Todd Barton – The Don Of Buchla

1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear andwhy?

Large blue, skirted Rogan knobs like on my Buchla 259 Complex Waveform Generator. They fit my hand nicely, feel good and I can see the index on the skirt. For sliders, all the sliders on my Easel. I prefer sliders to knobs, because I can more easily see where they are. Clearly I use the sliders a lot, since the printing is wearing off!

2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?

When I travel my favorite setup of my Buchla Music Easel plus a lunchbox of eurorack modules, ususally a Makenoise Morphagene or Epoch Hordijk Benjolin to bring into the Easel’s Aux In for manipulation and processing and the Intellijel Planar 2 for spatialization.

3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commuteetc.?

see above

4. What software do you wish was hardware and viceversa?

I wish Tom Erbe’s Soundhack plugins were hardware. Ooops, wait! They are 🙂 All of his modules with Makenoise: Morphagene, Mimeophon, Echophon,Erbeverb are the ones I have.

Eurorack case

5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?

My Buchla 100 and Synthi AKS. Couldn’t be helped at the time.

6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?

Buchla 200e

Clearly my Buchla instruments, but I have also created a lot of music I love with my Hordijk and Serge systems.

Hordijk and Buchla 200

7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?

Though I learned about analog synthesis from a friends’ Easel back in the 1970’s, the first modular I owned was a Serge Modular Music System in 1979. It was a great entreand, I’d do it again.

Serge

8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have,that you just can’t live without?

I’m going to interpret “annoying” as “tempermental” in which case my Easel. It’s tempermental, but I love it.

[Editor: It’s a little nice to know that even a synthesis master, who clearly has a superb grasp of the Music Easel, thinks that his instruments can be ‘tempermental’]

Easel Eurorack setup

9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’vediscovered about a bit of kit?

Feedback. I try to get every module I encounter to feedback and learn what that has to teach me, what I can discover from it.


Artist or Band name?

Todd Barton

Genre?

All

Selfie?

Sure. Well a photo of me taken by my artist daughter, Ursula Barton

Todd Barton

Where are you from?

Originally the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Moved permanently to Ashland, Oregon in my late teens. I’m now 70.

How did you get into music?

Though my parents weren’t musical they played musicin the house (radio and phonograph) and there was a piano in the house that I began exploring at age 5. From then on I was obsessed with sound . . .

What still drives you to make music?

Sonic curiosity.

How do you most often start a new track?

By following the sound, listening to where it might takeme. It feels like sonic T’ai Chi, or more specifically a T’aiChi form called Push Hands which is done with a partner and it is an exploration and exercise of moving energy. I feel like my partner is sound.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Completely intuitive . . . the sonic sculpture looks and feels complete, nothing more to add and along the way I have stripped away unnecessary gestures and layers.

Show us your current studio— Too messy to show, but here are a few isolated shots ofsome gear.

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Listen, deeply.

Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.

Buchla Now album. In 2020 the cassette tape label Ultraviolet Light will release Buchla Now. This album will feature a compilation of new tracks recorded by some of the most exciting electronic musicians working today, and focus solely on instruments designed by Don Buchla, the legendary instrument builder, physicist, circuit designer and inventor of West Coast Synthesis. Buchla Now was curated by Todd Barton with contributions from Marcia Bassett, Suzanne Ciani, Dan Deacon, Jonathan Fitoussi, Steve Horelick, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, and Hans Tammen.

Suzanne Ciani once said of Don Buchla that his “ unique mindset allowed him to be outside the popular notion of what electronic music was”. Each of these artists, in their own way, carries on this tradition of boundary-pushing music, expanding the very notion of what music can be.

https://www.ultravioletlight.blue/

[Editor: Do you have any tips, tricks or fun techniques with any of the gear mentioned in this interview? Leave a comment]


Jens Paldam – Buchla Buddy

1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?

Turing Machine Eurorack
Turing Machine by Music Thing Modular

Here I am on the same blog as Tom Whitwell (Editor: Read his answers to ‘9 Odd Questions’ here) and I must mention his Turing Machine. It is one of the most brilliant modules out there and the knob that sets the balance between random and looped is nothing short of genius in all its simplicity. I have it sitting right next to Mutable Instruments Marbles (though I have owned the original, I currently use the Antumbra CARA version to save precious hp). Marbles is another brilliant module that expands on the core idea from the Turing Machine. The two of them are often patched together in a feedback loop that forms the foundation of many of the patches I create.

2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
The Buchla Multi-dimensional kinesthetic input port model 223e is somewhere between a keyboard and a sequencer. It is extremely playable. With it, one never runs out of control voltage sources. You can dial in the CV value for each key, so any scale or tuning system can be applied. The one thing that would be great was if the CV value wasn’t restricted to whole numbers, since the note I am trying to reach often lies somewhere between two whole numbers :/

Buchla Multi-dimensional kinesthetic input port model 223e

3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?
I usually bring my Buchla Skylab case. I have this nice soft bag for it and it can be packed while patched up.
There is always some programming of the 223e I can do, something that is nice to do away from the distractions of my other studio gear.

4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?
I worked with several hardware samplers over the years, but with the software sampler HALion from Steinberg I thought I had found my main sampler. When I started using modular hardware, I stopped using samplers all together, but about a year ago, I got hold of an Assimil8or from Rossum Electro Music. Though it might not be as comprehensive as a software sampler like the HALion or Native Instruments Kontakt, it has some great features that makes it an amazing tool in a modular context, like sampling of CV, phase modulation, scrub and shuttle, CV control over bit depth and aliasing. It is an amazing module.

Assimil8or by Rossum Electro Music

5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
I had a TR-808 that I sold some 15 years ago for about 1000 euros. I don’t really miss having it, since I hadn’t lived in Detroit in the eighties and wasn’t amongst those who had thrown their love on a discarded second hand machine, using it to realize their dream of changing the world through a unique vision of how the future should sound, but I regret not holding on to it for a little longer because now it is worth three times what I sold it for. Basically, I am on the lookout for something that is unique for my time and can help me achieve something with the same level of originality as the 808 and the techno created by the maestros from Detroit.

6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?
Sorry for the predictable and boring answer, but probably just modular gear in general. When patching, I can “invent” my own instrument particular to whatever track that I wish to create. This description might also apply to other types of gear or software, but with modular, everything starts like an experiment. It is to me, infinitely more inspiring and creative than choosing a software instrument and then browse through and modify the presets until I find a sound I like.

Jens Paldam’s Eurorack Modular

7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?
Modular hardware, like maybe a Doepfer system. Learning about modular is learning about the elements of electronic music in the right order. When I got my first modules, working with music software suddenly felt like a flight simulator compared to modular, which is like being in the cockpit of a real airplane 🙂

8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?
Not sure that I have any gear that annoys me. The one thing I can think of is the Rossum Control Forge. It is in every sense an amazing module – it takes the concept of the Buchla MARF to the next level. But since it is so advanced, I often have to reach out for the manual, so I guess that is one of those “good problems”.

9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?

Roman Filippov Buchla 208 Clone

I have a Roman Filippov Buchla 208 Clone. I absolutely love the way it sounds, and wouldn’t change it for a “real” Buchla 208, even if I got paid to do it, but one thing that bothered me was that I didn’t have control over the envelope section’s attack and decay, that was until a friend of mine pointed out that patching CV into the ‘from prog‘ and ‘to prog‘ does exactly that.


Artist or Band name?
Jens Paldam

Genre?
Leftfield

Selfie?

Jens Paldam in his happy place

Where are you from?
Aarhus, Denmark

How did you get into music?
I started playing the guitar when I was seven.

What still drives you to make music?
I can’t stop. I love it. I once asked myself the essential question: What is it you want? Do you want to put your efforts into making a name for yourself or do you want to put everything into making music that gives your listeners an experience? You might think that the two are not mutually exclusive, but he who chases two rabbits rarely catches one – as the Japanese saying goes.

How do you most often start a new track?
I make a field recording somewhere and get an idea. Other times, an experiment on the modular becomes the foundation of a new track.

How do you know when a track is finished?
When it starts to feel done, I let it sit for a while without listening to it. That is the only way I can come close to that valuable fresh ears experience.

Show us your current studio
Here is a photo of the bulletin board I have above my studio desk. I often look at it and let my thoughts drift while listening to a track I am working on, so the content changes frequently.

Mood board of meditating modular mind

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.

Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
My YouTube channel is youtube.com/jenspaldam

But I also think you should do yourself a solid and check out Chris Cutler’s excellent podcast series “Probes”… I learned so much from it.

[Editor: Jens recently did a lovely ‘driven’ ambient set at Chiba City Museum of Art in Japan. Check it out below]