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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

 

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!)

 

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.

 

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

 

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)

 

 

Blue Note

Strictly speaking this is a piano lesson piece, but rather than record it pure piano (mainly because I can’t play both hands together yet), I’ve added some sax, drums and bass.  Its taken from Alan Haughton’s “Rhythm and Rag” book.  Its great to play because the basslines are very James Bond.  The picture? It’s a shark….. because ……well …….er ……. they’re a little bit “James Bond” aren’t they? Also, its about time this blog got back to it’s slippery roots.

Blue Note (Alan Haughton)

SHark

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 NQ

Here’s a quick mess around dedicated to my new home, the Northern Quarter in Manchester.  As with most Bucket of Tentacles uploads, I try and get a basic couple of bits down and then just improv over to top.  Dedicated to perfection….. I think not sar!  A bit of an experiment with programming drums and the Novation Mininova.

The NQ

Ridelow

I can’t wait to have a good wander round the city with my camera in hand, but the quick pic from my phone will have to do for the moment.  There is some fantastic street art around here, and lots of buildings full of character……

Next few tasks ahead are find myself a new piano teacher (why do so many not respond?!), record a few new piano pieces and then move into a warped next phase of BoT!  And of course, get Viktoria up here with me 🙂