Category Archives: Pictures

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.

 

 

 

Photos and (unusually) a landscape painting!

It feels like I haven’t used my camera in a while, but I have been occasionally wandering the streets so here are a few pics.  The last image is my watercolour painting debut!  I’m new to painting and have followed a guide from a book – this was my first effort at “going it alone” and using the techniques I’ve learnt.  I’ve set up a new drawing/painting area on the blog and you can see it HERE.

Marching

Marketing genius, this multi-coloured band wandered the streets gathering the drunken masses liked the pied piper and led them straight to the door of Matt and Phreds where they were playing that night.

Scooter

Their other bike was a Harley I’m sure.

shoes

A great shop window display.

Copperas

The urban jungle looming.

Back Turner

Back Turner Street 

Derwent Water

Watercolour of Derwent Water

Bucket of Tentacles – Analogue (EP#2)

The second ‘official’ release to crawl out of The Bucket.  This is the collection of my favourite pieces since the first EP.

CD400_out

1. ゴジラ (Godzilla)

2. The Moth (M.C.) 

3. Wetwork (A prelude) 

4. Interlude (Casiotone)

5. I  Malfunction

6. II  Programme override

7. III  System Re-boot 

——————-

ALL TRACKS 

The Bucket of Tentacles has certainly moved on since its inception in June 2012. Back then I knew I wanted to try and record my own stuff but only playing drums left a serious shortfall for recording full tracks on my own, so I purchased a basic keyboard. This then led to piano lessons with the idea to track my progress on piano and upload a few snippets of ideas. This site has since morphed into a whole load of content from basic piano tracks, full tunes, photography and more recently some painting. I don’t think I ever expected really to have this much content!

Onto the EP…. I moved to Manchester City Centre in August 2013 and it has been a huge life change. Very busy at my new job and right in the thick of it in the Northern Quarter. Listening back to these tracks, there is a definite difference in style. I’m hoping more developed, but definitely more ‘electronic’, which is a big change from my rock/metal roots.

I like to think that my surroundings have affected the style. It all happens round here, from the arty, sometimes glamorous bars in the NQ nestled in between the old, derelict run down buildings, the homeless struggling along, but several clutching mobile phones (a reflection of todays society), the fabulous curry cafes for lunchtime indulgence and the surrounding areas affluent travelling in for over-the-top priced beers and cocktails. Insanely talented street art around Thomas Street, Stevenson square and surrounding areas, the canals and River Irwell stretching out covered in more basic tags and dereliction. The café culture sipping cappuccino (even outside when it ever stops raining), and the stream of photographers coming to get their arty fix with a myriad of subjects, and of course, the Common Burger….. mmmmmm…….. Its a far cry from the suburbs of Birmingham. Has city life affected brain and been forged into my musical style? I like to think so. Another factor is the current resurgence of analogue, using the Korg Volcas for those dirty analogue sounds along with other new dance orientated gear/ drum machines has opened up a new stream of ideas – hence the name of the EP.

I hope you enjoy these tracks, I have certainly enjoyed creating them along with all the photographs and drawings that have been uploaded along the way.

Dedicated to two acronyms; the NQ for where it was mainly dreamed up, and VT the soon to become wife who has put up with the endless repetition of track after track whilst mixing and listening back. Thank you both.

Hard copies available in the shop.

Part 3 – System Re-boot

Natural equilibrium restored…….

Part 3 – System Re-boot

 

One day

No one

will be left

To know

We were

ever here

As the

last brick

Or bone rots

History

Will fall

Terminally

Silent

(Poem kindly used courtesy of Jon Adams @soundcube whose Twitter poems, other tweets and shares I very much enjoy).

Part 3 Image (Medium)

(There may very well be a remix of this track with some additional collaboration, lyrics and guitar.  So watch this space)

Some information on this series of tunes HERE

Gun-Yu Trilogy

Part 1 – Malfunction

Part 2 – Programme Override

 

Lake District (Keswick)

I’ve just had a great week in Keswick.  Amazingly for England it has been roasting hot all week.  Of course I had the camera snapping away.  Landscape photography is a whole other skill to try and learn…..  Some long-exposure shots would have been good to try out but as I don’t own a tripod, all but impossible.  Here’s just a few snaps taken during the week.

Sunset1 (Large)

Derwent Water at sunset

Window1 (Large)

Just a window you say? What’s that hanging in one of the panes? A spooky run down shed somewhere around the lake.

Derwent2 (Large)

Two stumps.  And a lake.

Boat (Large)

Rowing boats (I took the easy option and went out on a motor boat instead!)

Dog (Large)

Action Dog (probably glad of the cool water)

Castlerigg (Large)

Castlerigg Stone Circle (mainly uploaded so there is one without water in it!)

 

 

Wetwork (A prelude)

I decided to see what I could write, play, record, mix and post in an afternoon, and here it is.  Most of my recent pieces have been veering along a dance/electronic path, so I tried to stick with more traditional instruments here.  The name? The main rhythm is something I used for the song “Wetwork” in the metal band “…and fate was foolish”.  The song was about… er…. murder, so this is the soundtrack before those horrific events occurred.

P1040124

Wetwork (a prelude)

 

 

Nightlife

Back to how it used to be, just throwing up a couple of quick snippets and pictures!  These were recorded a while ago whilst trying to learn how to use the audio recorder on my Korg Kross and I’d forgotten I’d even recorded anything.  Just messing around, one take, one track after the other.

Nightlife1

Nightlife2

I’ve been following a blog by SliceofLondonLife who’s photos I really enjoy taken on the streets of London.  Most of his/her (? the beauty of the internet!) shots are capturing a moment never to be repeated.  I find that very appealing so I wandered round the local streets and took a few quick pics.  I found myself a bit self conscious though pointing cameras at random strangers, so most of the shots ended up blurred or didn’t quite capture what I was after because I was rushing – lesson learnt for future trips! But here are a couple of them:

NQ1 for WP

The Northern Quarter warming up early Saturday evening

NQ2 for WP

Beermoth, quality beers, and a nice silhouette….

Heaton Skyline for WP

City View from Heaton Park

I’ve also joined Soundcloud, which seems to actually generate a few random hits! Check it out HERE

 

Casiotone and Piano Lessons

Three nuggets of noise for the price of one! As we meander into 2014 here are a few bits I’ve recorded today.  First up is just for fun, a piece completely recorded using a Casiotone 405, direct from 1983, complete with fake wood finish, loads of switches and dials and dodgy crackly outputs, but nevertheless still good fun to mess around with! I picked it up from Gumtree as a bit of keyboard history – see this great WordPress blog on Casio history HERE.  I set one of the auto beats (with A.V. – Accomp. Variation), played a few chords and then soloed over the top.  Cheesy I know! Vintage “synth” ….. 🙂

Fairground1

Casiotone:

————-

Also here are two piano pieces I’ve been playing in my lessons recently.  First up is Petite Petite by A. Goedicke.  The most difficult part of this one for me, apart from playing the correct notes, is making it exciting.  There [should be] a lot of dynamics and vibe to it, but it has been a bit of a struggle.  Here is my effort:

Petite Petite (A. Goedicke) 

————-

Second up is “Night journey” by Gurlitt.  Technically this shouldn’t be difficult, but (and this is where my problem is!) it needs a good control of pedal to sound right.  Being a drummer, I’ve spent years of big fat stomping with my right foot.  This recording shows I need to practice pedal more and more, it’s a big sustain mush at times.  I like the piece though and in the interests of throwing out a tentacle, here it is.

Night Journey (Gurlitt)

Lots more practice for me…..

Happy New Year to all!

Heaton Park

Before I move completely away from the subject of street art, I just want to focus completely on street art.  Or more accurately, some pictures of mine that have been used in an article on street art on the website “Mancunian Matters”.  Somehow these pics were “spotted” and I was asked if they could be used so I’ve ended up with three pics up there; two from the River Irwell heading out of the city and one of “Ridelow” lurking round the back-streets on the northern quarter.  Good article and other pics.  Here they are: –

http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/101213754-pictures-street-art-has-transformed-manchester-living-city-sketchbook

After treading through the concrete jungle for several months, we decided it was time to escape to find some green.  A quick tram journey later and we found ourselves at the gates of Heaton Park.  It was great getting out of the bustle of the city centre for a while (especially as now its Christmas everyone has gone completely mental to buy anything and everything).  Here’s just a few pics, some left natural and others modged with Tentacles-style.

Field

Grass, field, few stalks of trees, bit of light shining down on the lot

Squirell-2

A tame squirrel – considering these are all taken on a fixed-focal lens my only method of zooming is moving closer to the subject

Squirell-1

Deeeez Nuts

horse

Why such a long face? (and weird colours you may ask)

Undergrowth-Cutout

Twigs and moss posing

END

The Moth (M.C.)

london underground

The Moth (M.C.)

The idea for this track came after I recorded the sounds emerging from a building site around the corner from my flat (as you do).  The first beat you hear is me hitting a shelf in an empty room in my house so it had a nice echo to it.  I put those two parts together and hey presto, there is the start of the track.  This has taken my computer to breaking point, mainly as there are three distinct sections; the intro section with organ and “old bar piano”, the techy middle section (causing much jumping around and even some “big-fish-little-fish-cardboard-box” type-dancing) and finally a few sinister hospital-type effects, dropping into some crunching rhythmical metal rhythms.  Then end!

The vocals are a few short sentences from Lev Shestov’s Potestas Clavium (Metaphysical Consolation).  I’ve just started reading this so am nowhere near understanding it.  It appears to be a very religious theme, but I interpret the sentences I read out as the absolute opposite – science never believes it has understood everything, and is on a constant quest of learning and understanding.  The use of this is completely inspired by the Secret Chiefs 3 song of the same name.

Tech specs – This track pretty much evolved and was written as I went along pulling in ideas that were influencing me at the time.  I’ve used my full arsenal of equipment here, layers of EZDrummer programmed drums, techno beats from the Korg Volca beats and even the live recording of a shelf being hit. I’m exploring the Korg Kross’ potential so have used a variety of patches, from the organ, piano and music box in the first section, the electronic middle section (supplemented by Mininova arpeggiator – great when you can’t think of anything else to do!) through to the crunching guitar of the end section – its been great to layer the guitars to get such a big sound.  Its also a challenge playing something on a keyboard that sounds like it could come from a guitar. I’ve tried my best.

For the first time I’ve also used some public domain samples including old army radio static, record slow down and a stolen (I like to say its me paying homage) sample from a classic rap album (answers on a postcard).

There is a potential for a re-mix too with a contribution from Mutate – moulding the soundscapes.

End.