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.

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!

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!

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.

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 Album: ‘drouth’ released today.

Today I’m releasing my first album since 2012, and the first one that’s mainly chiptune based since 2011: ‘drouth’.

drouth album cover

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.

Tracklist is as follows:

  1. obsolete by design
  2. mex
  3. flight risk
  4. bottle neck
  5. lazarus pit
  6. hang the joker
  7. Mr. K
  8. slinging dinghies
  9. wealth sprouts wings
  10. dinghy it
  11. tip of the spear
  12. playing the fool
  13. dilettante
  14. Koba

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Calculator Music with Houston Tracker

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.

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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:

Mr. K

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.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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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.

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We used a bunch of different effects to layer the sound up, and I added in chip drums later on.

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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.

New EP: ‘really something’

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.

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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.

The whole thing is up to stream/download for free over on bandcamp.

 

Tracklist:

  1. more is less
  2. out of milk
  3. gender neutral robot
  4. Down Street
  5. more is more