State of Origin: Willimbong

The video above is for a remix I've made for the Naviar Records State of Origin project:

The Assignment: Record a piece of audio using sounds from your surroundings. The idea of the exhibition is to represent how the local environment can affect the artistic process: composers are to record the sound of their own environment and develop an original piece.

The idea of being influenced by the environment has been a theme in my work for much of the last decade. Elsewhere I've discussed how the Wagga Space Program inspired me to consider this influence and how I started remixing field recordings, beginning with a remix for the Ninja.Trax project on their Ableton Live-themed compilation using samples I'd recorded for their field recording compilation.

In more recent years I've been remixing playgrounds around Leeton for my For 100 Years project to celebrate the centenary of Leeton. Some of this material appears in this remix, specifically recordings made within my suburb Willimbong. Waipukurau Park has been the setting for many recordings and you can see the slide and swings, as well as fences and treetops in the videos here.

Willimbong has a mix of industrial and residential properties, as well as the Park that centres around River Red Gums. As well as birds like the noisy gallahs, the ambient noise includes the hum of the rice co-operative and trucks and sometimes I can hear the orange-juicing plant that is at the northwest corner of the suburb. This hum is buried in the remix but the gallahs feature and they are a sound I associate with Leeton, leading me to write and record the track Raucous Chorus.

The final remix (above) was the fourth attempt at the track and includes Native Instruments' Absynth VST. Earlier drafts were more upbeat and used the same samples. Below is the third attempt, which I also like but didn't seem to be quite the right vibe for the suburb. I think I got a bit more of a Boards of Canada sound in the final version, using a tape-style delay for a bit of warble and an amp simulator on the drums for a bit of grit.

AND, 20: Steady Boil

Is kettle-tronica a thing? I ask because my last album also had a song made from a boiling kettle. This track differs in featuring a kettle that whistles but, like the earlier one, uses only manipulated sounds from the recording to make the resulting track.

Although, if you watch the video above, you'll see a finger snap and hand clap are used for percussion.

This track closes AND because the whistling kettle causes some anxiety among tea-drinkers. I wonder if it doesn't also produce a Pavlovian response and they start salivating at the idea of a cuppa. Anyway, I thought it best to minimise the risk it would cause a listener to turn off the album.

The title is a nod to the track Slow Boil on my first album, SHAKES.

AND, 19: Here Comes A Train

Alright, the penultimate track on AND is a remix of a story being read at my local library. The Junto was in June and asked for the beeps which accompany checking out a book but the award-winning Saturday morning story sessions were what came to mind. It was an interesting exercise to remix a different kind of field recording.

The sound of the story concluding leads into a remix of the material, with drones and a simple beat constructed using Ableton Live. The Junto only allowed for one minute of library and one minute of making something out of it, so on the album I've extended the track a little although I don't think it adds much to it. My partner reckons it's one of her favourite tracks and I wonder if this might be influenced by the familiar voices. Leeton is a small town, so I recognise Sandra the librarian and Cade, who shares a class with one of my kids.

AND, 18: Shall I Compare Thee

Track number 18 was inspired by the weather on a summer day, as part of the Sonar Vortex project for the Disquiet Junto in January this year.

The track was recently heard at the Regional Arts Australia Summit in Kalgoorlie during the handover near the end when the next conference was announced for Dubbo in 2016.

In the video above and the version on AND you can hear it is a bit grittier with Space Echo added to the bass than in the original piece embedded below.

AND, 17: Bare Bones

So, when I was finalising the album I went looking for tracks to put together. Above is a version of Bare Bones that was mashed with a Yellow Dog cover. Both were Disquiet Junto projects and this track nearly made the album AND but I wasn't entirely comfortable with my singing.

Bare Bones is the barebones of a funk track, recorded as an interpretation of this New Yorker cover by Saul Steinberg. Below is a video, showing that both drums and bass were recorded in single takes, which was a limitation I set myself for no real reason except to make making a video easier.

AND, 16: Six-note Song

Disquiet Junto 133 asked for a six-note song and this is what I recorded.

The idea to layer three takes was an idea to create a sound more like that of a piano, as the three notes at the start are my favourites to play on a piano with heavy sustain to enjoy the decaying chord.

Disquiet Junto 147 Slight Noise

The idea to "Record 8 seconds of white noise in your own personal style" comes to the Disquiet Junto via Taylor Swift, who was credited with an accidental eight-second noisefest on her recent album.

My interpretation is a simple vocal rendition of white noise. I'd also considered collecting examples of white noise from my day, like the water sizzling when the percolator boils over or the sausages frying on the barbecue.

AND, 15: Antipodean In The Antipodes

You know, I think I might've found a track that needs more work. Listening back to this video makes me wonder if I might've overcooked this merging of two Disquiet Junto projects (107 + 115). Dunno.

The original Junto asked for a track responding to the rhythms of wind chimes, which I think was something Aphex Twin has done but I'm not sure since Marc's book is more about the album after it's release than the background ( -- so this track sorta thematically follows on from Background Beats!). I ventured out to collect samples and also managed to borrow a nice set of chimes from my outlaws.

Soon after a Junto asked for a performance accompanying a song in the next room. I played drums along to the wind chimes, although I didn't plan much for it and my timing drifts.

A bit later I had the idea of combining the tracks. Then I made the video above, then I started putting together the AND album and it was suggested to me that my drumming drifted too much. This led to extensive editing and experimentation in making the drums better support the wind chimes. Did I go too far? There's something about the production that reminds me of a couple of Ninja Tune tracks circa Funkungfusion, I like that.

AND, 14: Background Beats

The track Background Beats on AND began as a cheeky Junto, using Marc Weidenbaum's text as a rhythm for an interpretive piece.

Marc's book on the second volume of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works was still in front of me from writing a piece for Cyclic Defrost. Sadly my composition is nowhere near the elegance of Aphex's works but I did use the idea of a background beat. In hindsight it seems kinda obvious to use the author of the Disquiet Junto.

When I returned to the track recently, I started thinking about what could be added and settled on a text to voice speech. It was recorded through the closed lid of the laptop on the inbuilt mic.

AND, 13: You Know I Don't Know

When I was finishing AND, I asked my collaborator Jo which of her performances she preferred on the album and was kinda surprised when she nominated this track. I can understand it sounds better, because my skills at de-essing seem to be improving, but for various reasons I prefer Raucous Chorus.

The lyrics in this song had been sitting in my Gmail Drafts folder for a while. I started experimenting with delivering them over this C major chord progression, then recorded the chords for a Junto project which asked for a soundtrack to an art video.

A little while later, there was a Junto asking for a cover and I decided the song I wanted to record was this one that I'd sorta recorded earlier. There wasn't much time to record the vocals. I think they would've sounded more polished if Jo had come back a day or so after learning the lyrics. Usually you can hear how much more confident a singer sounds delivering the material but, I dunno, the tentative nature of the lyrics seemed to be implied in this slightly doubting delivery.

Elsewhere I've described the process of recording this song as "arse-about" but it worked out okay, I think. The atmospheric synths weren't my first choice for backing track but work better than the guitar part recorded for the vocal part.

AND, 12: High coup

As mentioned earlier, the 10th and 12th tracks on AND are alternative versions. This one also appears on Album In A Day Vol. 8.

The other version was recorded for the combined Naviar Haiku Disquiet Junto. I was chatting with Lee Rosevere around this time and he said he was busy with Album In A Day and encouraged me to consider joining. Plans had been made to go to Wagga, where I found time to record the riff I was riffing that week in a quiet spot under the house while my kids watched television.

Unfortunately the gating on the version heard in the video is quite distracting. I think it sounds better on my album AND.

AND, 11: Keith Cameron's Sculptures

Keith Cameron is a sculptor outside Lismore. I met him earlier this year while visiting an arts project at his property.

Cameron is shown at the beginning of the video for the track named after his work on AND, which is created from recordings made using a Rode video microphone and my Nikon digital camera.

It was on a foggy Sunday morning that I looked at the numerous works on Cameron's property near Tabulam, nestled in the hills the lead away from Lismore toward the Great Dividing Range in Northern New South Wales. Some of the pieces were created from recycled machinery, others were structures built from various materials. It was quite magical in the thick fog, which lifted to reveal another sunny day.

I like to think it's got an Amon Tobin sorta vibe. While this is one of the few tracks that didn't result from a Disquiet Junto, the material recorded at Cameron's property appeared in the loop used for a filtered melody.