Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chris Carter & Dirty Electronic

Last night I went to see Chris Carter and the Dirty Electronic Ensemble at Phoenix Square in Leicester.
It's hard to describe what I heard. There were no sing-a-long choruses or catchy riffs to bounce along to. No, this was sound in a very raw form. It was more free-form expression using an instrument no larger than a postcard, you can see one above. Each soundscape was different, if I remember correctly there were four in all. The sounds expressed included clicks, sine waves, distorted oscillated beats, drones and noise, plenty of noise.
It was amazing to think that the source for all this sound came from a small circuit board that is played using just fingers, which were often licked to get a better contact with the instrument, and by tilting the device.

There were a few effects scattered around the stage, guitar pedals, kaos pads and things made with springs and metal and speaker cones. It was sculpture but it was helping to shape the sound in some way.
The final soundscape had all 25 of the Dirty Electronic Ensemble and Chris Carter on stage and down the sides of the auditorium each holding their Experimental Sound Generating Instrument and playing with no effects or amplification, just the small speakers that are on the ESGI's. This was probably my favourite part. I tracked the same sound across the room as pure chance had that sound on two ESGI's. New sounds came and went, some never to be repeated, perhaps ever. One by one the red lights disappeared until there were none and it was over.
It's was a fantastic experience and I'm glad to have made the effort. Members of the Dirty Electronic Ensemble were happy to show me their ESGI and I even had a go, not as easy as it looks but immense fun, wet fingers and all.

Chris Carter hung around afterwards too and kindly let me get the photo's above of his setup. I also caught up with him and John Richards in the bar afterwards and asked them about the ESGI.
Chris Carter's is the first voice you hear:


Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This is the reason I have made my micro office.
As you can see it's too easy to prop my PSP streaming live TV on top of my PC monitor.
As I write this I'm watching some cop show. It's a repeat, one I've already seen but I'm still typing with one eye on my impromptu TV. That can't happen in the micro office.
And that's a good thing.

The Complete Package

The fancy leather envelope I ordered for my netbook arrived today.
I have a problem with new tech. Its lack of protection. But with so many options out there it's down to personal choice. I choose leather, high tech rubber compound or neoprene.
Leather is my first choice because of my days on motorbikes. It's a second skin. Flexible, rugged and breathable. If I can trust my own skin to leather then its perfect for expensive new technology.
The envelope case I chose is made by 'Ultimate Addons'. Despite being advertised for the Acer D250 it's made for the model with the smaller battery pack than mine. Having said that, my netbook does fit but it's a squeeze. I don't mind though. One of the best properties of leather is its ability to mould over time. I'm sure after a few months of bouncing around in my shoulder bag it'll be perfect.
I'll return to this in a while. In the meantime I'm still very happy with my purchase. It's well made and although we're not talking calf skin the leather is flaw free and of good quality.
I'm happy with that.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Organised Mind

I feel much more relaxed when things are organised.
I've just created a micro office in the studio. A proper place to write. The spot where I wanted to write.
This makes me happy and I already feel more productive.
Just wanted to share that information.

Work In Progress

So what does a novel in progress look like?
Not very exciting I'm afraid. Above you can see my home PC and my new netbook running the New Novelist software. It's what I wanted the netbook for. I'm on a roll with the book but was getting frustrated that I could only write at home and I have plenty of hours away from home when I could really be doing something more productive. Like writing.
It has to be said that the novel has up until now been on the back-burner for much too long. With the netbook and my PC it'll be finished sooner than I thought, or at least the first draft will be.
At this point I'd like to say a big thanks to Google for allowing the ability to upload any file to Google Docs. It has already made life easier for storing my novel files and moving them between home and mobile is a piece of cake.
Here's to the first draft and it's speedy completion.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Speed Of Light

This is my new Acer Aspire One D250 and I could probably go on about it all day but that's not why I'm blogging.
The fact is that I bought this last night from Amazon. I paid for Express delivery but I wanted to be messing with my new netbook before my holiday. This morning there was a knock at the door and it was a man with a package for me from Amazon. On the web form it said that I could expect my netbook by 12pm Tuesday but to have it this morning was simply amazing.
I spent most of the morning and early afternoon setting the Acer up and apart from one or two more bits of software it's done. It's a great little machine that's going to get plenty of use and part of that is down to Amazon getting to me so damn fast.
I'll be shopping there again, that's for sure.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Lunch

Friday lunchtime is always the best lunchtime.
It better because I leave work at 4pm instead of 5pm and I have less time being at work on a Friday afternoon. I'm also a bit nearer my Friday evening surf and turf which in my case is a stroll around the net and some late night dinner of some kind.
There is also the slightest chance I might try a glass of wine.
You just never know.


Location:Aston Flamville,United Kingdom

Monday, April 19, 2010

Election Special

I usually try to steer clear of politics but I thought due to the upcoming general election I'd make an exception.
I bought the above book on Saturday and found something interesting in the introduction by Bruce Robinson. The introduction was written in 1989, a time when Britain had been governed by the Conservative party for more than ten years. Mr Robinson was on the subject of politics and reproduced a list of points, they had a strange familiarity to me.
Now in 2010 when Britain has been governed by the Labour party for more than ten years I thought it was time that you read the list.
It was first published by Robert Brady, Professor of Economics at the University of California.

1. All natural resources are to be privately owned.
2. Businessmen are to be free. 'Self Government in Business.'
3. The social structure of society is sanctified. The middle class are the backbone of the State.
4. Employers have practically complete control over workmen in regard to wages, hours and conditions. Collective bargaining is abolished. Strikes are illegal. Trade unions forbidden.
5. Control is completely from on top. The leaders decide all things as they see fit. Central government controls all local government.
6. There can be no freedom of speech, of assembly, of writing. Anyone may criticise the government who is not afraid to go to prison.
7. Socialism is the major enemy. There can be no suchthing as equality. The 'broad masses' are fools and must be duped and led to meet the purposes of the elite.
8. All sciences and 'culture' must be co-ordinated to serve the purposes of the leader. Propaganda is the method. Propaganda knows neither right nor wrong. Neither truth nor falsehood. But only what it wants...

I think the list is as relevant now as it was in 1989 as it was in 1937 when it was published in 'The Spirit and Structure of German Facism'. It is Professor Brady's summary of the 'Nazi' system of government.

You of course must make your own mind up about the summary. I think it makes clear that whatever flag you decide to fly on 6th May 2010 nothing much will change.
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Monday, April 12, 2010


I've made this little recording of some of the sounds from my Sunday.
I used Monle on the iPhone to record the sounds and then mix four tracks of audio to make the final recording.
Can you tell what each track is?

Friday, April 09, 2010


I've been meaning to write about iSequence for some time but I wanted to buy the extra sound banks before I said anything. iSequence is my favourite sequencer specifically because of the sounds. While I  like being able to tweak synths sometimes I just want a sound to get an idea down. I've lost hours tweaking when I should be sequencing. iSequence gets my ideas down fast. 
If you've never played with iSequence this is your workspace.

Along the top to the left are your patterns. Adding patterns is as easy as pressing the plus symbol and changing to another pattern is equally as simple with the up and down keys. The play and loop pattern keys are also at the top of the screen. Below this are five tracks for adding your sounds. Note that you can have more than one sound per track so you are not limited to five sounds. This feature is one of the most useful for me. The note blocks contain Note, Octave and Sound info so going back and making adjustments to a wrong note is simple as you already have a starting point. Imagine how useful that is if you started your track three weeks ago.Under the tracks are the Set key for selecting your sound.

iSequence comes with two banks which is more than enough to get going with. At the time of writing this there were another three in the shop. I've got the Acoustic, Electro House and FunnyFarm sound banks which are all good. A note on FunnyFarm here. Despite having some strange sound FX that you might not use in a music track the sounds are fun and somewhat useful for podcasting, more on that in a bit. Next are left and right sound selection keys, PRM for adjusting volume and pan, some volume buttons for making individual note volume changes and finally Edit. Edit has to be one of the most used buttons in iSequence. From here you can select all notes or a track and then copy and past those notes to a new pattern. There's also a transpose key to add all important key changes without re-entering all your notes again, a nice touch. The Mixer button brings up this screen.

As you can see each track gets its own fader, mute and fx key. The fx in question is just a delay but it's a decent delay and there are more fx planned as well as automation. This is also the screen for changing tempo and adding shuffle. One last slider is the soft limiter control and gets your overall volume just right for export. Talking of which.

Here is where you manage your tracks. All fairly standard stuff and everything you'd expect. Notable is the COPY selector. When highlighted and the Export button is pressed your track gets copied to the pasteboard and you can then move it to another app that supports the Intua Pasteboard. I've been using Monle recently and getting a theme tune and music bed out of  iSequence and into Monle is simplicity itself.

To round off, I like this app because I can get my musical ideas from my head, through iSequence and back into my ears in minutes. Some people might not like preset sounds but there will be something that's close to what you want and the quality is good. Also, not wasting time on tweaking means that you compose more and that can only be a good thing. As a music base for podcasts or reports it's fantastic. Tunes in minutes means you are truly mobile if you need to create a piece of music on the fly.
I use it a lot as a notepad and more now that I'm going to start creating podcasts on nothing but an iPhone.
Another thing. Beep Street is very responsive to any questions you may have as I found out recently. Also app updates and bug fixes are more frequent than some apps I could but won't mention.

To end this post I have a small something for you if I've whetted your appetite for iSequence. Beep Street has kindly given me some promo codes. It's first come first served and when they're gone they're gone. They're only valid in the U.S. app store, sorry but that's just Apple's way. If you get a copy of iSequence please let me know by leaving a comment. You can leave it anonymously so there's no excuse.
Here are the codes. Happy iSequence'ing.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010


I was going to review Monle and tell you about the brief time I've had to play with it today but there seems little point when Ochen K's video tutorials tell you everything you need to know.
The video shows what the app is capable of, no more, no less. No wild claims and no disappointments. If you want an NLE for your iPhone or iPod touch just buy the app.
It's everything you ever wanted in audio editing. Sure you'll be able to think of feature requests but we're talking day one here.
If you podcast or make music you seriously need to take a look at Monle.
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