The Illicium Lure (EP#3)

The difficult third album….. From what started as uploading a couple of sound snippets has turned into three years of music or noise uploads, loads of photos, and somehow a third EP.  Here is the latest offering of tracks recorded and uploaded over the last year, this time with some extras and a couple of minor remixes.  For the first time, this also includes a collaboration. Track 5 “Thalassa” features vocals written and performed by long term friend and band mate, Alistair Davies. Thanks Al!

The Illicium Lure

1. Lost (Self Inflicted Desolation)

2. Fleuve Parasseux

3. Streetwork

4. Interlude (Tango)

5. Thalassa

6. Cenotes

7. Interlude (Donkey Kong)

8. Number stations

9. Reload

How have “the tentacles” changed since the last collection of tracks “Analogue” in July 2014….?  I’ve continued piano lessons, learnt lots and hopefully added more musicality to some these tracks, certainly in Thalassa and Fleuve Parasseux.  Listening back, several of the tracks contain improvised synth editing.  I’ve always tried to maintain an element of improvisation on several of my tracks but listening back I have no idea how, or what I did in some of the parts.  It would be unrepeatable which I think is great but also slightly frustrating!

So another year goes by, Life goes on… some tough moments at work, got married, some great experiences along the way, and a whole new passion for running. Long live the tentacles!

Get a printed copy from THE SHOP

For the copyright purists, for (nearly) the first time I’ve ‘stolen’ a couple of bits and pieces, so here are the details: –

Track 1 – A mere use of a pre-set sequence from the Arturia microbrute, bite me.
Track 3 – The very premise of this track was recording artists from the streets.  I actually tried to make contact to ask permission but received no response.  Some drums and beat boxing parts are recorded on an iPhone in Manchester City Centre.  The radio intro/outros are pretty much all live street recordings.
Track 4 – A very short piece from a piano magazine introducing the style of tango. I enjoyed playing it so recorded it and solo’d over it!
Track 7 – The beeps and boops are recorded from me playing my 1982 Nintendo Game and Watch Donkey Kong, still working today, move over PlayStation!
Track 8 – Voices and number stations stolen from web postings on the subject. The whole track came together from listening to parts on the web and adding some random synth warblings and a beat… getting it done off the cuff.

 

Fleuve Parasseux

Time to get back to the roots of this blog and get some music up! Here is my latest offering – “Fleuve Parasseux”

River

Fleuve Parasseux:

What’s that rubbish picture I hear you say?  Its a river of course, but I have taken the liberty of inconveniencing a few electrons and altered it using the free image “glitching” website available HERE

I love that we have access to fantastic technology, but then try and mess things up so that pictures look old, retro, faded and “glitched” or produce music then distort it to make it sound like its on tape, or add record scratches etc. Why do we strive for perfection and then try and quickly get away from it?

The track itself started as a piano piece which I recorded and then developed all the other parts around it.  Whilst uncharacteristically “nice” for the most part, I tried to add my own “glitch”.

New EP coming very soon including a collection of tracks from this blog, a couple of new “interludes” and an older track with new vocals all over it (not by me thankfully!)

 

Adidas Thunder Run

All it took was a quick email to “Men’s Running” magazine saying how I needed a night off the beer, and somehow I was in their team for the Adidas Thunder Run and had won a load of free running gear from Adidas! Needless to say I am now a walking advert for them – you’d see less stripes on a tiger!  For the uninitiated, the Thunder Run is a 24 hour trail running event where you compete either solo(!), pairs, or other combinations to run continuous 10km laps around Catton Park in Derbyshire.  Our team consisted four men and four women, three of each competition winners and two experienced ultra runners (Gary and Anne-Marie) to make it seem like it was a run round the park.  Which in effect, it was.

I rolled up early on Saturday morning to a bustling campsite and managed to find our team with a well established campsite, a kettle on the go and a selection of muffins and flapjacks baked by some of the ladies.  Gender stereotype alert, but as you would probably expect, the men’s baking contribution was ….. er…. nothing.  Although I did bring some teabags.

Here’s the team:

P1080620 (Medium)

Laura, Dan (me), Paul, Anne-Marie, Gary, Jade, Steve, Alexy.

Noon soon rolls along and Paul had jumped forward to do the first lap which he completed in a mud-busting 38:50 which was a fantastic time for the course.  The lap was followed by some frantic shouting for Jade who had a remarkable skill of not being found during changeover :)  I was next up and set off in the warm sunshine.  Gently jogging along the first field, it was all looking very comfortable but a sudden sharp right straight up a steep woodland path left any thoughts of this being an easy run right there at the bottom.  I’m a relatively new runner so this was actually one of the tougher routes I’ve done with lots of twists and turns, mud, narrow woodland paths and short sharp hills.  Defying the laws of physics I am convinced there was far more “up” than there was “down”.  I came in under 50 mins which I was pleased with considering the terrain.  I passed on to Laura, followed by Gary, Anne-Marrie, Steve then Alexy.  And so it went on.

Purely for reasons of me having a camera, I soon became the official team photographer.  We soon got into a routine with Paul being chief ‘spotter’ which meant standing a bit further up from the finish line then frantically waving when one of our team came in. This was a cue for me to stop thinking about bacon sandwiches and sleeping and to quickly get my camera ready to get a picture of the incoming runner.

My second lap kicked off around 9:30pm, so it was time for the head torches as by the time I finished the woods were pretty black.  This was my favourite lap and best time too (49:03), it just all came together and I got a nice comfortable rhythm going.  Shower, food and time for a quick sleep as I was up again at 4am in preparation for my final lap which started around 5:30am, but I still somehow managed a smile:

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The weather was kind to us apart from the final couple of laps for Alexy and Paul when it was completely tipping it down.  We finished up doing 25 laps (3 each and 4 for Paul), and it seemed everyone had a great time, each of us with our own level of experience and personal goals for running, from the ultra runners to …..er …… me.

Here’s us with our medals!

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Thanks to Men’s Running mag and Adidas for the opportunity to do this along with the free gear, it’s all great stuff. Thanks of course to all my team mates (and Stephen, our support crew) who were all a pleasure to do this with and made it a thoroughly enjoyable experience all round!

Check out my running page HERE on this blog for my running history.

The girls were busy posing for a photo, but it was front camera on all the time, sorry ladies:

IMG_1134

The plan:

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The Results:

RESULTS

Lake District Snaps

I had a nice break in Windermere recently, and whilst of course I took all the “usual” photos of normal stuff with people in, that’s not what this blog about, so here is a few I took of the more arty-farty type!

Orest head

Moody view from Orrest Head (lots of running training up and down this “hill” over the week!)

Coniston

A beautiful little spot where I could crawl all over the place trying out long exposure

Capri1

Back when cars were great

Engine1

A bit of an engine with some close depth of field – arty or what!

Engine2

Down with the ozone layer!

Oscar

A perfectly in focus Oscar from the Lakeside aquarium. I loved his colours.

… and that’s the lot.  Musically, I have a piano track bubbling away so just need to sort out some time to record it.  Its leading up to the third Bucket of Tentacles EP, which will hopefully include a collaboration piece with some actual singing by Al over Thalassa (posted here previously).

 

Reload

A sudden productivity spasm, here are a couple of new tracks.  First up “Reload”, an erratic junglist noise-fest with some eastern vibes.

This was an initial try-out of the Roland JD-Xi synth, a crossover digital/analogue synth.  Almost all of the track, including drums, are played/programmed on this synth.  I even used the vocoder :o) Loving the dirty analogue vibes.

circuit

Next up is “Number Stations”.  A number station is a mysterious coded shortwave radio broadcast known to be used during World War I and through to the Cold War to send messages to agents in the field….  These broadcasts sound really sinister so that’s the vibe I went with, this was quick, play some of the number station and throw some synth/drum improvisation over it.  No icing here.

The picture? I actually hacked apart Victoria’s (old) computer, shone some green and blue lights at the circuit board and snapped away!

I have another new piece on the way, almost a proper piano track.  Building up to EP#3 me’thinks.

Prelude (Piano Lesson)

Here are a couple of pieces from my piano lessons as its been a while since I’ve recorded any.  These have taken a while to learn as they’re classical which keeps both hands busy (and twists my brain).  Anyway, they both happen to be called “Prelude”.  The first one “Prelude in C” is noted as attributed to Bach and edited by Richard Jones, so here it is.

The second one has no noted credits on it, but the way I play it here its probably best they don’t know.  This needs a lot more work to get the hands working together, but as a record of progress, here it is warts and all.

I’m working on a new “proper” track using a great new hybrid analogue/digital synth, the Roland JD-Xi.  I’ve only had it a week, but am getting on very well with it.  The track (inc. drums) will all be created using that synth and its vocoder (!!) and is warming up to be a bit of a dark drum’n’bass / hip-hop type track.  In fact I’m going to record a few bits for it now…..

Run Tentacles, Run

I’ve been dedicating some time to a new pursuit. Running. Very alien to me initially but I’ve become more and more attached to it. I put up a running page HERE a while ago but thought I’d put up a blog post related to any ‘significant’ runs I’ve done.

Two recent ones are the Stafford half marathon and the Radcliffe 10km multi-terrain.

I dedicated a lot of training time to the half and had an aim to complete in 1:50.  On the day I completely ignored all the good advice to stick to my plan and ended up with 1:41:28, a massive achievement for me. So either I didn’t initially aim high enough or somehow just managed to pull it out the bag.  Here’s the extract from my Nike Running page:

Stafford Half Marathon

Second up is the Radcliffe 10km multi-terrain.  This was tough.  Living in the city centre its pretty flat so to suddenly have to face some short and sharp hills really zaps the energy.  I ended up with a new 10km PB of 47:05.

Radcliffe 10km Route

Here’s a picture from Radcliffe, I don’t run, I levitate!

Radcliffe 10K 1521R

Photo copyright – Steve Bateman http://www.runningpix.co.uk/

Streetwork

DJ-Dog

The title inspired by Morbid Angel’s Hatework, here is a very non metal track including samples of street performers around Manchester.

The geek details: I used a recording of the drunkards in The Unicorn in my last track, so I decided to do some more ‘field’ recording in the City.  I used my phone to record clips of various street performers, so not great quality. The core of the track uses a couple of short loops from a live drummer in Piccadilly Gardens and then some “phat” dubstep style beat boxing recorded on Market St for the breakdown.  The “radio” intro also features me, Hare Krishna chanting and buskers playing the piano and singing.

In the interests of throwing it all in, I’ve used sounds of bassoon, analogue synth (bass and lead), piano, koto, charang, organ, gang chanting plus some extra programmed drums.  The whole thing was a bit of an experiment and might be a bit erratic, but hey, that’s the way I like it!

Hopefully I’ll record a couple of classical piano pieces I’ve been learning soon!

A Glowing City

I took a late Sunday afternoon stroll on Sunday, camera in hand to see what was happening around the City Centre.  I wanted to get some “people” shots, but sometimes its just not happening so I ended up looking out for nice architecture and buildings.  Of which there is loads!  It was a nice evening and once the light dropped a bit there was a nice orange glow everywhere.  A few of my favourites below.  The first one in particular worked really well, and it all got rather exciting as I got kicked off by security so had to rush the shots!

Arndale

Above Shudehill at sunset

Tunnel

Part of the Town Hall extension (I think)

Seat

Such extravagance! A light up seat

Rubbish2

Its not all good.  Scummy back alley.

NQ

The NQ.  My adopted home.  As much as I miss the Black Country, I wouldn’t have it any other way right now :)

Cenotes

TR8

The Roland TR-8 encourages ‘performance’ control i.e. making changes and sounds to beats as you record rather than editing after, so I thought I’d try and get a quick “improv” done – here it is, just a single take of drums edited on the go and a few synth tracks unrolled over the top!  I’m hoping to get some “proper” tracks up and recorded soon as well as a classical piece I’m learning in my lessons (which will be tough work!), so watch this space.

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