Released: March 2023

Equipment: Aodyo Anyma Phi synthesizer, Arturia KeyStep Pro sequencer

After a long gap in my musical productivity I was reinvigorated by yet another new (secondhand) purchase - an Anyma Phi physical modelling synthesizer. This used computational models to mimic the behaviour of real-world physical objects; strings, pipes, and blocks (like a glockenspiel or marimba). I'd used simplified physical modelling with the Microfreak synth but this was a much more sophisticated implementation. The control interface was small & fiddly but the associated app worked well and provided a clear & easy way to set parameters.

Sadly I didn't get on very well with the instrument. As I built up patches they would quickly slip into discordancy or drift out of tune and I couldn't make a clear connection between my changes and the resulting tones. It was very similar to my experiences with FM synthesis, I understood the theoretical process but couldn't seem to translate that into musical or tonal terms. I was determined to stick to my original intention - to construct the album purely on the Anyma Phi - but it was not a happy process and I'm not sure if I'll keep hold of the synth in the long term.

That's not to say the album was a failure. The Anyma Phi could produce some wonderful sounds and its restrictions did end up pushing me into some unfamiliar places. The songs are a little simpler than on previous collections but there's still some nice diversity among them.

Byways is probably the closest to my established 'pop song' format - clearly defined sections with a central theme holding it all together. That theme has more of a percussive element than usual, which I was pleased with, and the middle eight provides some nice contrast.

Durutti uses lots of echo to take a sparse arrangement and give it a spacious, expansive feel. The name comes from the Durutti Column, a band who's sound was clearly a major (if initially unconscious) influence.

Sargasso is another of my 'drifting' pieces, as reflected in the name.

Fluxions starts with a glitch in the clock synching and develops into a heavily syncopated groove. Lots of fun with the stereo spread! The name comes from Isaac Newton's expression for infinitesimal increments in calculus.

Happenstance continues the echo-heavy trend with a tidy little pop tune.

Windchimes goes deeply into the tuned percussion sounds of the Anyma Phi with several overlapping segments coming in & out. Flutey melodies add to the 'aeolian' feel.

Detourist expressed the 'bittiness' of (my) post-pandemic life, short bursts of progress being detoured by changing possibilities & requirements. Some nice movement but there's a definite sense of frustration underneath it all.

Reflections brings a nice feeling of calm despite the 'spiky' tones. I like the ambiguous nature of the chords.