Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Asteroid Races

Power Macintosh G5 + Logic Express 9 + twelve megawatts of electricity

Here's some music recorded with an ancient Power Macintosh G5. Mine is a dual-processor, 2ghz model that was launched in 2003. I'll write about the G5 in the next post, but for the moment savour its extraordinary case, which is eighty feet tall and requires the use of a stepladder to change the hard drives, each of which is the size of a car:

In its day the G5 was undeniably powerful, but it left a bad taste in the mouth. The RISC-based PowerPC was launched in the 1990s as an efficient, streamlined alternative to Intel's X86 architecture. And yet all of a sudden Apple was selling a scaled-down IBM POWER4 server in a case that sucked electricity and spat flame and wasn't very good as a server. Within three years Apple abandoned the PowerPC architecture entirely, never to return. It was a different time, a different era, with a different future not meant for the G5.

The last time I made some music with an old Macintosh I had more screen real estate, because it was a laptop plugged into an external monitor. I used the 667mhz PowerBook G4 pictured here as essentially a MIDI sequencer / multitrack tape recorder, because it was too slow to play more than one virtual instrument at a time.

However the G5 is a lot more powerful and has five and a half times as much memory...

... and so with the exception of a handful of notes (played with Korg's PolySix VST, and MTron, on a ThinkPad X61) and of course the drum loops, the G5 generated everything.