Plastikman – EX

Seeing this guy play at Minus, Ministry London a few years back was not only one of the best shows I’d seen in years.. it totally blew all the other DJ’eys away that night. It’s kinda like comparing the new and cheesy Jupiter 80 to the old and wonderful Jupiter 8 … Hawtin was mountains ahead of the other guys and he really portrayed what minimal stood for. I find today a lot of minimal records are bridging into progressive and using those large pads and whoosh uplifters which goes against the reason why minimal was invented… to rid us of those cliché intervals.

This new record from Plastikman is fantastic defining the purity of his work and exploring new worlds with the sound design. I recommend picking up the vinyl released later next month on Bleep.com

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Track feature: A Number of Names – Sharivari

“It was at a time, we used to be pretty musical back in the days
It wasn’t unusual to learn to play guitar and piano..
But at some point all of that was removed from us
they tried to take the music from us
so what did we do
we had no instruments, no horns, no drums
we were living in the city, no room .. huddled up in apartments..
We didn’t have room anywhere
and all we had was the record player
and the only thing we could do was play it
and then we turned it into an instrument… which it was never supposed to be …”

– Interview from a techno pioneer in Detroit

This pretty much sums up this tune from Detriot techno producers Number of Names. The B-Side to Sharevari oozing sex appeal creating this classic electro masterwork from 1981.

Been a while…

Hey everyone,

Been months since my last post and have been involved with some serious new productions with East London trio ‘The Human Error’ and some of my latest tunes have been featured on some random Hong Kong games shows.

The forthcoming posts are mainly going to be tunes that are either fresh or classic. I will start with an amazing record from Hot Since 82 remixed by Dosem.

Thanks for listening…

Turn off the DAW !

vangelis_nemo-sm

So it has been a while since my last post. I have been deeply immersed in working on my modular chronicles album that was successfully funded on Kickstarter by some great supporters ! During my time working on the project I realised it has been quite a while now since I have worked outside the box (DAW systems) and found how important it is for all of us music creators to sometimes turn off the computer and try to create music / arrangments without the help of any DAW.

As mentioned I had grown up using this method but only until I returned the past weeks working this way it brought it to light again. Something about the tactile method of physically turning knobs and playing live without relying on Midi, Quantize, copy/paste really gives a new level to creativity. One has to properly rehearse the piece they are working on and remember what they did. Not only is it great for the mind but makes one a better musician. My good friend Thayne Taylor who is basically a living legend lives on the tropical Island of Kauai, has an amazing recording studio and writes some beautiful music with his wife Lynn. I once was working on a piece with him and he had the idea on acoustic guitar so I started to record the piece and he played pretty much the entire arrangement of the song in one go. I was blown away as mostly people these days do a bit at a time or can’t remember how the song went. Thayne could play a piece well and remember it !

If you can afford it, I would recommend the following setup for any music composer being electronic or acoustic:

Analog Synth (Moog, Dave Smith etc.)
Analog Sequencer (GenoQs Nemo/octopus, Doepfer’s Dark Time)
Drum machine (Elektron Machine Drum, Korg Elektribe etc.)
Effects pedals (Boss Loop stations, Eventide Reverb, Moogerfoogers etc.)
Small mixing console (Mackie, Presonus)
Blank score/chord sheet paper.
Acoustic instruments (Guitars, Piano etc.)

and by all means no computers while composing/arranging ! Try and make the entire piece of music, remember the arrangement and trigger points, and play it to it’s full complexity without the help of pre-recorded tracks. If you invest in the drum machines and analog sequencers you’ll be surprised at how much can be done live without recording anything.

What I always found so interesting with what film composer Vangelis use to achieve was surround himself with different instruments and play the entire score live. His argument was that you can control the entire orchestra with one person. If you’re in a band make the whole song sound as perfect as you would like to hear it when it’s recorded. Remember Earth Wind and Fire didn’t have quantise or copy/paste they had to play it all the way through and make it sound awesome !

To conclude I’m not saying don’t use computers but just don’t rely on them. At the end of the day they are a tool for the composer and if it means when someone gives you a piano or you have to sing live you can’t make it sound as good as it is on the record, you need to go back and practice/learn more until you can ! Indeed that including myself !

The wrongs of the Music industry

Digital-downloads

The moment music became a commercial saleable entity it destroyed the mere essence of why we should make music in the first place. Records were created to fit a popularity at a given time and then priced to demand. How can this ethos fit into art, Van Gogh didn’t become successful in his entire lifetime and had no real popularity until years after his death. The reason of music is to explore new worlds of sound and melodic discovery. A system without rules and boundaries. Not caring if a bunch of youths or elders will listen or want to spend their money on your product. It’s about the bigger picture which a very few people can perceive. The greatest problem for all us is how do we survive and earn a living from all this and have the time an space to spend discovering. I know as a teenager I spent weeks just trying to learn how to record drums properly and I’m still learning. I was somewhat privalidged growing up in a studio environment. This can’t really be achieved by doing a day job and feeling tired at the weekend after a long week of working. One needs time to create and reflect into the realm of sonic possibilities, even sometimes remove yourself from day to day society to gain a broader perspective, like the Buddhist monks do when they retreat to a cave or temple to meditate.

I liked how the ancient Sufi culture treated musicians, they were paid a salary by the state to perform. Also we all often talk of how England/London was an incredible place in the 60s and 70s for emerging bands. Well that’s because one could survive on the doll money the government paid them. Today in England how can anyone survive on the government allowance. It is also very hard for most musicians to gain Arts Council sponsorship with all the cuts going down. Most larger scale record companies have no interest in developing acts that don’t have a commercial potential.

I believe there can be a a way of obtaining a system that works for all of us. If we convinced 10 of the most wealthy business men/women/companies in the world to donate £10 million a year to a mutual fund that could be split into yearly salaries of say £25,000 per year per band/artist musician. They would be selected by an artist submitting their work to a listening team then members of that team would visit the artists setup to see if they were legit, as some artist I have worked with can’t really play an instrument and just use loops and samples made by someone else. That would give around 4,000 artists per year a chance to live and create any dream they wished. The only condition of this investment would be to produce and create two albums per year or they would loose the funding. This would be a start and no one caring if any of these artist were to become successful or not it would give a incredible surge of talent into the public domain. If people wanted the albums they could do a similar system to Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows ‘ and pay what they wanted for the digital album or get it for free. If they wanted a vinyl/CD it would be a profitless system only paying for manufacturing costs. The public would have a shock knowing the actual price per unit (on large scales around £1 per vinyl, instead of the £18 in HMV/Amazon)

There are actually many ways of doing something like this, another would be to build multiple housing estates with a small recording studio in each room and communal live rooms, with giant canteens for food. Paid a small amount each month but living costs and food would be free. You could have audition rooms to gain access to live there. This could be done in each city around the world.

I don’t believe in monetizing music as it doesn’t really help the cause and there is enough money being made from other mediums like banking, commodities, and technology to easily fund music. If only all these company just lowered the profit margins a tad, then the left over percent went into art funding.

Just a thought for everyone on this day.