Andrulian's blog

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Review of Gestalt EP by Roofhare — May 12, 2017

Review of Gestalt EP by Roofhare

 
This EP was created using guitar, delay pedals and a looper pedal. It has an excellent experimental feel with great use of delay, layered sounds and feedback and Roofhare gets a huge range of sounds from the guitar. I really like the development of rhythmic sounds and interplay between the different delay effects which gives an ambience with a darker edge and great tension at times.

Episteme
A pulsing, swirling opening leading into delayed impact type sounds. There’s an excellent dark ambience to this song and I really like the layering of pulsing drones, metallic sounds, bass sounds and scrape effects. It’s quite a sparse sound at times which creates a great tension.

Phronesis
A rhythmic opening leads into an excellently layered ambience with bass drones, haunting vocal type sounds and a reversed lead which has accordion qualities at times and adds a great tension. There’s an excellent interplay between the different elements with a great variation of sounds and there’s an excellent tension.

Techne
A great use of delay to the opening riff which a has a kind of sitar feel at times. There are some lovely shimmery chords and some great sound effects. There’s an excellent use of delay through the song which has an experimental feel with riffs, swirling background sounds and drone type sounds at times.

Tacit Intuition
This doesn’t use guitar but the self oscillation properties of the effects pedals. It’s an excellent dark ambience with great development of rhythmic patterns, layered drone type sounds and feedback. An excellent building and release of tension with a great range of sounds.

Roofhare on twitter | soundcloud

Review of ‘After the Bum Rush’ album by Ambrose Chappel and iKashflo on Romeda Records — May 8, 2017

Review of ‘After the Bum Rush’ album by Ambrose Chappel and iKashflo on Romeda Records

 
I love this album, it has an excellent vibe from a solid hip hop groove which is interwoven with funky, synth pop, techno and chiptune elements. It’s an infectious groove, you’ll soon be nodding your head and/or tapping your feet. There’s solid rapping which often contrasts with more laid back vocals. The production is excellent, there’s layering of elements such as scratching, pitched vocals and sound effects resulting in the album having a modern sound yet old-school feel at the same time.

Time and Time Again
This song opens with a recording taken outside walking to unlock a car leading into a great groove with drums and bass and pitched vocals. A laid back hip hop groove, the scratching and organ add great elements.

Pump up The Jam
A piano riff to open creates another solid groove with drums which leads into rapping contrasting with more laid back singing. Excellent layering again with scratching and spoken ‘mmm’ which acts like a bassline.

Freak
This song has more of a techno feel from the bassline and drumming. There’s a great contrast between rapping and vocals which have a funky feel. Great sound effects too.

City of Sin
There’s an urgency to the opening riff which creates an excellent groove with the drumming. Great rapping again, nice changes in feel and great layering of sound effects and scratching.

For Sure
An uptempo feel to the opening with bassline, drumming and rapping leading into another solid groove with excellent processing on the vocals.

Places to Go (feat. Lauren Randle)
An excellent bass to open leading into rapping. The song has a ‘purple hills’ kind of feel but also a funky, almost reggae feel. Lauren’s vocals add an excellent element.

Without Your Clothes
An excellent synth riff to open leading into harmonised vocals. Drumming builds and is given momentum by the bass. Great rapping contrasts with more laid back harmonised vocals.

Ricochet
Scratching to open leads into a laid back groove with a riff which has a great sound somewhere between a muted plucked string and a muted steel drum. Excellent rapping again.

Microphone Assassin
Great sound effect to open, the song has a funky groove and a videogame type of sound. Excellent rapping again with some great processing.

My Monika
A piano riff to open accompanied by slightly distorted organ chords gives a great tension. The song has a laid back feel with a really soulful vibe and the solo guitar adds a great element.

Get High
This song has a chiptune kind of feel to the opening leading into a solid groove from a fat bassline and uptempo rapping.

Thanks to Her
This song has a great uptempo groove and a very funky bassline. There’s a nice change in feel between the uptempo rapping and softer harmonised vocals.

My Moves
A synth brass riff to open with rapping leads into a groove with a heavy bass feel. There’s some excellent scratching and well layered background sounds.

Pick It Up
Another uptempo song which has an almost reggae / two-tone feel at times with the chord vamp. Solid rapping again with a nice change of feel to the harmonised vocals.

Stimulization
A funky organ riff to open, with uptempo rapping leads into a solid groove with a funky vibe, there’s great scratching and background sounds too.

 
Romeda Records bandcamp | website | twitter | facebook

Review of Teufelsberg Reverb VST by Balance Mastering — April 26, 2017

Review of Teufelsberg Reverb VST by Balance Mastering

 
Prior to the fall of the Berlin wall, the Teufelsberg listening tower in Berlin was run by the NSA with the main objective of intercepting and processing any Soviet and Eastern Bloc communications as part of the ECHELON intelligence gathering network.

A couple of years ago, Balance Mastering recorded impulse responses at the facility with great care and mastered them to be useful in a wide variety of situations. Finding an opportunity to approach the towers and record the impulses was tough, not to mention having to climb and squeeze through a tiny gap to reach the uppermost tower to enable anyone to incorporate a piece of Cold War history into their music and audio productions. Six quite different variations were produced and available for use, but as impulse responses, they were only useful for convolution reverbs.

So it’s great news that Balance Mastering have made the impulse responses available to all as a VST in Windows 32/64 bit, Mac AU/VST and Linux 64 bit versions for free on their website.

If you’re looking for a flexible and customisable reverb then this isn’t the reverb plugin for you. However, it is very easy to use with 6 excellent and unique reverbs with outstanding sound. I’ve used the impulse responses in the past and I’m really pleased that Balance Mastering have made these more readily available as a plugin, it’s a very useful reverb to have available.

balance-audio-tools-teufelsberg-reverb-plugin

The interface has a very clean, minimal design with a slider to select the reverb impulse; mix; gain; A/B compare and preset save/copy/delete functions. Each of the reverb types has its own characteristics – type one is a large space with a big echo and slow release; type 2 is a large space but less echo; type 3 feels similar but is a bit darker; type 4 has a strong bass presence, an enclosed sound; type 5 is similar but more expansive; type 6 has an enclosed sound with large echo and short release. The effect doesn’t come with any presets but to be honest you don’t really need them because there’s only 3 controls to adjust and you can of course save your sounds as presets once you’ve created them.

The demo track below shows a simple chord progression with no reverb on the first chord and then each reverb type applied to successive chords. I’m not sure this highlights the full sound potential of the effect so the second track uses a spoken vocal phrase with no effect and then each reverb type in turn.

 

 

 
I’ve also created an EP using multiple instances of the reverb effect, embedded at the top of this post. The tracks use Ephemere (Inear Display) with Outer Space (Audio Thing); Sounds from my ‘Kalipheno’ sample pack in the Hollyhock grain sampler each processed with Incipit (Inear Display) and Teufelsberg Reverb. Two of the tracks also feature drum and piano loops from the Terry Grant Dark Dub Odyssey sample pack by Loopmasters.

Review of The Climatronica Collective Vol 1 compilation album on Pink Dolphin Music Ltd — April 21, 2017

Review of The Climatronica Collective Vol 1 compilation album on Pink Dolphin Music Ltd

 
The Climatronica Collective is a small group of musicians working in the field of electronic music to raise awareness and money for climate change charities.

This first album will see all artist royalties donated to Solar Aid, an international charity that combats poverty and climate change. They do this through a social enterprise called SunnyMoney, who travel to remote rural communities where they spend time educating people about the benefits of solar lights. They make clean light available where previously there was only unhealthy and expensive alternatives like kerosene lamps and candles. They help instil trust and create demand in a new and unfamiliar technology – which helps build the foundations for a sustainable solar market and a lasting energy legacy.

But this is an expensive and time consuming business. If it wasn’t, private companies would be piling in, ready to take advantage of the millions of people living without access to electricity. Their teams travel thousands of miles – spending days with local community members – sometimes only selling a handful of lights. Because that’s what it takes to help people leave the darkness behind.

I’m delighted to be a part of this compilation which includes artists from Australia, the UK and beyond, covering a wide range of electronic styles including synth-pop, chilled vibes, cinematic soundscapes, downtempo and ambient. The songs are excellently arranged and produced, often with great changes in feel and an edge of tension.

The album releases on the 29th April 2017 but is available for pre-order now, where you will be able to download and stream the first 7 tracks from the album instantly. The remaining 6 tracks will be available upon release on April 29th.

You can also listen ahead of release to a special show which will be hosted by Andrew Maley on Artefaktor Radio on Monday 24th April 2017 at 8pm UK time.

Lemonade Kid (feat. Nim Chimpsky) – Not Falling Out
There’s an upbeat synth-pop feel to this song with momentum from bass and drums with arps, squelchy synths and excellent vocals with some nice harmonies. There’s a great edge to this song too.

Rodney Cromwell – Cassiopeia (Cfrain remix)
The opening processed vocals lead into a synth lead propelled by bass and percussive rhythm. There’s a great contrast between uptempo and more ambient parts. A great flow to the song, a kind of build and release of tension.

Man With Glasses – Biting a Wet Sponge (All Star Motivator Remix)
I really like the layered opening with percussive hit sounds, driving kick rhythm and synth chords which also have a percussive feel to them. The synth lead and bass give a great change in feel to an upbeat synth-pop sound.

Simon Irvine – Natsu
There’s an excellent chilled vibe to this song, ambient pads contrast with more stab like piano chords, bass and smooth piano melody to create an excellent laid back groove with great use of layered background sounds. It has an ambience with a dub feel.

ds73 – After The Reign (feat Ems Loxley)
There’s an excellent hook to the opening melody which leads into the verse with great vocals. The bass has an edge of distortion which adds a great subtle tension. Some excellent synth sounds, a great momentum to the song.

Grids-Unit-Plains – Ocean Depths
An excellent ambience to the opening with an ethereal choral type sound and spoken vocal parts which sound like they are from a documentary. The percussive rhythm, synth lead and bass give a great contrast and momentum.

All Star Motivator – Be Strong
Processed drums to open lead into an arp and are given momentum by bass and layered background sounds. A synth adds a melody and there’s some really well processed vocals too.

Nathan Carlson – Ominous Portents
A very atmospheric opening with electric piano and background noise, like distant rain. The synth bass adds a great element. The percussion is sparse and works really well. The emerging strings build a tension to a cinematic soundscape with a nice change in feel with an emerging arp, uptempo drumming pattern and layered background sounds with a final release to the background rain sound.

Teslacoil321 – Silver Sea
The opening drumming pattern creates an excellent groove which is propelled by bass, lead synth and layered background sounds. The vocals are excellently layered and panned and have a laid back feel. The song has a brilliant vibe, it’s upbeat with a great groove but also has a quite chilled, hypnotic feel at the same time.

Andrulian – Poleward Shift
This is my entry so feel free to add your own comments…

Pas De La Dame Sauvage – Castles
A very atmospheric evolving soundscape with a great edge of tension, the sounds are layered to great effect. Percussion is sparse and adds a great element especially when contrasting with the more defined drumming pattern which gives a great momentum. The song has an excellent ebb and flow feel.

Foreign Technology – Tokyo
There’s an urgency to the opening with piano arp, bass and background sounds which has a great tension resolving to an synth sound which feels like it has the rhythm of a heartbeat. This leads to an excellent change in feel propelled by uptempo drums which are really well processed, bass, layered background sounds and excellent vocals. There are great changes of feel throughout the song which build and resolve tension excellently.

Random… – Skylarking
An excellent downtempo vibe to this song which has a great groove from processed drums. There’s great layering with a swirling synth pad, bass and processed looping vocals which have an ethereal, floating feel. The sequenced synth adds a great rhythmic element as well as a melodic one and there’s a subtle lead which also adds an excellent element having a middle eastern kind of feel.

Pink Dolphin Music Ltd: twitter | facebook | website | bandcamp

Climatronica Collective: twitter | facebook

Lemonade Kid: twitter | facebook

Rodney Cromwell: twitter | facebook

Man With Glasses: twitter

Simon Irvine: twitter | facebook

Ds73: twitter | facebook

Nathan Carlson: twitter

Teslacoil321: twitter | facebook

Pas De La Dame Sauvage: twitter | facebook

Foreign Technology: twitter | facebook

Review of Medea EP by Ullapul on Dhatura Records — April 19, 2017

Review of Medea EP by Ullapul on Dhatura Records

 
This is an excellent EP, it’s one of those that the more you listen, the more you hear and the more interpretation you can apply each time.

It has a dark, haunting feel at times with processed vocals, breaths and a baby’s cry which give an excellent eerie feel. There’s great layering of sounds and really clever development of themes.

Lolcos
A slow evolving drone, the strings add an excellent element. A keys type of sound plays a melody that has a great tension against the drone. There are some excellent background sounds and a haunting feel to the song. The baby sounds give a very sinister edge. I really like the evolution and movement in sounds and how the song resolves the different elements.

Exile
Background drones move and swirl against piano chords and sustained bass notes.

Colchis
This song has great drone qualities, there’s a pulsating / looping quality to the sound with some excellent emerging sounds and evolution to an almost white noise.

Nothing But The Past
Looped vocal breaths to open, there’s a similar feel to the keys sound heard on Lolcos, it’s like a reprise. The strings add a great element and there’s a slow release which rounds the EP off really well.

Dhatura Records: facebook | soundcloud

Ullapul: twitter | facebook

Review of Outer Space tape delay VST effect by Audio Thing — April 18, 2017

Review of Outer Space tape delay VST effect by Audio Thing

 
Outer Space is a faithful emulation of the famous Roland RE201 Space Echo from the 1970s. It is available from Audio Thing in Windows and OSX versions, 32 and 64 bit priced at 49 Euros. It’s also worth noting that registration of Audio Thing products is very easy, simply download the registration key file and load this into the plugin.

Roland manufactured Space Echos between 1973 and 1988 and they are still sought after units, selling for around £1000. When introduced, the effect was somewhat of a revolution. Roland had only been trading for a couple of years when ‘Space Echo’ products RE100 and RE200 were introduced, quickly followed by the RE101 and RE202 a year later in 1974. They were popular for many reasons, including that they were solid units and affordable.

In essence it’s quite a simple system – a loop of tape records the input signal and immediately plays the recorded sound back over play heads before being erased by new incoming audio.

It’s a true analog system and each one tends to sound a bit different due to the quality of components used, the distance / position of tape heads which varies (albeit only a very small amount) between units and the condition of the tape. They offer a warm and somewhat unpredictable sound but they also require quite a lot of maintenance – the tape heads need regular cleaning and the tape needs periodically replacing.

Creating a digital equivalent is therefore no mean feat. The good news is that Audio Thing have done an excellent job. Being faithful to the original, Audio Thing’s Outer Space features an echo section with 3 playback heads and a spring reverb tank. They’ve also modelled 3 different tape frequency responses and saturations along with all the analog imperfections of tape recording / playback. Another essential feature is the modelling of the ballistic response of the delay (repeat) rate which creates unusual pitch shifts due to the doppler effect and is a key feature of tape based echo effects.

Outer Space looks very cool just like the original unit design. It can be described in 5 sections:

The top section contains the preset list – Outer Space comes with 40. There are also save, delete, a very handy random feature and advanced options to enable/disable HQ mode; enable/disable soft clip limiter; apply EQ to reverb (by default only affects the Echo section); oversample to avoid some aliasing when automating the rate of the heads.

The input / output section contains a VU meter, input volume (which can be used to add saturation) and output volume.

The mode selector faithfully reproduces the original 12 combinations of echo playback and reverb. There are 4 echo only, 7 echo and reverb and 1 reverb only.

The main controls are on the right hand side, bass and treble for the echo and short/long decay and volume for the reverb. The delay controls are repeat rate (emulates changes in tape speed); intensity (feedback); wow/flutter (pitch and volume imperfections) and echo volume.

The bottom section contains a number of switches and tape head controls. The send switch is known as the dub switch. When set to off, no input is received into the echo section but any repetition or self-oscillating sounds will continue to play. Wet only disables the dry signal. Stereo enables a 15ms delay on the right channel (off by default). Noise controls the volume of background noise and the envelope control enables/disables the envelope to activate noise only when a signal passes through. Sync enables the delay time to be set to the host BPM and there’s a selectable drop down list for each tape head. When sync is off, the tape head delay can be adjusted manually. The maximum delay lengths vary for each tape head – head 1 is 175ms; head 2 is 340ms and head 3 is 500ms.

The selector switch for different tapes has the orignal RT-1L, a more modern replacement and an older worn out tape.

The presets are an excellent place to get started. There’s a great range showing the potential of the effect and these can easily be tweaked to your own requirements. As with most delays, you’ll get the most out of it by adjusting settings to meet your own requirements, for instance a delay just out of sync creates a really interesting effect. The sound is very warm and captures the analog imperfections really well. Changing the tape type has a noticeable effect on sound quality as each has its own characteristics. You can adjust sound quality further using the wow/flutter, noise controls and saturation to the input signal.

Changing the repeat rate has some unexpected and unusual effects, especially in combination with adjusting the intensity setting. This takes a bit of practice with different input sounds to get a perfect effect, anything from dub type delays to rising pitch effects to psychedelic sounds and feedback loops.

I’ve used Outer Space extensively on the album ‘fading transmissions from a lost satellite’ embedded at the top of this post. I’ve used a range of effects from straightforward reverbs and echos to dub delays, pitched delays and more extreme effects resulting from changing settings during the recording. It was recorded live so there are some imperfections but I’m really pleased with the overall result which includes analog ‘wobbles’ and some really interesting delay effects.

Overall it is an excellent and very interesting delay effect. If you want a clean, precise digital delay then this is not for you but if you like a rich, warm analog sound with all the imperfections of tape and a bit of unpredictability then I would highly recommend it.

Review of Meat for the Beast compilation on Factory Fast Records — April 5, 2017

Review of Meat for the Beast compilation on Factory Fast Records

 
This compilation features a very heavy rock / metal sound with a range of songs and styles, each of which have a few things in common – high energy, very heavy riffing, superb drumming and intense vocals. Strap yourselves in, it’s a high tempo ride.

Dust – Veil of Faith
Harmonised guitars and brooding drumming to open leads into a speed metal kind of feel with really intense drumming and very heavy riffing. The vocals have a great intensity too. Some really good changes in feel through the song with a great release to end.

S Punk – You Make Me Spew
A brilliant punk vibe to this song with uptempo drumming, bass and riffing with a great solo too. The vocals have a great passion, the lyrics are not very flattering so let’s hope you do not end up in a relationship like this.

Throttlegod – Underlord
A chime type sound to open is followed by an excellent harmonised distorted lead. There’s some great heavy riffing propelled by solid drumming and bass. The vocals are intense.

Terry Dark’s Jameson Raid – Uninvited Guests
Opening with strummed acoustic guitar, this leads into a very chunky, heavy riff propelled by solid drumming and bass. The acoustic riff adds a great element. There’s an excellent groove to this song with great changes between riffing and lead parts. The vocals have a laid back feel which works really well.

God of Death – Proliferation of Death
A very heavy bass and riff to open, there’s a brooding quality to the song which has intense riffing and growly vocals.

Vulgar Speech – Scarred
An excellent uptempo groove to this song with a nice change in feel into the verse. There’s excellent riffing and soloing propelled by very tight drumming and bass.

MM3 – In the Moment
Excellent heavy riffing to open leads into a more acoustic and stripped back feel for the verse. The vocals have a great edge of angst to them. Great changes in feel between the heavy riffing, solo and more laid back parts.

 
Factory Fast Records: website | twitter | facebook

Dust: twitter | facebook

S Punk: twitter | kicktone

Throttlegod: twitter | facebook

Terry Dark’s Jameson Raid: twitter | facebook

God of Death: twitter | facebook

Vulgar Speech: twitter | bandcamp

MM3: twitter | facebook

Review of Symbol, a 3 LP box set by The Band Whose Name is a Symbol on Cardinal Fuzz — March 31, 2017

Review of Symbol, a 3 LP box set by The Band Whose Name is a Symbol on Cardinal Fuzz

 
The Band Whose Name is a Symbol aka TBWNIAS was and is about creating the ultimate marriage of improvisation and hard rock edged pyschedelic music. TBWNIAS are based out of the legendary Birdman Sounds record shop in Ottawa. The group have now released 11 vinyl only LPs in miniscule editions in which their underground reputation has made them a cult among aficionados of hard thudding, rock riffing kraut.

Masters of the Molehole was released last year on Cardinal Fuzz and sold out within 2 weeks. It was their first LP that was widely available outside of Canada and you can read my review here.

Cardinal Fuzz have been given access to their archives and the result is a 3 LP box set containing 3 of their best LPs – TBWNIAS vs The Purveyors of Conspicuous Authenticity; Scrappy Little Jaw and Pathfinder – which were only previously available as limited edition 100 pressings. The box set is also a limited pressing of 350 and you are probably not surprised to find that it has sold out. The good news is that the box set is available from TBWNIAS bandcamp page as a digital download and is embedded above.

Cardinal Fuzz have selected three excellent albums to highlight the style and range of TBWNIAS. They have a really tight knit sound and create a superb and varied range of songs with great riffing and soloing, excellent use of distortion, feedback, wah and sound effects and solid drumming and bass. There’s a great range of sounds from uptempo distorted riffing to more laid back grooves.

Disc One : TBWNIAS Versus The Purveyors of Conspicuous Authenticity

Sour Kraut
A great atmospheric opening which has a western, lonesome kind of feel with violin and background sound effects. The drumming has a great live feel along with the bass which propel the song along. The guitar is quite subtle too. The change to a more defined groove has an excellent jam feel building tension through solos to a final release.

Talk Back Fatherland
A swirling synth sound against a bass drone to open, the drumming and bass give a solid momentum with some excellently arranged guitar chords and a lead line. Another great jam feel, some excellent tension at times.

Mezcal Temple
Very distorted guitar to open creates a great atmosphere and there’s some excellent background delayed sounds effects. A great psych sound with a dark edge, there’s a building of tempo with a final slide release. The organ sounds excellent, really adds to the feel.

West Nile Curiosity
Excellent drumming to open, a great presence from the reverb too. The bass gives a great laid back groove and the guitar is layered really well with subtle lead and chords. Another great jam feel to the song which has a great evolution with changes in feel and a slow building tension released to a section with a combination of chime sounds, shakers, ride cymbal and great tension from feedback. The drumming and bass builds tension again gradually with a picked riff to final release.

Humidex
Excellent distorted riff to open, bass and drumming provide an excellent laid back groove with great changes in feel and solid riffing. The background organ is subtle but very effective.

Disc Two : Scrappy Little Jaw

Berlin
A synth bass riff and drumming to open have an energy which creates a sense of anticipation, delayed background sounds add a great element. The riffing builds gradually into an excellent jam with layered feedback, background sounds and superb soloing and the song maintains an excellent momentum throughout.

Muldow
A purposeful opening with slow riff, drumming and guitar scrape effects. Nice harmonised lead guitar line, a solid jam feel with great momentum and edge of tension which builds through the song to a release.

Sask
A strummed slightly distorted riff to open leads into a great vibe with drumming, bass and organ. There’s a really nice change of feel to a mellow section with a middle eastern feel picking up the tempo and groove to end the song.

Circus Has Left Town
An excellent bass riff to open, drumming has an uptempo feel. Some great riffing and lead playing with feedback effects.

Blues in Goddamn
A bass riff to open leads to some great riffing, drumming and blues harp too. It’s an excellent uptempo jam with great changes of feel. I really like the use of wah and feedback.

Brass Balls of Daedalus
An excellently atmospheric opening propelled by bass and drumming with riffing, feedback and background sound effects. Quite an edgy and intense sound, some great soloing and a nice release of tension.

New Sudan
Uptempo distorted riffing to open, drumming provides a solid momentum. Almost metal at times, a high energy track with edgy use of feedback returning to the riffing to end the track.

Wooden Soldier
There’s a great contrast between the opening bass, pick scrapes and more ambient synth sound with the distorted guitar and feedback providing an edge to the sound. Another excellent jam.

Disc Three : Pathfinder

We’re All Gonna Die
Great sound effects to open lead into a laid back groove with bass and slow drumming. Distorted guitar adds a great element and a there’s a nice contrast between the cleaner and distorted sounds. I like the building tension and release to a bluesy infused solo to end.

Haf Hed
This song has an uptempo feel from drumming and bass with great changes in groove from the riffing. Feedback / distortion and use of wah build tension to a final release.

I’d Rother
A bass arp to open is propelled by great drumming leading into a bluesy / surf guitar kind of feel to the lead guitar. An excellent jam quality to the song with use of feedback / distortion and wah.

Penguistix
A great riff to open is accompanied by solid drumming, there’s an urgency to this song which has a great lead line and some excellent sound effects.

Prarie Doggin’
There’s a grunge type of feel to the opening of this song with distorted guitar and a heavy bass sound. This leads into a more laid back feel with some excellent sound effects, delay and improvisation before the distorted riff, drumming and distorted lead pick up the pace to a final release.

Pathfinder Blues
A kind of heavy rock / metal feel to the opening with riffing, bass and drumming leads into a great groove. The song has excellent improvised qualities with great changes in feel building tension to a final release.

Indira
I like the Eastern feel to the opening, it’s quite a sparse sound with sitar, percussive sounds and great drumming which evolves into a groove with a slow release.

Cardinal Fuzz twitter | facebook | shop

The Band Whose Name is a Symbol facebook | bandcamp

Birdman Sound twitter | facebook | website

Review of Debasement Tapes album by Unqualified Nurse Band — March 28, 2017

Review of Debasement Tapes album by Unqualified Nurse Band

 
Unqualified Nurse Band are a 3-piece band from Derby, UK. Debasement Tapes is their first album which was released in September 2016 as a digital download, limited edition red vinyl and CD.

This is a very intense and full on album at times, Unqualified Nurse Band have a sound that sits somewhere between sludge, post punk, grunge, metal and indie. There’s excellent use of feedback and distortion often contrasted with a less distorted sound. The drumming is solid and with the bass provides a great foundation. The vocals are superb too, having a great passion and intensity.

100 Beats
This song has distorted guitar and effects to open, a very heavy sound with excellent vocals which have a great intensity. Excellent riffing and solid drumming and bass.

Getting Sweaty
Feedback and distortion to open followed by an excellent heavy riff and surf guitar feel to the lead line. The verses have a more stripped back feel going full distortion in the chorus. Vocals again are excellent.

My Boots are Shaking
Great drumming to open, riffing has slight distortion with some really distorted chords in the chorus. Great vocal harmonies and a surf guitar feel at times too.

Growing Down
A great riff to open propelled by uptempo drumming and bass. Vocals are excellent again. Great change between a more clean and distorted sound.

It’s Inevitable
Feedback to open, a slower riff and drumming with some excellent lead guitar leading into a heavier sound at times.

There’s No Stopping Fate
An acoustic riff to open, drumming gives great momentum leading into a chord vamp type of feel at times. The vocals are great again and the song has an excellent indie vibe at times.

Get out of London
A great groove to open from drumming, bass and riffing. The vocals are excellent again. Another uptempo song with great changes in feel.

Two Black Eyes
Another great opening groove from bass, drumming and vocals leading into a heavy riff. There’s a surf guitar riff too interspersed with the heavier sections.

No Peaks No Troughs
Really uptempo drumming to open with pretty hectic bass, there’s an excellent surf guitar riff which has a call and response feel with the vocals. A great control to the song, keeps from going over the edge. Just.

You Pulled Through
Another uptempo opening from riffing, bass and drumming. Vocals are very intense again. There’s an excellent groove to this song again.

Death Will Stalk You
A crackle type sound to open with improvised drumming leads into a riff with a great groove. There’s some heavy chord riffing and nice contrasts with less distorted guitar riffs building and releasing tension. The vocals are excellent, a great intensity.

Gimme Life
Opening with drumming, the song has a laid back groove propelled by bass and guitar. Excellent change of feel to a really heavy sound.

 
Unqualified Nurse Band: bandcamp | twitter | facebook

Review of Litote Granular Exploration Box VST by Inear Display — March 23, 2017

Review of Litote Granular Exploration Box VST by Inear Display

  

 
Litote is a stereo granular audio effects plugin (note it doesn’t work on mono tracks) available as VST and Audio Unit for OS X and Windows in both 32 and 64 bit versions from Inear Display. It costs 39 euros + VAT and a demo version is available to try.

Litote comprises of a combination of granulizers, resonators and diffusion delays. Rather than giving the user control over the settings of these effects, Litote takes a different approach using ‘smart’ randomisation – which means that the likelihood of annoying results is minimised. This means that you can get on and use it straight away. As with many similar effects, the result will vary depending upon the input signal.

The interface has a very clean design comprising of 3 sections. The top section is the config menu which gives reseed options, user guide, access to the presets directory and a crash log; The middle part contains the XY pad, sound trajectory on/off switch, randomisation buttons; The bottom section contains the trajectory controls (when this mode is enabled) and level controls for input, output and mix.

litote-trajectory

The pad acts as a control and a visualiser. You can click or drag the target circle to a different part of the pad. Each corner corresponds to a different sound engine so the position of the target circle will determine the type of effect produced. The trajectory offers an additional control option and furthermore the X and Y positions of the target circle are available for automation within your host.

At the sides of the pad are buttons to randomise various aspects of the overall sound. The top left button regenerates the whole sound and the atom button below randomises the X and Y speed / range settings for trajectory mode with the on/off button for this feature underneath.

litote_automation - left buttons

The four buttons on the right side randomise the sound of the four individual engines, each of which is symbolised by an icon representing the corner to which it is attached.

litote_automation - right buttons

Trajectory mode provides automation with a smaller target travelling inside a defined area coloured green within the pad as shown on the interface image above.

litote_automation - traj levels

The bottom section enables you to manually set the trajectory controls and the levels section gives control over the input level, output level and mix which is the dry:wet ratio.

In use, it is a very easy effect to start using. As much as I like tweaking effect settings to my requirements, there is something appealing and refreshing about using random settings for effects. I’ve tended to launch Litote, generate a random seed, regenerate the whole sound and then go from there.

Litote produces an interesting and wide range of effects from grain / granular textures, ring modulation type effects, a kind of tremelo, chorus, harmonics/overtones to glitchy delayed artifacts. You can get some very interesting results with drum loops, for example an added percussive layer with rattles and bass drones.

The trajectory mode can give a subtle or more pronounced movement in the sound and the availability of the X and Y positions of the target is a brilliant touch because in the DAW I use – Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock II – you can set up an XY pad with physics to control the speed of the ball bouncing around inside the box which then automates movement of the target.

litote_automation

I’ve really enjoyed using Litote, especially with the automation options. As a result I got a bit carried away and created an entire album titled ‘chronikos’ and a longer set of one of the songs which were recorded live in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock II and subsequently mastered using Neutron by iZotope in Mulab 7.2 and are both embedded at the top of the post.

The opening track of the album, Anatoli Iliou, has quite a simple arrangement as shown below with manual triggering of playback of the field recording and settings for the grain sampler adjusted during the recording.  I’ve used automation of the target within Litote to create subtle movement within the sounds, on other tracks I’ve adjusted the position manually for more dramatic changes in sound. I’ve often used Litote in combination with Incipit, a delay effect also by Inear Display and the two effects work really well together. You can read my review of Incipit here.

screenshot_rec10