All posts by carlos ibanez

B&W magic (part I): People

Kicking off a new series on Black & White (B&W) photography. More accurately, these will be monochromatic renderings of digital photography files. When and  how do we decide whether a photograph will look better in B&W? Is it possible to imagine a B&W composition before pressing the shutter? There are a milliard ways to render a color file into a monochromatic image. Contrast, balance, structure, grain texture. Darker reds? Lighter greens? Sepia for a vintage effect? In these series, we will use Canon files rendered in Lightroom. In most cases, the (now free) Silver Efex Pro 2 plugin from the Nik collection was applied. Part I of the B&W series is about People.

 

Chromatographies vol. 1

Chromatographies is the new jazz and ambient guitar project of Carlos Ibanez.

The Chromatographies project consists of solo guitar performances that alternate improvised guitar meditations with jazz guitar pieces. As in a live performance, each volume is arranged as a continuous suite of single track recordings, and all sounds and effects are made in real-time using stomp boxes.

The first volume includes improvised compositions by Carlos Ibanez and renderings of pieces by Bill Connors, Victor Young, Charles Mingus and Ralph Towner.

Volume 1 has just been released at the Bandcamp website. The free  download includes a digital booklet.

Blue beauty

Here it is our new Gibson Les Paul Standard HP 2017. A solid body electric guitar packed with features to achieve that great classic humbucker  tone.

We have just used this blue beauty to record a few pieces in volume 1 of the brand-new “Chromatographies” project which has just been released at the Bandcamp website.

But more on that in a later post. In the meantime, here is a sample of some of the sounds we have got from this incredible guitar, a track called “Overload”.

New guitar pedalboard

It took time, but our new guitar pedalboard is here! The board itself is a Trio28 from Temple Audio Design fitted with an IEC AC Mains Micro Module (left) and a 4-way Jack Patch Module (right), all from Temple Audio Design.

As far as the pedals are concerned, from upper left clock-wise:

  1. Triple custom pedal from JAM Pedals:
    • DelayLlama + (analog delay)
    • WaterFall (chorus)
    • TubeDreamer+ (overdrive)
  2. GOO Limited Edition designed by Nels Cline from ToneConcepts (distortion)
  3. Mel9 from Electro-Harmonix (mellotron)
  4. Mini EGO from Wampler (compressor)
  5. DVP4 Volume X Mini Pedal from Dunlop (volume and expression)
  6. Mini Modular Switcher Ver. 2 from LoopSwitchers (volume pedal switcher)
  7. SneakAttack from Malekko Heavy Industries (attack/decay envelope modulator and tremolo)
  8. Lil Buddy from Malekko Heavy Industries (tap switch for SneakAttack)
  9. DIG from Strymon (stereo dual digital delay)
  10. BlueSky from Strymon (stereo reverberator)
  11. DittoX4 from TC Electronic (stereo dual looper)

The signal chain is as follows: MiniEGO → Mel9 → SneakAttack → TubeScreamer+ → GOO → Volume X Mini → WaterFall → DelayLlama → DIG (stereo) → BlueSky (stereo) → DittoX4 (stereo). The board is powered with a DC10 from CIOKS, fitted on the under side of the board (underneath the GOO). The AUX output  of the DVP4  (loose plug in the picture above) can be connected to the EXP input of the DIG. The switcher is used to by-pass the volume pedal, allowing it to function as expression control. The stereo output of the  DittoX4 goes to the 4-way Jack Patch Module (right). The right channel is connected to our trusty CUBE 80GX from Roland, while the left channel goes into our brand-new Fender Blues Junior III Woody Tequila Limited Edition. But that is the stuff of a separate post…

Pedal frenzy (Part III): blueSky from Strymon


Another guitar effect pedal making its way into our pedal board, this is the blueSky reverberator from Strymon. To say that it’s absolutely stunning would be an understatement. Lush, gorgeous reverb that can go to infinity.

Here a small sample introducing  the “mod” mode with infinite reverb morphing into Mingus’ Goodbye Pork Pie Hat and a crazy looped overdrive.

Pedal frenzy (Part II): Sneak Attack from Malekko

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Here is our newest guitar effect pedal, the Sneak Attack from Malekko Heavy Industries.

Sneak Attack is an auto-swell volume pedal that can also be manually triggered or used in a tremolo mode. The core of the pedal is an Attack/Decay envelope generator with separate length and curve controls for both the attack and decay segments. The envelope can be triggered or cycled in several ways using the input signal, built in footswitch, Lil’ Buddy footswitch or external clock/click track.

This is unlike any effect pedal in that it does not change the sound of your guitar, but the shape of the sound form. A crazy little sound machine with huge possibilities that we will be digging deeply.

Making science (part XIV): Journal Syndrome

The other day, I run into O.A., one of my former students who is now a  research group leader. O.A. is not the type that  lacks self-confidence, and although having a bit of a lazy attitude, he has some good ideas and a good feel for where the money is. I asked him how his research was going. He responded with a tepid smile, as if to indicate that I had asked the right question: “Very good. Next week I have a paper coming out in Nature, although I am only second last author in that one. I published a paper in EMBO Journal jus a few weeks ago. And we have also made some very interesting observations which will likely lead to a paper in a high-impact journal!

I do not live in a bubble, so, in a disappointing way, I was not surprised. But it was difficult for me to keep myself from venting a remark of frustration, “O., you tell me where you are publishing your work, but you don’t tell me what the work was about, what you have discovered! Isn’t that the important thing?” Well, I did not actually make that last rhetorical question, but I should have.

Here is O.A., one of my former students, one of the promising ones, explaining his research in terms of the journals in which it is getting published, as if that were the only thing that matters in his science. Yes, he may have been trying to make an impression on his former mentor. But…  where did the science go? Isn’t that what really counts? The “Journal Syndrome” has advanced to such point that  the title of the journal in which the research is published becomes more important than the research itself and hence the preferred short-hand description for science output.

How did we get to this situation and can this trend be reversed? Without doubt, this is a direct product of the current addiction to Impact Factors, the mother of most curses in modern science.  However, while making Impact Factors disappear would appear very difficult at this time, avoiding the Journal Syndrome should be relatively simpler. When someone asks about your research, pretend he or she is a distant relative with no inside knowledge and simply tell them what you found in as few and simple words as possible. Journal Syndrome manifests most commonly when the other person is also a scientist.  In this case, you can allow yourself a bit more jargon and specifics, but the key point is always to keep the focus on your new findings. Try this next time. And if you are at the other end, as I was with my student O.A., don’t let them get away with the journal babble. Force them to tell you what they found. Hopefully, they’ll know…