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Review of ‘Friends / Flowers’ single by Tape Runs Out on Ear to Ear Records — May 30, 2015

Review of ‘Friends / Flowers’ single by Tape Runs Out on Ear to Ear Records

Tape Runs Out

Tape Runs Out are a band from Cambridge, UK which started out as a solo project of Liam Goodrum-Bell. Friends / Flowers is their first official release, a double A single released on Ear to Ear records.

And it’s a brilliant debut release, Tape Runs Out have a great sound that’s really hard to define – it’s indie, shoegaze, dreamy and ethereal at times with really tight arrangements and excellent vocals and harmonies.


Friends The video for the song is embedded above. The song opens with a great emerging synth sound with a really nice riff, synth backing and great background vocals and is then propelled by great bass and drumming. The vocals have a great laid back style and there are some excellent harmonies too. I really like the way the song has a great laid back vibe but also maintains a great momentum.

Flowers Great opening to the song, excellent background sound effects which are complemented really well by the rhodes sound and subtle guitar riff. The drumming and bass creates another excellent laid back groove and the vocals add a great dreamy quality. The riff adds a nice layer of contrast and momentum. There are some really nice harmonies again.

Tape Runs Out on soundcloud
Tape Runs Out on facebook
Tape Runs Out on twitter
Ear to Ear Records website
Ear to Ear Records on twitter
Ear to Ear Records on facebook
Shameless Promotion on twitter

Review of ‘Eyes in the Melancholy Palm’ album by Cathode Ray Eyes on Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL033) and Captcha Records (HBSP-2X-067) — May 28, 2015

Review of ‘Eyes in the Melancholy Palm’ album by Cathode Ray Eyes on Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL033) and Captcha Records (HBSP-2X-067)

Cathode Ray Eyes

Cardinal Fuzz on twitter
Captcha Records on twitter

Cathode Ray Eyes is the solo project from Ryan Delgaudio from The Cult of Dom Keller and ‘Eyes in the Melancholy Palm’ is the debut release.

And it’s a great release, it really pushes the boundaries of psych with styles and sounds from garage band to more ambient, makes great use of guitar loops and it’s almost cinematic at times with a darker edge to some of the songs. There are some great toned riffs – the full range from clean to distorted. The vocals suit the style of the songs really well, often heavily processed, sometimes distant sounding giving a great effect, there are some nice harmonies too. That description makes it sound rather diverse – and it is – but what is really impressive is the way that it sounds really coherent whilst listening. The album has a great lo-fi sound and the style and arrangements of each song are excellent.

It’s available now on Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL033) as a Sam Giles CD edition, however, you’d better move fast as unsurprisingly these have been going like hot cakes and at the time of writing there were only 4 left. If there are any left, they’re available from Cardinal Fuzz online shop

The good news is that there are more copies available from Captcha Records in the USA (HBSP-2X-067) from 9th of June, available in LP and Digi formats. They will be available from Captcha Records Website

And The Burial Had Several Different Endings This is a great opening song, it has a sort of acoustic opening but also a great dark edge to the sound, like a kind of foreboding. The drumming and bass propel the song along and there are some great feedback type sounds too.

Death Song No. 1 The song has laid back vocals to open along with a great distorted riff. The sound is somewhere between surf and pysch, there’s a really good momentum to the song which has an excellent gnarly guitar tone too.

The Unsuccessful Resurrection of James Dean The opening guitar has a 12 string type of sound and the riff has middle eastern qualities. The vocals again are laid back and the song has great momentum provided by the drumming and bass. There are also nice changes in feel to the song.

I Woke Up This Morning And The World Was On Fire This song has a really nice riff to open which has a great distorted tone too. The vocals have a kind of disembodied feel which works really well. There’s a great momentum again and the song has a nice edge to it too.

Drowning Rats This song has a great synth sound and trem guitar to open with. It’s a kind of brooding, evolving song with a great sound.

Grim Reaper on my Back A great opening riff, this song has a kind of rock n roll feel. The vocals are excellent, they’re really well arranged and processed. The song develops more of a psych feel and has great momentum again.

And It Came (Barrel Of Skeletons) This song has a great dark edge to it with a hint of dissonance. There’s a great riff which is jangly yet distorted and a bit distant at the same time. There’s a great change of feel in the middle before returning to the riff. The simple percussion works really well.

Harry Houdini This song has a great distorted guitar leading into 2 excellent riffs which complement each other really well. The vocals are then distorted and have a distant feel to them. The chorus had a kind of double time feel to it and the song has a great edgy sound.

Will You Catch Me When I Fall From On High An acoustic riff with simple bass and natural sounding percussion to open with, the song has a kind of middle eastern feel to it. The vocals have a delayed trem effect which works rather well. There’s a great vibe to the song too.

Short Piece About a Piano This song has a great opening riff with quite a clean tone, the drumming really gives momentum to the song. There’s a lead line which weaves into and out of the song adding a nice tension.

Goodbye To Wonder Sparse percussion to open with a jangly, slightly distorted riff. The vocals are more spoken, great reverb effect with really nice harmonies too. A great edge to the song.

1000 Suns Another excellent riff to open, the song has a laid back feel to it but still maintains momentum. The vocals sit in the background, there are great harmonies too. There’s also some great distorted guitar too which complements the synth sound really well.

When There Is No Beginning, Middle or End A strummed riff complemented by a trem picked riff to open the song which is propelled along by solid drumming and bass. The vocal style is more spoken and again sits more in the background, the song has a great edgy sound.

Review of Cataract and Polygon VSTIs by Glitchmachines — May 21, 2015

Review of Cataract and Polygon VSTIs by Glitchmachines

These VSTIs are different but complement each other really well. They are not synths in the traditional sense of the word, instead they are sampler based instruments.




On first impressions they may look a little daunting but actually the UI for both is excellently designed with a great work flow, it’s easy to find your way around the different sections and additionally colour coding is used to great extent.

That said, they both come with great presets so you can dive in straight away and get some great sounds whilst you learn to use them. They come with extensive samples and Glitchmachines also provide additional sample packs – some of which are free and excellent quality too – to further expand sound possibilities before you even start using other samples. The intro user videos are embedded below and explain how they work much better than I can. Walkthrough videos are also available.


Cataract is described as a ‘segment multiplexer’ but what it basically does is have 2 scanner modules each of which has 2 sample slots. Each scanner has EQ, filter and delay and morphs / blends between the 2 samples. What’s more, the real power lies in the extensive modulation, cross-modulation between scanner modules and automation options that cataract gives you. This means that you can use it to create quite subtle but complex rhythms or total glitched out madness.

One point to note is that you don’t play it like an instrument, instead you need to activate playback in your DAW and you’ll need to record the audio output to a separate track. This means that you could chop up the resulting audio and use parts / loop it as required rather than use the whole audio recording although to be honest I’ve only used whole recordings so far as I’ve been really happy with the produced sound and haven’t needed to meticulously edit the audio file.

The heart of the plugin is the scan section. This sets the rate at which the LFO cycles, the shape of the LFO wave and the number of segments for each sample slot in each scanner. There are also sync, loop and sequencing options available. The global section then allows you to pan and morph between samples as required and you can apply filter, delay and a basic EQ as required.

There are then 2 additional LFOs whose output can be sent to the modulation matrix section to control scan waveform / rate and/or ratio modulation waveform / rate and things start to get really crazy when you use the global ratio settings to use an LFO with depth, rate and waveform controls to adjust playback speed for both sample slots simultaneously.

There are also options to use ‘gen mode’ for most parameters which creates a random value when each segment is triggered so you get a really great evolving sound for when you want evolving textures.

When you use both sample scanners you then have all the same options for both modules which are colour coded to clearly show the different settings and the morph section is then used for cross-fade morphing and also has a cross modulation style LFO.

On top of that there are random options for the core and fx sections and most impressively a modulation sequencer which allows sequence modulation for every parameter apart from EQ.

I realise this makes it sound really complicated to use but honestly it’s not because the UI, workflow and colour coding make all this really easy to learn. It’s a very capable VST and the best way to see what it can do is dive right in, load a preset, adjust the settings and see what happens. To start learning how to use it from scratch, the user manual walks you through the basics, starting with the init patch loading 2 samples into 1 module. You then adjust scan rate, lfo and modulation then take it from there adding effects and further modulation options. For me there’s definitely as much of an art choosing samples which blend and morph together as well as using the functionality of the software.

This is demonstrated with the following track. It starts with a simple example using a tech house drum loop and bass loop from Function Loops which have been firstly layered together and then processed in Cataract with a fairly low level of processing. Hopefully you can hear the possibilities for creating interesting glitchy layers. I thought this would be how I mainly used Cataract but whilst it’s ok, it seems to work better if you load other types of samples and experiment a bit. The second and third examples in the track highlight this. I’ve then included another drum loop and bass loop and applied extreme modulation to show how much mangling Cataract can do:



Polygon works in a different way. At heart it’s a four slot sampler with play once, loop forward, loop backward and loop forward-backward options and pitch / amplitude control but that’s where comparisons to normal samplers end. Polygon also has a unique granulation option and what sets it apart is the extensive modulation options with 8 LFOs, 4 envelopes, 2 filters, metallizer, ringmod and stutter effects and a sub oscillator too.

Don’t get me wrong I love Cataract, but the more I use Polygon I realise that I love it more. It’s just amazing and I’m tending to use as my main ‘goto synth’. The possibilities really are endless and it’s easy enough to resample a traditional synth sound so that you can use it in Polygon if you need to. It’s so easy to use, load your samples, adjust amplitude, start / end points, attack and release, pitch; select which filter to send the sound to (lowpass, highpass, bypass etc); setup the effects and it sounds great already, but it really comes into its own once you use the modulation matrix. This means you can have really subtle variation in sound by subtly adjusting start / end loop points, granulation settings, filter cut-off / resonance, fx send or fx parameters. For instance if your filter cut-off is set to 60% you can use a slow rate LFO to modulate this subtly from 55 – 65% or you can go for extreme modulation from 0 – 100% with a higher rate LFO. Or even have another LFO modulating the one your using to modulate the cut-off filter or an envelope modulating one or both of these LFOs – and so on to your heart’s content.

Again there’s definitely an art in choosing samples, I’ve had some great results using vocals from the excellent Ivy Audio Clare Solo audio pack, organ samples, sound fx loops and granulating found percussion sounds. You can lock the pitch or scale the sound to play Polygon like an instrument which creates amazing bass drones and ambient soundscapes at 2 or 3 octaves lower than designed. Here are some examples I’ve created:

Review of ‘Stories’ album by Apparently Shane on mobiusspin (mbsspn021) — May 13, 2015

Review of ‘Stories’ album by Apparently Shane on mobiusspin (mbsspn021)

Apparently Shane



Apparently Shane on twitter
Mobius Spin on twitter

This album has some great ambient qualities and more uptempo aspects too. Percussive rhythms are excellent comprising of some great sounds, some of which are bitcrushed or processed and a bit glitchy at times too. Synth sounds are also excellent with great use of delay. Basslines are varied from background and subtle to more upfront. The album has great layering of sounds and evolving soundscapes.

End of an Era This song has an evolving synth sound with a (bitcrushed?) kick, the percussion builds gradually and gives way to a synth lead line, returning against a great background drone which has choir like qualities. There’s really nice use of delay on the synth sound.

Gravity is a Mistake A great evolving synth to open, again the percussive rhythm builds gradually. There’s a nice edge to the song, delayed synth adds a good contrast especially against the background swirling type of sound. The more defined kick rhythm gives a great momentum to the song.

Molicules This song has an evolving bass sound and a great delayed synth sound again with a synth lead too. Percussive rhythm has a sparse feel, almost dubstep influence to it at times. The very subtle background bass works really well and there’s great layering of sounds.

Moving On This song has a subtle bass again, great rhythm from solid percussive sounds and there’s a really nice synth lead again. There’s a nice change in feel to the synth / bass parts and then the percussive rhythm builds again. Another great delayed synth, works really well against the original synth riff.

Recovery Great synth and effects to open the song against a solid percussive rhythm to provide momentum. The synth is quite edgy and adds a nice tension.

Stand Small A great synth riff to open, the kick drum adds a great momentum. There’s another solid percussive rhythm which has nice variations and changes. There’s another really good synth sound which adds a nice contrast and there are nice changes in feel through the song too.

The Future This song has an electric piano type sound, uptempo bass and a synth riff which works really well. Percussion is fairly sparse and a bit glitchy. There’s a really nice contrast between the different elements.

The Machine This song has a great evolving synth sound against an upfront bass. There’s another great percussive rhythm and great delayed synth riff. The song evolves really well with nice changes in feel. There’s great layering of sounds too.

The Trip There’s a great evolving synth overlain by a riff and a solid percussive rhythm and bass again. The song also has great layering and really nice changes in feel with a great contrast provided by the delayed synth riff.

This Isn’t Your World This song opens with bass and emerging synth with a nice delayed riff for contrast. There’s quite a sparse percussive rhythm which evolves into a more defined rhythm. The song has great evolving sounds and nice changes in feel creating a great evolving soundscape.

Review of Payday Playboys single by The Mantells — May 12, 2015

Review of Payday Playboys single by The Mantells

The Mantells

The Mantells on soundcloud
The Mantells on facebook
The Mantells on twitter

The Mantells are a 3 piece band from Manchester fronted by Tom Barrow on lead vocals and guitar; Dale Moran on bass and backing vocals and Lewis Moran on drums and backing vocals. Payday Playboys is their second single due for release on Monday 1st June. It will be available from Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Deezer etc with a launch party on Saturday 6th June at Night and Day Cafe, Manchester. Further details of that event can be found here.

Payday Playboys has a great vibe to it. The opening riff is a great hook with a really nice tone and bass and drums enter to give a great momentum. The song has an excellent laid back feel which is really added to by the vocals and there are some really nice harmonies too. The chorus has a nice change of feel, a great strummed riff which gives the song an urgency which contrasts really well with the more laid back sections.


I’d also recommend checking out their first single ‘Men in Suits’ which I’ve embedded below. I really like the backstage / behind the scenes feel to the video which includes shots in the studio and warm-up session. This song also has a great vibe to it, the drums and bass provide a solid rhythm and there is great riffing and vocals too.

Review of ‘It Was to be Alright’ Album by Thlaaflaa on mobiusspin (mbsspn20) — May 11, 2015

Review of ‘It Was to be Alright’ Album by Thlaaflaa on mobiusspin (mbsspn20)




Thlaaflaa on soundcloud
Mobius Spin on twitter

This album took more than 1.5 years to compose and its arrangement and stylistics are determined by a wish to create a particular impression – from a leisurely and disturbed plunge in the beginning, via vigorous but pretty grim middle, to a hopeless ending. The album was conceived as a dedication to events that happened a long time ago in one disappeared country. But a listener can choose himself what the music relates to – the past or the future, something terrestrial or space. This aspect is left to the listener’s discretion.

This is quite a hard album to describe, for instance there are some great glitchy elements, sparse rhythms and great layering of sounds. This results in an album that at times is glitch, at times experimental, at other times drone. There are some great synth sounds – dripping and bubbling for instance and excellent glitch effects too, some subtle and some much more extreme.

Plunge This song opens with a jumpy almost bleepy synth riff against reversed sounds which creates a great tension. The bass is deep and has bubbling qualities. There’s a great tension to the song, really good layering of sounds, a great evolving soundscape.

Opacity This song has a great sparse glitchy rhythm to open and great sound effects and layering too. The synth sounds adds tension, the song is really well produced.

Sorceress’ Cheer 2.0 There’s a great percussive rhythm to open and some excellent sounds too, some like reversed mangled bell sounds. Really nice use of glitch sounds and effects again too. Layering is used to great effect.

Grim, Sick Tangled This song is aptly titled, a fairly hectic rhythm gives way to a glitched synth sound then returns sporadically through the song.

We Float This song has great kicks and mangled / glitched chime sounds to open with. There are some really nice synth sounds which contrast really well with glitchy elements. This fades to leave bells / chimes building other sounds again to create tension and the song ends with a great glitchy feel.

503rd This song has a more defined rhythm to open with. There are some excellent glitchy sounds too. A synth riff develops with different rhythms evolving through the song.

It Was to be Alright Glitchy / bitcrushed sounds to open the song against a synth drone. The song has a cinematic soundscape quality with a synth lead dominating the sound then fading to the background somewhat. There’s a range of textures and percussive rhythms that follow. This song is a really good soundscape.

Remote Railway This song has a kind of jumpy percussive rhythm, emerging synth and some great glitchy sound effects. There’s a really nice synth lead sound which creates a great tension. There are some great sounds used in this song, one is like a dripping ‘acid synth’ sound, for instance.

Useless Ritual This song opens with a slowly evolving drone and sparse glitchy percussion developing a more pronounced rhythm. The song has really nice use of background effects / synth. As the song develops the drone takes more prominence which gives the song a great edgy sound.

Review of Monotonous Miscellany EP by 3dTorus on mobiusspin (mbsspn018) — May 8, 2015

Review of Monotonous Miscellany EP by 3dTorus on mobiusspin (mbsspn018)

This 5-track EP is the cream and essence of 3dTorus’s techno directed releases so far. All tracks were produced in the first 2 weeks of January 2015 and it’s described by 3dTorus as “Reduced, pattern-based and minimalistic, yet dubby, simple and plain repetition at its best and a loving goodbye to Ableton Live”.

This is a great collection of songs, a solid techno sound with excellent layering and great arrangements. The kick drum is driving against more layered percussive sounds and there are some excellent synth sounds and background effects too. There’s quite a minimal use of sounds but these are used to great effect in the production of the songs.

Monotonous Miscellany I This song has a driving kick rhythm with a great synth sound. The song evolves more of a percussive rhythm with a great (bitcrushed?) bass sound. There are some excellent sound effects too, great layering and production – a solid techno sound.

Monotonous Miscellany II A driving kick rhythm again, the synth has more of a stab sound. There are great sound effects and the song again evolves a more defined percussive rhythm and bassline. Excellent layering of sounds creates a great contrast between the different elements and a great movement in the sounds. There are nice changes of feel too and the production again is excellent.

Monotonous Miscellany III This song has a different feel, bass has a pulsing, driving feel against a percussive rhythm which has more of a triplet feel to the kick at times. The synth has great use of delay and dub sound. Really nice change in percussion sounds and rhythm.

Monotonous Miscellany IV This song has a driving kick to open against a synth with a great wah / phaser effect. The percussion builds gradually to great effect. There’s a really nice variation in synth sound too, it has gnarly or growly qualities at times, at other times it’s more subtle and others has a great acid type sound.

Monotonous Miscellany V Great percussive opening against a ‘dark’ synth sound and great background effects too. This song has a darker edge and there’s great layering of percussion again. I really like the movement in the synth sound which creates a great tension contrasting really well against other elements of the song.

3dTorus on twitter
Mobius Spin on twitter



Review of Yhnpivtr EP by Diropel on Fwonk netlabel (FW162) — May 7, 2015

Review of Yhnpivtr EP by Diropel on Fwonk netlabel (FW162)


Diropel on twitter; Fwonk on twitter; Fwonk on bandcamp

This is a short EP released on the Fwonk netlabel (FW162) by Diropel, an ambient and experimental music project by Santiago Gr from Uruguay.

It’s a great EP which has excellent sounds which are layered to great effect. Each song creates a great soundscape which evolves really well. There are some haunting qualities too yet each song is captivating and really holds your interest.

Leporidae This song has a great soundscape, drone and choral type sound with heavy reverb which creates an almost haunting vibe. A metallised organ type of sound adds a nice tension with a great release at the end of the song.

Turmuta This song opens with a choir type of sound against a sound I can best describe as metallised wind chimes. Again, there are haunting qualities which complement a drone really well, the song has great movement and contrasts.

Wrwlf There’s a great pad type of sound to open against a background evolving, swirling sound. Another great soundscape, the song evolves really well with an emerging lead contrasting really well against the drone elements.

Review of ‘Gone Too Far’ single by Kosoti — May 6, 2015

Review of ‘Gone Too Far’ single by Kosoti




Kosoti website
Kosoti on Facebook
Kosoti on twitter
BlueSoapMusic on twitter

After a near death experience in 2013, lead singer and songwriter Allan Hyslop realised he needed to treasure every moment of his life by doing what he loved most, writing and performing music. Allan explains “Kosoti is the result of a few musicians and friends getting together to write songs and enjoy each other’s company. It started about eighteen months ago when a change in personnel gave us the impetus to try something different from what we’d previously been doing. The sound emerged and we knew there was something special being born…”

There’s a great vibe to this song which sits somewhere between folk, country and pop. It opens with excellent vocals and a really nice riff, the drumming and bass provide a solid backing. There are really nice changes in feel for the chorus with great building of tension and some really lovely harmonies.

The banjo adds a great element to the song which is really well arranged and produced. It has a great edge of sadness at times which contrasts excellently with the softer harmony sections and more laid back parts of the song. There’s also a great building of tension towards the end of the song with a final release.

The teaser video is embedded above. You can also catch Kosoti live at The Cluny 2, Newcastle Upon Tyne on the 19th May; Northumberland Live Festival, Blyth on 27th June and at the Mouth of the Tyne Festival, Tynemouth on 12th July. Click here for further details.

Review of Bahia Part II single by The Shy Lips — May 5, 2015

Review of Bahia Part II single by The Shy Lips

The Shy Lips



The Shy Lips website
The Shy Lips on Facebook
The Shy Lips on twitter
BlueSoapMusic on twitter

Formed in early 2012, the band was the brainchild of singer Adam and bassist Victor during travels in Europe and South America. The Shy Lips became reality when Adam and Viktor recruited Anton and Alexander in the vibrant music city of Gothenburg. After just six months as a band The Shy Lips had their first EP out on the streets, played the biggest clubs in Gothenburg and were receiving national radio airplay.

Since April 2014, the band have made legendary Svenska Grammofonstudion their recording studios of choice. The attention generated by their last couple of singles (‘She Was Born in Bahia’ and ‘That’s Where I Belong’) has brought The Shy Lips more national airplay in countries across Europe as well as attention from some of America’s coolest underground independent radio stations; the boys are taking their success in their stride though. According to vocalist Adam “it’s all about keeping it simple, so simple it gets hard to understand what the thing is. You just know The Shy Lips got it…”

There’s a great groove to this song, it has an excellent energy and momentum. The Shy Lips have a great sound, as a band they’re really tight knit but still have a great edge. Their sound is infectious and sweeps you along – chances are you’ll be dancing or singing along by the end of the song. More likely both.

The opening riff really sets the scene, an excellent tone and great groove joined by bass and solid drumming which propels the song along. The vocals suit the style of the song really well with some really nice harmonies. The chorus ups the tempo a bit and has great singalong qualities. There’s also a nice break with a funk style bassline and a great simmering feel which builds tension really well into another chorus which is followed by an excellent solo with great vocal harmonies and there’s a great chord vamp to round the song out.

Bahia Part II is out now (released yesterday, 4th May), I’ve embedded the official video above.