Playing in Glasgow

Last night I played as unexpected bowtie at Stereo in Glasgow, closing out the charity gig that I mentioned in the last post.

After years of recording in the studio, 2016 has been the year for getting out and playing live – first in Osaka, and now in my home city. This time around, I expanded my setup slightly from having just two Game Boys, to make things a bit more interesting.

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I also roped in Lee aka radiomoths to come along and lend a hand by controlling visuals to spice things up. When the screen broke, he managed to grab some pictures as well. How multi-talented. All pictures from here out are thanks to him…

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Thanks a lot to the Uncovered Artistry folks for having us!

Check out the video below for a look at a bit of the gig…

New Album: TOKYO

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Today I’m releasing my fifth full-length unexpected bowtie album: TOKYO.

Darker and more up-tempo than most of my previous work, TOKYO was primarily written on a DMG-01 Game Boy using LSDJ, though there is some extra synthy goodness and guitars thrown in for good measure.

Written while on long international plane and train journeys, this is music inspired by the lights and movement of globe-trotting; a lingering salute to the people that make up some of the greatest cities in the world.

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You can stream the album for free on Bandcamp, or get the full digital download for £3. There are also 15 hand-painted cassette tapes available for £5 each, which look pretty awesome if I do say so myself. It will eventually be on Spotify as well, but not for another few weeks.

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This week hasn’t been the easiest. This track felt like an appropriate reflection.

Recorded with some Commodore 64 SID chips, a bunch of Eurorack, drones, some guitar, and far too many effects pedals.

Osaka Gig and New Track

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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!

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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!

drouth (reprise)

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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.

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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

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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

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

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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.

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Retrograde: New Adventures in Chiptune

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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: