Andrulian's Blog – all things music: Musings, Understanding theory, Software tools, revIews, Commentary

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

Review of ‘Television Themes’ album by Matt Berry on Acid Jazz Records — February 11, 2019

Review of ‘Television Themes’ album by Matt Berry on Acid Jazz Records

Matt Berry is a British actor, voice-over artist and comedian known for appearing in Toast of London, The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh and House of Fools amongst others. 

When you see he’s released an album of Television Themes, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s some kind of spoof. But Matt Berry is a serious musician,  having already released four albums on acid jazz records plus a number of other releases. 

For anyone who grew up in eighties Britain, these tunes are likely to be very familiar. The album is a nostalgic trip through your childhood and some programs you’d watch with your parents. For example, the mere sight of ‘Thames Television’ conjures up the image with London monuments emblazened with THAMES in large white letters across the middle and the ‘der-der-der-der-derr-duh-duh-der’ theme. Maybe that’s just me. 

The album tends to largely stay true to covers of the original themes rather than remixing, remaking or reimagining them.  This means they’ve been modernised but still retain the essence of those original tunes. What’s interesting whilst listening to this album is that you realise that even though you heard a lot of these on a weekly basis, you didn’t really listen to them. This highlights the talents of the original composers that are often overlooked and in a way the prowess of Matt Berry and his band the Maypoles preserves this heritage. Viewed in this way the album is a statement and definitely not a novelty offering. 

The included songs are :

Are You Being Served? 

The Good Life 

LWT

Blankety Blank

Top of The Pops

Picture Box

The Liver Birds 

Thames Television

Rainbow

Doctor Who

Wildtrak

World in Action

Sorry

Open University

Review of ‘Caught in the Noise’ EP by Mod Exist on Uncle Bob’s Records — February 10, 2019

Review of ‘Caught in the Noise’ EP by Mod Exist on Uncle Bob’s Records

This was released a year ago back in February 2018 and has slipped through the net somewhat, however, it’s an excellent EP with a great diversity of electronic styles and influences from ambient dub, ambient techno to synth wave to industrial. 

It’s a really well produced EP with great layering and contrast between softer ambient sounds and harsher electronic bleeps and klangs.

Count Our Time in Threes

Opens with a kind of siren and metallic bang leading into a solid 4:4 kick rhythm. There’s excellent layering of atmospheric background sounds contrasting with harsher metallic elements and electronic bleeps and blips that creates a solid techno groove balanced against a dark ambient soundscape. 

The Meanwhile of Life

Opens with an arp giving an urgency and the slightly hectic feel remains through the song. A 4:4 kick rhythm provides a contrasting consistency. There’s acid / rave elements at times and again great layering to contrast harsher elements with more atmospheric ones. 

To All the Great People in the World

An edgy opening with layered background sounds, the 4:4 kick is subdued and has a tension against percussive sounds. There’s a dark / industrial vibe to the song, vocals really add to the atmosphere. 

Loneliness is the Most Beautiful Thing

Quite an uptempo opening from riff and drumming, there’s a tension, almost dissonance at times and the song has a great contrast between the lead synth and harsher metallic type sounds. The tension builds to a drum and bass sound releasing to an edgy ambience. 

Trips Like Sweets

An 80’s influenced song with an industrial edge, it has a great groove and solid vibe. The metallic percussion sounds are excellent and vocals have a robotic feel that really adds to the tension. 

Review of Khords virtual instrument (64bit VST / AU) by Loopmasters — February 8, 2019

Review of Khords virtual instrument (64bit VST / AU) by Loopmasters

Introduction

Loopmasters have introduced Khords, a focused instrument that brings sampled personality and classic character to your productions. It is available in VST / AU versions – 64 bit only – and is available from PluginBoutique typically priced at £69.95

Overview

What I love about Khords is how much fun and inspiration it brings to making music. It has the feel of an old school sampler but with the benefits of a modern sound and interface. 

It comes with 315 samples and about 550 presets yet still Khords offers so much more potential.  You can easily create your own sounds with a major, minor or open chord feel by layering two samples and then shape your sound with filters, effects and modulation LFOs. 

Khords encourages you to dive and experiment, it’s easy to use, sounds great and offers huge creative potential. Just playing through the presets you can get a feel for what Khords can do, there are some excellent old school jungle and rave sounds, as well as techno and more chilled, ambient vibes. You can easily create whole songs or use it to create atmospheres, textures or melodies.

I’ve used Khords to create the tracks embedded above. These are somewhere between deep tech, minimal and techno. All of the sounds were created in Khords, drum beats and vocals were sourced using Loopcloud. The songs were arranged and produced in MuLab and were scoped out using Scaler. Sounds were processed using a range of Eventide and Glitchmachines effects. The songs were mastered in MuLab using Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Stage (Fiedler Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Youlean Loudness Meter.

In-Depth Review

The interface is clean and well laid out. At the top of the display is the preset bar with load and save options. The 550 presets are arranged in categories with an example of some of the pad presets shown below:

The display is split into three sections with one set of controls for the chord layer, one for the note layer and the voice, effects and master settings at the bottom.

The chord and note layers both have the same controls and can play any of the samples. The samples are arranged by major, minor, root or open or you can load a random sample. Each layer has an ADSR envelope, transpose and handy stretch feature to change the speed and formant ( frequency signature). There are 12 different filter types, a range of low pass, band pass and high pass with 6, 12, 18 or 24 dB/octave slopes and some ladder types also. The pre-drive is an excellent addition along with keytrack, filter envelope and filter LFO that enable you to shape your sound further. The master transpose control sits between the two layers.

Khords has 3 effects – chorus, delay and reverb. These are well featured and sound good although you can of course use external effects if preferred. I like how the signal routing is not fixed and you can use these effects in any order.

The master effects section contains a frequency booster which is effectively a multiband compressor with dry/wet, top, middle and bottom frequency controls. There’s also a master level control.

The voice section enables you to choose between portamento, glide and legato settings. You can also use the pitchbend wheel to change to pitch on the fly or use the mod wheel to control up to four different parameters with a single control.