How this site (and me) have changed since its inception in 2012. Loads of music has been uploaded, culminating in three short “releases”; Bucket of Tentacles (2013), Analogue (2014) and The Illicium Lure (2015). I’m very proud of what I managed to pull together as a “solo artist” since starting to learn the piano and its more than I ever really expected, but I developed a new passion, running, which I’ve gradually started sneaking into this blog. Like many things I’ve tried in life its become an all-consuming activity to the extent that there is no time for music and I unfortunately seem to have currently lost the desire. I go running, in the mud, instead and haven’t touched my piano since around April 2016.
I’ve really enjoyed blogging to this site, so I’ve been contemplating how to continue with a running theme, and have now set up an alternative blog at www.allhailthetrail.co.uk
For anyone interested in my running exploits then please have a visit and follow. Otherwise, thanks for following this blog and any comments along the way. I expect to continue uploading Bucket of Tentacles style photographs now and again and who knows, maybe some more squelchy synth noises and horror beats will re-appear.
Bucket of Tentacles is descending to the depths from where it emerged. For the moment…..
I spotted this whilst out and about and had to get a picture. The homeless man perhaps trying to enjoy a rare nice moment of life with a good read accompanied by some violin. At least it gave me the title to this post: Private Show.
On to the point of the post, its been ages since I’ve recorded any piano, so here are a few pieces I’ve been playing in my lessons. First up, is the start of Sarabande in D minor by Handel. I played it a few times on piano and then switched to the strings setting and thought it sounded better, so I recorded it like that.
Sarabande in D minor (Handel)
Here is the piano version too.
Next up is a piece I started learning over two years ago, but then gave up on it. I picked it up again recently so thought I’d record it. It is Bach, Prelude in C. This has been difficult, firsty to keep up the consistency of the continuous rhythm, but then also inject some feeling into it because of its continuous rhythm, but here it is as a record of my progress. The piece is fantastic, with some amazing chord progressions throughout.
Prelude in C (Bach)
Finally, a piece from Jazz Piano Pieces – Grade 2. I bought the book because I wanted to try and do a few pieces that I can learn relatively quickly. I’ve still found them tough though!
Contemplation (Tyner arr. Iles)
Just to finish off with a random picture, here is the outside of Victoria Station in Manchester City Centre. Its an air-filled ETFE roof and looks great in the right light. These couple of pics were from my new Lumix GX7, now at bargain price due to the release of the GX8. I’ve not had much chance to try it out yet other than one quick wander round the city and I didn’t manage to capture much….
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!
1. Lost (Self Inflicted Desolation)
2. Fleuve Parasseux
4. Interlude (Tango)
7. Interlude (Donkey Kong)
8. Number stations
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.
Time to get back to the roots of this blog and get some music up! Here is my latest offering – “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!)
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!
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.
An intriguing doorway on Thomas Street
Suspiciously lurking in Short Street.
Go on. Phone them.
This shop is clearly mistaken as to where exactly they have set up their business
“We’ve been building something”. Have you? Where?
Grime at its finest.
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.
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)