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!

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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.

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.

 

 

“It’s Life, Paul, But Not As We Know It…”

One week to go. One week to go.

Already! I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain, right? Well, I’m not actually complaining….just stating facts. Bloody teachers: only work for 5 hours a day and get massive holidays.

Well, the big one (holiday, that is) is coming to an end. I’m actually quite looking forward to going back….you can quote that back to me next Sunday evening when I get what is often termed “The Antiques Roadshow Feeling™”…..that pang of anxiety and regret that the weekend or holiday is over and work looms (this only works for UK readers…..for international translation, just insert a soporific Sunday evening TV show of your choice instead of ‘Antiques Roadshow’).

Er…….Anyways, I digress. It’s been a very productive summer (and it’s still not over yet) thus far. Not in ways I’d envisaged though….I had planned to get to work on a new Dementio13 album/ep, but it didn’t happen. Instead, I did the following:

  • Grew fresh coriander in my garden
  • Ate lots of food at some of Cardiff’s finest eateries
  • Went to the Lake District for walks, views and beer
  • Basically lolled about looking clueless
  • Released an ep with Cwtch
  • Got wet in the rain (Britain, it seems, became the set for ‘Blade Runner: The Musical’ during this summer. There is a sign in Dover which reads: “Welcome to Britain – Twinned with Atlantis”)
  • Cycled a bit….one good week, I clocked 67 miles in 7 days…this is very good, for me
  • Watched the rather brilliant Olympics and particularly the Opening Ceremony…made me proud to be British………we won’t talk about the closing ceremony, however.
  • Recorded a series of mixtapes showing my appreciation of DIY/Independent music (and there’ll be more of these)
  • Released, rather sneakily, an ep of Welsh Industrial History-related dubstep and electronica (a first, I think!) with The Reasonable People (which, I’ve just discovered, is being played on Bethan Elfyn’s rather good show on Sunday afternoon, 12pm-2pm GMT, on Amazing Radio)
  • Opened a T-shirt/merchandise store….which I’m quite pleased with
  • Met-up with other like-minded musicians during a rather pleasant day in Cardiff Bay (lots of stout was drank….Drunk? Drinked?)
  • Did a passable cover version of Ian Thistlethwaite’s brilliant song, ‘Captain’….
  • Slept.

What’s next? Well, maybe some more mixes; a purchase or two (I could do with an Akai APC20 or 40 if I’m planning on doing anything live) and some more TRP music. Summer’s not over yet….. plans they are a-hatching.

End of transmission……… x

Rainy ol’ Town….Rainy ol’ Town….

Well, I’m in the midst of a week away from work and guess what? No, you’re wrong. It’s raining. And it’s grey. And it’s colder than it’s been for a few weeks.

So, as I’m sat ensconced in the warmth and comfort of my domestic bubble, with nothing urgent to do, I thought I’d introduce you to my forthcoming album properly. Not a track-by-track breakdown as such. Just a few wee words to say what, why and how.

Now, I realise that only a fraction of the people who will download the album actually read this (and that the number of people who download it are a mere micron in numbers…. but that’s not the point). The point is that those of you who read this will possibly download the album and that’s enough for me. Besides, you know how I like rambling on about myself and particularly my music….any excuse.

So, ‘El Lissitzky’, what’s it all about Alfie?

Well, firstly, I’ll mention that there’s a shed-load of extras included in the download. A large digi-booklet of the usual sleevenote-type of things, plus excerpts from this blog which have some relevance to the album. There’s a storming remix of one of the tracks, “Hollow Point” by Douglas Deep (aka SK123, aka Macerator, aka the very talented Steve Kelly), many thanks to him for that. There’s an incidental track of mine called “Summerisle”, which started out as a song for the album, then became a more soundtracky kinda deal but then didn’t quite fit in with the overall tracklist, so it’s now a bonus track. Finally, there’s this video for the album track “Fatty Pork” which has had some radio-play already.

So, that’s upped the file size, I know. But I hope it represents some value for money. Or if you’re not paying (which is fine; a download is enough as far as I’m concerned), it represents something for nothing.

So, why the title? Here’s an excerpt form the booklet:

“(El Lissitzky’s) artwork was appropriated by The Wake, amongst others, to illustrate their 1985 album ‘Here Comes Everybody’. And it was this album cover which firmly implanted itself in my teenage mind, along with those of New Order, A Certain Ratio, Kraftwerk, etc. Album covers which shared common themes of technology, mechanization, ‘the future’…
It was the aesthetic of Factory Records and particularly of the early Hacienda which influenced me tremendously; everything from their posters to the yellow and black warning chevrons on everything Hacienda-based.
Way ahead of it’s time, The Hacienda’s architect Ben Kelly and the Factory gang toyed with the iconography of 20th Century modernism and industrialism; something which is common place now but, at the time in the 1980s, was like a replay of the avant-garde, a rebirth if you will. A reaction against the ramshackle and untidy aesthetic of punk, the blandness of 80s populism and against the decay and deprivation of 70s and early-80s industrial cities like Manchester. The Hacienda, and Factory in general, were incredibly influential, not just musically, but aesthetically. As John Robb says in the BBC documentary ‘Factory: From Joy Division to Happy Mondays’,
“…all of Manchester, every major city, ended up looking like the Hacienda. Every flat looks like the Hacienda…”
The exterior of Manchester’s Beetham Tower (this album’s cover image, albeit repeated and layered) being a personification of this.

So, yes, the album’s partly autobiographical. Self-indulgient, most probably.

The music on it bears no resemblance to the music of those Factory bands though….at least, I don’t think it does. It’s more about evoking something (a memory, for me) and getting back some of the excitement I felt for making music in a band and on my own all those years ago. Young people, in their teens and twenties, are so idealistic about their music….there are no grey areas, no unknowns, and the future is not even considered. Well, while I see that as partly naive, partly unrealistic; I also see it as part of the magic and energy of being ‘new’ to it all. That’s what I wanted to experience.

By the way, I’m not sat in a bath-chair with a blanket over my legs, sitting outside the sanitorium, reflecting on a long-lost youth. I just needed to refresh my working-practices and my enthusiasm for making stuff, which admittedly, I’d lost (I had thought about selling all my music kit and taking-up something more…erm….‘sedate’).
Anyway, the album was recorded almost completely in Ableton Live, playing the instruments and recording directly into the computer and using some rather cool virtual synths.

I’m going to stop there and if you’ve read this far, well done. It killed a few minutes, didn’t it?

The album’s available from the 18th June at http://dementio13.com. Hope you can share in the release with me and, if you do download and like it, please tweet the living hell out of it! Thanks…

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 🙂

Wh’appen? Updates and Stuff.

The new album’s been available for around two and a half weeks now. Apart from the free downloads (which you are very welcome to), it seems to be selling quite well in comparison to my other albums. I’m really glad that it’s connecting with people and gaining an audience. With any new release, it’s a bit of a gamble and you never really know whether people will like it until they start to download it (or not!). So, thanks again for that.

As usual, just keep Tweeting about and sharing it please. It makes a hell of a difference.

Last weekend, I had a track played on Adam Walton’s show on BBC Radio Wales which was a massive boost. It might not that big a deal to more seasoned musos, but to me, I’m so pleased to get the music played on a wider stage. I’ve also got a live mix on Pete Jackson’s Dandelion Radio show this month, throughout March. My Soundcloud page has my live session for Mark Whitby’s Dandelion Radio show also, it’s a free download.

This weekend however, I’m looking towards the future. I took delivery of these two cheap-n-cheerful little beauties this week:

I’m looking forward to putting these through their paces and recording them into Ableton. They sound massive and grungy through headphones. I recommend them to anyone interested in electronic or lo-fi music…..great fun, useable and cheap as anything. My next music will probably feature these a bit and, as a result, it could sound quite different from Crash St.

Vocals (gulp!) might be on the cards too. Or maybe I’ll resurrect Sal Boca and let Dementio13 rest for a while! Ideas and options….it’s all good.

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”