February 26, 2017
Following on with the experiments with the field recording I’ve also been getting back into writing music. This is the first piece I’ve done in a couple of years, its’ 16 minutes of ambient/industrial/drone/field recording. So basically birdsong, industrial noises and general ambience.
The field recordings were all done in Ruscombe.
It’s had some quite nice feedback so far so will be doing some more soon.
October 28, 2012
Dragged out a bunch of old tracks I wrote a few years back (circa 2003) and stuck them on Soundcloud. A process which generally terrifies me as deal very badly with feedback (of any sort). Some of it I’m surprisingly happy with having not listened to it for years, it seems that the more I have learned over the years about music theory and production the worse my compositions have become, which is a hurdle I need to get over. Here’s some music (in a loose sense of the term), it’s all a bit ‘experimental’…
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/65134805″ params=”” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/65132983″ params=”” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/65123657″ params=”” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/65122721″ params=”” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
November 1, 2011
The learning to write music plan is going well. Better than expected in some ways. I’ve so far managed to overcome the self-defeating procrastination fairly well and put in some practice most days. More importantly I’ve managed to get back into it again on those occasions where other things (sleep mostly) prevent me practicing for a while. I’ve got a pretty good balance between time spent studying and time spent improvising and writing tracks.
I had completely forgotten about the ‘cold light of day’ issue that comes with any creative project, where you work hard into the night on the best track/illustration/whatever EVER only to find it’s a bucket of poo when you review it the next day. I’m not finding it too difficult to deal with this time round as I feel I’m making some real progress, I’ve also accepted that it is an important part of the learning process even if it’s a little cringe-inducing at times.
Learning music theory properly is one of the most inspiring experiences, although I’m disappointed I’ve not made the effort previously. The need to understand music theory appears to be fairly subjective, I’ve spoken to some talented musicians who claim to know no theory and in the past I’ve lazily tried to convince myself that I could be one of them. I’ve also realised how much I’ve tried to persuade myself that by writing ‘experimental’ music I could sidestep the effort involved in learning how to do things properly. The acceptance that I need a technical understanding of a subject before I can be creative with it has taken a long time to get to but I’m glad of it. I can’t state strongly enough how much difference a basic understanding of theory has made to me and I really wish I’d done this years ago. Music theory is good yeah!
I’ve been learning through a variety of sources, the best being Michael Hewitt’s Music Theory for Computer Musicians. I was a bit put off by the name expecting something a little reductive but it’s proved a brilliant introduction to theory, the book title could do without the ‘for Computer Musicians’ bit as the computer music side of things is minimal.
So, I’m getting there and hopefully soon will be able to translate the noises in my head into a format that other people can hear. I’ve got a Soundcloud account http://soundcloud.com/anxioussilence which I’m considering uploading some bits and pieces to once I’ve got the hang of structure a bit more. I am very wary of posting anything publicly as don’t really want (at this point) to encourage criticism because I am a delicate flower (who can’t be fucked with arguing with people on the internet). I’m also incredibly wary of any of my friends hearing any of my nonsense as many of them are incredibly talented musicians who may instantly hate me once they become aware of my utter lack of talent, on the other hand they might be astounded and instantly agree to form a world destroying industrial hip-hop band with me.
September 21, 2011
I’ve spent years failing to be a musician, and now I’m just about ready, with a bit of hard work to become a failed musician.
Three of the things I most want to do with my life are art, photography and music, not for profit or the adoration of others (although both would be a pleasant bonus) but for my own enjoyment. I have as yet failed to do much of any of these. I had a brief spate of success with photography – success in the sense that I actually did some, rather than I was a successful photographer – which I put down more to the enthusiasm of my good friend Scott (a very talented photographer) with whom I used to make many trips to explore and photograph things. Unfortunately a change my life circumstance have made it increasingly difficult to find time out for such trips and I can’t seem to get up the enthusiasm for the art on my own at home (a poor excuse).
The primary issue I have is that I just don’t know how to write music, I don’t quite get the creative process and as such am afraid of mediocrity and failure, although as with any other art form failure and mediocrity must be part of the process, very few (if any) are able to pick up a skill and be stunning at it straight off, you need to fail to learn and be a bit shit before you can be less shit.
An important part of any creative process (for me) is the social side, having people you can learn with and from. The times I’ve been most active have been when I’ve been spending plenty of time with proper musicians, most notably Nick Reincarnationfish – who introduced me to the software I love (Reason and Ableton Live) and also to an awful lot of the music that has inspired me over the years. Nick has unfortunately and selfishly moved to Leeds which prevents my easily hanging around his flat making unpleasant noises. There are plenty of online locations for the socially impoverished to knock about ideas and techniques, but frankly I’ve always found them to be a bit intimidating and scathing to the uninformed (me).
Recently my relationship with writing music has changed for the better. Some friends had some ideas for a small musical project which I’m helping out with, this has instantly highlighted how fucking awful I am at writing music, but also given me the impetus to start learning properly. In the past I avoided the need to actually learn and understand by insisting on writing impenetrable experimental noise and shitty remixes (which I shall not be posting online), to be fair to myself, I was interested in writing impenetrable experimental noise so it’s not all bad. When sitting down to write something a bit more straight forward – you know, choruses, verses, drums, bass and lead – I have not a clue where to start, but that’s fine I’ll start at zero and work my way up. I’ve shed the fear of mediocrity, I know everything I write initially will be shit, I just won’t play it to anyone.
One of the big setbacks I’ve had to deal with is my workaholism. Having spent years with the mindset that if I’m awake I should be working and if I’m awake and not working I’m worrying that I’m not working has made it difficult to do anything that I cannot tie directly to work. I’m working (haha) on this and intend to be 40% less mental by the end of the year. I’m currently forcing myself to spend an hour a day doing something creative which is not work related. This generally happens about midnight when sleep would be more sensible but it’s a step.
This has all caused me to become stupidly excited about the forthcoming release of the next version of Reason . I absolutely love Reason, and Propellerhead in general, their attitude to their customers has always been fantastic, as displayed in their current Pay What You Want deal. I’ve always had this awful habit with Reason (and Ableton Live) of upgrading to the latest version, playing with it for a few hours and then ignoring it until the next version comes out. I’ve been fighting this with my sudden massive geek love for James Bernard whose blog and tutorials manage to be exciting, interesting and not at all elitist or condescending. I’ve learned more about sound design and production in the last week than in the entire previous 35 years (thanks James).
So, maybe this year I’ll finally write that album I keep promising myself.
(I am aware that this blog is increasingly a blog of excuses for not doing creative things rather than a blog about the creative things I have done. I am very aware of this.)
October 30, 2010
Hello! I started writing this a couple of months ago (early September), but got interrupted by the birth of our son Alexander. To further complicate life we had an office move and some rather stressful work situations. It’s now nearly November and the first time I’ve looked properly at my website. I’ve decided against finishing the full review of the day, partly through failing memory but mostly, having re-read the unedited version it was dull as fuck. I want to post the remainder anyway because it was a truly ace day and it’s nice to have a reminder. This is why I am not a professional blogger.
Our baby is due in the next few weeks so I’m confined to the local vicinity for the next couple of months. My first War in the Park was a great last day out of the summer and a good chance to catch up with London (and Southampton) friends who I really don’t see often enough.
I went up with Emily and Katie, unfortunately Lady K couldn’t make it as ready-to-burst pregnancy doesn’t fit in so well with guerrilla festivals and sitting on muddy ground for hours.
War in the Park is an annual outdoor event featuring poetry, spoken word and unplugged acts, the official description:
We take over a space in a park which we announce a day or two before.
We advertise it by hijacking phone-ins on Radio 1 and XFm.
We book the best acoustic acts and the most amazing spoken word artists.
We book rock, industrial, metal and electronic acts and force them to play totally unplugged.
We get people to burn stuff.
This is WAR.
100% free, 100% untraceable, 100% uncontrollable.
This year WitP was in an abandoned playground in the corner of Burgess Park (Camberwell, just off the Old Kent Road).
Due to overplanning we turned up half an hour early. Tried to find a cafe of some sort but didn’t know the area at all and were both too damn lazy to work out how to use the apps on our phones to find the nearest eating facility. We walked aimlessly down the Old Kent Road hoping to find somewhere that matched our annoyingly middle class requirements. We walked the wrong way for about 45 minutes, passing nothing but manky looking KFC clones, ‘Saunas’, assorted religious buildings (lots of ‘Holy Ghost’ churches), hardware stores but nothing edible. Walked back the way we came and found plenty of options two minutes from where we started. After a bit of procrastination we went into a Bolivian restaurant which turned out to be pretty much targeted at the local Bolivian community. Food was excellent (mountain of roast pork, potato and something I had never seen before), occupants were friendly and had a chuckle at me when I tried the chili sauce which nearly killed me.
Stopped on the way back to the park for supplies. We bought a 2 litre bottle of something that looked like a soft drink called “SELECTO!” it was technically a soft drink but was fucking horrific and contained sugar than should be legal. I managed to drink the entire bottle throughout the day for lack of any other option. The next day I had a bastard of a SELECTO hangover. Not great.
We were about two hours late to WiTP, we wandered around aimlessly looking for it eventually bumped in to Yvonne and friend who pointed us in the right direction, conveniently right beside where we had started in a disused playground area with a raised area to one side, almost like a magical glen of drunk musicians and poets.
The gig itself was marvelous, a great mix of bands and poetry, unfortunately I don’t remember the names of most of the acts but everyone was ace. We turned up just as DeathBoy were about to start, Adam on acoustic guitar and Scott (cheating a little) using a battery powered speaker for backing. Lost Again, Parasite and So I Said You Died, DeathBoy worked well as an (almost) acoustic act managing to get across the energy and emotion pretty well without amplification.
Next up were the bombastic Bleak with typical style Anton took to the stage area wearing a cowboy hat, mirrored shades and smoking a large cigar. A more traditional setup than many of the other acts a Bleak acoustic set is not far removed from a Bleak plugged in set. The band played a storming set of their very own style of blues rock with Anton storming round the park in his theatrical manner, during the set he held up a herbal viagra pill and swallowed it with much ceremony. Musically they were as together as ever with Tim perched on the stage/raised area doing his usual guitar wonder, Yvonne devoid of her usual full drum kit giving it some on a hand drum and Rachel’s backing as brilliant as ever. This was Tim’s last Bleak gig (and IAI gig) before moving to Berlin, very glad I made it.
I Am Immune opened with a rather too pissed Pete apologising to the audience before they even started both for his state of drunkenness and that they were an electro-rock band so might not work so well as an acoustic act. They held it together pretty well to start with, with Pete balancing rather precariously on the raised bit above Tim and winning the day by turning round during the set yelling “I’m taking it to the bridge” before legging it to the little wooden bridge behind the staging area.
…. and it’s two months later and I can no longer remember much detail from the day. I really enjoyed some of the poetry, which is a nice change. This Is Radio Silence were staggeringly good. A poet chap convinced the audience to help him achieve the first ever poetry based stage dive. My camera died just before This Is Radio Silence came on. We got home in on piece and it was a lovely day.
Here’s some photos… The full set is on flickr here.
… and then the camera died 🙁
May 5, 2010
As the daily grind of reality stomps on my throat for kicks I need STUFF to help me get through the day. Here’s some awesome stuff which I will utterly fail to describe properly (how the hell did I ever run a record label).
worriedaboutsatan as recommended a couple of times by Nick. Some words that may or may not describe them: ambient, electronic, interesting, exciting, strange. My favourites are Arrivals and Arrivals Remixed. There’s plently of free stuff on their website to download and get a taste and a fair amount on their soundcloud account – worriedaboutsatan on soundcloud – including a full length live set.
Yndi Halda another great band to code to. Enjoy Eternal Bliss is just beautiful instrumental post-rock. Few reviews have rather negatively complained about lack of originality with comparisons to Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but fuck ’em it’s a lovely EP, a little more accessible than a lot of post-rock and at an average of about 15 minutes a track for 3 quid there’s not much to complain about.
Sick Music 2 as pointed out by DeathBoy. I know close to fuck all about Drum ‘n’ Bass and breakbeat aside from a growing love of the stuff. No idea of which artists to look for or where to look but apparently Hospital Records is a good starting point. Excellent set of tracks for very little cash. Much prefer the instrumental tracks, although those with vocals don’t grate too badly. Ace for keeping energy levels up when working until the stupid hours.
The Gentleman’s Review Favourite podcast of the moment, heard about it through the fucking awesomely funny Precious Little. I don’t know how to describe it other than: Three men, sometimes a lady, sometimes a dog, Doctor Who, cheese, chaps, filth, leftie, humour, shouting, drunk, Yorkshire, geeks, what? Listen to it, it’s free. Even when it’s not outstandingly funny (which it often is) it’s always engaging.
Reincarnationfish – War With The Newts video – Ace new mashup video for the new Reincarnationfish track.
Jim Bob – Storage Stories – Having completely forgotten I had pre-ordered this it was an extra-nice surprise when it turned up. First novel by Jim Bob of Carter USM, it’s heaving with the same dark wit (sometimes a little cheesy in a good way) that I’ve come to love from Carter lyrics. About halfway through and it’s absolutely brilliant. Story of an ex-rock star who has taken over the running of a self storage unit and the strange and interesting characters he encounters. You can get it on Amazon – Storage Stories (and get me some affiliate pennies) but I’d recommend going straight to the source and giving the author a bit more.
January 11, 2010
We did this nearly a year ago then sat on it for some reason. Can’t remember why so it’s probably not so important. Nick (Reincarnationfish) wrote an album for February Album Writing Month last year and asked me create the designs for it. Album is called ‘Science Ninja Team Go’ so using the law of ‘most obvious illustration possible’ I drew ninjas in lab coats. I think this was my first illustration using paper and pencils, everything previous had been photo-montages or basic shapes. Final version was traced (by hand) in illustrator and coloured/composited in photoshop. Wish I hadn’t left it so long to upload, I think my illustrator skills are much improved since then but I’m still happy with the end result.
Flickr set which also includes a couple of wallpapers. The most important thing is the album itself which you can download for free here: Reincarnationfish – Science Ninja Team Go. It’s a bit of a departure from Reincarnationfish’s usual indietronica, more of an ambient/IDM slant. It’s also awesome. Download it and tell him how good it is, he might make some more.
I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).
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