New Remix Chain now up

The third Ninja Tune Forum Remix Chain, Toastboat, is now online.

Naviarhaiku 050 Only in the river

There's definitely a style emerging in my recent tracks, driven by bass and filled out with reverb.

This latest track for the Naviar Haiku project is in that vein but with faster percussion.

The opening synth reminds me of Aphex Twin's ambient work. The rest of it is kinda a remix of Rapture of the Raptor, another Naviar Haiku track.

Disquiet Junto 155 Mix Match

The Assignment: Take a track and its remix and meld them into something new.
This is the next to the last project of 2014. It’s a remix of a remix, and of the track the remix was based on.

This week I opted for a dub sorta track as there seemed plenty of bass material and reverb seemed an obvious choice too. Reverb is an effect I've really come to love through the Junto.

There's definitely a bit of a Pole vibe, although I think the hats could be better. Usually I find my remixes benefit from a few drafts but with this track I only did the one.

I created a few short loops, alternated them and then set about trying to develop a rhythm. The loops are sent to the reverb buss at different points, which creates a bit of variety in the background.

The hi-hat comes from the Colab remix, as does one of the subby sounds I think. The rest of the sounds come from the original track. The bassline was a late addition, I like the progression it adds.

The reverbs are Valhalla Shimmer and Audio Damage Eos. I also used Audio Damage Replicant and many instances of Ableton Live's Beatrepeat to gate the loops. I also used Live's gate and EQ,

Five favourite mixes in 2014

Heard some great mixes this year, particularly via FACT (Luke Vibert and Stephen O'Malley were both contenders) and Solid Steel (mostly their archived sets, TBH).
  1.  Toydrum mixtape for Kai & Sunny
  2. Meezoid’s Random Broadcast 011 
  3. Alex Banks on Solid Steel
  4. Arctic Dub W65 Logic mix 
  5. Tom Cosm vs Zaftig '80s mix

late 2014 mix

Here's a mix of new and unreleased music, featuring:

2014 in review

2014’s been a great year for my music with radio airplay and a bunch of releases. Listen above for my preemptive strike on the annual Junto activity of stitching together 12 five-second sections of audio to represent the year.

If you click on the months in the paragraphs below, you can find details of the sounds. Or see what you can pick :)

It started with an appearance on New Weird Australia’s Regional, Rural and Remote compilation in January, along with tracks opening and closing Shinobi Cuts’ remix chain. In between those two songs the material travelled around the world and there are some fascinating interpretations.

The Reimagining exhibition traveled to Wagga Art Gallery in February and it was pleasing to hear part of my soundtrack broadcast on Radio National during April. In March a track I recorded in Wagga one afternoon joined the Album In A Day release. During April I tried remixing The Occupants.

In May an impression I made of a pelican using a balloon joined 152 other musicians in the Bimblebox exhibition, which will travel through regional Australia until 2016. June featured a trip to Lismore, where I recorded Mike and Cameron (see video below) -- the latter's sculptures would feature on my album AND.

2014 was a year of anniversaries, including a decade since the release of my first album SHAKES and 25 years since I started playing bass guitar. A recording with my bass playing from 1994 became part of my contribution to Garlo Jo’s Vent De Guitars CD in 2014.

And bass playing featured in my first live show in almost a decade, when I played at Grong Grong Hall in July. (Photo by Derek Motion)

My presentation on DIY Communications at Dream Big in August drew on my experience promoting creative projects.

In September I released AND, a 20-track album with songs made from sculpture, a playground, story time at Leeton Library, a boiling kettle, wind chimes, as well as regular instruments. It’s my eighth album as Bassling.

One track is a song I wrote about the rise and slight drop in temperature during a day in January. It was part of the Regional Arts Australia summit in Kalgoorlie during October -- the month in which I also finished the track in the link here.

An exhibition opened in London during November that included a song made from the sounds of my suburb Willimbong. During that month I also manipulated a recording of Leeton’s main street during the Outback Band Spectacular, which was another fun project proposed by the Disquiet Junto. I’ve now participated in over 80 Juntos, including videos for more than 20.

This month I made a mix and was invited to write for a friend’s blog and used the opportunity to explain how I came to embrace the musicality of noise through living in regional Australia.

I’m looking forward to starting 2015 with the release of the third remix chain and a video project with the poet Derek Motion.

Naviarhaiku 049 Over the wintry

It's stormy at home at present but not wintry, so the Naviar haiku isn't really resonating with me.

This track continues my current interest in recording basslines and then applying the Audio Damage Replicant effect, using the Four Bar Repeat preset. It's a process I also used for the last Naviar project.

The bassline was one I recorded for a friend, then started experimenting with looping. It's quite fascinating the way repeating a part works so beautifully with a simple kick/snare drum beat.

Disquiet Junto 154 Groove Unlocked

This week the Disquiet Junto draws on the short loops created last week, alternating between two and then introducing additional parts.

My piece opens with Unclearly So then 0153groovelock before drums, electric bass and Oddity2 VST synth.

I'm not sure the groove is locked in this track. The drums don't seem right.

The Music of Noise

I guess it makes sense to think noise is bad and sound is good but it's not the way I think about audible material.

The distinction seems to be a value based on subjective experience. A noise might be unappreciated as sound one particular moment. If I'm making a recording, then maybe I have some control over the role of noise among the sounds I curate. But, do these decisions make me a noise snob?

So, I asked Tim "What do you make of the term ‘noise’ as a genre?" I used to hate all that noise.

"(I am not including the genre of music know as ‘noise’ in that sense)" he added to his reply, which is a shame since I was attempting to deconstruct the binary logic of his terms. Then he might recognise that noise can be valuable too.

(Edit: Here's Tim's reply on Twitter.)

About decade ago I had definitive 'A-ha!' moment when I couldn't sustain the distinction between noise and sound. I remember going along to a few of the Wagga Space Program's Unsound events and found myself annoyed by the 'noise' artists who'd play an interesting field recording or other ambient sounds and then interrupt it with white noise.

The contrast between a soothing sound and a loud noise was interesting once or twice, particularly as texture on a large sound system. After a couple of artists did it during their sets, it seemed like a 'noise' artist cliche. It lead me to realise that it was context that made this noise noisy, since I could enjoy it at other times.

There are plenty of times when music becomes noise. Being jolted awake by loud music, like an alarm clock, is one example of music becoming noise. The way music is used during siege settings or interrogations must also make them seem noisy.

Anyway, I stopped thinking how much I hated 'noise' art and began questioning what else my subjective experience might be stopping me from experiencing. Then I learned that noise could be as interesting as music.

The Wagga Space Program had a cool philosophy that being based in regional Australia was a key part of their sound.

It started to make a lot of sense to me when I was introduced to Alan Lamb, whose large-scale aeolian harp he calls 'the wires' changed the way I listen to sound. Lamb's wires had been installed outside Wagga Wagga during 2004 and I spent many hours listening to their shifting harmonics. The sound varied from test-tone-like hum to softer breathing as the wind caressed barely-audible vibrations.

Lamb also introduced me to piezo contact microphones. Recording with these captures vibrations directly, rather than the vibrations in air captured with a microphone's diaphragm. It's quite cool to think you're hearing how something feels.

Contact mics can also transform objects into instruments. Like the fence near the playground at the end of my street that makes an evil double bass sound when there's a strong westerly.

Once I began thinking of how to use environmental noise in musical remixes, the difference between noise and sound became a question of frequencies. It brought into focus the physics of a situation in determining the value of a sound in my composition.

A piece at the Wired website explains that the main harmonic overtone heard (other than the octave above) when striking a physical object is a fifth to the fundamental tone. It has an inherent chord within the sound but the resonance of different structures can filter the result. This leads sounds to vary within different corners of large metal objects like slippery slides.

I've been amazed at how much variety you get tapping different parts of a slide. Tapping in various places produces different tones. Like the piping along the sides, the ladder, the sheet that forms the slide part, etc. Not every sound will be musical, some might even be called noise. It probably depends how I'm feeling that day whether I'm feeling a particular sound but plenty find their way into my recordings.

My 2012 project For 100 Years embraced the idea of noise being musical and drew on the Italian Futurist movement, in part because they were active at the time of Leeton's construction. The local newspaper sometimes use inverted commas around the word "music” in reference to my material. Maybe I'm sensitive to irony but I wonder if some are still getting accustomed to how the concept of music was challenged in the 20th Century by the idea promoted by John Cage that noise and music overlap in sound.

I was a musician before moving to regional NSW but being here has opened my ears to the landscape. Alan Lamb's work can only really exist in a regional context. The interplay between the surrounding sounds like birdsong and his wires really captivated me. I spent many hours listening to the long decay of chirps as well as the rise and fall of harmonics.

It's no wonder that many romantic poets and composers have found inspiration in aeolian harps. These sounds changed my landscape, once I stopped hearing noise.

As Coleridge observed:
Methinks, it should have been impossible
Not to love all things in a World like this
Where e'en the Breezes of the simple Air
Possess the power and Spirit of Melody

Pauline Oliveros on refrigerators

"I have listened to many refrigerators. There is often a flickering between the sixth and seventh harmonic. Once... a refrigerator sent its harmonics out to surround my head with circles, ellipses and figure-eights."
-- Pauline Oliveros, 1964

Disquiet Junto 153 Groove Lock

The 153rd Disquiet Junto is to “Record a short sound intended to be set on repeat”. The image associated with this project by Stuart R Brown.

One of my favourite loops comes from the chords opening Charles Mingus' cover of Mood Indigo. These two chords and a bit are the loop I'd like in a Buddha Machine. A bowl-like chime would also be nice, or maybe a wine glass or two in the key of D minor.

My strangely named track 2 Go (Modern) is meant to reference Mood Indigo, with the brackets read first, like an e.e.cummings poem. The synth sounds come from V-Station and Massive.

I don't think it's as nice as the piano chords, which would also evoke the purple mood, but it's nice enough although Soundcloud don't offer me a repeat option. The loops on the Buddha Machine seem like a compositional challenge but it'd be great if they released a version where you could import your own soundtracks or select from a menu.

Naviarhaiku 047: Toward those short trees

The haiku shown right suggested a chase, so the pace of the music is brisk in response to the 47th Naviar Laboratory project this week.

The image in mind while shaping the track was a raptor hunting among burning stubble.