Headphone commute

Only found out about this on Friday but I’m featured on a Headphone Commute mix from Jonathan Lees, who runs the wonderful Hibernate Recordings and Rural Colours labels. It’s great to be hanging about in such great company. The track featured is called ‘Sing to me’ and is from the work I finished in June. The work is entitled ‘humming new time’ and only three people have heard the whole of it so far! I’ve got the mastered version back now and I’m really happy with it. Not sure how it’s to be distributed yet, both physically or digitally, but hope to have that sorted by the end of the month. Until then, you can enjoy the mix HERE and find more info about it here – http://reviews.headphonecommute.com/2011/07/17/mix-hibernate-headphone-commute-mix/

(I’ve been trying to embed it in the post but can’t do it for the life of me! Perhaps browse it on the hibernate site….)

Hunstanton – some pictures, some sound

Hunstanton is a small seaside town along the north edge of the county of Norfolk (though I think it’s under King’s Lynn and West Norfolk council). It’s sort of split in two halves referred to as Old Hunstanton and New Hunstanton. This post is about New Hunstanton.

It’s a proper British seasidey town – there’s a lot less of the delis and art galleries you see in other North Norfolk towns. It has a traditional sea front that doesn’t seem to have the money lavished on it that Cromer has.

It often feels as if it’s stuck in a particular time or, rather, a particular time in my memory. Here are some photos I took whilst I was there and a recording of Thomas’s Bingo – an amusement arcade and bingo hall on the seafront.





It also has a Sea Life Centre – an excellent way of entertaining children!


Outtakes and updates

So, somewhere in the middle of April I decided to start three projects with the intention of getting them done for summer (now reads the end of summer). Of those three projects one is now complete, the second has begun (with a finished track, as I write this) and the third has has some ideas bashed about ( I need a piano, can some get me a piano please?)

Of the one finished article, I’m not sure what to do with it yet, I should have some idea by the weekend on how I make it available and stuff. It’s around twenty minutes long and is made up of edited down improvisations of the song ‘Spring’, which if you’ve seen me play live is also known as ‘the birdy song’. Over the past two years this songs has developed into a near 40 minute exploration of different strands of the song. I’m happy with how it’s all come out and some of it really captures the ‘letting the mind wander’ aspects of my work. I hope to share it with you soon.

In the meantime, please find below some of the sounds that didn’t make it but I didn’t want to erase.

Scarborough / Soundcloud

I’ve had an iphone for a couple of weeks now and have slowly been getting used to it. It’s promise of being a creative Swiss army knife was what drew me to it and whilst it’s not perfect it does open up so many possibilities of creative exploration and that is something you can’t put a price on.

I’ve been away for a few days in North Yorkshire and have had the opportunity to use the Soundcloud app and the voice memo app ‘out in the field’.

I recorded a brass band playing in the cellarium at Fountains Abbey using the Soundcloud app and I have to say how easy it all was to use. Pressed record on the screen, followed the sound, pressed stop, added a photo and uploaded it via 3G. It was so easy. The fact I could do it within minutes of it happening was so gratifying too. I tried to use the publicise feature on it but got a bit confused so left it at that.

The next day I found my self in Scarborough on the North Yorkshire coast. I’d never been to Scarborough before and it was a real discovery. I used the Voice Memo app to do these recordings as I was unable to work out how to add new recordings on the Soundcloud app without deleting the previous recording ( I have since figure this out ). I could write an awful lot about Scarborough, I found it such an amazing place. The fact that about a mile and a half away from the town itself is the incredible ruggedness and beauty of the North Yorkshire Moors just makes it al the more mind blowing for me.

Visually and aurally there was so much to take in. The gulls on the cliff face on Marine Drive were so noisy, flying out in circular arcs and then returning to the cliff. Whilst this was going on I had the sea behind me hitting the rock defences and the rumble of traffic across the large cobbled stones of the road. It was a really involving sound picture.

Finally, a recording of the amusement arcade opposite Luna Park on the South Shore beach. I like how all of these recordings have come out. There does sound like there is a little phasing going on – I have no idea as to the physics of this as it’s recorded in mono but there does seem to be that washyness to them? Either way I found all of the recordings captured what I was hearing adequately enough to portray them even if they weren’t as good as they would have been from a dedicated stereo recorder.

But this is from a phone. In my pocket. That took HD videos as well as 5MP photos of it all too. And that’s mad!

Using Multitrack DAW

I got Multitrack DAW by Harmonic Dog to trial out on my daughter’s ipod and my partner’s iphone. Hadn’t used it much until last weekend and I wanted to share with you my thoughts on it.

Before I do that it’s worth me pointing out something –
I don’t like using computers to record or make music. I find the mouse and screen apporoach to creating things really counter intuitive – I like faders, knobs and buttons. Consequently I’ve been very excited at where touchscreen technology is leading us. The above software was my first attempt at using it.

Didn’t really pay much attention to the (excellent) onboard manual, just kind of pressed record and went for it. It’s so easy to use. Everything does what you think it would do and the touchscreen makes thing so simple. Cutting, copying and moving was pretty straight forward. The metronome worked well – could do with a seperate volume control I think. Mixing was just a case of pressing a buton marked share and selecting an option for file type and destination – to device or to Soundcloud . You don’t move levels when doing this, it’s just a straight mixdown/export.

Mixing is maybe where it’s limitations come to play. There’s no way to fade in or fade out tracks only cut and move so you do miss a bit of finesse there but other than that I didn’t feel there was anything that would prevent me doing what I would normally do with a 4/8 track. Screen size on the iphone was a little tough to use when scrolling through 8 tracks but I was listening rather than watching and as the levels can’t be moved on mixdown (hence the need for fade outs) it wasn’t that much of an issue.

There’s still the need to get a quality signal into the iOS device in the first place and the lack of a stereo interface for the iphone is a problem at the moment but I can’t see that being an issue for long. The ipad can already do stereo via some ancillary devices – such as this. Using the mic on the iphone to record with didn’t bother me at all – it works and it got the idea out which is way more important – as I said before I’m very happy with how this turned out. Gavin from the ace worridaboutsatan recorded me on his iphone at the Y show last year to give you an example of it’s sound quality in a different setting – worriedaboutsatan’s record box.

If you’ve got an iphone, i’d would recommend you spend £5.99 ( £5.99!!?!!) on it. You could make Pet Sounds on a phone you carry around in your pocket. Which is mental.

‘it’s not really a remix though, is it?’

Last weekend I attempted to do some remixing of some sound files ( ‘stems’ I believe they call them) from the upcoming We Are Altered record. John M of the band had sent me some of the files, I downloaded them onto my phone and went from there.

Now I know most folk would pop them into their computer and start bouncing around ideas from there but I don’t like working with computers and I have’t got any of the software for that kind of jazz anyway. Nope, my kit list was as follows –

into this

into this

and that’s it.

I listened through to the files and waited to see what caught my attention. Two samples immediately leapt out at me and I basically used those as the basis for my ideas. The first idea came out terrible – trying to pretend your The Neptunes using a mobile phone as a sample player is never going to work. It was awful. The second track (Resigned ARP) faired a bit better – not a lot happens in it but I like it all the same.

Check out more of the remixes here – http://soundcloud.com/groups/we-are-altered-remixes/tracks

Have a go at remixing with the stems here – http://makerecordings.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/remix-we-are-altered/

The record will be coming out on cassette and download on the ever lovely make recordings soon.

So long, Josie Long / Hello songbird

The past few mornings I’ve had a set routine. I get up around 0550, feed the cat, make porridge and coffee and then sit down to listen to Josie Long’s All of the Planet’s Wonders, which I taped when it was repeated over Christmas.

I’ve enjoyed every minute of it – not just the funny bits or the insightful bits but the delivery as well. There is a real soft edge to her voice that’s really pleasing to the ear. I particularly like the fact that inspiration for one episode struck in an attic B&B in my home town of Leicester. I wonder where it was, what the view was like, would I recognise it too? (A quick search on Google can send you to many a link to the series for you to listen to too).

I’m going to miss this quiet time. It’s helped remind me of the intimacy of radio. I do intend to write about the radio at some point as it has had a huge influential effect on my life and how I interact act with sound (and other media) that I’ve only begun to realise over the past 5 years. So, thank you, Josie Long, it’s been a pleasure.

But as one thing finishes something else is beginning. I’ve noticed all this week the morning chorus of birds gradually gettng earlier and earlier. As each episode of the above finished I could slowly start to hear the morning unfold outside. True to form a thrush of some sort (it’s either a Mistle Thrush or a Song Thrush) has been calling out, it’s voice central, on top of the all the other sounds. It makes me very happy.

(Warning – there is a lot of mic rumble in the above recording as I didn’t have a windshield on the H4n)