went to was more than 13 years ago.

March 24, 2004. Listening to Tangerine Dream's Fassbinder Memorial show from 1983. A very good encapsulation of their sound from that time in about 35 minutes.

Auctions for the bass and amp are going better than I expected. Much uncertainty regarding the new amp due to the model I want not being available until May. Have been exploring other options.

Weather is finally turning Spring-like, with a breeze.

More experimenting with real drum sounds as a percussion bed to some tunes. Still having trouble visualizing a final composition with these types of sounds but I persevere regardless. There is a end out there. I'm definitely in the middle, with chasms behind and in front of me.

March 23, 2004. I usually try to operate under the radar, as it were. But today it was hard to fly incognito.

Work is work, and everything else isn't.

Usually.

Sometimes it is.

March 22, 2004. Backtracking a bit. It snowed on Friday morning. Note enough to skip work, but enough to make driving treacherous. I lost control of my car on some ice on the highway, spun around a few times and ended up facing the wrong way. Neither myself nor the car sustained any damage. Time slowed down, but there was no feeling of imminent death.

Very little studio work this past weekend. Decided to redo my entire bass setup. I don't play that much, so it is the right time to rethink my equipment. Both my Fender Custom Shop bass and Ampeg amp are on ebay. I've found a nice Yamaha bass on closeout and got it for almost 75% percent off list price. A nice, basic active bass that serves my purposes fine for now. With that, the vintage vibe of the Ampeg is not necessary. I'm getting an Ashdown amp. Pretty much a wash as far as cost goes, but it is smaller and much lighter. In the end, I come out way ahead.

Much colder than normal today. Spring has arrived, but the weather needs to catch up.

March 17, 2004. Spent a good portion of last evening adding the appropriate effects to some mellotron samples. Nothing like a little guitar-amp simulation to give the samples the power they need. Also worked through a few new patches. No composition lately, but I still have a backlog to work through. A couple of more ideas are also working their way up through depths.

Weather is putting me off-balance. First it's warm, then there's snow. Dizziness is a problem today.

March 15, 2004. Today has slipped away from me. I wonder what tonight will bring? Fairly relaxing weekend. Spent most of Saturday hanging new window blinds for my parents. After that I watched Willy Wonka with Jessica. We were flipping around the TV and it was on. At the first commercial, I decided it would be more enjoyable if we watched the DVD.

Spent most of yesterday at the keyboard creating new sounds and trying to recreate some older ones. Had the CD recorder running most of the time just so I could listen back later to get a feel for what the sounds are actually like. Often, it gives a better perspective than listening real-time.

I listened to a bit of Synergy over the weekend. Larry Fast is an underrated player in today's scene. He was a pioneer as far as digital sounds go, and has a much more composed feel to his music than, say, Tangerine Dream. I first heard him in 1979 when Games was released. A music teacher at school played a piece from that album, along with some other stuff, to demonstrate contemporary electronic music.

March 13, 2004. I still need perspective.

March 12, 2004. I need perspective.

March 11, 2004. Two hours a day. That's about all I have to work on music. Ideas fly by and some are caught and other disappear. This used to bother me, but now I know they usually come back. The Fantom makes capturing these easy because no matter where I am in the synth, I just need to hit record and the sequencer will capture it. Along with all the sound info. as well.

Last night I had some interesting drum lines going. They are not typical of what I would do in any way. I need to record this and let it sit before I commit. I have tons of drum lines, sequences, new sounds and other ideas. I wonder at two hours a day, how long it will take to become cohesive.

March 10, 2004. It still amazes me the way prices for music gear fall over the years. Back in 1996 I bought two expansion boards for the XP-50. They were each around $275.00. Now I've purchased an expansion board that has all the waves from those two, as well as all the waves from a third and many from a fourth. All for under $200.00.

March 9, 2004. Unsuccessful trying to get the card reader to work on the Mac. Was not able to load the update system number. So, I then tried the reader on my work laptop, running Windows XP. It instantly recognized the reader, but not the card. I've officially given up this battle. The reader will be returned and I'll just use the computer via USB to transfer files and samples to the Fantom-S.

Some interesting ideas came out tonight. Some very melodic piano lines. I merging these with more aggressive sounds and drums. On their own they are too new age for my tastes.

March 8, 2004. Spent a good part of the night trying to get a smart media card reader to work with the eMac at home. I've had no other problems with USB, so it was really frustrating. Ironic, as I was just trying to make life easier than having to hook up my laptop to the Fantom-S to save and load songs and samples.

Will try tonight to load the latest OSX update and see if that helps.

March 7, 2004. Nice weekend. Dinner Friday with friends and Saturday night with family, complete with ice cream cake. What more could anyone ask for!

March 6, 2004. 40 years ago today, I entered this world.

Turning 40 feels pretty much the same as turning 30, but a lot different than turning 20.

March 5, 2004. More familiarity with the unfamiliar. Read: Fantom-S.

March 4, 2004. Much work on mellotron samples for the Fantom-S. I have a nice set of strings, choir and flutes. This should hold me until I get an SRX board. Also picked up a smart media card cheap to store stuff as well. Still learning my way around the interface. In some ways worse than the XP, but in most ways a lot better.

Also been fighting an oncoming illness. Most certainly from either the hotel or the airport. So far, I'm successful at holding it at bay.

March 1, 2004. Florida was great. I got to see a dear old friend, L, and was treated like royalty at his hotel. Had to work as well, but this was offset by other events.

Bought a new workstation last week, Roland Fantom-S. Different than the XP, but a lot more powerful. No limitations, as compared to the XP, regarding sequencing. The interface is taking a bit to get used to, but it is miles above what I was using before. The big screen makes working much easier. I expect after a month or so, everything will be intuitive. It also does sampling, something I've resisted before. I've already created some Mellotron multisamples, but beyond that, I'll probably mainly use it as additional augmenting for lines I've sequenced, which I'll then sample.

Some new tracks are already emerging to go with the new sounds I've been able to create. We'll see where this leads. The working title for the next CD is "A Little More Than Nowhere."


February 20, 2004. Lots going on and little time to reflect or document. Much studio transformation work. On the road for a week starting tomorrow, with family in tow. Which will explain the silence.

February 17, 2004. Had a bad headache last night and this morning and thought it was an impending sickness. My daughter J has been sick so this would not surprise me. I feel ok now, so hopefully a false alarm. I'm flying out on Saturday and don't really want sickness to deal with as well.

Since I wasn't feeling well, I didn't have the concentration for studio work. Instead I brushed up on some manuals to answer questions I'd been having. A good exercise. I learned a few features I didn't know before. As well as some non-intuitive button pushes to get to different modes in the synths. I would never have guessed these on my own.

I did spend some time listening to some tracks in progress from the last year that never were finished. Strangely Inward and bits of The Actualite may fit into the latest project.

February 16, 2004. Back to frigid temperatures. Valentine's Day dinner with the wife, kids and mother-in-law at an excellent Chinese/Japanese restaurant. Wonderful sesame shrimp.

Lots of studio work this past weekend. Many track structures completed. Spent most of the time on drum sounds and sequencing. I have a large library of drum lines now. Some of which are ready for tracks, others which will lay in wait until an appropriate composition comes along.

So far, the tracks that are coming into shape are: Meanwhile, Drunken Shadows, Darker Than Blue, Four Days On, Untitled 1, Untitled 2. Darker Than Blue is actually the original version of Drunken Shadows, although it bears absolutely no resemblance to the tune. Drunken Shadows is actually the second version of the piece, started with a drum line from the Machinedrum. I've reconstructed the line using the ER-1, tho it sounds entirely different. Untitled 1 has a structure and some sounds: sequence, light drum line, organ, Rhodes and Wurlitzer. Untitled 2 used to be called Epiphenomena, but since it only uses a couple of sounds from that piece it really deserves a new title. I figured a way to use Four Days On finally, I hope. But the finish is a long ways away. The tune originally started with a Rhodes sequence, similar to Organizing the Struggle, but now starts in a different tempo with sparse sounds and lines. The bass line comes out of that intro and then moves into the piece proper.

February 12, 2004. Working on what will be the first track of the new CD. Working title is "Meanwhile." Instead of the typical soft, ambient beginning, this track will storm in with full sequences, although with a fade in.

Spent a good half-hour soloing over one moving sequence line. The SH-32 is a great real-time tool for creating and manipulating sequences on the fly.

February 10, 2004. More work on new material and gear. Definitely something grand on the other side of something I usually dread. An uphill climb, but the worst parts seem over. Need to prepare for going down the other side of the slope or it will just be an out-of-control slide, with lots of dust and debris.

Watched more of Red Dwarf IV. For as consistent as Series III became, Series IV is amazing. Every episode is a corker.

February 9, 2004. Work on the next Synthetic Block CD officially began on Feb. 6, 2004 at 9:30am est. I've incorporated the SH-32 into the setup and have reconfigured the studio to accommodate its entrance. The Korg ER-1 is once again hovering over the XP-50 on the plexiglass stand I used a few years ago. Started experimenting with some interesting lines using the SH-32's arpeggiator and hold function, where the front-panel buttons function as a keyboard. Neat stuff. Wasn't able to get nearly enough done, but more will come.

Spent other parts of the weekend shopping and resting. Working my way through Red Dwarf Series III and IV.

Have to go deal with some health issues this afternoon. Crossing my fingers.

February 4, 2004. Discharge one small aim each day admirably. That is enough. This week's aim is to drive only in the right lane of the highway. This is difficult as there are many who don't even go the speed limit. For all the crazies in the left lane, the right is just as bad. It also doesn't help when I'm running late for work. I'm at about 70% now.

I just purchased a Roland SH-32. They are discontinued and going for a very low price. I was interested in the box when it first came out, but couldn't justify the $500. I could justify $198. I was also in a store yesterday that was selling a Novation keyboard for $499. I was very tempted, but there is not enough room in my studio for another keyboard. I have trouble with keyboards that are tiered on the same rack. I prefer them at right angles to one another, and that is just not possible in the space I have. Another reason why I went for the Roland. It should arrive in a few days.

February 2, 2004. House is officially back together after painting. Rest of the weekend was household chores and shopping. Was walking out of a store yesterday into a parking lot and woke up. The most powerful in years. It was a bridge to another world, as well as another time. Backward and forward. It lasted about 10 seconds, but the effects lingered for the rest of the day.

Put on a Tangerine Dream CD the other day completely out the blue. I have not listened to them for years even though I still have a fair amount of their music. Not listening to them was/is a reaction to the amount of times their name was mentioned in reviews for my music. I don't feel as though I was that influenced by the band because I discovered them too late. But I don't think you can do any kind of electronic music without being compared to T-Dream. I heard some of their stuff in the 70s, but it was too abstract for my tastes at the time. I picked up the Dream Sequence compilation in 1987 and that sparked my interest in them. I had already released a couple of cassettes at that point. One which was purely overdubbed bass and the other which was rock tunes with a drum machine as well as some pure synth pieces. Anyway, it's nice to hear some of their music again. I've been listening to material from the 70s and 80s. Optical Race is probably their last good album (from 1988). Notice I didn't say great.

Add yet another task to my list. I decided the other day that a piece of mine, Shoal, would sound great on guitar. So now I have to sit down and transcribe it. Three lines are perfect for guitar. Two were written in NST. The rest of the piece is trickier as far as guitars go, so it will be interesting to see how many it ends up taking. I will limit it to four.

January 29, 2004. Home yesterday due to the snow. Unclogged the drain in the tub. Once the snow stopped I cleared the walk and driveway. Work for the rest of the day.

Put on The Opposite last night since I was filling CD orders and hadn't listened to it in a long time. I'm finally able to see the continuum from the first to third CDs. I've been under the impression that Sonic Approach was quite different from the other two, but it really isn't. It will be interesting to see how the next one turns out. Wouldn't mind making a compilation of the first and second discs; they're really two sides of the same coin.

Had a clear vision last night of how my limited studio space can hold more equipment. This is helpful. I have no plans for additional gear right now, but it's nice to know it will slot in when necessary.

Went out at lunch and bought some audio CD-Rs to replenish my stock. Walmart has good prices for the Maxell professional blanks. Good stuff, but only comes in full jewel cases, which makes it harder to store. Since I use a standalone recorder for final mixes, it's important to have enough media around. Almost bought a spindle of 30 discs for rough mixes, but will probably stick with minidiscs for those. However, since I have a number of players that will support unfinalized CD-R discs, I can use a blank until it is full. Old habits die hard.

January 27, 2004. Grey day, snow on the way.

January 26, 2004 Nice weekend, except for one deviation late Saturday night. Friends over, which was great. Yesterday was a day of rest. Pulled out the guitar for about 10 minutes. Did some arpeggio work and then played a few songs, but realized I should be at the synthesizer instead. It was the correct decision.

Constructed some sounds and fit them into a skeletal arrangement. This is the mode until March. I have a business trip at the end of February, which is being combined with a family trip. Our first real big one. I need a good two months of uninterrupted evenings to record and rearrange the next CD. This interim time is for sound construction and writing. Once I start the recording process, it's like racing downhill: I have to keep going and can't stop midstream. Of course, having said this, something will come up and I'll need to adjust. At least I've been forewarned.

One strange thing happened last night. I was watching Barney Miller and pretty oblivious to the outside world. I kept getting some periods of dizziness (more than usual; read the Jan. 22, 2004 entry for more info.). My wife and oldest daughter came in and said "what smells?" I thought it was just the wood stove, but they said it smells like something is burning. Since I had my attention back, I began to smell it as well. I went to the stove to investigate and discovered the mitt we use was smoldering. It must have caught a spark when put some logs in. I ran it under some water and shoved it outside into some snow. When I came back in, I noticed the smoke in the room. Lord knows what I was breathing, but it certainly was making me dizzy. It also made me wonder why the smoke alarm didn't go off.

January 23, 2004. The week comes to a close soon. House is still in some disarray due to painting. Hopefully, it will be partially back together for company tomorrow evening. Went out during lunch to get some weatherstripping for the attic pulldown. Stopped at an Italian deli and got a great chicken sandwich. It's still expanding my stomach.

Watched a couple of episodes of Barney Miller season one last night. Still working out the kinks so early on, and the sound is horrible. But laughs abound. Also cruised through the soundtrack to Shaft (SACD). Excellent. Most of the album is nothing like the well-known title track.

January 22, 2004. More strange body feelings today. I've decided it's connected to the dropping barometer and incoming precipitation. I always have some form of low-level dizziness. At times it gets worse. I've had this for about 14 years and no doctor has ever had an answer for it. But as one said, "if it was a brain tumor, you'd be dead by now." After doing some research years back it turns out that lots of people have the same thing. I have some exercises that help. A regular sitting/meditation is beneficial as well. After so many years, I'm pretty much used to it.

Went out this morning before departing and got more wood for the stove. It was getting low and if I would have had to do it at night. It's not easy seeing the woodpile in the dark, since it's near the back of the yard. And since the snow is not melting, that makes it all-the-more difficult.

Some interesting ideas mulling through my brain about music promotion and such. I'm at a stage where I have outlets for my music (i.e., record labels), an audience that buys it, good radio play and reviews, and recognition within my niche. But it's spread thin geographically. I'm interested in expanding the range of venues to play locally. There's really very little around this area, and I've begun to explore hiring a firm to do this grunt work for me. I've come upon a lot of closed doors; there's just not a big call for electronic music. The gig offers I get are much appreciated, but it's not possible with a family to pick up and do West Coast shows or overseas festivals.

Usually at these points, I pull out the guitar, throw together a repertoire and consider hitting the folk circuit again, but that energy usually dissipates. The aim now is to finish writing and recording the next CD and formulate a game plan to take it to the next level.

More as it presents itself.

January 21, 2004. Strange feeling today, like straddling two worlds. Somewhat the feeling my body gets when its beginning to fight of an oncoming illness. I did a sitting before lunch for 15 minutes, which brought a little more focus and calmness.

I read the Wall Street Journal today, which was sitting around the office. Even if I wanted to, there's no way I could keep up with all the financial g ings-on in the world.

Kali has her viola lesson tonight. I will sit in the car listening to William Bell's Soul of a Bell, a tremendous album. I picked up Isaac Hayes at Wattstax yesterday. An absolutely tremendous performance in front of 115,000 people at the Wattstax festival in 1972. He and his band are on fire. A much more aggressive mix than his other live album, At The Sahara Tahoe. Also, because he only had an hour to perform, he keeps his raps down to a minimum. I have a new 3-CD set, Music of Wattstax on order. Between that and the full performance by Black Moses, I'll have pretty much the entire show.

January 20, 2004. To recap the weekend. Snow came and still hasn't left. Spent lots of time removing furniture for new carpeting and spent last night moving the furniture back. Lots of physical labor recently. I know I'm getting older now.

Had a glimpse of an alternate reality today. At first I thought it was a parallel one, but clearly not.

I've never had epiphanies as such. Profound changes come upon me like glaciers. In many cases there already in progress for some time before I realize they're already in progress.

January 16, 2004. More cold weather today, but it's supposed to warm up into the 30s tomorrow. It's so called that my the metal part of the gas shutoff in my studio is attracting all the moisture from the room and has turned into a small chunk of ice, even tho the thermostat reads 65. Kids home from school again today due to the cold weather. Wimps. We never had this luxury when we were kids.

Current musical selection is the O'Jays and Sam & Dave. My teenage years were saved by Sam and Dave's "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down." Elvis Costello has nothing on them.

Thanks to Lloyd Barde for putting Sonic Approach on Backroad's best of 2003 list.

January 15, 2004. Bitter, bitter cold today. Spent an hour on the highway and then turned around and came home to get more work done. Still not sure if I made the right decision.

January 14, 2004. Continued organizing some old files and journals last night. Found a journal I kept in my senior year of high school that documents, in great detail, the band I was in at the time call Earthbound. I wonder where that name came from? I co-led the band with a guitarist Mike. I played bass and sang a little. He was a good player; not sure what he's up to these days but I hope he still plays. We did some other things after this, but we were always in different directions musically. I was always doing bass lines that were too busy or too loud. I ended up quitting Earthbound after getting fed up about one thing or another, which of course is not clear from the journals. It was an interesting read since it got in-depth about the inner workings of the band. It's a bit of a scrapbook as well, with newspaper clippings and set lists. I have some pictures somewhere as well. In retrospect I only remember the fun bits, because I was thinking about one particular gig that I thought went well and was very enjoyable, but reading back on that night the journal entry reflects none of this. The one time I met Pierre Eliot he told me that we only remember those moments when we are truly awake.

Here's the poem I mentioned yesterday:

        Hemlock

I caught five mice
inside the house that shook
every time a truck rumbled
down Russell Street,
past the Spruce Hill Motel,
past Hadley Used Cars
with a doorless jalopy -
full of pumpkins, gourds and maize -
parked on oil-soaked dirt,
past our browning lawn
bumpy from tires
and abandoned mole tunnels.

I'd walk behind
piles of bent car parts
and bare-treaded tires,
through dry weeds and thickets
matted against the ground,
through a harvested tobacco field
ringed by a short, barbed fence
held with rotting railroad ties
sunken at 70-degree angles.
I'd stand on a hollow log
staring at rusty leaves on the stream,
listening to the dog's yelp yelp,

thinking about the summer
only a few months back.
Before I sweated out
infatuation, before I skirted
around experience, a scavenger
wasting hours with red eyes
and heart murmurs, metabolism
out of control. And it was
down, down, down,
going half-mad along the way
to 21 - hardly a brother,
hardly a son.

January 13, 2004. Out the door early today so it was a nice leisurely drive. I felt like hearing some Richard Thompson. Of course the disc I picked had many selections from the 1980s. Thompson provided the soundtrack to 1984-85, fretting over some failed or foiled relationships. I played any coffee house/open mike I could find around the UMASS campus and always included a Thompson song or two. I still have some of those gigs on tape; particularly some band shows I did. I still play some of the songs I wrote from that time.

These days, when I think back it's not about the other people involved, instead I think about the days I wasted. I sleepwalked through the fall of 1984. I had an internship at a mental health clinic that I remember very little of. I expected the future to present itself with absolutely no conscious participation on my part. I read through my journals from that time and I have compassion for the boy, but I can't help but laugh at the crap I put myself through. It's all encapsulated nicely in a poem I wrote some years later, "Hemlock." I'll have to dig it up; it was published.

Two concerts stand out in my mind from that time. A Richard Thompson solo gig at the Iron Horse. I had a ticket for the early show and sat alone in the balcony. In those days he took requests and I was able to shout out "For Shame of Doing Wrong," which he played. A year later I sat with his wife up front for a band gig. My girlfriend at the time worked at Rolling Stone. The other show was after a particularly bad weekend at home in Nov. 1984. I got back to school on a Sunday and realized Frank Zappa was playing on campus. I went to the box office to check if any tickets were left. I was able to score a lone front-row seat. An amazing concert which featured Archie Shepp for a tune, which is included on You Can't Do That Onstage Anymore Volume 4. Archie and Max Roach taught in the music program that I was in at school. I ended up with a degree in psychology though.

January 12, 2004. Not as cold as the weekend, but frigid air will return later this week. Had to shovel a little this morning from the overnight snow. Might be a little more this week. It doesn't matter how little snow we get, but since my driveway is a hill, I have no choice but to remove it. We get lots of sun, which helps melt and dry whatever remains. Uneventful ride in.

Weekend had its ups and downs. Saturday we returned a chair to Lowes and went to a Chinese buffet for lunch. American excess international style. Stopped quickly at Best Buy, but since it was so crowded, I just turned around and left. No luck at Circuit City either. Best Buy is fine for CDs and DVDs, while Circuit City get the edge for larger purchases. Best Buy is just such a pain with returns. Rest of that day is a blur to me. No studio time.

Sunday was the day of rest. Listened to some music, loud, in the morning. Housework for most of the rest of the day. Did organize some sheet music and played a little guitar and piano. Great dinner of brazilian chicken that my wife made; one of her specialties.

Just draining the rest of this day away. Hey, that sentence was a good reminding factor. Awareness level up 10 degrees.

January 9, 2004. Yet another morning when the alarm goes off, I'm awake and then immediately back to sleep. Up in time to get out of the house on time. I've been retiring early too so my body must need the extra sleep. Thankfully, with the weekend arriving I'll get slightly more sleep. Must the cold weather, getting colder.

Since I was out of the house so quick, I tried to do a sitting at work. What a train wreck. I should have closed my door. I've been unaware as most of the day unfolded. Slight elevation as I write this. A reminding factor in itself.

Bond marathon continued on TV last night. Caught a little of From Russia With Love. Great soundtrack that I'll have to pull out. Some listening of the Kinks' Everybody's in Show-Biz, minimal studio work, then bed.

January 8, 2004. Cold, cold, cold today. Took a short walk before lunch. Too brisk to go any further so I ate and certainly added more calories than I burned. Frampton Comes Alive urge entirely eradicated. Disc Two of the Deluxe Tommy playing now. Nice to hear some of the works in progress. Keith Moon could make a good set out of cardboard boxes.

Alarm woke me this morning but somehow consciousness slipped and next thing I knew I was rushing out the door. A bit of traffic, which was alleviated by the Kinks. Typical workday, but work is still something I'm not prepared to comment on. Maybe someday. Ha, I've been saying that for 20 years! Sometimes I think I should have been a cobbler. Or a cabinet maker.

Tried to figure out The Good's Gone by the Who as I played it over and over again last night. Cool, lengthy coda on the long version, previously unreleased until this deluxe edition. It's hard to see how young the guys were and how great the music is/was. Amazing the short distance from this to Tommy. Everything seemed to evolve quicker in music then. You don't sense that evolution anymore. Coupled with the fact that albums don't come out with anything near the frequency they once did.

Studio beckons. Electric piano line dance through my brain. Full CDs worth of ideas, some half-recorded, waiting to be completed. Plan is to complete the next CD by May, June at the latest. Tracks currently being worked on are Drunken Shadows and Darker Than Blue. Still mulling Four Days On. A short version is on the Tracks Across the Universe compilation and I played the tune live a bit, but have never gotten a groove I'm happy with.

Inevitable was played last weekend on Stars End. Sonic Approach was on their list for the most influential releases of 2003. Thanks for the support Chuck!

January 7, 2004. I'm the face baby, is that clear?

Slight flurries on the drive home last night at one point became a near-blizzard. Snow coming straight at the windshield. An interesting visual effect that resembled a tunnel; luckily, I managed not to concentrate too much on that so I could get home in one piece. A wonderful meal of baked chicken, potatoes and vegetable was waiting for me. The Christmas tree is at the end of the yard now waiting for its journey to become mulch for some town project.

A pleasant surprise of money in the mail yesterday from England for my second CD that were on consignment. I had forgotten about these. Must have been over three years since they were sent. Put the money aside for the complete first season of Barney Miller coming on DVD, as well as Red Dwarf series 3 and 4. Had the urge to hear Frampton Comes Alive, but successfully avoided it.

More My Generation listening last night as well as a deep experience through Tubular Bells. Some music writing in my head of an accented sequence. To sleep at a reasonable time, but it was disturbed at 3:00 am by Jessica, awoken by the strong winds. Had trouble falling back to sleep so did a sitting/lying. Finally succumbed to unconsciousness. Awoken by the alarm, but fell back to sleep for a few minutes. Awake in enough time for the usual morning get-ready, and drop Kali off at orchestra practice.

The day slowly drains. Wonder what the night will bring?

January 6, 2004. Energy a little higher than yesterday and climbing. Motivated to take a walk soon and get some muscles moving.Listened last night to the revelation that is The Who's My Generation SACD. Some different mixes since this is the stereo version, but The Kids Are Alright, Daddy Rolling Stone, Circles and I Can't Explain sound simply transcendental.

For the past couple of weeks I've had the Kinks' Celluloid Heroes going through my head. Since I own no Kinks' CDs, I"ve been mulling whether to get Everybody's In Showbiz or the Celluloid Heroes Greatest Hits collection. Yesterday, I saw the collection for $12.99 so snapped it up. Definitely the better choice. Nice selection from their disparaged RCA years. I then learned that Ray Davies had chased a mugger and been shot. I played Celluloid Heroes on the guitar last night. Get well soon, Ray.

January 5, 2004. Hardest Monday of the year. The extended holiday break is over. I had a bad cold for the last week, so no music work to speak of. I've been listening to Peter Gabriel 2, 3 and 4 on SACD for the last week. I've never owned any of these on CD. Like 80s Crimson, the live shows I saw spoiled me toward the studio recordings. It's been a nice rediscovery. I haven't listened to this stuff in years. I forgot how much I like PG4. I may have to listen to the early 80s Crimson output that I've been ignoring.

I did a radio interview with a public radio station out in California on Friday. It went well; about 30 minutes. Interviews are helpful because I can work through reasons and intent; things about my music I don't usually think about. Usual questions about beginnings and influences, but also some interesting ones about motivations and spiritual aspects. Talked a little about the influence of GC on what I do and how the guitar is secondary to its approach. GC was a catalyst that fused a lot of the Bennett/Gurdjieff work I had done for years before, but gave it a more practical application to everyday events.

Interesting question the other day about the Objective Music Coalition, that has been credited on every release I've done since 1985. What is it? How did it come about? In short, the Objective Music Coalition is a loose confederation of musicians, some who have never and may never meet, working toward a common aim. Their work intersects on occasion, usually by design. Genre and skill are irrelevant; intention and sincerity supercedes them. As G. would say: "all roads lead to Philadelphia." The OMC was formed near Amherst, MA in November 1984.

December 22, 2003. Everything is pretty much moved into the back room. My studio is back in action. Smaller space, but I was able to set it up efficiently. I turned everything on to make sure all the connections were correct. It will take a little time to acclimate to the new surroundings. The only downside is that I have no room to keep the guitar or bass, so they'll only come out when I need them. This may actually make me focus more on synthblock anyway.

The new sound system is hooked up. Nice sound. Cranked some DVD-As the other night. Haven't given any SACDs the treatment yet, but soon.

We had a nice Hanukkah this past weekend. I got some nice warm socks, as well as Dick's Picks 29. May 1977 was a good month for the Dead.

December 17, 2003. Busy week gets busier. Kali had orchestra concert last night. Tonight, Jessica has her school play. The holiday season is here.

Hooked up the DVD/SACD/DVD-A player the other night. All I can say is wow. Particularly for DVD-As, the sound is significantly better for the titles. I've compared Chicago II and V, and Yes Fragile with the recent remasters and there is no comparison. This is only with the two-channel hi-rez mixes. I have yet to go surround, although I'm picking up a new receiver tonight, it will still be two channel.

December 15, 2003. The weekend was a push and pull between two forces. The third force was entirely absent. Pre-teen angst from my oldest daughter for most of Saturday. Calmness by the evening, but more of the same on Sunday.

I fell asleep during the Saturday morning sitting and had a strange dream related to sitting at Claymont. Colored my mood for most of the morning. Started a new piece on Saturday night that has that has yet to take shape, but has the taste of an opening track.

Watched Willy Wonka yesterday ("you have to go forward if you want to go back") while it snowed.

Picking up new speakers for the back room tonight, as well as a dvd/sacd/dvd-a player.

December 12, 2003. There's a fine line between detachment and apathy. Energy is low this morning, with attention very coarse. End of the week drain I guess. Did some guitar work last night. I play the instrument so infrequently now that I'm surprised I have more of a real connection with it than when I was playing it regularly in the past. For the longest time the guitar was foreign, even while playing it constantly in the 1980s. Even in GC it always felt like something "other." I know this change has nothing to do with an improved technique or anything in that realm.

Painting and carpeting is scheduled for next week so a vision of the rebuilt studio is racing in. I've got a new CD to completed by the spring. Lots of ideas that need to be collated. A good two year's worth. One track that didn't make Sonic Approach (Drunken Shadows) needs to be revisited. Other ideas that were meant for the FultonBlock project before we did an improv session in the fall of 2002.

I'm scheduled to do a radio interview with Eric Meece as part of KKUP's Visionary Marathon (91.5 FM Cupertino, CA) at the beginning of the year. I just sent them off some copies of Sonic Approach for their pledge drive.

December 11, 2003. Short sitting this morning. Maybe only 5 minutes. Actually, semi-reclined in bed. And a few here and there while sitting in traffic ¨ů sitting that is, not reclining. After 20 years or so of some type of sitting/meditation exercise, I've achieved the quick drop into the right zone. But keeping it there is another matter. Having a longer time to sit is certainly more relaxing, but these day I have to catch a few minutes when I can.

While getting down the Christmas lights etc. from the attic, I discovered a folder of notes and articles from the Bennett group I was involved with in mid-1980s. I'll have to look these over. One interesting thing I found was a couple of pages of stick diagrams I made of the G. Movements. We did them as part of the weekly meeting and I used to practice them regularly. I'm going to have to try them and see if I remember them. Also mixed among these were some observation notes from a G. group at college. Interesting to juxtapose these with the rest of the crap of I was writing at that time.

December 10, 2003. Spent last evening fighting inertia; it won. A couple of lines of a poem fought through the haze, but disappeared again into the ether. Maybe next time. Put the Christmas tree up. Well, not really. It's a small tree this year and the stand is really for a larger one. It just digs through the trunk and the tree leans to one side. Lots of frustration. Wifey will look for a better stand today. If no success, then I'll tie it up straight. I keep lobbying for an artificial tree. I'm Jewish, wife is not, kids fall somewhere in the middle, so this whole holiday process sails completely over my head.

Had a conversation about regret yesterday. Actually, regret isn't the right word. More the road not taken. There are two roads not taken that I think about occasionally. The first is not continuing on to graduate school in psychology after college. Instead I waited a couple of years and went to grad school for creative writing (poetry). What was I thinking. The poetry experience was helpful, particularly when I was teaching it, but the environment was to oriented toward what I'd call confessional poetry or poetry of witness. Ugh. The other road not taken was not going to a GC Application and Assimilation course in 1995 (or sometime therein). Unfortunately, a family illness intervened. Not sure that it can really be considered a road not taken.

The back room is 95% complete. Painting and carpeting should be in by Christmas. I'll be able to get back to writing sessions for the next Synthetic Block CD. I'll also get my workshop back since it's been the storage area for a lot of the building materials. Of course, it's cold out there now, so I really haven't planned on much pipemaking anyway. I'm skipping the March Newark show, so the plan is to have some pipes for the May show. Right now, I only have a few anyway. I'm also low on supplies so I need to restock.

Still in a Grateful Dead phase, but I feel some other stuff trying to punch through.

December 9, 2003. Both kids ended up in the bed last night. Actually, at the end of the bed. We long ago told them if they end up in our bed because of a nightmare, etc. they're going to have to camp out at the end. I don't remember how Jessica (5) ended up there. At about 5:00 am, Kali (almost 11) came in and said she had a nightmare. I told her to either go back to bed or she could sleep on our floor. I'm a heartless parent, I know! Anyway, she ended up making room for herself at the end of the bed.

I started a new job a few weeks ago and today I move out of my temporary space into an office. I'm going to miss all the conversations I overhear. From sports to one guy's band and gig planning. Before work I stopped by the local barber for a haircut. I always try to find a barber near work, and this guy is a character. He had the news on a TV and commented on every bit that came on. At least the cut was inexpensive.

Since my diary is now at KCNN, I was looking through some of my old journals, the non-electronic ones. In particular I was curious about any from the GC course I went to (March 1990). Of course there were entries from the days before and the days after, but none from the course itself. I still remember much of the five days and will relate some of the experiences as they bubble up.

I've got the mid-afternoon nap aura on. I had lunch at the local diner again today; it was a co-worker's idea, which I happily complied with. I had an open-faced hamburger. I guess I was so intrigued by the concept that I really didn't think it through. I forgot that open-face means white bread and gravy. I'm not big on gravy. The burger itself was good. It actually came with a vegetable (carrots).I'm moved into my office now. Strange surroundings once again. It's pretty empty, and will probably remain as I refuse to "move in" at any job given my history: three layoffs since 2000. I can hear more interesting conversations, this time from some of the management. I'll have to keep an ear to the ground. I have this recurring synth motif going on in my head. It's been there since 1995. For the longest time I thought I used it in Eardrum, but it's actually a variation, so this motif may actually find a home. Actually, it's just spun off into another motif. I'll have to follow this.

December 8, 2003. Spent two hours excavating the driveway from snow yesterday. Surprisingly, no heart attack, but renewed energy to repopulate the new laundry room. Hopefully, the room my studio share will be done by the end of the year so I can move my equipment back in. Right now, the XP-50 is in the bedroom (usable with headphones), the bass and amp in the dining room, and the rack against a wall. I've been mainly playing the piano or guitar, usually Dead tunes.

Just back from lunch. There's a small diner across the street from work that I could eat at everyday. The food is quite good and inexpensive. But I'm not sure how healthy it is too eat eggs everyday. I love small diners. I could sit there for house and watch the action. Connecticut has an interesting mix of diners. In some of the more affluent sections, the diners are more like restaurants and priced as such. Lots of the small towns have traditional diners. Not greasy spoons, but small places where a hot meal doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

I've been listening to lots of Grateful Dead recently. I just got a shipment of Dick's Picks a couple of weeks ago and they've been getting nonstop play. DP30 (predominantly 3/28/72) has been a surprise. I was waffling about the purchase, but once I listened to it, it's become one of my favorites. There's a Playing in the Band from 3/27/72 that is one of the best in my opinion. There's also a nice Looks Like Rain with Jerry on pedal steel that is the best version I've ever heard. 1972 was a very good year.

May 21, 2003. Since the CD has been released, here's my notes on making Sonic Approach.

Sonic Approach was recorded in three separate sessions over a year period. I sequenced the entire project on a Roland XP-50. I recorded the master CD directly from the XP-50's stereo outs into a Philips CD recorder. I used no external processing; only the Roland's internal effects. The finished disc was sent to Dave Fulton who did an amazing job mastering the project given what he had to work with. Dave added some sounds to a couple of tracks and did some editing to make a tighter CD.

Since my first two discs incorporated a lot of synthesized percussion, I wanted this project to have little. Except for the first track, the only synth I used was the XP-50, with no expansions. I've used the XP-50 as my main synth and sequencer since 1996. Despite its limitations, it is my favorite piece of gear. My brain can't comprehend too many synths at once so I've always tried to keep it simple and travel light. The positive aspect is that I know the Roland inside and out.

I had decided early on to have a number of the tracks segue. This was no easy feat since the XP-50 has no internal memory for sequences and can only record 20,000 notes. You then have to save your song to disk via the onboard floppy drive. I was able to work around this by playing the segues while loading up the next track. Luckily the XP has enough processing power to do this without any sound glitches. Still, since I wasn't multitracking, I had to play everything right or start recording all over again.

I started putting Sonic Approach together in April 2001. I had a few ideas and themes that I planned to use as a springboard. I spent April creating about 25 new patches on the XP, and picked 10 others I'd made for earlier projects. By the end of June I had most of the pieces composed and sequenced. I try to sequence as much as possible and then leave some parts that need to be played while recorded. I also resurrected an older piece that fit into the flow of the CD. The first pass of the CD was recorded in early June 2001.

Around this time, Hypnos/Binary started to take shape and I submitted the material. After some comments from the field, I went back and reworked a few of the pieces, dropped a couple, and added two new tracks. By August 2001, I had a new master recorded, with a running time of about 63 minutes. I also finished the title poem. I sent the disk of to Dave Fulton to master and told him to cut and edit at will. A month later the mastered version was approved. Dave did a great job and was able to edit down some bits. Mike accepted Sonic Approach and it was put into the Binary queue.

In January 2002, we decided another track might make the CD stronger. I also thought it was a little too short as is (50 minutes). I had been working on a new piece that I thought would fit the theme of the CD, even though it had electronic percussion. For the new first track, "Variations On A Theme of Absence," I used a Waldorf Micro Q that I had on approval and a Korg Electribe R, in addition to the XP-50. Dave also added some nice sounds to this piece. And with that, Dave mastered the track and added it to the others. Then Mike came up with some great artwork and we were good to go.

Special thanks to Dave Fulton for his great ear, Paul Ellis for his suggestions early in the project and, of course, Mike Griffin. Here's some comments about each track.

Variations On A Theme Of Absence. As mentioned above, this was the last track to be recorded. Although my intent was to limit the amount of electronic percussion on Sonic Approach and only use the XP-50, I'd already moved back to lots of percussion by the time I recorded this. There's some Micro Q sounds here and there. Drums are from the Electribe. If I had waited another month to do this track, I could have used the MachineDrum I bought. Oh well. Dave adds some nice atmospheres. Points if you can guess where the title came from.

The Quartz Marsh. A soundscape of synthetic dragonflies darting in and out of the metallic rushes. This track, and the next two, were part of the first writing/recording sessions (April-June 2001).

Sonic Approach. The title track comes in on the heels of The Quartz Marsh. This piece is a series of sequenced loops triggered in real-time from the XP-50. Patterns can be assigned to any notes on the XP's keyboard and triggered in real-time. A great tool for playing live. A lush padscape at the end to segue to the next piece while I load it into the XP's memory.

Doused. The bass/melody line and the title come from a piece I composed in 1995. Dave adds some nice atmospheres and mirrors my lead line in spots. From a composition standpoint, Doused is similar to Engine Room off my second CD, The Opposite of Staring Into Space. But whereas Engine Room stays in one key, Doused moves around a bit. Luckily I don't have to segue to the next track so I can stop recording and use the bathroom!

Bed of Sphinxes. This track and the following one were part of the second writing/recording session (July-August 2001). Another soundscape with pads galore. Some LFO organ here and there with a slight Won't Get Fooled Again feel. More points if you guess where the title for this track came from.

The Square Triangle. Segues out of Sphinxes. Similar in execution to the title track, patterns are fired off in real-time from the XP-50. After the buildup, a nice release into a bunch of sequences. It took a lot of tries to get the solos without screwing up. Yet more points if you guess where the title came from.

Inevitable. The main undulating line for this track was written in 1990 at a Guitar Craft course. I added to it in 1996 and then again in 2001. A step-flanger effect from the XP-50 give this piece some its movement. One of the limitations of the XP's sequencer is that it stops recording at around 200 measures, regardless of the amount of notes. To work around this, I often record pieces at slow tempos such as 40 bpm. This piece ended up being shorter than originally recorded. More of the ambient side of what I try to do.

Sonic Recoil. A recap of some of the themes from earlier in the CD to close the disc out. Originally, the themes were recorded sequential, but Dave superimposed the themes onto each other to great effect.

May 14, 2003. Sonic Approach is still coming. Most likely by the end of June.

March 23, 2003. Sonic Approach will finally be released soon. Most likely by the end of April.

December 3, 2002. The big news is that I was laid off, yet again. So a lot of my time will be consumed looking for a new job.

I'm upping the quality of my pipes with handcut stems. Should be posting the first new pipes by the end of the month. I'm running a big sale on existing pipes right now to make room for the new ones.

October 29, 2002. Just been making more pipes and working on music. I finished a custom pipe this weekend that came out really nice. The best pipe I've ever made. Click here to view the pipe.

On the music front, Dave Fulton was in town last week and we were able to get a nice session of recording in. About 2 hours worth that Dave can edit down. Hopefully, this will form the basis of a joint CD that will come out in 2003. Sonic Approach should be out by the end of the year.

August 19, 2002. Yes, it's been a long time. Basically been heads down trying to finish as many pipes as possible for the NY Pipe Show on August 31 in Newark. I've been fortunate enough to sell a number of pipes lately. I'm hoping to bring at least 15 to Newark.

Some changes in technique lately. I've been using the old bench grinder I have, fitted with a chuck, for buffing, tenon cutting, and flexible shaft sanding. Particularly for the tenon cutting, the grinder is easier to work with than the drill press, because all the shavings fall straight down instead of being whipped all over the place.

Sonic Approach is still coming out on Hypnos/Binary, but not sure when. Definitely in the next couple of months. Spoke to Dave Fulton last week and we are still doing a joint project, but with both are live booked up, we'll just work on it when we can.

Back to making more pipes.

June 28, 2002. RIP John Entwistle. I've been listening to the Who all day at work in his memory: Complete Live At Leeds, By Numbers, Who Are You, Face Dances and It's Hard.

Block Pipes can be accessed by a quicker url now: www.blockpipes.com.

Some new pipes on the pipes page. Busy making more in preparation for the NY Pipe show at the end of August.

June 10, 2002. Completed a couple of more pipes over the last week. Actually started and finished one yesterday since I had the time. Click here to check them out.

June 4, 2002. Many additions to the briar graveyard this past weekend. I tried to make two bends and the airhole ended up wildly off the mark so I had to discard the blocks. Another pipe started great, nice shape and grain, but after doing some sanding a large flaw appeared that went all the way through the bowl. Ouch. Finally finished a good block of wood with some nice birdeye and straight grain. Click here to check it out.

Received some nice plateaux yesterday. Started on a new one last night. So far so good. Will know more once I start the sanding process tonight.

May 30, 2002. Pipemaking continues at a furious pace. I've sold a few and I'm trying to make more. I started a bent the other day, but the airhole came into the chamber slightly offcenter, so I've put that one to the side. I started a new pipe last night and finished all the drilling. I broke a stem after I cut the tenon and didn't let it cool long enough before putting it into the pipe. Live and learn as usual. Tonight I'll do the belt sander shaping and see what I come up with.

On the music front, Dave's been listening to the pieces I sent and is digesting them. There seems to be enough there for him to work with. I'm going to send mixes without the drum and drum-only tracks as soon as I can get motivated enough to do some recording.

May 21, 2002. Lots of activity going on. Check out the news page for information about the release of Sonic Approach. The disc should be out in July. Everything is done on my end; just gearing up for promotion now.

Been working more on updating the pipes section of the website. Eventually, this will be a separate site. I've posted pics of the newest pipe I made. Finally got over the stem/shank hurdle that plagued me, thanks to some advice from master maker Mark Tinsky. The finish on the newest pipe is a rustication I call Meteor. It's achieved by using a small burr in the drill press and touching, or more accurately, bouncing the pipe off it. I'm also working on a handcarved finish called Asteroid. I also have another finish achieved with a wire wheel called Strata.

Sold my first pipe last week! Also started a new one, a poker, which is a new shape for me. Got through the early stages, and tonight I'll be starting sanding with a small drum. Hopefully, the pipe will be done by the end of the week.

May 15, 2002. Started a pipe section with some of the pipes I've crafted during the last year.

Received the belt sander last week and proceeded to ruin a good piece of briar. The problem was I changed a belt during the course of sanding and didn't realize the new belt, though finer coarse, was better quality. I ended up sanding off way too much. It's fine since the stem was questionable to begin with. The belt sander is much quicker for shaping the pipe than the series of sanding drums I've used in the past. I still use the smallest drums for shaping, but it's easier to get the rough shape from the belts.

Sonic Approach should be out by the end of June. I'm already preparing for some promo activity, particularly on the gig front. More info. will be available soon.

April 30, 2002. Was able to get the recording done last night of all the FultonBlock ideas. Sent it off to Dave. On some of the tracks I mixed the drums slightly loud so that they wouldn't get lost once Dave takes a crack at everything.

Still gearing up for more pipe work. Waiting on a bench belt sander that should be here any day.

April 29, 2002. Lots of activity over the weekend. Approved the master for Sonic Approach that Dave put together. Also finally decided on the final track listing. I've also posted the track timings on that page, as well as the artwork.

Also, did some more run throughs of the FultonBlock material. I plan on doing the recording this week. Five structured tracks: Epiphinomenon, The Actualite, Planetary Tension, Drunken Shadows and Four Days On. Also two more unstructured pieces: Infinity Too Finite and The Parting Line. As well as a bunch of drum tracks. Works out to a CDs worth of music. I have more ideas that I'll put together after the recording is done.

April 19, 2002. Reworked Four Days On a bit last night. It was just too repetitive in spots, so I mixed it around. Sounds a lot better now, even tho it is still sparse.

I've been slowly reworking parts of the website using style sheets. They're pretty minor changes.

April 17, 2002. Don't see much happening on the music front until the weekend. We've had some work done on the house and there's a bit of cleaning to be done.

Ordered more KC Collector's club releases. More 71/72 era and the 69 show, since there won't be anymore 69 releases for a while. The prices went up $1.00 a disc. Still a good deal. I'll probably get a couple of more before the month is out.

April 16, 2002. Fulton is finishing up the master with the insertion of Variations at the beginning. We talked a little the other night about how he's doing the segue to The Quartz Marsh. Can't wait to hear it. Changed the title of Hazy Prisms to K, and sent off the liner notes and poem to Mike Griffin. Still don't know if the poem will be in there or not. It depends on the layout of the booklet. Really looking forward to seeing the artwork Mike comes up with. I'd estimate the CD should come out sometime in June, but I have no firm date yet.

I've been running through the FultonBlock pieces in preparation for recording. I had planned to do the recording this week, but it may push a little into next week depending on other obligations. Since everything is sequenced it will all work fine. Just have to practice the drum parts since I haven't constructed those in a "song" but instead am changing the patterns manually. Detours has been renamed "Parting Line."

I've been considering getting the 60s/70s expansion board for the Roland, since I really miss the mellotron and electric piano sounds. I'm hearing some new music in my head that calls for those sounds.

In pipe news, I've got some more wood and stems, and have some new tools on the way, so I should be getting to that soon. I'll also need to open up a section of the webpage for this stuff.

The King Crimson Collector's Club has opened up to a nonsubscription-based service, so I ordered a couple of shows from 1971. They came in yesterday. Both sound good and the packaging is nice too. Price was $13.00 apiece, which is great for each two-disc set. There's a few more of the releases I want to get over the next month. I'm also a couple of Dick's Picks behind, so I need to get those as well. I have a bunch of stuff on ebay to fund these.

Also got the Gumby DVD box last week. Seven discs of the green one. I've watched the first one, and they are great, especially for the kids. The only disappointment is that they don't use the original theme music, just some newer synth soundtrack. Found out today the last two sets of Thunderbirds shipped today so I should have those by the weekend. Also looking forward to Captain Scarlet and UFO. Thank heavens for deepdiscountdvd and their low prices!

April 8, 2002. Just tweaking up the seven tracks this week. Particularly, making sure the drum integrate properly. Should start the recording process by the end of the week, and everything should be down by the end of next week.

Also spent some time in the woodshop preparing for the next wave of pipemaking.

April 4, 2002. Completed the sequencing of two more new tracks. These were easy because they are just sustained pads that evolve. The first, tentatively titled Infinity Too Finite, is based on a pad I've used for years. It's actually a layer of two patches. Each has it's own sound, but when combined creates an entirely new soundscape that has few elements of the individual patches. The way the two react to each other is interesting; they seem to cancel parts out and create new ones. The sound is one I often have going on in the background for hours. The second new piece is a patch with a loop rhythm part, tentatively titled The Actualite.

Along with some isolated drum tracks I've put together, I now have over an hours worth of music to record, which I'll be doing over the next couple of weeks.

April 1, 2002. Lots of progress on the tracks. FB2, 7 and 8 have all been sequenced. They are tentatively titled The Square Triangle, Epiphenomena and Detours, respectively. Also reworked and sequenced Drunken Shadows and Four Days On. They both bear little resemblance to their original tracks, and are nice and sparse. Both have complete drum tracks and are sequenced. I'll be putting together a couple of other things and will record all this stuff in the next couple of weeks. That, along with various drum tracks I've put together will total 60 minutes. Then it's off to Fulton for his thoughts and ideas.

March 20, 2002. For the last few days, I've been knocking FB2, 7 and 8 into shape. Pretty much have the drum tracks set and just tightening up the synth tracks a bit. The trick is to keep them sparse, which is a task because in some instances they don't sound right. I have to keep remembering that I'm not trying to compose complete tracks. I expect these three tracks should be done in the next week or so. I'll then revisit some of the others and see what I can do with them. I also have to revisit Drunken Shadows, which I'm sure will benefit from drums and from taking a bunch of parts out.

March 15, 2002. Been out on business this week, so haven't accomplished anything on the music front. More next week.

March 12, 2002. Started work on two new pieces this past weekend. Still have FB2-6 to do, but the new creations on the MachineDrum led to a flurry of new ideas. Some of the new patterns integrate easily. Right now they have the working titles of FB7 and FB8. Really creative I know. FB8 is much further along. It's probably 80% complete.

March 1, 2002. Moved some entries to the old journal page. Jefferson Airplane is playing in the background. Good soundtrack for my mood. The world is totally fugazi. First disc of the Loves You box set. Some great early stuff ("Bringing Me Down"). Now on the last half of the disc: live show from May 1967.

Realized why I don't go to concerts anymore. Scoped out the Who at MSG this summer. Tickets up the $250! Yikes. Way too rich for me. Shame tho, they are back in form these days.

Still jamming with the MachineDrum. Spent an hour working on one new pattern last night. I have enough patterns for about 10 track now. They are full mix patterns that use mutes for the parts as needed. Easier than using many patterns and switching between them. The MD makes working with mutes easy in real-time, but you can't save mutes in a pattern or a song. This shouldn't be a problem as I've been using patterns in real-time lately and just muting on the fly. With the 309, I'd program songs and the mutes would be saved. We'll see how this works out.

February 27, 2002. Been really digging into the MachineDrum. The portability is great because I can work with it anywhere in the house. I've constructed a couple of new drum kits and made about 10 patterns. Right now, I'm just creating in a vacuum, but soon I'll integrate the box with the XP to see where the patterns will fit. A very powerful machine. Here's a review I wrote of the unit.

The Electribe and MicroQ have both been sold, so now it's just the XP and the MachineDrum. Until I get used to the MD, the gear will not be added to for the time being. The MD has more capabilities than the Quasimidi 309, although slightly more limited in percussions sounds. Much deeper, punchier sound with the MD, so that I may finally be able to build my sound around percussion as I've mentioned over the years.

I've been experimenting with constructing patterns in very slow tempos as I don't think the more upbeat stuff will fit into any of the projects I've got going now. I think Variations is a good start to the new CD. It has some percussion that is mixed slightly back as to not disrupt the flow of the disc too much. None of the other tracks has drums.

February 20, 2002. MachineDrum shipped today so it should be here by the weekend. It looks like Variations On A Theme Of Absence will lead off the Sonic Approach CD.

February 18, 2002. The Jomox came and went quickly. I tried it out for a day and it was just too limited for what I need to do. The snare and bass drum sounded great, although the snare just didn't get a tight enough sound for me. On the sound side, the biggest drawback for me was the inability to tune the open and closed hihats separately. And, although the sequencer was powerful, it was a bit clunky to work with it. It took a lot of effort to program different sounds on each step when necessary. Along the same lines, I've become annoyed with the interface of the MicroQ. Although I think the sounds are great and it's a powerful machine, the editing matrix is not as easy to use as I'd like. It just takes too much effort to set up the LFOs to sweep the filters. I found the interface on the Microwave II easier to use. I may eventually get the Q rack, which has more knobs. Or, just get a Microwave XT. Anyway, once again, I'm redoing the gear. I've already sold the Electribe and the MicroQ. I have an Elektron MachineDrum on order. A bit expensive, but it's a powerful unit. I'll have more to report once it arrives.

February 13, 2002. A couple of more tweaks tonight on Variations should do. The claps still cut through too much. Also, for some reason, the bass line is too loud, although this wasn't a problem before. The trick for beefing up the snare worked well, and it now cuts through the mix. There's a chance this piece will get added to Sonic Approach, since it hasn't been pressed yet.

On another note, I've purchased a Jomox Xbase09 as a new drum machine. I'll be ebaying the Electribe soon to help defray the cost. More comments on this box when it arrives.

February 12, 2002. Just have to tweak the drums slightly on Variations, and it's done. The claps cut through the mix too much, so I need to lower the pitch a tad and raise the bass. The snares are also not cutting through enough. I'm going to double the snare with similar settings on one of the empty ER voices and detune slightly. This should make it cut through and give it a warmer bottom. Last night I added some slight sound effects on the opening passage, changed the bassline, and set the levels. Should be able to record it tonight.

February 10, 2002. Good session yesterday. Finished sequencing and arranging Variations. Still have to add some SFX here and there, change a note in one of the bass lines, de-emphasize the clap sounds in the drum lines, and readjust the levels of some of the parts. The piece has an interesting sound, considering I haven't composed with drums in almost a year. The piece relies on two arpeggiator-like lines and has an upbeat feel.

The piece illustrates a traditional way in which I work. I constructed a number of patterns and set them up to be triggered by keys of my XP. I then experimented with different arrangements by triggering the patterns and working out a sketch of how they would go together. I had already laid down a two-minute ambient intro and a transition sound. Then I experimented with the patterns. Once I had all the patterns set, I then worked out on paper where the different patterns would start and stop. I also noted what drum patterns would occur at what measures. I then sequenced the whole piece and run through it a number of times to get the right levels between the instruments. I also see how the drums sound alongside the synth lines. Once all this is finalized, I record some rough mixes to minidisc so I can listen to check the levels and how the drums integrate.

One other point that came out of this tune is that the drums could use some compression. I think that would result in a more aggressive sounds. Still undecided about if or what drum box to get.

February 8, 2002. Spent last night tweaking the two main drum lines I've got going now. There's also a bunch of variations based on the two. Tried out the synth lines with the drums for FB3, but it needs a lot of work. The other drum line fits well with Variations, but the tune is a bit monochromatic at this point and needs some movement. I also need to add some patches from the MicroQ to fill it out. Still nothing done for FB4 or FB5, the tune I structured out here at the end of January.

Adding the Electribe to the mix brings out its shortcomings. The snare is really lacking; I can only get a couple of good sounds out of it. The bass drum is great, and there's a lot of tom/percussion variations available with the remaining two modeled voices. The claps and crash are good. The hi-hats are just OK. The crash is cool because with a short decay it gives a good china crash sound.

I'm still mulling over what drum box to get. I'm actually leaning toward the Novation DrumStation right now. The Vermona is really cool, but you can't save your settings and, more importantly, it doesn't transmit control changes. On the plus side, there's lots of knobs and the sound is good. The Novation is slightly cheaper, smaller, and also sounds good. We'll see.

I've been pricing these units around and I can relate some of my experience with some online retailers. Rogue Music is good. I bought the MicroQ from them, they respond fast to questions and have good prices. En-port has also been prompt with questions. Another good one is one of the big players, American Musical Supply. They've also answered questions very quickly.

February 6, 2002. Got Eudora to work right, so I take back everything I said. The problem is my hosting company had a 10-hour outage today and e-mail is still down. They have a 30-day guarantee, so I'm probably going to move to a new hosting company soon.

Finished tweaking the drum line for FB3 last night and went through some of the synth stuff. The piece is about 70 percent done, but still needs some sounds. Tonight, I'm going to review Variations and FB2 to see where they are at and how much more work needs to be done. I'll also see if drums can be implemented and if the MicroQ can integrate.

Here are the preliminary structures for FB3 and FB4. Of course, these will change, and already don't reflect some of the drum lines for FB3.

FB3:
Hi-hat and bass drum
Cymbal, clap, crash pattern
Sparse bass sequence, three or four notes
Noise snare
Another bass drum and toms
High toms
High sounding melody, three or four notes
Sparse metal pad
Another sparse sequence (organ sound)
Wood percussion as snare
2nd sequence out, new pad in (doubles first)
BD, hh, toms, pads only (high melody)
High toms out
2nd sequence back in
All drums back in, 1st seq. and melody in
2nd seq. back in
Everything else in
Sparse drums take tune out

FB4:
Sparse single note synth pad
Another sparse pad
HH, BD, snare (velocity>filter),br>Plucky/percussive sound
Sparse EP sound, new HH/BD
Snare back in with filter
SFX in and out
New seq in, 1st seq. out
2nd seq. out
Focus on snare>filter sound
1st seq. in
Drums and plucky sound
SFX in
1st seq. in
2nd seq. in
2nd seq. out
BD out
Drums out
1st seq., SFX to fade

February 5, 2002. The new web site is now up, but you know that already if you're here. Also have a new e-mail. I've been using a separate client to access this email, and it's been frustrating. Eudora seemed good, but it won't display the correct headers for the title bar and I have to keep scrolling to the right to see the messages. Not good. It may have something to do with windows 2000 professional I'm running on my laptop. Right now I'm using Pegasus, which seems good enough for now.

I was able to spend a few hours on Sunday working on the drum line for a new track. Let's call it FB3 for now. It took a long time and I still have to tweak it. It starts with a hi-hat and bass drum, which is slightly off beat. Then some cymbals come in for a rhythmic motif. Then a snare, large on the noise, but this still needs to be tweaked. Then some percussion. Then another bass drum (from the XP) and some more placed percussion. We'll see where this goes. I've also worked out the arrangement for this tune and another. I'll try to type them up by tomorrow.

February 1, 2002. I've been putting the finishing touches on a new web site design that will be unveiled soon. It will appear at www.synthblock.com, so there won't be anymore of these ads. The new design is crisper and should do for a while. I'm no web designer, but it's an improvement over the site I have at tripod. I'll be paying for hosting, but it's worth it to get rid of those ads and have some flexibility with the design.

Spent last night checking all the links so I didn't get back to play the synths, but there's lots of ideas I need to work out.

January 30, 2002. Created another new patch on the MicroQ last night. This is a sweep that starts FB2 (tentative title), and doubles an XP patch. The MicroQ interface is pretty self-explanatory, but occasionally I get stuck and should just check the manual. Of course the manual is not in the studio and I'm too lazy to go get it! One particular problem I was having was changing the oscillator balance in the new patch. The knobs are supposed to control it, but for some reason it wasn't working. Finally realized after checking the manual that I was on the wrong menu page¨÷I think.

Started working out a drum line on the Electribe for the tune. Got some nice drum sound effects from the XP that work well in the track. Two sounds in particular: a slow chime that descends and a reverse cymbal/wind noise. There's also a fast sequence I play manually that sounds a little like the main rhythmic synth line from Ping. I've also got a sequence with a plucky sound, and two melodies: one using an organ sound, the other a raspy, slightly out of phase lead sound. Right now the mix is way too dense for Dave's contribution. Most likely just insert the melodies occasionally or maybe not at all.

Also came up with some patch ideas that will probably lead to a new tune. I have the patches basically worked out, tho they still need work and fine tuning. One is a pad/sweepy affair and a couple of patches that rely on the arp. These three parts will form the basis for yet another track to send to Dave. I need to see if he wants me to record dry or with effects. Actually, I mean just without reverb since some of the patches rely on delay/phase/flanger etc.

January 29, 2002. Actually created two new patches on the MicroQ last night that will find their way into existing tracks. One of the patches is a bass sound similar to on I crafted on the XP for Variations. I'll either just use the Q patch or double them up. Also trying to rework and strip down Four Days On, Wholes, and Drunken Shadows. These in addition to Variations and the other new one that doesn't have a title yet are about 60 minutes worth of music. Haven't done anything with the tune I structured out yesterday, but will tackle it soon.

Was almost tempted to purchase a 309 on Ebay, but decided since I've already owned it twice already I'd eventually tire of it again. Plus, this time around I have no need for the synth section. The drums and interface are cool, but the Electribe is easier to use and has a more straightforward MIDI implementation. Plus, I really want to get the Vermona drum module or a Novation Drumstation.

I've also been thinking about moving this site to its own domain and get rid of the annoying ads. At that point, I'll probably redesign the site.

January 28, 2002. Rearranged the studio on Friday night. Kept the keyboard where it was, but moved the rack of MicroQ, mixer and effects unit to the right where the bass and guitar were. Just moved the guitar into the corner, moved the bass amp where the rack was and put the bass where the amp was. More open space and everything works better from an ergonomic standpoint.

Didn't get much of a chance to use the Q this weekend, but have read the manual a few times so I'm ready to get to work. I was a bit perturbed that there wasn't a random arp setting, but I seem to have figured out how to do it based on instructions for user patterns in the manual. I'll try it out tonight and see if it works.

Yet another tune in progress. This one is mapped out before sitting down at the keys, a technique I often use. The structure is based on repeating patterns, another writing form I often use (e.g., Ping). It goes like this, with each pattern coming in:

Lead/melody sequence (slow LFO controlling filter cutoff)
Subtle sound effects
Bass drum (decay controlling pitch)
Hi-hat pattern
Bass line
Claps (heavily filtered) as a snare
Snare roll (leads to next patterns; repeated as needed)
Solid bass drum (no decay) and snare
Another sequenced line
Synth chords
Drum break (new drum sounds; snare out), lead seq. off, other seq. off, chords off
Snare and other seq. back in
Lead seq. back in
Synth chords
Synth chords and other seq. out
Everything back in
Everything out but skeletal drums, lead, chords

Of course I still need to write the parts and create the sounds, but this is an effective way to build the structure. And when the parts are actually created, the structure goes through some changes to accommodate the way the sound work together. I'll try to spread the drums out between the equipment, and four separate synth lines (lead, sound fx, complimentary sequence and a pad). There are 11 different patterns, but depending how the drums are constructed, this could be more or less. This may be too dense to allow for other folks' contribution, but I'll give it a try anyway.

January 25, 2002. The MicroQ arrived yesterday. Mint condition. Hooked it up and went through some of the sounds. The filters remind me of the Microwave II; nice and smooth. I see a lot of potential for this box. There's much power under the covers. Really opens up the sound in conjunction with the XP and the Electribe.

I was able to easily upgrade the OS and load different sounds. I always forget that you don't need to load files into the XP, it can access them directly from a disk, so there is no limitation as I mentioned yesterday. You'd think after owning one for almost seven years I'd remember this. Anyway, I'm sure I'll be running the Q through its paces this weekend.

Would still like to get the Vermona, especially since I saw they have an updated model: silver with blue LEDs. Looks a lot better than the blue-face one. I've listed a bunch of stuff on ebay, with more next week, to fund the purchase of the excellent analog drum module. With the Q, I'm pretty set as far as sound generators go. I can't really think of anything else other than the drum module I'd want right now, since the Q and XP generate a lot of sound. I just don't have the patience for too much gear, since I really like to know them inside and out.

I also need to rearrange my humble studio because the rack stuff (MicroQ, effect, mixer) are in back of me when I'm playing the XP, so I have to keep turning around to access them. I used to have this stuff at a 90-degree angle to the keyboard, but moved it around so that I was facing out to the room instead of facing the wall. Will try some different arrangement this weekend.

January 24, 2002. Came across another limitation of the XP50 sequencer today. In preparation for the arrival of the MicroQ, I downloaded the latest operating system. The file is too big for the XP. I had to dig out my midi interface for the Mac and load a demo version of Musicshop, an old Opcode sequencing program. Hopefully this will work to upgrade the OS of the MicroQ. I also downloaded some sound banks, but these seem small enough to be handled by the XP. I still don't want to do sequencing via the computer, or synthesis. Everyone touts the Nord Modular, and I know it sounds good, but I still like hardware as far as synths go. I expect the Q to be waiting for me once I get home from work today. Tonight I plan on updating the OS, hooking up the cables and taking the synth for a spin.

January 23, 2002. Learned today that Pete Bardens, keyboardist for Camel, died yesterday. Sigh.

Just bought a used MicroQ that should arrive tomorrow. Excellent price for this powerful little synth. I had originally planned on getting an analog drum module, as I've been composing more beat-oriented work lately, but the Q has some drums in it, so that should come in handy in conjunction with the Electribe. Still working on two new pieces. Variations is coming along, and a I added some drums last night to see how it would sound.

The second piece, with a working title of FB2, is also sounding better with drums. I changed an organ melody last night and added a squelchy melody that comes in now and again. The hardest part is making these sparse so that Dave Fulton can add his magic somewhere down the line. Speaking of Dave, we spoke by phone today and left the door open that our collaboration could become Dweller At The Threshold material. Once I have enough material, I'll be sending it to Dave for his views. I plan on recording two dubs: one with drums, one without.

I've been concentrating on beats recently, which works out well because I can bring the little Electribe anywhere in the house and just construct drum lines with headphones. Since it gets cold in the studio in the winter, this helps me keep motivated.

Still no word on a release date for Sonic Approach, but I decided to keep the titles from a few months ago. Thus, Hazy Prisms stays and Variations will be the title for a new piece referenced above. I listened to the master a couple of weeks ago for the first time in two months and I'm still happy with the results.

Here's a draft of the poem I plan on including in the liner notes of the CD.

January 2, 2002. Happy new year. Roaring back into composition, I've picked up work on the new long track I started a couple of months ago, called "Variations on a Theme of Absence." Variations is now the title for what was called Hazy Prisms on Sonic Approach. But this may all change. Anyway, Sonic Approach is still set for release on Binary/Hypnos. Date still unknown.

Been considering how/if to expand the musical equipment at this time, but I'm drawing a blank. For all the equipment I've bought over the years, the XP-50 is the only gear I've been happy with and have kept. I've been looking at the Waldorf Micro Q, but fear as with lots of other boxes, I would end up selling it months later. I'm probably going to just replace the two expansion boards in the XP-50 and stick with this set up for a while. There's still much in this synth to be explored and I'm not ready to buy anything big right now.

Click for older journal entries.

November 30, 2001. I just started a new job and finished a job search, so the updates should flow a bit more normally now. Besides that, it looks like Sonic Approach will be out on Hypnos. No firm date so far. I've also been composing some material for a future Dave Fulton/Synthetic Block, FultonBlock, project. Right now it's one long piece, very sparse so Dave has lots of room to o his thing.

Nothing new on the pipe front. I've lost track of what pipe I'm on, but will be heading back to the workshop soon.

RIP George Harrison.

October 16, 2001. Dave Fulton is headlong into finishing up the next Synthetic Block CD. It is going to have a good home, and will announce the release information soon. We also talked about a future collaboration CD, which I'd like to do since we have the same musical sensibilities. Although we've never played together, I think we'd work well on structured and improvisational materials.

On the pipe front the learning continues. Finished pipe 5 a few weeks ago. As mentioned before, the bowl walls are too thin, but the finish came out nice: just a bit of tripoli and the usual wax and buff. Pipe 6 is also complete. Another billiard variation. I tried stamping this one and broke the stem. I then broke another stem while I was trying to seat it properly. A third stem was too small for the pipe's proportions, so I put that aside for another day. Finally, the fourth stem worked out fine. The first pipe of a quality that I'd be willing to sell. Two small sand pits knock down the price a bit.

I started pipe 7 today. Drilled the holes. This one has a large 1-inch bowl, because the smaller sizes chatter and really knocked up the side. I figured out the briar block was not secure enough against the drill press table and was vibrating, causing the bits to hit the wood off-center. I held the vise down tight and gave it go with the large bit. Smoothed out most of the bowl, tho the top is still craggy and the upper sides are pitted. Should be able to sand everything out, but I fear the dimensions of the bowl may result in a hot smoke.

I also began experimenting with carved finishes. The first uses a small wire brush to give a sedimentary-layer effect to the pipe. The other finish uses small bits to carve at the finish, resulting in a rough, volcanic surface.

September 20, 2001. After a week or so, I'm still unable to communicate verbally, poetically, or musically the events of the 11th, and I'm not going to try.

In an effort to equalize on the night of the 11th, I completed pipe 4. I used a cherry stain that was really red. I buffed really hard with tripoli and it muted the stain a bit so that the pipe looks light brown with some red streaks that look a little like blood. This coincidence is not lost on me.

I'm almost done with pipe 5. It's a bit of a pot shape. I decided to try a large tobacco hole, but it's too big, thus the walls of the bowl are too thin. Oh well, live and learn.

September 10, 2001. Work continues on pipe 4. I've done most of the rough hand-sanding and will move onto 240 grit tonight. The junction between the stem and the shank is good so far, but I'm still not entirely satisfied that the pimo tool can't do more than a 5/8" diameter square for the stem. It seems a little smaller than that to me. I'll have to work on using a spade or forstner bit to square the end because I don't want to be limited one particular stem size. So far there are no major flaws, and I think for this one I'll try a different color stain, perhaps cherry.

Still need to tackle carving and stamping.

September 8, 2001. I'm losing track of what number pipe I'm working on. I'm only numbering the ones that make it so, actually, I'm on pipe 4 now. The "other" pipe 4 was actually pipe 3. Enough of that. So the other night I set up the mortise tool up and drilled a couple of holes in a 2x4. Slid the stem right in, nice and flush. I quickly deduced that even tho the mortise tool is supposed to square the end, it helps if that end of the wood is square to begin with. The next block I drilled yesterday for a nice start to pipe 4 (if it makes the journey). Nice fit at the stem and mortise.

Also no flaws in the briar so far. Today I did the rough shaping with the three different sizes of sanding drums. Tomorrow, I'll start the rough sanding and move up to shaping the shank/stem junction. More briar should be here Monday.

September 6, 2001. Pipe 5 bit the dust shortly after writing yesterday's entry. Just couldn't get the mortise/tenon connection to work. Very frustrating. This is a recurring problem I have to fix. I have the right tools, I just have to figure out what I'm doing wrong. I'm going to practice this on some hardwoods to see if I can figure out what is going on. Particularly disappointing for this pipe, because the bowl was coming out nicely.

I ordered some more briar and stems today so I'll have to wait a few days until I can start a new pipe. This will give me time to solve the tenon/mortise problem, hopefully.

September 5, 2001. Finished the new pipe 4 the other day. Came out pretty good, except the shank, which is a little off the angle. The best thing about the pipe is that the wood was flawless, so I got a nice finish. I've decided to just number the pipes as they are finished, so the ones that bite the dust are taken out of the sequence. Pipe 4's shape is a squat billiard, with a slight bend to the shank. I also did a slight bend in the stem to follow the curve of the shank. The stem is a short round saddle. The drill press helps a lot and make the job go faster. Still experimenting with the optimal speeds for the different tasks, but so far so good. Sanding goes quickly on the press. The bad news is that the flexible shaft bit the dust. It was cheap, but I don't think I'm going to replace it anytime soon. I'm doing just fine with the sanding drums in the drill press.

I started pipe 5 yesterday by drilling the holes. Today I did all the rough sanding. This one is another modified billiard, but with straight sides. As with most of the other pipes, it's gained a slight curve in the shank, even tho this was not intentional. I may do some more sanding tonight.

August 31, 2001. Pipe 4 bit the dust last night. Again, the problem was the junction between the stem and the shank. Just couldn't get it square after the initial success. I had accidentally sanded part of it and needed to redrill it, but was unable to do so satisfactorily. Next thing I knew I had gone too far up the shank. I had bought some spade bits to make larger squaring than the pimo tool allowed, but it really did not help when I'm drilling by hand. Since this is the second pipe that has died due to the same problem, I'm going to break down and get a drill press. I'm going for a Ryobi at Home Depot for $100. I've read some good review of it for the net; you can't beat it for the price. This should solve a lot of my problems and let me do adjustments on the fly. My original intention was to just use my father's drill press once a month and do the drilling on a bunch of blocks at a time, but I really need to be able to do cuts at will. Now, I'll need to find space for it in the shop. I may have to move the grinder I use for drum sanding and buffing. I can also use the drill press for this, but we'll see about that.

August 29, 2001. Did the rough shaping of pipe 4 last night. It's become smaller than I expected because I had to keep resquaring the shank. The fit is still not perfect, but will do. I use the PIMO mortise/shank combo tool and I've not been completely satisfied with it. To be fair, you really need a drill press to use it properly. But, it limits the diameter of stem that you can work with. It seems to take up to 5/8" stems, but in most cases I want to go bigger than that. Even some of the stems that measure that size of smaller still seem to big for the square the tool makes. I'm going to have to start using a forstner bit to square the end and see if that helps.I've also been a little unhappy with their countersink. It's obviously just for high speeds, because low ones (3250 rpm or less) just digs into the wood. I bought a cheap countersink and Home Depot and was able to drill a nice countersink with a hand drill last night, so I may just stick with that.

I use an old grinder with a chuck adapter and drum sanders to do most of my shaping. I start out with a 1-1/2" drum with a 50-grit sleeve to do the rough shaping. I then move on to a 1" drum with an 80-grit sleeve to do some shaping in spots where the larger drum won't reach, particularly in the area between the bowl and shank. Then it's on to a small 1/2" drum to do the final shaping before hand sanding. Most times I'll start with an 80-grit sleeve and move to a 120-grit. I also use a flexible drill shaft (about 50"), which lets me maneuver better. Once the shape is pretty much there, it hand sanding time from 150-grit through 240, 320, 400, and 600 grits. Then I go over the pipe with a 0000-grade pad. I start sanding the stem once I hit the 320 grit.

I've been able to do about a pipe a week, but this last one has gone quicker than expected. As I get more experience, I'm able to work faster.

On the music front, I've started conceptualizing the next set of music. Tentative title is "Variations on a Theme of Absence." Point for figuring out the origin of that one.

August 28, 2001. Finished pipe 3 last night. The last grades of sanding went pretty quick as did the staining, polishing and buffing. Came out nice, altho there are a couple of nicks I thought I had sanded out. And a couple of spots on the stem that wouldn't sand out. The join between the shank and the stem was not perfect, but close enough for now. Definitely a step above the first pipe. I'll probably start another one tonight. I'm going to try a circle cutter on the top part of the bowl to get a nice round shape: both previous pipe are not very round.

August 27, 2001. I'm almost done with pipe number 3. Pipe number 2 bit the dust big time. I carved the first pipe from a kit and it came out pretty good, altho there are some big sandpits. I also did a little bend to the stem, which gave it a nice look, basically a modified dublin. Of course, I trashed one stem trying to do this. Not that it matters, since I cracked the shank on the second pipe kit I bought, at least I was able to salvage the stem. No the pipe kit block I use to test out mortise and carving ideas.

For pipe 2, I was doing a bent pipe with an apple shape, but I screwed up the mortise and had to abandon this pipe. I had four blocks which I succesfully bored tobacco, mortise, and airholes, but I got a little carried away on the countersink for the bent mortise and ended up resawing the shank down to nothing.

Thankfully, pipe 3 is faring better. Still learning my way around tenon turning tho. Each mistake is a big learning lesson at this stage of the game. Anyway, I'm up to 320-grit sandpaper for the handfinish, and hope to be staining in a couple of days. There's a few flaws, but I still have no carving/rusticating technique down, so I'll have to live with them. There's some nice birds-eye grain on the bowl top that should look great once the pipe is finished. One side also has a nice straight grain.

Still trying to figure out a way to stamp the pipes; the stamping set I have is too big (1/4"), so I'll have to buy another or just scribe something. For now, I'll just use a "B" and perhaps a number.

I'm having fun learning my way around this craft, and have given myself a test period of 10 pipes to get to something I'd be proud enough to sell. At some point I'll explain the steps I go through when constructing a pipe.

August 2, 2001. Interestingly, it's been another month since the last entry. Lots of activity going on, but not all related to music. On the Sonic Approach front, I've done some more slight tweaking. Now it's off to Dave Fulton to master and do some fine tuning. I hope to be able to announce the CDs home soon.

On other fronts, I've finally begun to craft handmade briar pipes. I belive I mentioned I wanted to get into this last year. After spending a weekend about a month ago cleaning out the garage, I was finally able to reclaim my workshop. Since then, I've been slowly outfitting the shop with tools and supplies necessary. I actually finished the first pipe last week. It came out a lot better than I thought.

I've constructed a business plan that outlines how to take this craft into a business opportunity, but time will tell. The remainder of this year is devoted to learning and honing, while stockpiling tools and supplies. More on this later...or perhaps on a different site.

July 2, 2001. Can't believe it's been a month since the last note. Anyway, there's been yet more changes to the next CD. The two new tracks, Bed of Sphinxes and Hazy Prisms did replace the other three. I've also done another new track, Sonic Recoil, that starts just as Inevitable is fading out. It's a recap of the first two tracks with a little bit of Doused thrown in at the end. It's not really a rehash, but has some recognizable touchpoints that bring the disc to a nice conclusion. Right now the CD runs at about 63 minutes.

I'll hopefully have more official news soon, but the signs are that Sonic Approach will be released on a good label. I don't want to mention any names until everything is finalized, but it's definitely a label you'd know of. More as it happens.

June 13, 2001. After some comments from the field, I've revisted the recording and am in the middle of making revisions. For me, the second half of the CD is a bit different from the first. So, right now, I've replaced Drunken Shadows, Wholes, and Four Days On with two new tracks Bed of Sphinxes and Prism (title may change). Inevitable will remain as the last track, although I've added a few parts to it to flesh the piece out. One other thing that will change is the segues. The last four tracks didn't always segue naturally, so for now, the first three tracks will segue. Then Bed of Sphinxes, Prism, and Inevitable will segue. So the disc will have two suites, so to speak. Total time is 55 minutes, which seems natural for this set of music. I'm also going to work on a more compact Drunken Shadows>Wholes piece that will be about 8 minutes. I should have the recordings done by the end of the week.

June 4, 2001. I have a finished master recording of Sonic Approach. After a number of aborted attempts, everything went smoothly last night. No glitches at all. It is in need of a nice mastering job, but the sound is good and as even as I could get it. As mentioned before, each track segues into the next and there's a nice feel overall, with each track coming naturally out of the one before it. The benefit of all this work is that I could easily recreate the disc live, although I'd probably not do that. I'll get some samples up soon. The disc clocks in at about 65 minutes. Here's the track listing:

The Quartz Marsh
Sonic Approach
Doused
Drunken Shadows
Wholes
Four Days On
Inevitable

May 29, 2001. A lot of arrangement and recording of solos this past weekend. All parts have been sequenced and now the task is to record the disc with seamless segues. It's coming together, but slowly. Spring Apart is now two separate tracks; even though they use similar sounds, they sound sufficiently different to warrant separate titles. The first part, what was once Spring Apart, is now called Drunken Shadows, while the newer second part is called Wholes.

There are two difficult segues: from Doused to Drunken Shadows, and Four Days On to Inevitable. The first segue is tough because loading Drunken Shadows causes the patch I'm using to perform the segue to hand up. In the second case, Inevitable starts out quite soft and is hard to hear out of the patch I've used to segue. One approach that does work is to have Inevitable to start just as the segue patch dies out. I tried this last night and it sounded pretty good, but I'll have to recheck it tonight.

Also difficult is adding the new track marks as I'm recording, since I'm using my hand to play the segues.

May 25, 2001. I added a couple of new parts to Four Days On, as well as modified some of the sounds. The mix is robust now, but the track works better as a shorter piece. This works out well because Spring Apart has expanded to the 15-minute range, so out of that, Four Days On will formally end the journey as a five minute track. Inevitable will then finish out the disc.

I started to write a new track, but it seemed quite related to Spring Apart, so I've used the same sounds, added a few new ones and it seems to flow well, but I'll need to give it a few days. This weekend I'll be finishing up this part and practicing and getting down some of the solos. Next week will be dedicated to recording, as I'm still shooting to have a finished recording to send out by the end of next week.

This year's memorial day band gig is in question due to the weather, but hopefully we won't get rained out.

May 23, 2001. The structure is complete for Four Days On. It runs about 11 minutes. I need to add a few more parts: One seq. line, a synth string line, and some other sound effecty thing. Right now, the mix is just too thin, and I can't really hear the bass. Probably need to tone down the reverb. I'm sure after tonight it will sound much better. I replaced the bongo line in the original with a bass marimba line, and the descending drum machine line is done with a square wave descending, which gives a bell-like sound. The tune works without the drum machine, but I need to bring the sequence line out a little more to give it an aggressive fell. Four Days On is traditional Synthblock, in that it consists of recurring loops that build upon each other. It flows easily out of Spring Apart, which itself is now about three minutes longer. It just seemed to get going before it ended. This piece has a bit of White Eagle-era TD feel to it, which is totally unintentional. I don't think I've listened to a TD disc in about three years. It will be interesting to see how I can get Inevitable to flow out of Four Days On, since it's such a strange tempo (45 bpm) and relies on a step flanger for the main sounds. This is one of the cases where the sequencer is used as a recorder, with no reference to the beat or bar lengths.

May 22, 2001. Worked through putting together some sounds for Four Days On last night. Also set up a number of the patterns that the track will be based on. Tonight I will finalize the melody and start constructing the piece, which should be complete by the end of the week. I expect to have the recording of the CD complete by the end of next week. For the most part, I just need to practice the solos and decide if I want to sequence them or just improvise each time I record. Rotation is now called Spring Apart.

In unrelated news, I picked up the new remasters of the 80s King Crimson output: Discipline, Beat, and Three of a Perfect Pair. I have mixed feelings about the studio recordings now. Live, they were great, and I was lucky to see many of the concerts they put on, which has always left me wanting as far as the studio albums are concerned. Discipline is great, and there are good parts to Beat, although I still think Neurotica worked better as the instrumental Manhattan. But TOAPP still doesn't do anything for me. Oh well, the CDs were cheap. On the other hand, I've been listening to a lot of 1970 Soft Machine (Third, Noisette), and like the fire. More tomorrow.

May 21, 2001. Had a very productive weekend in the studio. The first 40 minutes of the CD are complete: The Quartz Marsh>Sonic Approach>Doused>Rotation. In/to just didn't work out in this recording, so it's gone. Tonight, I'll keep going with Four Days On. I'm trying to not use the drum machine or beats with this tune, to keep with the spirit of the other recordings. I'll use some sequences to simulate the driving drum beat of that one.

May 17, 2001. Finished The Quartz Marsh and Sonic Approach yesterday, and Doused is about halfway done. Doused is similar in execution to Engine Room, tho it's different compositionally. Both rely on a background bed that supports a bevy of solos. But where Engine Room stayed in one key for the entire track, Doused moves through several keys.

I came up to the XP-50's sequencer limitations last night regarding memory. I wasn't able to record Doused in that the sequencer's memory was full. The workaround is that after Sonic Approach, I'm able to play some chords and then load up Doused while the chords are sustaining. It's seamless, and will come in handy for recording the rest of the disc. If I can, I'll have In/to and Rotation follow on the same recording file; if not, I'll just do some real-time playing while the songs load up. By the way, the title of Rotation will probably change.

May 15, 2001. Evaporate is now two tracks: The Quartz Marsh and Sonic Approach. The Quartz Marsh fits the title: a soundscape of synthetic dragonflies darting in and out of the metallic rushes. Both tracks will be finished tonight, and I'll be moving onto Doused, which is partially recorded and emerges out of the end of Sonic Approach.

I've given myself some parameters for this release. First, I'm using the XP-50 exclusively, with no expansion boards. Also, I'm trying to not use the Korg drum machine, although it will probably appear on Four Days On because the drum line is an integral part of the piece. Regardless of the lack of beats, it still sounds like Synthetic Block. The closest comparisons, although only in sound and not in composition, is Eardrum (off the first disc) and Book of Formation.

May 14, 2001. Work has begun on the next Synthetic Block CD, tentatively titled "Sonic Approach." It may even be on a label and I won't have to press it myself. I consider my MP3.com CDs an experiment that has failed. I can sell more if I go the traditional route, so if no label is interested I'll have to fund it myself. More on this as it happens.

All the music has been written and I'm in the process of recording the CD now. I expect it to be complete by the end of June, with the goal of a release by the end of the summer. Here is the track listing so far: Evaporate>Doused>In/to>Rotation>Four Days On, Inevitable. In/to and Inevitable are on my MP3.com site now, but these are new arrangements and recordings. The first five tracks will segue into one another, while Inevitable stands alone. Four Days On is a different arrangement than the track played at the Gathering last fall. More later.

Feb. 5, 2001. I've just released a new CD of older Synthetic Block material, entitled Driving Backward. This release contains some tracks from older cassette releases and is available exclusively through MP3.com as a DAM CD, which contains audio files that can be played on any CD player, and MP3 files that can be accessed on any computer. I'll be releasing another DAM CD in the next week or so, entitled Book of Formation, which contains reworked and rerecorded tracks from days past. More info. on this release as it happens.

Jan. 3, 2001. Happy new year everyone. Sorry about the lack of updates, but I've been preoccupied. I recently started a new job, and that has cut into my free time. On the music front, not a whole lot is new since the Gathering show in September. I got a good deal on a used XP-50, so I'm back to my main workstation. I sold the JX-305, and will soon get a couple of expansion boards for the XP.

Since the Gathering, I've written one new track, "Book of Formation," I've also reworked two of the new tracks that I debuted at the Gathering, "Strangely Inward" and "Four Days On" on the XP. So I have three tracks right now, with a couple of more in the works. I'll try to get a new disc out this year, but no promises. It's not like the world is breaking down my door for new music, so I'll go at my own speed. Most likely it will either be a CDR or an MP3 DAM release. I don't see any labels being interested in releasing my music at the present, nor can I break even pressing my own discs. To date I've recouped a little more than half of my investment in "The Opposite¨÷" CD.

I've uploaded three older tracks to my MP3 page from Organizing the Struggle, a 1995 cassette release. I'll probably upload a few more tracks from other cassettes to comprise a DAM disc of older tunes. I may also press this as a CDR with an original version of A Science of Forget from 1996 that runs about 40 minutes. Actually, it's version 3, but is too long for an MP3. The title for this collection is "Driving Backward: A Collection of Floating Relics."

September 25, 2000. Thanks to everyone who came out to the Gathering last Saturday. Special thanks to those kind souls who bought some CDs and stopped by to chat. It was gratifying to spend some time talking to folks who are passionate about electronic music. Chuck, Jeff, and Art deserve special mention for putting on such a fine concert series. I'll try to outline a blow-by-blow account of the evening for those who couldn't make it, and as a glimpse into the amount of work the mighty trinity of Chuck, Jeff, and Art put into the Gatherings.

I arrived at St. Mary's church, smack in the middle of the UPenn campus, at about 4:00 pm and was immediately greeted by Chuck, who helped unload what little gear I had. I like to travel light, and on this occasion, my rig consisted of the Roland JX-305, a Korg Electribe R drum machine, and a small Boss mixer. Once inside, I met John Duval of Dweller, who was in the midst of setting up. I took a few minutes to absorb the space. The church had nice high ceilings, and a generous amount of stained glass around. There was a dark medieval quality to the architecture and lighting; I could see why this building hosted space music concerts. During the next hour, the other two Dweller members, Dave and Lon, showed up and we all set about getting our gear in place. Chuck and Jeff were busy setting up the lights, while Art got the sound system ready. It's amazing the amount of wires that were snaking around the stage. John had a Roland Juno, an Oberheim OB12 and an Emu Vintage Keys. There was also an Oberheim Cyclone, as well as some processing gear. John used a Yamaha guitar that was MIDI'd to Casio and Emu UltraProteus synths. He had a bunch of floor pedals, as well as some other synth and processing equipment that I can't recall names for. Dave had a Nord Lead 2, a Microwave II, and a lot of MOTM modular stuff. His gear was mighty impressive.

I set up in front of Dweller, with my gear slightly to stage right. This would allow me to quickly move the keyboard to the side after my set was done. I was initially going to stand, but decided on sitting. We had planned to do a joint encore, and I would have obscured John if I had stood. Anyway, I did my soundcheck at about 5:30 pm. I was pretty much done after five minutes, and tried to get out of the way at that point. Shortly thereafter, Dweller did their soundcheck. My god did they sound good. They had a nice organic analog sound that was very much in the mid-70s TD vein. There was also a nice Pink Floyd vibe to the music.

The lights and fog machine were also tested out during this time, and I was confident that the sound and the lights would be spot on for the show.

After a quick bite to eat, my wife and I headed back to the church around 7:30 pm. There were already some folks who had arrived. I spent this time talking to Chuck and then to Dave. The plan was that after Dweller's main set, I would join them onstage for a short "encore." Dave suggested the key of Dminor, and we left it at that. After hanging out at the back of the hall for a few minutes, Chuck let me know the show would start soon, and I headed for the front. I waited off to the left. Chuck went and turned down the house lights, while Jeff brought up the "mood" lighting. After an undeservedly flattering intro by Chuck, I went up and sat behind the keyboard and started the drum machine. I went on at about 8:20 pm and ended about 9:15. My set was as follows:

Strangely Inward
Silver Sky>
Fusebox>
Four Days On
Organizing the Struggle>
Point of Seeing
India

Silver Sky is from the first CD, while Organizing the Struggle is the title track from a 1995 cassette release. The other pieces were new, while India is a John Coltrane tune.

I had a few clams here and there, but nothing too noticeable. Due to the darkness of the hall and the nature of the lights for the stage, I really couldn't see anything in the audience, and they were not far away or anything. The sound was amazing and full, I could hear it echo off the high ceiling, altho this was not what was heard from the audiences' perspective. After the initial tune, I plowed ahead with the next three tunes, which morphed into one another. During Four Days On, I read some poetry, which seemed to go over well.

It was a blast to play the set, and was pretty relaxed. Again, it was nice to hear my music loud in a live setting. You just don't get the same effect holed up in a studio. At times, I thought the drums got a bit too techno, so I'd quickly move to the next programmed drum line, but other than that, I have no complaints. Judging from the comments, I'm considering putting India on the next CD. I'm also comfortable enough to do some spoken word on the next CD as well.

After a short break, I settled into the front row with my wife and got ready for Dweller. The guys played two pieces, with the first at almost an hour. The first piece started off very atmospheric and ambient. Later, some sequences kicked. It was evident there were some touchpoints built into the piece, but there was a nice improvisational quality to it. The new line-up works well and the guys were enjoying themselves. From the audiences perspective, John was on the left, Lon in the middle, and Dave on the right. Although the sounds melded together into a nice cohesive unit, I could tell who was playing what most of the time. John did a nice share of mellotron and piano sounds, while Dave handled the analog filter sweeps and otherworldy percussion, and some leads. The two of them shared the sequence and arp lines. Lon did a lot of string sounds, sound effects, as well as lead sounds, all on the guitar. I know these descriptions are pretty simplistic, but they had a huge sound. At times I was reminded of TD's Encore album, but the music was distinctly Dweller's.

After a short, more driving piece, that actually sounded like Phaedra in spots, the guys tried to call me up, but Chuck intervened: the hour was late and there wasn't any time. I was a little disappointed, but I'm glad they didn't try to cut their set in order to accommodate this. We'll just do it some other time. After some time talking with the audience, I packed up the gear and headed for the hotel. I caught part of my set on Chuck's radio show. All in all, one of the highlights of my music career.

Again, thanks to all those who came to the show. Thanks to Kim and the gentleman whose name I didn't catch (sorry) for selling CDs and working the door. Special thanks for the last time to Chuck, Jeff, and Art.

September 18, 2000. Spoke to Dave Fulton of Dweller last night. All I can say is I look forward to hearing their set; it's going to be a scorcher. I don't envy the trip or hauling the gear they need from the other coast.

I see that the new Access Virus rack will sell for about $750. This may be the extra unit I need to fill out my sound. But I don't see such a purchase for a couple of months. Again, although I'm not using much gear, I'm squeezing as much out of it as I can and have achieved a pretty full sound for some of the tracks. Of course my experience live is never the same as studio, so I go with no expectations.

I've read some interesting comments in the Discipline Global Mobile guestbook concerning the recent Guitar Craft course that I didn't attend. It sounds like some participants didn't feel Fripp and the others teaching the course engaged the students enough, whatever that means. It sounds like it was a big crowd. I thought that the course I went to (March 1990; 30 people) was large, but this sounds like it was over twice as big. I'm still working through material I got from that week about what it means to be a musician and human being.

Case in point. As I mention below, I'm in a spate of model making, which is kind of humorous in it's own way. But, the amount of time and detail necessary to produce a good, or at least not a crappy, looking model is large. I find this translates to other parts of my life where I'm now paying a little more attention to detail. It's easy to overlook a detail here and there, and I find myself asking, "is it really necessary to sand this little plastic burr down." But if I don't do that to more than one item, they combine to become a larger mess. It's easier to deal with the details as they come, no matter how insignificant they seem at the time, than to try to fix the culmination of overlooking many small details later.

September 15, 2000. I've posted an excerpt of the poem Four Days On, which is part of the piece of the same name at the Gathering show next week. I've been continuing to run through the set each night, and it's down enough so that I still feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants, yet not so much so that I'll become confused. Anyway, my experience is that no matter how much I prepare there are always inevitabilities of time and space that creep in. In other words, there will be some goofs.

My main points of working now are on the solos, particularly the melody line in one of the older pieces that I want to play instead of sequence. I'm also trying to ensure that the solos are not boring.

I'm really looking forward to hearing Dweller live. I have a feeling they are going to have a lot more equipment that me. My gear will be the Roland JX-305 and the Korg Electribe R. I'm not even planning on bringing a mixer; I'll route the JX-305 through the Electribe's inputs. The Roland has internal effects, which I'll use, while the Korg does not. As I mentioned on an earlier entry, I don't see this as a problem since we're playing in a sanctuary. I'll have to wait until the soundcheck to accurately judge the natural acoustics of the space.

I've recently tried my hand at plastic model building after a 25-year layoff. I've been finding it very relaxing, almost meditative. It's nice to follow a pursuit that doesn't cost much money (most models are less than $10) and that is just an end in itself. Right now I've been doing WWII planes, and have some NASA pieces on deck. I recommend this for anyone looking for a nice relaxing pursuit. I use nontoxic glues and acrylic paints. Just don't expect the end results to look like those air-brushed beauties that you see in magazines. Over and out.

September 12, 2000. Sorry about the past week of silence, but I was on vacation and laid low. Less than two weeks until the Gathering, and everything is under control. Set remains the same, and I've got everything down enough to allow for a fair amount of improvisation. Should be a fun gig. I dropped the idea of the clarinet tho; just couldn't get it to fit in to my liking. I'll probably try one more time.

September 1, 2000. Finally got a smartmedia card last night to back up all the songs from the JX-305. Now I can rest easier. I had visions of all the music getting wiped out for whatever reason and then having to start from scratch. Now everything for the concert is backed up, and the card will be carried separately to the gig.

I would have liked to report that I won a Jomox Xbase09 on ebay, but I was outbid. The highest I would have gone is $600. Someone got it for $610. That's the way it goes. With ebay, you have to figure out what's the most you'll pay for something and live with it. Even if someone gets the item for just a little bit more.

Anyway, I've been intrigued by the Xbase09 and would at some point like to get one. But at $750 new, it's a little pricey. I've been thinking of adding more drums and building a sound around lots of drums and minimal synth sounds. So far the Korg Electribe and the JX-305 have great drum sounds and Roland X0X-style programming. What I may do is get something like a Novation Drumstation, since on the sequencer side I can use the Korg or the 305 for line programming. Regardless, I'd like the Xbase09 at some point.

August 31, 2000. A slight change in a new tune name. CPL593H is now Strangely Inward. The other titles are set as below: Fusebox, Four Days On, and Point of Seeing. Still have not tried the clarinet over the two tracks I planned on using it for, but I have made lots of progress in seques and solos. Soon I'll be playing with headphones to realize the final balances.

One point I'm thinking about now is effects. The church will most likely have its own natural reverb, so I'm leaning toward turning off the reverb or else a lot of the sounds may be lost. However, since the church's natural reverb is not controllable, there may not be enough, or too much, depth for everything. What I'll probably do is set up the effects as if I was recording, and just experiment a little during the soundcheck to make sure everything sounds reasonable.

By running through the set almost every night, I'm coming upon the parts of the show that don't really work well, at least from my perspective. For example, there are places where the drums are a little too busy, places where I can see the audience getting bored because of some repetition. So these are parts I need to revisit and change a bit. Of course, there will be some type of light show, so there will be some other focus at times.

As with every show, no matter how much I prepare, there will be flubs. Missed notes in solos, parts not turned on in time, or turned on too early. Since the tunes are pattern-based, for the most part, this shouldn't be a problem; there's no set length for each track. They can go slightly shorter or longer. I have an hour to play and will adjust the length of tracks as I go. There are certain ones that have a nice groove and could go on forever; others have more of a finite feel to them and get a little repetitious sounding after a while. So there will be a mix of shorter and longer pieces.

August 29, 2000. Uh, oh, two entries in one month! I've started working on the set for Sept. 23 in earnest. The program of music runs about an hour, which is good since that's the time allotment I have. Right now, I'm working out the solos and sounds, with an eye (or ear) to how it will be for the folks listening. Most of the songs are fluid, in the sense that I can make them longer or shorter at will. This is made easier because a lot of what I do is based on patterns. Thus, the whole "song" is not sequenced, just the parts. So I can trigger the different parts at will, while playing others on top, soloing, or just sitting back and watching all the lights blink. In a sense, the evening will be full of improv., but there will be a net.

Still working on the poem, so no news there, tho I will post the draft soon. I haven't pulled the clarinet out in a few days, but plan on trying it out over a couple of the tunes soon. I'd really like to use it, but it depends on a few factors. Clarinets are notorious for not playing in tune with other instruments. To remedy that, players usually "tune" the horn to other instruments by pulling out the barrel slightly or using a barrel that is tuneable. I'll have to address this situation soon. Believe me, the sound of an out-of-tune clarinet over a synthesizer bed is not the most pleasant sound. Also, since the clarinet is a reed instrument, and reeds need to be wet to play properly, I'm confronted by the timing of the instrument's use. Since I would be using the horn later in the show, I'll either have to suck on the reed during a track, leave the reed in a cup of water, or buy a synthetic reed that doesn't require moisture.

Playing another party with the band this Saturday. Pretty much the same set as May. Since I haven't touched the bass since then, my fingers hurt a bit from the practice we did the other day. Still, it's worth it to play with live drums.

I'm coming out of a jazz phase and have been listening to lots of Steve Hillage and Hawkwind. Got to love that space music.

August 21, 2000. I've moved the previous journal entries to the archives, so click here to view older entries.

Preparations are now in full swing for the Gathering in Philadelphia on September 23. In case you're just joining us, I'll be opening up for Dweller at the Threshold. I'm set to play an hour's worth of music. I've written four new pieces for the show. Only one has a definite title, "Four Days On." There's a poem in progress that goes with this composition, and I'll link to it once it's in a presentable state. The titles for the other three pieces are in flux, but for the time being are "Point Of Seeing," "Fusebox," and "CPL-593H." There's a bit of trivia with that last one; see if you can figure it out.

I'm also planning on playing two older synthblock pieces and ending with a cover. All the music is down and I'm working on the arrangements now. Some of the pieces will be linked together for a seamless experience, but there will probably be a pause or two between some of the tunes. A minimal amount of sequencing will be employed, but there will be no backing CD or DAT; I'm going to do as much live playing as is possible with the equipment I'm using.

The equipment I'm using now is a Roland JX-305 and a Korg Electribe ER-1 drum machine. I'm getting a pretty full sound out of both. Four Days On will contain a poem reading, but I'll probably limit the poetry to that one piece only. I've recently taken up the clarinet and may use that, but I'm still deciding. It would fit into one of the older pieces, as well as the cover I'll be ending the show with. More tomorrow.

May 25, 2000. Thought I'd write some thoughts about the new Crimson disc, The Construktion of Light. In one word, amazing. I had no expectations for this release, but was blown away by the whole thing (save for the overwrought lyrics at the end of Larks' Tongues IV). They sound so much more tight and on fire than the Thrak band, a disc which I still can't get into. The instrumentals alone on the new CD are absolutely on fire, especially the first part of the title track. I can't wait to see this band live. I'm actually glad that they'll be playing the whole disc in concert. Fripp, in particular, sounds nimble and upfront. Good to hear him have to carry more of the weight with a smaller unit.

I also picked up Pete Townshend's Lifehouse Elements, having not been able to afford the full six-disc Chronicles. Very cool to hear Baba O'Reilly as an orchestral version. The synth intro. is definitely one of the things that got me into synths to begin with. I remember hearing it blaring out of the radio when I was 7 and wondering what was making that sound. I know there's a real long version of just that synth/organ backing track and I'd love to hear the whole thing. There's a three minute excerpt on the Elements disc.

Tonight is the last band practice before the annual party this weekend. Should be fun. Not only am I playing bass, but also singing a few tunes. Also looking forward to playing the synth solo on From The Beginning, which I pretty much have down.

Sat down last night and worked out some stuff on the new synth, but ended up getting frustrated; nothing new there. I don't care if the 305 is a dance or groove synth, what I came up with sounded like another synthblock track, close in lineage to Ping, but different enough. Oh, well, so much for a new direction!

May 23, 2000.The concert for Sept. 23 is definitely on. I've been started to work on a set over the last few weeks. I'll kick into high gear in another week or so, after the annual Memorial Day classic rock jam session where I spend the day playing bass.

I was originally planning on doing a number of pieces from both CDs. But after working out the material, I have to admit that I'm kind of bored playing those tunes. I'll probably do what I mentioned below: play a track from each disc, with an emphasis on the new material for what will be CD three.

I recently bought a used Roland JX-305 for a great price. This synth was only out for awhile before it was discontinued by Roland. Basically, an MC-505 with a keyboard, the synth is built with live performance in mind. The sequencer is pattern based and the sounds are geared toward the dance market, although there's a smattering of other sounds as well. A bit more constricting than the XP-60 from a user interface and sequencer viewpoint, but I don't mind a challenge, and the synth engine is similar. You can also do X0X-type programming via the LCD screen.

I also picked up a Korg Electribe ER-1 drum synthesizer. There's great sounds that can be made from this little box, and it's inexpensive too. I've already programmed a load of drum sounds and patterns, and will use these as the basis for some new tracks. I'll post some new material once it's in presentable state.

I picked up a neat CD set the other day, called "Ohm: The Early Electronic Gurus of Electronic Music." It's on the Ellipsis Arts label. Three CDs and a nice booklet, the packaging is really superb. The set covers early electronic experiments, up to a track from Schulze and Eno. The focus is mainly on the academic bleeps and bloops stuff. All the classic names are there: Luening, Ussachevsky, Sobotnick, Riley, Schaeffner, etc. I also discovered a bit of my wife's family history in there as well. Ussachevsky's track "Wireless Fantasy," was a commissioned work that had to use morse code signals as its basis. Ussachevsky was introduced to Edward Raser, who had a wireless museum in New Jersey with lots of antiquated and rare equipment, which Ussachevsky recorded for the piece. Raser was my wife's grandfather and I've seen some of the equipment he used. I remember hearing this piece in high school when I took a class in electronic music, so it was neat to read about that. My wife got a kick of that bit of trivia.

March 3, 2000. I'm starting anew here, so all previous entries are in the archive now, which can be accessed from the link below.

The first bit of news is that it looks like I'll be opening up for Dweller At The Threshold at the Star's End Gathering on Sept. 23 in Philadelphia. This concert series is certainly one of the only regular concert series in the U.S. that hosts electronic music. Chuck van Zyl's dedication to this niche of the music industry is a constant source of encouragement for me. Without knowing how much time will be allotted, I plan on playing mostly new music, with a track or two from each of the two SB CDs. I'll also record the event and this may become the third SB CD, but we'll see. I'll use this space to maintain updates on the state of the new music.

As is my usual mode of operation, I'm in "incubator" mode now. What that means is that I do a lot of thinking about ideas, but don't actually sit at the keyboard and play. For the first time, I'm not rushing this stage and will put the ideas in motion once the time is right. Contributing to this is the disappearing winter here on the East Coast. My studio is in a room of our house that we don't heat regularly, which means it can be a bit uncomfortable to work in. In winters past, I've moved my gear to a different room, but with two kids now, that's not possible, so I've not done a lot of keyboard playing in the studio. We have a piano in our living room that I'll often use to sketch ideas, but for the most part the electronic equipment has gotten a break.

What I've been playing a lot of recently is bass. My first love as an instrument, and probably the one I still feel the most affinity to, it's been a good learning experience with concentrating on the instrument again. Besides new musical ideas, it's good to feel proficient on an instrument with strings. Despite almost 25 years of picking up the guitar, I've yet to feel a sympathetic resonance with the instrument. The closest I ever felt to being a guitar player was while taking a Guitar Craft course with Robert Fripp in 1990. Besides blowing my head off in terms of the other players there, I received enough material about what it means to be a musician and a human being to work on for a long time. There's going to be Guitar Craft course in Sept. in New Jersey, but given the time and money involved, it doesn't look like I'll be able to attend. This has created a disturbance in me that I'm not really able to articulate yet, but hope on these pages soon. The bottom line is that, once again, I'll have to try to make my way down the path without the support of a community.

The new CD is doing well, and I thank all who have purchased it. I'm about halfway to recouping my investment and fully expect to be able to fund the next CD. Most likely I'm not even going to send it around for consideration to other labels because it's just not worth it at this point. It's also easier to make the money back when doing it yourself.

January 3, 2000. OK, I've been horrible at keeping up this page. Let's get up to speed. The new disc is out and is available at Backroads, Hypnos, Synth Music Direct and Groove Unlimited. The disc has been getting good airplay around the country, particularly on Echoes and Star's End. There will be an upcoming review in Expose, and some online reviews. That's all for now.

October 26, 1999. Go to new CD page to see what the cover of the new disc looks like. I'm expecting to receive the disc any day now, and will gear up to get the music out there as quick as possible.

October 5, 1999. The Opposite of Staring Into Space is now at the manufacturer. I expect to have the discs back by the end of the month. And after a couple of weeks setting up some distribution, it should be available by the middle of November. Once I get proofs back of the graphics, I'll post them to the discography page. I'm crossing my fingers that the cover looks ok. I had my wife design and make up the files for the disc so that I would'nt have to rely on the manufacturer for design. With these disc firms, you can get a great price, but what they do for the artwork leaves a lot to be desired. If they simply output the files straight, I should have no problems. Also, I sent them a CDR of the music so that should go smoothly. More soon.

September 28, 1999. The big news is that the second SB CD will be released in November. I'll be putting it out on my own Ironing Board Recordings label as a regular release and not a CDR. The artwork and all the music is together and will be sent to the manufacturer at the end of this week. I'll post the artwork soon, as well as some sound samples of a replacement track for "Careful With That Fax Machine." After several listens, and some other's opinions, I've decided it didn't really fit and so have replaced that track with another, "Engine Room." "Careful¨÷" is still on mp3.com for anyone interested. The disc will be available direct and through some select e-music dealers. I'll post the particulars soon.

I haven't been doing much e-music lately and have instead been playing a lot of bass in the last month. One thing that is certain is that the next phase of music will be a bit different than what came before. The Opposite of Staring Into Space is more the closing of a chapter than the start of a new one. Regardless, I'm still proud of the music and looking forward to getting it out to all who are interested. More soon.

September 2, 1999. Well Summer is over. The keyboards have sat idle lately, and the guitar, while I've reaquainted myself with bass. I bought a Warkwick after wanting one for over 10 years. Now I'm amp shopping. Right now I have a SWR on loan and it's pretty good, although I'm leaning toward a Gallien-Krueger. On the SB CD front, I've found a manufacturer, and the artwork is in the design stage now. Track listing is pretty set, and I hope to post the artwork soon.

July 2, 1999. Sorry it's been a long time. I've recently renewed my active service in poetry, so expect to see some new stuff in that section of the site soon. Besides pulling some of my favorites from the bookshelf (John Ashbery, George Oppen, and Marjorie Welish), I've also started writing again. Just as I had a layoff from the guitar, so with poetry, although I did do a bit of teaching a couple of years ago.

On the SB front, there's not much new. Since I've gotten no response to "The Opposite Of Staring Into Space," I'm gearing up for it's release on my own Ironing Board Recordings by the end of the summer. Whether it's a CDR release or not is still up in the air. I've also started sketching out some new ideas for the next phase of material, incorporating guitar. I've been learning my way around the XP-60; definitely a great step up in terms of usability. In other news, Chuck Van Zyl played "Shoal" on his Stars End radio show last week.

June 7, 1999. Please visit the News page for the link to my version of King Crimson's "Sailor's Tale." The track was originally done for a proposed King Crimson tribute disc a couple of years ago. Since that project never got off the ground, I'm happy to see the track land on Elephant Tape. As I've mentioned before, I really enjoy doing "covers" now and then; it takes the pressure off coming up with new material and allows me the opportunity to put a new slant on tunes I've enjoyed for years. In this case, the 309 drums give the track a contemporary feel. Also, there was no way I was going to attempt to recreate Fripp's massive solo, so I used some synth lines in the Guitar Craft style to basically rewrite the finale of the song.

In the coming week or so, I should be able to post the address on mp3.com where I've placed two full-length tracks from The Opposite Of Staring Into Space: "Arc" and "Careful With That Fax Machine." I'll probably put more tracks from the CD up there, but I wanted to see how those two would work out to start.

Speaking of "Careful...," Bill Fox played the track on his EMusic radio show last week. Besides some labels that I've sent the disc out for consideration, I also sent a copy to Bill and to Chuck at Star's End. Both Bill and Chuck have played material from the first disc and from the GoldTri compilations, for which I'm eternally grateful. Hopefully, I'll get some positive news from one of the prospective labels, but I've already set the wheels in motion to release the disc myself if need be.

In other news, I had a bit of an equipment epiphany a couple of weeks ago. You've probably noticed by now that I go through a lot of equipment. If I could afford it, I'd probably have a lot more, but since I can't, I usually sell one piece to acquire another. Anyway, through the past year or so, I've gone through a number of modules trying to settle on a piece I could grow with. I've never been entirely satisfied with anything I've gotten, and I won't put the blame on the equipment, because most of it has been top-notch (the Microwave 2 and the 309, in particular). One piece that I've never had the desire to sell was the XP-50. As my main keyboard, controller, sequencer, I felt particularly lucky to find a workstation that I never grew tired of. Through all this module buying and reselling, I've often been frustrated at the lack of time I've had to explore the nether reaches of the XP-50's capabilities. Although I created my own patches, and used the synth and sequencer to their full capabilities, I always felt there was more in there if I only had the time. So, the epiphany was that instead of searching for the perfect module, I would just upgrade the XP-50, and that's just what I've done. Last week I received an XP-60. There are a number of upgrades from the XP-50 that make the 60 a powerful machine: a better user interface, better digital/analog converters, more sequencer memory, an arpeggiator, and additional outputs. This last point was important. For a time, the XP-50 was my only synth, and I used the fact that I did everything with one synth as a selling point. The problem was, that I couldn't run different sounds to different outputs to an external processor. This led to a sameness in the sound, which became a problem in more complex passages. Now with the 60, I get around this problem and can still limit myself to one synth, although I'm sure my view on this will change in the future. Since the synth engine and sequencer formats are the same between the two synths, I can use all the sounds and songs I've created with the XP-50. Now let's see how long I can go without wanted more equipment...

May 25, 1999. There's some new MP3 files posted of material from the second CD, The Opposite Of Staring Into Space. There's excerpts from most of the tracks except two, After and Trylon, which are more ambient.

Other than that, not much else new. All the copies of the disc have been burned and are ready to be sent to prospective labels. This should happen in the next week or so.

April 29, 1999. Still immersed in a guitar world, and enjoying the Strat. The 503, however, proved to be somewhat inadequate. After playing the Strat through a real amp, the shortcomings of the Zoom unit were evident, specifically, it squashed the character of the Strat so it sounded pretty dull. I bit the bullet and bought a POD, which so far I'm very happy with. The character of the guitar is still present, but it sounds like it's played through the many amps the unit models. There's also lots of effects to liven up the sound. What I've been doing is routing the POD through the power amp input of my bass amp, so it completely bypasses the amp's preamp. Sounds good, but a little too much midrange, probably due to the amp's 15-inch speaker, which I dial out with the POD. Like with synths, it's nice to use knobs on a processor instead of menus. The POD also comes with Emagic's Soundiver, which I loaded onto my PC, but haven't had time to play around with yet.

I also canceled the order for the Headrush. I decided that since there was no way to synch the loops to my keyboards, it just was going to be a headache. I've also read some comments about some noise with the unit, as well as the click of the pedal becoming part of the loop. The POD has a three-second delay, which when I set the feedback high gives me some basic looping and sound on sound. Line6, the folks who put out the POD, are coming out with some effects pedals that "model" a delay, modulator, and distortion. So, what's with modeling older stomp boxes? Do they make sure they get the noise down as well? Anyway, the delay is supposed to have a 12-second delay with looping capabilities, so I'll check that out when it's released.

I've been listening to a bit of Jeff Beck lately. "Cause We Ended As Lovers" is absolutely amazing. What he gets out of guitar with little or no effects is staggering. You can hear how much he changes the pickup selector switch to modify his tone. His new one, Who Else, incorporates some more electronic moments and is interesting, but doesn't really match System 7 for guitar-techno.

On the Synthetic Block front, well not much is new. A few months ago a new label was interested in putting out the second CD, but they seem to have dropped off the face of the earth, which isn't the first time this has happened. I tend not to get excited about offers unless I see it in writing. Really, I see why people release things themselves. When you're not going to sell many copies, what's the point of spending so much time searching for a label. But having said that, I've compiled a list of 12 labels that would fit with my music, and I'll start burning some discs soon and sending them out. I'm hoping to learn by the summer if I'll be putting the disc out myself. Then I have to decide if I want them pressed or do CDRs. I'm leaning toward CDRs for the second disc (if I have to do it myself), and having a third release pressed. More on this as it develops.

April 7, 1999. Sorry for the disruption in communications, but my second daughter, Jessica Grace, was born on March 16, so things have been a little hectic. Definitely less stress than having the first kid, but just as time-consuming. Regardless, I've found time to pick up the guitar again after a six-year layoff. After going through a few models over the last month, I believe I've settled on a Fender Deluxe Super Strat. I got a great deal, $430 with a deluxe Fender gig bag (the axe retails for $699). What makes it a Deluxe Super? Well, there's a button that adds the bridge pickup to the combinations that don't usually have it. I tried an Ibanez RG270DX, but the Floyd Rose tremolo was too annoying. Also, although the neck felt great, it really felt cramped picking, and I really didn't feel like I was playing something made out of wood. I then moved on to a Danelectro reissue U1. Another good guitar, but it was pretty much a one-trick pony when it was plugged in. Although I never thought I'd own a Strat, it just feels good to play; very solid and organic with a natural finish. I got a rosewood fingerboard, because I've never liked the feel of a maple one. Playing the guitar reminds me how much I love Richard Thompson's tone, and of course David Gilmour's.

I also bought a Zoom 503 amp simulator. Since I don't have a guitar amp, this unit really does the trick. Much cheaper than the Pod simulator everyone is raving about. And for all the beating Zoom equipment takes, the 503 is really a good deal, and the built-in noise reduction helps if I ever decide to record. It gets a good overdriven sounds, which I'm utilizing for soloing. To build my chops, I'm still in a Zappa phase, playing Zoot Allures, What's New In Baltimore, The Deathless Horsie, and Watermelon in Easter Hay. Thank heavens for tabs off the net!

I also have a Danelectro echo pedal, but I'm going to sell it for an Akai Headrush, which is a new delay/echo/looping pedal. I'm going to try my hand at guitar looping and may work it into Synthetic Block music. I'm anxious to try out this new direction since much of my keyboard music is loop based anyway, using the XP50's RPS functions. I guess the best example of this would be "Ping," which is a series of loops with the 309 along for the ride. Actually, "Silver Sky" is of the same compositional mold. News on this direction as it unfolds.

March 12, 1999. Today is supposed to be the birthdate of my second daughter, but medical science is rarely right about such things, so we're still waiting. I'm officially off my most recent Pink Floyd listening obsessions and in the middle of a Frank Zappa phase. Thankfully, I already own many CDs by the master, so it's just a question of deciding what to hear.

March 3, 1999. I received the Philips CDR880 and I've been having a blast using it. I don't know why I waited this long to get one. Anyway, the first disc I made was a Pink Floyd compilation to get used to working with the unit. I've also made a copy of the next Synthetic Block CD from a couple of DATs using the digital input of the 880. Great quality and clean copy. As an experiment, I recording some stuff from CD onto a rewriteable disc using the analog ins. I cannot hear any difference between the source and the dub even though it wasn't a digital transfer. I say this after listening at high volumes through headphones during a quiet passage from an older recording, in this case ELP's "Endless Enigma." Specifically, there we some quiet sections with a fair amount of noise, even though the disc is the MFSL gold edition, but the levels were equal in both recordings. I'm sure if I hooked up a spectral analyzer there'd be a difference, but for my ears, it's fine.

Finally received the quad version of Dark Side of the Moon. Wow, what a difference. There's some interesting stereo placement and the positioning gives a more aggressive quality to some of the tracks, especially in the case of the drums.

In other news, I've still got to motivate and line up some live gigs. I haven't really done much in the last couple of weeks because of the CD recorder purchase, and because my wife and I are expecting our second child next week. So if I seem to fall off the radar for a short time, those would be the excuses!

Feb. 19, 1999. Still working on two tracks that originate on the 309. Real interesting stuff using the synth capabilities of the percussion section. I've also sold my minidisc recorder to finance a CD recorder, which I should be ordering in the next week. I'm planning on the Philips CDR880 because it has a built-in sample converter. This is necessary since my DAT re order samples at 48. The other recorders in the Philips range don't do sample converting, and although I would like the dubbing deck so I could make digital copies easy, I really need to prioritize the purchase for my own music. So, at least for the start I won't be making any straight digital copies of discs. What I'll probably do is buy another CD player with a digital output at some point in the future; I've seen them for under $200. Anyway, the specs on the 880 look good, so I should be able to make good recordings using the analog inputs anyway. I have many live tapes I'd like to transfer, and I'd also like to start trading if time allows.

I received some great new Pink Floyd live material recently, including a great show from early 1973 with a few version of Childhood's End. Also got a couple of 1970 dates, and since I like everything from that year, it's hard to be disappointed. Another interesting show is from early 1972, the second night they did Dark Side of The Moon. The first night, they had to abandon the performance during Money because of technical difficulties. This copy has the second night, when they were able to do the full piece, the rest of the show from that night, and as a bonus, the first Dark Side tracks from the previous night. Real interesting versions of what became a famous work. I've grown to really like Dark Side and have actually been listening to the legitimate release for the first time in years. I also started playing Breathe on the piano the other night for the heck of it. I saw an interesting special on Abbey Road studios on public TV the other night. They spent a good 10 minutes on the Dark Side, including some new interviews with Roger Waters. For a list of what live Pink Floyd I've got, go to the Pink Floyd live page. I've got a lot more than what's there on tape.

Feb. 11, 1999. OK, for simplicities sake let's just say that this page will be updated every Friday. But don't hold me to it. I've been having a lot of fun with the 309. Because it's portable, I can work with it anywhere in the house using headphones. I've actually started composing some new material on it, and I've decided to use this method for the foreseeable future. With the limited synth capabilities, there's only so much I can do, but the results so far have been promising. Of course, I have tons of drum lines. Once I have a core set of pieces I'll introduce the XP-50 to finish off the tracks. You can actually play synth lines on the 309 using the little buttons, so I'm able to at least work on some additional parts for the XP.

The second Synthetic Block disc, "The Opposite of Staring Into Space" is complete, and I'll soon be burning some CDs to send out to prospective labels. Here's the track listing: Trylon, Half Awake, A Science of Forget, Arc, Hazard, Careful With That Fax Machine, After, Shoal.

Feb. 5, 1999. Well, probably predictably, I haven't kept up on this page like I originally intended to. I know when I visit pages of this nature, they always peter out in some form. But anyway, let's see what's been going on. I've integrated the 309 back into my setup. I've completed recordings of "Arc," "Half Awake" (formerly called "Against"), and "Hazard." They sound good; the 309 really adds a lot in the percussion department. Hopefully these tracks will be made public in 1999. I started trying to rework "A Science of Forget" and "Shoal," but I think the versions I recorded with the Microwave II will stand as the definitive ones for now. I'm just not satisfied with the way the 309 is working with those pieces, and I don't really have the patience for starting from scratch again. Actually, I've just had enough of trying to redo these pieces yet again with new equipment so it's time to move on. I've spent some much time over the last few months with the same music, that I'm really itching to get cracking on some new material. Basically, what I have now is two CDs worth of material that I'm trying to find home for, either as complete releases or on samplers.

Some of my main inspirations have been from listening to the more atmospheric moments of King Crimson and Pink Floyd. I especially enjoy Pink Floyd from the years 1968-1972, although I do enjoy Wish You Were Here and Animals. They lost me when they put out The Wall. Anyway, the late 60s/early 70s really showed the group as a "band," and live they really produced some excellent spacey material. To that end, I recently picked up a double-disc set of Atom Heart Mother quadraphonic mixes. Even though it's mastered from vinyl, the transfer was done with great care. The first disc is supposedly a copy of the quadraphonic LP. It's definitely a different mix from the official release. The best part is that the drums are in the center instead of off to the left. This transforms the piece and makes it more powerful. Other changes are more subtle, such as the sustained organ underneath the horns at the beginning, whereas on thetraditional release, there is none. There's also some extra guitar here or there. I've not been able to detect major differences in the other tracks other than the positioning of some of the instruments. Disc one is filled out with the oft-booted AHM from the BBC, in excellent sound. Disc two says it's "alternate tracks." What it sounds like is a different quad mix than disc one. I surmise that this was recorded using a different quad decoder, which I've read could account for the subtle differences with disc one. All the subtle nuance differences I noted about disc one are present on disc two, but some of the stereo positioning is different. Mainly, Nick's drums are panned a bit left, like on the official stereo release. Again, I haven't compared the rest of the tracks with the official version. This disc is filled out with live versions of If and Fat Old Sun from the usual BBC concert. Again, great sound. So was it worth the money? Well, AHM is my favorite Floyd album so I think so. Especially the first disc because the power of Nick's drumming is so much more evident than on the remastered CD from a few years ago. But as I mentioned before, if you're not familiar with the nuances of the album you may be disappointed; it's not like these are outtakes or anything. Oh, the packaging is great, with repros of the quad cover. There's also a new release with the quad mixes for the Dark Side of the Moon, which I should be receiving in a couple of days.

January 14, 1999. I spent last night transferring a lot of material from 1998 to minidisc. I bought a minidisc recorder about a month ago for a great price. I really don't notice any difference in sound quality between DAT and minidisc, and I think Sony has finally evolved the compression technology to an acceptable level. As I was transferring, I noticed that I actually have a completed CD of material from early last year. Although a number of the pieces have been reworked for the current project, I'm thinking of releasing a limited edition CD of some of the 1998 material if there's any interest. Please e-mail me if you'd like to hear this material.

Here's the tracks that would be included on a collection of "interim" material: "Trylon," "A Science of Forget," "After," "Hazard," "Interference," "Shoal," and "Remergence." "A Science of Forget" and "Shoal" are both 20 minute each, but the new versions I'm working on now stand at 10 minutes each. All the pieces were recorded using a Roland XP50 and a Kawai K5000R, so they sound a bit different than what I've ended up with now. There's actually a more ethereal quality to the music, thanks to the Kawai, while the current versions are more aggressive. "Trylon" is the only track that will remain unchanged for the next CD. Other completed tracks from 1998 are "The Aquarium at Night," "The Oppposite of Staring Into Space," "Perisphere," and a five-minute deep ambient mix of "A Science of Forget." Some of these tracks may appear on compilations during 1999.

January 12, 1999. Well, in a continuing effort to make more work for myself, I've gotten another new piece of equipment. Actually, I bought another Quasimidi 309, which kind of brings me back full circle to where I was about a year ago. Integrating the unit should be fairly easy, although there's a lot more options and sounds from when I first owned a 309. The hardest thing will be implementing sounds for "Shoal," "A Science of Forget," and "Careful With That Fax Machine." "Arc" and "Against" were done with a 309 originally, so they should be easy. To fund the purchase, I've sold the Emu Audity 2000. The Audity was a good unit, but had way more capabilities than I was ever going to use. With the current setup, which I hope will last for awhile, the XP50 will be used for pads, atmospherics, and general wierdness, while the 309 will handle all percussion, basses, and synth lines. My first big decision will be whether or not to replace the XP50 drums for "Shoal" and "A Science of Forget."

There's a good web site for 309 users run by Matt Peterson, where I contributed a write-up on how I used the 309 in making the Synthetic Block CD. I've reprinted it below, although you can also find it on Matt's site, following the "Tracks" link:

Here's a little synopsis of the 309 in action during a recording project. I record under the name Synthetic Block, and my first CD was released in May 1998 on Mindspore Records (www.mindspore.com). I'm probably not a typical user of the 309 because my music is more ambient in nature than the driving rhythms that the silver box pumps out. Regardless, four of the five tracks on the disc used the 309 to one extent or another, without any of the expansions. The disc consists of material from two writing/recording sessions: one in late 1996/early 1997, and the other in August 1997. Both sessions produced a CD's worth of music and Mindspore basically picked the tracks they liked best.

I bought the 309 in June 1997, one month before the original master for the disc was due. I immediately set about replacing the drums I had used with the 309's sounds, and in some cases used the bass/lead section. I was amazed at how well the 309 drums fit, and after a couple of weeks the integration with the rest of the equipment for that session (Roland XP50 and Nord Lead) was complete and recorded. Of course, typical record company delays meant that the disc was not going to be released for some months, and in the meantime (Aug. 1997) I had completed a slew of new recordings. The difference with this session was that the 309 was not used as an afterthought, but rather as an integral part of my setup. By this time, Mindspore was interested in the new material as well, and we decided to integrate the material into what became the CD. Below is a brief explanation of how I used the 309 on four tracks from Synthetic Block.

"Silver Sky." This track was from the Aug. 1997 session and was completed rather quickly; definitely one of those rare inspired moments when everything flows and fits together. The main melody line is from the 309, and the piece relies on the more atmospheric drum sounds from Quasimidi's wonder box. The 309 helped capture the mood of an ambient western. In hindsight, the piece is probably a little too long, although it's gotten the most radio play of any track off the disc, including airplay on Echoes.

"Eardrum." This longer piece was completed in June 1997, and features very little 309. Actually, there's only a short section with drums toward the end, but the 309 meshed well with the percussion from the XP50. Because of the addition of the 309 drums, the piece contains multiple time signatures that worked better than I thought they would.

"The Empire of Lights." The longest track on the disc, this is from the Aug. 1997 session and relied heavily on the 309. The first section is a mellotron introduction, which gives way to echoed XP50 percussion and complex 309 percussion. I made the 309 part using the drum grid and it went fairly quick. From there, two leads share the space: the one from the 309 is a typical sweep that I constructed to emulate the warm sweeps from an EMS Synthi A. The final section of the piece kicks into more typical 309 drum territory and uses a 309 lead as a counterpoint to the XP50.

Jan. 6, 1999. Work continues on the second Synthetic Block disc, tentatively titled "The Opposite of Staring Into Space." I just completed reworking a track from 1997 called "Arc." Since a few of the tracks on the disc are around the 10 minute mark, I'm concentrating on completing some shorter pieces. One of them, the title track, will use a five-minute ambient piece as its basis. There are also two other tracks I wrote in 1997, "Drain" and "Against," that I want to rework as well.

I've also been making a concerted effort to find more gigs. Although I live in the metropolitan New York City area, there really aren't many venues suited for electronic music. The main extent to the places I've played are clubs and YMCAs; not the most conducive environments. I've been searching for more suitable locations. The biggest is problem is explaining the music: definitely not new age, but also not techno. Actually, style is probably the biggest hindrance right now. In my dealings with finding a label for the second CD, I'm discovering the benefit of following a style. Most of the reviews of the first disc have highlighted that the music is not derivative. What I'm finding now is that the music is not ambient enough for the ambient labels, and not sequencer-driven enough for the labels that specialize in Berlin school music.

Dec. 28, 1998. I've been putting the finishing touches on a number of new tracks for what I hope will be the second Synthetic Block CD. A few of the tracks were written at the beginning of the year, one dates from early 1997, and the rest come from various writing session throughout 1998. Most of these pieces are done, but with my continued habit of changing equipment, it becomes necessary to create new sounds to go with the already committed sequences. For instance, earlier this year I bought a Kawai K5000R, then in the summer I purchased a Waldorf Microwave II, and most recently, an Emu Audity 2000. I'm finding that most of my time has been spent assigning new sounds from new equipment.

The following titles are complete and recorded: "Shoal," "A Science of Forget," "Careful With That Fax Machine," "Hazard," "The Aquarium at Night," and "The Opposite of Staring Into Space." The first four minutes of Shoal appear on the GoldTri Volume 2 compilation, although some of the sounds are now different. Other compositions that are close to completion are "Trylon," "After," "Perisphere" and "Arc." Some of these tracks have been submitted for compilations, and if accepted, I'll replace them with other tracks for the disc. I've sent out some copies of this music for consideration, but so far there has been no label interest. I'll be making a more concerted effort by burning some CDs to send out in February. If I can't find any interest, I'll resurrect Ironing Board Recordings and release the disc myself. I'll try to post some RealAudio samples of these pieces so folks can give me some feedback on them. Generally, they are somewhat in the same vein as the Synthetic Block disc, although some tracks are more ambient, while others have a more sequenced quality to them, in the style of "Plangent Bleating."

I've been listening to a bit of early-1973 live Pink Floyd, specifically "When You're In/Obscured By Clouds." I've started recording a version of this piece just for fun. As a break, I often do "covers" as a change of pace. Luckily, some of them are making it out into the world: ELP's "The Barbarian" on Mellow Record's ELP Tribute, and Soft Machine's "The Soft Weed Factor," on Mellow's upcoming Canterbury Tribute. I also have a version of King Crimson's "Sailor's Tale," which I've been trying to convert into RealAudio for the Elephant Tape site, but so far it's coming out distorted and I can't figure out why.

Yesterday, I picked up "From Within 2" on the Fax label. I don't own many Fax releases, but this one I highly recommend.