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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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!

Douglas Deep – “&U” – New Album

If you actually do read my various missives/rants/acts of self-promotion (have you got nothing better to do?!), you’ll be aware that I have a liking for the music of SK123. His stuff has appeared in various playlists/mixtapes and posts of mine, not just out of solidarity for a fellow DIY music traveller (which is sometimes the case with me, I’m afraid), but because I actually like his music. Take a smattering of virtually every electronic music genre since the early 90s you can think of, add a pinch of eclecticism, throw in some dark atmospheres and eery soundtrack motifs and then layer with club-friendly and varied beats…..that pretty much sums it up. I gave up on ‘dance music’ quite some time ago; but SK123’s music is “dance music+”. So often the term IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) is bandied around, but basically it means nothing. In SK123’s case, ‘intelligent’ is exactly what it is. Coupled with a sense of melody, drama and incredibly deep production (creating the subtlest of sound-scapes at times; or the hardest audio assault at others).
Anyway. What the hell am I talking about SK123 for when the title of this post says ‘Douglas Deep’? Well, SK123 is actually dead. In fact he’s been reincarnated as two distinct, yet unified persona in Macerator and Douglas Deep.

Today, Douglas Deep released his debut album “&U” unto the world and so I eagerly headed over to Bandcamp and downloaded.


If you’ve just hit ‘play’ on the embed above, you’ll already be listening to it, but I’m still gonna try to describe it (in case, y’know…you can’t be arsed to listen, you too-cool-for-skool hipster fool, you).

First off, let me just say that I’m not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to ‘techno’/IDM/club-orientated music. For me ‘techno’ started and ended in Detroit in the late 80s/early 90s along with ‘proper’ acid house; that’s what I know, that’s what I like.

However, what I do know is that Douglas Deep has conjured aural images of this era of electronic music; a kind of futurism which occasionally harks back to Juan Atkins, Mr Fingers, Frankie Knuckles and A Guy Called Gerald, but is basically of the here-and-now. He doesn’t imitate, plagarise or create pastiche; what he does is use ultra-modern production and sound to give you the same emotional rush of the kind I first felt listening to the aforementioned pioneers. “You (Ewe/U)” contains the kind of droning bass and kick combo that became synonymous with Chicago and Detroit 20-odd years ago, but there’s a more relentless feel to it. Darker, perhaps. The beats are crisp and full, but never overshadow the other sonic components. Played loud, it’s devastating.

Also, throughout the album, there are subtle sonic incidentals: besides occasional vocal phrases and gasps, there are bits of found-sound, synth bleepery, background noise and other elements which are normally associated with ambient genres, but are mixed into this context with subtle flair.

The track I’m currently listening to, the epic “Nothing”, consists of a minimal structure but with constantly changing timbres. The word ‘repetitive’ is often used as a criticism leveled at dance music, but here it is utterly essential to allow sound itself to evolve and implant itself in your brain. The simple lead synth line features a repeating set of notes, which similarly to Phillip Glass’ music, gradually evolves in timing, nuance and tone. It starts all monolithic but develops into psychedelicism. Visually, I think of Harvey Keitel in ‘Mean Streets’ weaving nauseously around the bar, trying to stay upright…only in slow motion. That’s as close as I can get, description-wise.

Anyway, suffice to say, I really like this, the first and hopefully not the last DD album. Recommended.

The ‘Live’ Computer Musician…???

I can think of two local electronic artists (well, it’s three actually, but two ‘acts’: the brilliant Jewellers and Alone) who play live and do it well. I’ve also seen the likes of LFO and The Orb play live (with massive lighting and back-projections) and I know Squarepusher gives good gig…….but I have issues with whether I can actually play live. I think there must be lots of electronic musicians who consider this at times….hopefully you’ll recognize some of these issues (below):-

I’ve been thinking about doing gigs for…well, years. It’d be great to take the music out to a new audience and to blast my tunes through a big rig. Yes, earth-shattering bass, dramatic swells and the sugar-rush that loudness brings.

However….. I’ve also been talking myself out of it for years. Why? Well, practicalities, for one.

Contrary to what I occasionally state, rather tongue-in-cheekily, I do actually play some bits on my tracks. Mostly synth, but sometimes bass guitar (I’m no Jaco Pastorius…or even John Entwistle. I was brought up in the shadow of Peter Hook, so my ‘technique’, if there is one, straddles basslines and melody lines). Now, this wouldn’t be so much of a problem, as such. Except I often layer played basslines and synthlines simultaneously within a track.

Then there’s the issue of ‘what is live’? I could go on for hours about the merits of sequencing and sampling, etc. (Don’t worry, I won’t) But most of my music relies on me just pushing buttons….. I don’t sing, I only ‘play’ bits and pieces. So, where’s the performance? People go to gigs to see live music, natch. Where’s the fun in watching some bloke stood over a laptop pushing a few buttons? It ain’t exactly visual, is it. I’ve bought an iPad app which pretty well mimics midi controllers/clip launchers like the Akai APCs and Novation Launchpad as a means of acquainting myself with this more ‘live’ form of button-pushing. My intention is to buy an APC if I get to grips with this way of working; it could help allay the above concerns.

(I never really reconciled myself with DJ culture, where it’s totally acceptable for an electronic musician to just stand there, aloof, nodding his or her head.)

Then there’s the venue….. I could be totally wrong on this; but most cities don’t seem to have bona-fide (boney-fido?) electronic nights. Cardiff hasn’t, I’m sure (though I’m not hip enough to know that for sure really!).

Now, despite all these internal arguments, I do think I’m gonna do some live stuff in 2013. My list of things I’m going to need: back-projected video/animation; an APC or Launchpad; a set of tracks I know inside out (therefore, lots of rehearsal!): the help of friends; a venue with a sympathetic ear; Valium. I can concentrate on many of these things in the coming months.

And so the next 6 months or so will be spent honing, refining, learning something new, playing. Oh, and buying (tsk). I may even document it all here…..or there.

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”

Cleanliness – Why Not Stay ‘Dirty’?

What is it with cleanliness? I mean, we cover up our natural odours with totally unnatural ones (alcohol and chocolate, it appears); we try to keep our homes bacteria-free, when bacteria is the foundation of what keeps us healthy (within reason, that is); Christ, we even worry about the germs which exist on our soap dispensers, so we’ve invented soap dispensers which we don’t have to touch to get soap! It’s all a bit ludicrous.

Now, before you start thinking, “What is this, a rant about personal hygiene ?”, I’ll explain. I’m not entirely sure what my point is…or if there is a point to start with! But I’ve been thinking about this a bit.
I’m actually referring to the obsession musicians have with a ‘clean’ sound. Particularly when recording their music. And, yes, I’m generalising; because I am aware that there are many musicians/producers/DJs who favour the noise, dirt, and interference that comes with acoustic and electronic music production. And I’m not referring to the musicians who use vintage kit, distortion and effects to create walls of sound, or fatter chords, or ‘retro’ music, etc.

Let’s start by considering the studio. The modern professional studio is a mystery to me. I’m talking about commercial studios here; soundproofed and stuffed to the gills with electronic boxes and computers which, on their own, are probably worth more than your car. This has always been the case… rooms full of equipment which is state-of-the-art (this was as true in 1973 as it is today); enabling the cleanest, phattest, most polished sound imaginable. Compressors, aural exciters, reverbs, delays, mixers, limiters, filters, eq units fill these rooms, normally accompanied by an engineer who has been trained to use the damned things. And sofas.
The result of using all this to record your music is impressive. It can turn a mediocre piece of amateur music into a professional-sounding, sparkly slice of magnificence. And, most mainstream musicians are striving to achieve this…so, more power to them…. I guess….

However, how often do us musicians who are making music on a budget, without backing….us amateurs, semi-professionals, or ‘unsigned’ artists…..how often do we wish to use the magic of the commercial studio only to emulate our heroes? Not necessarily to mimic them, but just to evoke their music-making process? How much of this is down to the accepted notion that it’s ‘the done thing’? My question is…is it really necessary?

There’s a commonly-held belief that the music industry, as it was and has been since the 1950s, is changing. Not by choice, you understand…no, the industry would rather keep things just as they were, thanks. Making money off the creative endeavors of talent. Playing percentages, hiring & firing, moving only with fashion, perpetuating the status-quo, rejecting innovation for stability. That’s all changing. Apparently.
The “music industry” no longer refers to just major labels or large independents; it now also refers to bedroom musicians, gigging musicians, buskers, DJs and producers who are embracing the punk-ethic…the Do-It-Yourself attitude. Only, now, or for the last 10 years or so, the technology has become available for people to ‘do-it-for-themselves’. Malcolm McLaren espoused it; the acid-house crowd did it underground, the KLF did it, albeit by making the music at home, in order to get a record deal….then they wrote a book about it. But now, we all can do it, for real. And many are doing so.
We, you, they, are the “music industry”.
Who needs distribution when we’ve got sites like Bandcamp? Who needs promotion when we’ve got Twitter and Facebook? Who needs to publish/copyright their music, when ownership has become of secondary importance, when people share, and when Creative Commons exists to protect the artist’s rights without compromising the ability to get the music heard?
And who needs commercial studios when many people can now create, mix and master their own music to a decent quality (in some admittedly rare cases, to an equal quality to that produced in a studio) at home?
Aren’t commercial studios just part of the previously accepted hegemony of the music industry? Or am I being a bit too general? After all, I’ve not experienced the comforts of the studio myself. I’ve never heard a professionally mastered piece of my music. I’ve never played with the toys, or had an engineer to ‘fix’ and polish my music. I’ve never sampled the thrill of the 4am mixing session in plush surroundings, drinking Panamanian coffee, or knocking back a few cold ones on a deep leather sofa while my bandmates snort cocaine off the thigh of a Belgian prostitute…….oh, hold, on….I’m saying this out loud, aren’t I? Got carried away…sorry.

Maybe I’m just envious.

Anyway….my point is: its never been easier to get your music heard…if you’ve got an idea, share it, record it, stick it on Bandcamp, get in touch with a netlabel, Tweet it, post it on Facebook and Youtube. Nothing may happen…… but then again, something might. You’ll have spent nothing but your time and energy, and it will be worth every second.

New Dementio13 Album Coming Soon!

New Dementio13 album (title TBA) coming in three to four weeks time. The usual mixture of electronic eclecticism with a twist, some new ideas, some borrowed, some blue. It’ll be available on iTunes and as streams on Last.fm. Keep your ears open…

New Dementio13 Video by Neil McCann

Neil McCann has produced another great video for Dementio13’s track “Intro”, from the “Blank” album.

View it here: http://vimeo.com/5437732

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