MOOGERFOOGER PLUGIN COMMISSION “CONDITIONAL” ON BANDCAMP + 4 DAYS AWAY FROM THE FIRST SINGLES AND ALBUM PREORDER OF MY 8TH ALBUM LE JOUR ET LA NUIT DU REEL!
June 4, 2023 § Leave a comment
It’s been such a long wait for me, but on 7th June you will finally be able to hear the first songs (literally the first, as it is the suite of 3 movements that opens the album) from my new double album Thrill Jockey Records
Expect a tour announcement pretty soon afterwards, with more dates to be added later in the year. Apart from the US where I will be doing a traditional “condensed” tour, the idea is to spread the dates over fall, winter and spring 2024 so that it’s not too hard for me physically and psychologically, and so that I don’t leave the kitties on their own too often and too long.
In the meantime, I have just made available on Bandcamp “Conditional”, the song I made to betatest Moog’s Moogerfooger plugins, as a free or pay what you want download.
On the new album I don’t sing, so this was a great opportunity to do something different and sing lyrics that hold a lot of meaning for me.
“Conditional” is about a deeply-seated psychological mechanism at work in almost everyone, myself included: the tendency to make one’s sense of “happiness” conditional on a particular desire being fulfilled. The idea that once you get a certain something, either material (objects – for musicians typically an instrument or piece of gear -, a house, a specific living place, a travel experience, etc) or immaterial (a relationship, a career or work achievement, a certain physical appearance, a physical ability, technical proficiency at a skill, perceived wisdom or intelligence or any other quality, etc), *then* you will be happy. Of course the wheel of life spins in a different way… Making this song was part of an attempt to both accept and overcome this very human aspect of myself.
Photo by Luis Torroja
PS: I make my own clothes: Grainline Studio Hadley top in Metermeter sanded cupro, self-drafted shorts.
MOOGERFOOGER PLUGINS REVIEW
April 5, 2023 § Leave a comment
Last month, after I posted the short reel introducing the song I had made to betatest the Moogerfooger plugins, “Conditional”, a couple of musician friends wrote to me privately to ask: “Seriously, between us… are they truly good?”, as if I’d be writing one thing about them online, but think something else, so here goes, as unbiased a review I can give, knowing that yes, I did get compensated for betatesting the plugins (more info on the plugins here) and creating a song with them, but no, I haven’t been asked to say anything about them, so both the tutorial on how I made the song and this review are entirely my own initiatives.
To give you a bit of background on where I stand on the hardware vs software spectrum… I worked with both plugins and physical effects on my first 6 albums (2003-2017), but around 2018 stopped using plugins altogether (no plugins on my 7th album from 2021) because I’m now fully committed to hardware gear. I own 5 physical Moogerfoogers, so my aim with this review is to take a balanced view and point out what the plugins bring to the table, and end with where I feel they fall short (but as you’ll see, the pros clearly outweigh the cons…).
In any case I hope this review is useful for those of you wondering whether you should take the plunge…
Let’s get the following out of the way first:
– the hardware Moogerfoogers were discontinued in late 2017. With Moog now concentrating on releasing new synths, making a return to production for the Foogers quite unlikely, anyone who did not acquire Moogerfoogers back in their production days now has two options 1) buying second-hand already used units at sometimes outrageous prices 2) buying these plugins
– A plugin is never going to give you the hands-on experience and feel of a hardware unit. We all agree on this. Instead, it gives you *another* type of experience, and in the case of these plugins, going beyond the hardware vs software “feel” dichotomy is well worth it in terms of creativity.
I honestly think that if I recorded the same song with the physical units and then compared it with the plugin version in a blind test, I wouldn’t know the difference. A sound engineer might, but I think most humans won’t, because the plugins sound so similar to the original units – even more so since the introduction of the MF-109S Saturator. The Foogers have a very characteristic drive and it wasn’t easy at first for me to find the Input sweet spot, but when I tested the MF-109S (which sadly I wasn’t able to use in my song, because it hadn’t been developed yet), I thought that they brilliantly solved the issue.
EASE OF USE IN TERMS OF ROUTING AND MIXING
I dedicated my tutorial to how I set up my session with Sends and Returns so that I have each Moogerfooger on its own separate track, as opposed to just adding the FX as an insert and chaining FX. You end up with complete control over routing and mixing, and – not a detail if your work is on the minimal side like mine – you end up with way more tracks to mix!
The ease of sending one Fooger into another and trying different options at the speed of a click is a huge plus in terms of sound design possibilities. In my song, I stuck to a maximum of 2 consecutive Sends and 3 Sends from one sound source in total, but the possibilities are just endless.
This is where the plugins really shine. Absolutely every parameter can be automated, CV control included, which means that you are able to do things you’d never be able to do with your 2 hands on a physical unit. Obviously, familiarity with the way your DAW handles automation will pay off, and if you use a Sends and Returns approach, you will have all of your automation action neatly laid out on a single track for each Fooger instance.
Also, if like me you were always intrigued about CV control but never dared go for it because you were afraid you might “fry” your unit, this is your chance to do so risk-free.
Having multiples of the same Fooger allows you to blend from one preset or setting to the next on a single track or sound source, and have different settings of the same Fooger for different sound sources.
The plugins offer many more options in terms of output and tone than the originals. I won’t go into details here as other reviews have done so and the manuals are also very clear in this respect, but this means they are more versatile tonally than the originals.
I also didn’t have the time to look into the MuRF pattern editor, but can imagine the rabbit hole this could be…
The presets are an invaluable resource: it takes time to truly learn how each Fooger works, and the settings that give best results will vary drastically depending on your sound source: not just the instrument, but the way you play it, the pitch range you use, etc… The presets are incredibly useful *and* usable as they are or as a starting point. They can even be used as a resource by those owning the physical units.
My DAW Reaper kept up with multiple Fooger use (9 instances) without any problem and I did not experience any single bug even at betatesting stage. I did not “print” anything while working, as I felt that being able to tinker with levels until rendering was an ideal scenario.
Some sounds that come from physical switches cannot be replicated by plugins: the sound of switching from Short to Long setting and back on the MF104M is one of my favorite things in the world, and indeed, the plugin cannot give you that sound.
I do regret that the MF104S does not offer a Delay Out output as in the original: panning the Mix Out and Delay Out is my favorite way of treating signals with that delay. The Stereo does sound beautiful and I ended up not missing my favorite trick that much, and by duplicating the plugin you can achieve a similar effect by setting your Mix settings to fully wet on one of the duplicates, but if you start automating then this workaround gets messy.
If you want to take your work to a live setting, then that will involve having a computer on stage with you, which – granted – is a lot of performers’ choice these days, but if like me you have a computer-free live show, this could be a problem.
MOOGERFOOGER PLUGIN TUTORIAL FOR MOOG!
March 24, 2023 § Leave a comment
Tutorial: How to create a complete song using five Moogerfooger Effects Plug-ins and just two external audio sources!
Inside her DAW of choice, French musician Cécile Schott (@colleenplays) details how to replicate a hardware gear workflow with sends and returns using nine instances of the plug-ins (more info on the plugins here), treating each effect as its own instrument. From the artist:
“I have a pretty intimate knowledge of the MF-104M Analog Delay, MF105 MIDIMuRF and MF-101 Lowpass Filter, so I was curious to hear the effects’ digital replica and try the other two I didn’t know, especially the MF-107S Freqbox, which I fell in love with madly (it is responsible for the song’s impossibly crunchy rhythm!).
I purposefully used a very minimal sound source – the Hammond of the Yamaha Reface-YC – as a blank canvas to showcase what makes the Moogerfoogers truly unique: their ability to radically transform sound and impart a sense of motion, making them closer to a synth module than an effect pedal. Having just finished a fully instrumental album, I actually really felt like singing the lyrics to a song which I had to discard, allowing me to also showcase the MF-104M as an awesome vocal processor.”
“CONDITIONAL”, THE SONG I MADE TO BETATEST MOOGSYNTHESIZERS’S MOOGERFOOGER EFFECTS PLUG-INS
February 28, 2023 § Leave a comment
“Conditional” is a song on making your sense of happiness dependent on obtaining something or someone.
When Moog contacted me last September to betatest their Moogerfooger plugins, it was a resounding YES on my part, even though I was on a tight deadline to finish my forthcoming 8th album: the Moogerfoogers were my introduction to the analog world in 2014, the MF-104M is still *the* effect I reach for the most, and back in 2017 I had the honor of recording a session at the Moog Sound Lab in Asheville to mark the end of their physical production (A Flame Variations EP), at the end of which they kindly gifted me not 1, not 2, but 3 Moogerfoogers!!!
I have a pretty intimate knowledge of the MF-104M Analog Delay, MF105 MIDIMuRF and MF-101 Lowpass Filter, so I was curious to hear the effects’ digital replica and try the other two I didn’t know, especially the MF-107S Freqbox, which I fell in love with madly (it is responsible for the song’s impossibly crunchy rhythm!)
I purposefully used a very minimal sound source – the Hammond of the Yamaha Reface-YC – as a blank canvas to showcase what makes the Moogerfoogers truly unique: their ability to radically transform sound and impart a sense of motion, making them closer to a synth module than an effect pedal. Having just finished a fully instrumental album, I actually really felt like singing the lyrics to a song which I had to discard, allowing me to also showcase the MF-104M as an awesome vocal processor.
Headphones or amp connected to speakers recommended (lots of stereo love). Will write a couple of posts on the nitty-gritty of how I produced the song (so many bussing options + CV automation) and my thoughts on the plugins vs physical units experience.
Sound sources: Yamaha Reface YC, vocals.
Processed with: MF-101S Lowpass Filter, MF-103S Phaser, MF-104S Analog Delay, MF105S MIDIMuRF, MF-107S Freqbox. No other processing apart from ReaEQ on vocals.
A truly massive thank you Moog Music for their trust and support, with special thanks to Jason Daniello, Claire Ginn and Geert Bevin.
“WHY COLLEEN?”… 2022 RECAP + 2023 PLANS + A MASSIVE THANK YOU
December 31, 2022 § Leave a comment
2022 has felt on the whole so incredibly rewarding (quick reality check: of course I’m not mentioning the more personal things that weren’t so great or that were downright sad or scary – the eternal debate of how far we should share is one I haven’t settled with myself yet, but I am aware this sort of end-of-year posts can give a very skewed image of reality and I want to acknowledge that). I celebrated 20 years of activity as Colleen through a lot of writing (even by my standards ), went back to playing live after formerly deciding to quit with two special double album shows in Barcelona and London in March, and most importantly, finished my 8th album Le jour et la nuit du réel (out October 2023 @thrilljockey ).
Taking some time off since completing the album in October has allowed me to finally make the decision that I will try to do a proper tour (US + Europe). Please note my phrasing “try to”: Covid, climate change and inflation have impacted touring negatively, and I cannot put my health at risk through crazy schedules (I will be 47 next year, not 27). My goal for the coming months is to build up physical and mental strength to gracefully face everything that touring entails: the admin (especially the US visa process), rehearsing and travelling.
I want to end this year by thanking each and everyone one of you: your support is an *immense* encouragement and source of well-being for me both as a person and as a musician. And since people still ask me on a regular basis “why Colleen?”, I thought I’d leave you with the answer: when I studied English, I spent countless hours studying my bilingual Robert & Collins dictionary. One day at the top of a page I saw this word: “colleen”, which means “young girl” in Irish. I was struck not just by its beauty, but also by the fact that like the music I had started to make, it contained repetitions, curves and loops. It also happens to sound very close to the French word for “hill”, “colline”, which is also strikingly beautiful, and perhaps my favorite type of landscape. So it really should be “colleen”… and I hope there will be 20 more years of this!
See you in 2023 with the new album on record and live!