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!)

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

A Glance Backwards…

As is customary at this time of year, one tends to evaluate, reminisce and review the past twelve months. It’s a pre-requisite for the act of moving forward; hence the tradition of getting all misty eyed about the previous year and then making resolutions about the coming year: I’m going to lose weight; I’m going to work harder/less; I’m going to be more understanding in a relationship; I’m going to devote more time to family & friends; etc.

Well, I’m no exception. I’ve got quite a bit to look back on, musically, from the past year; and I’ve got a fair bit to look forward to.

So, besides the Olympics, economic decline and the impending apocalypse; what happened for Dementio13 in 2012?

I released two albums, both of which I’m very proud of, for a start: “Crash St.” in March and “El Lissitzky” in June were released fairly soon after one another, but had been in the recording and pre-production stage for around six months previously. They were the culmination of everything I’ve done musically during the past 10 years and so, I feel, they were my best work to date. My music’s not to everyone’s taste; some think it’s too diverse, some think it’s not tough/experimental enough, some think it’s too gentle and that’s their prerogative. However, I attempt to find a balance between tunefulness and experimentalism when I record….that’s where I’m at. With these two releases, I tried to do that as well as paying homage to all the music I like and know by the artists that formed my musical tastes. ‘El Lissitzky’ was as much about Factory Records as it was about Russian Constructivism. Here’s my favourite track from ‘Crash St.’:

2012 was also a time to discover new music; by both ‘established’ artists and DIY independents. Suffice to say, that’s a distinction which is fairly irrelevant, as the quality of both categories is indistinguishable from one another. My shortlist (if I was compiling such a thing) would certainly include Matt Stevens and his band The Fierce And The Dead. ‘Guitar heroics’ is a term often used to describe viking-like rock posturing; however, Stevens plays with fluent, sometimes humorous, invention with a knowing wink to rock’s slightly absurdist past. There are also lots of great references to film music and multiple genres which lift this music above rock self-reverence. Another candidate for my fave music of the year must certainly be Colin Robinson of Big Block 454, Churn Milk Joan and Jumble Hole Clough. The latter of these three projects show him to be a masterful exponent of restraint (especially compared to the wonderful Dadaist energy of BB454), creating atmospheres and spaces rather than grooves and noise. Lastly in this short shortlist would be Steve Kelly (aka the now defunkt SK123) in his guises as Macerator and Douglas Deep. Electronic music is a splintered affair…….the sonic possibilities offered by technology often can lead to too many options for the musician. Therefore, it’s often necessary to invent multiple personas to delineate between the stylistic differences of one’s output, as Kelly has done. He employs as much skill in his use of computers, controllers and his sound-palette as the previously mentioned artists do with guitars and effects. Beats are his ouevre, though he is deft at creating atmosphere as well. His music is invigorating, inventive and vastly underrated. All three of these artists have released quality music this year and they’ve also proven to be jolly fine people as I’ve either met, or conversed with them; they’ve also been great supporters of independent music; I can’t recommend them enough.

There are also a handful of people deserving of thanks for their continued support of my own music. The writer and musician Oli Arditi has reviewed and promoted my main releases this year as both Dementio13 and Cwtch. His writing style is rare in that it explores cultural theory in an extremely wordy and eloquent way while conveying a sense of enthusiasm and non-elitism. As music blogs go, it’s as much a lesson in context and structure as it is a review of music; and makes for a refreshing and informative read. Arditi does not treat us as idiots and rather than ‘dumbing down’, he ‘clevers up’! I am now a regular reader of his blog as I know that, even if I have no intention of listening to the music he is writing about, it will always make for an interesting read. Then there’s Dandelion Radio…..what these guys (particularly Mark Whitby and Pete Jackson) have done for my music is immeasurable. In playing to a large and loyal listener-base, Dandelion have helped promote and disseminate independent/DIY music further than any artist on a tight budget could do so. In February and April, I performed two live mixes for Mark and Pete respectively.

Right, I think that covers most bases for now……apologies if I’ve missed you out but time is fairly short and this could turn into quite a tome if I were to mention everyone who has supported my efforts (and there are many of you). I’m adding the finishing touches to Laurence Made Me Cry‘s album mix today. Then I’m off to post it to Jo (who’s been patiently waiting for ages for me to get it ‘right’!). Her album’s out on 11th March 2013 and is thoroughly recommended…I should know as I’m now very familiar with these tracks!

Have a great Christmas and I’ll see you on the other side….

“Knives Out”, Fiercely and Hoarse

Knifeworld, The Fierce & The Dead and Trojan Horse. See? ‘Stabbing A Dead Horse’. Anyway, these three bands have embarked on a UK tour. To be honest, I don’t know much about the other two bands, but I can thoroughly recommend TFATD…… thoughtful, raucous, fluent, sometimes rawk-laden, sometimes cinematic, guitars to the fore….very good stuff. I’ll be at the Cardiff gig, so I’ll let you buy me a pint if you’re there.

Anyway, they’ve enlisted the help of former snooker world-champion, latter-day DJ and prog-rock fan, Steve Davis who has put together a little promo video for the tour. A coup, I calls it.

Music, Sand and Exotic Fruit

Sunday morning…… nice. Sunshine….nicer. However, some prick has dumped a smashed pineapple (from someone’s trash by the looks of it) all over my front garden; which isn’t so nice, as I have to clean it up.

Aaanyway, this is going to be one of those posts where I repeat myself repeat myself from some previous posts, so apologies if this all sounds vaguely familiar.

First off, I just want to share some music which I’ve been enjoying for a few years now; which you might not be aware of. But, if you like the kind of music I like (and surely, if you read this regularly, you know what that music is), I am sure you’ll love Sand. Their two albums “Still Born Alive” and “The Dalston Shroud” have been on very heavy rotation on my iPod.

From the excellent Soul Jazz Records site:

“Influenced by the New York Art/Punk scene of Sonic Youth, The Swans, Liquid Liquid, this is the group’s follow up to “Still Born Alive” (Soul Jazz Records, 2003) and ‘Beautiful People are Evil’ (Soul Jazz Records, 2001). This new album brings in a number of guest vocalists – Norwegian experimantalist artist/singer Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje as well as Austrian cabaret singer Louie Austen (Kitty Yo Records) who provides a chilling vocal on the Patrick Pulsinger produced “Doctor Crop”. Sand have performed onstage accompanied by cows and sheep for the Japanese Ballet troupe Karas. They have also performed at the Vienna Opera House alongside techno guru Patrick Pulsinger In 2005 they composed and performed a new soundtrack to the Tarkovsky film “Stalker” at the ICA as well as toured cinemas with a series of specially comissioned work from video artists. This new album (“The Dalston Shroud”) was recorded in Paris, Tokyo, Vienna and York in 2006.”

This is seriously good music, going beyond ‘spanning genres’; it includes elements of punk, funk, avant-garde experimentalism, no-wave stylings, the harder end of contemporary jazz, dubstep, krautrock and electro. Noise and groove often collide in Sand’s aural universe; as does drama and beauty. Go check them out.

Incidentally, their label-mates on Soul Jazz, Heavy Q Connection and Lucha Libra are also well worth investigating.

Next, I’m eagerly awaiting audio files from Laurence Made Me Cry so I can get started mixing the songs for her new album in a week or two. This is exciting stuff for me, especially as, for once, I’m working on someone else’s music as a co-producer. What I’ve heard so far sounds lovely. And here, once again, is my contribution to the album (apart from as a producer) on the song ‘Intelligent Mr Toad’ (version 2):

The track seems to be going down well, getting airplay on Adam Walton’s BBC Wales show and Tom Robinson’s BBC6Music show, as well as on a few podcasts and Amazing Radio.

U to the P to the D to…….Screw that, it’s An Update, OK?

Hello.

Well, Summer is segueing into Autumn quite smoothly in the UK. Just as I returned to work, the weather took an (expected) turn for the better in September and so I am typing this with sunshine streaming through my windows and a gentle chill-wind blowing down my flue. The transition from having six weeks of leisure time to a solid 9 to 5 (actually 8 to 7 most days) is never easy, but has been less fraught than expected.

But enough about the ‘day-to-day’; what interesting stuff has been happening? Well, I’ve recorded a little ditty with Laurence Made Me Cry (Cardiff-based renaissance woman, Jo Whitby) entitled “Intelligent Mr Toad”. Two versions exist: v1 will appear on her pending new album. The second version is a little taster of what’s to come and is available as a free download on Soundcloud and Amazing Tunes.

I’m also performing at her album’s release event at 10 Feet Tall in Cardiff (tbc). This is something which fills me with terror, incidentally; but I’ve been wanting to get the music out there in a live environment for ages, so it must be done. Besides, it’s Jo’s gig, so the focus won’t be on me, which is cool! In preparation, I’m going to do some live streaming ‘gigs’ on Mixlr.com, once I’ve got a set together. Am thinking of dropping the name Dementio13 for something more representative, ‘Old Guy With A Laptop’ perhaps. (Not really, just dropped that in for comic effect).

Ideas are brewing for a new album, but this will only come to fruition in the Spring/Summer of 2013 I think.

Also, as you possibly read in one of my previous posts, I’m loving the work of former SK123 originator, Douglas Deep. His new album is sublime (which is not to say it is not as good as lime. I think you could probably make a great Moscow Mule with his music).

And now, a bit of self-promotion. My album ‘El Lissitzky’ seems to be doing ok; though, as is often the case, sales and downloads have tailed off a bit (it has been out for about 4 months, mind). But it’s managed to get plenty of airplay, particularly on Amazing Radio (who have also been playing a fair bit of my alter-ego, The Reasonable People‘s music too) and Croydon Radio (dunno why Croydon in particular, but it’s much appreciated anyway). Anyway, if you like electronic music which isn’t quite dance music, isn’t quite Über-experimental noise, isn’t quite post-rock and isn’t quite ambient; but is somewhere in-between all of those things; please do check the album out. If you buy it, you’ll be partly paying for an Akai APC40, which I think I’m going to need for future projects (especially live stuff)….this is the equivalent of Harry Palmer’s infra-red grill for me (you need to be conversant with the film, “The Ipcress File” to know what the fuck I’m talking about here!).

Anyway, some rather nice Ardennes Pate with apple is calling me from the kitchen, so I’m going to stop here.

Thanks for listening/reading/watching and wearing.

New track with Laurence Made Me Cry

Laurence Made Me Cry is the nom de plume of Cardiff-based songwriter/illustrator/blogger, Jo Whitby. Her debut EP, the rather lovely ‘Rain Song EP’, is an emotive and intimate collecton of folk-inflected songs and has had some rotation (of the hard-disk, that is) in Dementio Towers in recent months. So it was with great pleasure that I accepted her offer to record a track for her next album (to be released early in 2013).

As it turned out, I ended up recording two quite different versions of the same song (I just can’t help myself at times!). So, as a taster for the new album, “The Diary Of Me”; here’s a free download of the second version of our song (the first will be included on the album):