Friday, December 24, 2010

Charity Appeal

This years appeal is for the 'Save My Alarm Clock' charity.
Every hour of every day, somewhere in the world an alarm clock is suffering abuse. While being dutiful and faithful servants they find themselves in the most appalling circumstances. Daily they are subjected to verbal and physical abuse. They are yelled at, sworn at, smacked, thumped and thrown across bedrooms.
This abuse must stop!
By supporting SMAC you can make a real difference. You can save alarm clocks from all corners of the planet.
Give what you can and we will spend the donations on specially designed alarm clock ear defenders and body armour.
Please be generous.
Thank you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Doctor Me

I woke up this morning with a cold.
It's not very nice but rather than whine about it I'm going to try and enjoy it. Here's how.
Firstly I like the smell of my Vicks inhaler. Secondly I don't mind taking pain killers because I do it all the time for my migraines. Thirdly I get to go to bed very early and that means I can read a few chapters of Archangel by Robert Harris and that's a bonus. Fourthly I get to self medicate with the bottle of Grant's Scotch that I picked up from Asda tonight care of some free shopping vouchers, win win.
So there you have it. Far from complaining I am rather going to enjoy this cold.
Chin chin.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weather Report

I suppose my blog year wouldn't be complete without some kind of adverse weather report.
I only write these posts because I spend a lot of time using the road system. This means that I get to see the best and worst bits and experience them too sometimes. On the whole this year is no better or worse than any other year in the Midlands. There are picture postcard vistas in the fields and villages and slushy roads and impatient drivers risking all for a few seconds thoughtlessness in the cities.
I'm not here to give advice or berate. That can be done much better by other people. I'm here to write a blog post that says nothing has changed. I'll be back next year to do the same. In the meantime I'll laugh at anyone who dares say we've never had it so bad.
And they will.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hope You're Happy Now

I wonder if Nick Clegg considered telling DMU Leicester students that they'd be paying for the new facilities when he visited the university this year on his campaign trail.
I wonder if he considered telling the students that the hard up universities had building contracts stretching into the new year, and that they'd be paying for those too.
I wonder if he told them that there is no such thing as a full time lecturer contract these days because the universities are so hard up.
He didn't tell students any of these things but he did tell them he'd vote against any tuition fee increases.
He lied.
Like anyone in power he justifies his actions by blaming the previous government. Its easy to do. They're an easy scapegoat for everything and certainly a convenient bail out when one gets caught out.
Enjoy the power trip Nick. I doubt you'll be taken seriously ever again.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

MikiStrange Internet Radio

I've been think about getting MSIR back on the air.
It's been years since I last broadcast. The shows were on a Sunday afternoon and I had a great time producing a few hours of tunes and chat. There was a one off show a few years ago for an event but that was it.
The thing is that I don't really have the time anymore. Sunday is out unless I pre-record some bits. That is an option because I was thinking about a monthly show.
If I can work out a decent format I'll go ahead and get MSIR back on the air next year.
I hope it happens.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

First Class

The first 'Disturbing Postcard' has been sent.
It was sent to my best mate and was one of an old collection of Coventry views. As promised the content was fiction and both a bit twisted and humorous. I imagine I'll find out soon how it went down.
I enjoyed writing and sending the postcard. If you want to be on the receiving end of a meatspace post please see the previous post.
I send worldwide.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Peaks & Troughs

Today I listened to a mix tape that I made about seventeen years ago.
I was surprised at how much my musical tastes have changed and what my choice of music said about me at that time.
Side A is the cheerful side of the tape. It's full of upbeat, danceable tracks. It has cheerful songs that one can sing along to. It's very much an optimistic pre-pub/club soundtrack and no doubt at some point it was played before a night out.
Side B is slower and more sentimental. This gives me a better idea about what was going on in my head at the time.
Needless to say that I'd make a completely different mix tape today. Everything has moved on.
Including me.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Disturbing Postcards

I have decided that it is time to launch the "Disturbing Postcards" writing project.
The basic premise is this. I send postcards to people with a message that is pure fiction. A message that is sure to confuse, beguile or perplex the recipient.
It's all in good humour but with leanings to my darker nature and my ability to compose utter rubbish.
I'll keep you posted on this blog.
Should you wish to receive a postcard from me, just send me your address. Emails to me at mik (at) mikistrange (dot com).
Why not join in.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Open Letter

This is an open letter to those that are waiting for a reply instead of using the time to reply to others. It's also a warning of the online world to come.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Track Time

Spare time is hard to find these days.
What with my weekday job and now the DJing I'm a busy fellow.
I think it was on Thursday that I was messing around with NanoStudio on my iPhone when I found a sound on one of the synths that I liked. It was a sequence of notes. I have a synth in FL Studio that I can program sequences into so I've nicked the note sequence from NanoStudio and dropped it into FL Studio and there we have the beginning of a track.
It's also made me think about using keys and modes to make sequences. Writing in key is something that I did as an experiment a long time ago and the results were pretty good. Using key modes on top of that will give me more options to play with. I'll start that process soon but for now 'Cloister Bomber' as it is known will just have to go with the flow.
I'm happy enough with that method.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Womans Hour

I like Radio 4.
What I do hate is Womans Hour. There seems to be some kind of competition running to see how many times a week they can mention cancer or failing that death will do.
Everything is turned into an issue for women regardless. Today the presenter asked her guest "Is wearing a trouser suit trying to be like a man?"
Well the answer is 'No' and if I were a woman I'd feel pretty insulted by the question.
The whole show should be written off as an outdated concept.
I'd love to see it go.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Stuff

This is just a short post.
I've sent an error report off to Numark, downloaded a few new tunes for the weekend and to add this blog to my Digg feed I need to add this next line of text.
Here goes nothing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sounds Good To Me

Well that's the second weekend of DJing over.
I made a few adjustments. The EQ is sorted now as is my booth monitoring. The mixes tonight were much sharper so I'm glad I made the effort to dig out the small PA amp and the ancient but decent Philips speakers.
I'm planning on introducing a bit of vinyl next week so the sets will sound different again.
Since updating the firmware on my DDS yesterday the unit has developed a shutdown problem so an email to Numark will be sent tomorrow. Luckily I got a photo of the fault screen so that will help. That aside is been a good weekend for my return to DJing.
A triumph.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Red Bull Please

Now That's What I Call Short Notice!
I've had just over a week to get a playlist, some kit and some practise together.
It's been over two years since I last DJ'd. The kit I now have is basically the same equipment but up to date. In all honesty it took me longer to put everything in the flight case than it did to know what I was doing and get my fingers skimming over the controls. I'll have a bit of time tomorrow to get a crate assembled, I've got plenty of new tracks that need filtering. It'll take me a few weeks to get to know them by name. What I do know is that I've found some great tunes this week.
It'll be good to feel the adrenaline rush again, it'll be good to be playing instead of drinking on a Friday night.
Apart from the Red Bull that is.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Time To Play

It began in London.
A friends birthday, well planned, well executed apart from one minor detail. Not the music itself, no, that was fine. It was just the way it was presented. Not good, no style, I thought, I can do better.
Indeed I can and have done better. A better set, a better constructed set.
My past was something to celebrate, not ignore. I'm the first in line that advocates that if you're good at something, shout about it. No-one is going to do it for you.
Since that time I've been thinking that maybe I should engage again. Feel the pulse, capture the imagination and the mood. The feeling was and is hard to escape. But why run? Why not engage?
So the decision has been made. I will return to the wheels of steel, albeit that they are now made of durable plastic.
I will DJ again. I shall teach the young bucks a thing or two about crowd control, about telling a story, about creating a beginning, a middle, an end.
I'm good at this 'musical soundtrack' stuff.
It's time I proved a point.
It's time to play.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Quiet

I'm getting an early night tonight.
Tomorrow night I'll be propping up the free bar provided by work. Work do's should be avoided at all costs after attending your first. I'm going because I'm going to change the way I spend my weekends and who knows when I'll next get a free bar at a weekend. It could be years away. I'm going dressed for the occasion, you know, make an impact. I'll supply a picture as and when.
In the meantime I need to sleep.
Until tomorrow.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Flaneur's Day Out #2

This is the life.
Up early for a cafe breakfast and then wondering around drinking coffee and browsing in bookshops. The weather has stayed the right side of dull so my second hand purchases have stayed dry.
This is my second flaneur's day out this year and I think I've got the hang of all this loafing and browsing. It makes a nice change to slow the pace right down and look and see things that are either missed or ignored in this hyper speed world.
I'm on my first drink of the day and it is a relaxed experience with no worrying about work tomorrow. I could get used to this but then it would become ordinary and dull.
If there is one thing about this modern 24 hour world that I like it's that there are still gaps for days like today.
I'll drink to that.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Totally Addictive

I've just finished my second Robert Harris novel.
In fact I spent most of the weekend in bed doing nothing else but read it. Over the weekend I think I've read about 300 pages. I stopped on just three occasions, two showers and to eat something.
I think it's right that I shout heap praise on "The Ghost" and Robert Harris as an author. I thought "Fatherland" was brilliant but "The Ghost" was even better. I like Robert Harris' writing style, the plots never get tired and just when you think you have an idea of what's going on something happens to make you rethink.
Having read two books I now have a third "Archangel" in my shoulder bag that I'll start soon.
It's been a very long time since I've found an author that I'm addicted to. I think the last was Isaac Asimov and before that George Orwell. I might well go back to George Orwell after "Archangel" and before I start Robert Harris' Rome trilogy.
I have a lot of reading ahead and I'm really looking forward to it all.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You Are What You Eat

I'm a good cook.
For other people.
I can make my GF beautiful fresh healthy food but I'll be happy with beans on toast. Not only that but cheapo beans and bread buttered to whithin an inch of its life.
Why? Because I'm happy making other people happy and I'm happy making me happy and they are two very different things.
I may die first but I'll die happy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Back In The Saddle

Having had the run around from Orange I have had to retrieve my iPhone.
The SE has gone to a good home and I'm back online and as you can see blogging again.
It's good to be back.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Orange Mobile. Don't Trust Them

I have had the worst customer service ever from Orange Mobile.
The seriously have to rank in my all time top three worst customer service ever. They have manage to rip me off to the tune of £10. Their website is so poor that new customers are led to make the wrong decisions about packages and customer service promises are not kept.
I will never, ever recommend Orange to anyone and will tell everyone about the appalling service that I have received.
O2 might not have been great but they are better than Orange by a long chalk.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Scam D

Here is 'Scam D'.
The digital version of 'Scam A'. I spent two weeks on both tracks so it's a fair result either way. Had I not written 'Scam A' and gone through the process of doing things manually then this track could have been quite different. What I learned from writing this track is that planning and production rule in the digital world. In the analogue studio a lot was left to chance and that benefited the track. Here I wanted to calm my first version and I think I've managed to do that despite all the extra bells and whistles.
I'll leave it to you to decide which version you like best. As for me I loved the process involved in each and I've learned a lot by doing a side by side comparison. Maybe that's taken away a bit of soul from this track but having completed both I now know how to avoid mistakes I've made along the way.
Anyway, enjoy the track and comment should you feel the need. If you visit the Internet Archive then you can find all my music and best of all it's free to download.
You've got nothing to lose.

A New Method

This photo was taken on my new Sony Ericsson Elm phone.
I then mailed it to myself and picked up the email on my iPod Touch. I messed with it in an app or two and I'm posting it from another.
Will I miss my iPhone?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


So far so good.
Scam D is musically all there. Maybe a fill or two to add but nothing major. On Thursday the serious production work starts. I have to name everything properly, sort out ordering, panning and levels and that's before I start work on the channel automation and then there are the effects and then mastering.
It's looking like the weekend before this monster of a track is finished. My time in the analogue studio has tought me to think ahead and work for a result. To that end the work in the digital studio has doubled but I know I'm going to end up with a better track.
I'm having a rest day tomorrow.
I'm going to need it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dem Bones

So here we are.
The basic song structure for Scam D. With everything in place I can start adding, taking away and experimenting with the sounds in my head and finding out if they sound as good in real life.
For me this is where the real work begins but it's going to have to wait until next week. This is unfortunate but will give me plenty of time to think.
And a pair of fresh ears.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Funkin' Bass

It's taken hours to get right.
Having said that Loose Ends or maybe Scritti Politti would be proud. I'll admit to spending more time getting the bass right than any other part of a track. It took a lot of tweaking to get the sound right and a lot longer to sequence the part. Considering that this is the downtempo part of the track I've got my work cut out with the uptempo parts.
Where the Panjabi rhythm will fit in I do not know but it's going to be one of those tracks that only works in production.
At least I hope so.

Monday, September 13, 2010

On The Dhol

I spent most of my driving day listening to Panjabi radio.
One of the joys of living in Leicester is that there is a world of music and it can be tuned into on FM. I thought programming an Asian beat would be difficult but it gets so much into your head that you just know when it sounds wrong and adjusting takes only a little tweaking. I love the epic songs that are such a thumbprint of the Panjabi sound and I wanted to create my own backing rhythm for Scam D. I think I have what I want and I haven't even started the track proper.
One thing I have learned from my analogue session is that you've got to do it for yourself, no cheating, which is why I've got 9 tracks of secondary rhythm and not a sampled loop.
Scam D will sound better for it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Scam A

So here it is.
It's not a great track but at least you get to hear what I've been up to for the past week.
Over the next two weeks I'll be working on the digital version which will sound very different but I imagine you'll be able to tell the two tracks had the same idea as a start point.
As usual let me know what you think, good, bad or indifferent.
All comments welcome.

Finished. Almost.

The above picture is of my retro tape creation turning digital.
It had to happen at some point. Over this last week or so I've had a fine time recording this track. I'm as rusty a musician as ever but I'll blame that on too much time spent in my digital studio. Am I pleased with the result? To be honest not as much as I'm pleased with going back to the old ways and re-learning my craft. I'll be happier with the electronic version but I'll also apply some of my new techniques to the second incarnation.
Time to get the track mastered in digital.
And think of a name.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's A Syn

So that's the synth added to the mix.
The eagle eyed among you will spot the sound I used. All that's left is a guitar solo type thing and it'll be ready for a bit of post production.
I've also decided that when this track is finished I'm going to write it again in the digital studio just so you can see how different it all could have been. I think the comparison will be interesting.
And oh so very electronic.

Friday, September 10, 2010


And dirty guitars at that.
One thing I've learnt about multitracking that I seem to have forgotten over the years is that when you record on tape you have to play. Sure, you can have multiple takes but if there's no ability it shows through. So, in conclusion, tape makes one a better player. And that's where we've gone wrong. Digital studios will make you technically brilliant eventually but they won't make you a musician. Obvious really but I thought I'd point it out having woken up to the truth that I need to play more and program less.
I can smell the coffee once more.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Tape Expectations

Programming complete.
From tomorrow the track with no name yet will start to form on tape. The new TDK SA90 will come out of its clear plastic case and come to life in the 424. I have a L/R mix coming from the QY100 which will be recorded onto two tracks then bounced down to one.
I always look forward to Friday evening but tomorrow is going to be special.
I get to be 17 again.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Repeating Myself

My track may not have a name but now at least it has a structure.
I've just spent some time arranging the very basic pattern changes in this track. Next comes the bass changes but that will have to wait until at least Thursday. With the bass changes I can start the real creative process. Once that's done the multitrack comes into its own as I start recording 'live' tracks and doing a bit of bouncing. That's what I'm looking forward to the most, not because I'm any great musician but I'll have a go and I have the tools to approach this track away from a monitor.
I think that everyone should take a step back, in time, and write on a production tangent, not least because it really is a lot of fun.
I'm having a fine old time.

Monday, September 06, 2010

One Step Back

I've decided that my next book will be Fatherland by Robert Harris.
Sometimes a good novel is what is needed. An escape into fiction is what I want at the moment. That and a little R&R, well, at least for tonight. I didn't sleep well last night and I wouldn't do any justice to any music programming tonight. I'll get back to the music tomorrow. For now The Sweeney and Minder and the promise of a new novel is all I need to relax.
Simple is essential sometimes.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

I Understand

Real bread is so totally different from stuff you buy in the shops.
Proper bread feeds you, it tastes good and is substantial. The stuff from the shops makes a decent sandwich. That's about all.
My bread is a bit of a revalation. I'm so glad I made it. It's good to create because it's the only way to understand.
The second batch is in the oven.
Here's a new start.


So here they are.
My first two loaves. A complete success. I have to let them cool properly then I think some hot buttered toast with beans and eggs will be on the menu. While there may be some programming to do tomorrow I think that a second batch is on the cards. The new years resolution is done.
What will next years challenge be? Complete the album?
Quite possibly.

Happy New Year

For about the last five years I've made a new years resolution.
Until today I've broken that resolution by the time the next year rolls into view. That resolution is to learn to make bread, by hand, the traditional way. No machines involved. As I type my first ever batch of dough is rising in a bowl. There's nothing left to do but enjoy a glass of wine, and wait.
I'll tell you if I actually end up with bread a little later but for now...

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I Am Your Master

The last piece of the puzzle arrived today.
My TDK SA90's were retrieved from the Post Office and I think I might have to calendar one of them tonight ready for a recording session at the weekend.
While they are 90 minutes each I will only get just over 22 mins because I can only use one side and I'll be recording at double speed. Despite using older gear I'm still aiming for the best quality recordings I can make.
Time to get a song sorted.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

So Where Next?

Having just read Benny Hill's very interesting biography I'm unsure what to read next.
I think I might stay with non-fiction but I also have a few good novels I could quite happily delve into.
Maybe the best idea is to sleep on it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Manual Dexterity

I've been doing a bit of printing recently.
I've also been reading what I've been printing too. Tonight I read and played at the same time and I've cracked the QY100. Not only is it very very versatile but in reality it's dead simple to use too.
The postie left a card which indicates that my chrome tapes will be ready to collect in a couple of days. He also delived my card converter which means I can save QY songs when I get round to writing some, which I've made a start on.
It's all good here in the retro studio.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Full House

So here is the nerve centre of the retro portion of my studio.
I'll be working out the MIDI and audio connections tomorrow. I've mapped it in my head but things always have a habit of not quite working how one expects them to.
I'm thinking I might post a little YouTube video when everything is up and running.
Should be exciting if glowing lights are your thing.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Two Thirds

The Tascam 424 mkiii turned up today.
I haven't had a chance to play yet and I can't record until the typeII cassettes show up.
The postie left me a card too saying the QY will be ready to collect tomorrow.
Friday is going to be fun.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's In The Cans

Over the next few weeks I'll be wearing these quite a lot.
Once the new gear arrives and I've set the studio up I'm going to get my head down and start writing again.
Tonight saw two new additions to FL Studio. Drumaxx, a new drum machine which will mostly be fed through Gross Beat, a chop and glitch tool. I've needed these for a while to put a second kit behind the principal beat to add depth and texture. I'll also be messing with sampled vocals too.
Hopefully by the end of the week I'll be using the most comprehensive studio I've worked in for almost two decades. With everything at my fingertips I will no longer be frustrated at a lack of kit. It wasn't cheap and I think I've done well on my budget.
Here's to the new studio.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Angle Poised

If one can defy gravity by whatever means then one should proceed.
The RM1x in position and ready.

Analogue Rules

The first rule of analogue tape is to align the record head correctly. I know how to do that.
The second rule of analogue tape is to calendar your blanks before recording. I know how to do that.
The third rule is to own an analogue tape recorder. I can do that too because I was the highest bidder in the eBay auction.
My 80's studio is now complete and by the end of this week I should be doing what I do but in a way I used to do it.
Bring it on. AmpUT just got a shot in the phantom arm.

Stand And Delivered

Up at six, waiting at the car boot by 7:50am, in the car boot at 8:30am.
By 9am I had a guitar stand as you can see. By about 1:30pm I had a book stand too. The kind of thing you find in a kitchen supporting a cookbook. For me it is now supporting my RM1x. The RM is now facing me with access to the I/O ports on top. This gives me a bit more space and it's easier to use the RM.
I'll report if I'm lucky on what the new space is intended for.
More later.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Following Instructions

It has to be said that the RM1x manual has never been plain sailing.
However, the more I read the QY100 manual the more the RM makes sense. The two are very similar beasts. I've just spent the best part of two hours writing a little test track on the RM to see if I could get my head around it finally. I'm pleased to announce that I think I've cracked most of it.
To that end the QY had better hurry up. I can't wait to play.

New Musical Excuse

Over the next few days I'll be reading this manual.
At some point next week I'll be putting what I've learned into practice. I've wanted a QY100 for ages. Next I have my eye on some recording gear.
I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Quiet Before The Storm

Thursday night wine with no guilt.
Tomorrow I get a chance to stay in bed a little longer, that is the reward for a day of sober travel. I'm off to London for a party tomorrow night and I'm in my favourite role of designated driver. I like to make sure that everyone is in the right place at the right time so that events run smoothly.
I don't mind not drinking, it's not important, I can have fun sober, indeed I'm happier when everyone gets home safe and sound.
So chin chin for tonight. Tomorrow's just another day.

Lesson 1

Learn from past experience.
I had every intension of putting my RM1x on eBay tonight. I dusted it off and unplugged it from the rig and thought "What am I doing?" In my lifetime the possessions I miss the most are all to do with music or music making. Twice I've owned a Jen SX1000, twice I've sold it. Stupid! From full DJ rigs to silly little drum machines I miss them all.
So I put the RM1x back. I'm not going to make the same mistake again. In fact I have my eye on a QY100 at the moment. That's something I've been after for a long time.
I wonder what the RM and the QY would do if MIDI'd together?
Wonderful things I imagine.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Communication Revolution

There are things that I am changing in my communication world.
Twitter has gone, so too Facebook. I will no longer be wasting my time on any microblogging sites. Of course a few links will remain but they will be the result of blogging here or the occasional picture sent into the ether.
The iPhone is going too although I will keep my iPod touch because there are a few good apps that have become usefull to me.
I've been collecting addresses so that I can write letters to people. You know, those paper things that aren't bills or final demands or junk mail. They're nice things that are a joy to receive.
I'm not turning into a ludite, I'm just reclaiming time so that I can read and write without giving a hoot about what so and so is up to or thinking.
I've made some good friends in the social networking world but I know where to find them and their blogs if I want to.
On the other hand, should anyone want to contact me, well, you know where I am.