MONSQUAZ Swap Album 9 - The Joonas Karjalainen Editon
The year is 2006. A younger version of myself is attending a LAN party in my hometown where i happen to meet RAMPKORV, a coincidence that opens a world of new experiences through Geekmeet and HELLÖ RÖMAN. As a part of this, RAMPKORV introduces me to dusthillguy who just had started making music at the time. As HELLÖ RÖMAN dismounts over the years for other reasons, the “MONSQUAZ” part of the group break out, being founded of the name of a internet SWF animation: The Monsquaz Animation. The year turns to 2011 and RAMPKORV and dusthillguy decides to try an idea they’ve had for a while.
What if a group of people made an album together, where everyone worked on everyones song, but noone knew which song they worked on or who had worked on the song before. Would the result be coherent enought to be listenable? Could the mishmash of approaches create something different? What came out of this experiment was the first Monsquaz Swap Album, an album made entirely in OpenMPT by around 10 people. You can sort of say whatever you want about the result but it’s impossible to deny the unique style that comes from this approach. The sound is like nothing else out there with orchestra hits used as keys, screams of pain used as leads etc. I personally couldn’t join in on the first album, but i’ve been a part of the 2nd, 3rd and 8th.
Today we released the 9th album in the series
Thinking back on these 7 years of collaboration makes one realize how fast time flies. What’s even better is the improvement the all people behind this project has done in terms of musical skill. I focused on extending track ideas in the early rounds, adding progressions to tracks and for later rounds just went hard on polishing sounds, layering pads and tightening up drum fills.
On top of adding parts to the tracks i decided to also make the album cover the second time around. My inspiration was to build something that represented the chaos that the album is with the visual elements that represents the MONSQUAZ community, this being the up and down arrow of the animation. I created a rather simple model of the arrow, cloned it, added some randomness and rendered it with Octane to get the depth of field effect.
I deleted my Instagram
The founders of Instagram left Facebook.
It’s always hard to say if there’s a good reason or not but i am not interested in finding out. Deleting social media accounts is a liberating experience at this point, you let go of something that never mattered in the first place. It’s like shaking an addiction or losing weight, getting over it is hard but it feels really good once you’ve done it.
Burial - Untrue
In case you lived under a rock for the past 11 years (or maybe you were never into future garage/ambient) then this album is one of the things you should check out. Some of the tracks are just brutally beatiful. The weird lack of quantization on many of the tracks gives the album a unique dynamic swing that’s hard to put your finger on but feels fluid all throughout. Favorite track for me from the album is “Homeless”.
LIMETREE - Small Arduino NFC Reader that speaks Bluetooth LE
So for the next iteration of ANDERSTORPSFESTIVALEN i decided that we had to move away from using QR Codes to NFC. While QR codes works, it was hard for drunk people to align these codes in front of a camera in pitch darkness. It was clear another solution was needed for the system in order to make all this work.
I spent a couple of days thinking about this prior to the last iteration but i deemed it to hard. Then i realized i already solved the Bluetooth problem with the nRF52 Bluefruit board for the NeoPixel flashlight, why can’t i just attach an NFC board and repurpose the thing? Said and done, i bought a breakout board and just soldered it all together, looks like this:
Wrote the code and got it up and running, at least for a prototype and it just works. I’m planning on using the UID of the Mifare NFC cards since it’s easy and the attack vector in a small group of people isn’t really that high. Another problem last year was that the nRF52 was exposed which during humid nights caused some stuff to flicker, decided to fix this all in one go by 3D printing a case.
Having never done something like this before it took a while to figure out the methods of modeling something like this but thanks to my caliper i measured it out and sketched it out in SketchUp. One cool thing i realized is that instead of making screw holes which my first iteration had, i could just have the 3D printer make the pegs that would hold the board, as you can see in the sketch. Same goes for board distances, they could also be printed straight off. The finishing for this will be a small frosted bit of plexi glass that will sit in the grooves and diffuse the neopixel.
I sent the case way to Shapeways for print i was blown away with the result, having never 3D printed something before this amazed me how good the quality of the print was. I am legit surprised by how good the fit and finish was of the printed box. I bought a top cut piece of plexi to round the box off and with it all together this thing looks really sleek.
I’ve open-sourced the code, the schematics and the 3D print project on my GitHub
Regarding the joy of creating something
I just finished up what I written about twice already, a hybrid party / festival something deep in the forest of Sweden which I enjoyed deeply and I analyzed some of this after coming home yesterday. I think what we rediscovered was the joy of building something you shape purely out of your own imagination, without requirements and expectations. The act of converting ideas to reality leaves you with a lasting joy that I seldom feel doing the daily grind. Maybe this is why startup founders hold the experience of starting something themselves so dear? This irrestible joy to keep on going that still fuels me after this experience is incredibly strong, to a point where I am already looking forward to creating again.
Why is this? How come we are so bad at making use of this on a continious basis? Why is it so hard to channel this inner energy at work for me? I can sort of use a part of this energy to fuel myself when doing projects but I seldom experience this extremely strong passion. In part I do think it has to do with the feeling of ownership and watching idea materialize to reality. This inner energy that allows you to go from start to goal without ever finding it tedious stems from what I think is the joy of converting an idea into something that has a lasting effect on someone else. Be it a product, a service, an app or a tool, if it changes the day for someone else in a positive way it gives this great energy back to you. The anticipation of this energy return is what I think creates this drive to finish projects like this.
Sometime in March 2018 I got the idea that I wanted to build this sign for the festival, as it would fit the aesthetic style of the festival. Sort of rough and old but still a modern glow with the LED tube. Said and done, started ordering the stuff needed and sketching out how this thing would actually be built. Turned out to be surpringsly simple, so I’m sharing how I approached it.
First of all, the sort of general outline of the sign had to be created and for this I used Adobe Illustrator to just draw the “visible” parts of the sign.
Then it was a question of figuring out where the holes for the LED tube to go through had to be drilled
After this it was just a puzzle of finding the optimal path for the tube in order to avoid having to cut the tube as I would not be able to bring any soldering gear to Sweden. The yellow basically highlights the entire run of the tube coming in and out of the feeding holes.
With all this done, the only thing left was to wait until the building phase for the festival started and sketch it all out on the piece of plywood.
With that done, we drilled out the holes and started feeding through the LED tube, in order to fixate it we used an array of smaller holes through which we fed nylon wire and tied it to get the curves.
This all took a fair bit of time. If someone ever attempts this again I highly recoomend finding another solution than manually fixating nylon wire to screws. Johanna’s fingers did not enjoy this after 1,5 day of building this sign. The reason for doing this was to not have any visible markings as you get with steel wire but have the sign look like it was glued in place.
After finishing the sign, Johanna painted the bar with UV reactive colors and Alexander and Summa fixated the UV fixtures so it all could come together like this
No words, only pictures.
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is A Train
Today’s OHC had the theme of “Hope”, basically just jamming out with some handpan samples for a while.