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.

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.

ti83plus.jpg

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:

FOE – The Black Lodge

Just to prove I am actually doing something. Here’s the current state of my recording studio bedroom.

I’m butchering  covering a track from the wonderful FOE called the Black Lodge. 

Have a listen to the original below.

snore support

If it wasn’t for Toby Hayes aka Shoes and Socks Off, this whole musical adventure wouldn’t exist. He’s been in all sorts of amazing bands, and I’d probably have burned all of my instruments in a fire on Glasgow’s High Street if our paths hadn’t crossed. You have him to blame.

Here’s a light-hearted track with guitar from the man himself, which will be on the next album.

Man of Lists Profile – PulcoMusic.com

A while back my good friend Pulco aka Ash Cooke asked me to take a couple of poems that he’d recorded and destroy them. 

This I did, and they’re appearing on an album along with the far more musical efforts by other people soon. Have a click through to read a wee feature on me, and more about the album itself.

It’s good; I’ve heard it.

I don’t do covers very often. Infact, it’s probably one of the main reasons why my guitar playing is nowhere near as good as it should be given the length of time I’ve actually been doing it. Reproducing other people’s songs just isn’t something that comes naturally.

Anyway, sometimes these things just happen.

Back in another life and another band I shared a stage with these chaps, and it struck a chord tonight for a whole set of reasons, and I thought I’d have a bash.

Check out my massacre of ‘Moving to New York’ by the Wombats below.

moving to ny by unexpectedbowtie

Collaboration Preview – Track 3 – ‘marks for effort’

with Burning Buildings

This track is a much softer, less grizzly track than the last one that involved Pulco. It comes with a piano melody courtesy of Manchester’s Burning Buildings. They’re awfully nice chaps, and probably slightly unhinged… but the end product is one that I’m really personally pleased with. Sometimes there are melodies that just fit your vocal-style to a tee, and for me this is one of them. Hopefully you might like it too.

You can find some of their tracks for free over at Bandcamp, tweets on Twitter, and a review over at Artrocker.

marks for effort by unexpectedbowtie