Saturday, October 18, 2008

PLOPGIFT08 (antidote to Nashville)

I'm in Nashville attending the PLOP 08 conference. As part of the tikanga of the conference, attendees are supposed to give gifts "that represent themselves, their work, or their companies" to other participants. My gift (once again) is a CD, this year a mix CD. I didn't have time to make covers, so here's the tracklisting, if you got one of these and would like to know what you're listing to, or if you want to make one yourself.

Up to the Sky, 4:21, The Bats remixed by Trillion, Audio Agriculture In The 21st Century
Overground, 3:22, Pine, Akira Sunrise
Bright Grey, 5:03, The Phoenix Foundation, Happy Ending
Tough Culture, 5:55, Strawpeople, World Service
She's Leaving Him, 3:14, Nothing, A Warm Gun
Passenger 26, 6:38, Don McGlashan, Warm Hand
Stars Without Makeup, 3:03, David Yetton, Blow Out Your Candles
No Ordinary Day, 3:51, Let's Planet, La Gloria
Together now, 6:06, Jeremy Taylor, Black Balloons
Hotline, 3:10, Disasteradio, Visions
It's More Fun To Compute, 3:52, Bubblyfish, 8-bit Operators: A Tribute to the Music of Kraftwerk
Nuclear Weapons Are Morally Indefensible, 6:30, Tomorrowpeople
Love Will Tear Us Apart, 4:22, bis, We Are Bis From Glasgow, Scotland [Greatest Hits]
Turquoise House, 3:20, Jim White, Transnormal Skiperoo<

Friday, September 12, 2008


So in spite of the sentiments in the last post about being well-fed we ended up at a loose end in Wellington last night, thought about the Matterhorn but it was a two hour wait, and so on the spur of the moment rang Citron.

So yes they do do walk-ups for the 9 course Degustation menu which I'm not supposed to list here as it might spoil the surprise. And it was great. Hard to describe. French/Kiwi/ with a touch of micro-gastronomie. We arrived around 7.30 and left at 11: but it really didn't seem that long at all. I didn't think we'd eaten that much, nor drunk that much, but, well, we were both a bit under the weather this morning.

And why so many posts? Umm, because I was thinking - "I need a studio log book to log what I'm recording" and then I realised that this is it? Or because I then started reading through the back-issues and it was more interesting that I'd thought (to me at least). At least it's a record of some kind of something.

Damned if you're rich.

And yesterday, I recorded yet another song. Basic blues, crap guitar playing, kind of depressing really. Spot the lyrics?

You're damned if you're rich: you've had your comfort now.
You're damned if you're well-fed: you've gonna starve.
You're damned if you're happy: you've gonna sing the blues.
You're damned if everybody loves you: think of the idiots everybody loves.

So the catch is, this means I've now got 11 songs down, one of which doesn't really fit with all the rest (see Family Last). So another two then I have twelve, which will do for this project, and I can then get on to something else. I just have to conjure two more songs up from nowhere.

Or perhaps ten songs is enough and I can move on already?

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

So this post really should have been made last week.

On Monday 1 sept, my Brother "Nuncle" and a friend of his "Chris" came over to record a song for Chris's school production (she's a schoolteacher in Newtown). Basically I think it's a sing-along track for the "going on a bear hunt" kids story.

She recorded piano and then we put in some drums and doubled the bass notes with a garish synth --- and all of this was done in GarageBand. No Live, no ProTools, just, well, GarageBand.

I was mostly relieved that everything worked :-) Especially the MIDI from my old CS1X blue keyboard (that I only ever got to use as a controller anyway, even though it doesn't have aftertouch) through the ReMOTE-25 and then into the MAC

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Say No! to Metal

Was in Slob Out today, bumped into Richard Mansfield.

Came up with another good name Say No to Metal (or alternatively Fear of Metal) when looking for the Mulchzoid album by David Mulcahy. They've rearranged the tables, so the Electronica section is next to the Metal section. Thus, accidentally browsing Modest Mouse, losing my place, suddenly I'm looking at Megadeath.

And, so far as I can tell, Mulchzoid's Laptop Dancer is good (and certainly has a good name, though I might have picked Mulcazoid for the band name :-). Sort of carries on from where Oddy Knocky left off, but with rather more techno, a bit of New Order in there, and a gratuitous female on the cover.

In other news, well, no posts from me from June till mid August. Got back from Paphos summer to an NZ winter, and went to ground, just trying to get through each day. Perhaps things will be better now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


And I even backed up! Aren't I good!

Elias II & III

So, after sorting out Elias didn't do that much with it for a week or so.

Then this week I though I should make a proper go of this: I even practiced a couple of times (not that it will show).

Last night, recorded a couple of guitar parts, its all just free time, no drumtracks, basically picked the second one. There is one obvious slip-up but it was the better of the two. Then I was exhausted, so went upstairs to watch the original Star Wars.

Early this afternoon, came down and recorded four or five vocal takes - probably the last one is best. Slapped on a reverb, it's nearly done but needs listening to a bit more, sorting the levels, bouncing down etc. All that fun fun stuff.

Anyway, so that's nearly done. It's good to be making some progress again. The only problem is, the next one on the list is a) not finished yet either, and b) will be really complicated - and I don't think the "band" arrangements work nearly as well as keeping things smaller. So perhaps I'll see if I can find another way around trying to fake a 10 piece band and a gospel choir in my computer.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Will he come?

He calls for Elias
Will he come to save Him?

So, yeah, a whole new song written but not recorded this morning. Working title: Elias.

Inspired by the McCahon "Elias series".

I didn't do a proper recording, just worked the lyrics out last night, then had a hack this morning on the acoustic guitar (drop-D tuning) and recorded a very rough guide track just using the built-in microphone of the laptop. Sounds horrible & distorted, and the demo has lots of pure crap on it (forgetting words, chords etc) but hopefully this will mean that I don't forget the sound.

Perhaps next week, perhaps tomorrow, I'll try a recording. Can't decide with or without drums. If this is aimed at the *end* of track listing, then, well, without perhaps makes the most sense (and is easier). Also need to transition from acoustic rapid strumming to a more restrained electric style, relying on sustain.

Moon Wisperers

So we went to see the Moon Whispers at Valve last Thursday. Great time was had by all, even if we got there a bit late after going to the Rolling Stones Film. And I got a couple of pictures!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Preaching IV

So, gee, the thing about blogging is that you really have to keep posting, isn't it...

Anyway: the "Preaching" song is more or less finished. It took a while: 20th May for a rough mix which I lost when ProTools crashed (yay!); and then 27th when I managed to redo all that - luckily, I'd made some notes. Less finished because. well, it still sounds like something put together in a bedroom, which is of course precisely what it is. But there are lots of things that are more or less put together in bedrooms or lofts (Black Balloons by Jeremy Taylor; anything by Pine; Moth by Matthew Bannister) that still sound great. In fact, the simpler songs that I've done that are just voice & guitar sound much better than the more complex ones. I don't know why, but I think "mixing" and "mastering" must have something to do with it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Preaching III

So, feeling kind of grotty this evening, large hangover-style headache due to not drinking anything at all today, it seems.

Spent a couple of hours working on mixing Preaching Jesus --- compressor squashing up the bass so you can actaully hear it, and working out which of the four vocal takes to keep (or rather which bits of which take). Still haven't programmed in the automation though (a job for tomorrow), and hopefully I'll manage to finish the drum programming too.

And that will be enough for just a rough mix: how long would doing a really serious job take?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Preaching II

So stole a little more time this evening, added in a bit of acoustic over the closing chourses and made a rough mix of yesterday's stuff.

Basically, for every track you record, well there's lots more to do to get a final version. I've done no drum programming whatsoever on this one, for example. But at least I hope I can listen to it & think about it some more

Preaching Jesus

So, as promised, another song down - or at least the the majority of one. I'm wasted and sickly, so don't want to do the extra hours it will take today to programme the drums; record the extra guitars; mix the vocals and all the rest of the stuff. 2am is late enough on a worknight.

But I have managed to get good enough guitar takes of Preaching Jesus down - the fastest song yet at 150bpm, which was a bit of a struggle. I guess the practice must have paid off.

Given that I ended up doing various bits of work this evening, in spite of myself, I make tackle this tomorrow sometime, along with other various bits of home-based admin.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Well of the Saints

Well I've made good to my public (and by other public) --- all two blog readers, by finishing up another song. Yeah it's late, but I'm on leave tomorrow (so that I can be here to take delivery of Small Person's new bunkbeds) so hopefully it's not to bad. Oh yeah, I've somehow got to read seven papers too (while on leave, yep) but hopefully that won't be too grim.

Anyway, yes, another new - or rather old - song dating from years and years ago: at least before 2000, perhaps before 1995? About 3:30 long, which would be perfect for a pop song, except that it's not really a pop song - another mournful piece about, well, the usual mix of faithlessness, ennui, and desperation.

I think The Well of the Saints is a beautiful title for a song. Uncle Google and Mad Aunt Wikipedia tell me that it's the title of a early 20th century Irish play: but this song has nothing whatsoever to do with the play except the title, as far as I'm aware. Although reading the synopsis, well both seem more or less depressing, or at least melancholy.

So, that makes something like 8 songs now, of which at least 6 are in the slow, guitar driven style, relatively consistent, with a couple of outliers (children with rather more bass than is good for it, and the colonel, which turned into a rattling dunedin thing, somehow).

Enough for an EP (gulp!)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

No Music This Week Either

So, another week without music. I was completely exhausted on Tuesday, so watched videos instead. Also I couldn't find the words for the song I was hoping to record - I'm mostly trawling through a back-catalogue of songs I've written 10 years ago (with Section 59: Beat your Children and It's not Hard being exceptions that prove the rule).

But while Annie was here, we did go to Slob Out (OK: Small Person actually read the name of the shop on the sign from across the street and said "it's really called Slow Boat Records"). So we spent some time browsing, including the new Chris Knox & the Nothing CD, and Rachel Unthank and the Winterset (yep: Nick Bollinger on The Sampler chooses my CDs for me)

And then, dropping Annie off at the airport, I ended up at the DVD shop there, and came away with Liam Finn's I'll be Lightning, Trillion's Audio Agriculture, and LCD Soundsystem's The Sound of Silver.

And so this evening, after at least going through my office to find the words & chords to a couple of things, went for dinner with another friend, had work admin to do, and then too far gone to spend hours recording.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

St Mary's Curve

No music this week - we have our friend Annie over from Sydney, so we've mostly hung around with her, and drank...

But I have a couple of good new names:

difficult listening (except that it's used in lots of places) and

St Mary's Curve which seems like a great name for an album by someone, anyway...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Head Above Water

So, 12.30 AM, that equals the previous record.

Todays effort is quite short at 2.50, not really poppy, rather odd (and again old) little song, Head Above Water Not sure about it really, the vocals are quite weak & flutter in places - on the other hand, I quite like how the guitar sounds.

What's this one about - rather cliched I'm afraid:

keep my head above water
turn my face from the sun
keep my head above the water
now I'm all undone

I'm not sure I remember that far back - but it probably relates to the long and generally depressing time when I was finishing up a PhD. It's nowhere near as - well - Biblical as many of the rest, especially as I think I accidently replaced "flood" with "sun" in one of the verses. Oh well. But then perhaps it's better this way:

I used to laugh about rainbows
I used to smile at the sun
I used to laugh about rainbows
Now I'm all washed up

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Yet another song done: current working title: hell --- although perhaps "Rock'N'Roll" would be better. Nasty digital clipping on the vocals, but well, I quite like it so I'm keeping it.

This is another old song which I've finally got around to recording. That's a good thing

Rock'n'Roll is the devil's music
And it comes straight up from Hell
And if you listen to the sinful rhythms
You'll go straight down there as well

Good news: it's only 12:30. That's a record.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's not hard

Got another sinner song down: It's not hard.

Yeah, Right, as the billboards say. Not hard at all.

So now it's 2am. I should relax and get to sleep. Work tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Two weeks without a post

Oh well, slackness ensues. And an Easter break.

The good news: I did record another song, the "Colonel" aka "Lost". It's nothing to do with the TV show.

The bad news. I didn't blog about it. Then I didn't do anything the next week (aka last week), I came down but had worked til 3 or 4 the night before, did again the night afterwards (a work deadline) and just wasn't up to much. Then, tonight, when I wanted to update the blog, I couldn't manage to log in. Took a while before I worked out how to get things sorted but I seem to be up and running again: it turns out you can have a "Google Account" with a name with an "@" sign it in that is an email address from another website completely. Which I do, for this blog, its my main email address. So it goes.

Now, perhaps, to music?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Creeping Downstairs

Back from London, mostly exhausted, but managed to creep downstairs this evening and do another mix of "Children". Added in a sample from a pro-hitting web broadcast, and realigned some of the vocals. I think this will do now for a while, at least until thursday, and hopefully leaves tuesday free to work on something else.

Not sure what's next, best idea is an old unhappy song called "The Colonel" if I can find a list of the words somewhere. Other options would be going back to Bishop Brian for some more sample-filled hatred, or working up to "The Decider".

but hopefully Children is done for now: that makes three whole "songs" (for some meaning of songs)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Two Things Unexpected and Wonderful

I'm in London for a week or so for work: missing Small Person and family.

Yesterday evening (UK time) I glanced at the desk in the hotel room and noticed that my white-faced watch was sitting there. This watch is not expensive at all, Olympic brand (which they don't make anymore) with day-of-the-week and day-of-the-month windows. It does have sentimental value: my brother Deacon Richard has exactly the same model (although he found his while walking one day on Mt Vic).

This is remarkable (unexpected and wonderful) because I have no idea whatsoever about how the watch got there. I thought I'd lost it months ago; had gone around the shops trying to replace it (that's why I know they don't sell them anymore); had resigned myself to the loss; given up; and bough the Lexon Zen watch as an alternative.

So all I can assume is that it must have been in the laptop bag for months, or in the pockets of a pair of winter clothes, and that I'd grabbed it in my jetlagged state and unconsciously put it on the desk.

The other unexpected and wonderful thing is Robert Henke's Layering Buddha. Robert of course makes Ableton Live; this is rather more ambient but perhaps it would be fun for Selective Yellow to clone it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Crooked Mile

Count the lucky stars you've got
'cos you've got quite a lot
and I think you forgot

I'd just got back from Newtown with some unwelcome news about Small Person, and Minisnap's Bounce Around was sitting on the car stereo at Track 7 --- Crooked Mile. It's a truism about pop music that a song can capture a mood for days or weeks, and then last for far longer than is rational. Still, there are songs where hearing it the first time seems to sum up everything that's going on in life, and hearing it again weeks or months or years later can take you right back to the first time you heard it.

So this is isn't the first time I've listened to Crooked Mile but perhpas this was the first time I'd heard it. And it's only been half a day since then but this one will be with me for quite a while.

You walk the crooked mile but you fall down
There's nothing anyone can say or do
There must be someone watching over you

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Family Last

So it's tuesday evening, and thanks to some encouragement I made it downstairs to record something else again. Putting the Family Last as it were. The result is a nice - surprisingly dubby - first attempt at using Ableton LIve to record. Called (Beat your) Children let's just say its a tribute to Family First and their campaign to legalise hitting Small People.

This was also my first attempt at Live which is perhaps why I'm still awake at 3am. Yes its good for loops and drums; and re-arranging and dubbing things up is really really easy. But the actual recording and getting that in time with what's playing turned out to be a nightmare. So the next technical thing to do may be to run Live as a slave to Protools, so protools can record the audio and Live the - other stuff, notably drums, perhaps bass patterns if I don't want to play them all in. So the vocal track isn't really synchronised properly, but most of the rest is OK.

The song, by the way, is I think the most depressing thing I've written. Ever. And the whole sinner project is going to be depressing.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Whitecliff Poets

Went out for dinner to celebrate Fi's Birthday, and there were two bottles of wine: Whitecliffs and Poet's Corner

Hmm, thought I, The Whitecliff Poets...
sounds like the name of a band to me. Perhpas the acoustic scratch band playing junky cover versions of Jordan Luck tunes?

the other cool band name I came across this weekend was Selective Yellow which has to be a synth jam-band. And I suppose (sad bastard that I am) I've even got most of the gear.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Forever Tuesday Evening

Today I started the new regime of heading downstairs on tuesday evenings starting at 7pm. I don't have to worry about Small Person, I'm not supposed to go to work, just play with music stuff.

Or in today's case, I spent most of the time fighting protools - loading new versions of Multimedia demo plugins: the US based site seemed to have rate-limiting so I couldn't access the site when downloading something, couldn't download in parallel, so that plus OS upgrades plus trying to get Reason Adapted to run all took hours. Turns out I still have a bunch of Protools plug-ins to upgrade by calling customer support, and Reason 2.5 simply won't work with Protools 7, I either have to upgrade Reason - or settle for using Live, which was my original plan. Or - record tracks in Reason standalone, then bring them into Protools, which would be another option.

Finally, after going for about three hours, decided to cut to the chase with the second song on the four-track, The Fire. Again, crap guitars recorded years ago, bleak lyrics. Couldn't be arsed trying to redo it from scratch, as I like the generally noisy feel of the track, so ran a stereo mix of the tape deck, then added in noise with the extra famous Mastererizer, sprinkling of reverb and compression and that's another take.

The big problem is what comes next: I though I had five or six things on the four-track, but really there was only Lazarus and The Fire. So its either back to the notebooks for more songs for Sinner; mixing or re-recording existing Hey Babies tracks (not sure I can face that yet) or something new. Most likely something for Sinner from a notebook, I think.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Little Black Songbook

We did music at St Muggles this morning. Given I was very grumpy for the whole practice, the service went OK. Capo on 7th fret: intonation? - who cares!

Then later in the evening, while Small Person was nominally sleeping (or at least being quiet), we started dipping in to the Little Black Kiwi Songbook --- manufactured nostalgia for 20-40 somethings, made in Sydney. Wailed through a selection of rull kay-way clussucks, including Funn Bruthurs, Grug Juhnsun, Th' Duuds, 'n' Th' Fullurs. Reinforced plans to buy several more copies, perhaps photocopy one up to large print A4 so I can actually read it, then invite Gullible Friends round for pizza, wine, & drunken music.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Slob Out

Had Brunch with a couple of friends, and then Small Person said: "Lets go to Slob Out"

So we did. I mean, rather than record music, why not just buy it?

Current purchases:
Pop Art Toasters: Sixties Goodness redone in the Dunedin Nienties. I quite like this one really
Bachelorette - The End of Things: According to Grant Smithies' book, Roger Shepperd's favourite record on returing to Welli from London. I can see the appeal, but at least he didn't end up living in Darkest Karori.
XTC - Oranges and Lemons I have a folk memory of listening to "The Mayor of Simpleton" once when I was much much younger. Except I though it was by TMGB. But no, XTC. Unfortuantely the only listenable thing on the album, it is quite lovely. Perhaps the rest will grow better on repeated listening: perhaps they won't get the chance.
Exponents - Sex and Agriculture Because Small Person can already sing Why does Love do this to me from memory, after having heard it twice.

New Blog

So I now have a new blog. Great.

more time on the computer. less time in the rest of my life.

In other news, I successfully (re)recorded a song from a few years ago, currently called Lazarus. Wavestation drone, two guitars, one voice track. Kind of like a minor blues in C, but I can't really play the guitar in C so the guitar part is crappy (or endearingly lo-fi). Also I started from an old 4-track demo so the timing is a bit random. Perhaps I should do it all over again, but, then again, perhpas not. More fun to do something else I think.