Andrulian's blog

Creating sounds | Making music | supporting fellow musicians | reflections in time

KVR Developer’s Challenge 2016 – Winners announced — December 20, 2016

KVR Developer’s Challenge 2016 – Winners announced

The 41 entries in the latest KVR Developer Challenge were revealed on December 1st with voting taking place until 18th December.

With the closing of the voting window the votes have been counted and the top 3 entries plus the highest placed soundware entry have been announced. I’m really pleased that 2 of my favourites feature in the top 3, both of which are delay effects because you can never have too many delays, can you?

First Place

youlean_loudness_meter

The winner by a clear margin of almost 100 votes was Youlean Loudness Meter by Youlean. This one slipped under the radar in my previous posts, mainly because I use Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock II as my primary DAW which records live and I tend to set the levels before I record and don’t subsequently do any post processing. However, I will definitely try to make use of this because it looks a very capable plugin which has a tidy looking histogram display. It has a feature which enables you to specify a certain part of the track to measure rather than the whole track which I can see could be very useful when I create a mix in Mulab for instance.

Second Place

lagrange084

In second place is Lagrange by Ursa DSP. This is a delay effect which uses granular techniques to give some very interesting sounds from metallic chorus effects to droning evolving soundscapes. I’ve had some great results but really need to read the instructions to ensure that I get the most out this effect.

Third Place

screenshot-4

In third place is Spaceship Delay. This is a very capable and fully featured delay which can produce standard delays but also more complex effects with its attack setting, modulation, looper and advanced filtering options.  It comes with an excellent selection of presets which show some of the creative possibilities as well as tutorial files to help you get the most out of the effect.

Soundware entry

noizefield_instruments-refractor-1480785978

The highest place soundware entry is Refractor by Noizefield Instruments which is a cool looking synthesiser for Native Instruments Reaktor although I am unfortunately unable to use it. It uses Karplus Strong synthesis but instead of a noise impulse it uses sample-wavetables and has several delay lines, filter plus other tweaks which gives some great string type sounds with unexpected twists.

My entry placed 34th out of the 41 entries. I was pleased to be able to produce and submit an entry, as my first submission it was a very useful learning experience. I wanted to produce a full and varied sample pack and I achieved this aim. In hindsight it was too big from a practical perspective because finding a free hosting service for such a large file is quite difficult. Initially I went with Dropbox because I had a free account but I didn’t appreciate that bandwidth limits are really restrictive and for such a large file this limits the number of downloads and the public link was often suspended. Additionally it appears that I cannot find out how many times the file was downloaded either. Many services have a file size limit of around 250 – 500 Mb and/or have time limits for download which is really restrictive for the purpose of this challenge. I found a free hosting service which was suitable for the file and included a link within the text so users had an alternative when the Dropbox link was suspended but this wasn’t ideal because users had to supply an email which I’m sure can be off-putting. Again I’m not sure how many times the file was downloaded.

I still intend to produce future sample packs, these will be a smaller file size to enable easier hosting and downloading. I need to look into more robust hosting solutions that includes download statistics. I’d also like to look into creating VSTs, my coding has never been up to much so I know there’s a lot to learn and a very steep learning curve. Maybe something like Juce would make the process easier?

Review of ‘Silent Surveillance’ EP by Trium Circulorum — December 18, 2016

Review of ‘Silent Surveillance’ EP by Trium Circulorum

 
Trium Circulorum is a project by M K Hensel who also records under the name Kanal Drei. He formerly recorded under the name 3dtorus and ran the netlabel Mobius Spin and several releases for each of these have previously featured on my blog.

I love the vibe to this EP, it has a dark, brooding quality, almost sinister at times. I really like the variety in sound of the three songs which blend various styles and have a captivating sound. They are excellently crafted with great attention to detail.

Room 101
It’s hard to believe this song is 10 minutes long, that’s testament to the captivating sound that makes it feel much shorter. It has a sound that’s really hard to describe, techno, dub but with a great ambience too. The layering is excellent, the delayed effects are the focus with the drumbeat kind of suppressed and really well layered synth and background sounds pulsing and swirling.

Predictive Algorithm
This song opens with glitchy sound effects and an excellent bass arp which gives a brooding quality. The drum pattern is quite subtle and has a bitcrushed sound. The song builds tension really well and has an awesome filtered synth sound with an acid type sound at times.

Intercepted Data
A glitchy, edgy opening to the song which evolves with a noise / drone quality with sound effects and layered sounds in the background weaving in and out of focus.

Trium Cirulorum twitter | bandcamp

Review of Fracture XT patchable glitch processor VST by Glitchmachines — December 14, 2016

Review of Fracture XT patchable glitch processor VST by Glitchmachines

 
Regular readers of my blog will know that I’m a big fan of Glitchmachines plugins having previously reviewed Cataract, Polygon, Quadrant, Convex and Cryogen. So it’s always with a sense of anticipation when a new plugin is released.

And Fracture XT doesn’t disappoint, it’s another excellent product from Glitchmachines. It is a very capable glitch effect and can produce some extraordinary and very extreme effects as well as more subtle ones too. It’s easy to use and has a great looking interface, the modular patching system is a very clever addition which makes Fracture XT stand out and gives a unique character. The sound quality is excellent too, the combination of great sound and ease of use makes it easy to adjust settings and get great results. I also like the extensive randomisation options, I use these a lot and they can form excellent starting points for you to refine and tweak. I can see that this will be one of my go to effects for the foreseeable future.

Fracture XT is a modified version of the already extremely popular – and free – Fracture VST which has a buffer effect, multi-mode filter, delay, 3 LFOs and variable effects chain configuration.

Fracture XT builds on this formula with the inclusion of a granular processor; improved buffer, delay and multi-mode filter algorithms; four flexible LFOs which can feed several modulation parameters simultaneously and a very cool patchable modulation matrix.

The UI has the clean, modern look we typically see from Glitchmachines with the inclusion of a very cool looking modulation matrix. It’s split into three sections
with the effects located in the upper section;

effects

patchbay in the lower section;

patchbay

midi, menus and preset options at the bottom;

menu

Effects section

The buffer effect records a small portion of the input signal and loops it a certain number of times.  When it has finished looping it records the input signal and starts looping again. This effect has three settings:

Size – duration of looped audio (1ms – 1s)

Speed – This is the playback speed. 1.0 is original speed, 2 is double and 0.5 is half the original speed.  Negative values work in the same way but play the audio backwards.

Time – the number of times the audio loops before buffering a new input (1 – 64)

Multimode filter – the effect has a dedicated multimode filter (lowpass, highpass, bandpass and notch) with cut-off and resonance settings.

 
The grains effect buffers its input into a delay line and several playback heads loop small random sections of the delay line at the same time.  These grains have an envelope applied to their amplitude which gives a smoother sound than the buffer effect.

Size – adjusts the duration of looped audio (10ms – 500ms).  The slider to the right is jitter and controls the percentage of random deviation from the base parameter value for each grain.

Speed –  This is the playback speed. 1.0 is original speed, 2 is double and 0.5 is half the original speed.  Negative values work in the same way but play the audio backwards.

Amp jitter – this controls the amount of amplitude randomisation for each grain.

Multimode filter – the effect has a dedicated multimode filter (lowpass, highpass, bandpass and notch) with cut-off and resonance settings.

 
The delay is a standard delay line with feedback and mix controls with the added feature of a variable input slider to take input from the buffer or grains modules or blend as required.

In FX – this is the variable slider.  All the way to the left feeds the delay with the output from the buffer module, all the way to the right feeds the input with the output from the grains module.  You can also blend anywhere between the two with the middle position being 50/50.

Time – sets the delay time (1ms – 1s).  Clicking the clock icon will sync to beat divisions of your host tempo.

Feedback – the amount of signal fed from the delay output to the delay input.

Mix – sets the ratio of regular : delayed signal from 0% (regular signal only) to 100% (delayed signal only).

One other very useful feature for all of these effects is a randomise option in the header which will randomise all parameters for that effect.

 
Out

This has amp controls (-70 to +6 dB) and dry/wet which controls the ratio of input : processed signal where 0% only outputs the original signal and 100% only outputs processed signal. The dry/wet control is a very useful parameter for shaping your sound, it makes a big difference especially with extreme effects whether these are subtle and blended with the original signal or alternatively dominate the output.

 
Patchbay

This is my favourite part of the effect, not only does it give a very cool modular look but it’s extremely easy to use and is colour coded to help with this too.

The 4 LFOs are at the heart of the patchbay, they are used to automate certain parameters and can modulate several simultaneously giving some highly complex patches.  The colour coding switches between grey (un-sync’d) and fuschia (sync’d).  Each has rate settings (either 0.01 Hz – 40 Hz or 1/128 to 8 bars) and waveforms of sine, square, triangle, saw up, saw down, sample and hold, smooth rnd. To sync to host tempo click on the clock icon.

Colour coding is also put to good use with un-patched input nodes marked blue with a grey modulation depth knob which both change colour to fuschia when an assignment has been made.

Making an assignment is as simple as a click and drag from one of the LFO output nodes to the desired input node which is located on the left of the desired modulation parameter.

The patchbay also has two very handy randomisation options ?LFOs randomises all 4 LFOs and their parameters; ?mods randomises all patch connections and modulation depth knobs.

The Footer section features the Preset browser and its associated parameters, as well as the global menu, global randomizer and midi options.

Fracture XT comes with 105 presets created by Ivo Ivanov, Alex Retsis and Stephan Bobinger and cover effects such as mellow dub delays to dense holographic grain clouds. There are some excellent presets bundled with Fracture XT and some of these are brutal, decimating any sounds you feed it.

As an example, here’s some of the presets applied to a drum loop:

 
It also works really well on synth sounds:

 
I also created a demo track which is embedded at the top of this post. I created a a chord loop in Nave (Waldorf) processed by Incipit (Inear Display) and used a 4:4 kick pattern using Slam (Extent of the Jam). I’ve layered a sample from my Kalipheno sample pack processed with Fracture XT with 2 instances of a bass tail sample from the Escape pack by Mode Audio processed with Fracture XT.

 
At this point I think it’s worth highlighting the difference between Fracture XT, Cryogen, Convex and Incipit by Inear Display.

The differences are primarily the type of effects and subsequent modulation possibilities that each effect provides:

Fracture XT – Buffer, granular processor, delay
Convex – Dual multimode filters, dual delay and dual pitch shifters
Cryogen – Dual buffer effects, dual multimode filters and dual bit crusher effects
Incipit – 3 effects chains with pitch shifter, delay and amp.

For me Incipit is more of a creative delay effect with extensive modulation options whereas Fracture XT, Convex and Cryogen are more for glitch effects which each have different sonic characteristics and possibilities.

Fracture XT is available from Glitchmachines in VST/AU 32 & 64 bit versions priced $29.

 

KVR Developer’s Challenge 2016 – Last few days to vote (closes 18th December) and free EP created from some entries — December 13, 2016

KVR Developer’s Challenge 2016 – Last few days to vote (closes 18th December) and free EP created from some entries

 
There are still a few days left for you to vote for your favourite entries in the latest KVR Developer Challenge with voting closing on the 18th December. If you haven’t checked out the submissions yet, I’d highly recommend it as there are some excellent entries.

I wanted to create a demo song using some of my favourites which I’ve listed below. However, the process was not as smooth as it could have been. I spent about an hour and a half setting up the workspace in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock II only to find that when I tried to reload it later to record the song it completely crashed Hollyhock II and lost all the midi patterns.

Back to the drawing board, I needed a change of plan. I decided to do a quick setup, then do a one-take live recording. This expanded from one song to four to cover different instruments and effects. All of the sounds come from entries in the challenge, I did use a very basic ‘mastering’ during the recording but no other effects nor was any post-processing used. The recordings are by no means perfect, there are some glitches and artifacts from editing on the fly but they do capture the essence of the live performances. The EP is embedded above and available as a free download.

Slam by Extent of the Jam

slam

Sometimes you can spend ages auditioning drum samples when all you really want is a drum machine that is easy to use and has great sounds. That’s what I really like about Slam. The synthesised drums capture that analogue feel and not only sound great but you can also shape the sound to produce a good range of sounds and they also have multiple velocities too.

 
Noisetar by NuSofting

noisetar_au_vst_colours1

This is a mathematical based noise synth which means it has a tiny file size – about 2Mb and is capable of producing a wide range of noises from bangs, rattles, scratches to drones.  The sound engine is very flexible and all parameters can be automated to create complex custom modulations.

 
Lagrange by Ursa DSP

lagrange084

You can’t ever have enough delays, epsecially when they are a bit different.  This is a delay effect which uses granular techniques to give some very interesting sounds from metallic chorus effects to droning evolving soundscapes.

 
Spaceship Delay by Musical Entropy

screenshot-4

This is a very capable and fully featured delay which can produce standard delays but also more complex effects with its attack setting, modulation, looper and advanced filtering options.  It comes with an excellent selection of presets which show some of the creative possibilities.

 
AntiKnot by iraisynn attinom

antiknot

This is a stereo signal processing effect featuring EQ, saturation, flanger, compression, reverb and chorus.  I especially like the randomise option which tends to generate very interesting effects which can be tweaked further as required.

 
T.Rex ArgenSynth by Max Project

t_rex_argensynth_v1_01

This is a very good sounding 2 oscillator synth which also has a step LFO and arpeggiator.  The arps sound excellent and the filter is very good too, producing an excellent acid-type lead sound.

MERZfunder PLUS compilation album – 23 new tracks inspired by Kurt Schwitters — December 12, 2016

MERZfunder PLUS compilation album – 23 new tracks inspired by Kurt Schwitters

 
Hot on the heels of the MERZfunder compilation which you can read about here, comes MERZfunder PLUS, a compilation of 23 new songs to further raise money to support and preserve the Schwitters Merz barn in Cumbria. This was where Schwitters made his final Merzbau installation, a sculptural collaged wall, which he worked on in the last years of his life, walking five miles each way from his home in Ambleside to get there.

The MERZfunder PLUS digital download – available for a minimum donation of £3 and embedded above comprises 23 exclusive songs including some that weren’t included on the original MERZfunder compilation and some new submissions following an open call. The download also includes 2 MERZ films and an A3 poster.

digitalDIZZY have again done a superb job curating this compilation which includes over two and a half hours of great grooves, experimental, avante-garde, noise and drone songs. There are so many highlights on this album, it’s difficult to single out individual songs because they’re all so good but my particular favourites are Cousin Silas – A Goldfish of Ill Repute; Akoustik Timbre Frekuency – Tirtha Yatra; Phil Cross & Glenn Tomney – Milkwood Paddler and Societatis Veritate – If not reason, then the devil.

I’m thrilled to have a track of my own included, it’s called Wantee and gets it’s name from when Kurt first moved to London and met his future companion, Edith Thomas:

“He knocked on her door to ask how the boiler worked, and that was that. […] She was 27 – half his age. He called her Wantee, because she was always offering tea.” Gretel Hinrichsen quoted in The Telegraph[54]

Money raised will go towards the rebuilding and shoring up of the Merz barn at Elterwater in the Lake District, which was damaged by one of last winter’s storms.

NOTES

As one of the originators of the cut-up collage technique, which he applied to sound, poetry and 3D installations in his famous Merzbau projects, Kurt Schwitters inspired countless others to explore their creativity outside the confines of the fine art tradition. Think Brion Gysin, William Burroughs, David Bowie, Lydia Lunch – all gave a nod to Schwitters for setting them on their path.

Kurt Schwitters creativity wasn’t bound by the values of the art world, his work never belonged in galleries. He had built Merz installations inside an ordinary house in Hanover, and when he had to leave them there (there was no place for ‘degenerate’ artists in Nazi Germany), he found somewhere else to make his mark: inside a cold, dark, little barn, buried in the most awe inspiring natural landscape. In the last years of his life, he walked five miles each way through those breathtaking mountains and valleys to get to his wall from Ambleside and make Merz.

The MerzBarn Langdale is under the care of the Littoral Arts Trust, which encourages artists inspired by Schwitters to continue his legacy by working at the site.

The Schwitters Wall was cut out of the barn in 1965 and taken to the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle, where it remains part of the permanent display.

For more details, contact digitalDIZZY through Facebook or email: algonne@hotmail.co.uk

Further information:

Littoral Arts Trust Fund

Merz Barn website

Merz Barn on twitter

Hatton Gallery website

Review of The Orb VST by Audio Thing — December 11, 2016

Review of The Orb VST by Audio Thing

 
The Orb is a VST effect (32-64 bit VST/AU/AAX) that can transform any sound into a vowel-like formant filtered sound. It has 3 band pass filters and 3 LFOs which can be used to modulate the vowel, emphasis/resonance of the formants and the drift which can shift up or shift down the frequencies of each formant. It’s also possible to create your own set of vowels by changing the name and frequency for each vowel / formant.

theorb

At the heart of the effect and located in the centre is the orb. Each sector represents a vowel (which can be changed); the distance from the centre of the orb to the dot is the emphasis (resonance) for each formant filter and the angle inside each sector represents the drift (amount in Hz that is added or subtracted from each vowel formant).

theorb-3

On the left hand side are the formant and vowel controls.
Formants
Smooth – controls the smoothness of transition between two vowels (or drift settings)
Drift range – controls the amount (in Hz) to be added or subtracted from each vowel formant
Drift Polarity – A switch which selects whether drift is added (+), subtracted (-) or both (+-)
Formant 1, 2, 3 – The volume of each formant filter and on/off switch for each formant. A really handy feature is when you hover over the name it shows the volume level in dB.

Vowels
Amount – the number of vowels inside the orb
Genre – Male, female, child or custom
Edit – Opens a dialog box where you can change the name of each vowel and frequency for the 3 formants.

theorb-4

On the right hand side of the screen are the LFOs and master section. Each LFO has rate, amount and phase controls. The LFO for vowel has clockwise, inverse clockwise, clockwise loop, inverse clockwise loop and random options; the emphasis and drift LFOs have square, triangle, sine, ramp up, ramp down and random options. Each can be individually switched on or off.

The master section has gain, mix controls and a soft clip limiter.

There’s also a randomise option on the top menu bar which can provide interesting effects or alternatively can be used as a starting point.

The Orb has 15 presets which highlight some of the creative possibilities of this effect.

If you click on the grille below the orb this shows the vowel, emphasis and drift settings where you click on the orb to place the dot.

In use I’ve found it can produce wide ranging sounds from subtle phasing to harsh metallic sounds. The smooth control is very useful and enables you to control the resulting sound from a swell type of effect to more of a choppy sound. I find it very useful on specific instruments or sounds. It can produce some very interesting filtered type effects on drums for instance. The demo track embedded at the top of the post uses 4 instances of The Orb with drum loops and midi loops from Mode Audio’s Escape downtempo loops sample pack.

The demo track below gives examples of what The Orb can do on a simple synth and drum loop using the presets:

 
The demo track below gives examples of what The Orb can do on a guitar loop:

 
The Orb is available for 49 Euros from Audiothing

Audiothing twitter | facebook

Review of ‘Further Away’ EP by Melanie Crew — December 8, 2016

Review of ‘Further Away’ EP by Melanie Crew

Melanie Crew is a London based singer and musician (guitar and clarinet), writing gentle acoustic music with soulful melodies, influenced by artists like Elliott Smith, Hem, Roddy Woomble and Carole King. Melanie released her first EP ‘Until the End’ in August 2015 which I’ve previously reviewed here.

This is a superb second EP from Melanie, the songs are brilliantly arranged and have a natural elegance. I really like the subtle jazz influences and unexpected chord changes, they add great interest and variation. There is a sadness to some of these songs and Melanie conveys this sadness yet maintains a positivity in her superb vocals.

Bring You Back
This song has natural sounding percussion to open with strummed chords and just a hint of a jazz feel in the progression. Melanie’s voice is beautiful and there’s some lovely harmonies too.

Parade
There’s a kind of waltz feel to the opening chord riff, vocals are superb again with really nice male / female harmonies.

Ghost
This song opens with a picked riff with harmonies, there’s just an edge of tension to this song. I really like the bass, it’s subtle but very effective. The vocals have a haunting feel on this song.

100 Words
Strummed chords against shimmery chord gives a great momentum but with an edge of tension too. There’s a really nice change to a more uptempo feel when the drums enter.

All That I Want
Lovely chord and riff to open, a stripped back sound with acoustic guitar and vocals which works extremely well.

Can’t Find a Way
A great arrangement of strummed chords with a second guitar having a half time feel. There are some unexpected chord changes which work really well. The natural percussion is subtle but gives a defined momentum.

 
Melanie Crew bandcamp | facebook | twitter | soundcloud

Review of The Rule of Dark Matter compilation album on Factory Fast Records — December 7, 2016

Review of The Rule of Dark Matter compilation album on Factory Fast Records

 
This is an excellent compilation which focuses on the electronic type of sound with brilliantly atmospheric tracks featuring trance, synth wave and jazz influences at times. There’s an excellent range of chilled and more uptempo tracks with a darker edge at times too.

Leaving Richmond – Reach Out For a Moment, For Eternity
A brilliantly atmospheric track with an edge of tension, the drumming pattern gives a great momentum contrasting really well against more chilled background synth sounds. The guitar riff has a great ambiance and subtle distortion adds a great element.

Shining Dust – Ligereza (Playtmotiv remix)
An evolving opening with bass and pulsing / swirling background sounds, the vocals have an elegance about them. Great trance feel from drumming pattern and synth string sound. A great chilled vibe.

Perpacity – Volatile Cohesion
A really nice delayed arp to open, drumming gives a great momentum and the bass and synth which has vocal qualities give an excellent synth wave sound. There’s some great changes in feel too.

Kelly Peffers – I’m an Alien
A jazz feel to the opening of this song, the vocals are excellent and really captivating. A great vibe to the song with layered percussion and a great muted mandolin sound for the riff.

Curtis Pacheco – Blaze
An excellent opening, a little bit dubstep with an eastern vibe there’s some excellently layered sounds and great use of reversed sounds too. A great vibe to the song.

The Planet 314 – So Many Lies
Atmospheric strings to open with contrasting uptempo arp, drumming pattern gives a great momentum. There’s a great contrast between guitar chord / riff and bell type synth sound which has a hint of dissonance. The vocals suit the style really well which is a darker synth wave type of sound.

Audio Spectro – Passing Through the Gates (Dark Matter mix)
Percussive rhythm has an urgency with evolving feedback leading into a trance type of sound. Great movement in the percussion with an intense feel leading to a nice change of feel with a more open synth sound which takes on an uptempo feel with the addition of drum beat. An excellent driving feel at times.

 

Factory Fast Records: website | twitter | facebook

Leaving Richmond: twitter | facebook

Shining Dust: twitter | website | facebook

Perpacity: twitter | facebook

Kelly Peffers: twitter | facebook

Curtis Pacheco: twitter | facebook

The Planet 314: facebook

Audio Spectro: twitter | soundcloud | facebook

Review of Astral Transmissions album by Stupid Cosmonaut — December 6, 2016

Review of Astral Transmissions album by Stupid Cosmonaut

 
Stupid Cosmonaut are a 3 piece ambient / pysch band from Manchester, England comprising of Sam Read, Mark Hawnt and Steve McNamara. They all take an equal share in producing and writing the music using mostly hardware synths, guitars, bass and samples. I’ve recently reviewed a couple of their previous releases – Salvia single and Abstract Concepts album.

This is an excellent album, there’s some superbly created sounds with great evolution of soundscapes in each of the songs. There’s a jam feel at times and often contrast between ambient / uptempo parts and also with drones which gives an edgy sound at times.

AT1 Fermium
The song opens with a drone against a quote which sits in the background, the choppy sounding rhythm of the bass drum adds a great element. Evolving sounds emerge, some in the background others more upfront. There’s great movement in the distorted percussive sounds with a really nice edge of tension at times. The kick takes on a more urgent rhythm as tension builds with a final release.

AT2 Ununtrium
Excellent synth sound effects to open with a slightly distorted kick. There’s a distorted / bitcrushed sound that adds a great tension. I really like the feedback and delayed effects. It’s a really edgy sound with great build and release of tension through the song.

AT3 Hassium
This song has an excellent edgy opening with distorted bassline and great synth sound effects. There’s great use of feedback and a really nice distorted synth lead and the song has kind of a prog rock sound but with a modern feel. The drumming pattern sits really low in the mix, in the background almost, giving a subtle momentum. Really nice evolution to the sound.

AT4 Curium
Nice Stab chord sound over the quote to open, evolving drone and riff gives a great contrast. The song has quite an ambient feel with some excellent swirling background sounds and drone elements.

AT5 Dubnium
The opening drone gives a great soundscape with the quote in the background, the drum beat gives a great momentum. The background sounds evolve and swirl adding a great element contrasting really well against the more uptempo drum pattern. There’s a great release to a more ambient section with a drumming pattern returning to give great momentum to a final release.

  
Stupid Cosmonaut on twitter |  facebook

MERZfunder compilation album – 114 tracks inspired by Kurt Schwitters — December 5, 2016

MERZfunder compilation album – 114 tracks inspired by Kurt Schwitters

 
It is 100 years since the Dada movement first rocked the art establishment and paved the way for every oppositional and groundbreaking cultural force that followed, from surrealism to pop art, situationism to punk. Yet in the recent BBC celebrations of the anniversary, no mention was made of Kurt Schwitters, the man seen by many as a major force in and beyond Dada – and the only one to leave a lasting physical legacy of his work in the UK.

MERZfunder brings together more than 100 musicians and experimental noise makers to raise money to support and preserve the Schwitters Merz barn in Cumbria. This was where Schwitters made his final Merzbau installation, a sculptural collaged wall, which he worked on in the last years of his life, walking five miles each way from his home in Ambleside to get there.

The MERZfunder digital download – available for a minimum donation of £5/€6/$6 and embedded above comprises 114 exclusive tracks, delivering more than 10 hours of Schwitters-inspired creativity. Contributors include:

  • The Astronauts
  • V4V (Charles Hayward/This Heat)
  • Ob
  • NIk Turner’s OUTRIDERS OF THE APOCALYPSE (Hawkwind/Inner City Unit)
  • Geoff Leigh (Henry Cow/Warrior Squares)
  • Richard Youngs
  • Rapoon
  • Neil Campbell (Astral Social Club/ Vibracathedral Orchestra)
  • Hagar the Womb
  • Band of Holy Joy
  • The Shend (The Cravats/Very Things)

This is a fantastic album, digitalDIZZY have done a superb job curating this compilation. There are so many highlights: The Shend, Riviera Rockers, Sky High Diamonds, Motonogo, Haq, Sonologyst, Walter Fini, Cousin Silas, prefabGOUT, Mr Nosely and Mat Handley are just some of my favourites.

Money raised will go towards the rebuilding and shoring up of the Merz barn at Elterwater in the Lake District, which was damaged by one of last winter’s storms.

Kurt Schwitters was an outsider everywhere – not just as an exile in the Lakes, in London, in Norway, but also in Germany, where the Berlin Dadaists wouldn’t let him join their club because he broke their rules as well as everyone else’s. That inspired him to develop his Merz style of artwork, which he applied to poetry, performance, and abstract expressionist sculpture, collages and installations.

Schwitters was an artist in exile for most of his life, and he worked wherever he was. He ended up in a barn in the English Lakes. This was a working building that was not designed to house an internationally important artwork. It has not weathered well, and is now buckling under the onslaught of age and climate change. It was the last place of work for one of the world’s most influential artists and it continues to inspire others today. For that legacy to continue, the barn needs to be made sound.

That’s what this MERZfunder is raising money for. Please pay what you can to help make this happen – and, as a bonus, treat your ears to a wealth of wonderful sounds created by 100+ of us who want to thank Kurt Schwitters for showing us that creativity is about finding the artist within each and every one of us in whichever medium feels right, the more primal and abstract the better.

NOTES

As one of the originators of the cut-up collage technique, which he applied to sound, poetry and 3D installations in his famous Merzbau projects, Kurt Schwitters inspired countless others to explore their creativity outside the confines of the fine art tradition. Think Brion Gysin, William Burroughs, David Bowie, Lydia Lunch – all gave a nod to Schwitters for setting them on their path.

Kurt Schwitters creativity wasn’t bound by the values of the art world, his work never belonged in galleries. He had built Merz installations inside an ordinary house in Hanover, and when he had to leave them there (there was no place for ‘degenerate’ artists in Nazi Germany), he found somewhere else to make his mark: inside a cold, dark, little barn, buried in the most awe inspiring natural landscape. In the last years of his life, he walked five miles each way through those breathtaking mountains and valleys to get to his wall from Ambleside and make Merz.

The MerzBarn Langdale is under the care of the Littoral Arts Trust, which encourages artists inspired by Schwitters to continue his legacy by working at the site.

The Schwitters Wall was cut out of the barn in 1965 and taken to the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle, where it remains part of the permanent display.

For more details, contact digitalDIZZY through Facebook or email: algonne@hotmail.co.uk

Further information:

Littoral Arts Trust Fund

Merz Barn website

Merz Barn on twitter

Hatton Gallery website