Albums Which Changed My Life #1 : New Order – ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’

I got into New Order relatively early in their career, in that incarnation anyway. In my last year in secondary school, I had been listening to the poppier end of bouncy post-punk: The Specials, The Beat, The Human League, Ultravox, John Foxx, Kraftwerk and, obtusely and secretively, Mike Oldfield.

Then something happened. I had discovered John Peel and, through him, was exposed to the sounds of more marginal bands. In 1983, New Order released ‘Blue Monday’, a momentous single. Coming a year after their first real venture into electronic rock pop ‘Temptation’, ‘Blue Monday’ was a big-sounding slab of electronic funk comprising almost entirely of sequenced synths and drums. Full of riffs and tricks, the track was about 75% instrumental, lasted for 8 minutes and was released on 12″ vinyl only. When I first encountered it in my local record store, I knew I had to have it; the sleeve alone was so seductive….it looked like those mysterious black disk things we slotted into the Commadore Vic20 we used at school in Computer Studies (a 5″ floppy).

It sounded massive, like Kraftwerk on steroids. What’s more, while my friends liked dancing to it and thought it was “awright”, I understood it. Instinctively.

I was intrigued. I was aware of ‘Temptation’ through Peel. I liked its bittersweet pop hook and its skittering synth sequence. But I hadn’t been prepared for the sheer weight and otherworldliness of Blue Monday. A month or two later, Factory released the album with which this single was related.

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‘Power, Corruption and Lies’ seemed to obviously come from the same lineage as Blue Monday with its printer’s colour test barcode and technological allusions on the cover art. However, this time there was no up-to-the-minute cultural reference for the main front cover image. This time it was a seemingly tame painting of flowers (by Henri Fantin-Latour). But coupled with the barcode, etc it seemed unusual and fresh to my young untrained eyes.

Placing it onto my Fidelity Nine stereo deck, I anticipated more slabs of cold electro-disco. What I got was so much more.
Firstly, just let me say that for years, I mean about 20 years, I played the album in the wrong order. I had mistakenly believed that side one started with ‘Your Silent Face’ and side two with ‘Age Of Consent’. It actually was the other way round. Therefore, my take on the album was entirely different to how a majority (possibly) heard it and, for me, the dynamic of the album as a whole was entirely different to that intended. I still listen to it in that order….to the point of having re-ordered the running order on my MP3 version of the album. To hear it any other way now makes no sense to me.

‘Your Silent Face’ is still a favourite NO track. Having expected Blue Monday’s electro muscularity, I was confronted by a delicate, melodic and restrained song oozing with melancholy. The opening arpeggio recalled ‘Endless Endless’ by Kraftwerk, a canonic connection I understood and was aware of even then. Then those strings kick in…oh, those strings. Synthetic but incredibly lush and dense…and beautiful. The song was intense, sad, almost elegiac. It was also human. Something which I’d not really encountered in the two NO songs I was familiar with.

‘Ecstasy’ was a funked-up electro instrumental with chiming metronomic guitars and dream-like vocoded voice. Towards the end the 4/4 beat kicks in proper with a rocky/funky snare and kick combo, as opposed to the near tribal rhythm which Steven Morris hammers out on toms through a majority of the track. The track comes alive and rises to a crescendo before fading into nothingness.
What was beginning to strike me was that this was a band which was successfully merging electronic music (as I understood it at the time, a la Kraftwerk) with guitar-based post-punk (such as bands like Orange Juice and Joy Division, who I was marginally aware of at the time). There might have been other bands around at the time doing similar stuff, but to me this sounded so fresh and new.

The feeling of ‘humanity’ continued in the near-ballad ‘Leave Me Alone’ (which became a bit of an anthem for me in my teenage introspective moments!) and the rather miserablist ‘We All Stand’. The album had many colours and moods, both emotionally, dynamically and tonally.

What makes this album so important for me is that, prior to this, I’d listened to music either as an ephemeral pop fix (The Beat, Human League) or as a means of ‘escaping’ (in my teenage angst!) via imagination and imagery (Mike Oldfield, Kraftwerk). But had never encountered music which contained elements of both…..pop melody and surge with texture and imagery. I loved it and it was on a virtual loop in my head, if not in reality.
It also turned me on to the bass guitar…..I was totally enthralled by Peter Hook’s use of the bass as a melodic lead instrument and the way it contributed to the dynamic and surge of a song. That summer I bought a Casio PT-30 and a very cheap Antoria bass with an amp and started on a journey which I’m still travelling.

Another Chapter

It’s been a while, I know. I’m afraid life took over my creative side for a while and time has been at a premium as a result. So much so, that I’ve hardly been able to post on social media, let alone here. While I’m fairly dedicated to my day job, I do resent the amount of personal time it takes up…..whole weekends of stultifying paperwork and planning, etc. You get the picture anyway….I wouldn’t be a teacher if I didn’t whinge about it once or twice!

But anyway, now’s the time I start to reap the rewards as it’s summer, if you hadn’t noticed. Hope the weather and the vibe is as uplifting wherever you are as it is here.

So, to the meat of the Dementio13 news sandwich. And I say this with relish (SWIDT?): I’m working on new music; a piece of news which has become a parody of itself….the independent musician stating that they’re working on/thinking about working on something new.

But I am and I think it’s important to tell you this in case you forgot about me during my internet silence!

So, what am I doing? Well, it’s an album….or of album-length anyway. Er, so….an album. I have a preliminary title and cover art (now there is a case of putting the cart before the horse!) and it’s mainly going to be a solo effort…though I do have a couple of surprises in store in the form of a tasty collaboration or two on a couple of tracks. People who can really bring something to my music…a different dimension….exciting. Also, it’s probably going to be less ‘song’ and soundtrack orientated and more electronic and repetition-based, if my experiments and demo tracks are anything to go by. Though, of course, as is the way, that could all change!

I’m getting to grips with (almost) an entirely new studio set-up which has been quite a learning curve….lots of hardware synths, analogue kit and voice transformers. In fact I’m almost completely moving away from computer-based composition; only using Ableton to record master tracks and electro-acoustic instruments. It’s all boxes now…silver ones that go bleep and squelch, and hardware sampling.
The music is going to be about nothing in particular…..just rough narratives. That’s the plan anyway.

Anyway, no doubt, now I have some quality time on my hands, I’ll be keeping you informed of its progress via this blog. You’ll be sick of me by the end of the summer, at which point I’ll shut-up again for three months!

If you have downloaded my music, any of it, thanks. Do be sure to share and recommend it to your friends or, if you haven’t got any, your pets.

Take care.

Reviews and No News

Hullo again. There’s nothing like a good review for boosting the ego, is there? Especially when they come from knowledgeable folk who are able to read between the lines and for whom subtext is everything. They really seem to get my music and I’m eternally grateful they’ve seen it fit to actually publish their thoughts on the subject. So, if you were in doubt about what I actually do or what my music sounds like, here are links to the reviews of VTOL so far. Thanks….

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Louder Than War:

VTOL is a post-rock statement for listeners as well as a teachable moment for DIY musicians.
Dementio13 is a hyper-collaborator, working with network technology as much his collection of hardware and software. VTOL is cross-pollination and Dementio13 somehow managed to mix and process seven different musicians and give them a unified voice. While the label of electronica might be off putting to some, the album provides an excellent guide to the future of music production. It’s transatlantic chaos, it’s shoveling bits and bytes, it’s about sharing because you share a vision.”

Unwashed Territories:

“As I’ve said on more than one occasion, the most pleasing thing about Dementio13‘s work is its sumptuous variety: not for him an easily tagged album of trance or synth-pop or drum n bass; instead, you’re likely to find all of these and much more thrown into a pot heaving with vitality and groaning with epicurean delight (‘epicurean’ in the original, philosophical, sense, that is) under a heady mix of disparate ingredients.So, add into the mix a whole load of partners, all of whom make great music in their own right, and you get an even denser, even more desirable outcome.”

Oliver Arditi.com:

“The musical materials are consonant, melodic, even poppy (there are certainly hooks, anyway), but they still invite engagement on a more than superficial level, with complexity emerging in the timbral and textural manipulations which are the mainstay of Dementio13’s musical practice. Another truly superb record from a consistently forward-looking artist.”

Music To Wash Up To:

Dementio13 has now built up a reputation for releasing some truly innovative album projects that encompass the qualities of Krautrock, ambient electronica and pop culture, and pieces them together to create some unnervingly sophisticated music. VTOL on first hearing is, thankfully, no exception.”

Dukla Prague Away Kit:

Dementio13 keeps on keeping on. His latest release is another intriguing sample-ridden humdinger in electro subtle bangers and playful newage disco (and other things of course)”

There’s no other news, to be honest. Other than to say a big “Thank You” to all those people who have downloaded the album. Keep sharing, keep shouting.

VTOL is a post-rock statement for listeners as well as a teachable moment for DIY musicians.  Paul Foster is a hyper-collaborator, working with network technology as much his collection of hardware and software.  VTOL is cross-pollination and Dementio13 somehow managed to mix and process seven different musicians and give them a unified voice.  While the label of electronica might be off putting to some, the album provides an excellent guide to the future of music production.  It’s transatlantic chaos, it’s shovelling bits and bytes, it’s about sharing because you share a vision. – See more at: http://louderthanwar.com/dementio13-various-artists-vtol-album-review/#sthash.WO7unFtM.dpuf
VTOL is a post-rock statement for listeners as well as a teachable moment for DIY musicians.  Paul Foster is a hyper-collaborator, working with network technology as much his collection of hardware and software.  VTOL is cross-pollination and Dementio13 somehow managed to mix and process seven different musicians and give them a unified voice.  While the label of electronica might be off putting to some, the album provides an excellent guide to the future of music production.  It’s transatlantic chaos, it’s shovelling bits and bytes, it’s about sharing because you share a vision. – See more at: http://louderthanwar.com/dementio13-various-artists-vtol-album-review/#sthash.WO7unFtM.dpuf

Vertical Take-Off

The ‘VTOL‘ album has been out for just over a week and I’m very happy with the response so far…..a few good reviews and some radio play on BBC Wales and Dandelion Radio. The album was a good few months in the making (relatively short, especially for a collaborations album) but thanks to the work and efficiency of my collaborators, it all went very smoothly.

Anyway, if you’ve downloaded it, many thanks again. I never expect anything from my albums and I’m always really grateful that people actually like it enough to download it, let alone actually buy it! Having said that, I know my collaborators’ own music is really good (do check them out; see links below), so things couldn’t really go wrong! “Success” is relative and, for me, just getting an album made is an accomplishment.

Please could you keep sharing and recommending, as this has switched-on a few new listeners to my stuff. I rely on that as a means of spreading the word.

Here are links to the VTOL artists:

Douglas Deep – http://douglasdeep.bandcamp.com

Snippet – http://www.snippetcuts.co.uk/news.html

Pixieguts – http://pixieguts.bandcamp.com

Ian Thistlethwaite – http://ianthistlethwaite.bandcamp.com

Nita Disaster – http://soundcloud.com/nitadisaster

Alone – http://alonemusic.bandcamp.com

Alun Vaughan – http://alunvaughan.bandcamp.com

VTOL Instruments

Musicians. ‘Producers’. We like to fetishise our musical instruments. Whether it’s guitarists salivating over their priceless vintage Gibson SG or synthesists going all weak-kneed about their vintage Russian modular system; we all like to bang-on about our ‘kit’. It gives us our signature sound, it looks nice and it suggests musical knowledge and authenticity. Geeky Disco (@geekydisco on Twitter) talks about hardware vs software in a recent blog post, which is pretty thought-provoking stuff for music fetishists…..his well-written missive (here) highlights some of the motivation for using hardware and, particularly, classic vintage hardware or hardware that emulates vintage kit.

Anyway, in my opinion, having used software and hardware to make music; my view is that it doesn’t matter to the listener. If a musician makes good music, it doesn’t matter what equipment has been used. Personally, I tend to favour hardware for creating sounds, but software for sequencing and recording. But, as Geeky Disco points out, it’s as much a question of economics as taste. ‘Plugins’ are cheap or free, while hardware (particularly analogue gear) is relatively expensive.

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Anyway, to adhere to the instrument fetishism, here’s a pointless run-down of gear I used when recording the album ‘VTOL’.

Alesis Fusion: a lovely, quirky, slightly outdated keyboard that claims to do everything but is flawed and occasionally does it’s own thing. It saves everything to hard-disk, so you can use massive samples! It isn’t at all analogue, but it emulates analogue synths pretty well. It’s got loads of synth engines inside: VA, FM and acoustic modelling. It’s my main keyboard instrument and mainly provided pads , drums and electric piano sounds on the album, played ‘live’….er….except the drums which I sequenced.

Korg MS20mini: not a ‘real’ MS20, but an authentic facsimile which uses the same filters and analogue circuitry. This is my other much-used instrument…..squelches, drones and squiggly sounds are its oeuvre and I love it. It provided the arpeggios on most of ‘Finish Line’, ‘Genes’ and ‘Pollution’.

Elektron Monomachine: harsher and cleaner than the MS20, this draws on the sounds of the Commodore SID chip and some incredibly searing analogue/digital hybrid sounds. Its filter is massive and can blow your monitors up. It was used on virtually all the tracks on the album.

Ableton Live: my sequencer/recorder of choice. It does everything really well and controls all my kit with no problems. As the adverts say, it allows for a smooth “workflow” (ugh!).

Rickenbacker 4003 bass: I’m a bassist in that I use a bass to occasionally record with. But my technique is ham-fisted and, shall we say, ‘unconventional’! But I always wanted a Ricky when I was young and it’s got a lot of sonic options in its circuits: from extremely deep and full to tinny and twangy.

JHS Vintage fretless bass: cheap and cheerful, but actually quite playable and with a wide range of tones. It was used for the solo at the end of ‘These Days’…..not the Joy Division track; the track with me and Nita Disaster!

So there you are. Not sure what the point of it was, but I feel gratified, at least!

http://dementio13.com

So, Here It Is: ‘VTOL’

Today, I released the album ‘VTOL’. It seems like ages since I started recording, collaborating and mixing, but has only taken around 4 months from hatching the idea of making a collaborative album to actually releasing it.

I’m rather proud of it and to work with so many understanding and talented artists was a joy. Many thanks to them for helping make the album a reality.

Anyway, it can be downloaded (pay what you want) as usual, from Dementio13.com.

Also, there are a number of places you can stream it, if that’s more your thing.

On Amazing Tunes

On Last.fm

On Mixcloud

On Soundcloud

You can also listen to the preview mix (full album) on Mixlr.com

Also, don’t forget that there’s a live session by myself performing tracks from the album with Nita Disaster throughout March on Mark Whitby’s Dandelion Radio show.

There’s been very vocal support on social media, for which I’m eternally grateful. And, if you’ve downloaded the album, many thanks. If you download for free, all I ask in payment is retweets, shares, likes, reviews, blogs, etc….it all helps to spread the word. Thanks.

 

 

Six Days

So, this time next week ‘VTOL‘ will have been released and you may have downloaded it for free, or even paid for it. Either way, that’d be great. To say I’m a small ‘operation’ would be an understatement: no paid promo, no big-time press, no notoriety. What I do have is the generous support of patrons, broadcasters and reviewers. People, without whom, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. Or maybe I would, but I wouldn’t have an audience! So, many thanks to those people, some of whom appear on the album.

What I will say is, if you plan to download the album, please get it from dementio13.com instead of from torrents. I don’t really have an objection to torrent sites; in fact, I used to suggest that people put my music up for download, just to spread the word a little. However, having seen my music on those sites, poorly tagged, incomplete and with no other information or credits available, I would recommend that you get it from the one reliable source, which is my own site. Also, each download via Bandcamp contributes to promo, so you’re doing your own little bit in helping spread the word. If you like the music, you can share links, etc via the Bandcamp download page.

That’s just a little request from me.

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John Toolan of Music To Wash Up To has written a review of the album. He was very complimentary and seems to get what I’m trying to do with each new release.

“…an album that is peppered with a disparate number of collaborations, which, through thoughtful production and track listing, form a high-tech narrative, which can almost, to these ears, be thought of as urban film music for the twenty second century. “

and

Dementio13 has now built up a reputation for releasing some truly innovative album projects that encompass the qualities of Krautrock, ambient electronica and pop culture, and pieces them together to create some unnervingly sophisticated music. ‘VTOL’ on first hearing is, thankfully, no exception.”

Nice words. I’m well pleased with that.

It’s these kind of comments which cement my belief in what I do and in this album’s case, with other musicians. I make the music I want to hear and try to stay true to my DIY ethic. That’s the only way, isn’t it?

Finally, here’s a new video by Marie Craven for my the album-opening track, ‘Creased’

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the album.

Thanks.

VTOL Cover Art and Tracklist

Here’s a little preview of what the album is going to look like.

Only two weeks to go now……

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Photos kindly donated by my collaborators.

 

Oh, here’s the tracklist too.

1. Creased

2. Finish Line (Nita Disaster & Dementio13)

3. Stelian (Douglas Deep & Dementio13)

4. Genes (Alone & Dementio13)

5. Pollution (Nita Disaster & Dementio13)

6. Puzzles

7. Alcohol (Snippet & Dementio13)

8. A Shallow Grave

9. Rodeo Days (Pixieguts & Dementio13)

10. These Days (Nita Disaster & Dementio13)

11. Self-Doubting Thomas (Ian Thistlethwaite & Dementio13)

12. Theme Four (Alun Vaughan & Dementio13)

13. Bondage Bus