Osaka Gig and New Track

unexpected bowtie live Osaka poster

I’m going to be in Japan in the next couple of weeks, and have confirmed my first live outing as unexpected bowtie, at Space Station in Osaka, which is apparently in the ‘Top 30 Recommended Sights of Japan as Chosen by Foreign Visitors‘. The set will be stripped down to a single Game Boy only, given that we are travelling, so should be something a little different. If you happen to be in the area, it’d be awesome to see you there!

chiptune - portable rig

To mark the occasion, I’ve written a new track that’s up now on Soundcloud. Composition wise, it’s just a single Game Boy, with a tiny little added bit of Commodore 64, and extra drums. Enjoy!

Whoahoahoah what’s going on

I haven’t posted in a while, but that isn’t as a result of a lack of activity… quite the opposite. It’s been a fairly busy couple of months. I head over to Japan for 3 weeks shortly, so before we go on a short hiatus, here’s an update on what’s been going on… complete with lots of pictures.

Closet Organ – 5318008

My grunge pish band released our debut album, which was recorded in just three days in a cottage in the middle of nowhere. It got partly funded via Kickstarter, and we have vinyl on the way, which is pretty exciting. You can order a digital/tape/vinyl copy by clicking on the artwork below…

Cover Artwork.jpg

and if you are supremely lazy, then you can stream below… right from this page:

We have our album launch gig on Saturday in Glasgow at the 13th Note, with the awesome Ex Wives. Come along if you happen to be in the area… it should be a good one. Click through on the poster for the Facebook event.

Closet Organ and Ex Wives.png

The stage will look something like this… but smaller.



I was always totally confused and intimidated by the world of Eurorack, but I suppose it was inevitable that I would end up getting involved at some point. I started out by getting a single 3u row skiff case, and a few modules…


and ended up progressing to a wooden 6u rack cabinet…


and eh, this is the current state of affairs…


The whole thing is helping me understand synthesis and signal flow a lot better, which is definitely a good thing. I am still investigating how best to incorporate the wonderful sounds that the various modules create in my music… but it’s just a matter of taking the time. I suspect it will form part of a cup fungus release in future, though the possibilities are (dangerously) endless. The lights and… tactility of the whole thing is irresistible, and I’m looking forward to devoting some attention to it after the Japan trip.

One cool module worth mentioning is the SID Guts. It uses a C64 chip for producing sounds, which of course is something I had to try out. I ordered a chip from some ‘specialist’ seller on eBay, and it was so badly packed that it turned up like this…


Needless to say, I was not happy. I sent it back, and took the opportunity to get an 8580 SID from elsewhere. I’ve got 6581 chips in both my TherapSID and the actual C64, so good to try out a bit of variation.

Despite all of my Eurorack desires, I’ll be stopping at two rows for now. I have a third row all planned out, but it’s probably wise to take a step back and release something based on the gear that I already have before plowing ahead any further.

Moar GameBoys

Because you can never have too many. I finally got my act together and finished up a project that I’d had on the back burner for a while – an all ‘white’ DMG, complete with white backlight, frosted white case, white case LEDs, and glow in the dark buttons. I even used white wire on the inside. It looks pretty awesome…


So what’s next?

Once I come back from scowering the various second hand electronics shops in Japan, I have a bunch of different projects that I want to pull together:

  • A new, full length unexpected bowtie album, written on LSDJ.
  • A mini album, written entirely on Houston Tracker 2 – using a calculator.
  • A compilation of remixes and b-sides.
  • A new cup fungus release.

So plenty of things in the works.


drouth (reprise)

drouth purpleroutenote

drouth purpleroutenote.jpg

Writing vocals for electronic tracks is a totally different ball game to other kinds of music, and can be particularly daunting if you come from a more traditional style of songwriting. Because of that, back when I was writing drouth, I found myself hitting a wall fairly frequently, and I wondered what it would be like to ask some other artists I know to give their own take on the tracks if they had free reign to do whatever they wanted to them vocally.

I pulled together a few talented folk who were up for giving it a bash, and despite some initial protests (‘wtf am I going to do with this!?’), they have re-imagined the tracks in some amazing ways… to the extent that the new versions are even better than the originals.

Here’s a bit more info on who is on there…

Andrew Howie

Andrew Howie is a Scottish singer-songwriter with an incredible voice who has been making music on a whole variety of different instruments for as long as I can remember. For this release, he turned his hand to ‘bottle neck’, which resulted in the seriously cool ‘bottle neck heart attack’. You’d think he had been doing this electronic stuff all along.

You can find more from Andrew on his bandcamp.


Christy Scott is an old young friend and tcheuchter upstart from the true North-East of Scotland. Usually found foraging in the more traditional music world, she brought some impressive soul to new versions of both ‘mex’ and ‘bottle neck’.

Follow along with her inevitable successes on her Facebook page.

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Carly Stambaugh is a fellow Automattician, from across the pond in San Francisco. She wants to be Cyndi Lauper when she grows up, and lended her vocal stylings to a new take on ‘obsolete by design’. Photo credit: Marcus Kazmierczak


Pulco aka Ash Cooke is a Welsh madman who lives in the middle of nowhere, and a long term collaborator and friend. He is one of the most prolific musicians I know, with a huge back catalogue up on Bandcamp – well worth checking out. He brought his unique brand of spoken word beauty to two tracks: ‘wealth sprouts wings’, and ‘Mr. K’.

As for the music itself, you can download it for free over on Bandcamp, stream it below, or check out Spotify in a couple of weeks when it appears. If you like any of the tracks in particular, give the folk above a shout. I know they’d appreciate the support, and they definitely deserve it!

Do doo do do

David Cameron delivers a Press Statement outside No 10, Downing Street to inform of his EU deal made in Brussels last night.

After David Cameron announced that he was stepping aside to let that creature Theresa May into the position of completely unelected Prime Minister, he was caught ‘humming’ a wee ditty as he walked back into Number 10. Definitely a man who has checked out.

I quite liked the sound of it, so gave it a remix below:

See ya Davey. It’s been real.

(For another remix, check out this one from Graeme Coleman – complete with accompanying video)

Image ‘David Cameron delivers EU statement outside Downing Street‘ by Number 10 used under CC license.

cup fungus – defame the dead

defame the dead

defame the dead

Following on from the release of drouth, I found a new project quickly formed and gathered steam. Rather than use Game Boys to compose, I started exploring different electronic instruments. The result was a much more unpredictable, experimental, and far noisier sound than I’ve had before. That shift meant that it didn’t quite feel like an unexpected bowtie album, and so I’ve chosen to release it under a different name: ‘cup fungus’.

Today is the official release date where it crashes angrily into the world.

You can download the album for free on Bandcamp, or stream it via Spotify as of right now (search ‘cup fungus’). If you are interested in something a bit more physical, there are also an extremely limited number (only five!) of hand painted cassette tapes available from my label – cow tongue taco records.

cup fungus cassette.jpg

Retrograde: New Adventures in Chiptune


One of my tracks from the ‘really something’ EP, released in January of this year is featured on a new compilation from ‘I Thought You Were a Marxist Records’, named ‘Retrograde: New Adventures in Chiptune’.

The label has got a whole pile of artists that make some really interesting, weird experimental music, so I’m pretty pleased to be included in amongst them. Have a listen for free over on their Bandcamp, or below:

New Track: MTL

Over the past couple of months I’ve been acquiring different bits of gear in a sort of obsessive kleptomaniac fashion to build upon the basic foundations of chiptune, and explore the different things I can do with it. As part of that, I’ve gotten a bunch of cool (and definitely not cheap) hardware sequencers… but I find myself constantly coming back to the Game Boy.

Musicians in the chiptune world often talk about the limitations of the console as one of the things that inspires them. For me, it’s probably the opposite: I am amazed at just how powerful these old handhelds can be, controlling all sorts of different gear. Primarily though, I just love composing on LSDJ.

The natural progression from drouth feels like it lies in an album that still has its roots firmly in the chipmusic world (composed entirely on a Game Boy – with the DMG sounds in the mix) – but with a deeper electronic influence, with the handheld sequencing other synthesisers to a greater degree.

Game Boy on Plane

I visited Montreal recently, and composed a track on the plane rather than watching the same old terrible TV re-runs that were available (another plus for the Game Boy there in its portability…). When I got back to Glasgow, I put it all together and recorded it. Have a listen below: