Circuit bent Casio SK-1

I'd been meaning to record my newest Diabolical Devices-modified Casio SK-1 and today was the day. Towards the end I turn on the Ring Thing pedal, adding a ring modulation effect.

Naviar haiku 068 In midst of the dark

The haiku this week shared by Naviar Records grabbed my interest.

I'd been covering the Beastie Boys earlier in the week and 'Lighten Up' is one of my favourites. I was stoked to see them play it live.

The haiku reminded me of the line about looking up at the night sky when you are troubled and imagine one star as your problem, then looking widely at the sky and adjusting your perspective. So 'lighten up' seemed appropriate but I took some liberties as my vocals were boring..

Naviar Soundbook 006 The Mayamah

The Naviar Soundbook this week featured a story from one of the many Aboriginal cultures in Australia.

After last week I was still in the mood to make electronic music. I used a couple of chord progressions I've been playing on the guitar as MIDI through VST synths including the V Station, which is a bit cheesy but a favourite.

While polishing up the piece last night, I found a way to make the bass less heavy and I like the way it kind of sounds like old acid tracks. They didn't have deep bass.

Disquiet Junto 0173 Over Version

The Disquiet Junto this week involved scaffolding, or at least that was my interpretation. I've written elsewhere here that scaffolding is a process of building a song on an existing track and then removing the original.

At first I wasn't sure how to respond as I knew the track would be another challenge for my drumming and alternate approaches like MIDI and adding loops were difficult to keep in sync with the original track.

In the end I thought the track has potential but I'll have to shorten it and tidy up my playing with edits. The camera battery ran out while I played the drums, so the video didn't work out. The fretless bass drifts out of key in parts and the melodica also hits the odd bum note. The result could be a backing track, so I might come back to it.

Beasties on Pixies

Today is the birthday of Check Your Head, so I recorded this mash-up of the Beastie Boys' Gratitude and The Pixies Where Is My Mind.

On a related note, I had a chuckle while nearing the end of Ed Piskor's Wizzywig when I spotted this quote from a sample on Check Your Head -- my favourite of their albums for the way it mixes up their interests in punk, hiphop, Buddhism, etc.

Rupture of the Rapture

Today I recorded a slower version of the song I attempted to play on the weekend. It's based on a song written last year with looped parts of a bass line, Rapture of the Raptor.

The bass is looped in this video with a JamMan.

Naviar Soundbook 005 The Stonecutter

The Naviar soundbook this week was a Japanese folk tale about a stonecutter getting enough wishes to be happy as he was.

The thumb piano came to mind as the chord seemed like one that would accompany the granting of wishes. Something about the shimmering chords makes me think of entrance music for a genie.

The rocks seemed an obvious choice. I selected pairs from a small pile of beach stones that I've collected and recorded them with a Rode NT-4.

Then I recorded a bass line, moving between verses in F# and a chorus in A. It worked well for outlining chord progressions within the thumb piano loops, which I'd re-pitched.

Finally I added a synth part to give a sense of lift, as the story outlined transforming into a cloud. Was tempted to use strings but this track still seems like it'd sit alongside the songs I've previously made with Ableton's orchestra samples.

Disquiet Junto 0172 Digital-Analog Conflater

The Disquiet Junto this week set an interesting task to record in analog and then digital. For me this meant recording the drums acoustically and then as MIDI and then repeating this approach with the guitar, although I captured MIDI at the same time and then added a bass part.

Actually, back it up a bit, I first decided on recording a version of my track Rapture of the Raptor. I knew the high hat would be a challenge for me but I decided to record single takes on each instrument. I also knew it would start to fall apart quickly, so I reworked the riff to be a bit simpler.

The MIDI parts were used to trigger VSTs, a kit of samples from an 808 and the synth Massive. The two drum parts, guitar, bass and synth parts were then given EQ and reverb.

Outpsyjah's Outward Flow アウト

Naviar haiku 066 I Am Evolving

The haiku selected by Naviar Laboratory this week really resonated with me. I liked the idea of becoming transparent and smooth.

I had the idea to write lyrics for a song in response to Haris Strange's poem and it took a few drafts before I was happy.

The chord progression also took a while to develop and was nearly a different one. I settled on an idea I've been riffing for a while then got a bit disco with the bass line.

Disquiet Junto 0171 Oblicardo

The Disquiet Junto this week continued with the One Minute Past Midnight (OMPM) theme, asking for a rework of an existing track based on instructions from the Oblique Strategies cards developed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt.

Like the Junto, I've been a fan of Oblique Strategies for a while but not used it for recording music. I tend to look at the widget occasionally when I've something on my mind and don't want to ask my partner to get her tarot cards out.

When the Junto email arrived I checked the Strategies and it said "Remember those quiet evenings" and I thought immediately of playing guitar.

As the day progressed, I looked again and got "Go outside. Shut the door" -- which made me think of the second recording I made for the first OMPM project, when I'd set the mic outside and you can hear me shut the screen door.

That recording was the 'safe for work' version I'd made a bit after midnight because I had doubts about using the 'not safe for work' recording. Both can be found here. Last week I remixed the other version and I didn't consider using it for the Junto this week

Then this evening I consulted and found it offered a few new strategies, particularly "Abandon normal instructions" and "Use your own ideas" and "Make what's perfect more human" and "Trust in the you of now" and "Give way to your worst impulse" among others.

It led me to set the microphone outside again and record myself playing the guitar. I don't know many songs and, while I could've improvised something, I wanted to record my song 'Blue Moon'.

I've recorded it a number of times since I wrote it in 2008 by adapting a poem that I remember writing at the Hyatt in Canberra in the mid-1990s. One of my favourite versions is this instrumental take on gated guitar.

The result tonight isn't particularly polished and uses new ambiance from my backyard but it's what the Strategies were telling me to do.

Naviar Soundbook 004 Dreams

The Naviar Soundbook this week offered Dreams by Yu Hsiung, which seemed like one of those shaggy dog stories where it turns out to be a dream. The redeeming feature of the tale is that it's a comment on dreams.

After hearing KlanKman's remix I was in the mood to make a dance track, unlike my orchestra pieces of late. I took inspiration from this Hot Chip tune but lack their skillful arrangement.

KlanKman's Gossamer Park

Another fantastic playground remix from Belgian producer KlanKman, who has previously reworked Dinosaur Park.

Hear the original Gossamer Park track here or Schemawound's percussive remix can be heard here. Below is a track I made when I returned to the material in 2013 with my partner Jo.

Visual companion to Paul's Boutique

Here's a video to accompany the Beastie Boys' album and, while it uses the film clips that exist, it's clever elsewhere in showing imagery to match the pop cultural references in the lyrics.

I'm fascinated by this trend for providing visuals for music, like the Boards of Canada album movie previously mentioned. Part of me admires the work that goes into their production, while another part wonders if some people don't have too much time on their hands.

Naviar haiku 065 I do love

The Naviar Haiku project this week was another opportunity for me to compose with Ableton Live's suite of orchestral samples.

I've titled my track Pale Moonlight as a nod to The Joker's line in Tim Burton's Batman "Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?"

My composition started, like others, on guitar as I experimented with different chords. The A7 was also used in the track recorded in response to Ambrose Bierce's Carcosa earlier in the week.

Originally I planned to steer clear of violin and stick with percussion but it needed something to lift it up toward the end, so I relented.

Disquiet Junto 0170 A Glitch in the Night

The Disquiet Junto this week returned to an ongoing project for 2015 called One Minute Past Midnight.

My initial recording for this captured an intimate moment and at that time I'd been unsure about sharing it. Since then I've grown more comfortable in sharing my sex life, going so far as to upload an acid track remixed from a spank.

For the Junto exercise this week I remixed my orgasm recording. First I recorded the piece Pumpkin being played through my Rabbit Hole delay, then I created a few loops for percussion and then fed a longer loop through Sinevibes Reactive effect for the bassline.

Naviarbook 003 An Inhabitant of Carcosa

Naviar Laboratory set An Inhabitant of Carcosa by Ambrose Bierce for their story this week, which is one I'd been curious to read after mention of Carcosa in the first season of True Detective -- which was sampled in another track.

Once again I used Ableton Live's suite of orchestral samples to create a soundtrack using MIDI.