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.

Bar room piano!

P1040963

Music feeds the imagination right? I’ve learnt this piece in my piano lessons and every time I play it I get the vision of some smokey raucous jazz/blues bar, with an old beat up piano that everyone is free to have a go on.  Its from the ABRSM Jazz Piano book, a version of Dizzy Gillespies “Birks Works” arranged by Pete Churchill.

When it came to record it, rather than keeping it clean I thought I’d try and get it sounding a bit like my vision! After a quick recording session I wandered into The Unicorn, a “traditional” pub filled with energetic boozehounds firmly rooted in the NQ. Bearing in mind it was Saturday afternoon it was quite lively as you may hear from the Tarzan noises! The footsteps and doors are added purely for dramatic effect.

Next up is the same song again! This time recorded on my 1980s Casiotone mere minutes before some guy came to collect it. I loved the sound of it but you can’t keep everything! I just thought I’d record a ‘final’ piece on it and here it is (a bit scrappy but not much choice as it was leaving the house!)

Finally, almost due to hit 3000 hits…. its only taken 2.5 years! Thanks to all the “lookers” :)

Uppermill (Saddleworth)

I finally had an opportunity to try a few long exposure shots with water after a short train journey to Uppermill, a nice little village in Saddleworth.  It seems all the rage at the moment and I really like the “other worldly” effect you can achieve.  I’ll be searching for some more locations for better composition, but here are first few attempts….

water3 Water1 water4

Urban Grime

During my short walk to work, as I edge round the corner into Thomas Street, I’m quite often greeted by a sunrise that almost deserves an applause.  Its always on my “to do” list to force myself out of bed on a weekend and be out early with my camera to capture the Northern Quarter in such a great early morning light.  This weekend….. I got up, emerged from my flat to a sky that resembled a dishcloth.  Then it started to snow on me.  Undeterred I wandered the streets anyway and took a few pics as the mist gradually descended, some things aren’t just meant to happen eh?  Typically I walked to work the next day and was greeted by a sunrise that could win awards…….

Enough of the moaning, the grim morning and deserted Northern Quarter streets were thoroughly enjoyable so I snapped away merrily trying to capture what I’ve titled here as the Urban Grime.  This area is scattered with bars filled with patrons sporting poetic beards and colourful tattoos, oozing a “vintage” vibe which clearly justifies adding £1 to the price of a beer, but alongside that are many abandoned buildings and dubious looking structures, each giving a hint of a time gone by.   Here is a bit of “Urban Grime” without a trendy bar in sight.  As I uploaded I soon realised I seem to have become obsessed with pictures of doors, no doubt behind each lies a wealth of stories and history.

To accompany the pics here is an quick improvised piece using an arpeggio and drum beat from my keyboard, but connected to my new analogue “Microbrute”.  This had the cool effect of the arpeggio triggering the minbrute which meant I could concentrate on warping the sounds throughout.  Press record, one hand on keys and the other twiddling dials and it was recorded.  A couple of edits to pan parts of the synth track and that was that.  Maybe a bit repetitive, but it all turned out rather dark and nasty.  Great.

EDIT Doorway2

An intriguing doorway on Thomas Street

EDIT Short Street

Suspiciously lurking in Short Street.

EDIT Doorway

Go on. Phone them.

EDIT Brixton

This shop is clearly mistaken as to where exactly they have set up their business

EDIT Back Turner

“We’ve been building something”.  Have you? Where?

EDIT Street Fog

Bleak

EDIT Thomas

Grime at its finest.

EDIT Tentacles

Mighty tentacles.

 

 

 

Lost (S.I.D.)

TRAM2

自傷行為荒廃

The tale of being……  well……. messed up.

The boring stuff: A track mere days after the last one? That’s right, in stark contrast to my last effort, yesterday this was turn on the gear and GO, write/play/record and mix in a few hours.  I’ve just added another track and re-mixed today, and in anti-perfectionist mode, that is how its staying.  Mainly using my new Arturia Microbrute (drums on a Roland TR-8) this is lots of dirty analogue noise, and a bit of frantic energy.  I have no idea why but I kept thinking of the classic 80s Sega game Space Harrier.  Megadrive on ebay anyone?

Welcome to 2015.

Thalassa

Wave

Time off work means being able to throw some noise into the internet, so here it is.

My last “batch” of recordings were predominantly electronic-sounding so I’m trying to explore fusing some more natural parts with dirty synth. This has been slow going and only has a couple of sections, but with very limited time its been a track of bass one week, followed by the drums the next etc. I will certainly have to pull my finger out if I’m going to get a third EP out sometime in 2015…..  For the music theory dorks, I’ve been messing around with ‘passing’ chords which is a technique to move from chord to chord by adding a bit of smokey jazz into the equation. As an example, rather than jumping straight from Gm to Cm, the in-between chord is Baug with a Db bass note. I use this technique a few times on this piece.

The pic? A warped photo of northern Fuerteventura with Lobos in the background……

Also here is a basic version of Clair De Lune I have been playing in my lessons.  Whilst much “easier” than the full version, getting it to sound smooth and ‘romantic’ is another matter (especially when you’re a “metal” drummer at heart) and I’m not there yet but here it is anyway.

 

2014 in review

The geeks at WordPress have created a “Year in Review” type thing for me – click on the picture below to see it.  Thanks to all those who have taken the time to look/listen and comment on my small corner of the internet.  Next year brings more piano practice, hopefully a new EP and surprisingly, a half marathon….. try running that far on 8 tentacles.

Tentacles

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 950 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Sombrero Sam (Piano Lesson)

The latest of my piano lesson pieces, but rather than use a piano sound, I split the keyboard into bass and electric piano (which I’m really enjoying the sound of at the moment even though its a bit “gritty”) and just went for it, along with the solo section.  Mistakes a’plenty but its being uploaded anyway.  I’m also learning a very trimmed down/basic version of Clair De Lune which I hope to record soon.  Whilst I know the piece, I’m not “familiar” with it, so Daria (piano teacher) played it to me at my last lesson.  Aside from the fantastic playing, it made me think how can anyone write that! Truly amazing and puts my usual throbs and squeaky electronic sounds firmly in their place.  I sometimes find it hard to strike a balance between listening to incredible music and taking it as inspiring, or making me want to quit as I can never be that good.  But onwards I shall go.

Learnt from ABRSM Jazz Piano Pieces Grade 3:

Sombrero Sam (Charles Lloyd arr. Will Micheal)

 

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