Blog Archives

All change…

Tentacles-for-WP

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…..

The Bucket

 

 

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Private Show (and some piano)

Private Show

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….

DStinton Victoria Station

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!)

 

Prelude (Piano Lesson)

Here are a couple of pieces from my piano lessons as its been a while since I’ve recorded any.  These have taken a while to learn as they’re classical which keeps both hands busy (and twists my brain).  Anyway, they both happen to be called “Prelude”.  The first one “Prelude in C” is noted as attributed to Bach and edited by Richard Jones, so here it is.

The second one has no noted credits on it, but the way I play it here its probably best they don’t know.  This needs a lot more work to get the hands working together, but as a record of progress, here it is warts and all.

I’m working on a new “proper” track using a great new hybrid analogue/digital synth, the Roland JD-Xi.  I’ve only had it a week, but am getting on very well with it.  The track (inc. drums) will all be created using that synth and its vocoder (!!) and is warming up to be a bit of a dark drum’n’bass / hip-hop type track.  In fact I’m going to record a few bits for it now…..

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!

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” 🙂

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)

 

Cheesy 80s Keyboard Blues Sounds

I picked up a book from Oxfam recently, “Play it Again, Chester – Boogies, Rags and Blues for Piano”.  These are beginners pieces, so it was nice to be able to pick up a piece of music and learn it relatively quickly.  I’ve spent a bit of time during piano lessons on these too and have been meaning to record these for a while, but hadn’t got round to it.  What better to do on a bank holiday than waste some time recording on an 80s keyboard!  I took the old Casiotone 405 from the top of the wardrobe and recorded three of the pieces from the book.  I would hope it goes without saying that these are intentionally….. er……. crap sounding, with the old drums backing tracks.  I realise it may be difficult to tell the difference between these synth sounds and a real piano, electric guitar and organ 🙂

Merry Go Round

Here they are, cheesy tracks just for fun.  Play it again, Chester….. whoever you are.

Blue Waltz (Carol Barratt) 
Lazy Haze (Carol Barratt)
Navy Blues (Carol Barratt)

The keyboard they were recorded on:

Casio Polaroid