Growing Microscopic Crystals: Interview

Dustin Brown sent us this strangely fascinating video he created of para-dichlorobenzene crystals (mothballs) growing under a microscope, looking like organic pixels and set to Microscopic. We took the opportunity to ask him how he created it.

Mat Jarvis: How long have you been observing things under the microscope?

Dustin Brown: I started observing through the microscope in the early ’70s when my uncle gave me a monocular hobby grade scope (along with a lot of model rocketry supplies).
I first observed pond water, putting the tiny Daphnia “water fleas” on a slide at low power. Then I noticed tiny specks swimming around them; on higher power I discovered protozoa! It was later that I learned someone had already done this in the 1600’s, his name was Leeuwenhoek.  I purchased the book “How to Know the Protozoa” by Jahn and spent hours finding and drawing species new to me.
I thought I would be a chemical engineer but ended up in Microbiology using microscopes to study microorganisms.

How do you hook up a camera to the microscope?
If one is fortunate enough to have a microscope with a trinocular head they can mount the appropriate camera on this “third eye”. My film camera, at the time, was an SLR Minolta and nice images could be obtained by removing the camera lens and positioning the camera body near the microscope eyepiece. I started with a tripod and black felt to block room light. It could get good images but I was constantly knocking the camera out of alignment with the scope. It was then I took a Minolta camera lens ring and built a mount around it. This mount friction fit snugly over the eyepiece.   (No more black felt or bumping out of position :-)

What kind of equipment did you use and what basic equipment do you need to try it yourself?
My current camera is a Nikon CoolPix S570
Most cameras can be used but the camera will probably need to either have a removable lens or, if not, be able to zoom.   A camera with a lens and no zoom will probably only image a small circle of light surrounded by black vignetting. The only way to know for sure is to try the camera up close to the microscope eyepiece and find the optimum position and zoom level.  This information will dictate how one positions the tripod or builds the camera mount.

mothballs and brimstone crystals

Polarizing filters: Continue reading Growing Microscopic Crystals: Interview

Woob – Paradigm Flux, Ten Copies to Win

Woob has a great new EP out and we have ten copies to give away;
simply add a comment to this post to win. There’s a brilliant timelapse video to accompany Paradigm Flux made with Photographer Samuel Cockedey. We also took the opportunity for a quick interview with them both.


inter // states, video by Samuel Cockedey, music by Woob.

An interview with Woob aka Paul Frankland

Mat Jarvis: Paradigm Flux, especially the eponymous track, sounds more hectic and in your face than previous Woob releases; Is this a new direction for Woob?
Paul Frankland: I have mainly been working to picture since around 2001 and this called for me to write in a lot of very different and sometimes unique genres, but there was never any time to really further develop and explore these ideas. This EP and eventual album are a platform for me to do this without the usual strict parameters and deadlines. I had toyed with the idea of recording under a different name for this project but decided against it as not to further fragment my output. However The ‘Tokyo cut’ of ‘Paradigm Flux’ was arranged specifically for the ‘Inter // States’ film and as such is written to convey the franticness of the imagery – the album version is much more spaced out.

Continue reading Woob – Paradigm Flux, Ten Copies to Win

PaulStretch: An Interview with Paul Nasca

Paul Nasca is the creator of  superstar timestretch tool, PaulStretch, which stretches audio up to a billion times its original length.
The Internet was abuzz last week with a PaulStretch version of pop puppet Justin Bieber’s song, ‘U Smile’. Musician Nick Pittsinger cheekily stretched the original 3:21 song into a 35 minute ambient monster, which has now had 1.8 million plays in just one week, and so casting PaulStretch and Paul Nasca into the limelight. On Monday we posted our own 38 minute PaulStretch version of ‘Microscopic’, originally a 9 minute track.

J. BIEBZ – U SMILE 800% SLOWER by Shamantis

We spoke to Paul, who lives in Romania, about the rapid rise to fame of his free open-source PaulStretch tool, why he wrote it, how it performs its magic and he also shares a few tips for any musicians using it.

MAT JARVIS: How long have you been programming, what makes you create audio software and do you have any other software available?

PAUL NASCA: I am in programming since 1992 but I do audio software since 1996. My first software was a non-realtime software synthesizer “Paul’s Sound Designer” a DOS program which lets you synthesize sounds by adding many waveforms.

Since 2002 I am working on open-source realtime software: ZynAddSubFX which has many sound synthesis methods and effects (including a new sound synthesis algorithm designed by me: PADsynth ). ZynAddSubFX is included in many Linux distributions (or at least in default repositories) and (I believe) it is much more used than PaulStretch.

Also, I wrote some minor audio software (like Hypermmamut, unfinished software which converts audio to images and vice-versa) and I contributed to other open source projects (e.g: I wrote a few effects for Audacity).
Another open source project written by me, but unrelated to audio, is some software which enhances pictures:, and here are some videos processed with it:

Regarding on what makes me create audio software is that I like to make beautiful sounds and I try to experiment a lot with audio. Some audio software (or part of them) was created because different reasons (more personal ;-) (MJ: intriguing! ) .

Gas – Microscopic 600 (edit) by microscopics
Free downloadfor a limited time (89mb)

MAT: Do you make these audio tools to help with your own music making or for others?

PAUL: It depends: Paulstretchwas made for myself, but after hearing the results I decided to share it. On the other hand, ZynAddSubFX and the PADsynth algorithm was made with sharing in mind.

MJ: What was the original inspiration, why did you decide to create such an extreme timestretch program? Continue reading PaulStretch: An Interview with Paul Nasca

Woob Interviews High Skies – Part II


Part II of my interview with Paul Frankland (Woob) on his Season 9 blog, where we talk about future work, future synthesis, favourite gear and recording Gas 0095.

High Skies – Sounds of Earth by  microscopics

Part I of our previous interview is here…

Read the interview Part II…

Woob 1194 Winners

woob_1194Thanks to everyone who posted a comment on the Woob interview and competition. The draw is now closed and these are the three winners drawn at random who will receive a copy of the Woob 1194 album…

Mike Mullen

A special new version of the Woob track Giant Stroke is being sent to everyone else who left a comment, please contact us if you haven’t received it by the end of the Decade.

Woob 1194 is out now
Woob 1194 on iTunes
Buy Woob 1194 on Bandcamp
Woob official web site

I’ll leave the last word to Paul F…

Thanks everyone for the comments. I didn’t expect such a great response!
It’s a real incentive to carry on with more Woob excursions.
Thanks again everyone and have a great new Year.


Woob 1194 Re-released: Copies to Give Away, Paul Frankland Interview -part II

woob_1194Fellow ex-emit artist Paul Frankland has re-released his Woob 1194 album, and we have three free copies to give away. We also have free copies of a brand new version of Giant Stroke, a track from Emit 1197, to give away!

Simply add a comment to this post and we will draw three names out of a super-chilled hat in a week (Sunday 27th December 09). Plus, everyone who adds a comment will recieve a free copy of the special Woob track. Please add your email with your comment, it won’t be displayed and we delete them all after the draw has finished.

In the second part of my interview with Paul we talk more about the recording process…

MAT JARVIS: How did you approach the recording of the album?

PAUL FRANKLAND: The performing/mixing of tracks was similar for all. For example with – ‘On Earth’ I  would start with all the faders down on the mixing desk, a couple of synths set up for live improvised performance, various tape/DAT decks for triggering long samples (Atari CPU was midi only) and the sequencer would have up to 24 midi tracks (5 minute loops) I could cut in and out on the fly (similar to Ableton Live). The engineer would then hit record on the DAT and I would take it from there. All EQ and FX were obviously set up beforehand, although they would get tweaked during the mix. 


On earth – excerpt 2 by woob

Continue reading Woob 1194 Re-released: Copies to Give Away, Paul Frankland Interview -part II

Woob Re-release: Paul Frankland Interview

woob_1194Good news. Paul Frankland is re-releasing his Woob project from his days on the Emit record label. I still remember hearing its cool sounds wafting through the Square Dance offices (recording studio) whilst I was editing my Gas album.

It was the first solo artist album on Emit, and immediately on release in 1994 it was praised by critics and public. It has since become much sought after, fetching high prices secondhand.

I spoke to Paul about the album and his memories about recording it.
MAT JARVIS: What are you re-releasing and when will they be available?

PAUL FRANKLAND: The first Woob album (Woob 1194) will be available worldwide on iTunes by the end of December, and includes a minimalist booklet.
EP1 consisting of some classic, hard to find tracks is available now for a name-your-own-price, from free! – here
Odonna (Bells mix) edit, on download, get it here or on Amazon. later on iTunes.
There will be a brand new 10 minute track available for download on 1.1.10.



MAT: Which are your favourite tracks on the album?

PAUL: Odonna/Strange Air. I’m fond of them all though.



MJ: Most of the tracks are ten minutes or longer, was this a conscious decision to make lengthy tracks, or did they just happen?

PF:The way I wrote the tracks back then, was like a live performance and so I never heard the track complete or knew the length till it was over, but yes it was a conscious decision, although 25 minutes into mixing ‘On Earth’ there was a heart pounding moment when I improvised a synth section. Its probably my favorite bit of the whole album now though. 

Continue reading Woob Re-release: Paul Frankland Interview

Mat and Eddy Osmos Interview at CDM

createdigitalmusicEddy Boxerman, the main man behind the ambient game Osmos and myself (Mat Jarvis) have been interviewed by Peter Kirn at his Create Digital Music blog. We cover such topics as the evolution of the game, gravitational mechanics, and the Osmos soundtrack.

Visit to read the full interview (music physics space in perfect fusion)

Further Osmos interviews and reviews…

Congratulations to Eddy and Hemisphere: Osmos has been selected as an IndieCade finalist!