Week from Monday 5th November 2012

Remember, remember, the fifth of November... So what, they've been making a racket for the last fortnight, why should tonight be any different?

JUST A BIT OF FUN... There was a Phil Collins-sung ditty called "SOHO" on the BRAND X album "PRODUCT" (it also came out as a single). Then, a few years after that, the BRAND X lads put out an album called "Is There Anything About?", which mainly consisted of outtakes from the "Product" sessions. The track called "MODERN NOISY AND EFFECTIVE" is the backing track to "SOHO", but with the vocals and guitar parts replaced with new keyboard melodies. I've often wondered to myself what it would sound like if the two pieces were recombined into one mix. Just for a larf, on Sunday morning, I had a go. It doesn't quite fall into the "XENOCHRONY" category, as the tempos and keys obviously match (did I not mention they are one and the same rhythm track?). But that's finally got that off my chest! It'll end up on one of those SECRET SEEDIES that no one else is EVER allowed to hear, along with all the "KCollisions" tracks.

Having been to Gozzy to pay off my print 'tab', followed by a brief flurry of UNCLE WILLY work... I decide to devote some time to another CC:PP project. CC informed me some time ago that the reason she hadn't been recording her poems lately was because the cooling fan on her MacBook has started making hideous noises, thus causing 'direct to webcam' GARAGEBAND recordings to be problematic to say the least. She has now hit upon the solution of going straight to SoundCloud, using their mobile app. I have already set her Latin-American ghost story "LA LLORONA" to music via this new method of exchange.

But one poem, "ON LARKIN STREET" shone out DESPITE the horrible rumbling and hissing behind the dulcet tones, so I thought I'd see if I could do something with it. First attempts at filtering out the noise were a failure - the voice itself was distorted beyond all recognition by the filtering process. Then I thought, why not make a FEATURE of the noise? I sampled a section of it and loaded the sample into a TRACKER program (similar to the ones we used to make music on the AMIGA twenty-odd years ago). This resulted in a simple little arpeggio that blended with, and faded in and out of, the existing 'noise'. I also put some subtle band-pass filtering on the original recording, which both boosted the clarity of the voice and added a swooshy wind effect to the noise. 'Street' atmospherics from a sound effects library provided a way of fading in and out of the rustle. Some added 'theremin' added melodic interest. I've uploaded the resulting ditty to the CRIES OF CALLIOPE page, clearly indicating that this piece is a "DEMO".

Latest rantings on the SERIF FORUMS:-
FB - "The key to making a mobile-compatible site is to lose anything that is 'bandwidth-hungry'. Also lose anything that involves Flash technology (although Androids handle Flash quite well, other mobile technologies simply don't handle it). Don't use things like multi-level menus or frames. Apart from these few considerations, the average WebPlus website will display beautifully in most mobile browsers. Mobile sites are usually designed with larger buttons for navigation and contain little in the way of animations etc. It's all about considering the user of mobile devices and the premium price such users have to pay for mobile broadband bandwidth. Keep everything lean and simple and mobile users will be very happy to visit your site..." (my emphasis)
PP - "So we have to compromise on design because people, for reasons that elude me, have decided that they want to squint at the internet through smaller (and non-compliant) browser screens. People, eh? As I've probably said elsewhere, not only have those wretched mobile things reduced the English written language to a series of monosyllabic textgrunts, now they are setting back the art of graphic design by decades as well..."
SC - "Hear hear!! The standard of photography has also sunk to an all-time low, now that every twit waving a mobile phone in the general direction of the subject considers himself a photographer..."
PP - "Yes, you're quite right about that too. I'm reminded that LCD also stands for 'Lowest Common Denominator'. And don't get me started on the hideous Windows 8 operating platform that's 'designed' in flat pastel colours, making everything look like it's made out of kiddies' building blocks. Who are they employing as graphic designers these days, Fisher Price?"
On this week's DAY OUT (a drawn-out train journey to Basingstoke and back), I treated myself to STEVE HACKETT's new "GENESIS REVISITED II" album. A splendid looking package it is too. The discs come encased in a 'hardback book', with photo-art illustrating the songs, a beautiful thing indeed.

I'd probably go along with the reviewer who said that, at times, the album sounds like 'GENESIS KARAOKE'. 'Tribute' projects of this sort are bound to have their hits and misses. But this time around they play it a little safe. Some of the arrangements stick TOO close to the original recordings to be heard as anything other than REMAKES. There's nothing here as adventurous as the first "GENESIS REVISITED"s Brazilian percussion-laden version of "Los Endos" or the extended workout on "The Waiting Room", for example. Hackett's regular live band are wont to throw a little bit of 'JAZZ' into the mix from time to time, but there are very few glimpses of that here.

Throughout his 'solo' career, THE VOCALS have always been Hackett's weak point - he so often resorts to novelty effects to disguise his own shortcomings. Some of the guest singers on "GR2" appear to be falling over themselves to see who can do the best Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins impersonations. It works best when the singer brings some individuality to the 'role'. Top marks to STEVEN WILSON for making "Can Utility & The Coastliners" his own and to JAKKO JAKSZYK for a lovely "Entangled". But I'm not sure if I could ever warm to NAD SYLVAN's voice, which has been described as "Cat Stevens on steroids", or that of AMANDA LEHRMANN - try imagining "Ripples" as sung by Marianne Faithfull. Yikes! get the idea?

On the plus side though, this album SOUNDS glorious, with all the diamond-fingered guitar work and lashings of mellotron that you'd hope for. But I'll probably prefer listening to the original versions when all's said and done.

Week from Monday 12th November 2012

A couple of my[_____] chums were baffled by the fact that the background on their homepage changed several times in a twenty-four hour period (from grey to black to a 'fuzzy-static' texture and back to grey again). This suggested to me that the elves at TIMBERLAKE TOWERS are playing around with ways to turn this valuable real estate into yet more advertising space. "Don't be surprised if you wake up one morning and see Paloma Faith peeping out from behind your stream container...", says I.

As you surely know by now(?), through the magic of Cascading Style Sheets, you can fill that page background with any colour or picture you like. Which made me realise... so complacent have I become with my warm cozy "MINTY BLUE MINIMALISM"-styled v2.0 my[_____] experience, I have neglected to keep abreast of the 'new' homepage layouts that most OTHER SpacePeople are using. The published version of "MBM 3.0" was long overdue for an update. Today, I have tried to address this. A new posting over on PPEDESTRIAN-DOT-BLOGSPOT explains all!

Crikey! it's Wednesday already and I haven't done anything yet! Actually, that's certainly not true - I've finished two more CC:PP pieces and also produced one of those strange soundtracky things that I always seem to construct from some of the bits leftover! In this case, it's a drifting soundscape made by "PAULSTRETCHING" part of the backing track to "La Llorona", occasionally decorating it with a rather odd staccato guitar loop sampled and warped from the piece called "Coffee Man". Oh, and I've also dragged out the 'Christmas Single' for its annual airing...

Week from Monday 19th November 2012

Busy, busy, busy...

Week from Monday 26th November 2012

...yes, for reasons that are beyond me, the 'proper' work took off a bit last week. Shouldn't complain, of course...

It hasn't been all work and no play though. I've snuck in enough time to complete four (or is it five?) new CC:PP tracks and a quirky neo-classical instrumental thingy of my own. CC is now using SOUNDCLOUD to her (our) advantage and is recording her poems directly via the mobile app, instead of having to rely on that noisy laptop of hers.

On Saturday, despite the miserable weather and that sore throat that's going around, I went over to Southampton to buy the LED ZEPPELIN "Celebration Day" deluxe set (2 DVDs, 2 CDs). I'll tell you more about that when I allow myself to watch it and/or listen to it on Xmas Day! I also paid a visit to the RECORD FAIR, but for the second time in a row I came away empty-handed. It's really not very good nowadays (at least it's not catering for MY musical tastes anymore).

More 'busy busy busy' beckons... plunging headlong into the world of 3D CINEMA for another session of last-minute POWERPOINTIN'...

I found an 'unreleased' remix of "CHROMEHEAD" by ButterKup, which I thought worth sharing with the world. In 1994, I must have done dozens of remixes of this track, each successively sounding less and less like the original song (which would have been an unlovely piece of oversaturated FILTH-O-BOP). This take has a rhythm part based on something that GOLD LAMÉ had come up with on his Amiga. This time around, I've cut out a few of the more obvious samples from "MAD MAX II" and filled the gaps with bits from one of the other spacier versions. It still has a certain menace about it...
"This is a sort of 2012 'Remix of Remixes', as it combines two previously unused versions into one menacing slab of creepiness... in fact I've now remixed this thing so many times, that I can't even remember what the original song sounded like! An obstreperous slice of industrial-noise punk-funk, no doubt... a doggedly hectic non-style known throughout Solent City as FILTH-O-BOPTM"
Shelfy and I paid a nostalgic visit to our old HOLY STOMPIN' GROUND, to discuss whether we can get involved in the renovation of the historic HANDEL/CHANDOS church organ...