A week of spinning plates

It’s been an interesting week musically, with a whole host of different plates successfully kept spinning. There were a few occasions where they almost came crashing down, but not quite.

Closet Organ-9203.jpg

First off, the BBC came round to record a short interview about the music, which is pretty cool. It should be up sometime soon, so watch this space. It had to be the time where my LSDJx2 refused to synch properly of course. Sod’s law.

Next up, I launched the noisepedals.com site to look at different effects boxes and electronic instruments – which means I get to record and experiment with sounds that I’d not normally have had a chance to.

Then, on Sunday I headed into the studio with the newly re-born Closet Organ – a grunge band that was formed with some pals way back in High School; this time with Lee on board as second guitar which gives it an interesting new dynamic. After initially forgetting my laptop (eugh), we got three tracks done in five hours. Not bad at all. Looking forward to getting a whole bunch more done in the next few months.

Coming back to unexpected bowtie, the final tracks of the new album are coming together, so it shouldn’t be too long before I’m able to release it. It’s still missing something though. It’ll be a bit quieter over the next few days as non-music life takes over, but it feels good to be busy again.

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

IMG_0302.JPG

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.

IMG_0301.JPG

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

IMG_0299.JPG

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.

Setting up a dedicated music making space

Over the past couple of years I’ve hardly written or recorded any music. Part of this is because I’ve been so busy doing other things: moving flat, grappling with the UK immigration process, getting married, and travelling a lot. On top of that though, was the lack of any dedicated space where I could leave my recording gear set up, ready to be used whenever.

The time has come to do something about it, and I’ve reclaimed space in a corner alcove that previously was home to our washing and a couple of bikes.

Behold, the new studio:

I’ve set up the Kaoss pad, along with the mixer and Gameboys – all illuminated in some bright LED lights. It’s amazing what having a decent area set aside for making music can do to your motivation.

Unsurprisingly, I ran into a whole host of new issues when I went to record some tracks – both related, and in addition to the ones that I listed last year.

  • My M-Audio Firewire 410 has finally become properly obsolete. The workarounds that people have developed online simply aren’t working anymore. It’s frustrating as the hardware was still perfectly good – but since it was released over 10 years ago, it was probably a reasonable time to invest in a new interface. This time, I’ve gone for USB.
  • My Gameboy USB cartridges that house LSDJ are acting up. One of them has crashed and needs the ROM re-flashed (which is a pain in the ass on a Mac), and the other seems to get stuck on the second ROM that is loaded (Pokemon Gold!), rendering LSDJ inaccessible sporadically.
  • I’ve lost a couple of my Phono couplers, which I used for splitting the signal from the Gameboy so I could run it through the Kaoss pad as well as bypassing it. A stupid minor thing.
  • I no longer have a keyboard with a MIDI DIN connector, and all of the newer ones that have been released only have MIDI connectivity via USB. That’s all well and good, but not much use if you’re using a hacked together arduinoboy to play the Gameboy as a synth. I had to work out how to use my laptop as a MIDI thru device, which is thankfully up and working now.

It does make you stop and wonder why the hell you go to all this bother to use vintage hardware rather than sticking in some samples and being done with it, but there’s just something so satisfying about using the Gameboy that it’s all worth it in the end.

Maybe.

Everything is coming together nicely now though, and I’ve got some new gear to experiment with too: A Pocket Operator PO-14 (the Sub one), and probably an Ableton Launchpad. My plan is to dive into the MIDI side of things a bit deeper, as it’s something I’ve never really understood that well. Time to change that!

Hopefully this dedicated space will make a big difference. Watch this space.

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.

unexpected bowtie has been quieter than usual as of late. Recording for Polis is still happening, but last week we took a break out to record for Closet Organ. Proof below:

You wouldn’t get a face of pure metal like that from unexpected bowtie material.

It was only a week or two ago that we posted introducing Ash Cooke aka Pulco, with the news that he’d be contributing some specially recorded samples to be mashed up (i.e. destroyed) in the name of art… and contribute he did, with a whole stash of bizarre loops and rumblings. In true Pulco style, the ‘misery poet’ utilised everyday objects like a wheelbarrow, and chucked rocks at it till it became aurally pleasing.

You can preview the product below; it’s a dark, grungey affair.

For more info on Pulco, check out the interview from Artrocker that went online today.

pre-medication by unexpectedbowtie

You’re either really out of time there, or you’re doing something completely brilliant.

– Keith, as we recorded drums for some tracks today.

Okay, so we’ve learned that in future where I want percussion to be added in later I should record with a click track.

It’s pretty late. I’ve had about 3 hours sleep in the last 24 and I’ve spent the best part of the past 6 of those adjusting guitars; trying to keep my lips wet enough to manage a tuneful whistle; singing and re-singing melodies; scribbling words in my battered notebook.. and almost crying in disbelief that Cubase had autosaved all of the work after crashing unexpectedly.

It feels pretty good.