wolf sanctuary

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.

Chipmusic in Japan

I’ve spent the past few weeks travelling about Japan, and had an amazing time. Coming back to the UK has been a proper reverse-culture shock. Take me back?

As part of the trip, I got in touch with some fellow chipmusicians and chiplovers thanks to tips from pselodux and ended up playing my first live set at the Space Station in Osaka.

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Thanks to Al and Jarrod Chappell for the above pics.

Expect more live stuff to come now that I’ve made the leap from the studio… Special thanks to these two for being so nice and hanging out:

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In addition to playing in Osaka, in Tokyo I met up with chiptune historian Takashi Kawano, aka akaobi. He tipped us off to an awesome underground electro gig in Koenji, with folks like SunaMachiSoundSystem performing with a Game Boy Advance and Nanoloop, and tobokegao who was rocking a DMG/LSDJ combo with tracks from his Picnic album. You should definitely check them out. Everybody was so friendly to a weird gaijin who didn’t speak a word of Japanese, so thank you for that!

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To mark the occasion, I’ve uploaded a new track to SoundCloud, which will feature on an upcoming album. Here’s BCN:

 

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!

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.

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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…

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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.

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The stage will look something like this… but smaller.

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Eurorack

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…

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

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and eh, this is the current state of affairs…

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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…

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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…

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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.

 

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:

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:

 

mexxed again

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).

Magnificent Bastard – Smile, You Fuck Remix

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My pal Lee has a new band, called Magnificent Bastard. They’ve just put our their first single – ‘Smile, You Fuck’ to stream on Bandcamp and the like.

I convinced him to let me have a bash at destroying his hard work, and he stupidly agreed. So here it is, remixed:

All of the sounds are taken from the original recording, with the exception of the Game Boy – which definitely was not.