Latest treats reviewed in Soundbytes!

Four reviews in the July issue of Soundbytes: 

Pictured above is Factory, a lovely new softsynth from Sugar Bytes, now also available for iPads (iOS 11+).  It's a lovely machine - very powerful, with lots of modulation possibilities.

And then Arturia has made an update of the classic EMS Synthi AKS.  Likewise, very powerful.  Everything old is suddenly new again! (And I'm very grateful to have lived long enough to see the "screen-i-zation" of so many favorite synths from the 60s and 70s making them available once again.

Here's a lovely new iPad or iPhone sequencer.  It's AUv3 format, which means that with the right host software (Audiobus, AUM, apeMatrix, Cubasis2) you can run multiple instances of it.  Lots of fun ways to play with control on this one.

And last but not least, here's a review of a new sample set from UVI - 10 vintage "piano modules" from the 80s and 90s.  Still sounding great (in fact probably better than ever thanks to UVI's meticulous sampling), and still extremely useful. And the price is a real bargain.




New Robert Erickson Album on New World offers old and new treats!


New World Records has brought out a new CD of 3 late pieces and one earlier piece by Robert Erickson (1917-1997), one of the heroes of West Coast Experimental Music.  If you don't know is music, this album is a very good place to start.  If you DO know his music, this album will give you wonderful new insights into his composing, his consumate musicality, and his unceasingly questing musical intellect.  Erickson's late pieces are, to quote Ronald Robboy, sui generis.  It's true - there's nothing quite like them in all of Western contemporary music.  And the earlier piece, the Duo, from 1957, is thrilling.  I haven't heard a straight-out 50s modernist piece before like this that pulled me along with such vigor and elan.  The performers, led by Charles Curtis and Anthony Burr are uniformly excellent.  HIGHLY recommended.  You can find out more, and buy it on-line as CD or download from  I was lucky enough to be able to study with Bob during my time at UCSD, and I was honored when New World asked me to write the liner notes for the CD.  Even without buying the CD, you can download the liner notes from  One friend, on reading the notes, said that they now wanted to hear the pieces.  I was very complimented by that.  If you do download the liner notes, I hope that you, too, will be intrigued enough to buy the album.  I think you'll be glad you did.


Contribution to the Common Madness - Alex Arsov's new album


My colleague Alex Arsov, from Soundbytes Magazine ( has just released an album under the name of “Unhappy,” called “Contribution to the Common Madness.”  It started out, I think, as a straight pop album, and then, because of the massive exposure to all the new technology pouring forth in an endless wave, which all of us at Soundbytes are exposed to, it got weird.  And colourful, and gorgeous.  I hear each track of the album as consisting of two layers – one is the straight pop underlay, which varies in style, mood and tempo from track to track; and then there is overlay, which consists of all sorts of electronic and acoustic (mostly percussive) sounds, some of which may or may not be synced to the beat.  The result is a very rich soundscape that rewards listening on several levels.  Listened to closely, all sorts of details in the arranging are evident – this album was put together with infinite patience, it seems, and a great ear for timbral balances.  The mixing is transparent, and luscious.  On his website (, Alex says that he was inspired by the loose and colourful arrangements of early prog rock.  For myself, I hear some of that influence, but I hear more of the influence of, as said above, that onslaught of the latest technology we’re all subjected to from the software industry.  With all those new tools available, and all the interesting sounds they make, it becomes near impossible to resist the temptation to use them.  In Alex’s case, he uses them beautifully.  Have a listen on YouTube: and if you like what you hear, go to his website and buy the CD for 10 Euro.  Alex, with his new performing moniker of Unhappy, reflects the angst so many of us are feeling at the current political situation.  But in making his “Contribution to the Common Madness,” he has actually produced a music of quite uncommon beauty.


Percy Grainger's Free Music - a 15 year old paper made more easily available

Way back in 2004, I wrote a paper on the Free Music experiments of Percy Grainger and Burnett Cross.  There has been renewed interest in this work of Grainger's recently, and some friends pointed out that my paper was pretty much unavailable.  So I'm now making it available - click HERE to download it:

In the paper. I refer to a compilation I made of what were the  Free Music recordings available to me at the time.  I have a copy of this compilation still, and if any one is interested in seeing this collection, just write to me c/o this website, and I'll endeavour to make the collection available to you.


IN-Formalism at the Casula Powerhouse, Sydney 18 May - 30 June

My piece "Blue Bill: Five Movements in NJNET Tunings for Strings and Others in Memoriam John Dunn" is part of a rather large survey show being put on by SNO (Sydney Non-Objective) at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula, NSW 2171 from now until 30 June.  Here's the poster, which contains the cast list - a who's who of people who occasionally exhibit abstractivist tendencies in Australia.

So if you're in Sydney before the end of June, check it out.  It looks like a nice collection of folks.