Friday, March 11, 2016


Exclusive mix on SoundCloud:

And a track from the release on Bandcamp:


2. ISR_16x16_WCM
3. CSN [excerpt 2 mono]
4. SWI_r170_16x32x32_B
5. SWI_FM1#16
6. NYZ-1_1#08_A [finite downsized]
7.CSN1 [excerpt 1 mono]

Be sure to see the MATRIXSYNTH exclusive further below!


This is the first release by NYZ and is a superb musical collection of research areas classified to internal Noyzelab operations. Not even .MEDS label were informed of the secret processes underlying its creation, excepting that we know it involved Frequency Modulation (FM) synthesis! We have not been given any information regarding when this work was recorded, but we suspect the material spans at least a decade of David's FM algorithm research on numerous synthesizers, as well his own custom built ear deceiving gear...

According to one reviewer of David's previous musical output he "gleefully disrupts just about every standard convention of musical form you could think of, including those of so-called experimental musics."

Other reviewers have written that :
"His music is a bizarre, yet compelling journey investigating the outer realms of music generated on ancient & contemporary machines." "It's strikingly original audio that doesn't really sound like anything else I can think of." "Utterly sublime. So there you go, a life-affirming slab of mind-altering sound to reawaken you to the terrifying possibilities of creation."

"absolutely wreaks havoc" wrote Keith Fullerton Whitman on reviewing David's last release T. H. Cycle cassette on Important Records/Cassauna .

Cassette releases April 1, 2016

All Audio by David Burraston
Design Tom Knapp


MATRIXSYNTH recently asked NYZ why he put together this new album of FM synthesis based explorations, and whether he would discuss some of the process behind it. The declassified information below has been put together by NYZ especially for a MATRIXSYNTH exclusive.



The main reasons for making this album were an interest in FM synthesis in both analogue modular and MIDI/digital mediums. I had worked with digital FM synthesis since getting a Yamaha TX81Z when they came out back in 1987 (which I still have, along with another backup machine with a very hummy mains transformer which bleeds onto the outs). How me and another synth friend used to cry with drunken laughter at preset D11 Hole in 1... :) But after initially wondering whether I had just wasted about 350 UK pounds on an utter piece of shit... I quickly warmed to its better presets, and its very different approach to synthesis yielded enough interesting results early on for it not to get outed.

Although not entirely new, it was a radical change for affordable-ish sound synthesis and electronic music making at the time. It was something I embraced when it arrived as it represented another evolution for the synthesizer. It was also a radical change soundwise for me, having been working with mainly analogue synths such as my Korg MS20, Roland Jupiter-4, Juno 106 (with DCO's), and then not long after I got the fully digital D10 when it came out. Although all these synths are capable of frequency modulation in various ways, the Chowning / Yamaha method was something very different.

Programming new sounds from the TX81Z front panel at first was my only option and very tedious... but at least it had a simpler 4 operator architecture than the DX7's 6 operators, as well as a few other tricks as well. After reading through the sysex docs I finally knocked up a Cubase MIDI Mixer for it on my Atari ST, and programming became much easier. It was my first synth that could do FM where you specify parameters digitally and precisely, such as frequency ratios, fixed frequencies and the raw FM algorithm configuration itself. Having this precise control over frequency without needing lab gear, frequency analyzers or meters was quite a landmark for the bedroom musician / home studio owner in those days.

The process of composition was then presented with new challenges, such as getting used to the new tools/interface, FM concepts, as well the timeless question of aesthetics and whether the results fit with these requirements. Fortunately for me, the city library had got a copy of Chowning and Bristow's book "FM Theory & Applications By Musicians for Musicians" when it came out in 1986. So I borrowed it from the library to check it out long before I even got my TX81Z. No-one I new had a Yamaha FM synth, and my TX81Z ended up being my first ever experience, without even trying one out in the shop. This thing was just too interesting to mess about going to the shop, just get it ordered and get it home I decided!

As I was working at British Telecom back then, I had plenty of experience with FM theory and applications in telecommunications systems. At the time I was working on my Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Electronics, which was an optional further education for the industry after you had completed your apprenticeship. This was very useful to me when it came to reading Chowning and Bristow. But this was all new, using these techniques I'd used at work for telecommunications to synthesize sounds, creating and evolving the spectral content in a totally new way. I learnt a lot from that book, classic stuff!

When it came time to return the book, I was happy enough to spend an afternoon at the library photocopying the 195 pages, rather than spending actual real money at the bookshop which could instead be put towards my future DX7. It was a very meditative experience, which I've done with many key books over the years. Listening to the sounds of the photocopier, the quiet hum of an inner city library, and wondering what on earth these new FM synths would be like?? I would try and imagine the kind of sounds those 3D spectrum plots would make, and think of evolving brrrwwweeeeeoooowwww noyzes, clunks and what have you inside my head. The other thing I find useful with having photocopies of books in folders is being able to make notes on them without having to write in the book, as well as being able to take just one or two chapters around when traveling.

Fast forward to this century from the eighties flashback... I now have quite a good selection of FM synths (both commercial and my own investigations) and they feature a lot in my various studio setups. The music I was interested in exploring and presenting on this album are a small selection from a whole bunch of experiments, over the last decade. On the DRN4 album these experiments encompass microtunings, mathematically / algorithmically specifying frequency ratios, intuitive and ear based parameter adjustments, analogue modular based FM algorithms using multiple VCO/VCA/EG/LFO combinations, long form sustained drones in mono and stereo, unknowable determinism with cellular automata sequencing using the MANIAC system and my custom DSP implementations of FM.

CSN [excerpt 1 mono] & CSN [excerpt 2 mono]

I was very interested to try to work with FM using modular synthesis by programming algorithms using the Hinton Pin Matrix . So I setup a fairly basic 4 and 6 operator system. This is all done on the Hinton ML modular using analogue oscillators, and is an excerpt from a longer recording.

For those interested in the hardware format, the modules are a 4U hot swappable design, quite unique. They slide in and out on rails, so I can just slightly pull out modules when they are not in use. An additional bonus is that it puts less strain on the power supply and uses less electricity as well! I only need to use power for the modules I'm using.

A particular interesting thing about setting up a modular FM patch, whether using analogue or digital oscillators (I've done experiments with both in the studio), is that you can easily mix in the signals of any operator into the final output. e.g. I might have 4 operators setup modulating each other and patch 1&3 to the left channel and 2&4 to the right, or in a gallery or live context it's possible to go multichannel.

This particular recording was done in mono, and was setup similar in style to a DX/TX, where you can only get a single mono mix from the algorithm output.

I also used the Hinton ML1890 Switch module in the algorithm as well, which was a bit of an experiment to use cellular automata to shift some of the audio signals around and cut them out, but all done quite fast just above control rate. So the cellular automata pattern would effect the on&off of the switch module directly from its cell outputs. So sometimes it switches in a chaotic way, sometimes orderly, sometimes complex.

It was great to setup the super stable Hinton VCO's with lockable 10 turn pots, nice and precise and once you lock them no accidental nudging.

The CSN's are consuming, brain / body rebooting, dense / intense drone pieces, and work very well in mono. They also work very well played loudly in different acoustic spaces, as they have no other effects and are a direct out from the Hinton ML VCA module in all its raw glory... more than dry!


Composed and arranged in Logic Pro with material from a number of different recording sessions, rather than being directly sequenced multitimbrally. The notes themselves were all either held manually or clamped using my old technique of trapping the audio cable under the key(s) (for white keys) or putting weights, fingers or my nose on keys (usually for black keys). It's pretty much all done on the SY99 using some [#classified#] techniques I've been working with and researching for many years. I hope to have a more detailed text/graphic exposition of some these techniques in future releases or publications.


This is a drone meditation piece for two loudspeakers, made up on my custom digital microtonal oscillators. The 16x16 refers to a cellular grid of whole number ratios from which the pitches are selected using some predefined algorithm, based on a definable fundamental frequency. Each oscillator can be setup completely independently or share the same fundamental. Although the oscillators can do a number of different waveforms this piece was made up using sine waves only. The modulation processing helps to enhance the high frequency gratchety noyzey clicky top end. A stereo piece with one bank of oscillators setup on one side and another setup on the other side, very wide. This is a relative of the previous .MEDS tape, NOYZELAB : 16 x 16 CELL MEDITATIONS


This is a quieter, dark glitchy orchestral piece, using the SY99 sequenced by my MANIAC Cellular Automata Sequencer.

I was in a real dilemma with the SY99's, and this was among the first recordings using it. I have two, which unfortunately had hard lives that hasn't got any easier now they are with me. One had been accidently run over and the other one was all old and battered as well. I got the run over one for free, and the other one so cheap he might as well have given it me. All in though it required 2 separate missions clocking up about 20 hours of driving to obtain them... what with Australia being a very big country!

So they are pretty bashed up, spewing battery messages at me and the run over one giving out some major sound splattery noise hissy fits on top of that as well. I've included a few pics of when I was taking them apart to get the batteries going so I could save my work. I used my tried and tested "remove the old battery and solder a long set of leads and put the battery holder on the outside so it's easier to change next time" method (see my notes to Yamaha design Dept in a few para's).

I had a few goes at trying to fix the knackered hissy fit voice boards in the run over one. However, some of the surface mount chips had too much corrosion on them, as well as a high probability of cracking, so I called it a day and managed to amalgamate the best bits into one SY99. Part of me wanted to make a TG99 with the hissy glitch remains, seeing as Yamaha never did, but I sure aint got the time for that these days!

Actually, a lot of the initial work was done on my TG77, but that started getting croakey. Not only that, programming the SY99 from the front panel is a little easier than the TG77, as I don't generally use computer editors much. So the TG77 got parked for a while for some new battery and screen fixing.

I did quite like the sound of the duff voice boards, so I made a bunch of recordings before stashing all the bits in a box. This is a live 2 track recording of the cellular automata sequencing over MIDI, taken from the direct stereo output. The actual fault itself was interesting in any case as it would come and go intermittently overall, as well as affecting different voices each time. Nice and random in some ways, but not happening all the time either.

While I think about it as a further side note. There was also an SY77 involved in the action but it gave up the ghost on my resuscitation attempts. It was Tom Ellard's (Severed Heads) old one, with a highly respectable layer of grunge on & in it, and it served a crucial function by offering up the only working SY floppy disk drive.

It only required an 8 hour round trip drive to Sydney and it was free! I had to take a chance on whether it, as Tom said the SY77 didn't work at all. So far I had dismantled both SY99 floppy drives and pulled all the knackered sticky melty black drive belt remains off. Then I replaced the drive belts with my own custom method, an elastic band. I'm sure hundreds of other people come up with fixing floppy drives that way as well. It's not always guaranteed to work, and in this instance the result was a no-goer on both drives. It's generally worth trying a couple of different elastic bands. Fortunately, amid the grime in Ellard's old SY77 was a new model floppy drive! So I started thinking to myself, well it's a different drive to the one in the SY99, surely it should work if I can somehow plug the adaptor card and the floppy into the SY99 motherboard. So I did a bit of web searching about SY floppy drives, and found Martin Russ's web page on SY99 floppy drive replacement.

On this page is a link to further info with this little warning : "Adapting a modern floppy drive to the older type of connector used in the SY99 (for very skilled electronics technicians only!"

So I decided to have a little bit of an experiment and see if I could hook up this different SY77 floppy into the SY99. Based on the info I gleaned from Martin's page, and SY service manuals, and my own gut feeling, I figured the SY77 hardware would probably be pretty much the same for this type of thing. After a LOT of dismantling and re-assembly, to my surprise the floppy drive clunked to life. The first big test of formatting a disc was next. Insert the disc and select JUMP #818, GO (F8), clunk... clunk... clunk... clunk... etc. etc. "Completed !" and I could finally save to floppy on the SY99.

My humble 2 cents on getting access to the internals of Yamaha SY's: I think opening up these types of piano keyboard based synths from the top with a hinged panel has yet to be beaten in terms of design, serviceability and upgradeability, etc. Particularly with very heavy synthesizers like the SY99, but I am open to new ideas and I'd be very interested to see this improved or other design methodologies. The SY99 unfortunately is not that synthesizer. Although I like the synth engine, and very high marks for full microtuning tables (higher marks for more user tables and better editing). I'm not sure who at Yamaha made the decision that entry to the SY would be from the underneath, with the entire synth having to be upside down!? Which means it's also then impossible to operate it while working on the guts, unless it's stacked up on its side against a bench or wall, which is highly dangerous! From a maintenance engineering perspective, the internal hardware is put together like something being born inside out!

After my skin condition recovered from all the shite and gunge in Ellard's SY77, I made a whole series of microtuning discs for my SY99 using Scala. The internal memory can only hold 2 user microtuning tables, whereas on floppy I can store 12. So with a hand full of discs I have access to plenty of tunings even when I don't have a computer with MIDI close by.


Another cellular automata MIDI sequenced SY99 recording from the same session as SWI_r170_16x32x32_B, but this one is bit of a stereo noyze piece instead. In this piece I made a setup with FM noyzes and tones that would interact mixwise with the voice board errors. The idea being that once the cellular automata sequencer was setup and running, would I be able to tell which which bits of the glitchy noise parts were my sounds/noyzes or the errors? Again a number of recordings were made, and this is a live 2 track from the SY99 direct outs.


Yamaha FM:

Analogue FM:
Hinton Instruments Music Lab 1000 prototype modular

Noyzelab Custom:
2 & 4 voice microtonal oscillators
4 in 8 out DSP SYSTEM (FM algorithms & oscillators, modulation processing)
MANIAC Cellular Automata Sequencer

iMac/PowerBook & MOTU Ultra Lite mk3 hybrid


David Burraston is an award winning artist/scientist working in the areas of technology and electronic music since the late 1970s. His experimental arts practice encompasses field recording, landscape-scale sound art, chaos/complexity, sound synthesis and electronic music. He performs, lectures, conducts workshops and creates art installations in Regional NSW and around the world. David also designs and builds sound synthesizers based on his theories of chaos/complexity science.

(David Burraston. Photo by Richard D. James.)

He has previously released his highly original form of experimental research music on numerous cult labels such as ALKU (in collaboration with RUSSELL HASWELL), IMPORTANT RECORDS/CASSAUNA, TAIGA, .MEDS, CATACLYST, ENGRAVED GLASS, TOCHNIT ALEPH, BETA BODEGA COALITION, SEVCOM EDITION and featured in THE WIRE MAGAZINE Below The Radar series. He has worked with many diverse collaborators such as Aphex Twin, William Barton, Alan Lamb, Chris Watson, Russell Haswell, Robin Fox, Oren Ambarchi, Garry Bradbury, MIT Media Lab and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In 2014 he independently published the legendary "SYROBONKERS!" , the most technical and in-depth interview ever given by Aphex Twin.

David had an innovative role in the foremost UK telcoĆ­s R&D laboratory in diverse areas such as Artificial Life, Chaos and Complex Systems, Spatial Audio, Virtual Reality and Data Visualisation. His 2006 PhD thesis (Generative Music & Cellular Automata) developed and applied fundamental new concepts, arising out of generative music practice, to a key problem in complex systems. This has served as a foundation methodology for creative practice and complex systems research.

His current work is aimed at tackling more key questions in complex systems from a creative practice perspective, drawing inspiration from natural and artificial complex systems. These key questions address the definition of randomness, structure and high level descriptions of information processing in complex systems.

David is a founding member of the Electronic Music Foundation Institute. He was part of the team that designed and built long wire installations at The WIRED Lab and is a member of the Board of Directors. He has been operating Noyzelab as an independant art/science music studio since 1981 and to the surprise of many is even on twitter @noyzelab .


Additional pics (mouse over the first image for the slideshow controls:


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