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Showing posts from 2009

Bill Drummond at the end of recorded music.

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Long-time music biz maverick and arch provocateur, KLF founder and original thinking Scotsman Bill Drummond famous for amongst other things..the burning of one million great british pounds (see video below), "The Manual" or (how to have a number one hit the easy way) available here , recently recorded a podcast/lecture on the death of recorded music. The lecture is a fascinating potted history of recording plus an extended Drummondesque projection into the future. Thought provoking stuff and I would say a positive and heartening message for music makers everywhere..(except the major record company darlings who sell squillions of albums...do they really still exist?..hands up Robbie and Madonna). The whole thing weighs in at around 23 minutes so have a listen sometime when you can relax with a cuppa and absorb the message. Thanks should also be extended to Tom Robinson for all his posts on the excellent freshonthenet.co.uk site, a veritable wealth of helpful information an

Jan Sochor - his camera never lies

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Thanks once again to the excellent Baroque Dub site for putting me onto these stunning photographs. One of the images that really struck me (the one of the old man sitting on the ground with his guitar) made me wonder about it's origins, and underneath it I found the link to the extraordinary photo blog of Jan Sochor. Here is a brief bio from Jan's site ; "Jan Sochor, freelance photographer & media designer. He was born in the Czech Republic but he is changing his base between South America and Europe frequently, he lived and worked in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Spain and the Czech Republic in the last five years. America has become a major theme for him since then. He focuses on documentary projects trying to show and tell about the (Latin) American continent, its everyday life, social, political and cultural issues." (scary guys eh?) Just take a look at these sets of images, they are some of the most beautiful, compelling and grittily real photograph

Kristen Hersh and the creative commoner.

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I was trawling around on ccmixter the other day looking for accapella vocal tracks to sample when I came across the page of Kristen Hersh (Throwing Muses). It seems, being the wonderful experimental soul that she is, she has uploaded a load of bare vocal tracks for the remix community to play with. For those of you who don't know ccmixter , it's a site, neigh a community, that provides samples for re-mixers and mash up freaks to use legally in their creations. Contributors can license samples and accapellas under the 'Creative Commons' licensing system, a flexible set of legal copyright licenses that grant 3rd parties the legal right to 'play' with the material as opposed to the standard copyright license which allows no freedom to use copy, share or create derivitaves. see www.creativecommons.org.uk/ for all the types available. Here's a link to Kristen's accapellas on ccmixter and her cash music project page (great songs on here, and all availab

Indulge me if you will.

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About 8 years ago we boldly moved from the South East of Engerland to a small and remote Scottish town. Our initial money making venture was to set up a shop. It was a tiny little box of a place, crammed with soft toys and all manner of handmade 'stuff', we called it 'Mock Turtle' and managed to scrape a meager existence from the dribble of tourists and local kids who visited us almost every day after school with their pocket money. Anyway the thing is, there were times when it was quiet, really quiet.... I decided to make use of the days by taking a boom box in there and hooking it up to my laptop. We had lots of background music in the shop so I just started trawling through our cd collection ripping loops out of all my favourite tracks. I had a demo version of Ableton Live 3 so I had to dump whatever I had made in a day onto a minidisc, then lose the project files forever (I couldn't save in the demo). In many ways this was a really good thing because it set a

Home Entertainment Systems.

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Haha not a blog about about hi- fi or surround sound plasma screens, oh no no no. Quite the opposite in fact. These days, with music descending into mp3 hell and non-stop visual entertainment becoming as ubiquitous as chips, people are seeking something REAL! There I've said it now, it's going to be the new zeitgeist , mark my words. Real entertainment by real human beings...in your home (or someone else's ). A few years back, I had the pleasure of attending such an event on a regular basis. Down in Lewes a lass named Aylla used to open her kitchen to all and sundry about once a month and in would come local entertainers of all denominations (including Arthur Brown the god of hellfire and his acoustic guitar). In also would come an appreciative audience, bottles in hands to sit on the kitchen floor drinking and enjoying the feast of homespun music and drama. The whole place was only about 15 foot square and it could be a bit of a crush...but how great to witness a

Baroque Dub Mix Tapes - Wikidist Riddims

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I love this site, the good chap who runs it is obviously a very decent and generous fellow who wants to share his love of 'dub' with the whole world. Not only does he give away his most excellent mix tapes of eclectic dub sounds, he also provides a huge resource of sound samples, midi riddims, and a great database of links to all things musically cool including audio plug-ins and music sites of interest to the aspiring dub fiend. He also welcomes mixes that you've made using all of this stuff. He must also be a modest fellow because it took me ages to find his name anywhere on the site...Jerome Di Pietro "cheers Jerome great site!" So what is dub? Well based on my years of listening to and loving the likes of Misty In Roots, Aswad (New Chapter of Dub), Eek a Mouse, Prince Fari and Black Uhuru I used to think it was something to do with reggae and yes it is but these days it has also broadened out to encompass many other musical forms and happily begs borrows an

My kind of guitar - looks aren't everything

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Following along from the idea of the ultra compact gigpig drum kit there comes the travel guitar with integral amp/speaker, digital fx and drum machine. The Fernandes Nomad is a kidney shaped device that by all accounts plays extremely well and sounds very nice indeed. It has a little 5 watt amp built right into it and the deluxe version has a battery of high quality digitech digital fx. It comes in many gaudy colour schemes or just plain black, silver or wood. Actually I should say it 'came' in many colours because it is sadly in the past tense. So it's over to ebay where they seem still to be available. A quick browse on youtube also yields some folks demoing the instruments. I think they're kinda neat and I would love to have one just to pick up and wander about with or to jam along with other acoustic instruments. It's the immediacy factor that does it for me. I'm sick of cables and stands and hours of setting things up, I'd rather just pick up and

Gig Pig - My kind of drum kit.

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About 25 years ago, before I had a car or could even drive for that matter, I decided I needed a portable drum kit for busking with friends. I based my design on a black plastic dustbin with a lid, several kids snare drums and el cheapo tambourines. The snare and hi-hat assembly strapped onto your leg via a big wide Velcro elastic strip while in the sitting position and the open/close hat was operated by a hoop and string mechanism hanging down to the left foot. The toms where attached separately by a wooden dowel to the short plank that held the snare and hi-hat. The whole lot fitted inside the bin which doubled as a very respectable sounding kik drum. I did actually busk this kit at the strawberry fayre in Cambridge with a couple of pals playing acoustic guitars. We called ourselves 'Colossus'! What a laugh, actually I thought we sounded pretty good. I think my portable kit fell apart shortly after that, but at least it lived for 1 legendary gig. And now these guys have

Panic Attacks - How to cure them.

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I used to suffer from sporadic anxiety attacks during my teens that occurred usually for no real reason that I was aware of and at strange times like sitting in a cafe or a cinema. At the time I was like most people quite unaware of the underlying causes but suffered them blindly until they disappeared by themselves. Of course they never went away for good. I was relatively free of them until my late twenties when I began to have them more and more frequently until at the worst point I was living in what can only be described as a permanent state of anxiety that lasted for about 2 years solid. Looking back, knowing what I know now, I can see that my nerves where in tatters mainly because of being in bad relationships and stressful emotional situations combined with an unconscious suppression of my natural instincts in order to keep the status quo...how many people live in that kind of situation, be it a marriage/relationship, a crap job, a place you live, financial stress or just a ge

Folkstreams - folk roots documentaries from the big country.

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This is a hugely fascinating site. It hosts an amazing catalogue of historic documentary films about old style roots american life. The archive includes everything from the most ancient all the way up to present day material on things like storytelling and youth culture. The subjects are diverse and range from outsider art to real blue ridge hillbilly music and Mississippi delta blues, quilt making, painting, letter cutting, chainsaw art, fishing, shakers, body art, aging, death and ritual. These films were all made, (quite often on 16mm film) by people who were real enthusiasts about the subjects they loved and they capture some real, gritty and beautifully honest portraits of old time down home life U.S style. My personal favourites include; Sonny Terry : Shoutin' the Blues Homemade American Music Stoney Knows How - An old school tattoo film Final Marks : The Art of the Carved Letter Dreams and Songs of the Noble Old Cowboy Poets Folkstreams.net Inneresting.

Hyper Jeff - Mac Apps Galore

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Got a mac, need an app ? Look no further than here. Hyper Jeff If you enjoy sifting through lists of new and wonderful applications sorted by type, category and licence, ie freeware, shareware, paid etc then this is the place for you. I've been using Jeff's site for years now to unearth many marvelous pieces of software. Go have a look and see what you can find, just use the 'pick a category' drop down and start trawling. inneresting .

Esoteric Photography, Alchemical Art.

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I've been looking into alternative photography recently, more specifically, making prints using unconventional techniques. It's a practise that lies somewhere between photography, painting and printing. It utilises archaic chemistry and modern technology (and the sun), to create haunting images with unpredictable and deeply atmospheric qualities. For example, 'digital negatives' are a kind of reverse engineering of digital photography whereby a negative is created from a digital positive. The process is fairly straightforward. Here it is very briefly. a. Take a digi image you like, bung it into photoshop reverse it, make it monochrome and tweak the levels to adjust mid-tones and contrast, some practitioners recommend giving it an overall orange hue for reasons of tonality in the subsequent creation of a positive (See links for detailed processes.) b. Print out the image on a sheet of A4 inkjet/photocopier transparent film so that you have a nice big A4 negative. A

HDR Imaging....Tasty.

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What the hell is HDR imaging? Well, I liken it to what mastering engineers do to audio tracks before they go on a cd. They add the gloss, sheen and sparkle, saturate the loudness levels and even-out all the lumps. A similar mastering process happens to video and film in post-production where engineers do magic to the colour balance, brightness and general look of the material and ensure it adheres to broadcast safe parameters, before going to press. HDR stands for 'high dynamic range'. In music mastering, a thing called the 'dynamic range' is an important factor in preserving the 'light and shade' in the music (a big problem in today's uber loud cd production strategies where dynamic range is severely comprimised). In visual terms it's kinda similar and employs a technique called 'tone mapping' which seems to give digital images an almost eye popping hyper-realism, probably approaching something akin to what you really see with your eyes, rath