Seismic Audio

Evan Buswell of New Systems Instruments //

Evan Buswell

Evan Buswell is a Bay Area musician, instrument designer, and researcher in philosophy and cultural studies. Evan’s music incorporates harmonic and drone elements to create musical spaces that are patient and loud. Evan probably expects far too much from this music, demanding that it provide spiritual transcendence, emotional catharsis, and scientific progress all at the same time. But at least it sounds neat. Evan is one half of the imminently expanding Borderlands Collective, a musical collective created to foster collaboration and friendly one-upsmanship among its members, and (soon) a record label to everyone else. As New Systems Instruments, Evan creates electronic musical instruments that emphasize new techniques for sound design and new ways of thinking about musical structure.

Patch notes:

Most modules are my own (New Systems Instruments) unless I otherwise specify.

The first piece has a reverb feedback loop at the center of it, using an old desktop digital reverb (REX 50) with a 30 second decay time. Beginning with the reverb output, the two channels are mixed together, and then put into one input of a CP3 type mixer (the ADDAC 703), which also has the duophonic melody coming into it (more on that later). The output is multed and sent to two function generators (Inertia), running as two pole resonant high pass filters by taking the second order input and subtracting that from the original signal in a second mixer. These resonant high pass filters are then returned to the reverb input. Two quadrature phases of an LFO (the Quad LFO + Phase Expander) are modulating the rate skew, changing the shape of the resonating wave. By setting the resonance correctly, the filter can pick out particular modes of the reverb and cause them to self-resonate, or if the filter nears self-resonance, it fights with the modes of the reverb. Output is taken from the reverb and the first order output of each Inertia. In the second half of the song, I add a duophonic riff coming from two Triphase Oscillators configured to give a square-ish wave. Four phases of a quadrature LFO (another QLFO + PX) are modulating 2 of 3 phases of each oscillator, while the third phase is unused. This is controlled by a keyboard, and mixed into the same ADDAC mixer taking feedback input from the reverb.

The second piece is another duophonic Triphase patch. Each mix out is going into two Babel modules (a co-wavefolder/analog logic module) as the only input, taking the XSOME output. Basically, Babel is functioning as an octaver/saw-to-triangle shaper here. These are going to the left and right inputs of the Quad Mid Side operating in stereo, then the L-R and X inputs are attenuated to narrow the mix (in stereo, X is just a second L-R). Output through some long reverb, pretty low in the mix. I’m using two channels of the Quad LFO plus two Phase Expanders to modulate the center of the two Babels and 2 of 3 phases of the Triphases, with the third phase held constant. The Triphases are tuned to cancel the first two harmonics, so on top of Babel’s octaving, the apparent pitch can be as much as two and a half octaves above the pitch of the oscillator, but modulation reveals the sub octaves by changing the phase of the Triphase and the center of Babel’s fold.


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