After landing almost literally at my day-job work place, I still didn't had much time for a reflection on what happened during this last days, on my now already traditional trip to the international Linux Audio Conference. This years edition took the KHM-Köln as a venue and, well, I'm back safe and sound. But sad already, somewhat. Suffice to tell that I do really enjoy being there and I really wish it could take much longer, or at least until one's missing home and warm family touch doesn't get in the way of insanity nor terribly overwhelming.
Overall, it is refreshing that this experience gets always to be a pleasant one, specially when one regards this effect of having the privilege to meet most of the people involved in the Linux Audio development upstreams. Putting email tags onto faces are just a thing of the past now and I prefer to consider all this people as my real friends although we only have this opportunity to meet personally on a yearly basis. That was, and believe it still is, the main and original purpose of the LAC, to meet and hang with the LADs for a whole of four days in a row :)
My participation this time was kind of a passive one when regarding the formal proceedings of the conference. I admit my time was split between listening to the talks and hacking in the cafeteria. I hardly can tell whether it was a 50/50 split. Anyway, there's always the video and audio stream archives to look after and surely hope that all is not lost.
So in the very first formal day and talk, I was suddenly brought back to my own teenage times when John ffitch sampled some practical results from An Automatic Blues Band. Yes, that was just about having some old twelve bar blues pattern and guitar sounds but enough to bring the nostalgia all over me. What a moment!
I must warn that I am not the best person in following the talks and this time was no exception. At least with all the interest those certainly deserved. Let's assume I may beg the pardon, because I am and in deed was frequently found fallen in the tar pit of hacking, this and that and a few more lines of code, now and then, while taking whole advantage from the time that I gave for free to my self. Wohoo!
The first night also scored a miss to the opening concert at the Stadtgarten. I just give up when I realized that my walk distance calculations were completely mistaken in the city of Cologne. What I thought was a ten minute walk became a forty five one. What a bummer! So I got back to the hotel and spent the rest of the night hacking some more, just to forget and cleanup this little moral anomaly. Shame on me.
On the next day I was already eager in the morning for the Linux Club Night. So my attention to the conference itself did not change a bit from the previous day. More hacking, chatting with the LADs in the cafeteria and fatally skipping a few presentations. Damn. Nevertheless, I got some issues stomped on my beloved code. Good grief.
Malte Steiner was already on stage when I got in, and that was a big surprise as I really enjoyed its performance. Clean, phat and steady. And it had a beat :) Lots of them I must say. For the clueless, this isn't quite as a granted asset if you heard from previous years Linux Sound Nights. But this night ought to be different and I should say that my jaws almost fell to the floor. Linux is actually a viable for live techno music making and this was just a first of plenty frontal evidences, in just one night stand (strictly music speaking:).
I really enjoyed all performances and special mentions goes to: Malte Steiner, premiering his own Minicomputer soft-synth; claudius maximums solo performance, for building on a first intriguing, then progressive and ultimately astonishing and triumphal result; and the Marc M-.-n / Patric Catani team which took a GP2x gaming console duet to an extreme break-loose climax. As a common-place as it could ever be, all these guys and also the ones not mentioned, were impressive as well. They really kicked ass in-da-house!
To have a bit of a visual taste of what I'm talking about, here's some video pieces on YouTube.com, regarding the scene as it was when I broke in: Malte Steiner performance (1 of 3), Malte Steiner performance (2 of 3), Malte Steiner performance (3 of 3). And this was just the start of an over-the-top clubbing night, specially regarding the load I got in liquid intake terms. A great night in deed. It only does not deserve a so bad morning after. Ah, but that was a quite predictable result anyway ;)
Saturday morning come. Miller Puckette keynote on this third day raised very interesting thoughts about the general idea of sound and music (re)creativity and composition in the electronic and digital environments. I first remember in admiting to myself that this edition of the conference was about to be some kind of Pure Data fest, a Pd-everything, -everywhere brainwash, so to speak. That wasn't quite true after all and I can't really say whether it's now a relief. Everybody is already familiar to the fact of Pd having a very large and ubiquitous presence on the LACs. That wasn't really a problem now. I do humbly apologize for being such a Pd-moron. Let's just carry on, ok? :)
On the afternoon I skipped some more talks, but this time I was off to sightseeing and shopping, with a personal agenda of visiting the Dom (how could one miss it? it's like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope; London and not seeing the Queen, yada yada...; oops! just remember last year I didn't come any near to the Bradenburg gate while in Berlin) and the Music Store, of course ;). I've found Köln (a.k.a. Cologne) as a very pulsating, crowded city, with a cosmopolitan life of its own and I was pleasant to find yet another personal myth got busted.
Back to the KHM. A special seminar meeting was about to take place, off the main conference track. I could not miss this one :) It was about "The Future of JACK" and it gathered most if not all die-hard LADs in one table. Main discussed topics were about user experience, what should be done to get a 1.0 release out (now getting real sooner than ever before?) and what should really be done in the day-after, on track to 2.0 (in a serious vs. laughable risk on being out earlier than 1.0). An then I forgot to put all my cards on the table (I was fighting against this little minor thing called a hangover, remember?) and a serious, fatal hideous bug in jackd (1.0) was just overlooked from my mind. No sweat. That was tamed in the very last moments together, next late night at the bar...
Saturday evening come and the closing concert too. This time I could not miss it for my own sake. Again at the Stadtgarten concert hall (but a first time for me), one could hear, feel and stare to some very interesting works in contemporary electro-acoustical soundscape. Whatever. I'm just a dumb-ass ignorant when such academic stuff enters my sensorial near field. However there was one last interactive performance that I believe almost everybody received with a genuine smile: Tutti Frutti, kind of a reacTable done with sliced fresh fruit pieces, modulating a live cello playing. Great stuff and tasty too :)
After the closing concert, but still in the Stadtgarten cafe-restaurant, a very pleasant soft/acid-jazz band took the stage. Very competently and groovy. Although not quite related to the LAC, there was a fair use of electronics in place, old-school traditional nevertheless.
Last day come and Sunday it was. Again, most of the time was spent drinking caffeine and hacking a little bit and there, sparsed with some chatting and feature requests. Cesare Marilungo recalled me of one which was readily crafted into Qtractor: record armed audio tracks gets monitored to their outputs, along with effects and regardless to any particular bus pass-through option setting. Promptly applied to CVS it was.
After that relaxing Sunday afternoon, on the evening come the final meeting while dining was a sure thing as tradition. Gossip and mundane matters were discussed and, most importantly, the LAC2009 was dreamed while awake and over the cheering of a Kolsh beer. LAC2008 is over, long live the LAC2009. A whispering has been heard: Parma, Italy, seems to be the probable host on this next year. Ciao!
As in last years, the gallery of all (few) photos I took during these past days may be found here.
Yet again, see you all on the maillists, looking forward to next year.
Cheers && Wish You Were There.
P.S. You can also read my previous year rants on the LAC2007@TU-Berlin.