The Best Christmas Lights Ever

Crimbo Pengies - 03

I remember you loved Christmas so much you made even me enjoy it. It was fun to see how happy you got, your little face all lit-up, shining. I loved hearing you chattering about decorations and presents. You kept Christmas well.

The best Christmas moment I had with you, the best I’ll have with anyone, was the time you were too ill to leave the house and I surprised you, scooped you into the car before you really knew what was going on. I didn’t tell you where we were going. You looked so small in your dressing gown, hair tumbling, face all sleepy and curious.

Crimbo Derby '06 - 26

You didn’t know that the Christmas lights had gone on in town. And as we drove over the bridge, towards the Council House, you finally saw them twinkling and popping, dancing, alive. You watched the lights as we drove round town and, when I could, I watched you.

Crimbo Derby '06 - 10

Your face was so happy, you couldn’t stop smiling and oohing and aahing. When I hear people making fun of tacky Christmas lights or that Derby’s lights are shit or whatever moany, petty pose they’re adopting, I remember your face that night. We were just driving round town, looking at a small city’s Christmas lights but you looked like I was showing you M83, the Pleiades, the Crab Nebula. The lights were reflected in your face and eyes. It was beautiful. If you have the right soul, you can see magic where normal people see nothing.

When we got home, you were happy for hours and hours. Such a simple, tiny thing had filled you up. This is why I still love you, why I’ll always love you. I am so incredibly lonely not having your soft and infinite heart in my life now.

My icicle lights!

Tonight, I’ve put my outside Christmas lights on, some icicle ones I put up in the rain, by myself, on Sunday. But there’s no-one here to see them. I know you’d love them, they’d make you giggle and coo every time you came in the house. God, I miss that about you, the way you were absolutely rational and simultaneously totally full of wonder and spookiness. I know too many people now who are unimpressed by everything, dead to magic. And then there are the people who are afraid to show they care or are affected, even sadder cases.

I really hope you didn’t mind the card I gave your Mum to give to you. I meant what I said in it: I hope you have a lovely Christmas. I know, wherever you are, you’ll be keeping it well, darling.

Teenage Engineering OP-1 : A Perfect Instrument

OP-1 - 1

Recently, I bought an OP-1. I’d been in love with it since seeing the very early demos. It looked like a VL-1 as re-imagined by Wintermute so of course I wanted one.

OP-1 - 2

But there’s been a lot of hating on the poor old OP-1 on the web. People slagging it off as over-priced, gimmicky and, ohh, the ultimate insult, like something Apple would make. Which I guess is saying that people who love Apple products are more concerned with style and image than actual functionality.

Well, in a lot of ways, the haters are right.

If Apple made a synthesizer / virtual four-track / drum machine / groovebox, then they would make something like the OP-1

OP-1 - 3

I love this instrument! The layout, the ergonomics, the GUI, everything is as smooth and silky as an Apple product. This is simply great design.

OP-1 - 4

As a songwriter, when I’m pursuing an idea, I don’t want to be de-railed by interfaces which squander my time menu-diving. The OP-1 doesn’t ever do that. This is one of the most musical musical instruments I have ever used. I’m working on a synth sound, the envelope is a bit off, press one button and then twiddle the appropriately colour-coded knob. It is so easy, so intuitive.

OP-1 - 5

All of that would be charming but rather pointless if the OP-1 was, as its detractors claim, an over-priced toy. It is not. It packs enough DSP to create full tracks, I’ve been hammering it and I’ve never had it give up on me like my Micron does when I try to sequence too many parts. The OP-1 just works.

And the main thing? IT’S STUPID, STUPID, STUPID FUNNN!

OP-1 - 6

Remember the fun of your first synth, just fucking about on it and creating magical symphonies? The OP-1 is that again. I was showing it to my mate Ash, sampled a bit of the built-in FM radio and I had a crazy new tune in about fifteen seconds. It’s that easy, that playful.

So, the OP-1, I fucking love it. Here’s a little tune I created on it, enjoy!