15
Nov

I’ve just heard Dave Clarke, the infamous techno DJ, talking in a Resident Advisor podcast pointing out how strange it was that CDs came out in the early 80s containing nearly a Gigabyte of data, when the rest of the commercial technology market had devices of more like 32k – that’s 20,000 times less data. This geeky detail, when you shine a metaphorical torch on it, seems bizarre, and almost epoch shifting. Did the CD do more for the adoption of digital technology into day to day life than, say, the early desktop computers? And why is a techno DJ pointing this out to me, rather than a computer scientist or technology commentator?

30
Sep

Check out these fantastic prints by artist Tim Sanders. Microscopic photographs of the grooves of three very different records, displayed at 100x magnification.
Tim_sanders

(I came across this reading the quite lovely It’s Nice That blog)

22
Jun

Fantastic news this week! RinseFM, East London’s underground-music pirate radio station, has been granted a broadcast licence. The station has been instrumental in fostering a sense of community around, and promoting, varied underground bass-music. DJs and records calling themselves UK Garage, grime, dubstep, funky house and drum’n'bass have broadcast from its studios for 15 years.

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17
Feb

My listening habits shift by the week. Usually, literally. I’ll spend an entire week listening only to Jamaican Dancehall, the next to bands with either Dave Grohl,  Josh Homme, or both of them, in . I let whimsy and external influence dictate it. This week it’s “space jazz” or “spiritual jazz”; a music, usually from the late 60s, characterised by abstract, filmic arrangements, unusual combinations of instruments and a cosmic, spiritual or political (or all three!) ethos. These bands drew on psychedelia, cathartic walls of noise, gentle waves of “ambience”, soul & early funk. A few bands got into synthesisers, but you’re just as likely to find a sitar or a koto (or both) next to a Fender Rhodes and the more traditional brass instruments found in jazz ensembles.

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13
Jan
I mention it both because I’m friends with most of the band and also because I’m intrigued that the home recording revolution has spread into the jazz world. There may be countless other CDs of this type, but I don’t know because I run in different circles. This effort shows how great a recording one can make with good musicians & songs, some relatively cheap equipment and a passion for the music.This is a post to recommend “Moon And Sand” album by the Remember April Quintet: A mixture of latin jazz standards (“One Note Samba”, “How Insensitive” & more) and one or two original pieces. The band perform & sing simply & beautifully together and the recording is a pleasure to listen to: calming, laid back, but deeply soulful in places.

This is a post to recommend “Moon And Sand” album by the Remember April Quintet: A mixture of latin jazz standards (”One Note Samba”, “How Insensitive” & more) and one or two original pieces. The band perform & sing simply & beautifully together and the recording is a pleasure to listen to: calming, laid back, but deeply soulful in places.

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17
Nov

I started this post last tuesday, so it’s in the wrong tense and mentions events that have now happened, as if they hadn’t. Whoops.

There’s been a tape theme around my musical activities today. The buzz on wiretotheear and between some friends was around Berna, a virtual electronic music studio modelled after old fashioned tape editing and raw electronic noise generation. The tool lets you play with cutting up tape, layering basic oscillators and other techniques used by some early modern classical music, sound art and soundtracks for film and TV from the 50s to probably the early 80s.

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22
Sep

The Three Elements
The Knobs have been playing their fidget house/breaks/dubstep/dirty pop mashups all over the North of England all summer and they rock. An’ reet good they are.

11
Sep

Anyone else feel like the two big Apple software updates this week, iTunes 9 and iPhone 3.1, are more about building platforms to encourage users to spend more money through Apple than they are about genuinely useful tools? I don’t expect any company to make products that don’t encourage users (or advertisers) to give them money, but the current updates “feel” wrong.

The company appears to be shifting its focus. They used to be known for creating tools & platforms that are similar to but better than their competitors. Now, they’re instead concentrating on putting systems for ongoing, small-scale revenue-generation into the pockets of their user-base. I find this ugly, uncomfortable and a let-down. I tried hard to disbelieve Jascon Calcani, but iTunes 9 and iPhone 3.1 seem only to reinforce his message.

10
Jul

Back in March, Rob Stow & I shared recording and mixing duties for the band Spirit of Play, at Alaska Studios. They rehearse reglar in Alaska’s practice rooms but wanted to make good recordings of two tracks for an online “festival” they’d entered.

The band consists of a drummer, a bassist, 12 string rhythm guitar and three of the band take turns with vocals/backups. They seemed more comfortable playing together rather than individually so we baffled the drum kit after mic’ing it up and did a couple of takes to get a feel for levels and tone. We also found they prefered playing along with vocals so to get the most relaxed peformances we set up vocal mics as well, but didn’t track them ’til the instruments were done. Getting two songs tracked and mixed in the day proved difficult in a 10hour day so we returned for a couple of hours each on two further evenings to finish off the mixes. You can hear both “Geek of the Week” and “Wave or Particle” on their MySpace site, and I’ve included snippets from “Geek of the Week” in my 2sd portfolio.

The songs were entered into the GeekPop festival, and a couple of months after the session we heard that one of the songs was featured in a New Scientist magazine podcast. Well done Spirit of Play!

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