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….

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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.

 

 

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.

Another Review of ‘El Lissitzky’

Here’s a review of the album, posted by musician and all-round goodfellow, Ian Thistlethwaite. There are a lot of comparisons made, many of which made me blush with pleasing embarrassment. A very nice review and one which sums-up a lot of what I’m about.

“…part way through any one track, things will change utterly, and, like in dreams, they may not make sense when you tell people back, but they make absolutely perfect sense as they progress at the time.”

You can read it HERE.

 

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…..

9 Days To Go…..and A Bandcamp Appreciation

Hello. At the risk of repeating myself repeating myself, there are just 9 days to go until the new album’s released unto the world. I’ve been fooling around with Bandcamp download codes, mainly just to see if, and how, they work. First reports have been generally “OK”. As my albums are pay-what-you-want with no minimum price (ie: free, if you want), the idea of a ‘free’ download code is a bit redundant. But it’s a useful feature for sending out preview copies of the music, instead of using a file-sharing site….and it keeps everything ‘in house’, within Bandcamp. Musicians, it really is an awesome site. In fact, the only thing it lacks is the ability to send mailouts through the site (as the rather ‘clunky’ Reverbnation interface allows you to do for free….it’s the only reason I use the site).

Again, repeating myself, but if you’ve received a download code, or if you download the album after the release date (18th June, remember! At http://demento13.com) and you like it, please please share/tweet/torrent it. Your support is more than appreciated, as usual.

Here are some links to videos/previews/etc….. am not going to embed them here, as I have done so already in previous posts and it makes this page slow to load.

Videos on Youtube

Previews at Amazing Tunes and Soundcloud

Just for the uninitiated, what I do is make electronic music. It isn’t earth-shattering or revolutionary. It’s mainly just nice tunes, some odd sounds and some beats. I call it ‘electronic post-rock’, but you can call it whatever you like. The new album is a mix of mildly dubsteppy tracks, some droney bits, a bit of ‘singing’ and some use of guitars. If you were going to compare it to ‘established’ music, I’d say it’s possibly a bit like Luke Vibert/Wagon Christ, Stereolab and early New Order, all mixed up.

Run For Cover……

A couple of years back I recorded a series of themes and incidental music for the web serial “Doomwatch” which is based on the classic BBC sci-fi series of the same name. The incidental music was basically a collection of short passages, influenced by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, consisting of noise or repetitions of the main theme’s motif. As for the theme itself, I wanted to try to echo the dramatic, slightly melancholy music of composers such as Roy Budd and Ron Grainer. So I put together a series of similar themes of varying lengths with different instrumentation for each. Here’s my original main theme:

Anyway, a relatively new musical aquaintance, Ian Thistlethwaite, has produced a rather cool cover version of the track. Not only is it in keeping with the original mood, but it’s been revoiced for guitar and sounds bloody great! It’s great to have your music covered by someone who understands what it’s about…here it is:

Ennui? Oui…

Hello again. It’s great liking music, isn’t it? I certainly do like the sounds made by some of our very best popular beat combos, especially those managed by Simon Cowell. Bands such as ‘The Cockers’ and solo artists like Cynthia Razzle and her hit “Razzle Vajazzle”. Hope you like it too.

As you can tell, I’m a tad bored. Well, not exactly bored as such. I’m actually quite active mentally and, sort of, creatively. The fact is that I’m listening to lots of old and new music, trying to get some inspiration for new tracks. Influence, inspiration, whatever. I’ve hit a bit of a wall for the time being. Apart from loads of loops I’ve made and uploaded for people to use (On Soundcloud) and a few experiments, I’ve not really made anything new. This will change, of course; and I do acknowledge that the playing about with loops and ‘experiments’ is exactly what will lead me to making new tracks.

What I do take solace from is that I have a small but loyal and supportive fan-base (far better and nicer than a ‘large but casual and fairly apathetic’ fan-base) who are willing to listen to and share my music because they like it.

After a fairly decent first response to the ‘Crash St’ album, the downloads have (inevitably) tailed-off for the time being. It’s difficult to pique people’s interest in a release they’ve never heard, from an artist they’ve never heard of, promotion not being my strong point. In fact, if I keep tweeting/posting about the album ad infinitum, people are going to get pissed-off (if they’re not already). So, the promotion of the album lies with listeners sharing and word-of-mouth. Some of you have been excellent at doing that already; many thanks for that.

All I can ask is that you keep tweeting/posting/sharing/torrenting and encourage other people to do the same. Also, I have embeddable players on Bandcamp and Soundcloud which I’d love you to include in blogs, etc if you can.

For instance:

As per usual, many, many thanks for all you do….including reading this blog!

Cheers, Paul 🙂