Naviarhaiku104 - My jealousy

The Naviar haiku this week is a ripper. It's a great image and I started to thinking about the warmth of distortion.

I'd been playing with making loops from the Morphine cover I recorded earlier this week. I mean, I call it a cover but I changed the key and played different bass riffs, as well as killing the drums. When I recorded it I entertained the idea of using different lyrics and the line ended up being used in this song.

The lyric also comes from Morphine. Their song 'The Way We Met' has a line about being too far gone to be wrong or right. I meant to record "Gone too far to be wrong to be right" but forgot the line and recorded "Gone too far to be wrong or to be right".

I murdered Mark Sandman

A friend reckons that 1993 was the greatest year in music. It's a strong argument, I think.

When I remember 1993, I remember great music and this includes Morphine's album Cure For Pain. In fact, looking back there was so much good music that I feel I took it for granted and, in a way, took Morphine for granted. Like, I never bought their music because they were always on the radio. And I never saw them live either.

When I watched The Sopranos on DVD there was a Morphine track that gave me something of a '90s flashback. Then last year I saw the doco on Sandman where Les Claypool sang his praises and began thinking about the economy of the songwriting, as well as the economy of guitar strings.

This week I've been listening to Morphine and feeling restless to make music. It came to a head yesterday with this attempt to cover 'Eleven o'clock' from Morphine's 1997 album Like Swimming. As usual, I've spent more time editing video than rehearsing, performing or producing the audio. Might remix bits yet.

The video has been edited because the final section fell into disrepair. It was messy. My drumming is clearly challenged by the idea of playing behind the beat. I totally murdered Mark Sandman!

Why Rod Modell hates synths

"I really really hate synthesizers. I like to see music produced, not twiddle knobs. So I’ve really grown to love the Zen of a computer for music. It’s really the most efficient tool for making music. In the time I would patch things up in hardware studio just get ready to record, I could make a whole track on a computer. I do have a recent fascination with vintage samplers, but that’s really about it for hardware. Anytime a synth company creates something truly interesting, no one wants it. They just want repackaged 1970’s technology. Like Electribes and Aria’s. So I stopped supporting them. In 2015, there is more interest in synth technology than ever before. The eurorack phenomena is massive right now… which is good enough reason for me to not use it. I like to buck the trends and do things differently."

Sandman's bass


Was at a loss today, so I thought I'd improvise a song. As usual, I ended up spending more time producing it than spent playing or writing it. So it's not that great and seems to need something more, other than smoke.

Disquiet Junto 0209 Audio Journal 2015

Here's a selection of material produced during the year. This follows the direction for five seconds from each month used by the Disquiet Junto in previous years, and this year I've made a video too -- which is at the bottom of this post.

I'll add text discussing 2015 below and you can find a playlist of the 2015 videos here.

The year opens with the Junto directions to "Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it." 2015 marked my third attempt at producing this piece and I think it was my best yet, but 2016 isn't too far away now. Some audio of an orgasm I shared in January was one of my most popular tracks on Soundcloud. That Junto based on a recording after midnight was interesting to return to but it also made me think about the documentary nature of sound and the idea that sexuality is an intrinsic part of character. It's self-indulgent but I was wondering why I hadn't encountered more of it and used Juntos to explore the idea a bit.

February features a similar technique but I've made a song from fireworks using old footage shot outside Wagga. It's worth mentioning that I also made a song during March that used a short sample of a spank. The original sample has become my most-viewed Youtube video, which isn't an achievement that I anticipated but reiterates the observation that the small amount of my sex life that I shared online this year has been surprisingly popular.

March featured a highlight of my 2015, when Naviar Records shared one of my haiku as inspiration for their musicians. I've been writing poetry for years but this was one of the few times it's attracted attention, although it wasn't to be the only time this year. Naviar Records have also inspired some of my best tracks.

In April I spent some time jamming on drums with loops recorded on guitars, as well as mashing up the Beastie Boys' 'Gratitude' with The Pixies' 'Where is my mind?' I also sang other songs in 2015, so this track can represent those too (like this one). In hindsight I was learning a few songs and thinking about the role of lyrics. This reflection led me to cover another song this week.

May was an opportunity to re-record one of my favourite compositions from 2014, which sometimes called 'Ophelia' and sometimes 'Mistletoe' for various reasons. That Junto asked for a performance wearing gloves and they provided a nice, muted effect on the bass guitar.

June saw the completion of a collaboration with my colleague at Western Riverina Arts, poet Derek Motion. This was the result of a project we proposed to Wagga council for projection, which was an interesting exercise since I started with a focus on sound and it wasn't until we asked how they'd like it delivered that we realised there wouldn't be an audible soundtrack at the presentation. It's a shame as the remix of KlanKman's 'Trein' was another highlight -- and one that was overdue after his beaut remixes of my tracks, like this one.

I was in Queensland for some of July, including Modifyre. Did a Junto based on my name that turned out good and used a 5/4 time signature, which is another thing I mean to do more often. There are some beaut grooves beyond 4/4 and the soundtrack for that Modifyre video is another success, though with 3/4 -- which was a time signature that I've used for basslines a bit recently.

In August my friends at RealArtWorks invited me along to their camp outside Wagga. It's great to be involved with these artists, although my digital workflow is at odds with their analogue materials. Still, it was great fun. Video of musician Mike Smith writing braille was accompanied with an electrified braille machine instrument.

September was a busy month with preparations for installations at Trent's, Burning Seed and Lillypilly Winery during October. The Junto responding to a clock worked out really well though, so I've included it instead of those projects -- although remixing Trent's was fun.

October was busy and it shows, since I only had this video made from a lawnmower, drums and guitars to share. That recording was made for a Junto and I ran out of time, so I used them for a Naviar project instead. I think I should have another go with this material as the bassline is kinda groovy but the track takes a while to get going. Returning to material and remixing it further has been fruitful recently. Another remix chain was completed too, which was the second for the year -- see here.

November saw a Naviar assignment lead me to produce a beaut track on the fretless bass and loops made from broken branches. A similar workflow led me to a great result in April with the track 'Polish' for a Naviar short story project and that track was included in their compilation of the results from those stories. Those projects were fun and encouraged me to explore MIDI composition and the Ableton sample library.

Now it's December and there are hours of music that I've produced in 2015. I thought I'd conclude with this collaboration with my son, Oscar. We made six videos together this year and it was fun to produce someone else's material. The first is best.

There's more I could reflect on in 2015, particularly my professional development, but I think this is enough for now. All the best in the new year!

Disquiet Junto 0208 In Situ

The Disquiet Junto this week was one of those sets of instructions that didn't quite make sense for me. Dunno, maybe it was the direction to use what was on hand in one step and then to use source recordings.

Anyway, in a way, it doesn't matter. Sometimes those reactions are part of the process and it seems to encourage a degree of disassociation that helps with improvised compositions. Although, one thing I've been thinking, was about an earlier Junto for "sonic tinsel" and I think this is a better result for that characteristic. And earlier this week I was thinking about this recording of that composition.

Anyway, it seemed impossible to get around acknowledging Christmas. Originally I'd planned to record a metal frame but it was raining in Wagga this morning, so I set a new time to compose when I returned to Leeton. The noise at home was more noticeable after being away from the suburb.

My neighbours seemed to be playing backyard cricket and it was getting increasingly rowdy. You can hear a cheer and also the exclamation "That's what I'm talking about!" I'd heard yells throughout the afternoon and wondered how to incorporate them into the Junto.

The Christmas cards were at hand. I've been playing around with juggling their triggers for years but obviously they seemed a good accompaniment to the festive sounds. The birds chirping were also a nice contribution as I'd been listening to birds in Wagga and thinking about them for the Naviar haiku.

Once I'd recorded this take and one other, I spent a little while manipulating the sounds in Ableton Live by adding reverb and delay. It still needed something, so I added a few notes on a VST synth with MIDI.

Naviarhaiku103 - Leaving its nest

The Naviar haiku this week was a good one. It brought to mind watching sparrows learning to fly on a windy day. The little birds were blown about like kids playing in waves.

This chord progression was written on bass while I was visiting my 'outlaws' outside Wagga. They live on a hilltop and the second storey of their house looks into the treetops, where the bird community has been breeding in large numbers this year -- as a result of the wet winter.

Naviarhaiku102 - As darkness draws in

The haiku proffered by Naviar Records this week brought to mind those times when fatigue must be overcome. Particularly when I've been partying and realise I'm ready for bed but it's still a long way away.

Darkness doesn't draw in as early as I'd like at present. We've had the summer solstice this week and it's been challenging to get my kids into bed before I fall asleep, since they're on holiday but I'm still working. So, yeah, this track didn't get as much attention as it should've.

Disquiet Junto 0207 Remixing Marilli

The Disquiet Junto this week asked for a remix using three short samples from Michel Banabila.

To start I open Ableton Live and apply a gate to the samples. This lets me identify useful transients, which I like to find first as rhythm is usually my starting point. There were a couple of percussion sounds that stood out, then I added some bass parts as there wasn't a kick sound. The high hat sound comes from a preset in the effect Replicant.

Then I'll experiment with re-pitching short loops and see if I can create a chord change or melody that works over the rhythm. In this case I added reverb to get a more ambient sorta synth pad wash as well. Valhalla Shimmer is great.

At some point I'll record the loops onto the timeline and then automate the volume or effects to organise the sounds into a structure. You can see some shorter loops, which were re-pitched for variation. I also used Live's Utility effect to explore the stereo field of the M3 sample, which was then heavily reverbed.

Finally, I use a couple of bus tracks to compress the rhythm and add reverb. Then I add some more compression on the master and export. The track for this junto was completed in about four hours.

The title comes from Terry Pratchett.

Doorstop Discovery

Had another go at making music using a dripping tap, as well as the bassline and drums recorded for a couple of Juntos. Ended up with a bit of a dub sorta sound, thanks to the tape-style delays.

Naviar haiku 0101 Someone else's clock

When the Naviar email arrived I thought about recording a clock. On Sunday morning I was keen to record. After spending the night listening to a dripping tap, it didn't seem such a leap to use the percussive drops.

The recordings were mostly made using a Nikon camera with a Rode video mic. These were looped and then re-pitched to create a chord. I also made recordings with a stereo Rode mic and a Zoom recorder, which is also in the mix.

Initially I started with a bass loop and then added drums. Then I deleted the loop and recorded this part. It's an early take. If you listen closely it actually loops near the end but the chord progression starts to loop much earlier. Maybe it needs a breakdown?

As mentioned, I recorded the bass part quickly on the fretless. The video suffers because I didn't shoot the bass. I shouldn't have been so lazy. Next time I'll make an effort but I didn't because it felt like I should put on pants.

The title is about sleeping over at someone's place but also that sense when you hearing a noise in the night and know your sleep is over.

Screen door acid house

Video for my remix of a screen door with haiku lyrics, which was recorded for this Junto too.

Satan is my roadie

I was inspired by this tattoo of Bruce Lee.

Disquiet Junto 0206 Three Switches

The Disquiet Junto this week brought to mind number 101, where switches were recorded and manipulated. I considered finding those samples but another idea took hold.

The idea of switching between parts suggested a kind of call and response melody. Or a kind of call and response and response melody in this case.

I settled on the idea of recording a vocal, a bass and percussion, then I went back and re-read the Junto and realised I'd read it wrong. However, this was the idea I ended up recording.

The idea of writing a lyric appealed to me. I've been writing haiku all week. One thing I like about haiku is the 17-syllable limit because it forces me to think how to phrase ideas to fit. It's a fruitful creative constraint for me but, yeah, the idea to use a haiku for the Junto was a bum steer.

I quickly recorded the melody on the bass and asked my partner to sing the lyric and then spent hours wondering how I was going to make it work. In the end I left the track in frustration and went back to one that I'd been putting together earlier on Friday.

The vocal needed to be stretched and re-pitched but it sorta worked as a house remix with the three-quarter bassline I'd written. I love the way the shorter loops on the bass give the track an evolving quality. It's one trick I've used a lot since I heard Dave Graham recommend it.

The result is a song that switches between a heavily effected screen door, voice and bass guitar against a 909 drumbeat and another bassline. I don't think it works but the project led me to produce a remix that I like, and I like it when a Junto inspires new material because it's usually something different.

Reliving the emotion

Started recording a haiku, ended up with a house remix.

Secret Dream

Here's a quick remix from recent recordings, including the Under Beat and Beat Basis juntos. Not much of a video though, as I only had the footage of the drumming.

Naviar haiku 0100 Winter evening

The Naviar haiku this week is a milestone in the form of the 100th exercise. The poem itself didn't resonate with me as this month marks the start of summer.

The project was a prompt to develop a track and this one uses a recording of my fireplace from 2013. I had been thinking about remixing a recording of a screen door that was made for my first Naviar haiku project, number 17. Then I found this fireplace recording and thought it was better suited.

The result is a rhythm from the fireplace accompanied by fretless bass. I made the beat first and then experimented with ideas until I settled on these two chord changes. It seems like it still needs something but I'm not sure what yet.

Disquiet Junto 0205 Superposition

The Disquiet Junto this week was another great opportunity to revisit ideas. The "graphic notation" assignments have often been fun and the picture this week held many possibilities.

My partner observed that the two sets of notes suggested a mash-up. My track interprets them in having two drum parts, but I combined the notes to create the dominant riff.

It's partly in 3/4 time signature with the notes interpreted in the kick drum rhythm, which shows six quarter notes against eight tambourines. This morning I settled on the drum parts and then, after taking my kids to the library, added the synth and bass parts.

I like the contrast between the two time signatures. I've been revisiting old projects recently and this one draws the time signature idea from this Naviar haiku junto.

When I wrote that piece, I recorded the lock on my screen door. That recording is currently on my desktop and I considered it for this piece, but used the recording of the fire starting instead.

That fire was lit in 2013. I'd been looking for an opportunity to use that recording and the Junto this week was it. My levels are a bit low though. Things haven't been the same since I started listening to playback through my PA instead of my monitor speakers, which are usually turned down 10db.


Another variation on the recent experiment with looping recordings of small sticks being broken.

Freaks and their frequencies

This Musical Spiral reminds me of Oliver Sacks' observation that people with synesthesia rarely agree on the colours they see for specific notes. In a way that comforts me because I've often thought I'd prefer to learn how music makes me feel, and use that to guide the experience I gain in making music, rather than formulas.