This is a brief exploration with a couple minimal synths I received this Christmas from my wonderful mother in law: the Teenage Engineering PO-24 Office and the Korg Monotron Delay. Out of all of the Pocket Operators, the PO-24 seems to be the most maligned. It has a very specific, noisy sound that is hard to fit into the workflow of most PO-based music. I’ve never had that feeling about it, though, and when I was first introduced to these little wonders, it was at the top of my “OMG I need this” list, alongside the PO-20 Arcade (first one I got!) and the PO-28 Robot. At that point, they hadn’t released anything in the 30-series, which took the rough concept of these synths–specific-sound doodads on the cheap–and exploded them into wildly customizable powerhouses. For me, as much as I enjoy the ability to sample whatever I want on the PO-33 KO or synthesize my own voice with the PO-35 Speak, having a set of constraints to the tools was kind of part of the appeal. Whenever I have to input my own sounds into a synth before I can even start making music, it’s a major creative block. The original six Pocket Operators just go, and you can crank them up to their limits in no time. Also, I LOVE the rough-around-the-edges vintage printer and computer sounds. They get really gritty and heavy with a little filtering and delay (provided here by the Monotron), giving an almost industrial techno vibe. I expect I have many more similar explorations to come with these and my other assorted pocket synths. Jamuary is just around the corner, but more about that later.
For the past couple years, I’ve been experimenting with electronic music production. Synthesizers and software, bleeps and bloops, harsh noise and chiptunes: I’ve kind of dabbled in all of it, and maybe spent a little too much money in the process. Every once in a while, I get the nerve up to hit record, and anything that makes it to YouTube or Bandcamp gets stamped with my “Community Medicine” moniker. Why Community Medicine? I like the sound of it, I guess, and most of the tracks are inspired by some aspect of the healthcare system and my work and experience within. This one, for instance, is of a part with another, noisier track called “Curette” (both of which can be found on Bandcamp!) and are in reference to my recent tibia surgeries. FUN, UPLIFTING STUFF! In the new year, I expect to play around a lot more with generating “finished” pieces of music, be they songs, explorations, or just unstructured jams.
In the era of disposability, some cling tightly to Walkmen, DVDs, and our fading love of stuff.
I have been screaming this for a while now. Physical media is coming back. Plus, when all the streaming services are splintered and ad-sodden and prohibitively-priced, only I and my two non-consecutive seasons of Scrubs on DVD will be the one laughing.
from the album Sulphur English
The more I tinker with music, the more unfinished “songs” I accumulate. As with many creative endeavors, having an organization mindset from the get-go is a huge help later. File structures aren’t the sexiest things, but if you don’t have to fight against your system, you get to spend more time actually making music.