Sunday 11 October 2009

Kristen Hersh and the creative commoner.

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 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 available to remix and mash)

and ccmixter itself.


Indulge me if you will.

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 deadline and forced my hand into finishing things instead of tinkering endlessly, (which I find sucks the life out of lots of potentially good music).
So for about 2 weeks I made these tracks in between customers coming in and then just before closing time dumped them onto minidisc (the quality has suffered a bit due to the multiple analogue to digital conversions) but there you have it, a bunch of one off never to be repeated mash-ups, the tracks actually work rather well as a collection, I've had alot of good feedback about this one. Have a listen for yourself. Of course, there's not a legal sample anywhere in sight so if the feds come knocking on my door... I'll come peacefully officer. Notable contributors include Vivian Stanshall, Eg and Alice, Dylan Thomas, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and a great bass line from Serge Gainsbourg.
Hope you enjoy it.

Listen Here Soundcloud

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Home Entertainment Systems.

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 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 artists wedged between you and the cooker giving it their all. Intimate.

Anyways, years later, 'Aylla's Kitchen' is all but a happy memory. But wait, I see we were not alone.

Here's a couple of sites that point to a resurgence...

First off real people telling real save myself some typing I'm going to steal from my mate Andy's blog:

Just wanted to share my recent discovery of a phenomenon known as "The Moth", an organization founded in New York in 1997 by poet and novelist George Dawes Green, which celebrates the art of live storytelling.
I can also recommend the Alan Rabinowitz "Man & Beast", and Richie DiSalvo's "Anthony The Hat" stories from that same page.

The podcast has some gems too, including NYPD police officer Steve Osborne's "Mug Shot" which is worth listening to for the wonderfully extreme NY accent alone!

I think it's difficult to beat the age old pleasure of hearing real life experiences being shared by "normal" everyday's refreshing and far more compelling in my view than the synthetic, trashy, formulaic soap operas and dramas we are fed on TV these days (with the exception of quality shows like "The Wire" of course!)

Anyway, this inspired concept has got me thinking about the oncoming Winter nights and the prospect of holding a storytelling evening with a few friends...a nice roaring fire in the grate and a wee dram. Nothing like a little homegrown entertainment!

Cheers Andy! (link to Andy's blog)

Second site is oriented to live music but it's a similar kind of thing
House concerts are not a new concept but seem to be gaining popularity. Check them out here: