While I have you here, a note about updating information. Yes there’s a few places being updated, and sometimes this is not the first one in the queue. For years I tried to keep everything tidy and under direct control, and it would be lovely if that could keep happening. But I have to live in a reality where 10x as many people will see this information on Facebook as will see it here. When I become king, this may change, it will not change very soon.
For the record, the places you will find Sevcom information:
UNSOUND KRAKOW “DISLOCATION” is announced, and Poland is official. What I had not detailed before was “Treasure Map 2” which is a new game engine work that I’ll be maintaining and expanding over 2016-2017.
This is not quite a sequel to HH, which is being a much more challenging thing. It’s a bit like if I was playing Barbara Island live, on a series of (dislocated) islands. You can jump to different islands to get different pieces and versions. To get between places requires looking for certain sounds.
Ideally this work would already be in testing but I am still at my academic post until July, so it may be only a few islands at launch.
I have been testing this as a VR title to be seen on a headset. I am not yet able to provide this and the number of people with headsets is still small, so the first version will be a windowed view, which may be in stereo. Best to get it going then tweak it.
There is more news to come but that will be announced next month.
Most important news is that we’re doing a live to air on FBI on the 26th of May.
You can find further details here. This is the first new music under the name Severed Heads since Op3 in 2007. It’s based on a large number of 78rpm records that I’ve cut, looped and arranged on a portable 24 track recorder (yes, there are such things these days) with some keyboards played very delicately alongside. It is destined to be a 10 inch record cut in Seattle by BUGHLT.
For the duration of the performance the radio station will be moved to Adelaide.
My submission for this years’s VIVID festival is ready to go. It features 20 screens of synthetic skies.
We’re back on air. Seemed as if everything was sorted, but it was soon thwarted. So I am back to give a running commentary on all things heads. If you want a more frequent updates with more bullshit then follow the Tom Ellard blog instead.
That stupidly large logo properly belongs on a new batch of custom manufactured thumb drives coming out in 2016. You liked the Rhine stick so I am going to give you USB drives for everything and up the quality. Looks like no one will ever press vinyl past 1986 so this the hardware for us youth!
But if you like old and vinyl then why haven’t you bought this yet?
I know that you may be distracted with life, surviving and all that, so I excuse you. But best to click here and get this sorted.
We’re starting to piece together the likely offerings for 2015. All of this is likely but I cannot say that is inevitable. There are known knowns and unknown unknowns and all of that.
Greater Reward 12″ vinyl.
This old thing still gets some deejay culture and so we are all well pleased to say it has got its handbag out on behalf of Optimo in Scotland. I don’t believe you have to be a DJ to have this but it certainly helps.
So this was going to be the 12″ that was released by Normal Records in West Germany in 1986. But there’s so many versions of Petrol that you could do a whole album. Lordy! What will Dark Entries decide? Find out in 2015.
Clifford Darling, Please Don’t Live In The Past. 2x LP
Relive the past with this luxuriously ironic title, presented in full colour for the first time. This the album that inspired this re-issue. What will Dark Entries think of next?
Stretcher 2x LP?
Somebody is crazy enough to be talking about STRETCHING STRETCHER over 4 sides. That crazy is Medical Records but will their accountant find out in time?
Vinyl On Demand are demanding some stuff – more later.
Rhine is a new album for the first quarter of 2015. It’s the first singing album since Under Gail Succubus in 2006. Not nine years in the making, instead I have struggled with identity, which only recently allowed this to happen.
It’s a ‘Tom Ellard’ thing, but I usually cover releases here in more detail. You’re right to ask what difference between that and ‘Severed Heads’ – the latter has more baggage and is happier in a nursing home.
Recording started in 2012 when we were invited to play the Adelaide Festival early in 2013. The idea was to make a special item for that show, but the workload on the HH game made that impossible. Nevertheless there were some sketches done and an album seemed plausible, although not as a release as much as a nice thing to do. It’s around this time that the old Terse Tapes studio started to regrow with many “new old” synthesisers and tape machines coming back into use. Whatever the studio had lost in the great dying of 1998, it was made right.
Most of the sounds on Rhine are from hardware and magnetic tape. That makes little difference in the quality of the sound, but has focussed the music in some ways that’s been helpful and interesting.
The bigger it got the more it needed some kind of resolution. For a little while I thought it could be released by ‘Kaspar Stangassinger’ as a joke. But in 2014, the old Eighties Cheesecake LP was re-issued and some kind words said about it. It has been difficult to reconcile my day job (middle aged guy in university admin) with singing, and I don’t enjoy the same timeless visage as John Foxx, but you know, fuck, just get over it.
It’s a pop album somewhat like Cheesecake meets Gail. I have other ‘experimental’ albums available (for free!) so I don’t see the need to justify that. For two years it was called My Puppydog Face, and then that track got taken off* and I just stole the name Rhine from another project that is being absorbed into H3H. (You are keeping up with all these projects aren’t you?)
Although I’ve done very well out of music downloads I think it needs some kind of celebratory package and form, a fetish. A thumb drive seems to be the best format and I’m pricing this, with download as an instant gratification bonus. I understand that some are worried by this, but I will make sure that you get the best of each.
Currently the album is in mastering hell. One interesting thing about older hardware is that it creates vastly different textures that really don’t sit well together – that is, one track can be happily loud, while the one you wanted next to it sounds awful at a similar volume. One problem is screeching. The older machines are like parrots.
As more news comes, I will bring it here.
* But rumour has it that you might find that on the thumb drive somehow.
You’ve seen all the old pictures. How about some new pictures? TERSE TAPES was brutally murdered around 1998. But it rises again, starting right where it was stopped, as if the war never happened.
The famous BOOFHEAD as seen on stages all over North America. Like all Ensoniq equipment of that period it is built out of pure brick shithouse. It still holds patches from Rotund For Success, and will punch you if you dare erase them.
There underneath the ReVox is a Roland Luxury Yacht, which was too cool in about 2000. No sound is too chorused for this opulent box. Note the authentic SCSI drive. Beneath is a very battered S612 sampler, not the same battered sampler as was used on Big Bigot. A near relative with the same neurosis. The mixer is sitting on an Alesis ADAT which hasn’t seen the sun for many years.
When they do a Star Trek reboot reboot, they are welcome to film ‘Mount Knobs’. Here are all the twiddles a man could desire. From front to rear – the Roland SH32 will never win prizes for looks, but certainly for bloops. The KORG Radias is the slick silver grandchild of the old MS years and a great Xmas decoration. The blue box is a JP8080 and yes, supersaw but not always. And a virtual PolySix, which (it should not surprise you) recognises the knobs on the Radias.
A small part of the post modern world sneaks into frame, as a Blofeld sits atop of ‘Yamaha Peak’. The two groove boxes below house faux Prophet-5 and faux DX-7 cards. Prop them up on decorative plate holders and voilà – the knobs are in reach of the engine driver. The Blofeld is about to get a nasty shock when a V-Synth XT rack gets plunked above. Like a Mopho hidden at back, it’s driven from elsewhere.
And here is the nerve centre of the whole enterprise. Tiny keys for tiny fingers. A Micron is caged under a MiniNova, it too is run from elsewhere and will have to put up with being second fiddle. The scary thing is that there is more than this, too high or deep to see.
All of it is being used right now to make a new recording…
I’ve been posting about synthesisers over on my personal blog, as I’m collecting them again and finding that their trivia helps my sanity. But this site is where we do the Good Old Days, and surely the noise making tools are part of that.
Here is the great list of Severed Heads synthesisers, which has often been requested and provides a cautionary tale for eBay addicts!
1979KAWAI 100F All over Ear Bitten. A screeching tumult of a machine that works mainly on frequency modulation of the filter by the audio signal. Apart from that not a profound machine. I thought it was normal having never used one before. Then I discovered that I was trying to cook eggs in a crystal skull. Sold it to Garry Bradbury, he eventually broke it but found another.
1980 CASIOTONE M10. It plays more than one note at once! And you can run it through guitar pedals! This was everywhere and still heard on City Slab Horror. Excellent.
1981ROLAND SH-1 with CSQ-100 All over Clean and a few following albums. A workmanlike machine, not good or bad but able to wash the dishes. The CSQ sequencer holds 100 notes until you turn it off. Traded both when getting the DX7. I wouldn’t pay a lot for this, it’s very vanilla.
1981PROPHET ONE makes a cameo on Blubberknife. Belonged to John Blades. It has a built in sequencer but we didn’t like it much and ran it through the Kawai on Adolf A Karrot. Probably something that would have improved with a bit more experience.
1982KORG MS20 first shows up briefly on 80s Cheesecake, most evidently on Anthem 82. I bought it new! Not too many people were using them at the time so the MS20 became our signature sound for a few years running, a very vocal and fruity formant. Eventually I got sick of that sound and chucked the lot. This one ended up with Shannon ONeil. Certainly worth buying the replica but the VST is near perfect.
1982ROLAND TB303 what a horrible machine. I pre-ordered it and got one of the very first sold. It was here and there on 80s Cheesecake as I tried to make something of it. I then gave it to Robert Racic who never used it. Eventually replaced by the excellent MC202 Microcomposer. The MC202 became the heart of albums to come.
1983KORG POLYSIX was new for Since The Accident and is very prominent on that Dead Eyes Opened thing where it makes the slowly opening filter sweep. Belongs to my brother (still?) Occasionally also his ROLAND JUNO 60 onwhich I faked sequence like sounds just by stepping the patches. They are both nice but again, easily matched by software.
1984Another MS20 + MS50 + SQ10 defined the sound of City Slab Horror especially Bless The House. I got all three for $600. They ended up with Garry Bradbury after I couldn’t bear them any more in about 1988.
1985OSCar – oops almost forgot. I had an OSCar for a couple of months. Number 77 supposedly was John Foxx’s dump. It was OK, but the description was always a lot more exciting than the reality (which is why I forgot). The additive tones were more church organ than sci-fi. Seen one for $3000 recently – are you kidding?
1985YAMAHA DX7 All over Stretcher especially Big Blue is Back. I bought it new! I almost got a Jupiter 6, but that seemed a bit unadventurous at the time. It got a hell of a lot of use but I never fully learned it and it was eventually traded for the MIRAGE rack. The DX7 is easily done in software but is still cool.
1986AKAI S612 sampler belonged to Single Gun Theory. It’s all over Come Visit The Big Bigot along with my new ROLAND SH101 doing most of the drum sounds. The 101 is a nice machine – for about $250, not $2000.
1986ENSONIQ MIRAGE sampler and YAMAHA DX100. I bought a rack for the 1986 tour and then when that was stolen ended up with a keyboard which was heavy and fell apart. Nevertheless the remnants of this 8 bit machine made Bad Mood Guy. I’d buy a Mirage rack only because nostalgia.
1987ENSONIQ ESQM rack was a replacement for the Mirage. I love Ensoniq racks, reasonable price and built like brick shit houses. I still have this and even after a rough North American tour and decade it works. I played it with a Keytar! This a very nice machine but again the VST sounds almost the same – I’ve tested it.
1988YAMAHA TX81z along with the ESQ-M defines the Rotund For Success album. It was much easier to get a sound out of this than the DX7. Traded for the SY77, bad idea. I’d buy again.
1988ROLAND S220 sampler. Very bad move. Quick discs ruined a few live shows. Needed to go bye bye as quick as I could get rid of it. Some glimpses of it on Cuisine.
1990YAMAHA SY77 is the heart of Cuisine. You can hear lots of acoustic kinds of noises being run through FM kind of treatments. It is a good machine but not easy to make your own interesting sounds on it. Many years later I gave it to Dave Noyze, broken, because I had developed a hate for big keyboards leaning against walls.
1991 ENSONIQ EPS16+ sampler and soon afterwards ENSONIQ ASR10 sampler. You just can’t go wrong with an Ensoniq rack of that period. The whole Gigapus album was performed off the ASR10 and modules to master – vocals and all. They ended up with Garry Bradbury, still chugging away.
1993OBERHEIM XPANDER was a long term loan via my brother, who had it from a band that had moved on to even bigger toys. It wasn’t very healthy and fell out of tune a lot – noticeably on Gigapus. It’s pretty good at band-limited kinds of sounds, not basses, and it becomes too recognisable after a while. It wisely went to David Smith who, being more organised, repaired it.
1993MKS80 SUPER JUPITER was the third main toy on Gigapus, and back at the time only about $400. It was nice for bass sounds but apart from a short loan I didn’t have the programmer so it wasn’t that fun to use. It was sold in The Great Poverty. The price they want now is very stupid for something that sounds about the same as every Roland anything ever.
1993CASIO CZ101. Pretty good sounds from such a cheap box, but not that fun to create patches. I ended up smashing this on stage at a very boring gig. It was my turn.
1994KORG MONO/POLY was only $250 but after a few months I didn’t think it was all that exciting and off it went again. Its only trick is unison. Prices for this are ridiculous for what you get. Maybe I should have smashed this – it would upset more people.
1996-1999 The Great Poverty happens about here. I sell off what I can. No one wants the ESQ or the SY77 but the rest goes by 2000. The Music Server Series starts being made on a Sound Blaster. Hey, it’s Ensoniq. Then comes VST – but that’s another story.
As you can see Severed Heads owned all kinds of analogue synthesisers over the years and so they don’t really impress me any more. Instead I’ve mostly started back at the moment when I had to sell things. Think of it as a film splice, I do.
Here’s the TERSE TAPES studio synthesisers as of now in order of batteredness:
Kawai S100F. Yep another one. Of course. Wouldn’t you?
AKAI S612. Well seeing as I was one of the first people to ever demo one, it just seemed right.
ESQ-M still rocking 8 bits.
Roland JV1010 + Vintage Synth card (bought but not yet here). Cheapest possible example of the ‘S+S’ post D50 decades – an era unknown to me. I suspect it will sound like a Roland.
Roland SH32. Cheap Roland knob box which replaces nearly every other recent Roland knob anything in my opinion.
Yamaha DX200. Actually a DX7 on a card mounted in a groove box. Ignore the groove and have a tiny DX7.
Yamaha AN200. Another card that emulates the Prophet Five. Whether it really does that, it sounds lovely.
Korg RADIAS. I saw a photo and felt sad I had been too poor to own such a daft thing, which obviously was some kind of MS20 bastard grandchild. Then I learned about eBay.
Waldorf Blofeld. Because it’s every PPG style wavetable machine in one. But actually a very versatile and good sounding machine.
Dave Smith Mopho. My least effort in owning analogue. A decent machine but actually I prefer the AN200 sound.
Novation MiniNova. In fact the first hardware I had bought in nearly 20 years, specifically for live shows where I needed a vocoder and keys. Good all round synthesiser, it kicked off this new round of collecting!