Jun 222017

Some exciting news this week for Xen-Arts visitors is a new nine-tracker album from our friend in all things Xen, Sevish, aptly entitled Harmony Hacker.

As we’ve grown to expect from the suite of past Sevish records, the tracks are all expertly crafted, with excellent sound-designs, mixing and nice sequencing that encourages those listeners curious about the exotic-sonics often associated with microtonal and xenharmonic music forms to listen straight through, relishing the variety of alternative intonations presented.

A wide stylistic and intonational range is explored across the record starting with ORBITAL, which features the Bohlen-Pierce scale, infectious grooves, percussion layers, rhythmic gating, as well a nice vocoder part.

Next is the composer’s favorite, the Drum-n-Bass infused, ASK YOURSELF, that uses three different microtunings: a pentatonic octave-based subharmonic-series fragment: 10:9:8:7:6:5, Scott Dakota’s synchronized-beating Supermariner tuning, and Semaphore; all microtunings with a xen-math sonic twist that places the sound well outside of the confines of the usual 12-tone-equal-temperament. Brilliant lead-shreds and breakdowns abound along the thrilling journey. A+ percussion composition on this track.

The third track, SAME OLD, again features the 10:9:8:7:6:5 pentatonic, but also a harmonic-series section: 8:9:10:11:12:13:14:15:16. Block chord harmonies are hacked here to good effect over high-energy D-n-B grooves and sumptuous subs, where the built-in voice leading structures inherent to octave-based harmonic-series sections create unique voicings from any starting point in the scale.

On GLEAM, excellent microchromatic harmonic progressions are rendered in ED2-22 (22 tone equal temperament) over D-n-B beats with a decidedly 8-bit game-sound aesthetic. Mind and ear are taken on a aural journey into the deep-zones of Xen on a track that embodies the aesthetic of the album title.

We’re treated to another excursion into ED2-22 intonational territories on WE CAN’T BE BLAMED, featuring compelling melodics, found-vocals over lively arps, breaks and deep swinging beats.

The album’s sequence of xenharmonic vistas opens up next with excellent trilling (thrilling) soloistics, textures and further hacked harmonics on the ambient-soundscape-ish FREATHY, featuring TOP Blackwood [10], with the ending rendered in a 1 3 7 9 11 dekany.

Sega-sonics permeate the game-sound proceedings in VIDYA, as well as exotic-melodics, harmonics, scapes and arps, rendered in glorious ED2-10 vivid-sound xenorama (equal division of 2/1 into 10 equal parts). Excellent breaks – at breakneck speeds – as well as slick rapid-fire percussion de/crescendos abound. Listening to this track, it occurs that xen-harmonies are an excellent potential complementary future for gaming music composition.

The microtuning from La Monte Young’s, The Well-Tuned Piano, provides the just intonation flavor on the excellent D-n-B stepper, Midnight Cascade, where super-smooth melodics, harmonic textures and sub-sonics make one glad to have their harmonies and musical preconceptions hacked by the artist known as Sevish, and the outro that starts around 4:25 is an exquisite sonic delight to hear. Among my personal faves on the record.

The jazzy vocoded vibes of SO THANKFUL – microtuned to a ten-toned Blackwood subset of 15-equal – are a great showcase of the beautiful possibilities of Xen-Harmony. Great positive energies released here over excellent percussion composition.

Read about the release on the Sevish web:


Get the record on the Sevish Bandcamp page:

Harmony Hacker (2017)

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 Posted by at 9:27 pm
Jun 192017

LinPlug’s Spectral virtual instrument, featuring full-keyboard microtuning (TUN).

Back on June 02, 2017, long-time softsynth developer, LinPlug, announced they will cease future development of their microtonal virtual instrument line. It was kind of sad to learn about this having beta-tested for them down through the years, but I fully empathize with their stated reasons. A somber event indeed, especially considering how rare it is in these 12-locked technological times for developers to support full-keyboard microtuning.

Xen-Arts visitors will likely already be aware, as well myriad other xen-microtonal computer musicians and composers around the world, that LinPlug has been a huge supporter of microtonal computer music by being among the early visionary vanguard of a small group of developers to add full-keyboard microtuning features to their virtual instruments line (TUN format), starting with their CronoX 3 in 2005, and ending with their amazing Spectral additive synthesis VSTi released in 2013. Other of their full-keyboard microtuning virtual instruments included the legendary Albino, Alpha, CrX4, MorphoX, Octopus and SaxLab.

I want to personally, publicly and profusely thank LinPlug CEO, Peter Linsener, as well as co-developer Pavol, for all of the amazing things they have achieved over the past 15 years as true innovators in this field, and I know that many others who have used LinPlug’s softsynths in their microtonal virtual instrument ensembles will also echo this sentiment.

LinPlug, Peter and Pavol have always and in every way been a class act as both developers and good people, and they will be sorely missed. Xen-Arts wishes to extend the very best wishes to them as they move towards other creative endeavors.

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 Posted by at 12:32 am