Summary Of New Stuff

Welcome to Winter and a happy new year. As I only seem to be sporadically updating the blog nowadays, it means, when there is news of new releases, there is a lot to report. So, besides the November release of the album, ‘Broxen‘, I’ve been very busy working on quite a few remixes and collaborations since last time I posted. Broxen has had some really positive reviews and airplay on BBC Radio a few times; which is a buzz that never leaves you, as an independent musician with no PR as such. So, many thanks to Adam Walton and Tom Robinson for playing my stuff on their shows, it means a lot.

Also, as ever, Mark Whitby and Pete Jackson of Dandelion Radio have been really supportive and playing tracks from the album. Both of them have invited me to do a live session for their respective February and March shows, which will be aired on rotation throughout those months.

In December, I recorded a spoken-word track with Equinox, featuring his words and voice and my music. It’s one of several collaborations between Equinox and various artists. The album, ‘It’s Hard To Be Happy When Your Head Is Full Of Sin’ (release date tba) will be a cracker, I’m sure.

The other major news is that my collaboration with Marie Craven has recommenced with the mini-album ‘Chasing Headlights‘. I’d really like you to hear this. Marie and myself have worked together for about 8 years, this time with poet James Brush, who provided the  words.

So, back to Broxen…… here are excerpts from a great review by Louder Than War.

“An artist that is continually evolving, Broxen brings forwards tracks of increased maturity and addiction. Influences from krautrock are obvious and the occasional oddness only helps to ensure that the Wales based Wiganer doesn’t fit into any shaped box……

Call it lo-fi, call it D.I.Y., call it whatever you will but Broxen is a fine collection of mixed beats, styles and ideas from a man not prepared to stand still and spread his electro wings. With further collaborations from Rob Halcrow (Picturebox), Manfred Hamil (The Shed Collective) and Colin Robinson (Big Block 454, Jumble Hole Clough) included together with a fine appearance from Squarepusher on album closer MIDI Sans Frontieres, this is an album that has already received widespread acclaim and reaction.”

And finally, video-maker MD/Shoots has produced some great trippy visuals for ‘No Maps’. Please do check out his other work also.

 

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Fate(al) Memory Loss

I’m not a believer in fate. “Fate” denotes that we concede control over our lives, that “whatever will be, will be”, that we cannot accept responsibility as the responsibility is not ours. So, if I was a believer in fate, I would believe that the fact that my synthesisers have decided to lose every track I’ve recorded for the next album recently is actually a strange quirk of chance. I’m not and I don’t.

The fact is that I think when loading a new set of tracks and sounds on two of my little boxes, I think I’ve inadvertently saved the previous tracks and sounds to a new file, which I cannot now find. The intricacies of digital memory and idiosyncratic hardware are sometimes beyond me. Several words spring to mind….all of which consist of asterisks.

Luckily, I had recorded the music, as in audio, as rough mixes. So at least I still have the audio. Reconstructing the tracks will be a right old ball-ache for sure.

The other thing “fate”, as a concept, is good for is seeing the positive side: “It was meant to be, see it as a new beginning. Fate has handed you a new opportunity, etc.” Well, despite being relatively upbeat about it, I don’t think it’s a positive, I assure you.

Maybe I should go buy a ukulele, it wouldn’t hide my music away in some corner. That’s the trouble with technology.

So, 2015; what will it be all about. Well, pretty much the same as 2014 in that I’ll be trying to re-record the aforementioned tracks, refining and improving as I go. The tracks I’ve sent my collaborators can still be used, but they may sound a bit different when they come out ‘the other end’ of the production process. That would’ve probably happened anyway, to be honest. On my last album, ‘VTOL’, an album of many collaborations, one or two tracks started as one thing, went off to collaborators and when they came back it was obvious my music hadn’t done the collaborator’s contributions justice. So, I re-structured the tracks from the ground up (i.e. a complete re-write) to fit the other musician’s input.

Anyway, the goal for 2015, in the short term, is to finish the album by the Spring. It may take longer.

In other news, Marie Craven has been making some lovely montage videos to accompany readings of poetry which, in several cases has included snippets of my music as a backing. In the absence of WordPress embeds on Vimeo, here’s a link to the latest http://vimeo.com/115796426

While visiting family over the Christmas break, I found myself recording one afternoon using my trusty OP-1 (I take it virtually everywhere with me; well, you never know when you’ll get the urge!)

op1-1_3225

This is what I came up with. A glitchy, unquantized, free-form ad-hoc cut-up slice of beatiness. It’s free if you want it to download. Loose loops and riffs recorded on a virtual 4-track tape recorder with all the timing idiosyncrasies, mistakes and human-ness included. The vocal snips were recorded on the OP-1’s built-in FM radio (yeah!) and then mapped to the keyboard, arpeggiated and played on the fly. I like it anyway….

So, that’s all for now. Enjoy the remnants of your cake.

Imperial Decimal (2.00)

All albums are experiments. Even if the musician has just churned out the same old stuff as last time, it’s an experiment in sameness.

But, I always try to do something a bit different than the previous album. Not stylistically, though that sometimes happens. But in the way it’s sold or marketed also.

Anyway, the new album costs a minimum of £2. Is it ‘working’ as an experiment? Well, it’s way too early to tell. The number of downloads are lower than on previous first days, but that won’t tell us anything. It’s only natural that people will download it in more numbers if it’s free music… they’re possibly also more likely to like it!

Anyway, there have been quite a few downloads and that really encourages me. Thank you, people. The album is an experiment, also, as I’ve gone down a less confrontational, rocky road. All I’ll say is, if you do like it, please, please tell other folks and say why you like it. If you do decide to buy it, many thanks in advance.

Here’s the album which Tom Robinson liked enough to play an excerpt from on his mixtape BBC show and one reviewer has said:

“Imperial Decimal” is yet another absorbing collection of compositions and sound sculptures which suggest both the interests and influences of Dementio13.  And one which may, hopefully, encourage the casual listener to follow the lead.” (John Toolan – Music To Wash Up By blog)

Some listeners have said it’s my best work yet…..which pleased me, lots.

Here are some photos from yesterday’s Laurence Made Me Cry gig at Tintern Abbey (lovely place for a gig) in glorious sunshine. I’m on the right.

Tintern Abbey

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photo

Thanks to Rhys Anslow and Basil (Basdriver De Erste) for the pics.

Live on Mixlr (and a bit of ‘geeking-out’)

As you possibly know, I’ve been considering playing some of my stuff live in order to give me (and hopefully, listeners) a new perspective on my music and to promote my tunes a bit more. I also said that I was going to document the process, as I learn and/or make mistakes….so here it is (be warned: this post contains some really mundane info about my…ahem…’equipment’). I’m not sure I’m any closer to actually taking my stuff out to venues yet, but I have, at least, found a way to play my music as a performance.

I’ve recently spent a few days trying to work out some practicalities: how to recreate sequenced parts (about 80% of the music) for instance; without just sitting there and pressing ‘play’. Ableton Live is now my chosen method of recording and, as its name suggests, it is equally adept at facilitating some forms of live performance. That was its whole selling-point back in the day. Another issue was how to route the computer and the live instrumentation (such as Monotrons, my synth and bass guitar) in order to use the multiple effects my tracks rely on whilst being able to retain ‘hands-on’ control for live tweaking. Then there was the issue of streaming the audio to Mixlr.com.

Well I seem to have worked it out. The more technical adept amongst you would probably have a solution to all of this instantly. It took me a bit longer. Two days of re-arranging, trying-out and occasional frustration. But the set-up is now complete, I think. Well, except for a decent clip controller such as the Launchpad (I bought an app for the iPad which purportedly does the same, but its reliability is really erratic….not exactly what you want for a live situation). Anyway, I can’t afford to spend anything at the moment, so the Launchpad will have to wait.

So, this is the primitive and Heath-Robinson-style set-up:

  • iMac running Live (if I ever need to do a gig, I’ll use the MacBook instead, but for streaming from home, I need the laptop to connect to Mixlr at the moment). With clips triggered manually on the fly.
  • Keyboard controller connected to iMac.
  • Monotrons chained together.
  • Alesis Fusion as a stand-alone synth/sampler and for some sequencing duties.
  • Bass guitars fed through the mixer.
  • Multi-fx connected to the mixer’s sends.
  • iPad for Korg MS20 sounds.

All of this is fed through my tiny Behringer mixer and then routed into the Macbook via a Tascam i/o interface. The only issue I’ve encountered is a bit of interference from the Mac (or it could be my wireless router) when using the multi-fx.

So, this gives me the means to use Live and to tweak effects settings/clips and the mix using the mouse (at the moment, though I’ll use the controllers when I get the Launchpad or similar). There’s probably easier, more straight-forward ways of doing this, but it works for me.
This is what it all looks like at present:

The mixer is full to capacity! But this layout does make it easy to twiddle, tweak and play everything from the same spot (while maintaining a degree of tidiness!).

As for Mixlr….I recommend it. At first it seemed a little bit awkward to stream using their dedicated free software (you have to download this if you wish to broadcast. It didn’t display correctly and I couldn’t make head nor tail of it. Then I realised I had some system fonts missing on my computer. Once I’d installed these, the text appeared correctly and it was easy. Not exactly rocket-science….or even GCSE Science…..but it challenged me! The site itself looks very slick and I get the impression there’s quite a bit of beta testing going on, but it works ok. It’d be nice to have more of my networking friends on there, but I hope that’ll come in time.

So, the plan is to present a series of hour-long ‘gigs’ on Mixlr with a different tracklist from my albums for each gig, also some cover versions of my favourite music and anything else I fancy doing…..synthy improv (‘Symprov?’), noise, radiophonic-style stuff, that kind of thing. I am sincerely hoping people tune-in to listen, or I’m gonna feel like a complete dick.

I did a little test (three tracks) which you can listen to HERE. A few mistakes, a bit of sound-balancing needed; but I’m quite happy with the sound quality in general.

 

 

Music About Everything…And Nothing

OK, I’m about to take a break (with this post, at least) from going on about my new release and post one of those ill-informed, hypothetical, contradictory, rhetorical missives which I’m so good at (!).

For some time now, I’ve been a little aggrieved at having some of my music described as ‘Ambient’ by others, purely on the basis that ‘it’s a bit quiet’ or beatless. I’ve also been guilty in the past of labeling it so when ‘tagging’ my music on websites, or when describing it to others. Not so, any more.

As you may, or may not have realised by now, one of my preoccupations is with the idea of genre. In fact, most of my music tries to question the whole notion of genre, either directly or indirectly; it makes it its theme. Whether it succeeds is questionable, but that’s irrelevant for now.

Let me just put this into some form of context, from a personal point-of-view. Our idea of genre in music helps us delineate music so that we have some idea what to expect when we purchase or listen to it. In fact, it forms our expectations. Many genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres have developed over the past 10 years or so; mainly formed by artists and listeners who have labelled their music in order to personalise it or make it stand out from the ever-growing mass of music we now have access to via digital media.

Now, this could be seen as an overridingly positive thing…..let’s face it, musical language grows and develops just as spoken language does…..the more words we invent to describe things, the more those things get described. However, with this development comes an inherent redundancy. A ‘built-in obsolescence’, if you will. The more words we invent, the more we use, the less meaning they convey. They just become another noise we make and what seems contemporary and meaningful today can become passe and meaningless tomorrow.

Strictly ‘Ambient’ music is a case in point. It often is described as functional; in helping us contemplate, meditate and imagine. Or, in some cases, it acts as a reflector of the physical world around us, using found sounds and collage to generate a ‘picture’. If we’re to get into the whole ‘Death Of The Author’ thing, we are to assume that the listener will generate meaning by listening to the music, bringing his/her past history/tastes/associations/etc into the process. The author has little control over how the music is perceived…intention is irrelevant.

The problem with this is that the producer of the music is taking several things for granted. The main assumption being that the music has little or no universal meaning, it operates on a specific, individual level. However, one can also assume that, in producing music which mimics the physical world or acts as a meditative conduit, the listener is passive. This being the case….where does the meaning actually exist? Both assumptions suggest that meaning, if any, is produced unconsciously.

My issue is this (and we are talking on a purely personal level here, it’s just my opinion folks): I constantly see the effects of passive consumption of art and culture in the schools I teach in….both on students and staff. I do get ‘a bit upset’ by the way we are knowingly pacified by TV, pop music, celebrity, cod-spirituality and the way the visual arts have become obsessed with the ephemeral. And I do tend (however unreasonably) to see a correlation between music described as ‘Ambient’ and this passivity. That’s why I don’t like my music being described as Ambient. Art doesn’t always have to be ‘deep and meaningful’; however, it does need to leave an imprint. As artists/producers/authors, we should always be mindful of that…it should never be about ‘nothing’. Have an intention in your art, not just an intention to make sound; but for it to mean something.

Can of worms duly opened….

February Mailout – ‘Crash St’ Imminent

Hello again. This is just a reminder to tell you that my new album ‘Crash St’ is available from Thursday 1st March (ie. next Thursday) at http://dementio13.com . I’m really pleased with it and hope you can share in the music.

It’s a pay-what-you-want download, with no minimum price, so you could have it for free. All I ask is that, if you decide to download it and like it, please share links on Twitter and/or Facebook; your recommendations help it reach a wider audience.

Bloggers/DJs have been very complimentary in their reviews:

“…electronic, programmed machine music, bursting at the seams with humanity and soul, imprinted with the traces of its creator…….Dementio13 has mastered the art of creating human music, organic music that breathes, while capitalising on the power and impact of the machine.” (Jan 26, 2012)
Oliver Arditi – oliverarditi.com

Full review at oliverarditi.com/2012/01/26/dementio-13-crash-st

“…his forthcoming Crash St album reveals him to be still moving forward in invigorating and never predictable directions, his exploratory electronica more varied in texture and mood than pretty much any of his contemporaries.” (Jan 31 2012)
Unwashed Territories – unwashedterritories.blogspot.com

Also, there’s a free album of my older stuff over at http://cutmatrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/alt-delete, so help yourself. You don’t even need to join a mailing list to download….no strings.

CRASH ST. PREVIEW:

Thanks,

Paul”

Free Compilation

Just one more thing before the weekend finishes. As a pre-new-album-release extra, here’s a collection of some previously deleted tracks (mostly off the now-gone albums ‘Shatterbrain’ and ‘Rebop’) which I’ve put together with a few unreleased tracks, including my entry into the Warp/Bleep song competition last year, “Trampoline”. Help yourself, it’s all free with no strings….

Preview: ‘Crash St’ Album Mix on Mixcloud

Here’s a preview of the new album as a single mix – ‘Crash St’ Album Mix Cloudcast on Mixcloud.

Vodpod videos no longer available.