No JOB is worth your mental health.

No JOB is worth your mental health.

– Brigette Hyacinth, on LinkedIn

I wish more than anything that I had quit my toxic job after the first year. Staying for three and a half years and working for a toxic manager and with a bullying, insecure, narcissistic team mate wrecked my mental health and destroyed the career I worked so hard to build. 

I’d never had a manic episode in my life, then I had two manic episodes about a year apart while working there. The second one hospitalized me and left me disabled. That was two years ago, right around this time. In fact, the 2 year anniversary of my hospitalization is less than 2 weeks away. 

Fast forward 2 years and I’m now on permanent disability and I have not worked since. I try to be positive and tell myself I’m going to get back to work eventually but truthfully I’m not sure if I’ll ever work again. I will never forgive those guys. I’ll never forgive my manager for his cowardice, gaslighting and dishonesty, and I’ll never forgive my team mate for his toxic insecurity, his need to be the “go-to guy” on everything, and his relentless, calculated campaign to tear me down. I hate them both.

My advice is follow your heart and your gut, if things don’t seem right, just leave. Pay, benefits, whatever, It’s not worth it to stay on and try to make it work.

Harbour [Disquiet0456]

A short musical interpretation of the work of Agnes Martin, a painter best known for her parallel lines.

This piece is inspired by the piece titled Harbor Number 1, 1957, and was recorded for my first participation in Disquiet junto project.

I chose “Harbor Number 1” as the subject of my composition. Agnes Martin created this work just after moving to New York City and just before developing her distinctive grid style.

Agnes Martin Harbor Number 1, 1957 | Image from MOMA

Acording to the MOMA page, Agnes Martin created this painting from her studio which was “so close to the East River that she ‘could see the expressions on the faces of the sailors,’”. For some reason this made me think of my childhood in South Baltimore, of the nearby docks and rail stations, and being so inspired I based my work loosely off of this one painting, but really off of Agnes Martin’s work as I experienced it as a whole, and the concept of grids, lines, spirituality, and systems.

I recorded a series of 8 bar phrases using each of the following: A pair of Baoding balls, a pair of clapsticks, a small djembe drum, bubble sounds made by blowing into a heavy glass beaker like object with water inside, drum sound made by setting the beaker down on the table, and 2 separate passes of my voice saying what came to mind.

These 8 bar phrases then became my “lines”.

My kick and snare are made using NI Maschine’s built in drum synths, and the bass synth sound is my Pittsburgh Modular synthesizer box. The kick and snare patterns are dry, and the bass synth just drones a D note on and on. Make Noise Rene is clock synced to the project tempo and modulates filter cutoff on the Pittsburgh synth voice.

Everything was recorded in Maschine and then exported to Reaper for arrangement and mixing.

Cover photo by Jennifer Smutek

Oh, This is Us

This is an excerpt from one of my “tiny concerts” here at home, where I take some sort of instrument and a little set of speakers downstairs and screw around. Todays concert used my Morphagene skiff (morph, rings, clouds, radio music, wogglebug), my iPad Pro and my Meeblip Anode synthesizer.

Excerpt from todays “Tiny Counter Concert”

The background ambiance (“oh, this is us”) is a recording I made at Pike Place market in Seattle, in April 2019, playback via my MTM Radio Music module. The sines and bell-ish tones are Mutable Instruments Rings being processed with Mutable Instruments Clouds & Make Noise Morphagene. All the aforementioned are being modulated by Make Noise Wogglebug.

The lead-ish synth is my Meeblip Anode synthesizer with a send return feed from my little Cockpit mixer to my iPad pro running Borderlands Granular, Spectrum (iOS Clouds) & Eventide Blackhole. All was sequenced and played via BeatStep Pro, mixed on Cockpit mixer and recorded to my Tascam DR-07.

For Trees

Track created using Novation Circuit Monostation, through 4MS Dual Looping Delay. 2 channels of Eventide Blackhole reverb & RadioShack CTR-111 tape recorder. Voice is me reading “For the Love of trees”, a poem by Evelyn Ripp.

For the Love of Tree’s

In my mind’s eyes
My far-off forest world
Comes vividly to life,
And again I hide.
The trees know
Why I’m here,
They nod their heads
As they watch over me.

They speak to me and they listen.
I tell them all that I’m thinking
And they keep my secrets.
And they groan and they weep.
Now and then a tree shakes
Frightened by a bad dream.
They’re even capable of suffering.

Trees are self sufficient:
They adapt to every environment,
Bend in the wind and
Stand upright again,
And they regenerate themselves
With every spring.
Yet, something about them
Speaks sadly to me.
They can’t respond to assault —
Fight, or run for life.
it’s as though they opt
To stay dug insideWhere they grew up,
Tied to their roots
Within their native land.

I can still see the forest,
Though it is gone.
It had been harvested —
Cut down.
A new generation of spindly
Saplings sprung up in its place.
They don’t cast shadows yet.
Will they perpetuate the traits
of those distinctive Old Trees?

My deeply heartfelt thanks to you,
Dear Old Trees of righteousness,
Givers of life and sustenance.
For two long years we sat together
Beneath wnter blizzards,
Torrential downpours
As the sky disappeared
Under flashes of lightning
And thunderbolts
Or winds so intense
Sending huge tree trunks crashing.

Without you
Survival was impossible.
And even now,
A longing breaks my heart.

For the Love of Trees
Evenlyn Romanowsky Ripp
The Abandoned, A Life Apart from Life
pp. 157 – 158


“Particles, grains and birds. Flocks, swarms and clouds. Clouds is a granular audio processor like no other. Clouds is focused on the realtime granularization of incoming audio signals, and their transformation into amorphous textures.”
– Mutable Instruments

I picked up a Mutable Instruments Clouds module over the break and, though I’m only just starting to get to know it, I’ve been completely blown away by the sounds that come out of this thing.

In this video I have an arpeggiated sequence running, VCA out from the Pittsburgh Synthbox running through the Pittsburgh Reverb module, into Clouds, and the stereo pair out of the clouds to my sound card.

The signal starts out dry with the Pittsburgh reverb coming in around 10 seconds and clouds coming in around 40 seconds. Pressing the freeze button (around 1:08 and 1:40) when the root note hits takes a small slice of incoming audio and freezes it into this lush, atmospheric backdrop that I could just sit and listen to forever.

Networked Midi w/ iConnect Midi 4+

This is a video about me being happy that I finally took the time to hook up network midi.


I sort of have this (totally first world) dilemma where I feel like I need to have ALL MY MUSIC gear hooked up and ready to go, but I also have to have a clean and tidy desk. I do web development for a living, I’m often learning new things and occasionally work from home as well, so I just need to not be distracted by a bunch of drum machines and stuff in front of me when I’m trying to work. Clean & tidy desk is a must.

A clean desk and bunch of synths with their endless wires and shit are kind of at odds with one another. So, I have all my synths set up on a table behind me. It’s a completely “out of the box” set up, meaning I can sequence, record, mix and make music without needing a computer. Awesome, but….

I also like using my computer to make tunes and love sequencing with my Ableton Push. But there’s not enough room on the table behind me for my laptop and my Push, without having to move a bunch of crap, which totally kills the creativity.

I was telling my wife this weekend that I wished there were a way I could just control all the crap behind me, from my desk, but only sometimes. Then I realized that I can, because I have an iConnect Midi 4+.

In the end it was just a matter of running an Ethernet cable from my iConnect to my router, then I was able to use my macs network midi utility to send midi over wifi. Click here to see how to set it up. I use a Thunderbolt 2 dock, from OWC, which has an Ethernet port on it, and I just so happened to have a really long Ethernet cable as well, so I now have my Macbook Pro hard wired to the router as well.

All this means I can now sit at my desk and sequence all my hardware on the other side of the room, which makes me really happy. There’s no noticeable latency when I am playing, but I’m a hobbyist. This may not work for a hardcore keyboard player.

Also, I should mention that the Ableton session on my computer is being used solely to sequence the gear on the other side of the room. If I were to, for example, try to run a virtual instrument in the Ableton session and the drum brute on the other side of the room there would definitely be some latency issues.

For now though, I’m going to get a long ass audio cable to run from the mixer, round the room, and into my sound card, so I can multi track instruments into an Ableton session if I want. Also, my mixer, a Behringer UFX1204, has the ability to multi-track record to a USB thumb drive, so I can noodle around, get some ideas, then pop the USB drive out and pull the tracks into my Ableton session.

One day I’ll have a space that allows me to not have to send midi over my network, and in an ideal world I’d be able to have all my gear directly connected to my computer — but for today I’m glad to have these additional options and this makes me pretty happy. 🙂

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