November 29, 2021 § Leave a comment
ON GEAR ACQUISITION SYNDROME AND USING MOOGERFOOGERS AS PREAMPS AND DRIVE UNITS.
I am not prone to GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome, for those of you not familiar with the condition). I was very close to Instrument Acquisition Syndrome in the 2000s, but thankfully, square metre shortage in Paris, where I lived back then, ensured that I did not buy 70s organs, or other such space-consuming monsters.Now that I have discovered the joys of analogue instruments, especially vintage ones, I sometimes catch myself wishing for more. But that’s the thing: I catch myself. Knowing full well that with my current setup, truly, I can work for a couple more years at the very least, and not feel limited. If any feeling of limitation were to arise, it would be down to me not spending enough hours with my instruments – one of life’s many unpalatable cold hard truths. I may still buy something if I truly think it will bring something unique to my setup, but at least I’m aware of how desire operates: mostly out of magical thinking, whereby we convince ourselves that once we get this or that instrument/piece of gear, *then* we will make truly incredible music (the next step of magical thinking exists and is as follows: the instruments will make music on their own.)
In the spirit of “let’s not rush to buy a new thing – as wonderful as it may be – when we actually already own something that may serve the same purpose”, I have now clarified for myself the fact that *all* Moogerfoogers can be used as analogue preamps/drive units, *without* the effect they’re intended to provide.Their bypass behavior puzzled me for a long time, as it varies across the pedal range, so testing each one both on and bypassed (as well as re-reading the manuals ) has helped me a lot. Since the question arises in forums, I am publishing the table here in case it is of any help to anyone (my explanations are a little overkill, but that’s just me ). Since my Moog session was meant to celebrate them, there couldn’t be a better time to publish this: discontinued they may be, but their price has risen on the second-hand market, given that yes, they were really special.
ELKA DRUMMER ONE POT CLEANING AND TRANSPLANT.
In July 2020 I had to clean some scratchy pots on my Elka: this involved squeezing a special cleaning liquid called DeoxIT directly into the pot mechanism (as opposed to just spraying something on the outside), which of course meant opening the machine. It was the first time I opened *any* piece of gear, let alone a vintage one, so I was extremely nervous, but totally awed by what I found inside.
At the time, I had to send the Elka back to Soundgas, as the procedure did not work for 2 out of the 4 scratchy pots, which probably meant that the pots had “reached the end of their life”. This enabled me to learn of a new concept and practice “donor machines”: a donor machine is a piece of gear from which you remove parts that are then transplanted, as it were, on another machine. You are basically sacrificing it, piece by piece, for the good of various other machines.
Today’s cleaning operation was successful: 2 out of the 3 scratchy pots are now silent, and scratches appear only occasionally on the bass drum. Unfortunately another small issue has come up: some of you may have seen in my stories that I occasionally have to rescrew pots into their proper position (to have the white mark aligned with minimum volume, which corresponds roughly to a 7 o’clock position) as the pots tend to “slip” out of the knob underneath (they are held by a tiny screw called a grub screw). The knobs themselves function perfectly, but since the white mark gives a vital visual indication of volume, things quickly get confusing if minimum volume is indicated where half or full volume should be.Turns out the reason this keeps happening is that the plastic the pots are made of is becoming brittle with age. Indeed, today I checked this thoroughly, and almost all of the Elka pots are cracked to some extent. Since the 2 pots that have actually caused trouble are on Tom 1 and 2, which I use a lot, I decided to do my own transplant using 2 less used pots (Snare Drum and Cowbell). This seems to have worked for the time being, but Soundgas are working on finding a DIY solution to this problem.
November 15, 2021 § Leave a comment
4 years ago I headed to the Moog Soundlab Studio in Asheville, North Carolina, for what remains a highlight of my musical life: doing the session, visiting the Moog factory the next day, and – most unbelievable of all – being gifted the 3 Moogerfoogers I played with for the first time on the day of the session… I have kept this photo (credit: Spencer Kelly) as my profile pic on my social media for the past 4 years, not just because of how awesome that Moog wall looks, but because the glint in my eyes says it all, and I don’t want to forget how special that was and how privileged I felt.
The connection with Moog started in 2017, but I had no clue it would ever go this far: I was in love with both the MF-104M delay and MIDIMuRF, and since they made up half of the sound of my 6th album A flame my love, a frequency, I decided to just reach out to say I had just made an album that basically would not have been possible without the Foogers. I had just played Moogfest, which has connections with Moog, but couldn’t assume anything as to whether or not I would get a reaction, and to my amazement, I got a reply, saying that they already knew my work and loved it!
I knew I was going to tour the US in the fall of 2017 to support the album, and since Moog was about to announce that they would discontinue the Moogerfooger line, they asked if I would do a session focusing on these, and that’s how I ended up in front of a beautiful daisy chain of MF-101 Lowpass Filter, MF-102 Ring Modulator, MF-103 12-Stage Phaser, MF-104M delay, and a CP-251 for the last song. Jason Daniello, who heads Artist relations and is a synthetist and Moog specialist, helped me to get some amount of basic familiarity with the Foogers and CP251, and we recorded the whole thing in just a couple of hours, with me playing chords from the songs on my Critter and Guitari Septavox and Pocket Piano as sound sources, just like on the album.
You can listen and download the session for free or pay as you wish on my Bandcamp.