Pittsburgh Modular owner, Richard Nicol, recently put me up on a really cool project called Encryption Cipher put together by Herman Pearl (DJ Soy Sos). Encryption Cipher is a hiphop project that features a host of Pittsburgh hiphop artists over Herman Pearl (DJ Soy Sos) made beats. The beats on this project happen to prominently features Pittsburgh Modular synths. As a beatmaker and synth geek myself I knew right off that this project should be known far and wide. So, here follows the press release direct from Herman Pearl (DJ Soy Sos)  & Tuff Sound Recording.

TSR Input Output Ver2For decades, innovative and creative hiphop acts have sought out Herman Pearl (DJ Soy Sos) and his studio, Tuff Sound Recording, to help perfect their sound. Now Pearl is preparing to release, Encryption Cipher¨ a series of remixes that will highlight his studio’s talented clientele, and his unique production style. Listeners will hear many of Pittsburgh’s top rappers in ways that they’ve never heard them before, accompanied by remixed beats that are are gritty and futuristic. The productions heavily feature modular synthesis, a reemerging music production method with a surprising connection to Pittsburgh.

The project’s title, Encryption Cipher, draws on similarities between the art of remixing and the process of encoding and decoding information. This cyber noir title fits the dystopian scifi feel of the music. The project ‘s format also reflects this convergence of retro and futuristic. Encryption Cipher will be released as two digital download albums, and one vinyl record. The first download will be available October 25th on the Tuff Sound Encoding website. The vinyl is being released by Pittsburgh Modular Synthesizers, a Pittsburgh based electronic music instruments company. Other leading local hiphop businesses are helping promote and distribute the releases, including 720 Music, Clothing and Cafe, and Time bomb Shop.

A release party for the first Encryption Cipher album will be held at 720 Music¨ Clothing and Café in Lawrenceville on Friday¨ October 25th¨ 8:00 PM. The party will feature performances from Tuff Sound artists featured on the album.

All remixes on Encryption Cipher are produced by Herman Pearl and Tuff Sound Recording production assistant, Amos Levy ® DJ Thermos©. Pearl’s musical style draws from influences in hiphop, reggae, and electronic music. Many music fans know him for his bands Chill Factor International, Soma Mestizo, and 3 Generations Walking. Few of these fans know the extent of Pearl’s long resume as a producer and recording engineer.


Pearl’s fascination with recording sound started at a young age. He got his first tape recorder when he was ten, snuck it into the movie theater, recorded the entirety of Star Wars on three cassettes, and listened to them constantly. After studying audio engineering in Portland, Oregon, Pearl returned home to set up his first studio in his parent’s attic. Although it was initially focused on recording his own band, the studio quickly attracted a collection of hiphop, reggae, and electronic musicians. To accommodate the growing clientele, Tuff Sound moved into a loft space Wilkinsburg in 1995 before settling on it’s present location in 1998. The studio has been a launch pad for many of Pittsburgh’s leading rappers. Mac Miller, Boaz, Beedie, Jon Quest, and Hardo are all clients of the studio, as well as upcoming talents like Crystal Seth, Shad Ali, Hubbs, Kizzl, Yah Lioness, R Sin, Black Sun, Ras Maisha and Hunter. Most of these artists are featured on the compilation, as well as features from national acts Chevy Woods and Action Bronson.

Pearl’s production techniques feature modular synthesis instruments, a growing trend in electronic music production. Pearl describes modular synthesis as a way of creating synthesizer sounds in which the “building blocks are broken into individual patchable units”. This equipment appeals to musicians who want to have knobs that they can grab and turn to craft their sound, rather than interacting with a computer screen. Pittsburgh is home of one of the leading modular synthesis companies, Pittsburgh Modular, who are creating a new record label to release the album, Pittsburgh Modular Records. The goal of Richard Nicol, owner of Pittsburgh Modular, is to advance the appreciation of modular synthesis. “I want to show that people are using this equipment to make real music,” says Nicol.

Other leading business in the Pittsburgh hiphop scene have united behind the album. Timebomb Shop in East Liberty is helping with promotion. 720 Music Clothing and Cafe in Lawrenceville is assisting with packaging and marketing. Nate Mitchell coowner of 720 Records Music and Cafe is interested in how the album shows the breadth and depth of talent in Pittsburgh. “I’ve known Herman for twenty years and it’s a pleasure to be able to partner with him on this release. I want people to know that we have great MCs here,” says Mitchell.

Download/Stream: http://tuffsoundencoding.bandcamp.com/

Vinyl: http://pittsburghmodular.com/encryptioncipher/


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