Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds
Greetings, fellow residents of 2020! Welcome back to the show. We're days away from kicking this year to the curb, and in a year as mind-breaking as this one, psychedelics might be one of the few things to make clear-eyed sense of it. I don't have any acid this year, but taking LSD on New Year's is often a great way to end a year and begin a new one. You should always take acid in a controlled space (let the acid itself go out of control for you) and a great electronics trick to learn for acid consumption is filling a room with stroboscopic sound, which is automated panning that can make the room feel like it's moving in a circular twirl. You can make this swirl slowly and also change directions. This week I'll demonstrate this method. I use a Moog Unit Q148, but the effect is also very easy to achieve with some simple electronic modules. You can even do it manually with two separate amplifiers (or an analog mixer) and two people working the balance knobs.
Speaking in eurorack terms: You basically need two separate VCAs that will open and close rapidly with control voltage. Send your sound into both VCAs and trigger them both open and closed with different strobes of CV (triangle waves work best) – Send one VCA to a left channel and the other to the right. You'll find the room moving along wildly with the sound. Simple sound sources like radio static work really well. You can slow the panning by slowing the control voltage rate. This is even easier with a CV mixer, if you have a positive and negative CV out, send one one VCA and the other to the other VCA, they will flip in sync. If you have a large room, you can achieve this in quadrophonic terms with a mixer and some experimentation. (The no longer in production Koma Poltergeist is perfect)
In terms of still available off-the-shelf products, Knas makes a beguiling quadrophonic VCA panner that I'd love to keep on the market. This thing has intrigued me for years. (nice write up by Great Synthesizers.) If you have a room to fill with strobing audio panning, it looks tough to beat. The Knas Quad Massager demo describes audio panning well:
For this week's show, we demonstrate how to merge a variety of sounds into transient soundscapes that work great will hallucinogens. Following that, with social distancing still in vogue, our side A track for the week is a blend of various LSD-intended ideas, with "Awake in the Freezer Aisle of the All-Night Grocery, Peaking Happily and Alone."
Thanks and have a great New Year, Ethan