October 15th, 2019

Q3 2019 Updates: Bintracker Progress, New Engines, Live Shows

Wow, another 6 months have passed already. Time for an update.

Most of my time goes into MDAL and Bintracker these days. As some of you may already know, I abandoned the original C++ implementation, and started from scratch in Scheme. To sum it up, things are coming along nicely, and I’m confident that Bintracker will become the all-powerful chiptune audio workstation that I envisioned. Recently I gave a few talks on the project, and there’s a proper website at bintracker.org now.

I also went to Chipwrecked this year and played a show there. Absolutely loved the festival and hope to be back there next year.

In May, I took a break from my usual activities to write the soundtrack for İzler (Traces), a Turkish film about the aftermath of the Balkan Wars. Needless to say it was pretty challenging, as I’d never worked on a film soundtrack before, but I think it turned out pretty good. The film is yet to be released to the public, will post another update when that happens, of course.

Furthermore, I briefly returned to writing ZX beeper engines. Archie is a weird beast that approximates sine waves with two asynchronous square waves, among other things, and Velvet is a pin pulse engine with support for state-of-the-art noise technology pioneered by Kurt James Werner.

March 1st, 2019

Another Egg in the Coop: pstk

Got myself a new hobby: I’m now the maintainer of the pstk egg of Chicken Scheme. PS/Tk adds an interface to the Tk GUI toolkit to Scheme. Tk has gotten a lot of bad rep over the years, but since the major overhaul in version 8.5 it’s actually become a great option for building cross-platform GUI applications again. PS/Tk itself has a long history, dating back to scheme_wish which was developed by Sven Hartrumpf in 1997/98. The fact that the code still works without any major changes with the latest releases of Tcl/Tk and Chicken Scheme is pretty amazing, I think.

For now, I haven’t done any major changes, other than a few small tweaks to ensure that it will work with Chicken 5. I do see some room for improvement though. Namely some functions can be removed as they have become part of the R5RS standard, and ideally I would like to break up that large letrec block into smaller, more maintainable chunks. Also a few bits and pieces from newer Tk versions are still missing.

February 21st, 2019

xmkit-scm: An eXtended Module Parser in Scheme

Released a new XM parser toolkit today, written in my new favourite language: Scheme. The library is provided as an “egg” extension to the Chicken 4 implementation of Scheme. The parser offers a large set of features, including procedures for parsing pattern data (of coure), verifying file integrity, and extracting and converting sample data. Chicken users can simply install the extension with “chicken-install xmkit”. Documentation is available here.

February 21st, 2019

Dictionary Compression of Chiptune Module Data

I’ve been playing around with a dictionary based approach to encoding chiptune modules, with the specific requirements of 1-bit sound in mind. A few days ago I ran some tests with a large corpus (~1800 files) of modules obtained from modland.org, which indicate that a simple dictionary based packing scheme is significantly more efficient than comparable pattern/sequence based approaches.

Read the full report on the 1-Bit Forum.

January 8th, 2019

Nikita Braguinski and utz Discuss 1-Bit Music

Whoops, totally forgot about this, as it happened right before I left for the ++u recording session. Anyway, Berlin based media researcher and musicologist Nikita Braguinski recently interviewed me on the subject of 1-bit music. Pretty happy with how this turned out, so big thumbs up to Mr. Braguinski for setting this up, and kudos to Ludomusicology for hosting the article.

January 6th, 2019

New Year, New Doppelplusungut Album

A very Happy New Year, everyone! Got lots of plans for 2019. Most importantly, work on MDAL/Bintracker-NG will resume shortly. Also, I really want to finish that new beeper album that’s been in the pipes for 2 years. But first of all, let’s round up 2018.

Of course, tradition requires that a new Doppelplusungut album be released. We literally finished it at the last minute this time, due to having both a big agenda and one week less time than usual. “Fake” is, in several ways, a departure from the past 10 years of ++u. There were some major changes in our workflow, with MIDI taking on a dominant role for the first time. Still trying to work out the details of that. Initially we tried out seq24 and Buzé for main control, neither of which were fully satisfactory. So we ended up driving several tracks through dat zekt’s Boss DR-202.

Also, the album is less broad in terms of styles and genres, as we wanted to focus on making Techno this time. Thirdly, the absurdist post-apocalyptic space epos of the past 10 years has finally come to a close, with this year’s radio play featuring a new story line revolving around current themes of fake news/facts, filter bubbles, and so forth. Still in a very Doppelplusungut way, of course.

As usual, the music is exclusively available on CD. If you’d like a copy, drop me a mail.

January 6th, 2019

VA: 20kbps Rec. Sweet Sixteen Birthday Compilation

The legendary lo-bit netlabel 20kbps recently celebrated it’s 16th anniversary. For the occasion, Origami Repetika and Kai “Toxic Chicken” Nobuko have put together a massive birthday compilation spanning 27 tracks. Very proud to have been invited to contribute to this along with some of the biggest names in the lo-bit scene, including Sascha Müller, c4, the hardliner, Microbit Project, and of course the organizers themselves. Really enjoyed making a new lo-bit track after several years of absence from the scene. Got some plans for a new proper floppy as well but not sure when I’ll get around to that.