In the beginning there were machines, I learnt to play live with the Spiral Tribe liveset, which consisted of an AKAI 1100 Sampler, an 808 drum machine, a 303, SH101 and Roland R8, the configuration may of changed but these were the basics and the heart and soul of the original Spiral Sound.
It was all about improvisation and Spiral Tribe (specifically 69DB and Crystal Distortion) were pretty much the first people to develop these techniques and pass the knowledge on to me and many others over the years.
During the past 3 decades technology has changed many times but the basic idea remains the same, the core elements of the Spiral Sound coming from an inspiration derived partly from discovering new technology and harnessing it to do our will and a love of music with an attitude, designed to exercise our brain cells as well as our bodies.
Over the years I’ve played with many different configurations of liveset, a basic pattern being conquering the initial learning curve of discovering new gear while profiting from the excitement of fresh tech, tweaking and peaking to an optimal performance level that leads eventually to an inevitable boredom and yearning for new gear when familiarity overrides inspiration and the circle starts again….
After about 10 years of playing with Ableton live and developing and perfecting my own method of doing this I became restless and launched the total machine project , which was basically just a name for getting away from computer based live and staring at screens.
Berlin – Winter 2016
The first total machine live consisted of an LXR drum machine, a shruthi fromMutable Instruments (my go to live synth for years, now discontinued) an Electribe sampler + mixing desk and Mini Kaos pad for effects.
After a time of playing this liveset I became frustrated with abilities of the sampler and also tired of the portability and time and space needed to set it up . Often I’d arrive at a club to find no table space to set up and take 45 minutes plugging in just to play for 1 hour.
The sound was more deeper and techno than my computer live, but sometimes took a while to get into.
So it was back to Ableton for a while.
Berlin Summer 2018
Back to the Machines I bought an Octatrack MK 2 from Elektron to solve my sampler issues, it’s a fairly complicated machine and takes a while to understand exactly how you’ll want to use it, as it has so many different capabilities, but the sound quality and durability is top. I experimented with various synths, namely an 0 coast by Make Noise and a Novation mono station, always with an outboard mixer and effects.
After several months of playing with this set up I became determined to find a Total Machine solution that sounded good but was much more portable.
Finally I decided on my current set, I bought a Synthstom Deluge (a workstation that is almost like a hardware version of Ableton) to accompany my Octatrack and use the Dj Mixer to mix between them. Finally I’ve found an all machine liveset which is portable and sounds fat ! But the story is not over as during this process of finding my ideal set up I became proficient with various instruments and now all my projects use different machines and have their own individual sound.