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Ectopic Beats

WALL

I’ve had an idea in my head for years about doing some kind of big doom metal track with crunching guitars and blast beats. I’ve finally got round to extracting the idea from brain to airwaves. Not content with keeping it straight “doom”, I’ve snuck in some 80s synth pop/rock, dark metal screaming, middle eastern twangs and some other synth warblings.

Not for the faint hearted or anyone with sensitive eardrums, here is ……. Ectopic Beats.

Techy stuff: All drums manually programmed on EZDrummer using the Drumkit from Hell kits, but I also managed to include a short section using the classic TR8 drum machine. For the first time I’ve also programmed all of the guitar lines (played through a Korg Kross) and most of the lead lines as well, using the in-built Cubase synth Halion Sonic. Its a totally different way of working and its been great to try something different and be able to change sounds after you’ve laid a part down, but then I don’t think you quite get the same vibe as “normal” recording.  Great to give it a try though, and that’s what the music is about on the site, trying out different stuff! The Arturia Microbrute also features here, leaving programming at the door, that’s just big dirty analogue sounds and live tweaking.

On other subjects, running is becoming all time-consuming now with the next few weeks dedicated to building up my fitness to achieve a 50km run at the end of March. Followed by the Manchester Marathon two weeks later. It may be my legs that end up in a bucket rather than the tentacles after that. I’m doing the run for sponsorship, so if any kind souls out there want to sponsor me, please visit my JustGiving page HERE

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

ゴジラ

GD

Geek Info: Sticking with the theme of “Get the F on with it”, this is another piece developed from a very quick idea over the weekend.  Only two bits of kit used – all the synth sounds from the Novation Mininova and all drums from the …. *electronic drum roll*……. Roland TR-8.  which is a fantastic drum machine modelled on the original TR808.  I almost said “analogue drum machine” but its not – Its using the very best of modern technology to make it sound like something old.  There must be some logic in there somewhere!

I’ve also been trying to do some painting recently.  Not much time to dedicate to it, but I’ve followed a beginners book and did the classic bowl of fruit yesterday.  Following a guide really showed me how little I know about painting, but it was incredibly enjoyable.  The new “painting” area of the blog HERE

Wandering the streets

An all photography post here.  I went on a beginners photography course the other day and whilst I’d previously picked up quite a bit from the net and magazines, it was good to have someone drumming the main principles of photography into you, balancing exposure, shutter speed and ISO.  We got ejected into the centre of Manchester during lunchtime to try out our new-found skills so here are a few I took.  I’ve taken a lot of “stills” over the last few months so I focused on capturing people this time….

drummer

This live drumming enchanted the little girl (and me) ……

Girl

Fantastic hair – this young lady was facing the other way and spun round as I took the photo.  I think she caught me!

Outdoor

Al fresco dining and al fresco living …….

Sax

Sax in the Northern Quarter

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.

Reflections

I’ve recorded this piece over the weekend and have titled it ‘Reflections’ in relation to my other post earlier today on Remembrance Day.

Reflections

Reflections

Tech details – mixing this has made me realise I definitely need some new monitors. My old unbranded monitors, kindly butchered into ‘active’ speakers with a Maplin amp by BigBadBeezer have had their day. Time to go shopping…..

I managed to get completely covered in wires by trying to use most of my gear – the Korg Kross features heavily for the more natural sounds, along with warped electronic sounds from the Novation Mininova. Drums are programmed using EZDrummer, but I also dropped in a few subtle parts on the Korg Volca Beats. I was trying to mix natural sounds with electronic and quite like the result.

In the spirit of rambling on, I am also particularly excited about the new Secret Chiefs 3 album which is currently somewhere between California and Copperas St.  Ten years in the making by the sound architect Trey Spurance it is sure to be a gem.  Their music for me is such an uplifting experience – it is a completely different level – the detail, the playing, the composition, the recording quality is unrivalled. Yet the world watches X-Factor…….  sigh…… arrive soon Book of Souls: Folio A.

The New Wave

Here is the new beginning of the Bucket.  Now the tentacles rule, only the mighty waves holding back their slithering wrath.

The-new-wave

What all that means of course is a new piece! Similar in style to my last post, this is a development of the theme… the bionic-tentacle world.  A push on the drum programming (especially the death metal fills towards the end) and still exploring the synth world – its so different to the natural vibe I’ve tried to use before.  More to come……  Other news, I have found a new piano teacher in Manchester – very talented classical player from Ukraine – I’m looking forward to getting back into regular lessons again – and of course some pieces I learn will be posted here.

Also – check out a friend of mines book – Twitch Rises – fantastic descriptive horror writing!

Bucket of Tenatcles EP

It wouldn’t be right to have a musical blog without an official release, so here it is, the very first Bucket of Tentacles EP.  The anticipation is all my own, but this is a collection of my favourite pieces over the last year, along with a very limited edition CD cover (limited in that there is only one).

Bucket-of-Tentacles-EP

Bucket of Tentacles (17.5 hot minutes)

“My short collection of sounds inspired by, and dedicated to, the underwater world.  Like animals and habitats around the world, constantly under threat of destruction.  The majesty of the ocean and all that is within it should be preserved.  Let the tentacles rule.

All music taken from the Bucket of Tentacles blog, which has, and continues to be, a gradual progression of musical learning and exploration.”

Next steps are …… more piano practice, more composition practice, more mixing practice, and hopefully another EP…..

The Life Side

1. Tentaculus 

2. Batoidea

3. Perseus

4. Interlude

The Death Side

5. Big Mouth No Voice

6. Trecena

7. Last Chance to See

Last Chance to See (Tentacle 8)

T8-pic

Last Chance to See (Tentacle 8)

I started this blog in June 2012 by uploading “tentacle 1” and mentioning that I may do an “octology”.  A year later and I have reached the final tentacle – Tentacle 8.  As it turns out, the octology didn’t work out as eight beautifully moulded and crafted soundscapes, but more a random kludgeon of pieces that happened to end up with a similar name.  Whilst I’ve been uploading plenty of other stuff in the last 12 months, I’ve reserved the “tentacles” for the slightly more warped side of my taste…… so, here is Tentacle 8 – completely inspired by the Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine book – Last Chance to See.  I would have loved to accompany this with a photo i’d taken of any of the animals in the book, but that rapidly becoming almost impossible  …….

All self-programmed drums this time, using the Drumkit from Hell samples from EZdrummer.  The rest is all from the Korg Microstation and my guttural growls.  I strong-armed Victoria into a couple of vocals at the end too 🙂 Thanks VT.  The last year has been a massive learning curve on so many things, piano, keyboard, melody, composition, mixing, music software, MIDI, even photography and picture editing, and a slight bit of drawing ….. so much more to learn 🙂