Disquiet Junto 0286 Found in Translation

The Junto instructions this week ask for multiple versions of a track:
Consider what it means to “transliterate” something, and how that differs from “translating” something, and how both differ from “interpreting” something.

This spoke to my process of recording and then remixing tracks and there was a track that I'd already processed in various ways.

'Smoke' was a song very quickly recorded at the end of 2015, when I'd been keen to put something down without a clear idea what it might be.

At the time I'd written lyrics very quickly, recorded two takes and decided to layer them up rather than edit bits together.

Then in March this year I'd revisited the track, adding a bass part that was recorded for another song.

I'd experimented with repitching the vocals and added drums using Live's samples.

More recently I'd come back to the original and attempted to more drastically remix the parts.

In the third section of the video above, you can see I've layered much shorter samples and you can hear I've used Live's Beatrepeat effect to create new melodies.

Disquiet Junto 0285 Live Barcoding

The Junto this week asked for music from the three barcodes nearest to me.

When I started looking I found this sales gimmick from Woolworths that used a kind of a barcode on cards with various fauna and insects to trigger recordings.

I'd quietly waited until my kids lost interest in the cards and player, which had to be purchased seperately, but haven't yet taken the step of soldering an output.

For this project I picked three barcodes that offered a variety of wide and thin stripes.

I interpreted the stripes as notes quickly recording a single take singing each card. Then I thought it'd be fun to add the sounds of the card being read by the player.

In Ableton Live I looped the card sounds but kept my singing as single takes, then decided to add more variety by dropping one part down a fifth. Then I extended the parts so they repeated, then edited one with another to get a length of nearly three minutes.

I layered up these six parts and had an idea to duplicate the card sounds, slightly offset some then pan each into opposite channels.

Naviarhaiku179 – where feet fall softly

Quickly recorded this track responding to the haiku shared by Naviar Records last week.

Africans hear Autechre

Un-P.C. but works a treat. Also reminds me that I was grooving to these Nigerian musicians this time last year.

Disquiet Junto 0284 Creative Commonfield

The Junto this week asks for an interpretation of audio by Chris Kallmyer, a recording of his performance using ceramic chimes.

My process here was to EQ and compress a section of the MP3 recording and export it as a WAV file, which was then opened with Phatmatik Pro. This plug-in makes short loops and assigns them to MIDI, so I could find sections that worked together and layer parts of the recording.

When I'd found the parts that I wanted to use, I added reverb and delay on the buses to give it more shape. My idea was to create something that reflected the sense of sitting by a large river, imagining the source of the clay that made the instruments.

Because I needed to upload the result to Youtube, I went looking for a visual to accompany the recording and settled on using two takes of steam rising above the nearby rice coop.

Cliff Thorburn

New remix chain album from Shinobi Cuts features a remix of a remix of a remix etc. Great vibe on this chain.

The cover image comes from Matong last weekend.

Riding waves

Via FB

Naviarhaiku177 – Eastern guard tower

The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week forced me to consider the pleasures that come with lying in the sun, just as weather turned cold.

Once again I've turned to my gated effects rig, this time with my Nashville-tuned guitar. It's a simple chord progression based on a variation of BDAE recorded on the weekend, now EBDA.

Was thinking I'd record a bass part to accompany it but have competing deadlines at present. Only had time to record a single take.

Disquiet Junto 0282 Berio’s Bach

The Junto this week draws on Luciano Berio's observation that part of the attraction of some of Bach’s music is in its clear distinction between which notes are “structurally significant” and which are “decorative.”

I didn't spend much time thinking about the notes and distinguishing them, instead I had a chord progression in mind and fumbled about on the fretboard once I started recording.

The result could use an edit but, again, I didn't spend much time on it.

Naviarhaiku176 – lonely stillness

This haiku shared by Naviar Records this week was an opportunity for me to record a second take of the track I'd made while responding to the Disquiet Junto.

The timing of the palindromic loop was a bit wonky and, while it spiced the track by shifting the repetitions, I thought I could do better. Then the camera battery ran out while recording the bass part, so I looped it.

Disquiet Junto 0281 Pattern Interruption

Create a pattern, loop it, and intersperse alterations.
After watching Soundgarden videos this morning, I decided to use a chord progression from one of their songs. It's EBC made a palindrome as EBCCBE.

Initially I used MIDI instruments in Live to try the notes and played with the idea of using delay to intersperse alterations. Then I thought about the gated effects chain that hasn't been used for a week.

Art without constraints

Art without constraints ceases to be art. The trick will lie in finding the balance between here and the infinite.

Naviarhaiku175 – sound of rain

The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week suggested something percussive.

After rumaging around my hard drive, I found the bass and ukulele parts for a song that wasn't finished. Then added the drums from 'Smoke'.

Jonathan Safran Foer on bumbling

The art of the creative process is not seeking and finding, it’s bumbling.

Disquiet Junto 0280 20170514

The Disquiet Junto this week requests "please use new musical things to recreate some old musical thing."

The new musical thing is Shiver Me Timbers, which is the two-string upright that I bought last month (despite saying I wouldn't buy new musical equipment this year). It's been a lot of fun playing this fretless acoustic bass.

The old musical thing is Ice-T's 'Reckless', which came from the Breakin' soundtrack. The video above has the song with excerpts from the breakdance-themed film from 1984. I remember having a copy of the soundtrack on cassette and transcribed the lyrics for an English class activity in year seven.

Today I found a few notes that suited a slowed delivery of the lyrics, rehearsed a couple of times and recorded the vocal and bass. A Shure SM7 can be seen being used for my voice, while a Rode K2 is being used on the bass off-camera.

Naviarhaiku 174 -- chilled light

On a recent chilly morning I shot footage of the clouds moving against the lightening sky.

It seemed appropriate for this haiku.

e.e. cummings' The First Of All My Dreams

Tried recording another poem by e.e.cummings accompanied by Shiver Me Timbers.

The Devil's Music

Disquiet Junto 0279 Word Interiorities

For the Junto this week I've manipulated the word "disquietude" -- if it is a word.

My voice was recorded using a SM7 microphone, as well as a Nikon D5100. The result was manipulated in Ableton Live using loops, some treated with gates and Beatrepeat, as well as Valhalla Shimmer reverb and Ohmforce Ohmboyz delay.

I also experimented with "onomatopoeia" but the loops didn't really grab me. I thought the rhythm would work better.

Nick Cave on intellectual convenience

“The idea that we live life in a straight line, like a story, seems to me to be increasingly absurd and, more than anything, a kind of intellectual convenience,” he says. “I feel that the events in our lives are like a series of bells being struck and the vibrations spread outwards, affecting everything, our present, and our futures, of course, but our past as well. Everything is changing and vibrating and in flux..."

Spicy light and sound

My son and I ran a projection installation at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum's Action Day last Good Friday.

I've only filmed it from outside here as I thought it was a bit lame but the kids enjoyed it.

Naviarhaiku 173 -- desert sands

Last week I was looking at the tracks for recent Naviar haikus and thinking how much I wanted to rock the ukulele again.

On Friday afternoon I pulled out the ukulele chord chart and start piecing together different combinations. Then I spent spare opportunities, like taking my son to the skate park, to practice.

On Saturday I pulled in to the gated effects chain and realised I would have to pay attention to timing. I got a couple of loops going but didn't feel like setting up a camera.

Then on Sunday I tore myself away from Shiver Me Timbers to pull in again. I set up the camera and recorded a few takes. This is the third and is edited to around half the length.

Disquiet Junto 0278 MacConnel’s Jingle

The Junto this week proposes the artwork "Jingle" (1980) by Kim MacConnel as a graphic score.

I've got to admit that I planned to use Shiver Me Timbers and the green zigzag immediately suggested a bassline that slid up and down.

The statue is classical and the quotation marks led me to cast my eye around for literate to appropriate. I settled on e.e.cummings' 73 Poems and didn't get too far before singing "for any ruffian of the sky" and "seeker of truth" over a simple 12-bar riff.

And the monkey on the end led me to think jungle music. So I fetched my kick drum and was surprised to find the drum acting as resonator on the bass was larger.

The result is rough but only have this evening to record for the Junto this week. It's inspired me to look for more poety to interpret musically though.

Shiver me timbers

Just as Autumn brings a cold bite to the weather, I land an original bass called Shiver Me Timbers.

It arrives from Melbourne via a couple of friends, who tell me:
The neck was made by a dude who came to Australia to tour, from Romania or somewhere. My mate Nick who plays bass in one of my bands (who sold it) was involved with the tour somehow and was asked by this guy to buy a bass drum so he could build his instrument here rather than bring such a big thing to Australia. When the guy returned home, he decided he couldn't be bothered to dismantle it to take the neck home so it stayed with Nick.
After going through a period influenced by Morphine, it's really good to have a two-string bass -- especially one that is more akin to a double bass.

Using a bass drum as a resonator is an interesting touch but it's got a great sound.

Naviarhaiku 172 – morning calm

This haiku shared by Naviar Records this week directed me to reflect on a chord progression I'd been exploring on the ukulele.

I recorded couple of different takes using my gated effects chain. In the version above I added only a little reverb, while in the version below I layer four copies and set them to start about a bar apart.

Disquiet Junto 0277 Chew Concrète

Step 1: This week’s project is inspired by the manner in which C. Reider recorded his recent album, Chew Cinders (Midnight Circles). We aren’t remixing his album. We’re remixing/repurposing his approach to the album.

Step 2: This instruction is adapted, with Reider’s input, from the manner in which he recorded the album:

Process a sequence of standalone “chunks” of pre-recorded sound — voice, field recordings, noise — with an emphasis on the manipulation of time and pitch. Speed things up, slow them down, and explore the opportunity to use cutup techniques. Pay particular attention to segues between the chunks.

Step 3: Make a piece of music inspired by the approach delineated in Step 2.

I only had to look back a few months before finding promising field recordings. There were made on Australia Day at Pioneer Park Museum's 30th breakfast.

Whip-cracking isn't an Australia Day tradition as such, however it is part of the annual breakfast at Pioneer Park Museum. 2017 was my second time at the breakfast, which was the 30th for the Museum.

In addition to cracking displays by young Master Terrazas and Mr Bishop, there is a selection from the musical performance by Jeff Gardner, including Australian classics "Give me a home among the gum trees' and the national anthem.

Ableton Live makes it easy to adjust pitch and timing but the instructions this week led me to try and confine myself to the re-pitch option, which links pitch and timing. From here I did adjust a couple of the loops but it was a good direction to get a quick direction.

I added electric bass and it kinda brings everything together a bit.

P.S. Just noticed the sync is out near the beginning :(

Hallowed femur bone

Naviarhaiku 171 – Among twenty snowy mountains

The haiku shared by Naviar this week brought to mind my time in the high country, specifically the speed at which the weather changes.

This weekend I've been rearranging my studio and reconnected an effects chain that hasn't been used in a while.

I started jamming on the ukulele as it came to hand and this track in G/Em was an experiment in applying the different gated effects.

This is largely a single take on two channels with the camera's audio added in Live.

Free jazz poisoning

Via Joel Berk

Disquiet Junto 0276 808 Blockchain Beats

The Disquiet Junto this week asked for something inspired by 808 and Blockchain.

Frankly, I didn't spend too much time wrapping my head around the idea.

I have a vague understanding of how Bitcoin works but decided to revisit the ice cubes I recorded for the perennial new year Junto, as they offered a visual that related to blocks of ice and that seemed like a cool idea.

The BPM is 88, which is a recent favourite I used for the 64-bar Challenge tracks. After getting a groove with these 808-samples, I added the ice-cube-in-a-glass samples and then worked on VST synth parts.

Last I added the bass and you can hear I didn't spend a lot of time planning what to put down. I'll no doubt loop this recording in the near future.

Drop beats not bombs

Disquiet Junto 0275 Revisit Something

The Disquiet Junto this week asks participants to revisit and revise an earlier track.

The recording I'd made of Phillip Spelman's "Redjar Redbottle" sculpture (which sits outside Bathurst Regional Art Gallery) was still on my desktop and I'd been considering taking another run at it.

This sculpture caught my ear for it has a variety of lovely resonant tones.

Since I started remixing landscapes in 2011 with my playground recordings, I've found that it's good to return to the material and see how differently it might be developed musically.

Often I find that my first brush remixing a recording might develop into an interesting loop that's something of a creative dead end.

When I revisit the material I'm more familiar with the potential to develop harmonic progression, particularly through re-pitching parts to create a chord progression.

Coming back to this track I had a different BPM in mind. Recently I wrote a few songs for a new 64-bar challenge and one of the BPMs they suggested was 80/160.

This track is 162, although only the high-hat-esque part is approaching that speed. It almost sounds a bit Trap-like, probably needs a faster flurry and more prominence though.

The main challenge was finding samples to serve for percussion. I should remember to record a couple of muted taps for this purpose when recording resonant objects with a contact mic in future.

As usual I put gates on most of the loops, although I left one free to allow some of the environmental sounds like birds and passing cars to add context.

The gates were adjusted to provide snappy percussion parts and on the harmonic parts I added reverb to give more presence. This was a Space Echo-style effect and you can hear some faux tape pitch wobble, as well as the feedback in the break and at the end.

Disquiet Junto 0274 Broken Sound

The Assignment: Record a piece of music in the genre called “broken sound.”
The idea of broken sound suggested something intermittent.

I considered pulsing sounds before remembering the grainy warmth of the circuit bent Speak and Spell.

It fluctuates a lot, so it seemed to meet the brief.

After jamming with the machine a couple of times, I was going to take samples and put it together as a track.

Then it occurred to me that broken sound might not have a songwriting aesthetic.

Disquiet Junto 0273 Alarm Clocked

The Assignment: Make music for a (new! improved!) slow-waking alarm clock.

Step 1: You’re going to make music for an alarm clock. Think about what you like and hate about alarms, and about your morning routine.

Step 2: This alarm clock is special. You set it three minutes before you’re due to wake up, and the music slowly gets louder as those three minutes pass. Then at precisely three minutes in, the alarm-like nature of the sound announces itself, and then the music plays for roughly another full minute.

Step 3: Create an original piece of music based on steps 1 and 2.

My alarm clock is set to start the radio but a button malfunction means it often beeps at varying volume too. At different times of the year I don't need the alarm, I seem to have become a morning person.

A previous Junto used an alarm clock as a starting point. That one turned out well.

This week I've been playing on my ukulele, trying to get my daughter interested in learning new chords. We'd been playing Katy Perry's Roar recently and the G chord from it appears in my jam here.

The recording here was the second take. Not sure what the opening chord is but I like its air of mystery, which asks what the day will hold?

It's a bit slow since the track runs over four minutes. My kids came home from school so I didn't get a chance to re-record and shrinking the audio would get fiddly with the video.

Clap on

Via Facebook

Naviarhaiku 168 – Stilness

It was interesting that once I knew the footage that I wanted to use to accompany the audible response to the haiku this week, I started writing to suit that visual instead.

Then it didn't take very long to settle on a fistful of notes across a handful of instruments.

This is my fiftieth video for Naviar Records projects.


Remix of this track from late 2015

Disquiet Junto 0272 Exoplanetary Intervals

Remarkably, six of the planets form the longest known chain where each orbits at a resonant frequency of it’s neighbor. From the slowest, the planets orbit at: 1x, 4/3x 2x, 3x, 5x, 8x. If you think of those as vibrating strings, they form a chord or scale: the slowest planet is the root, then fourth, octave, octave and fifth, two octaves and major third, three octaves.

When I first considered the notes I started with G on my 21-fret bass, which seemed to fall short. So I considered B on a five-string bass.

My idea was to improvise a few loops at different points on the fretboard and then set them running, preferably at varying lengths. In the end it got too hard.

There were different parts that worked, so I edited out the parts that didn't work and whittled the overlapping takes down. In the end I could hear some pleasing parts but lost interest in whittling the results further.

Recording layers of bass often ends up sounding muddy. So I choose a bright-sounding bass, then suffered the sound of fingers rubbing along the strings. In the recording above I used my UAD effects, particularly their de-esser.

After writing the above I went back and started playing with the recording in Live again, ending up with the version below. It was exported using VSTs, such as Valhalla and Ohmforce effects with Ozone mastering.

Initially I selected six loops as I'd initially planned and these were stereo panned. For variation I added sections where I was playing the loop as well as looped recordings but in the end there were five parts that were largely long takes.

Two parts are panned hard left and right, two more are at nine and three o'clock, while the last part has two reverbs and sits across both channels. One bass take has been reversed but, aside from a delay effect, all the parts are playing at their original pitches -- which almost covers both extremes of my five-string Warwick Rockbass.

Adam Curtis on documentary music

The thing I find about a lot of factual films these days — it’s as true in America as it is in Britain — is that the use of music tends to be either very clichéd or very boring. It’s as if the editor or the director doesn’t get out enough. They choose music which is completely predictable — if they’re making a film about bankers, they’ll put Pink Floyd’s “Money” over it. Your heart sinks. Whereas I like the idea that you choose music that feels not appropriate literally, but emotionally to what you’re trying to say.

Part of the function of journalism if you’re using music and images is to create an emotional platform from which you can draw people into the argument that you’re trying to put forward. It’s not a manipulation. It’s just: “Let me tell you a story.” As you tell a story, you draw people in. Music is so important in that.

Disquiet Junto 0271 Prison Sky

The Junto this week returns to the plight of Syrian prisoner Bassel Khartabil. Wednesday will make five years of detention and also a year since he's been heard from.

The project takes Bassel's description of seeing square sky while "dreaming of the moment I can see sky with no walls and bars" as a cue to music.

I took the chord progression onto the ukulele that I've been playing this week and added lyrics:

square of blue sky
I can pair with it
more in my mind
a bigger square of it
many times into
a blue sky
in my mind
think to times
when my blue sky
was free

The chord progression is the same one added to the drums recorded earlier for the Junto duet. It sounds gnarly to add this recording of my singing to either Lapping the Bowl or Crushin'.

Actually, you'll notice the video at top is a mash with Lapping the Bowl. Below is the vocal and ukulele version, which seems a bit naked and embarrassing.

The pitch-y singing and weird timing in places make this more of an experiment. So I've replaced the version below with one repitched up nine tones and used the MIDI recording of the same drum takes to drive a few VSTs.

Naviarhaiku 165 – commercial break

The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week seems to hark back to another era as I haven't bothered to tune in a television in over a decade.

This track came together quickly from a chord progression I started strumming on the ukulele last weekend. A day or two ago I found another riff that seemed to go with it, then remembered the drums I'd recorded for the Disquiet Junto.

Disquiet Junto 0270 Just Duet

The Junto this week is a duet with a Junto from last week, which anticipated the duet.

The instruction directs respondents to generate a number for a track for duet. I got number 17 and, strangely, when I thought to refresh it appeared to remain 17. Then I tried a new browser and got 23.

Number 17 was Tay Ploops' U-key for dUet, which is good material for a duet. The ukulele recording really appealed to me, although I haven't recorded ukulele in weeks.

I tried to record my bass a couple of times before finally succeeding. I should try layering the other takes.

The distorted bass is a bit overpowering and I disregarded a couple of instructions, extending the outro of the original track with looping and switching between recordings in and out of the box.

P.S. -- Below is a version with just Tay Ploops' ukulele and my fretless bass, which better represents the former in the duet and adheres a bit closer to the Junto directions.

Brian Eno by David Bowie

Last Days of Summer

Ran out of time while recording this piece I've been playing this week. It probably could've used another take.

Disquiet Junto 0269 Duet Portion

This week's project is intended as half a project. It'll set the stage for at least one more project that will build on what we make this week. You'll be recording half of a duet.

For the Junto this week I recorded drums because it seemed like a good foundation for a collaboration.

My drumming is a bit wonky, so it's not such a solid foundation but hopefully that adds character.

The sounds come from one of the drum sets in the Ableton Live Suite via MIDI that was recorded with the video.

If you'd like to collaborate, feel free to grab:


Here's a selection of material recorded last year.

It's been interesting mixing it together and hearing where things pleasantly collide.

Naviarhaiku 163 - as petals

The haiku shared by Naviar this week reminded me of a track I'd started using recordings of raindrops.

So I added a bass loop from the previous week and here it is.

Disquiet Junto 0268 Walking Music

The Junto this week is a tribute to Jiro Taniguchi that focuses on walking.

Today there were opportunities to record walking and I tried a few but the results were inconclusive.

Then this evening I was sitting at the pool and had the idea to film wet footprints. The way the water sprays off feet and onto the path has often fascinated me.

I like to imagine that I have giant chicken feet.

At home I experimented with different instruments and treatments. Then on a whim I tried adding a recording from last week and the drums started at just the right point.

The bass and toothbrushes work so well for me that I can't think of anything else.

Disquiet Junto 0267 The Metronomic Society

Create a theme song for a fictional organization.

My meeting with the Metronomic Society coincides with a week exploring 5/4 time signature, as well as dabbling in 9/8 this weekend. 

There were three different songs I started in 5/4 this week but this one got structured further than a single loop, probably because I experimented with a key change to lead back into the chorus. That bit still feels rough though.

The track challenges me to count along and I think one horn riff is in 4/4, which means to evolve the piece but might feel wonky.

The instruments were programmed with Ableton Live's Suite.

Generating music in-the-box meant casting my eye about for visuals and I remembered filming the play of light in my garage. The sun setting behind a tree and through the cracks in my brickwork created patterns and the zigzag crack looked okay for a change too.

Naviarhaiku 162 – tape

The haiku shared by Naviar this week seems incorrect as neither tape nor mountains are silent.

In responding I remembered a recent trip to the Blue Mountains. There were wonderful sounds of wind in the trees and different species of birds, including black cockatoos.

At night there was less sound and I'd brush my teeth and feel self-conscious of the noise made by my toothbrush.

When I decided to record the toothbrush, I remembered that my kids' toothbrushes all made different pitches. So I collected them together and found I could make chords when recording them going all at once.

The toothbrushes were recorded using a motor from an old blender as an induction coil microphone.


More news on the return of the artists also known as the KLF.

Disquiet Junto 0266 Vocal Cuts

The Junto this week was based on composing with segments of sung vowels.

There have been similar Junto projects in the past, like 0108 and you can hear my response below. I used that track last year to accompany the result from a projection workshop.

For the Junto this week I thought I'd use longer segments. As the instructions said to hold a vowel but didn't specify holding pitch, I experimented with a few notes in Eb.

These were recorded using a Rode K2 microphone. In Ableton Live I layered up five segments and added a couple of reverbs, as well as some subtle panning.

Out of tuners

The other day I picked up my expensive Warwick bass guitar and found the A string wouldn't tune up.

As it slipped with each turn of the tuning peg, I expected to the hear the string snap. Instead a piece of plastic fell from the tuning peg.

The tuning peg refuses to tune without this small plastic disc that serves as a kind of washer.

Since then I've looked over my basses and found that five of the six I use have the same style of tuning peg. These basses range from one I bought for $200 to one that I bought secondhand for $1500.

This photo shows a broken plastic disc in my cheap Ashton bass exactly like the one that broke in my expensive Warwick bass.

I've ordered a set of tuning pegs that look to be the same design. They cost $12 including postage from China.

It amazes me that these cheap components seem to dominate in my instruments, regardless of their quality.