Heaven the Axe's Fat Pizza vs Housos

My friends Phoebe and Steve went on to greatness after supporting Bassling. Now known as Heaven The Axe, they featured on the soundtrack to Fat Pizza vs Housos last year.

I asked if they'd let me remix their work and Phoebe sent the stems. The lyrics are hilarious. Hear the original and see the film clip below.

Teejay's New Start

Teejay Man is a Facebook friend of mine who posted about being stuck in Live. He sent me the files to a fat sounding house riff and I added a few notes on the chime-like synth, then structured the piece with filtered bass and a couple of other things.

The results sound really good, I think. I'm looking forward to working with Teejay on more music.

Disquiet Junto 160 One Minute Past Midnight

The Junto this week asked for a one-minute field recording starting right at midnight (wherever you are). Initially I thought I was going to bed early on Friday night, then my partner had other ideas.

The Safe For Work version of this story is that I recorded outside my bedroom window.

The recording was made using a Rode NT-4 stereo microphone and Zoom H4. You can hear the hum of air-conditioners as well as cicadas.

But that felt like cheating because I'd made that recording around five past midnight. At the time specified I was recording inside the bedroom while making love.

Often I think there aren't enough representations of loving adults. I was thinking of that when I observed to my partner that it was getting close to midnight. I could set up a microphone in my bedroom, I suggested. She was into it.

In theory we were making pornography while recording our shag, but it doesn't seem that rude. A bunch of non-linguistic verbal cues but I guess it's significant that they weren't faked.

My partner moans and it's one of my favourite sounds in the world. However, it was just after midnight that I switched off the microphone and, as I walked past the clock, saw that the moment to be recorded had just past. Around about the time I was climaxing in the heat of a hot summer night.

And it had been a wonderful moment and, since I'd recorded it, I thought I should add more love to the world. My partner and I have a lot of love, so it feels like a great opportunity to capture some. She gives amazing head -- I hid footage of her talent in a recent video.

Naviarhaiku 054 If You Climb The Mountain

My first Naviarhaiku project for the year, responding to the haiku shown.

Here comes a video

Here's the 14th video accompanying the AND album and the 25th video of my Disquiet Junto tracks. It's the track Here Comes A Train, which was created from a recording made at storytime in Leeton Library.

The Library Shhh Junto project had asked for a recording from the front desk. I'd recorded on video as well as audio but wanted to use the storytime, which had already started when I started recording so I didn't set up the camera.

The train comes from Ramponi Park, it seemed an obvious addition. Adds nice colour and some sound too. And I covered up the Ken Done painting at Leeton Library with a home movie for various reasons, including disliking his work.

One thing I do like about Done is that brightness really is an element of the Australian landscape. There's a story about a cinematographer or director arriving by airplane and, shielding his eyes as he steps into the light, exclaims "This country is half a stop overexposed."

Disquiet Junto 159 Kitchen Hyperlapse

This week the Junto involved documenting a recipe with the option of adding a tonal accompaniment. Kimchi was the first recipe that came to mind. I considered an idea to document an activity that wasn't cooking food but really wanted to make kimchi. It's a spicy form of pickled cabbage that originated in Korea, I think.

I try to always have a batch of kimchi in the fridge. I like to eat it with rice, apple and vegies (particularly celery and capsicum) as well as with cheese in toasted sandwiches. It's also good with noodles.

The audio documentation was undertaken with a Rode NT-4 stereo microphone and a Zoom H4n. I used a bunch of different EQs and compression, as well as reverb. Editing undertaken in Final Cut Pro, which was a deliberate decision to approach the task differently.

I'd bounced the file out of Final Cut and into Ableton Live a couple of times before I added the bassline. It was recorded as a single take and then duplicated throughout. It's a preset from my Novation V-Station VST, which I think is a great instrument as it has lots of useable presets.

Kimchi has a reputation for being health-enhancing and I wanted the bass line to add a sense of awe and reverence.


Beaut video:
“These are 3-D printed sculptures designed to animate when spun under a strobe light. The placement of the appendages is determined by the same method nature uses in pinecones and sunflowers. The rotation speed is synchronized to the strobe so that one flash occurs every time the sculpture turns 137.5ยบ—the golden angle. If you count the number of spirals on any of these sculptures you will find that they are always Fibonacci numbers. For this video, rather than using a strobe, the camera was set to a very short shutter speed (1/4000 sec) in order to freeze the spinning sculpture."

John Edmark is an inventor/designer/artist. He teaches design at Stanford University. Info on how he made these sculptures here

 Music is “Plateau” by Lee Rosevere
I've mentioned Lee's music earlier this month. Free Music Archive seems to be a good way to reach video makers.

Never leaves the stereo

This could be inspiration for a Disquiet Junto project, I think.
Photo by Blake Budak.

Drum machine comparison

This is a good video comparing the sounds of different drum machines. Being a bit of a drum machine nut, it's great to hear their variations.
00:07: Roland AIRA TR-8
01:58: Korg Volca Beats
03:29: MFB Tanzbar
05:11: MFB 522
06:22: Vermona DRM1 mkIII
08:18: Nord Drum 2 and Nord Beat
09:40: Elektron Machinedrum
12:31: TipTop Audio: BD808, BD909, SD808, Hats808, Hats909, 909CP
14:02: BKE Beat Thang

Interstellar pipes

The pipe organ in the Hans Zimmer's soundtrack for Interstellar was one of my favourite parts of the film.

They are an amazing instrument and the video above explains some of the reasons why I love them. Another is their dynamic range, as the opening note of Also Sprach Zarathustra demonstrates -- you mightn't hear it without large speakers.

I recorded the organ at St Peter's church here in Leeton for my For 100 Years project, which celebrated the centenary of the town and also that instrument.

Local maestro Dom Vella recorded two parts, one of which I've used in the video below for the screenings and another that is sitting on my desktop awaiting the right moment.

Too many rappers

A previously unreleased video for the Beastie Boys' track Too Many Rappers has surfaced online and it reminds me how eerie it is to hear MCA rap "MCing even after you're gone":
Strange thought, I know, but my skills still grow
The 80s, the 90s, 2000s, and so
On and on until the crack of dawn
Until the year 3000 and beyond
Stay up all night, and I MC and never die
Cause death is the cousin of sleep
I've written elsewhere how Adam Yauch has inspired me.

P.S. The video seems to have been taken down, which is a shame. So I've embedded a live version of the song above. Apparently this was the only time they performed the track.

Driver Unknown

Today I tried to make an electronic metal tune. I've written lyrics that I hope to record to accompany it but am not sure I can do it properly. So I'll ask my live-in vocalist, Jo.

About a year ago I recorded a Junto that was inspired by William S. Burroughs' cut-up technique, which worked out really well.

The lyrics for this track were based on a story about a car crash that came from the little pile of newspaper front pages that I've set aside to develop more electropunk tunes with cut-up lyrics -- though it seemed easier to use the story as inspiration.

Las Animas County, Colorado

"Las Animas County, Colorado 6/7/2014" from Ken Engquist on Vimeo.

Beaut timelapse footage with a lovely piece of music by my sometime collaborator Lee Rosevere of Happy Puppy Records.

Lee and I most recently worked on the Shinobi Cuts Remix Chain album, when I took his track in a darker direction.

Abstract proposal

Audio captured on location, e.g. field recordings, can be a powerful tool for transporting audiences in their imaginations. Without manipulation such sounds have an ability to move listeners. Crashing waves evoke a coastal image. The sound of cicadas brings to mind the heat of an Australian summer.

Microphones capture vibrations that a recording recreates but the resonance within a listener can be more significant. Artists William S. Burroughs and Genesis P-Orridge have described the potential for editing techniques to create magic incantations. In ‘cut-ups’ they saw a method for revealing hidden intentions or for delivering subliminal messages. Media can be transformational within a receptive audience.

Contact microphones provide a perspective for the listener within the object being recorded. Vibrations captured using piezoelectric phenomena can demonstrate transformations, such as the filtering effect of reflected frequencies. I will argue this serves as an analogy for the ‘magic’ experienced by a listener, as familiar sounds stimulate a response and reflection. The thoughts triggered become transformed as they are balanced in the interplay of evocation and incantation.

Gary Rydstrom on sound

It doesn’t matter what a sound is, only how it makes you feel.

Disquiet Junto 158 Syllable Gumbo

The Junto this week set an interesting project that was different again. The instructions were:
Step 1: Select the least important story on the front page of your local newspaper or the home page of your local newspaper’s website.
Step 2: Select the first or first two sentences of that story. Combined the resulting text should have between roughly 15 and 25 words.
Step 3: Record yourself, or someone else, reading the text aloud. You can use text-to-speech, though it is by no means required.
Step 4: Break the recording from step 3 into tiny parts.
Step 5: Produce an original piece of music in which the randomized “noise” of those tiny parts heard out of order slowly, over the course of one or two minutes, comes to form the full original statement.
Step 6: Add tonal and rhythmic material to the results of step 5.
Step 7: Upload the finished track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.
Step 8: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

My local newspaper is The Irrigator and the least important story seemed to be the first of two pieces looking back at 2014. You can see the blurb in the bottom left-hand corner in the image shown here.

I asked my son Oscar to read the text because I knew the higher pitch of his voice would make it easier to put a rhythm under the fragments of speech. He was keen to improvise comedy and delivered a lengthy spiel on crap inventions. They were literally inventions that made crap.

After he'd exhausted his ideas, I got him to repeat the line a couple more times with less enthusiasm as he was peaking the recording. Then he left for his grandparents for the weekend, allowing me to focus on the fourth step.

Ableton Live's Beatrepeat effect was used to gate loops of Oscar's voice. There were eight instances in total, each starting a bit later then the previous. Then I automated the effect to increase the gate, allowing more through as the piece progressed for two minutes. It sounded a bit stuttery, so I reversed a couple of the loops. Later on I sped up the tempo at the start to exaggerate the shorter parts.

Something about the pitch of the voice made me think of a disco bassline sampled in an old De La Soul tune. I had it in mind early on but set about adding drums first. In hindsight it probably would've been better to pick snappier sounding drums but I settled on an 808. The 808 samples come from a set I got from Studios 301.

I recorded the bassline using my Warwick fretted bass. My playing seemed kinda sloppy as I haven't picked up a guitar for weeks and I had a glass of wine with dinner.

The bass and drums needed something more but it was starting to get late, so I put a few notes in the MIDI and experimented with presets in the Oddity2 VST. A bell sounded nice, especially after I pitched it up an octave.

Then I EQ'd away lower frequencies on everything except the drums and added echo and reverb, as well as the Panstation effect in places to enhance the stereo image.

Starting with Slayer

Great Slayer mash-up on kids instruments by Frank Pasquale.

Disquiet Junto 157 A Little Ice Music

Guess this can be described as a Titanic track since it's made from ice and vessels.

This is my third time undertaking the annual assignment to "Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it." Hear my 2013 ice cube and glass track or see and hear my 2014 effort, which includes video.

It's interesting to return to this project, both to compare the experience with previous years and the challenge of finding a new angle to approach it. I haven't listened to my 'ice cube in a glass' tracks side-by-side yet, so I'll skip the former here for now.

I've found that returning to recordings can be fruitful, so my first thought was to find my previous files to use but they were elusive. (As a result, I made a new new year's resolution to improve my computer back-up.) So once again I filled the ice cube tray and assembled a variety of cups. Next year I should try glass bowls.

Once again it was a very hot day and I had to record quickly as the house warmed without the air-conditioner. You can hear the ice cubes melted and added a watery slurp in places. Next year I should chill the glasses.

For recording I used an AKG C680BL perimeter zone mic and a Shure SM7 vocal mic, with the former underneath and the latter directly above. My idea was to get a couple of perspectives and pick brighter or duller tones for the samples but in the end mostly I used these as stereo recordings.

My first attempt at manipulating the material was an unsatisfying house beat, so I started again with a breakbeat kinda feel in mind. Once again I used the sound of an ice cube hitting the bench as a kick drum, in part because I knew it'd show the ice cube escaping the glass. Kick sounds are usually easily created through pitching down a sample and shaping it with gating, EQ and compression.

I ended up with half a dozen percussive loops and added Ableton Live's Beatrepeat effect. Beatrepeat can produce interesting results, including melodies. It's a shame the pitch setting only goes down but maybe in a future update they'll widen the scope of this effect.

For the harmonic progression I repitched a few loops and used Live's follow function to rotate through them. A couple of these loops were gated using Beatrepeat so they'd only be heard every couple of bars. I added a short loop of a crystal wineglass chiming for the higher pitched part, using Valhalla Shimmer reverb to smooth it over and widen the sound with octaves below and above.

By the time it came to structure the song it was getting late. The result kinda feels a bit like a basic instrumental song, since it goes verse / chorus / verse / chorus / etc. Maybe I could've done something else if I'd returned to it the following day. Maybe I'll return to these files next year.

I spent about five hours making this track if I don't include the video. There were a couple of mistakes exporting the source material and I haven't started editing the final video yet. My video workflow is to replace the audio with the sounds recorded through my mics, export a new video with these panned into each channel, then export the parts from Live and composite them together for the final clip.

HISSandaROAR Holiday Competition

Here's my entry in the HISSandaROAR Holiday Competition.

You can hear it's loop based, with a few pitch variations to create a harmonic progression.

I put together the main riff in about an hour yesterday, then spent another hour or so structuring and polishing the track today. In many ways it kinda rehashes my earlier remix of the Dinosaur Park.