Studio rebuild

August 1, 2006

Studio in rebuildEvery time I have a bit of a break from work I take the opportunity to clear out the studio and move things around a bit to improve my workflow. It’s something I would recommend to anyone writing music – if you find things are getting a bit stale, or you are lacking in inspiration.

This time, however, I went a bit further than usual and completely unwired the studio and pulled everything out of the room! Working like a thing possessed, it took several hours but eventually all the gear was out of the way and all the cables were organised and neatly stacked.

When I started plugging everything back in, I spent a bit of time playing with each bit of kit in isolation. What surprised me though is how much fun I had just fiddling around with the synths when they weren’t all routed through the computer – without a tempo lock or a bank of presets to play with I got some pretty good sounds and grooves going. A much more “back to basics” approach seems to work pretty well when you are lacking in inspiration.

More wiresI even plugged the sampler back in (yes a real hardware device) and recorded a few arpeggios from the Nova through it – it all seemed so limiting in comparison to software based devices, but it took almost no time to get something that sounded great! Not only that, but the patches just seemed so much more playable…

Time to get the guitars out.


On holiday and offline

August 1, 2006

I’ve just spent some time offline – a pretty unusual experience for me!

Yve booked me a white water rafting experience in Snowdonia for my birthday last year, but I’ve been too busy at work to take the trip until now.

Rafting in Wales For most of the trip I had bugger all signal on my mobile, and with no access to the net (Yve wouldn’t let me take my laptop for some reason) I actually had a pretty cool and relaxing time.

I’ve never been to North Wales before and I would definitely recommend it as a getaway. The people there were all incredibly friendly and the local beer was great. We spent some time in the forests and up the mountains and I feel a whole lot more relaxed than I did before we went. I might even get around to writing some new music now!


July 8, 2006

Mike at ProgSfest 2004
Much more of a live favourite this time – although this is the original demo I put together. This is part of a much longer prog piece, unfortunately I couldn’t find the other parts on disk… time to hunt down the backups I guess…

Download Meltdown (6.4Mb)

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Why make music?

July 7, 2006

It’s a sad fact of life that if I want to get anyone to listen to any of my music, I’m going to have to do a bit more than just posting the files up here! Whether I like it or not, I guess everyone is a marketer in the blogging world, and self promotion is a necessary evil to raise the blog above the background noise.

So, in doing this, I got to thinking why do people make music (or I suppose more accurately why do I make music)?

Well, aside from the astronomically tiny chance that I’ll make a ton of cash, I (and most other people like me) claim to make music for their own enjoyment. I try and capture ideas and sounds that I would like to hear. In reality, that is only part of the reason. Whether or not anyone will admit it, there is a natural human desire to connect with other people and music is a pretty good medium to do that. The thought that someone else gets pleasure from, or experiences on an emotional lever the feeling of a piece is a strong motivator – it gives meaning and purpose to the otherwise seemingly non-productive task of producing noise.

Anyone who has experienced the awesome buzz of performing in front of an appreciative audience will understand the emotion. A great gig is a two-way conversation between the band and the audience – each side can move the other to greater heights on an emotional wave.

Although in a recording you lose that direct link with the audience, I still think that conversation is somewhere in the back of most performers minds. A little thought that is imagining what it would be like to hear the track for the first time as part of the symbiotic performer/audience collective.

I don’t really know how many of my tracks work on that level. Most of the ones I have gigged have gone through a period of organic change in response to audience reaction and now sound very different to the form they are presented here – in particular, the songs that start life as a solo studio project tend to evolve further as real musicians play them and impart their own character and viewpoint to the conversation.

So although I originally started this blog as somewhere to publish my tracks, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I have to try and start up that great conversation again. Allow the feedback of the audience to influence the performance. In time I will be re-working some tracks, dropping others and sharing ideas with other lone performers to create a collective work that is greater than the original idea.

What you see here therefore is the embrionic idea – the feedback isn’t as immediate as with a gig, but this Great Gig in the Web has the potential to offer just as much enjoyment.

For both performer, and audience.

Todays track: Download “Troubadours and Fairytales”

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July 5, 2006

I’ve just had a conversation that went a bit like this.

“you know those speakers in your room?”


“were they expensive?”

“umm… were?”

“well, I was in there earlier clearing up your beercans and emptying the ashtrays…”


“…and I had a terrible accident

I’m scared to go upstairs.

Back to work.

July 5, 2006


Bleah. Went back to work today, and am completely knackered now. It’s never worth being ill – you just have more work piling up when you go back.

Whilst trawling my archives I found all the gig recordings I made when I was engineering at The Gander (a local rock venue, which alas is no more). It’s really funny, most of these recordings have more energy than I remember – despite the mistakes and slightly off levels (it is *really* tricky to get a good bass sound off a desk submix when you are less than 20 foot away from the front of house), these gigs deserve a listen so I’m currently converting them and splitting them into maneagable chunks.

I’ll post these in bits I think – I’m finding it tricky to think of anything to write. I obviously haven’t been exercising the creative writing centre of my brain recently.

Still off sick

July 4, 2006

I’m going back to work tomorrow, but I was listening to a load more old tunes today (TV is still complete rubbish) and I came across the stuff I did when I first got into electronica.

In general, I’m a bit of a genre chameleon – there’s not a lot of styles of music I don’t like and these aren’t particularly representative of most of my stuff. These tracks are a couple of synth/sample based tunes I wrote for an abortive video project a friend of mine was working on. Gathering dust now, but available for your listening pleasure!

Download Headrush (MP3 – 6.4Mb)

Download Minority Report (MP3 – 6.6Mb)

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