Today is not only Towel Day, but also the release of my third album “Interstellar Getaway”. It’s supposed to be an astronaut’s soundtrack, travelling in his spaceship between the Planets of nearby solar systems.
Sebastian Arnold’s new album “Interstellar Getaway” tells the story of a lonesome space voyager. By no coincidence this relates to Seb’s live show, which may actually feel like watching someone playing the drum kit and driving a spaceship at the same time. Still focusing on the beats, his recent sound developed to a more consolidated and song-oriented form, channeling a wide palette of styles from electronica, jazz and post-rock to dubstep. This time, the great escape into the galaxy features interplanetar travelling, bitchy computer games and fast-paced flights through the stratosphere accompanied by thrilling synth basslines, 8-bit sounds and impulsive drumming with a hint of wanderlust.
I have been up to a lot of things lately. In the last months I recorded and produced a new album, which will be released on May 25. It will be available as digital download, CD and Vinyl LP. You can listen to one of the new songs right here! This seems to be another drum-controlled computer game where you have to collect strange purple raspberries. Feel free to download and share it.
At the end of my tour in October, I went to Cluj, Romania. I was invited by Deutsches Kulturzentrum Klausenburg to play a solo concert at Boiler Club, which is located in the basement of the Fabrica de Pensule, a nice place with lots of studios and galleries in one old factory bulding. The night was called mad scientist drummer and featured The Origin Project, 7th Sphere and Sebastian Arnold.
For the flight I had to downsize my setup to just the Nord Modular G2, Nord Rack and the trigger pad. I took a netbook with me to handle the Loopdeck stuff and used a stage mixer the venue provided. While rearranging the devices, I realized how many problems I have solved over time in my normal setup. For example, I was missing the mixer light (essential on dark stages with video projection) and my DBX master compressor (makes it more easy to provide a steady master level), had to recreate multiple mixer busses for my own monitoring and also couldn’t take the MIDI router with me. It has some logic build inside to handle some things the Nord Modular is not able to do, e.g. starting and stopping its own master clock.
Finally, I was really excited and had a great show with lots of people coming to Boiler. The setup was unusual to play, but everything went well and sounded pretty good, with me freaking out totally on Low Flight and people dancing all night! Many German-speaking people live in Cluj, so they really liked the song Mnemesys with the German lyrics. The image on the left was taken from Laura’s blog post on that night at Boiler Club. Her post includes many pictures of the show and seems to be really enthusiastic if the Google translation was right – I really enjoy getting such a feedback!
After my own show, I joined Florin and Lu from 7th Spere on stage, a local club music project with DJ and visuals. The set was totally improvised and we played another hour and put up some really inspiring grooves in a moderate club tempo. I’m really thankful they asked me to do a video interview and produced a documentary about our collaboration which you can see here:
I met a lot of nice people on the following day in Cluj. We were jamming in the rehearsal space of Norbert, who was so kind to lend me his cymbals for the concert. His band is currently working on new songs that base on electronic productions and I was asked to bring in some of my ideas and experiences in that area. Finally, we met 7th Sphere Project again for the interview at a teahouse.
I want to thank Fabian and Ildikó for the invitation and their great support. These were some impressive days in Cluj and I’ll try to come back as soon as possible.
After jamming with a friend’s Boss RC-20 I decided to integrate live looping in my setup. Since I haven’t found any device that completely suits my needs as a drummer, I started to build my own looper device: the Loopdeck. It’s a portable device that fits into a 19″ rack and runs a minimal Linux system with Jesse Chappell’s excellent SooperLooper software. I can control two syncronized stereo loops via MIDI, e.g. using my drumsticks on the trigger pad and get visual feedback on the MIDI controller (a FaderFox LV2). See also my post containing the MIDI signal flow.
The device is built into a rack-mountable 19″ MiniITX case and bases on the Intel D945GCLF2 Mainboard with an Intel Atom 330 Processor (2 Cores, 1.6 GHz). The system boots from a 16GB Kingston SSD hard drive, MIDI and audio in/out is provided by an M-Audio Delta 1010LT PCI card. There is no screen or input device attached.
Loopdeck Signal Flow
The system runs a customized Debian Linux (6.0 squeeze) with a minimal 184.108.40.206-rt31 realtime kernel and boots from a read-only partition on the SSD in under 10 secs. All services are automatically started and supervised (e.g. restarted on failure) by daemontools. These include the JACK audio server for low-latency audio, SooperLooper with two stereo loops, the nice JackTube for audio processing and the FluidSynth software synthesizer which I use to play piano, Rhodes and Wurlitzer soundfonts. Everything is connected using JACK and a self-written Python script which converts incoming MIDI message to OSC signals, provides MIDI feedback for loop and system states and even controls some light modules connected via USB serial port. More on this later…