The second workshop started around 7:30 PM. After a brief break we all sat back at our work tables and the parts and documentation were passed out for the second project, the one we all were waiting for the “Andromeda Space Rocker” drum machines.
Don’t let the size of these little guys fool you, they are seriously cool. There are 2 photo-cells up at the top that effect tone. Shine a light at different intervals on these while the machine is running and you get a cool filter like effect. The thumb dial down at the bottom left effects tempo. The dip switches to the left control the rhythm and are a simple pattern generator. There is an LED, in the case of mine, RED, (you know… for REDFAUX…jeez) that is hooked to the tempo. It also highly increases the sex appeal of these little beasts… I mean who doesn’t like colored blinky lights? On the bottom side there is a infrared led that allows you to synch up with up to 4 of these guys to create a full drum pattern. There are 4 basic flavors of the machine:
So if you have one of each going you can get a pretty full sounding pattern going. The version I made on Sunday was the Low-mid.
The switch up above the thumb dial allows you to set your machine to synch and follow any others it is chained with. The button gives you a drum fill.
There is also an empty circuit matrix, called the “personality center” that allows you to add mods to the machine. Eric promised he would post some projects for this in the future.
Putting this together was more involved than the beginners project, but still fairly easy. You just have to make sure you are connecting the right parts to the board basically and that your solder joints don’t touch each other.
This is another project I want to make more of. Guys please make these kits available for sale. I will buy them… pretty please J
Here is a picture of my Andromeda Space Rocker along with some samples…
Lastly I want to say that this workshop was fantastic guys! Thanks again. This has taken away my apprehension in getting into building synth kits. The guys were helpful and friendly. I am looking forward to enhancing my new music with these great little instruments. I will definitely attend future workshops. - Over N Out til' next time
Lastly I want to say that this workshop was fantastic guys! Thanks again. This has taken away my apprehension in getting into building synth kits. The guys were helpful and friendly. I am looking forward to enhancing my new music with these great little instruments. I will definitely attend future workshops.
- Over N Out til' next time
As if we weren't ADD enough as a culture, someone has come out with a way for you to watch two Youtube videos at once... gah. However if you are clever you can come up with some pretty hilarious mashups. Lucky for me I have clever friends ;-)
Here is some Halloween Mashup goodness for you....
On Sunday, October 18th I was lucky enough to attend the DIY Synthesizer workshop in Austin at the Salvage Vanguard Theatre presented by the Church of the Friendly Ghost, Eric Archer, Bleep Labs & 4MS Pedals. They gave two workshops: a beginner’s workshop where attendees built a simple push button drum machine which Eric had named “Mini Space Rockers”, and the advanced workshop where attendees built one of Eric Archer’s “Andromeda Space Rocket” drum machines. I sat in on both.
I got there a little early so I could check the place out and offer any help setting up if needed. I met Eric and the rest of the guys and helped them set up. When we were ready they put a graphic of the circuit board on the overhead handed us all the parts we needed and we were off like soldering monkeys. The kits we did in this first class came together in about an hour. Everyone had different combination of capacitors so all of the little machines sounded different. After all the soldering was done the room was alive with bleeps, bloops and the occasional screaming “Space Hawk”. Eric also showed us how we can change the sound of our Rocker by putting different capacitors on the board. You should check out Eric’s site he has some samples of the Mini Space Rockers and a short video showing one in action.
Here is a picture of the one I made.
The sound it makes is called “Spin Back” and here’s some samples. The sounds start to morph as I start pressing on the electronics, which probably isn't what you're supposed to do with them but it sounds cool.
I really want to make a few more of these little guys. I like the way they sound and look. I’m hoping he’ll have kits or at least printed circuit boards available for sale soon on his site. If you want to hear what the different types sound like, Eric has posted a bunch of samples on his site.
Next up I’ll have a review of the advanced workshop and show you the awesome drum machine I made along with some samples. J
p.s. Special thanks to the Church of the Friendly Ghost, Bleep Labs, Eric Archer & 4MS pedals who made this possible. This workshop was really fun guys!
They will be doing another workshop in November, December & January. See http://handmademusic.noisepages.com/2009/10/introducing-handmade-music-austin/ for more information.
- Over N Out
The Mothman 1966 is based on subtractive synthesis. You have a choice of 3 wave forms for your oscillators: a diamond wave, described by the developer as being created by using FM synthesis to create a waveform that resembles a diamond, a wind wave and an 8 bit wave. You can't choose the octave of the wave form or detune them. There are two oscillators and each has its own filter and LFO and VCA. The VCA is controlled by knobs and not sliders which makes it difficult to guage what your settings are on the ADSR. The VCF has the label of "pitch" where I would expect "frequency" or "cut" which I know is accepted in some circles but always confuses me.
I think perhaps the most interesting part of this synth are the LFOs which you can choose to modulate the VCF or the VCA or turn it off. There are quite a few waves to choose from for the LFO including white & pink noise which is where the most interesting sounds came from in my opinion.I made this sound by modulating one of the oscillators with pink noise which gave it an interesting static-y AM radio style sound.
I was trying to go for a wind/brass sound here, which I was able to achieve but then I decided it to make it more interesting by modulating the filters.
I wanted to like Mothman 1966. I spent multiple days trying to coax some great sounds out of it and they just fell into the mediocre realm everytime, which could be a commentary on my tweaking skills but I digress. I'm not saying its bad, because it's not terrible. It's just not great. It works, it seems stable and the sounds are analogish and fat enough. The presets are pretty good. They are indicative of what the synth can do but they just don't really stand out. Part of this has to do with the limited choice of waveforms I think. It doesn't go head to head with some of the other free vst offerings out there very well, but it is interesting enough to keep in my aresenal. I noticed that Mothman has some other synths available for download on his site and I'd love to see what those can do. His 2000 and 1000 vsts look interesting. Overall its worth checking out, but probably won't fall in your top 10 list.
VST Name: Mothman 1966
Developer: Mothman Synthesis
Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5
See ya next time :)
- Over N Out
This is part four of a four part series reviewing the three FREE vst synthesizer plugins from Opulent Audio. Previously I reviewed Opulent Audio's bLOFIsh and Tenacity VST synths. In this post we review Dirty Girl.
Out of the three synthesizers, this one is the most stripped down of the bunch. However it is still very similar in style to the other three in the following aspects:
- It ain’t pretty ;) The GUI leaves a lot to be desired - It features the same gritty chiptune style sound - There is an modulation matrix that allows you to assign different modulators to various targets
- It ain’t pretty ;) The GUI leaves a lot to be desired
- It features the same gritty chiptune style sound
- There is an modulation matrix that allows you to assign different modulators to various targets
One new thing you can control in Dirty Girl is the Contour. This is a wave form you can draw yourself and have it modulate various targets. It sounds particularly good modulating the filter cut.
I enjoyed playing with this, but it seemed like everything started to sound like the other two VSTs.
At any rate, here are some samples of what you can do with Dirty Girl. Again, these are downloadable but you should just download the synths for free and play with them yourself!
- It is stable. It didn’t freeze or crash once
- It’s FREE J
- Is very easy to coax new sounds out of
- It doesn’t sound dramatically different from bLOFIsh or Tenacity
- The UI isn't very slick looking
So now its your turn. Download these three VSTs HERE and tell me what you think. I'd love to hear some new noise coming from these things.
While I'm finishing up the next post I want to publish I thought I'd post something to keep everyone occupied for a day or so :)
Halloween is coming up and I figure its time to start getting in the spirit. Here's two fun Halloween music items for you.
The first one is a recording of Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast" LAME encoded (its basically mp3 for all of you not in the "know"), and re-encoded...wait for it... 666 times! Yay! I love this kind of absurdity. The aliasing from this is terrific.
I didn't make this. Corey Arcangel did and his site, and the explanation of this absurd project is HERE
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The second Halloween offering I have for you today is Marilyn Manson's version of "This is Halloween". I love this. I think I like it better than the original. Enjoy :)
So do you have any cool Halloween music to share? Tell me, tell me :)
- Over N Out
So there has been so many advances in how we play electronic music in the last 20 years its incredible. It stuns me though, that there has yet to be a live controller that has captured the community's heart yet. Sure we've had a handful of controllers like the Keytar, and some breath controllers but nothing that you would feel awesomely cool playing while prancing about on stage. The Eigenharp seems to have all the features but it looks like a mutant bassoon. Probably the closest cool looking controller I've seen is this mashup between a Monome and a guitar. (check it out in my MIDI controller photo gallery) However, it still has strings and is a functional guitar which isn't really something I'm interested in.
Now there are several of great sedentary controllers that sit on your keyboard stand or desk. But, why should the lead singer and guitarists have all the fun? Us keyboardist wanna jump about like morons too!
1. I want it to look bad ass. (Yes I know this seems superficial, but if you are going to prance about on stage with something strapped to your chest it better look fricken cool. That's what I say.)
2. I want to be able to play melodies & beats on it.
3. It should cost less than $1000.00 (I know this is probably the kicker as well, but almost more important than #1)
4. I want to be able to change patches.
5. I want to be able to trigger clips from Ableton live with it. (not always, but this would be helpful at times. )
6. I want to be able to tweak the sounds live (volume, env cutoff, etc._
7. I want said tweakables to be programmable
8. I want it to have a nice weight and balance to it, like a guitar.
9. I want it to be wireless
10. I want to be able to control sounds on my laptop or any other synth module
11. And did I mention it needs to look bad ass?
So did I miss anything? Is there something you would want to see in a stage controller?
- Over N Out
p.s. Check my MIDI controller photo gallery to see the different live controllers I mention in this post.
So I know it is a few days later than I promised, but here is my review of the free VST synthesizer Tenacity.
This synth takes up where bLO-FIsh left off. It's gritty and chiptune sounding but in a more refined manner than bLO-FIsh. It has the same type of features for the most part, but more of them.
Unlike bLO-FIsh you can route the arpeggiators through the individual oscillators which creates some cool effects. Here are a couple of .mp3s you can listen to that highlight two patches I made using Tenacity.
Bottom line, I liked this synthesizer alot actually. I was able to get some nice things out of it and it sets up nicely for real time tweaking. I'll probably use it in the near future in some of my new work.
- Fairly light on the CPU
- 3 LFO generators
- 2 Filters
- Stereo Delay
- Oscillator Hard Sync
- Its Free!
- It is a little unpredictable. It went silent in LIVE a couple of times and had to be reset.
Next up, Part 4: Opulent Free VST Review of "Dirty Girl"
- Over N Out
So... never underestimate the power of people you know... I happened to mention my disappointment in not being able to get into the DIY synth workshop that was happening this weekend to a friend of mine who's also a sound designer and he just happened to know the folks running the workshop really well. Next thing I know, I've been "squeezed" in.
AWESOME! I'm totally psyched :)
I'll have updates after the sunday workshop obviously!
- Over and out.
ok sorry... I love Lady Gaga's last album and I think most people would say they like this acoustic version of "Poker Face" I posted below... but I'm sorry guys. Can't you see the Empress is wearing no clothes on this one? Or maybe that's the point ;-)
It's absurd... totally. The calculated camera angles, the vegas lounge singer vocal improvisations... ouch.
It reminds me of Dana Carvey's old SNL sketch where he would sing "I'm choppin' Broccoli!!!" in complete abandon....
And just to prove my point... here's some Dana Carvey :)
- Over and out
I will have the 3rd post in the Opulent Audio free VST series tomorrow :) Meanwhile...
So I was told by Ghost of the Friendly Church that the beginner DIY analog synth workshop is full up, but they suggested I show up early anyways because they will let people in if there are no shows. I plan on showing up.
It looks like the whole thing is going to be pretty cool even if I can't get into the workshop. They will be having a live analog jam after the workshops which will be pretty fun to see.
Anyways, here's a glimpse at the cool little drum machines they are going to make at the advanced workshop this weekend. Rawk!
- over and out.
Welcome to part 2 of this 4 part post. I am reviewing the three free vst synthesizers that Opulent Audio made available last week. Each review will include a couple of samples of some of the original patches I create with the synths. All of the samples posted will be straight from the synth there won't be any other vst or external processing on it. The point of this exercise is to see what the synth can do by themselves :) The samples are downloadable from the player, however since the synth is free I'm not sure why you wouldn't just download the synth yourself and make your own cool stuff :)
So without any more blabbering...
Edgy and grity sounding, the bLO-FIsh has a bit of a retro arcade sound but that's its charm. Alot of the presets are screechy and not entirely easy to warm up to, but this synthesizer has alot of potential if you just sit down and create some of your own patches.
I think the coolest part of the synth is that you can set up a matrix of modulators that effect different things like panning, filters, reverb, oscilator volume, etc. This is can make some really interesting sounding effects. You can also set your oscilators to 8bit mode which gives the synth its signature Lo-Fi feel.
I made a few patches of my own with this just to see what it had in it...
Here's a short snippet of this patch I called CrunchyJoe.
Here's another short snippet of a patch I made that I called NaggingSally.
So in Conclusion:
This synth probably wouldn't be my leading lady in any production work, but its definitely interesting enough to pull out once in awhile for bit parts that need a nice gritty synth :)
... and for free hey that's pretty damn good.
Tomorrow I'll have a report on the second in this series of three VSTs "Tenacity".
- Its Free
- 3 Oscillators & two filters
- Multiple assignable LFOS
- Arpegiator, Reverb, Distortion & Gate
- It didn't crash on me once!
- It is a bit of CPU hog. Any of the effects like gating, distortion can easily bump it up to unmanageable levels
- Over N Out :)
p.s. Props to Soundcloud for having such a great audio widget!
I saw a post on Synthtopia on wednesday announcing that Opulent Audio released their three VST synthesizers free to the public: Tenacity, Dirty Girl, bLO-Fish. I'm always on the look out for new free VST plugins so I decided to download these three and give them a spin.
I don't want to waste any space going over the specs for these synths since KVR does this well enough :)
What I want to do is talk about how they sound and how they are to work with. So I'm going to do a three part post where I review each synth and post some samples of original patches I'm going to make with each one and post them.
I'll start with bLO-fish first in the next post :)
See ya then.
- Over and out
So I discovered that here in Austin TX of all places is a group that is dedicated to creating DIY analog instruments. How exciting is that! I stumbled upon them in a fit of web surfing persistence when I saw a news blurb on Synthtopia about the 5th Austin Annual Analog Synthesizer party. Sadly, I missed the party I didn't even know about it! But I did find out that they offer workshops in Austin to teach people how to make their own synths! Sign me up. I inquired about registering... I'll let you know if I get in!
So today a friend sent me the link to the Hobnox Audio tool. Which I must say is one of the coolest FREE online Flash based audio toys I've ever seen. Imagine at your disposal on the web a 303, 909, Kaos pad and a plethora of stomp boxes all for free. Add the ability to record your creations realtime and you have something that is starting to be more of a actual tool than a toy.
Go to the Hobnox Audio tool. They have 3 presets/demos for people who don't want to start from scratch: Tone Matrix, Electro, DrumNBass, Blank.
I prefer the blank preset myself that way I can start from a clean slate. When you get into the tool you will see that you have a bunch of effects boxes, some mixing tools, two drum machines, a bass machine and a tone matrix to work with. You create your own set up by dragging the pieces you want on stage and hooking them up to the mixer and meters. You then can go about creating as many patterns as you want on the machines. After you have some content you can then hit the record button in the upper left hand corner to record a live performance of you tweaking knobs and changing patterns on the instruments. Hobnox lets you record a 5 minute song and upload it to your account on their website which is free to join. You can then download it to share it with others not on the site.
I loved playing with this. It reminded me of back in the olden days when I had 3 hardware drum machines and 6 synths at home... all the patching and tweaking. Cool stuff.
After messing with the tool for a few hours I was able to create a few humble pieces which I''ve posted here thanks to Soundcloud here for your listening pleasure.
Here is a screen shot of one of my session for the track I named "Evolvend". You can click on it to get a larger image.
Here is a list features that would take this tool to the next step.
So try it out! If you make something cool I'd love to hear it! Point me to a link.
- Over and out.
Today feels like an absurd music day. So...what do I have for you today?
Some Booty Music by the Ypsilanti Allstars
Some awesome freestyle rapping ;-)
AND... Last but not least... Kraftwerk + HeavyMetal = Ubergood plus plus
- Over and out...
So if the field was bad on Saturday it was absolutely disgusting on Sunday...not to mention it now smelled like a stock-yard. Unprepared festival goers who showed up in flip flops had given them up as they were useless in the slimey mud. People slid along in bare feet. I overheard one girl comment "Ewww...it feels like I'm walking in diarrhea". Indeed...
However the music was awesome enough for us brave the conditions atleast for awhile ;-)
I must admit I never really gave the band Clutch any notice before this performance. They aren't really the type of music I usually like. However, my husband really likes this band so we made sure we saw them. I must admit I was impressed. Clutch came on with out any pretenses or airs and did an awesome solid show. They played for an hour solid and sounded great. They closed with what my brother declared his all time favorite song "Immortal". I would be interested in hearing more of Clutch.
This band from London was alot of fun mostly because they reminded me fondly of the 80s. heh... yeah I'm showing my age now. The band members were fresh faced and cleancut however missing the spiky hair and extravagant fashion of the 80s. However their slick bass guitar driven beat and silky synthesized strings brought back aural visions of bands like the Cure and Duran Duran. Their lead singer wailed like the offspring of Simon LeBon & Ian McCulloch. Their songs however derivitive were catchy and soothing. You will hear more from this band, I am certain of it. Their album "To Lose Your Life" is available at Amazon and all of the other predictable places.
Check out the song "Death" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTh9IuSTOY0
We originally had planned on staying to catch the Toadies and The Dead Weather who no doubt put on amazing shows, but the fact that the field had become mud stew and smelled like a barnyard really made the evening unpleasant. We ultimately decided to pack it up and head back to our nice smelling home and listened to the Toadies & the Dead Weather on our comfy dry couch with a nice cold micro-brew beer that didn't cost 8 dollars ;-)
Don't get me wrong we had a great time and we'll be back next year for sure.
- over and out
P.S. For more pictures of the festival, check out the ACL photo gallery :)
So Saturday morning we woke up, still exhausted, and poked our heads out the door to see that it was raining hard. We looked at the ACL schedule we made for ourselves and determined that there weren't really any bands we wanted to see badly enough to stand in the downpour until about 6pm. So we decided to go into the festival late on Saturday. I'm glad we did.
We showed up at about 6pm to see thousands of muddy drowned rats that I assumed earlier in the day were enthusiastic festival goers. The grass that had been so beautiful the day before was now a muddy pit.
The Decemberists put on a great show. They had a very artsy presence and their music translated well live. Their songs weren't as instantly memorable as some but they were good enough for us to know that we wanted to buy the album when we got home.
Next on the bill for us was the Dave Matthews Band. This was the reason we ventured out in the rain. The band sounded good, but everything just kinda melded togethor and sounded the same. Part of the problem was it was so packed and wet we couldn't get very close and the sound wasn't very loud. The band was getting drowned out by the other headline group on the otherside of the field, Ghostland Observatory. We gave in, we packed up and started walking towards the other band...they win. They were louder ;-)
This was the band we should have come down to the festival for. (laugh) They were great. Wonderfully psychotic synthesizers played tag with gritty rythm guitar. The lead singer shrieked like a drugged out banshee. They had a lazer light show which was alot of fun and looked amazing cutting through the low hanging fog. Awesome! Another album to purchase.
We cut out a bit early to beat the traffic, yes we are sensible folk, and went home soggy but satisifed that we had heard some more great music that evening.
We got to Zilker park around 1pm yesterday (Friday) after finding parking downtown and taking the shuttle bus to the festival. First off I want to say, the grassy field is AWESOME! So much better than the dust bowl that Zilker park was last year. The festival yesterday was infinitely more enjoyable because of the grass. People were walking around barefoot and lounging in the grass and overall really digging it.
So there were tons of bands yesterday and due to obvious logistical reasons (ie there were only two of us and we wanted to stick togethor) we could only see and hear so many acts. I'm just going to cover the ones that really stood out for me yesterday.
ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL
We got there just in time to hear Asleep at the Wheel play the last two songs of their set at the AMD stage: Route 66 and Cotton-Eyed Joe. Their music is old-timey country/blues. The kind of stuff you can't help but like. Aside from the pre-requisite cowboy hats and acoustic guitars they had a steel pedal guitarist and a fiddle player... fun, and happy stuff. The sound was great they were clear and well mixed. I wish we would have gotten their just a bit earlier to enjoy the whole set.
I must admit the band I was the most excited to see yesterday was The Knux. Their song "Bang Bang" had been stuck in my head for days. Right after Asleep at the Wheel was done we wandered over to the Xbox 360 stage with plenty of time to get settled in before The Knux started. The New Orleans based hiphop band has a great gritty sound. Their band consisted of an electric guitar playera DJ set up with a vicious sounding analog synth and their front man who reminded me of a young Samuel L. Jackson sticking the entire crowd up for their wallets. They rocked the audience with instantly catchy songs like "Cappucino", "Bang Bang' and "F!RE". Their style is unique and catchy and I'll be buying the album "Remind Me in 3Days"... my only complaint with the band is they only played for 30 minutes when they were scheduled for the whole hour... oh well I guess its better leaving the audience wanting more.
After The Knux we wandered over towards the Livestrong stage and picked a great spot on the grass and set up camp with our comfy collapsable chairs so we could veg out to Medeski, Martin & Wood. We were back so far that I really couldn't get any pictures worth showing anybody, but they sounded great. The music put us in a trance as we closed our eyes and just hung out under the partly cloudy Austin sky. One thing to note, next year bring ear plugs! The music close to the stage is so loud that you really do need them if you want to get closer. Yesterday we were content to just lounge in the middle of the field, but there are some bands it would be nice to get closer to.
I was really looking forward to hearing his act, but the sound was so bassy that we felt like we were just tolerating it. I suppose up closer to the stage it wouldn't have been so bad, but back where we were that's all you could hear unfortunately. The artsy video he had playing in conjunction with the music was very cool, which made me wish I could hear the music more clearly.
By this time in the day after a few beers and sitting in the sun allday we were freakin' wiped out. Yeah we must be getting old or something. Anyways we cought a couple songs by Theivery Corporation and then we split and headed home where we instantly crashed. The couple of tunes we did hear by these guys were awesome, they had guest musicians and a belly-dancer with them.
SO day 1 was great :) My biggest complaint was the food :( It bums me out that they won't let you bring your own food because the food at the stands is pretty terrible. Last year and this year we were served lukewarm soggy food that didn't agree with our stomachs at all, not to mention the fact it cost a mint. The beer selection is a sad sad thing as well. There are lots of great Austin based beers why do they insist on selling Lone Star almost exclusively? bleh, it all leaves a bad taste in my mouth (yes pun intended)
However, enough of being a negative nelly, heh. The first day was fantastic and we'll be back out there today for more.
- over and out
So I have a couple of fun sort of video game related music things to talk about today.
So first off, a friend of mine sent me a link to this YouTube video made by a band called AttackAttack. For the first 30 sesconds I was pretty sure I was watching a typical death metal band, but as the music progressed in stranger ways by the minute I was confused. So I was informed by a friend of mine who owned a recording studio in Austin for awhile that this kind of music is called "Screamo" and one of its characteristics is the way it bounces between singing, yelling and musical styles. I asked in particular about the absurd style change at around 2:45 in the track where the whole thing all of a sudden sounds like a dance club track. His answer was interesting. He said "well most of these kids grew up not being exposed to one or two musical genre's like you and I did as kids... they've been exposed to everything. Video games are also a huge influence that's why you hear bizarre breaks in that track that are reminiscent of old school video games." I'm not 100% sure I buy this theory, however the music is pretty entertaining. Check out the video.
Here are the top 6 absurd things to look for:
1. I'll state the obvious first. The hilarious crouching stance, officially known as the "Crabwalk". The bass player does this especially well.
2. The synchronized head banging that isn't always on beat... love it!
3. The over done auto-tune effect on the singing vocals...
4. Note the ridiculous guitar move at 00:57
5. Absurd style change number one at 1:44, apparently the keyboardist decided the song needed some ballad piano at this point.
6. Doubly good absurd style change at 2:45. Now the keyboardist feels like clubbin! WTF? This was the section my friend said was probably inspired by video games.
Heh... I kid, but I must admit this is interesting stuff and new sounding. I probably wouldn't buy the album though.
The second video game related music snippet I have today is that Christopher Tin's new album "Calling All Dawns" was released today. If you played Civilization 4 you will recognize his work. His song "Baba Yetu" was the theme song. The music is very ethnic and choral heavy and extremely well produced. His work is not for everyone though, if you aren't a fan of choral type vocals this may grate on you quickly.
However, I highly suggest jumping over to his site and checking it out. You can also purchase the album there as well.
- over and out