Addictive Noise is an experimental lab for electronic sounds and modular synthesizers, founded by Jan De Block
What is this about?
Addictive Noise is about diving deeply into bleeps, noises and textures. This is not a mission with a destination, it's just an ongoing expedition to discover new electronic sounds.
This is about mostly analog electronics and the endless possibilities of modular synthesizers.
How did I get here?
I started my gear journey with vintage synths like the Roland Juno-106, Yamaha DX-7, a serial monogamy with several drum computers, and an Atari ST running Steinberg Pro-24 (predecessor of Cubase). I worked in a studio and recorded on unused multitrack tape ends from indie artists. Many of these recordings got lost because the artists (or their record labels) claimed the tapes at some stage, without me having a possibility to make a proper mixdown.
In the next phase I got more jobs for commercials and TV shows. I worked together with a guy who liked his AKAI sampler but hated to make backups on diskettes: in the rush of deadlines he prefered to keep the sampler powered on while we had some sleep between sessions. It was the time when equipment never crashed.
In the next wave, I sold most of my hardware stuff (except guitars) and changed to Logic Pro on a Mac, doing everything "in the box". Productivity went up, and up, and up, until - after a few years -
I found myself clicking behind my big screen, switching through dozens of amazing software synths and scrolling through thousands of presets and sample libraries. I got stuck, writer's block! The only way forward was deleting 98% of the sounds and presets and making my own sounds instead, one of the best decisions I ever made.
One day, I had the occasion to try a modular synth, and it felt so amazing to be right in the moment, with no possibility to "save", and having the interaction via real knobs and patch cables. It felt like coming home. So I got me a seond hand eurorack Doepfer case, and I became addicted to adding new modules every few weeks. Next I started building DIY kits. That moment when you first test a self-built DIY module and find out that it works: what a kick!
But that kick flattens after a few projects. The next thing was a DIY kit that did NOT work: sleepless nights, figuring out how the circuit works, checking voltages and values... and finally getting it right! This gave a new kick that was more intensive, and also introduced a new form of satisfaction: finding out that finding the problem was not always intellectual, but very often something stupid like placing a 100k resistor instead of a 100 Ohm resistor. That brings you closer to become one with the circuits you work on: you learn respect them, and learn to accept your own limitations and stupid mistakes. This comes again at a price: lots of time, money, as well as giving up some projects.
In today's world of social networks where everything is fast, shiny and instant, a non-working module looks like a waste of time and money, especially when you finally give it up. This is the point where I disagree. Every non-working module is a gift: it stimulates you to get better, analyse and understand the schematics, makes you realise that not everything needs to be an instant success, and finally - IF you get it working - there not just the instant kick of the drug addict, but also the deep acceptance and satisfaction of the zen monk.
My current (and hopefully not last) stage is that I learn, copy, adapt and experiment a lot. The challenge is to find a good balance between designing modules but also using them in compositions and experiments.
Luckily, I did a master in electronics long time ago, so I did not have to start from scratch. When I started reading about modules and looking at circuits (the modular world is an amazingly open community!) some magic things happened: I realised that there was a lot of electronics theory still living in a dark corner of my brain without I knew it was there, it was just waiting for a trigger to wake up! The human mind is really amazing. Well, the real thruth is that it does not come back just like that: since more than 2 years I'm studying electronics again on a daily basis. My piano regrets my change of focus, but I promised her to find a good balance soon.
In the meantime, when I go to sleep I'm counting patchcables instead of sheep, and when I wake up in the middle of the night, new circuits and combinations of modules keep resonating, and I learned myself to not only accept that but also love that endless loop.
I'm still using a Mac with Logic Pro X. When I'm in the zone I just push the record button to capture sessions and sounds: cutting, editing and mixing "in the box" works for me.
The difference is: instead of making a zillion verses and mixes of a track or song, I moved back to making 1 single version, in a way that gives me satisfaction.
In a world where all the stuff of yesterday becomes dust by the new stuff of today, which will in turn become dust by the new stuff of tomorrow, it's a good idea to enjoy the trip, and not the destination.
The open-minded and knowledge sharing culture of the modular synth community
Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert Pirsig).
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
1q84 (Haruki Murakami)
electronic music art:
Dieter Doepfer, Peter Vogel, Godfried-Willem Raes
Blade Runner (Scott Ridley)
Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
experimental sound podcasts:
Data Cult Audio
graphic artists: Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Juan Miro, Keith Haring
several artists in my home country Belgium: René Magritte, Panamarenko, ... (intentionally only naming the deceased, since I may forget many names)
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