About

noise lives

About

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.


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 floppy disks: 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! Deleting 99% of the sounds and presets and making my own sounds instead has been one of the best decisions I ever made.


No computer

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 second 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 a wrong connection or a missing wire. That brings you closer to become one with the circuits you work on: you learn to 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. But I started to see every non-working module as a gift: it stimulates you to get better, analyse and understand the schematics, makes you appreciate the slow lane, and finally - IF you get it working - there's 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 absorb, study, 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 happened: apparently a lot of electronics theory was still alive in a dark corner of my brain, it was just waiting for a trigger to wake up! But to really get a feeling, I felt that understanding is not enough, things need to resonate during several sleep cycles. 
It's great to learn new things without a clear goal. The importance of goals is overrated, it makes the future more important than the now.
Also efficiency is overrated. Efficiency is important when you compete with others. Making sounds with analog modular hardware is not efficient at all, but it gives me more pleasure than designing sounds on my computer with the ability to save them and continue working on them later. 

I enjoy drawing circuits with a pencil on paper, and use my eraser more often than my pencil. Drawing circuits using software is faster and more efficient, but it does not give me the joy of drawing lines with a pencil.


OK computer

Don't get me wrong: I'm not a monk, I embrace new technology and possibilities, and I love working with Logic Pro X on my Mac :-)

Inspired by:

The open-minded and knowledge sharing culture of the modular synth community


books:

Analog Synthesizers (Ray Wilson)

Small Signal Audio Design (Douglas Self)

Handmade Elctronic Music (Nicolas Collins)
Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert Pirsig).

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
1q84 (Haruki Murakami)


electronic music art:

Dieter Doepfer, Peter Vogel, Peter Blasser (Ciat-Lonbarde), Godfried-Willem Raes (Logos foundation)


movies:

Blade Runner (Scott Ridley)

Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 


experimental sound podcasts:

Data Cult Audio


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.


Stay tuned

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