Remixes, Broxen and A Collaboration

I’m pleased to say that my album ‘Broxen’ has had a pretty good response from listeners and broadcasters. Downloads have tailed-off a little these last few days, but that’s normal after the initial spike just after release. Anyway, I’m well pleased, and if you’ve downloaded or bought it; many, many thanks.

Please do tell others about it, if you think they’ll like it.

Both Adam Walton and Tom Robinson on the BBC have played a track off the album on their shows, as well as a few other generous and discerning radio broadcasters/podcasters. So, many thanks to them also.

You can listen again to their shows at: Adam Walton and Tom Robinson. They’re only available for 2 to 3 weeks from now.

I’ve also been remixing some tracks for Douglas Deep and Diane Marie Kloba; both very different projects.

Here’s the DMK remix:

I recently completed a track with the poet Equinox too. It’ll be on his forthcoming album, but here’s a stream you can listen to now:

So, a busy couple of months in all.

Anyway, once again, please share any of the music you like; word of mouth is really important to me and all of the artists mentioned.

Cheers.

 

Broxen Beats

So, 5th November is here. Which means I’ve released the new album ‘Broxen’ and been able to share it with you at last. It’s been a different process from previous albums in some ways. I’ve actually planned this one and it was recorded at a time when I was under a bit of a cloud, creatively, and I was rather over-worked. So, instead of rather rapidly recording, mixing and releasing, the album’s been gestating for three or four months.

I decided to collaborate with some trusted and admired musicians on this one too (similarly with my album ‘VTOL’ a few years ago) as I needed creative boost and there’s nothing like the surprises and accomplishment that collaboration brings to help motivate and make. They did some great work.

As for the music itself, it’s probably a bit redundant to try to explain or describe it; it’s probably better to just listen. But I will say it’s a mixed bag of styles and influences and probably more accessible than previous releases. I’ve relied less on noise and trickery and stuck to a more straight-forward way of recording/arranging. There are some almost-danceable tracks in amongst there too. I used very little in the way of software and computer manipulation and a majority of the tracks were build up as patterns on hardware, hand triggered and recorded directly onto a multitrack digital recorder. The more ambient tracks were just played directly into the recorder and built up layer by layer.

Anyway, please do give it a listen, more than once if possible. Feel free to download it for free and spread the word.

Many thanks.

‘Broxen’ Is On The Way

Ok, so I may have mentioned the new album a few million times on social media. But now everything’s finalised, I’m happy to say that ‘Broxen’ (for that is its name….it’s an autocorrect nightmare and keeps defaulting to ‘broken’; but that’s part of the point I guess) will be available at dementio13.com from 5th November onwards as a pay-what-you-want download.

broxen

I won’t go on about it, but it does contain some smashing collaborations with Jo Whitby (Laurence Made Me Cry), Robert Halcrow (Picturebox), Colin Robinson (Big Block 454/Jumble Hole Clough) and Steve Kelly (The Shed Collective) which I’m really proud of. If you’re familiar with their music, you’ll be aware of the mix of musicianship, mayhem and loveliness which they can bring to the table. If not, check out their music.

It’s also a very mixed bag, encompassing post-rocky odd electro-pop, breakbeat acid, techno, ambient, trip-hop-style stuff and drum n bass. Such is my head nowadays; I really can’t settle on one thing.

Here are a few previews, including an aforementioned collaboration. Hope you can share/tell your mates/partake.

All New Super Fast-Acting Formula!

Hullo,

It’s been a while…..I’ve been busy. So this is a little missive to just update you on what’s been happening with Dementio13 and what is about to happen.

Expect a new album in November, or thereabouts. Entitled ‘Broxen’, it’s still in the development stage at present, with about a quarter of it to go. I’m not going it alone either, as it contains some collaborations with the great and the good: Jo Whitby (Laurence Made Me Cry), Colin Robinson (Big Block 454 and Jumble Hole Clough), Robert Halcrow (Picturebox) and Steve Kelly (The Shed Collective/Douglas Deep/Macerator/Manfred Hamill). This is very exciting for me and I hope your appetite is whetted by the thought of what these folks will bring to the party.

Anyway, by way of a preview, here’s a solo slice of acidic breakbeat called ‘In Patterns‘:

The album will contain some bonus tracks, amongst them; my version/remix/whatever of Squarepusher’s ‘Midi Sans Frontières’. Though you can get it now over on Soundcloud too.

I’ve been busy with remix work as well; a couple of which I’ve not shared on here yet, so here they are:

I’ve got more remixes and collaborations in the pipeline too….which is nice.

Almost finally, here’s a little foretaste of upcoming Cwtch tracks which I’ll soon be working on in more detail with Marie Craven over the coming months.

Lastly….. here’s a little ‘interview’ I did fairly recently in which I talk the usual bollocks:

Don’t think I’ve missed anything out……

Have a good one.

Dead Of Night, etc

Hi, I’ve been fairly busy musically, so here’s a brief update on recent goings-on.

Last weekend I released a five-track EP called ‘Dead Of Night’. The people who have downloaded it have said nice things about it and that’s a good enough endorsement for me! Anyway, it’s available at dementio13.com for free download or, if you’re feeling flush/generous, you could buy it.

 

 

There’s a free download of a radio edit of one of the tracks on Soundcloud too, along with lots of other free stuff there.

 

 

Prior to releasing that, I completed a few remixes of Picturebox songs, from his new album, ‘Songs Of Joy’. I can report that the album sounds fantastic and if you can imagine an XTC, Badly Drawn Boy and Robert Wyatt fusion, that’s what you get. It’s thoroughly recommended and downloads & CDs are available on his Bandcamp from 13th May. My remixes will be released later.

 

 

I also completed a little interview thing for The Mu’s Mu Who’s Who podcast (Mu’s Mu = ‘Musician’s Musician’….see?). Well, it was more of a monologue really, where I drone on about my music and the current state of things for a bit, with lots of music interspersed. It was fun to do, so if you’re curious, give it a listen.

 

 

In the not-too-distant future, I’ve got a couple more remixes lined up and my ongoing collaboration with Marie Craven, called Cwtch, will be resurrected.

If you like any of this, why not come and like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.

So there you are. Hope you’re all good. Cheers

 

‘Titan’s Daughters’ ep by Laurence Made Me Cry

Laurence Made Me Cry is Glasgow-based singer/songwriter and illustrator Jo Whitby. With previous releases she created collections of self-confessional songs which tied together elements of folk, electronica and pop. Her 2013 album ‘The Diary Of Me’ was nominated for a Welsh Music Prize award. This month sees the release of her latest venture, the first installment of a series of eps, entitled ‘Titan’s Daughters’, which sees her collaborating with producer Simon Parton and a couple of guest vocalists.

image

Track by track.
‘By The Throat‘, bitter-sweet, is a beautifully evolving, spacious and sensuous ballad. Underneath the clarity and sweetness of contributor Chrissy Barnacle’s voice and the sparkling production lies a dark undercurrent which pervades across the first half of the EP. Parton’s production bubbles and shimmers, punchy yet fluid; economic.

Melete‘, a piano-driven, ethereal song, modulates between a sense of loss and recovery, thematically. Whitby’s vocal, at times a whisper, feels intimate and calm. There’s real depth to these tracks, hewn from personal experience. Like ‘The Diary Of Me‘ (LMMC’s 2013 album), Titan’s Daughters is both a journal and a journey, of events in a life and of finding one’s self which elicits both melancholy and insight. Impressionistic and highly personal, Jo Whitby wears her heart on her sleeve on this collection, and that sincerity is affecting.

The third track, ‘Siren‘ ups the ante, pace and mood-wise. While there are signs of folk song influences with much of LMMC’s output, this song seems more expansive, more cinematic. Simon Parton builds a soundscape which is as much electronic jazz-fusion, in the vein of the Americana of Lyle Mays, as it is ‘folktronica’.

Mneme‘ moves back into the acoustic folk territory on which Whitby cut her teeth. There are hints of ambience and ‘production’, but the majority of the song highlights just the voice of collaborator Rachel Sermanni and Whitby’s guitar; this simplicity acts as an effective counterpoint to the wide electronic soundscapes of the previous tracks.

Speaking of which….’The Muse‘ is an epic, almost anthemic, change of gear. Featuring the voice of Parton himself, Whitby provides call-and-response. There’s a sense that, though this is essentially a Jo Whitby enterprise, each collaborator has contributed vital components, the baubles which hang on the tree of Whitby’s astute and aware songwriting. The closing track, ‘Mneme II‘, is a reprise and epilogue which reminds one of the reflective and daydreamy audio vignettes of Ennio Morricone as well as the whimsy and playfulness of Stereolab.

Whereas Laurence Made Me Cry’s very earliest release was the first paired-down step of a poetic and talented songwriter in possession of a great voice and a guitar; and The Diary Of Me was a more rounded celebration of personal story-telling and artistic collaboration. Titan’s Daughters is a mature development from both of those. A point of arrival, artistically, where Jo Whitby at once both ‘finds’ herself and expresses herself with the help of focused production. This is really good stuff and is highly recommended.

 

Official website: http://laurencemademecry.com
Available as CD & download from 11th April on Bandcamp

Ten Years On: It Could Never Last (.fm)

I’ve rarely felt ‘ahead of the game’ or even on trend when it comes to music and technology. But in 2005, I read an article by John Duncan, writing in the excellent Observer Music Monthly (back when I used to buy actual newspapers….remember them?) extolling the virtues of a wonderful new internet music service. This was at a time when Myspace reigned supreme in the social media landscape and iTunes was a relatively new means of listening to music for most of us. We ‘ripped’ CDs with all the effort and time it took to rip a phonebook in half. Uploaded the music to our tiny new iPod things and away we went.

As all I had was a dial-up connection to the internet, I didn’t join straight away. Music streaming and downloading seemed like a far off dream….a utopian universe where all the music would be at my fingertips all of the time. I read the article with curious interest, but was a little suspicious, nay, afraid, of this new technology. I didn’t really understand it. Was it radio? Was it social networking? Was it an audio archive? Well, actually it turned out to be all those things and more. It was Last.fm.

Last.fm came from the merging of two separate sources: Audioscrobbler and the site Last.fm. Audioscrobbler was the brainchild of Richard Jones, as a computer science project whilst studying at the University of Southampton. It was a multi-platform plugin for iTunes, WMP, etc which collated and charted the user’s digital listening habits.
Last.fm was founded by Felix Miller, Martin Stiksel, Michael Breidenbruecker and Thomas Willomitzer, as an internet radio station and music network. It used similar listeners’ music profiles to generate ever-changing, but related, playlists which were then recommended to other similar listeners. The inclusion of the “love” and “ban” buttons allowed listeners to gradually customise their listening and make new discoveries via other listeners’ recommendations. The more music you loved or banned, the more refined the recommendations became.

After the merger, Audioscrobbler became the tool by which Last.fm was driven. One collected the data, the other interpreted it in fresh and unpredictable ways; recommending similar music which the listener had probably never heard.

As Duncan wrote in his article,

“The really sexy bit is that it compares my tastes to other people’s on the system and gives me the charts and recently played lists of people whose tastes are statistically close to mine. So I visit the page of a person whose tastes are 40 per cent the same as mine and take a look at what makes up the 60 per cent I don’t play myself. There is usually something interesting there.”

(John Duncan, The Observer Music Monthly, 23rd January, 2005)

This was all fine and dandy. However, what really interested me as a musician was the ability of any subscriber (there were free and paid options) to upload their own music for streaming and/or download on the site. This was a very big deal at the time. The music/social networking link that exists today was in its very early infancy at the time. So, imagine being able to get your music on a site alongside Radiohead, The Rolling Stones, Aphex Twin and Kraftwerk, and be treated almost in exactly the same way. Most artists at the time didn’t offer their music for free download, especially ‘established’ artists with a record deal. But there was a whole host of independent/DIY artists who didn’t really care about copyright, didn’t care about licensing (apart from Creative Commons) who were more than happy to offer (albeit low-ish quality) free downloads of their music for public consumption.
And thus, I became one of them. Me and many others who I eventually forged bonds with. Ten years on from joining, I still have ties with those people; I’ve recorded with them, played (a few) gigs with them, remixed them and been remixed, I’ve appeared on their radio shows and on their blogs, I’ve encouraged them and they’ve encouraged me. It means a lot.

This was one of the great strengths of the site. The sense of community and sharing was the most persuasive element for many musicians. As listeners were able to comment directly on tracks, albums and playlists; those comments were often read directly by independent artists (though not by larger mainstream acts whose profiles were maintained by record label PR departments). This became a vital lifeline of communication between artist and listener, and between artist and artist. Also, genre and artist-specific groups sprang up. Another lifeline. Thus, Last.fm became a hub of activity. I formed my longest standing collaborative project with Marie Craven (Pixieguts and Cwtch). I was happy to find like-minded musicians and producers in SK123, Big Block 454, Healey Island, Nita Disaster and Northcape. I gained thousands of listeners as did most of the artists mentioned.

However, there was a disconcerting ill-wind in the form of corporate interference. In 2007, Last.fm was bought by CBS for $280m. It had been, miraculously, an ever-expanding cottage industry. Run by people who cared about their ‘product’, who loved music (and data!) and had nurtured the site to the point where it became unmanageable without a much larger corporate team infrastructure. It was inevitable, I guess. But within months of the buy-out some features changed. First out the door were playlists. A strength of the site was that users could form their own playlists, creating their own customised radio stations (old hat now, but pretty cool at the time). Another was that you could listen to albums in their entirety and sequentially. Now, I guess this may have ruffled a few feathers over at major labels’ legal departments as, potentially, listeners could use other devices or audio software to record the albums in full. But, really, as this was time-consuming in the least and the quality of the streams was 128kbps, most users wouldn’t bother, let alone try to distribute the recordings. It was a great feature for independent artists; to get heard. But was then withdrawn. For me, this was the start of a slippery slope.

Then Amazon, iTunes and Spotify really took off.

Fast-forward to 2014.

“CBS-owned online music service Last.fm made a loss of £2.1m last year, as revenues slumped more than 20% and staff numbers almost halved.
Last.fm, which has made a string of annual losses since being acquired by the US broadcaster in 2007 for $280m, at least managed to cut almost half the £3.94m pre-tax loss notched up in 2012.
Revenues fell 22.8% from £6.38m to £4.92m.
Of this £3.55m came from ad sales and just over £1m from subscriptions, the remainder came from affiliate sales.
UK revenues almost halved (from £1.28m to £693,000); US revenues fell by 22% (£3.6m to £2.8m); rest of world slumped by 60% (£725,655 to £288,859).
“Last.fm competes with other internet [music] providers, broadcast radio and other media providers for advertising spending,” the company said in its latest financial report. “As such, revenue decreased during the year and cost reduction plans continued throughout the year to minimise the impact of the lower revenues”.
Cost of sales almost halved from £5m to £2.78m year on year.
Staff numbers fell from 61 to 35 with the total cost of wages and salaries dropping from £3.7m to £2.75m.
Last.fm has moved to a collaboration model with services
such as Spotify and Vevo, moving away from streaming itself in March this year and killing off its “subscription radio” service.”
(Mark Sweeney, The Guardian 8th October 2014)

I rarely visit Last.fm now. Only occasionally to see if my listening habits are being accurately recorded. More often than not, they are not. Audioscrobbler seems to be a bit glitchy nowadays. Also, the site, which has had a recent-ish revamp and seems to have been in perpetual beta-test mode for about a year, looks terrible. Plain, boring, harder to navigate and lacking the simplicity and interactivity it once had. Artist uploads have been disabled, as have any editing features; the end would seem to be in sight.

As Soundcloud has recently posted massive losses in revenue, resulting in possible liquidation if investors cannot be found; I felt it appropriate to post this now. What alternatives are there? Well, a recent Twitter conversation with Jo Whitby of Laurence Made Me Cry confirmed to me that there is no longer one sole replacement to Soundcloud, nor to Last.fm. Not one that caters to the listeners, the artists, the mainstream, the niche, the majors, the indies, the experimenters, the bedroom boffins and the ‘little guys’ like Last.fm did. End of an era.
See you back at Bandcamp, buddies.

Resolver

Resolutions. I’m not very good at them. It’s not that I don’t want to make them, or stick to them. I just rarely do.
However, if I’m going to make one New Year’s resolution this year, it’s going to be “to make more resolutions.”
This last year has been a trying one: the demands of work, or rather the demands I put on myself at work, have taken their toll. This has paralysed any real creative activity I would normally have engaged in….particularly, music. But also my writing and visual artwork.
A few months ago I stated that I was stopping making music as I was finding it hard devoting time to it and that the ideas weren’t forthcoming. I was a bit hasty, and mistaken. In hindsight, music wasn’t the problem…it was my mindset.
So, I’m learning to manage that and doing it fairly successfully. I’m re-learning to live by the mantra that I always used to live by: Do It Yourself; Make Music For Yourself; Make Time; Stop Worrying.
That perhaps oversimplifies the issue, but those things are clear to me now.

So: Resolutions.
Well, this is what I’m going to aspire to:

  • Make music every day, even if it’s not obviously productive. One hour minimum.
  • Listen to more music by other (unsung) artists.
  • Use social media less; but post more to the blog (yes, I’ve been very remiss with this, this year).
  • These things are vital, as they will have a wider effect on your life. Without creativity, what is there to do?

So, with this in mind, I’m going to release another album around Springtime, April or May perhaps.
I have a title, “Zero Year Zero” and a few ideas. I’ve stuck a couple of provisional tracks on Soundcloud, but that’s not to say they’ll make the cut.

And here’s some music by others which I think you should hear:

SNIPPET

PULCO

LAURENCE MADE ME CRY

Ok, I’m off to record some music.

Have a very happy 2016.