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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photo

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

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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….

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.

 

 

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.

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.

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.