I’ve been making music under the unexpected bowtie guise for years now, but have never put together a physical release. Today, drouth became the first (hopefully of many), released on just 10 hand-painted, hand-numbered cassettes:
They are available over on the Cow Tongue Taco Records shop, and there are only four left – so grab a copy quick if you want one. I won’t be making any more after this!
When I was recording drouth, there were a bunch of tracks that I wish had vocals, but that I couldn’t quite come up with something on my own. In the end, it worked out for the album that they remained largely instrumental… but I thought it would be cool to get some different folks to do their own take on vocals.
As part of that, musician pal Christy Scott lent me her voice for a couple of tracks. Ultimately, the idea is to release all of them as a collection. For now though, here’s a new version of ‘mex’, with Christy on vocals. I think it sounds pretty great…
You can download it here. (right click > save as).
Just saw that the latest album drouth has been approved for Spotify, so those of you fiends who don’t like Bandcamp can stream it to your heart’s content. It makes no difference to me where you get it!
The really something EP was already on there, but the oldie habeas corpus was not. I gave them a prod, and that’s available now too. It’s worth noting that the Spotify version is slightly different to the actual album version, as their licensing requirements precluded me from including a couple of bits in the distribution… so if you want the full, unadulterated thing, find it on Bandcamp.
Today I’m releasing my first album since 2012, and the first one that’s mainly chiptune based since 2011: ‘drouth’.
The album is entirely composed on LSDJ using a bunch of different modified Gameboys, which were then in turn to control different instruments like a Commodore 64, Volca Bass, etc that play additional parts to give a much deeper sound. Along with a smattering of guitar and vocals, it’s much more an experimental (sometimes ambient) electronic album than a chiptune focussed one.
Unlike previous occasions, I’ve spent a lot more time putting the pieces together for this, even re-mastering the entire thing a few days ago when I realised that the original left the Gameboy sounding a little bit too harsh.
You can download it in full, for whatever price you choose, over at bandcamp – or stream at the bottom of the page.
Not too long ago I read about how some genius called ‘irrlicht project’ had hacked old Texas Instruments graphing calculators so they could be used to make 1-bit music. Naturally, I had to have a bash at this myself. There’s something particularly special and rewarding about being able to compose whole tracks on devices that were never intended to work that way.
The models that support the ‘Houston Tracker‘ software are seemingly everywhere in the US, as they were apparently a mandatory purchase for many schools. That means they can usually be picked up fairly cheap second hand over there. However, as it turns out, these weren’t all that prevalent in the UK, so they are still fairly pricey – coming in at around £30 on eBay.
I finally got an okay deal though, and got to work getting Houston Tracker onto the device. It’s not all that straightforward, as you need a specific kind of cable – which costs almost the same as the damn calculator. Importing one from America worked out to be the most cost effective route in the end. Installation wise, there’s a lot of fiddling about to get the dependencies right on OSX, unless you use MacPorts – which saved the day. Once it was all up and running though, it was pretty good fun to use – with a whole host of features that I didn’t expect.
I recorded a fairly simple tune to find my way around the controls, and decided to record it. The raw calculator sound was a bit too bare for my tastes, so I threw in some minimal effects and overlaid some glitchy guitars/harmonised vocals. Here it is, my first calculator music track:
It’s been a while since I got pished on a Saturday night and just recorded some music. Well, I ended up recording after an hour of fighting with my mixer to work out why the stereo output was only producing mono…
There’s always the risk that it could have been my crappy soldering, which meant testing out every possible step. So many variables. Surprisingly, it wasn’t actually any of the Gameboys, but the mixer.
I’m pretty pleased with the result, and it should give a hint as to what the next album will sound like. Listen to and download it below:
To finish off, here’s a picture of my tidied up workspace.
On Friday I spent some time in the studio working on different tracks. One of them was an experimental cover of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ with my sister and her boyfriend singing and playing guitar. They studied music at University, and it was nice to record with people who knew what they were doing.
We used a bunch of different effects to layer the sound up, and I added in chip drums later on.
You can hear and download the track below. It’s ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ like you’ve never heard it before. In someone else’s words:
I could imagine it being played at a f**** up fun fare with porcelain dolls singing as they go round in a Ferris wheel.
After the last few posts concentrating largely on gear and production stuff, it’s good to be able to follow up with one centred on music.
I had planned to wait until I had an album together before releasing anything, but it became clear that a number of the earlier tracks had a sound that naturally branched off in a group. As a result, my first release in 4 years will be a 5 track EP titled ‘really something’. I can’t quite believe it’s been that long, but there we go.
The tracks themselves are all fairly laid back, and stripped back a lot from my previous sample-heavy chiptune releases. The only time the pulse really increases a shade is on ‘Down Street’, a track which previously only ever featured on the ‘Relycs‘ collaborative release that was put out on cassette, and dedicated to abandoned tube stations.
It feels like a nice transition. Listen out for my pal Haigie’s laugh on track 5.