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Showing posts from 2013

A Cassette Reliquary

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Recently I unearthed a new forgotten bag of cassettes at my mother's house. It contained some very interesting and embarrassing moments of recorded music and speech, including a telephone conversation between myself and my first girlfriend when I was about 16 years old..sheesh what a dork I was! Nevertheless, there was also a wonderful ancient recording of my sister's little boy Paddy, at 4 years old (he is now all grown up aged 28) singing a song about the evils of whaling as only a 4 year old can. I decided to take this ancient relic of childhood and present it to my sister as a little music box containing the tape and also an mp3 recording of the same that she can listen to whenever she feels the nostalgic urge. Again I employed the Pringles speaker and knock off mp3 player but housed them in a tarted up box, quite a nice box with a magnetic fastner and fancy lining paper. I attached a metal curio to the outside and faux rivets made from dome headed upholstery tacks along

Music Made Manifest

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I wanted to give some music away. I didn't want it to be a CD, mp3 or a link to a bandcamp or soundcloud URL. I wanted it to be a sculpture. I'd been ogling the WIRE magazine's sleeves received blog for a while and thinking about the album as 'art object'. Along with the notion of artists books and limited edition runs of cassette tapes. I am making a cassette edition as it happens but this is something a bit different, unique and very limited. After gathering my technical and economic data I arrived at a symbiosis of digital and physical namely a heavily pimped pringles tube speaker. I was able to find these speakers on ebay @ a very reasonable 2 for 4 quid price tag so I purchased a few. I found an online article concerning the enhancement of the audio quality through the addition of a ported bass tube and acoustic baffling to soak up some of the nasty mid range tubiness. All that remained was to load up the super cheap mp3 players with sounds, apply the neces

Assuming the role of the Flâneur

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DiShevelled La Pelle (This is a piece I wrote for the MFA Art,Society and Publics blog after an afternoon of art activism experiments in Dundee.)  To be guided through a city space at the whim of another is to give up ones habitual pattern of travel and to enter into the nuanced space of the unfamiliar, it becomes an experience of re-visualising and rediscovering urban environments and is both an act of subversion and disobedience.     This particular  exercise granted licence for the participants to witness the cityscape in a new and unusual way. It was for example refreshing to be able to stand aimlessly on the street without fearing the suspicious glances of the public, psychologically bolstered by the silent reassurance of the art action and the complicity of the group. This sense of social liberation allowed one to indulge in a feeling of playful wonder and discovery. Of course, in the old tradition of the psychogeographic  Dérive one begins to notice details

Pavements

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The old dirt pavements near my mother's house in Barnhill are something of significance to me. I tramped these ancient byways as a child, they seemed so much longer then... Tamped down earth with a layer of fine grade gravel on top. I always wondered whether the gravel rose by some kind of gravitational osmosis from the dirt or if it was placed there on purpose. The thing is, the gravel was always there, engrained in knees and palms after a bad fall from a bike or while running wildly from unseen enemies that lurked up in the mansions of Camphill Road. These old pavements had furrows and grooves worn into them by countless feet over countless years...perhaps even Victorian ones? But still the fine gravel surface persisted. Why was it never blown or washed away by the Scottish deluge of winter? These ever present, slightly muddy paths running alongside the magnificent abodes of that particular neighbourhood. The jute baron playground of Dundee's boom years, the richest square

Aren't these Bikes a bit like those Bikes ?

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A couple of years back I wrote a post about some glorious retro bicycles I'd seen made by this company http://imperialcycles.blogspot.co.uk/ and now today I see an article in the Guardian newspaper about these http://www.derringercycles.com/ equally magnificent machines. It's hard to believe they are not made by the same guys. Maybe they are, I haven't really researched it, I just know I want one. NB: I've just had another look at the Imperial blog and it seems a bit neglected to me, the Etsy link doesn't work for a start. Maybe Derringercycles are the new face of Imperial? Does anyone out there know the answer?

Handmade DIY Fretless Bass Thing.

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A while back I went and foolishly sold my vintage Dynelectron bass guitar in a fit of non-materialistic pique (I also needed some money to pay the rent). Of course I immediately regretted it as I later craved the very distinct sound it possessed, not to mention the fact that I'd had it since I was youngster..BUT..we must not dwell on these nostalgic things...they are only 'things' after all. Best not to look back at the past through rose tinted spectacles...because actually, a lot of it was much worse than we like to selectively remember. Anyway, finding myself a bit poorer (again) and in need of low end satisfaction as it were, I turned to the web in search of solace, foolish I know, but I did stumble upon a guy who had made a rather good fretless bass from no more than a plank of 2*4 timber, some screw drivers or machine heads and a couple of strings..actually it sounded very good indeed ( nice work Ben ). Needless to say this got me thinking. Now as it happened I w

A Dundee Psychogeographic

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Recently I returned to live in the area where I was born and raised. After many years living in various parts of the British Isles and a stint in Canada my young family and I have returned to the east coast of Scotland. I am a much changed man from the one who walked these streets some 30 odd years ago. Now I'm putting together bits and pieces drawn from my creative spectrum in new ways. Here is an example. Assuming the role of the flaneur I took to the streets of Broughty Ferry with my phone cam. It's tricky to get lost in a town this size, but it's still possible to observe things that have previously passed by unseen or un-noticed. I've attached a soundtrack played on the homemade 'bamstick' bass using the usual EHX Hazarai and Holy Stain machines. played in one live take...onto cassette this time. My hope is to create a little time capsule for myself and my sons to look back on in years to come and remember the days we lived in 'The Ferry'. Her

Lo-fi Studio Tour Featuring the Bamstick Twin Neck Fretless Bass and Diddley Bow.

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So a couple of years ago I very stupidly sold my vintage Dynelectron longhorn bass guitar and immediately regretted it. Without the funds to buy a replacement the only course of action open to me was to make one. Fortunately I was studying at art college at the time and had access to the workshops and some nice bits of wood. The instrument which I have affectionately dubbed the 'Bamstick' (a Scottish word for a mad/bad person) is made of a single plank of ash with brass bridge and nut, undersaddle piezo strip pickup and flatwound shortscale strings The body is mild steel sheet and a piece of dowel. Standard guitar machine heads and a steel tailpiece. I was pretty amazed by how well it worked and I've used it on tons of recordings with great success. Looking at it I realized I could push the idea a bit further and create a really hybrid instrument. As a result of researching homemade instruments I settled upon the idea of a diddley bow or one string guitar, the most basi

Adventures in Un-popular music with a Boss Micro-BR

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I got myself a BOSS Micro-BR last year mainly because I was all out of space in my house. The arrival of son number 2 meant that my creative space was relegated to a plastic box which had to be opened and setup then put away again after every creative session...what a drag. So away went all the FX boxes, wires stands, leads and mics and out came my little studio in a fag packet size container. A miracle of modern music tech with all its built in FX and input options. Anyway, with no more than a guitar and a home made bass (more on that later) I fashioned a super swish if not rather cheesy in places, collection of er 'pop' type songs. No stylistic straightjacket for me thank you very much. There's everything on here from soul funk to rock and soothing ballads. Of course I didn't dare put my own name to it so I requisitioned a moniker from the hero of a wonderful book called 'The Moon and Sixpence' by Somerset Maugham which sets the willfully creative tone fo