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Favourite video selection of the week — July 28, 2014

Favourite video selection of the week

Not only are there some great songs being released, there are some great videos too. And I’ve not been very good at viewing them so apologies because some of these have been around for ages. But starting with this post here are my favourites which I’ve finally got round to watching this past week or so and there are lots more to follow.

The Darlingtons – Rotations
I really like this song, it’s got great drive and energy. The video is a great idea that’s really well put together. And it has a slightly scary ending.


Tammy Miller – Let it Go
Really like the song, it’s beautifully performed. Also like the direction and production of the video. Just hope you picked up the glass because a child might tread on it, or something.


Mouthful of Daisy – Statues
Bit of a dark theme to this video but again the song is really good and the video is very well produced.


Jess Harwood – Breaking Down
Sorry Jess, I know this is nearly a year old but it’s a great song and video. Jess has got a great voice and excellent taste in acoustic guitars and if that’s not enough she’s also a great keyboard player too.


Puppet Rebellion – Pirouette
Another great song with a really catchy vibe. Great idea for the video, again very well produced.


Analogue Wave – Dead Cat Bounce
Been a long term fan of Analogue Wave. The idea for this video is interesting and works really well.

Electric Future Collective (EFC) – ‘Summer’ album on Mobius Spin (mbsspn003) — July 18, 2014

Electric Future Collective (EFC) – ‘Summer’ album on Mobius Spin (mbsspn003)

Electric Future Collective is a group on Soundcloud that periodically runs music challenges. The fifth such challenge was based around the theme of ‘Summer’ with entries being released on an album of the same name released on the Mobius Spin label shown above.

I was delighted to be a part of this album, all of the songs are great with a really high standard of production and great variety of styles. There’s also a song which is a compilation mix of all of the tracks. I’d highly recommend checking out the other contributing artists not only on this album but their other work as well, they are all talented musicians.

Roofhare – Sprinkle Sprinkle Little Lawn
This is a great opening song, a very rhythmic percussive / drone track leading into spoken vocals ending with a slightly dark ambient feel. It has great layering and the more you listen, the more you seem to hear.

Ian Haygreen – Summer Days
This song has a really great feel to it and conjures up the feeling of a sunny Summer’s day. The birds tweeting in the background is a really nice touch, the strings work really well against a subtle bass drone. Great layering of sounds.

My entry – feel free to leave your own review comments!

Nystada – Summer 2016
This song has such a great lead synth tone and a really nice use of layering of percussive sounds. The spoken vocals work really well. It kind of has a controlled chaos and I mean that in a good way, there is excellent production to bring together lots of different elements and themes.

Odd Common – Nordic Summer Nights
Great panning on the intro to this song which leads into some really smooth synth sounds. It makes me think of a Sci-fi film. The track has a very cool vibe, with great use of delay. There is a very effective tempo change about halfway through the song.

Isotherme – Sand Flea Sunscreen
I really like the use of percussive sounds to create a rhythm, the song has a great variety of sounds and also excellent layering of sounds, it is a very well produced track.

Luke Clark – Summer Crush
There is a great vibe to this song provided by a solid rhythm, wicked bass line and smooth Rhodes type lead line. There are also great guitar tones and lead parts.

M3t4rt – Summer Dream
This song opens with a tight rhythm and a great organ sound leading into a solid bass line. This track has a really great vibe, with great layering of sounds and production.

Todd Reitzell – Craoning Room
This song has great sounds and effects for the intro and I really like the interplay between the drums and other sound elements. The song has a kind of call and response feel at times.

Slinky – 1983
This song has a glitchy feel to the intro, with glitchy percussion sounds leading into a really great guitar tone. It is very well produced giving an ambient sort of feel overall but the glitch elements are well balanced and work really well.

3dTorus – Heat Haze
This song has a minimal techno / industrial feel to it. There are great sounds and a really good vibe. It is a bit edgy which grabs and holds your attention.

The Shine Brothers – Hello Griefbirds! album review — July 16, 2014

The Shine Brothers – Hello Griefbirds! album review

The Shine Brothers


The Shine Brothers on twitter

Hello Griefbirds! is the debut album by The Shine Brothers and it is a very impressive release. The songs often have a darker edge to them veiled in a 60s psych or ‘sunshine pop’ groove. There are also some great fuzz guitar tones and solos. The vocals are spot on with great harmonies and variety of styles. There are brilliant contrasts here and I’m not quite sure how they achieve the balance but they do and it is highly recommended listening. It was released by Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL020) with a limited press of 500 and comes with a download code with 3 bonus tracks. It is available from Cardinal Fuzz online shop but you’d better move fast, there’s only a handful left

Climb the Ladder is a great opening track. A real psych vibe with a great groove. It’s a great example of contrasts because the rhythm suggests a jolly / happy feel but the lyrics are somewhat seedy.

Creation opens with a bit of a more chunkier groove and a great riff which repeats through the song. Builds a crescendo then releases ending with the riff.

Innocent Girl has a more laid back feel but again a solid vibe and great solo lines, especially the trem guitar which rounds out the song; great tone.

So Many People is then a bit more uptempo and edgy. Vocals are more spoken which works really well. Again there is a solid vibe and great solo lead lines. The song ends with a nice solo and feedback.

Cago Palo also has an edgy almost angst feel to the song. Great riffing and energy.

Silver Knife is then a contrast being really mellow in comparison and has a great opening riff. This track has spoken vocals which develop a groove followed by a great fuzz riff leading into an uptempo chorus releasing the tension back into the mellow groove before ending on the uptempo chorus.

Drug Dogs opens with another great riff, solid groove and great harmonies. The song has a different vocal style, slightly behind the beat which suits the song very well.

White Tears is then more uptempo, having a call and response type of feel between the vocals and guitar at times. Great build and release of tension.

Manic Swing opens with feedback leading into a very laid back groove with great vocals. There’s also a great distorted guitar tone for the riffs and a nice building of tension released at the end of the song.

When Wendy Burns has a slow groove and the song slowly builds tension really well. It is a dark story of a relationship gone very wrong. Again the vocal style suits the song very well, feeling almost disembodied at times. The solo leads into feedback and you can feel something ominous coming. And it does. The song crescendos to a mighty and rather scary climax.

How, exactly, do you unexpectedly release an album? — July 15, 2014

How, exactly, do you unexpectedly release an album?

 That’s a very good question. I can’t deny that however I try to answer, it sounds kind of ridiculous.

I’ve been meaning to create some albums of older material to upload onto Bandcamp to free up space on SoundCloud for some time. The problem is that I’m torn between leaving them as they are as a reflection of what I did at the time and updating them, utilising all the improvements in recent versions of Caustic and remastering to make them sound better.  Because space on Soundcloud is just about ok I’ve only started making one EP and am just finishing off a couple of newer versions of the songs so it should be ready soon.

But here’s the reason –  I Improvised 3 (#II3). From previous blog post ‘New approaches, new perspectives (part 2)’ you’ll hopefully know that this required a song to be recorded in one take. No layering or overdubs, no post production.

Can’t lie, the first few attempts were bad. I must have deleted about 20 times and that’s no exaggeration. But they got better.  Because it was one take recording I kept all of the slight changes in setup as different live sets.  I really got into live recording and ended up with enough takes for an album.  The other bonus is that applying the rules for no post production means that the recordings are ready to go as finished songs. I made an album cover and here it is.

New approaches, new perspectives (part 2) —

New approaches, new perspectives (part 2)

The debut launch of #II3 on Tracy’s EOP show

#II3 on Bandcamp

Ok, So I missed the boat for #II2. But the experience was a very positive one. Which is why I signed up for #II3. The problem was the rules were even tighter, it was a similar idea that the recording was supposed to be all about the performance but this time overdubs or layering were not allowed. You press record, play your song and press stop. That’s it.

It just seemed even more improbable that I could actually produce a track in accordance with these rules. It’s just not how I normally work. What made it worse was that I knew there would be a lot of talented people entering tracks who do this sort of performance all the time and have an appropriate level of hardware to do it. But I had determination and quite a tight deadline on my side.

My first thought was Reaper. As I mentioned previously it is a fully fledged DAW but much, much cheaper than alternative versions costing 60 euros for a licence (other licenses are available but I think this would be the appropriate licence for most people in this situation). I didn’t really have time to sort out a lot of the setting up despite giving it a good go. That seems to be the thing with Reaper, a lot of the setting up is manual but that’s not a bad thing, it is very customisable (if you like that sort of thing) but conversely that may also be the very reason that people are put off.

I decided that I would use Ableton Live Lite 8 and work within the 8 track, 4 VSTi restriction. After all, how many instruments can you play at once when you’ve only got 1 keyboard?

My second thought which was very close behind was drums and/or percussion. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to play these live. I looked into options to record them ‘as live’ and then loop them but I like a bit of variety in patterns and couldn’t find an option that would allow me to do this easily and cheaply. To be honest I wasn’t keen on this idea anyway.

I’d been learning how to use Virtual ANS and decided an alternative was to make some effects loops from images created in Deco Sketch and use these as percussion. I couldn’t quite get a repetitive percussive sound although I’m sure it is possible with some maths, instead I experimented a bit more with shapes and patterns. I exported these to wav files and loaded into Ableton Live Lite 8 to use as loops.

This reminded me of the first ever recording I made which was direct to tape using a ‘ghetto blaster’ and playing on a Yamaha PSS680. Yes, it was a long time ago, circa c.1988; no doubt very bad and fortunately lost forever. However, I decided to use the same name of ‘Voyage to Arcturus’ because the idea and process is principally the same but evolved over time. This meant I knew pretty quickly which synths and effects I wanted to use : for effects AlienSpaceWeaverFree + NastyDLA MkII; Atonoise Pro + grain delay + outer space reverb and TAL Noisemaker + auto filter + filter delay; for the lead sound SerenityFree + AMVST double delay.

I also intended to use Saucillator on my phone and plug it into the laptop so I could play it at the same time as the keyboard. There were a couple of other android apps I wanted to use on old spare phones but I haven’t got a mixer and when I tried with Saucillator it completely killed the audio settings. I’ve no idea why it did but whilst it was ok following a reboot unfortunately, that was that.

So my setup was complete. I really wanted to use midi mapping but just couldn’t get it to work as I wanted. I also couldn’t seem to setup automation on the fly either. Maybe I’m too used to Caustic, maybe I needed more time or maybe just more practice. This resulted in a very manual process with a lot of switching between tracks, some horrible timing issues and overrunning by 3 minutes. Subsequent runs were a gradual improvement and I eventually ended up with a song that I was happy with.

Now at this point I would usually take quite a while adjusting levels and effects, adjusting EQ and compression settings. The funny thing was I never even thought about compression or EQ which is normally a large part of defining the sound. I’d set the levels upfront so when I pressed stop that was the finished song. It was really refreshing to make a ‘best guess’ and leave it at that.

The album had it’s debut airing on Tracy’s EOP show which is embedded above. It is also available for download from Bandcamp which is also embedded above.

It seems wrong somehow to review the album of which I was a part of. But I am going to say that the other 18 songs are all excellent tracks by very talented people so it is highly recommended listening. And I have lots of room for improvement, but really want to repeat the process.

You can check out Dr Existenz on twitter and also his blog

You can also check out Tracy’s EOP on twitter and also mixcloud

Krakatau – Water Near a Bridge EP Review — July 8, 2014

Krakatau – Water Near a Bridge EP Review



Trouble in Mind website

Krakatau are a trio from Melbourne, Australia and Water Near a Bridge is their debut which will be released on July 29th as a vinyl only release by Trouble in Mind but will also be available digitally from most online retailers.

For a debut release, this is a very accomplished offering. The trio use organ, bass and drums on this EP to create a great variety of sounds, building great soundscapes which really draw the listener in. There is a good range of contrasts too, both within tracks and between tracks. The EP makes excellent use of the organ and very organic sounding percussion, sound effects are used very well. It is testament to the quality of the release that you don’t even notice that there are no guitar parts on this EP.

Riddells Creek – This song provides a solid opening to the EP. It has a kind of 60s feel to it, somewhere between ambient and psychedelic. It has a gentle melodic intro which seems to ebb and flow into a great lead line which is then accompanied by bass and drums creating a great groove.

All Water Near a Bridge has an eerie drone opening to it, and a completely different feel to the first track. Sound effects seem to emerge from the drone. There are some great sounds here, you find yourself listening more and more intently, you can almost hear voices and find yourself trying to make out what they are saying. The emerging sounds evolve into a melody, evoking all sorts of memories from the sound of an ice cream van to a fairground ride. It is a really mesmering track which then progresses switching between melody and drone.

Kuriere continues in a similar sort of vain with a wind type effect evolving into a drone type of sound. It kind of has a cinematic soundscape feel to it, a melodic shimmer without defining a groove. The organ adds a great contrast and helps propel the track along to a bass which suddenly grabs your attention and leads into another great groove with a hint of a middle eastern vibe. This gives way to a great lead line and change in feel building tension and releasing at the end of the track rounding the EP off very nicely.

Verma – Sunrunner LP Review — July 5, 2014

Verma – Sunrunner LP Review



Trouble in Mind website; Verma on twitter

Sunrunner is out now on Trouble in Mind (TIM071) and is available on vinyl with digital download, cd and digital download. It is available on black vinyl (with a download code) from Trouble in Mind and CD / Digital from most online sellers.

Verma have produced a great album in Sunrunner. There’s a great variety of sounds and grooves with great use of feedback and effects on the vocals which give them an almost disembodied feel. Listening to the album you find yourself sometimes being propelled along, sometimes swept along and other times entranced which is testament to the craft and musicianship provided by this album, particularly the bass and drums which are very tightly knit and provide a very solid foundation for every track.

Regolith opens the album with a crescendo of feedback / effects leading into a great riff backed up with a driving beat. The vocals have an ethereal almost disembodied feel to them. There is a great energy to this track which seamlessly blends into the next track, Chrome.

Chrome keeps the momentum going again starting with some great feedback / effects and driving beat. In some ways this track has an urgency about it whilst the vocals again have a disembodied feel to them. This is a track that really propels you along until the tension / urgency is released at the end of the track.

Eratu then provides a brilliant contrast with a much more laid back feel to it, there is a great swirling combination of synth and effects which creates a space type of atmosphere on this instrumental track.

The Traveller then picks up the tempo with driving bass and drums. There are great effects and vocals which sit very nicely as the vocals are more upfront on this track.

Hologrammer starts with a more mellow opening than some of the other tracks but still has a driving groove with great overdriven guitar tones.

Sacrifice opens with a great riff creating a nice groove against a drone. The vocals are very ethereal on this track. The feedback and effects give it a real edginess.

Sunrunner opens with quite a laid back feel, developing another great groove with great vocals. A great song to round of the album.