Disquiet Junto 0225 Serial Composition

The Disquiet Junto this week used this artwork by Lidy Prati as a music score.

I like these sorts of assignments as they often force me to come up with something different.

This week I wasn't sure I'd get a chance to record a piece, as I was assisting with a planting outside Matong.

On the way there I stopped at a park and recorded a sculpture with a view to using it in the Junto. The more I thought about it though, the less the sculpture seemed appropriate.

Then on Sunday, while I was looking at old farm machinery at the property where I was camping. It occurred to me that there were various objects that looked like the symbols in the painting.

On Monday evening I selected recordings based on the object looking like the symbol and edited the parts together. I decided to add the lines like layers and to offset their start, so that everything didn't hit the same beats.

My washing machine plays metal

After making music with my fridge last week, I tried jamming with my washing machine but was no match for the speed at which it beats.

Naviarhaiku120 - Momentary halt

The Naviar Haiku this week called for something extreme. At first I was going to use my washing machine but the halt wasn't momentary.

The death of Prince made me reflect on his musicianship and, while I've been setting myself the challenge of playing single takes for recordings recently, I thought it'd be a good time to try doing this across multiple instruments.

Once again I wrote a few riffs on my four-string guitar. The recent Junto projects that have used multiple takes layered up led me to try two drum recordings and two guitar recordings. My timing drifted a lot in the former but I was able to smooth it out a bit with reverb and gating.

Only one bass recording though as it gets way too muddy when I try to layer those up. I'd like to add vocals but haven't time this weekend.

Burroughs on artists

Via Facebook

While William is talking about visual art in the quote above, I've been thinking that this also applies to sound.

When you consider how sound designers will layer up different sources or synthesise specific sounds to get a result, you get something approaching creating a new sound while evoking a variety of others.

Which reminds me of Harrison Young's line about the power of metaphor.

A little further into the Frigid Air

Occasionally a Junto project leads to a collaboration and this weekend it's been exciting to bounce the Cold Embrace track 'Frigid Air' back and forth with Detritus Tabu, who earlier added a Morphine-cover to my Morphine-influenced Junto.

The lyrics come from a poem by Ocean Vuong:

A Little Closer to the Edge
Young enough to believe nothing
will change them, they step, hand-in-hand,
into the bomb crater. The night full
of black teeth. His faux Rolex, weeks
from shattering against her cheek, now dims
like a miniature moon behind her hair.
In this version the snake is headless — stilled
like a cord unraveled from the lovers’ ankles.
He lifts her white cotton skirt, revealing
another hour. His hand. His hands. The syllables
inside them. O father, O foreshadow, press
into her — as the field shreds itself
with cricket cries. Show me how ruin makes a home
out of hip bones. O mother,
O minutehand, teach me
how to hold a man the way thirst
holds water. Let every river envy
our mouths. Let every kiss hit the body
like a season. Where apples thunder
the earth with red hooves. & I am your son.

Disquiet Junto 0224 Cold Embrace

The Disquiet Junto assignment this week focuses on something that's been on my mind for a while and that's the hum of a fridge.

I remember that it was after spending long stretches listening to 'the wires' that I'd find myself grooving along to the sound of the refrigerator. At the time I wondered if it was because they hummed in a similar key. Both seem to work with G.

My current fridge is a few years old and less noisy than some I've had. When the Junto email arrived I waited for a moment when the fridge motor started humming to try a few chords. D minor seemed nice.

The following day I set about trying to record the fridge and was frustrated by the results. It was too quiet for my Zoom H4n with a Rode NT4, so I tried the high gain setting with the Rode VideoMic on my Nikon D5100.

Then I tried putting a Barcus Berry contact microphone on the compressor, which seemed much too close and didn't capture the ambience of the sound in the tiled kitchen.

I also tried putting the contact mic higher up on the back of the fridge and found it gave a different tone and a key that seemed to be a deeper C.

Today I experimented with a few chords before settling on something that sorta alternates between D and C, I think. My partner suggested it needed sustain but the cycling of the fridge motor suggested something faster.

So I took the idea of layering up parts from last week's Junto but set a metronome at 144 beats per minute, as that was what Ableton Live thought was the tempo for one of the contact mic recordings. Then I staggered the parts and added Valhalla Shimmer to fade in through the piece.

I like that it inverts the way I normally hear my fridge. The hum of the motor is in the foreground, while the guitar sounds more distant and then the reflections increase -- much like the hum of the fridge seems to grow louder.

Naviarhaiku118 - Over the meadow

The response to the Naviar Haiku this week seems different to my previous work.

There's a bit of a Radiohead vibe, I think.

When I started composing I decided to return to my four-string guitar, which hasn't been used since the ice in a glass Junto earlier this year.

I've been experimenting with the fourth string and recently settled on DDAE, after using DDAF#. This track also has some noodling on the 'Nashville' tuned guitar that I've used a bit lately, as well as a five-string bass.

The drums seem like they could work better for developing the dynamics of the track. In places the fills and opening of the high-hat is kinda arbitrary.

Anyway, it's an interesting result. The production could use a bit more work but I need to move on for now. I like how the string squeak in the opening arpeggio develops a kinda quack-like quality when compressed.

Disquiet Junto 0223 Layered Sameness

This Junto has a self-explanatory title in Layered Sameness, although in my case it was more like 'layered similars' as there were pronounced variations in the argeggios I played:
Record multiple, slightly varying takes on the same looped composition in this project by Monome’s Brian Crabtree.

In a way the track has echoes of the E minor I've fixated on fingering this week. Recorded on a 'Nashville' tuned guitar that was also recorded on Thursday as Ashmore Reef.

For the Junto I cut a corner and used the mic input on the camera to record the guitar, and the noise floor rose considerably -- even after EQ -- across 11 takes.

The playing drifted and varied a lot, but I knew it'd be a blur with many parts. Now I think about it, the result is a big smear. I expect it's like 'free-bowing' in a string section.

I arrived at the Em to G and C to A after thinking about Dave Graham's tips that I'd read earlier today. The mid-range overlap of the tuning works well not to overpower the multiple takes. I like how arpeggios with 'Nashville' tuning become more like melodies as they hit the same note across chords. Notes that would be an octave apart using a standard tuning.

The parts were layered in Live with compression on a few channels and reverb smears it further. The two longest takes were of a similar length and I panned them hard left and right with compression so they'd stand out throughout. They're slow to follow the chord progression and it creates a slowing sort of feeling. Overall it's a good result, I think.

Naviarhaiku117 - The vast kelp forest

It's been a very busy and I wasn't sure I'd get to record the chords I had in mind for the Naviar Haiku the week.

The image of kelp swaying under the waves was firmly in my mind as I settled on this lovely E minor chord that I'd learned recently.

Chatting with Marco at Naviar Records via email recently about their YouTube channel led me to record a video, although I'm feeling very out of the habit as the takes were rusty and the footage underwhelming.

The title came about via association. First I was thinking how the track was recorded on a guitar using a 'Nashville' tuning. The air pollution in the Riverina has been shocking, so the working title was Ashville.

Then, to tie the song back to the sea, I was thinking of Ashmore Reef. I've never visited that reef, so I don't know if it has much kelp, but it used to be in the news as the site of refugee arrivals before the Australian Government stopped reporting on the subject.

I think the melancholy of the song works as the notion of waves reflects both the sea and the misery of human traffic.

Disquiet Junto 0222 Bounded Foundation

Been a challenge to find to time to work on the Junto this week but, as it was, less was more.

Initially I raided some chords I'd used for a Naviar project and then added a slightly wonky rhythm at a different tempo on Saturday night. On Sunday the power was off for work in the area but I recorded drums, then decided they didn't work.

When power returned, I set to work to see if I could improve on what I had but grew frustrated. As I spent more time experimenting with additional elements, the track sounded worse.

So what you hear is largely what I'd arranged in the first couple of hours, with some EQ in places to avoid a muddy bottom.