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.

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.

No News Is Good News….Right?

As the days are getting shorter, the daylight greyer, the rain colder and the workload greater, there’s been little musical activity over here at Dementio Towers lately. Apart from the ongoing mixing of Laurence Made Me Cry‘s lovely album….which should be finished in a week or so, I reckon.

I have, however, been struck by some musical ideas of my own and I can safely say that I’m going to start recording new material in the new year. I’m hoping to release an album in the spring/summertime. I’ve no idea what it’s going to sound like, but as I strive to make each release sound a bit different from the last, I can estimate that there may be a ‘change of direction’.

Apart from LMMC, there is some rather cool stuff coming from other musicians however. One of which is an intriguing project entitled Contranym. The ‘band’ comprises Terry Bergin (FK:Dup), Ian Thistlethwaite and Gem Witchalls (Tangerine Puppet). Their debut ep, ‘Aloha’ displays a confident grasp of musicianship and production in the merging of several, seemingly divergent, genres: electronica (particularly dubstep); folk-pop and traditional reels. This kind of fusion isn’t normally my thing, to be honest, but I’ve been seduced by it’s inventive production, infectious tunes and sheer energy. Good stuff and worth a purchase.

Also of note is Colin Robinson’s (Big Block 454 / Churn Milk Joan) very different solo project Jumble Hole Clough. Lovely guitar-led atmospheres and (again) inventive sound-scaping make the album ‘Three Bags Of Madder’. It’s an evocative mix and quite different from the brilliant odd psychedelic rock/electronics of BB454. Another recommendation.

I also recommend that you actually buy these releases as, though these musicians are by no means impoverished, funding from sales helps to finance future releases, enabling more ambitious projects. For a few quid (a couple of Costa coffees!) you can show your support for the artists as well as get that lovely warm tingle of satisfaction that you’re not pandering to the corporate Godzillas.

Finally, it’s getting towards Christmas and that means it’s ‘Festive Fifty’ time over at Dandelion Radio. For the uninitiated, Dandelion is an independent radio station set up to continue the ethos of the great John Peel’s long-running BBC music show. Many 30 to 70-somethings will have fond memories of staying up late as teenagers to clandestinely listen to JP play the obscure, weird, revolutionary and staunchly independent music of the likes of Half Man Half Biscuit, The Fall, Joy Division and thousands of bands long forgotten. It was reactionary and educational as well as downright fun. His Xmas ‘Festive 50’ chart, voted for by listeners, was the highlight of the yuletide festivities for many. And so, Dandelion have been trust-keepers of the FF since JP’s death. You can pop over to their site and vote for your top three releases of 2012….they don’t need to have been played on Dandelion; but bare in mind that it’s a dead cert that One Direction won’t be appearing on the list!

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.

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):

Cwtch – “Silver” EP nothing to do with global sports shock!

Hello,

As you may well know, when I’m not recording as Dementio13, teaching as ‘Sir’, or moaning/ruminating as Paul The Miserable Bastard, I’m recording as Cwtch with my  talented antipodean collaborator Marie Craven. We’ve been really quite busy over the past few months, what with new solo releases and (in Marie’s case) preparing/rehearsing live projects. But we always find time to make some new stuff as Cwtch.

Well here is our latest offering, released to no particular fanfare, with no big promotional ‘build-up’. What can I say about it? Well, we’ve made music which we want to hear. We’ve made the music despite a distance of thousands of miles between us. We’ve taken the best bits of what we do as solo musicians and thrown them into the blender. 5 songs which call to mind music past and present, mainstream and niche.

I hope you can share in this music….and, of course, if you like what you hear, share it with others….. we kinda rely on that.

SILVER

Please enjoy.

Time & Technique

I’m back at it, then. The day-job’s still a bit manic at the moment, but I’m managing to wedge in some serious music-making and ‘production’ as well. Still, I’ll soon have a full six weeks away from work when I can rejoin the human race!

So, hot on the heels of the ‘El Lissitzky’ release is a much welcome return to the world of Cwtch. Just when I was starting to get those post-album “what next?” pangs; Marie floats some lovely vocals over to me with the remit of ‘doing something with them’. And so I have.

Only it wasn’t quite as straight-forward as that. Which is no bad thing. Marie and I have always worked in quite a disconnected way: she sends me vocal lines, I play around with them, usually working very quickly, then send the (almost) complete track back to her for final opinions/late ideas. It’s normally done and dusted quickly and efficiently (that makes it sound like a cold, calculated process….it’s actually anything but that!). Also, when you receive a gift of vocals of such quality, beauty and personal investment; there’s a pressure to do them justice.

Anyway, as I’m tending to be much more reflective and evaluative when I’m recording nowadays, the process with Marie has slowed down a bit. We’ve been to-ing and fro-ing with emails and files all week. I’ve been tweaking and refining, while Marie’s been re-recording passages and revising the order of things.

This is the nature of working with someone 10,000 miles away. Incredible to think it, really. Ten…. thousand….. miles. Were we in the same room, recording; we would no doubt discuss and revise on the spot. But that’s impossible in the case of Cwtch.

Aaaanyway, enough of me eulogizing in wonderment at advances in network technology, what about the track? Well, it’ll probably be the first of several tracks, which may make up an EP. Which may or may not be released before the end of summer. That is for certain…or maybe it’s not. Glad we’ve got that cleared up, then.

I’ll post a preview on Soundcloud as soon as we’ve finalised it. In the meantime, here’s our most recent release (a year ago).

Tank Yew

Hello electro-beings. I’m trying to unwind my head from a manic period of work by listening to Kraftwerk’s ‘Tanzmusik’. It is, indeed, bloody lovely: driving, melodic, whimsical, ethereal…

Anyway, it dawned on me that it was only just over a week since I released ‘El Lissitzky’, my 6th album (or, to be more correct, my twelfth album….but one I haven’t deleted!). It seems like it’s always been around, not just sitting on Bandcamp for nine days. Anyway, in those nine days, people have been downloading, tweeting, sharing, blogging about and reviewing it; just as I’d hoped. So, thank you loads, people. You are the glue that holds this independent/DIY music thing together.

I’d also like to thank a few broadcasters who have supported the music and, particularly, played tracks off the album on their shows. These include Mark Ryan at Amazing Radio and Pete Jackson at Dandelion Radio…..both stations championing new, emerging music and I thoroughly recommend them.

Also, whoever has put my music on torrent sites or free download sites……thanks. My music seems to be cropping-up in all sorts of places.

So, what’s next? Well, never one to sit about on my arse, I’ve been busy working on music for my renewed collaboration with Marie Craven, known as Cwtch. At the risk of alerting the self-congratulation police, I am really liking the sound of the new track in progress. Well, I would wouldn’t I? That’s why I make music….to hear music I actually like!!!

The new Cwtch stuff will be available whenever it’s ‘finished’. Early days yet….

Love and Cheetos to you all…..