On New Tools, New Sounds, and Enough Synthwave Tunes to Release an Album

My current keyboard set up

To be perfectly honest, I had long been toying with the idea of retiring the Acid42 project and website, not being inspired to create new instrumental electronic music in the past year or so due to the insistence of my pop music project over at LionelZivan. It felt like its time had passed. And maybe it was the right season to move on.

How It Started… With a Sale

But then something happened in September. I believe it started with receiving an email for a product on sale at the Reason Studios shop… the product was a virtual instrument I had been wanting to add to my music software for some time— live sounding acoustic drums — I just wasn’t willing to shell out the dollars for it yet. And here it was on sale. I hemmed and hawed and tried putting it off. And then gave in. Suffice to say, that 1 purchase set off a domino effect.

Track Title: “Ptolemy’s Epicycles Were Horribly Wrong”
Details: Entry into the first Music Weeklies challenge I ever joined which had the theme “Medieval.” The title is inspired by a recent science lesson that my 4th grader needed help with: Epicycles and the geocentric worldview!

How It Evolved… Into a Monster

That purchase led to more downloads, and me searching for free plugins for my software.

It led to me joining various groups on Facebook dedicated to home studio recording, and eventually to free VSTs (virtual instrument plugins). It led me to join a community on Twitter that does weekly musical challenges (@MusicWeeklies).

It cascaded to me signing up for emails from a bunch more music software companies. Which again led to more amazing new software, most all of it free and not only useful, but pretty inspiring.

End result? The sudden exposure to new sounds and new tools jogged something in my brain that suddenly got me composing again.

How It Stands… New Tunes, New Genre

Actually I’m not just composing on the odd bit of free time I can spare, but really champing at the bit to finish my work as quickly as possible (plus all chores and parental duties) so I can spend long hours exploring these new sounds and sonic tools, turning these sounds into songs.

Title: “Suppressed, Burned, Or Banned”
Details: Someone asked me what acid house or acid techno was. Instead of pointing them toward Youtube links, I made my own example. The vocal sample is from the chapter “How Do You Protect Artists?” in the book Content by Cory Doctorow, as read by Jan Rubak and released under a Creative Commons license.
Free VSTis used: Synth1, Rave Generator, Zampler RX
Free VST fx used: Valhalla Space Modulator, Valhalla Supermassive , TAL Reverb 4
The rest is Reason 10.

To mark this new era, I started a new folder collecting these new tunes and realized I’m totally going down a retrowave/synthwave route that fits my personality and musical tastes right now. Because, at heart, I’m an 80s kid and understand the appeal of synthwave since I lived through the decade that these all these synthwave acts try to draw their inspiration from.

Long and short of it is: at the start of the year, I thought the Acid42 project was dead. Then I released an album of odds and ends in March. Then it laid low till I discovered new tools, and realized all I needed was a new palette of sonic colors to start making new music again.

So… expect more!


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