Disquiet Junto 0261 Audio Journal 2016

For my fifth audio journal exercise prompted by the Disquiet Junto, I've used 48 snippets of around one and a quarter seconds each.

One of the biggest changes to my Juntos this year has been abandoning Soundcloud to protest their closure of the Groups functionality.

In hindsight it's interesting that a result of this decision was concluding I needed to film myself making a toasted sandwich as a way to share a song I'd produced in the computer.

The toasted sandwich videos have been remarkably popular and started a series of conversations where I learned things like I've been mistakenly referring to spring onions as shallots and learning my knife skills are shocking.

The other thing that jumps out for me is how much deeper my son Oscar's voice now sounds.













Return to The Wires

Here's a shortish recording of The Wires.

Disquiet Junto 0260 Tone Fade

The Disquiet Junto this week asked for one note played repeatedly over three to four minutes. It brought to mind works by John Cage and Brian Eno where repetition encouraged a listener to hear the subtle differences in performance.

I'm visiting my out-laws for Christmas, where 'The Wires' were installed by Alan Lamb and Abre Ojos in 2004 for Unsound. When I worked with Lamb for Unsound in 2006, he introduced me to contact microphones and also bowing. Both of these techniques have been useful to me and I've recorded a variety of objects this way, including a slippery slide for my playground recordings.

'The Wires' have also influenced my listening, as their shifting harmonics mean the noise they produce is constantly changing. I spent many hours recording them and hearing how they responded to the environment. Some of these recordings were used in the three-hour collection Vibrating String.

I pruned the treelot around 'The Wires' with plans to record myself bowing on it for the Junto this week. However, it's been windier than forecast and the results included a lot more of the "pew pew" raygun-like sound than I wanted. It was distracting from the close listening aspect of the exercise.

When the local water authority sealed a leak on the nearby water distribution tank, they added the ladder seen in the video. Previously we were able to climb up and get a 360 degree view of the surrounding region, as the tank is on one of the highest hills in Brucedale.

Anyway, when we lost that view we gained this resonant metal and I've been thinking for a while that it might be interesting to record it. So the Junto was an opportunity to hear how it sounds.


Just been trimming around 'the wires' as the treelot has started muting this large-scale aeolian harp and I want to make recordings while I'm visiting.

There were lots of Christmas beatles on this tree, although they stayed at a height beyond my reach -- even though I was standing on two milk crates.

Disquiet Junto 0258 Sonic Climate

The Junto this week asked for a short piece of sound that expresses your local climate this time of year.

This subject matter brought to mind Junto #106 that used the weather as a graphic score, which had been a productive direction for me as that track was used by Regional Arts NSW. However, I was a bit reluctant to take that approach again this time.

After reflecting on the term "climate" and seeing the word "mileu" suggested, I began thinking on notions of personal context as well as the weather.

At this time of the year the Western Riverina of New South Wales is characterised by warm days, although when the Junto email arrived temperatures had dropped as winds from the south brought a cool change. So I had in mind the track would feature a break of some sort and I guess the pitch dropping is a representation of that.

Earlier in the week I'd been playing an old treadle-powered organ and thought it'd be good to use, although I haven't yet properly recorded it.

I looked at other video recordings I've made at the Museum and decided these could reflect my mileu. Most of these were made for the Instagram account.

You can see in the video the samples include Griffith's town band, who provide horns and also the kick drum. There's also Mr Grumbles, the sometime resident emu, as well as another bird that I haven't identified yet.

My son is in the opening using a hand-operated water pump, there's some of steam machinery shed and you can hear the steam-blown whistle there in the shot of the horses that were pulling a replica of Mickey Cush's carriage, as well as couple of hits from a blacksmithing demonstation. Near the end you can see the large button that's for a foot-operated bell that can be heard through out too.

There's also the sound of cicadas, which are a familiar noise during the Australian summer. This week I heard them for the first time this season, although it was cooler and they were making a lower-pitched sound. I also read they can be as loud as 120db, in contrast to a lawnmower at 90db.

While remixing environmental sounds is something I've done a bit of for projects like my playground remixes, this was the first time I've manipulated audio recorded on an iPhone.

It was going okay until I started adding compression, then the higher frequencies started to hit my hearing. This was accentuated by the headphones, which I've been forced to use since I bought a brand new secondhand Macbook earlier this year and have had problems using my Firewire soundcard in combination with my Universal Audio devices.

Another drawback was Ableton Live kept crashing while exporting video, so you only get a brief glimpse of the cowbells that play throughout the track and only a bit of the three Town Band samples too. You can see bandleader Trevor Peacock wearing a band uniform from decades earlier for the "exhibition day" we held to mark the centenary of Griffith.

There aren't many effects used on the loops, although most have been repitched. I EQ'd mostly lower frequencies for everything except the kick drum, which is only lower frequencies.

Everything has a gate as well, although for my son and the cicadas it starts a little way into the track. The cicadas has Live's Beatrepeat acting as a rhythmic gate for a high-hat sorta sound, then it turns off during the organ break in the middle.

The title 'One Man's Dream' comes from a book written by former museum manager Perry Howard about Pioneer Park Museum and is a reference to Charles Sharam, who was instrumental in establishing Griffith's community-run museum that celebrated 45 years of being open to the public earlier this year.

Bread robot

My bread machine was kneading dough on the weekend and I thought the rhythm was interesting, so I recorded it. Then I listened back and thought it was less interesting, so I decided to convert it to MIDI in Ableton Live.

Naviarhaiku 152 - Fading light

Last weekend I was trying different chords on the ukulele, when I found a couple that made me think of disco.

Then I started humming and wondered what sort of lyrics would go with it. I settled on something a bit codependent, along the lines of “hold me close, hold me tight, I couldn’t dream without you, I couldn’t sleep at night.”

At first I wasn't sure it suited the theme of the haiku shared by Naviar Records this week, but I think it does capture a similar sentiment.

After finishing the Junto, I thought I’d better try recording my ukulele riff as it’s hard to remember song ideas sometimes. I set up the Rode NT4, as well as putting the VideoMic on the camera. Neither got my voice very clearly but I thought that might be better.

When I opened the recordings in Ableton Live, I could hear my foot stomping and decided to put a four-on-the-floor kick underneath. Then I remembered Pepe Deluxe’s beaut track ‘Girl’ and thought it had a 303 riff but, as you can hear in the video below, it doesn’t.

Disquiet Junto 0257 Remember Noisevember

The Junto this week looked like a process, with this image:

It brought to mind Stuart Hall's influential essay Encoding, decoding and I set about recording myself reading the introduction.

Then I took my voiceover into Ableton Live, where I had it encode a simple part played by the Massive VST synth using the Vocoder effect.

To keep it interesting I added bass and drums that were recorded late last year.

Selected Ambient Covers Vol. II

Unsound Unsound review

Revisited this RealTime review of Unsound 2006 earlier today and was stung again, nearly a decade later, by this line:
First stop is an inspection of Alan Lamb’s aeolian harp at the Pindari property; although this work is heard to much better affect aboard the Loco Motivus when we listen remotely by CB radio to a live wind-and-wire broadcast. 
 As you can see in the video below, it wasn't the wind playing 'the wires', it was my partner Jo and I.

Disquiet Junto 0029 Count Zero

When I first joined the Junto mailing list, it took a few turns before I joined in.

Elsewhere there's a track where I misread the instructions and made a song from a book. This project was one where I wondered if I'd drifted too far from the Junto instruction for the sound of running water to be present.

It's another track made from Mountford Park and I was thinking of it after the Junto this week.

Today, while looking through old files, I found this video I'd made while manipulating the recordings in Live.

In hindsight it's interesting I'd explored making a video for the Junto back at number 29. It wouldn't be until number 101 that I returned to that medium, more than a year later.

Disquiet Junto 0256 Music in Place

The goal of the Junto project this week is to record a piece in place using only sounds from that place. It's an idea I've explored in my "Parktronica" and it was in reflecting on previous recordings that I concluded it should be Mountford Park.

Mountford Park is central to the town of Leeton and I've recorded it many times before. For example, in the video above you can see the playground before they replaced the large slide with the flying fox in the video below.

Mountford Park playground was also where I screened results from my remixes of Leeton playgrounds and it was then that I appreciated the bells of the churches ringing from different directions.

Today I took my Nikon camera to the outdoor stage but wasn't quick enough to get the start of the Anglican church bells. It's more pronounced when the Catholic church bells start ringing. Similarly, it's more noticeable when the Iris 2 part starts using the Catholic church bell than when an earlier part uses the Anglican church bell.

In addition to the two Iris 2 parts, there are two loops. During the first bells there's a passing car that's looped, giving a rising and falling that I feel like a kettle drum. It continues throughout, as well as another after the bells finish chiming and also has a car rumble.

And around again

Put a 909 behind the song I recorded earlier on the electric ukulele. Then I added the Monark part in Live using the computer keyboard.

Having a roll

Disquiet Junto 0255 Capone’s Ghost

...consider the case of Al Capone, who played banjo during his time on the famed prison island of Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay — a banjo that is said to be heard long after his death
When the Junto email arrived, I'd been working on a song responding to the 150th Naviar haiku. The chorus "round and round" had come from that image of the ceiling fan, and I'd already settled on the line about not understanding. Then the lyrics started to take shape as being a prisoner's perspective.

Of course, even before the email from Naviar, I'd wanted to record my new electric ukulele. I bought it from Sorebrain on Ebay. I love playing B7 chords, which is the first you can hear in the chorus, and A# was a great contrast for the verse. I added the E minor bit at the beginning mostly to set the key but I was inspired by the organ riff in The Presets 'Talk Like That'.

Thinking of Capone, I like the representation of him in Boardwalk Empire. Writers for HBO TV shows have a knack for rounding out their characters with domestic details and they did this with Capone by showing scenes with him at home with his deaf son. It seems an obvious heart-string to pull but I felt it.

P.S. Now remixed with 909 drums and Monark synth -- hear!

I may be old

Via Facebook

Fried Ay

Jam with Microbrute, Kawai and Mochika XL going into a Filterbank.

The drum machine was circuit bent by Diabolical Devices and is reinforced with a Jomox Mbase. The Atomosynth is going into a Sherman Filterbank with a King Capitol synth. The Arturia goes through Eletro-Harmonics Ring Thing and Boss RE-20.

Naviarhaiku 149 - Let us be one

It might've been Seneca who observed that anger comes from disappointment.

Anyway, the idea of grounding an electrical charge came to mind with the haiku shared by Naviar Records this week.

I'd recorded a couple of drum parts and have been out of practice on my kit. I've been less inclined to sit down at the electronic kit, while the acoustic drums are packed away.

However, recording MIDI parts to record through circuit bent drum machines has been my aim in focusing on electronic drums. This week I've used the 707 again, as well as an Alesis circuit bent by Diabolical Devices.

The Mochika can also be heard in the mix, although more faintly as I was running it through a bass synthesiser pedal and the Filterbank. The result was a bit atonal.

Disquiet Junto 0254 Fog and Steam

For the 254th weekly project, we’re going to revisit the second project, from back in early January 2012.

Step 1: Download these two samples:

Fog Horn: http://www.freesound.org/people/schaarsen/sounds/69663/

Train Whistle: http://www.freesound.org/people/ecodios/sounds/119963/

Step 2: Create an original piece of music utilizing just those samples from Step 1. You can only use those two samples, and you can do whatever you want with them.

I don't remember the original project but the freesound.org website was familiar, particularly the frustration of not getting a response when resetting the password. I remember giving up on a Junto project as a result of this but managed to establish a new account and get the samples this week.

Last night I experimented with a few loops from the samples, finding a percussive part at the end of the train recording. This was gated, then duplicated with one loop pitched deeper to sound more like a kick part.

The ferry horn had a nice bass resonance and I experimented with a loop, which was an idea I'd come back to later. You can see in the screenshot the two percussive loops at the top, then the clunky rumbling part.

 This morning I put the ferry recording into Iris 2 and started with a bass part but then found it sounded better using higher frequencies. I kept the MIDI at minus one octave though.

You can see in the video that I recorded a chord progression using the guitar to MIDI converter. The Iris 2 part is accompanied by a Bass Station an octave lower, that also has a MIDI arpeggiator.

Tom Waits on field recordings

When I listen to old field recordings, maybe you’ll hear a dog barking way off in the background. You realize the house it was recorded in is torn down, the dog is dead, the tape recorder is broken, the guy who made the recording died in Texas, the car out front has four flat tires, even the dirt that the house sat on is gone—probably a parking lot—but we still have this song. Takes me out when I listen to those old recordings. Recording for me is like photographing ghosts.

Via Stuart Coupe 

Naviarhaiku 148 - A city parking space

The haiku shared by Naviar this week is shown on the right.

It reminded me of the 'Engrish' I've seen photographed that reads "PLEASE PAY YOUR PARKING FEE BEFORE EXISTING".

In the video you can see I've used a Kawai drum machine circuit bent by Diabolical Devices with a King Capitol synth and an Atomosynth Mochika XL going into an Eletro-Harmonics Q-Tron envelope filter.

In Ableton Live I've applied gates, particularly Audio Damage BigSeq, as well as reverbs including Valhalla Shimmer.

Disquiet Junto 0253 Doorbell Rehab

We don't have a doorbell and I didn't notice many while traipsing around the neighbourhood with my kids this Halloween. However, with the Junto's directive to compose a doorbell sound, I knew exactly what I wanted to record.

Earlier this year I composed a piece called 'Ashmore Reef' that used my Nashville-tuned guitar. It has the three lower strings tuned with three higher strings to a get a result that's an octave higher. The opening tuning EADGBE demonstrates how strumming a chord gets a result more like a melody.

I think I might've written it on a blog around the time of 'Ashmore Reef' that I wanted to use the opening notes on the Nashville-tuned guitar as a doorbell sound. Anyway, that's what I've done here this week.

My son assisted and we made a short film to illustrate how the guitar sounds, both for a visitor at the front door and inside the home. In Ableton Live I've tried to smooth over the roughness of the Rode VideoMic, which sounds crunchy as the auto-gain attempts to limit the volume.

When I'd first explained the Junto to my son, he'd suggested that we record doorbells around town and then assemble them into the Super Mario Bros theme. Then we'd discussed the potential for a mechanical door strumming device, before settling on a short film-style response.

Another idea would've been to sample Men At Work's 'Who Can It Be Now?' but it makes me sad to think about saxophone player, Greg Ham.

Ham killed himself around time of the court case that found the band guilty of plagiarising a song that is known by most Australians. It saddens me that his musical reference to a cultural touchstone can be criminal as it quite clearly interprets the original in using the melody without the better-known lyric "Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree" -- like The Presets.

Very King

Naviarhaiku 147 - Awake in the dark

At first I came up with an unmusical response to the haiku. I was thinking about hearing miraculous agitations and what a bum steer I thought it'd be chasing the melody from a random arrangement of notes. The result was a bit excruciating.

Then I thought about what could be done with the drum part. The MIDI has been sent to a Roland TR-707 and the clock is running to the Atomosynth Mochika. Under my other hand is a King Capitol Punishment Utopia Synth, which has two oscillators I think.

Disquiet Junto 0252 Sonic Palindrome

The Junto this week asks for a sonic palindrome.

My initial idea was to pick through Em and G chords on my guitar with MIDI pick-up, then double the parts and reverse one. So it would play backwards then forwards, moving from a minor key to a major one to get a sense of resolution.

When I started reversing the part in Live, I noticed it changed the placement of the notes. Where reversing the audio means the notes fade in, reversing the MIDI seem to make them start in about the same spot. So I resorted to exporting the MIDI part through the Oddity pad with Valhalla reverb, then importing it in and reversing it.

The forward and backward parts now sit on top of each other and the result is more like a palindrome in sounding the same in either direction.

At the last minute I decided to add another instrument using the MIDI part, settling on the bowed vibraphone samples that are part of the Live Suite. This isn't doubled with a reverse part, so it kinda ruins the palindrome approach but adds a lot more interest to the song I think.

Annoying noises prohibited

Was talking with a Council colleague about the way local parks all have signs listing things you can't do and how negative they appear.

We hatched a plan to develop a sign that encourages smiling, saying "G'day!" and talking about the weather with strangers.

Washed Ashore

After finishing my track for the Junto this week, I was a little disappointed to find Detritus Tabu had reworked the same track as I'd chosen. In some ways in didn't surprise me though, as I like Hugh's work a lot and figure we must have similar aesthetics.

Anyway, this morning at breakfast I was listening to the tracks submitted this week and it occurred to me that I could add a couple of the more relaxing tracks to my recording of Valla Beach.  Here's the result.

I've added Glenn Sogge's 'A Simple Sleep' to rpcollier's 'Binky' to my 'Valla Beach' track. Both added tracks have been repitched and 'Binky"s been warped to twice the length and edited to fit. They also have Valhalla Shimmer reverb.

Disquiet Junto 0251 Soothing Sounds for Parents

Last week’s project involved making soothing sounds for babies. This week the plan is to transform those sounds into something for parents.

337is's track How To Repeat caught my ear because I like repetitive music, although there were many tracks that I downloaded last week. Music for sleeping is a good theme for composition, I think.

When the Junto was first mentioned by Marc on social media, I'd considered recording a song I've written and adding my recording of Valla Beach. Then I'd gone back and listened and thought about what instrumentation I could add to the work of others.

I'd recorded these drums weeks earlier while attempting to keep up with some drum and bass. My partner suggested I skip adding a bassline to this remix, which was wise and it means 337is' track has space. It's been sped up, pitched down and filtered with a few effects.

There are two instances of Audio Damage's BigSeq gating effect and you can hear when the one kicks in about a bar after the drums get going. There's also two distortion effects, one is bassy as there was a high pitched snap that annoyed my ear from the gating effect and the next warms the mids as I wanted a James Holden-sorta sound. He had a drummer playing with his synth when I saw him perform and I love electronic music with live drums, particularly The Bird.

Around 3.30 you can hear my drums crackle because I've been having problems with my audio while recording. Hopefully it's just the Firewire cable, that's been the case when I've had problems like this previously.

Naviarhaiku 145 - City streets ablaze

There's reflection in the haiku this week but not much from me it seems.

I've been playing this A minor to E seventh riff but couldn't really nail down how I wanted it to resolve.

So what you hear here is a few attempts at structuring the changes layered on top of each other with a view to mimicking the sense of being surround by reflections of sunset.

And I've added Valhalla Shimmer for a big golden glow.

Disquiet Junto 0250 Soothing Sounds

The 250th Junto asks for sounds to soothe a baby. I really wanted to record my ukulele but I remembered what worked for my kids and it wasn't instrumental music.

For my first pregnancy I made mixes in the hope that the stories were true about kids calming when they hear the theme of a TV show watched regularly by their mother.

My partner likes Aphex Twin's ambient works, so there was a lot of that as well as Cliff Martinez' Solaris soundtrack. The latter was on very high rotation throughout the pregnancy, birth and subsequent months. Then around six months I went through a Duke Ellington phase and I think that contribute to my son's skill singing because he's always had good pitch, although so does his mother and grandfather.

With successive children there was less opportunity to focus but I have been a fan of ensuring my kids have soothing background noises. One album that has been popular through all three pregnancies and been recommended to friends is a CD reissue of the Environments album of 1969 with waves crashing on a beach. It's funny that there's a break on the CD for the two sides of the album.

My partner reminded me of the album when I asked if she'd record some of the songs she sings for the kids to go to sleep. Just this week my youngest asked her to start doing this again, despite him being nearly eight years old. She knows a few old English lullabies with surprisingly mellifluous melodies.

This recording of beautiful Valla Beach was made during our winter holidays to the north. Well, as far north as Brisbane.

Valla is about a half an hour south of Coffs Harbour and my partner's family have a beach house there. It's been the subject of a previous Junto track this year, as well a site for great lightning pics and I saw an octopus and a seal and maybe a merman.

It was recorded using a Rode Videomic on my Nikon D5100 SLR. I've added a couple of Valhalla reverbs, as well as a low C using Massive and mastered with Ozone 7.

Piano rolls

Looking into piano rolls at work today and it's a fascinating technology that provided music at a time when Edison's low-fidelity phonograph was the only other alternative to hiring a musician. 

I've never seen one in use, so it seems incredible that piano rolls were in continuous production from 1896 to 2008. I'm familiar with their design though, which can still be seen in the layout of MIDI editing on most digital audio workstations.

I was surprised to learn on Wikipedia that performances by many great pianists and composers were recorded using piano roll, including Gustav Mahler, Camille Saint-Saƫns, Edvard Grieg, Claude Debussy, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Sergei Prokofiev, Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin, Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin.

Angel of death

Image: Brian O'Blivion


Wanted to see if I could rock on an ukulele, so put down some fast drums and bass to go with it.

Disquiet Junto 0249 80 Phases

This was my third attempt at the Steve Reich-inspired Junto this week. Early on I settled on looping sections of recent ukulele recordings, including a cover of the Adventure Time theme.

Something about the waver at the end appealed. Originally I had guitar, bass, drums and percussion backing, but the fluctuations in my timing took attention away from the phasing.

The phasing was achieved with two loops in Live, one a fraction shorter so the two parts drift out of time over the recording. By the end the transient at the head of one loop was getting ahead of the other.

Phasing is a subtle effect, so it's a bit lost on me but I've heard interesting results with these loops and also a percussion part in an earlier draft. Usually phasing is an unexpected outcome and often I experience it as a nuisance in video production.

To round off my track I added a 909 kick and bass line but it still needed something so I used a 303-style preset and Latin percussion. These were meant to complement the loop but compression has meant they're a bit more dynamic and hog attention from those slight changes in the vocal. Dunno if that'd be right with Reich but happy birthday Steve!

Steve Reich came to my attention via Brian Eno, who has enthused about the phasing technique in 'It's Gonna Rain' -- which is a beaut track. I've also been interested in his rhythmic pieces and see a lot of his influence in the music I enjoy. I've also been happy to have comparisons made with my work.

On another note, it's noteworthy that this is my 70th Junto video.

You Clear Distraction

Feeling an increased sense of affinity for four-stringed instruments after buying a Kala U-bass recently, I bought an ukulele on a whim.

It arrived yesterday and, without knowing how to play it, I googled ukulele tuning to tune it up and recorded the first thing that came to mind.

Then I added Valhalla Shimmer to get an effect like a synth because it sorta sounded like sloppy mellow drum and bass.

I was pleased when my partner described it as "demented Cafe del Mar"!

Birthday Suit

It was my birthday on the weekend and I was sad as previous years had celebrated this event coinciding with Burning Seed, which was cancelled due to rain.

So I put on the onesie I'd bought to keep warm on the paddock and played with myself.

There are three takes of acoustic guitar, two takes of four-string guitar, one Nashville-tuned guitar, one MIDI-equipped guitar, two basses, two melodicas and two takes of drums. All are single takes, many first takes.

Universal changes

Almost two months ago I got an email saying I'd bought three new Universal Audio effects, when I didn't.

At first I thought my account had been misused, then I noticed that all three effects were based on those made by Roland (who also own the Boss brand of guitar pedals) and concluded that it was a licensing issue. It seems some people thought they got freebies.

Yesterday I remembered these new effects and remembered to try them. They don't sound any different but the new versions appear larger on the screen. Anyway, I thought I'd comment on two drawbacks with the new unbranded versions.

The first issue was the presets. The new versions have new presets and I found myself looking for the familiar sounds that I use. Thankfully the UAD FAQ says I can copy over the old presets to the new effects.

The second issue is the new names given to the effects. "Galaxy" is colourful and a good equivalent to the "Space" in "Space Echo" and it slipped straight into my memory, but the "Studio" and "Brigade" names have not been so easy to remember.

Previously all three effects would list under "Roland" in the alphabetical list, so I currently find myself scanning the ever-increasing list of UAD effects to try and remember what they're now called. This will become a problem for me when UAD remove the Roland-branded versions unless I get used to looking for them now.

Which leads me to a wistful comment, that it'd be great if only the UAD effects I own appear in the list of VST offerings.

I realise that it's probably not something they'd want to address though, as the process of looking at these offerings goes some way toward prompting me to buy them. It does seem that I remember the effects that are useful to me and quickly forget those that I buy and don't use.

Which leads me to observe that Brainworx should consider giving their effects names with more evocative characteristics. And I'd guess it could be good if UAD were to arrange their effects in sub-folders in the VST list, using categories like those listing the products on their website's store.

Naviarhaiku 143 - Watching the lightning

The haiku this week reminded me of many evenings during summer watching thunderstorms pass, sometimes at a distance of around 100km.

Despite being fairly flat in the Riverina, sometimes it feels like the sky stretches forever and it's times like when a localised storm is passing through that I can get a sense of that distance by comparing what I see with the view offered by a weather satellite online.

The frogs have been breeding among the many puddles recently. We haven't seen a thunderstorm for a while but it does look like it's going to be a wet summer with all of the increased risks that go with that, from mosquito numbers to fire risks when the grasses dry out with the heat.

This recording was made while waiting to film the flooding at Widgelli this week.

Disquiet Junto 0248 Galactic Tick

For my recording this week I've used theremin, drums and bass again. I'd intended to use guitar, but I'd also intended to use another chord progression too.

When Marc's instructions arrived I read the Popular Mechanics article and pondered the vastness of space. Then I'd watched a few of my favourite videos on the subject of the universe and life.

The image in my head when I started recording was of cycles within cycles. I'd wanted the drums to go 900 miles an hour through space but ended up settling on a funkier beat.

Then the chord progression didn't seem to work, so I'd started recording and ended up on a variation of a familiar riff. And guitar didn't seem right but I liked the idea of interpretive movements, so the theremin came out again.

Two takes were recorded on the theremin, with both used and the video layered up. The theremin is a bit blurry as I moved it a couple of times. It was a single take on the drums, with the opening hits moved to the end; and the first take on the bass.

Seeking sponsorship

It looks like I should seek a patron.

Ideally it would be in the form of sponsorship from a company who manufactures toasted sandwich presses.

Below is my latest masterpiece, a vegan sandwich with an acid-style soundtrack.

In the charts

Thanks to Naviar Records, I'm charting at Hearthis.at!

Open Road

Disquiet Junto 0247 Waltz Maybe

The Junto exercise this week is a graphic score by Lark Pien:
Record a short piece of music interpreting the illustration as a graphic score.

The reference to a waltz led me to think of a 3/4 time signature, a feel I thought I'd been playing on the drums the day earlier. I posted saying this on the forum.

Then I had a few ideas about how I could approach this Junto, including one where I'd aim to the visually approximate the design. However, as I'd already said I was thinking of 3/4 drums I felt obligated.

It's funny because I've been listening to the 'Cognitive Bias Song' recently. I'm not sure whether this is a consistency bias but I'd like to call it a continuity bias, since I'll post on the forum with my song and want to reflect my earlier decision.

Anyway, I ended up recording the 3/4 drums. The comment by Daniel Diaz about "click based techno music overdose" got me thinking I should record without a click track. So you'll notice I'm playing drums without headphones in this video.

I recorded the drums on Friday afternoon without an idea how I was going to use them. It occurred to me that it'd be good to contrast the 3/4 against 4/4 but in the end I think it's a 12/8 time signature. There was about seven minutes of drumming and I quickly edited together the bits I liked.

This week I bought a Kala U-bass on a whim and it arrived on Friday. You can see a U-bass in the video above, which also features the talented James Hill. I'd already decided to record a single-take bass part to compensate for editing the drums or something, but it took a little while before I was sure I wanted to record on this new and small instrument. It sounds huge and only took a little while to grow accustomed to the shorter scale frets.

On Saturday morning I recorded the bass part and it's the second take. I was wondering how to represent the gestures in Pien's drawing when I remembered my theremin. It was last used through the Ravish sitar effect for Junto 0134.

You can see on the left-hand of the video (top) that I am rotating and making a series of gestures. These are meant to reflect those shown in the drawing. I think I went through the sequence twice over the course of the recording.

Joining the army

There are many beaut covers of The White Stripes' modern classic Seven Nation Army' and this is one.

Ableton Live X

It's been a while since Ableton updated their Live software to version nine and I thought I'd suggest a few things I'd like to see in the next iteration.

One area I'd like to see overhauled is the way the software handles video. Admittedly my hardware is a few years old but exporting video from Live remains the leading cause of software crashes. Sometimes I can get around this by exporting shorter parts and assembling them in a video editing program. Other times Live will steadfastly refuse to export parts with short loops.

The video exported from Live seems to default to an NTSC-style codec with around 30 frames a second, which is less than ideal for me as I usually work with PAL-style 25 frames per second. It also gains a black border, which suggests the resolution of the exported video is decreased from the original. Since I'm not producing material for local TV, this isn't such an issue but it does seem to slow the process of rendering. So it'd be great if a new version of Live provided more options for handling and exporting video.

Another suggestion involves revamping the effect Beat Repeat. I've been using Live long enough to remember the original Coldcutter effect the Beat Repeat was based on and back then it introduced me to generative approaches to composition. These days Beat Repeat is often my first step when manipulating field recordings, as the ability to gate and re-pitch loops means it can quickly make a series of transients into a melody. It would be great if I could pitch these sounds upward as well as down and at present the control only goes in the latter direction.

Finally, I'm not sure how practical this is but it'd be great if effects like Beat Repeat's stutters could be seen in the video export. I realise video is more of a value-added exercise for a DAW like Ableton Live but I think that by taking a multimedia approach would really separate this software from competitors and open new directions in production.

Echoes of rock

Just been pondering the question “Did music stop innovating?” and thought I’d record my thoughts here:

A friend suggested that music hasn't improved since guitars and tube amps but I think there's a pattern of contemporary music regressing into rock.

Rock music was a revolution but I think the appeal was partly the way guitars suited male voices (and the way males wanted guitars because females liked males who rock) but also because rock was part of the force that created the markets which drove the growth of the recorded music industries in the late 20th Century. I’m referring to the creation of products aimed at teenagers, who began to have increased leisure time and budget for various forms of entertainment.

It also helped that drums, which are a key part of rock, sounded amazing using magnetic tape when that became available outside of Germany after WWII.

Since rock I think there's a trend for it to become part of other genres, like folk going electric and Rick Rubin adding rock-style song structures to hiphop and then rock musicians like Aerosmith working with Run-DMC.

Then in more recent times you see rock-style electronica like The Prodigy and rock-style drum n' bass like Pendulum.

Anyway, this is a thesis I'd like to research and develop if I were to return to higher education.

Wonder if there is a parallel to be drawn with the influence of house music on rhythm and blues in recent years? It used to be that RnB would swing but this century it became more strictly quantised as it relied on DJs to mix it into sets comprising of a variety of machine-made musics.

Disquiet Junto 0246 Double, Quadruple, Sextuple

The Junto this week asks for a composition that speeds up as described.

I've been playing with the notes DEAF EFF for a while as the literal message amuses me. Realised when I saw this project that it could move from being a 4/4 to a 3/4 bassline, which was a technique I'd employed on a few tracks late last year after learning it from Dave at musictheoryisyourfriend.com

It didn't take long to plot the notes into Ableton Live's MIDI roll and then add an 808 kick.

The track sounded okay but was lacking something until I decided to use it as the soundtrack for my latest remarkable sandwich.

Naviarhaiku 141 - Perfect Calm

This haiku speaks to me for those moments when you step away from the house and have a quiet moment.

The video of Valla Beach is ideal for this musical moment. I like watching the tide roll in while the chords swell.

Disquiet Junto 0245 Practical Music

The Junto this week asked for "a simple, rhythmic piece of music that exudes tidiness and efficiency" and I don't think I delivered but it was another interesting experience.

Often I'm not sure what I'll record when I start recording. That was the cast this week and I was surprised to see I'd settled into a progression early on.

This track combines three takes and only has two edits. I like the way the different parts rub up against each other.

Naviarhaiku 140 - Fireworks

Naviar shared this poem by Charles Reznikoff, which is sorta stretching the haiku format.

Recorded drums first while listening to the Beastie Boys, then added an old bass riff based on E7. In Ableton I've added delay and other effects.

Bass solo

Via FB

Remarkable sandwiches

Click here to hear about another remarkable sandwich.

Wii-mote control

I like how Wii-motes are being used here to trigger samples.

Late winter daze

Another mix of the track 'Daze on End' that I recorded last weekend. Only three guitar parts with two drum parts and a vocal loop of my daughter, with Valhalla Shimmer reverb.

Naviarhaiku 139 - Insomnia

Great haiku by Yu Chang shared by Naviar Records this week.

It speaks to me as I like feeling the low rumble of trains in the early morning.

For this project I've experimented with incorporating MIDI into the 'layered sameness' process. The result is okay, although I found myself preferring the sound of the guitars to the sampled instruments.

Stomping the Rug

Another take on my track 'Cutting the Rug', where I've made the two instruments into an 16-part arrangement.

It's an idea that worked this time last year for a song made with my alarm clock. Where that track had four parts, each started a bar apart; in this one there are eight parts of each the drums and bass.

It took days to render this video.

Daze On End

More 'layered sameness' recorded using my four-string guitar.

Naviarhaiku138 - First thing to catch my ear

The sound of running water can be heard here filtering through a few resonators and reverbs.

Disquiet Junto 0243 Synth Trial

The Disquiet Junto this week asks we share a favorite track from the audition tape sent to Ridley Scott for the Blade Runner sequel's soundtrack.

It's funny but hardly a week goes by without thinking about this film. A few weeks ago I read this beaut piece on the typography in the film.

I considered watching the film again today but settled for listening to tracks on Youtube, including beaut interpretations by James Holden and Benny Benassi.

I spent a little while exploring ideas on a Kaossilator before settling on writing a song using VST synths in Ableton Live. In this track I use V-Station, Oddity, Absynth, Massive and Drumaxx.

My idea was to update the style of electronic music a bit but still make it feel somewhat dated, so acid seemed a good direction.

The initial MIDI files were generated very quickly, then the generative approach continued with the MIDI tools in Live. The arpeggiator, scale and chord ('Film noir' preset!) effects were used to shape the notes before directing them to synths.

Valhalla Shimmer is in the mix and I automated the pitch in places, particularly that decaying effect at the end. There's also Ohmforce Frohmage on the drums for a muffled effect.

Indian Ocean

My Dog Has Fleas

Learned a lot from James Hill about phrasing chords on a stringed instrument.

His version of Voodoo Chile is virtuosic.

RIP Soundcloud

Today, 22 August 2016, marks the end of Soundcloud's Groups functionality. Unlike many changes to the popular audio-hosting website, it's happened with very little fanfare.

The end of Groups signals an end to my interest in Soundcloud. As much as I've appreciated their service in hosting my music for over seven years, I feel that withdrawing from their website is the only way I can express my disappointment with their decision to undermine the communities I enjoy.

Through Groups like the Disquiet Junto and Naviar Records' projects I have listened, been heard and learned from musicians based all over the world.

I've written elsewhere about the productive creative practice in making music and noise that I've maintained as a result of meeting the deadlines set by people like Marc and Marco, who run these two Groups respectively.

I'm sure Soundcloud have their reasons to close Groups. I know that I haven't been a great patron for their website. I bought a subscription to their service once so I could download my most popular song, then sought a refund almost immediately.

I've also been frustrated by Soundcloud doing things like stopping me from creating playlists (like this one of 120 Junto tracks), so I'm happy to have avoided feeling frustrated by paying for a service that doesn't work. (I am happy to see I've now recorded over 140 Junto tracks though!)

When the Junto's 101st project came along I started producing videos to show some of the processes involved in producing my tracks. I now have a playlist of 64 Junto tracks with videos and I'm pleased to see that Marc has an aspiration "for the Junto to become 'platform-agnostic'" through using llllllll.co "as a central place for each project".

This forum-based approach for the Junto makes sense as it's a model that's worked for the Ninja Tune Forum-based projects I've been involved with and provides an easy method for communicating with other producers. That Forum isn't as popular as it once was but, looking at my followers on various Soundcloud accounts, I get the impression that Soundcloud now isn't as popular either.

The Ninja Tune Forum also offers an interesting comparison as it has benefited from the shuttering of a similar service, when the Warp Records forum was closed. In that case an audience migrated to the Ninja's forum to continue their conversations about music and it led into developing projects like the seven-minute mixes and chain remixes.

It'll be interesting to see whether moving hundreds of producers onto a forum like llllllll.co will spur the development of new creative projects. Change can be a good thing, right?

Cutting the rug

Hadn't had a jam on the bass for a while, so I recorded drums and improvised a bassline to go on top.

Then added a bunch of glitchy effects, particularly Audio Damage's Replicant.


Brian Crabtree's project for the Disquiet​ Junto in April was called 'layered sameness' and it's a good description.

In this video I've layered the takes recorded with my four-string guitar for the Junto this week.

Disquiet Junto 0242 Share Yer Knowledge

The title of this week's Junto project, "Share Yer Knowledge," comes from a great thread (excuse me, "channel") on the Junto Slack. The idea this week is to make (and annotate) a track that provides an example of a trick/skill/tip you want to share about a piece of musical software or hardware.

Last year I watched the Morphine documentary again and listened to their albums. I could hear Mark Sandman used a variety of tunings on his bass guitar and started experimenting. After trying a few keys I settled in D, in part because the guitar I wanted to use wouldn't take a bass A-string.

This year I've used this four-string guitar on an increasing number of tracks From the first Junto of 2016 to the Naviar Haiku track recorded yesterday.

Many tracks have practically written themselves and this one picks up where the last piece left off, as it uses a chord I stumbled upon at the end of the latter track.

The guitar is tuned DDAE. Last month I saw a commercial four-string guitar and noticed some similarities. That one was a Merlin model by Seagull guitars but was tuned DADD, with a unison high D.

Mine uses a D-string from a bass and then one from a guitar, which puts them an octave apart before the A- and G-string both come from a guitar -- the latter is tuned down to E, although at first I used F#.

In the opening of this track I pick through the open strings, as well as harmonics. It's mostly the kind of D chord you'd get from a tuned-down guitar and I think D is a great key.

The tempo speeds up throughout and there's delay feedback at the end, created adjusting the repeat rate as well as the intensity.

The four-note chords I can form seem to suit the deep pitch but I have been thinking recently about adding more strings. Just can't figure out what yet.

The Epiphone 335 guitar has really been improved with this tuning. It's a lovely sounding guitar but the intonation wasn't good for chords using regular guitar tuning, particularly the B-string.

I've more than half a dozen guitars with varying tunings but this has been my go-to instrument in recent months. For example, this track recorded earlier this month worked out very well, as well as this rockier one.