A WORKMAN & HIS TOOLS

Some music to listen to while you read (and which this blog post is ultimately about)

I’ve always been taken by the comment about Bill Bruford “never playing a song the same way once”. Doing things differently each time is a key part of my creative process. I am constantly learning new things ( in fact if pushed I’d say that is the one key skill I’ve acquired in my life IS being good at learning new things) and I like being in that state of alertness as things start to make sense but are not quite familiar.
My goal when making music is to be able to sit in front of my gear and ideally just play a new piece of music. It’s never going to be quite as simple as that, I don’t have enough hands for a start, but the electronics all help by letting me prepare parts of the music before hand and then manipulating them while I play. If you look at my recent youtube videos you can see some examples of where I think it has worked.
This weekend I found myself frustrated by my usual processes and decided to try something totally different. I use an application called ‘Logic’ to record music - I treat it like a giant tape recorder and the main reason I use it is because I learned how to record music on actual hardware and it’s pretty close to that by and large. A while ago I got an introductory copy of Ableton which takes a very different approach and since  I’d never really explored it I figured it was a good time to give it a go.
One of the things that puts me off Ableton a little is that it seems quite wedded to what musicians call ‘the grid’ - a rigid framework of bars and beats. And Ableton is very popular in the world of techno and other electronic dance music with their regular structures. However I was pleased to find that some of the things I like doing, playing long serial phrases for example,  work quite well. I was easily able to do new things like making re-useable phrases on the modular and all in all I’m pretty pleased with how the result came together.
Ableton has a hardware controller called push and I’m now seriously tempted by that. It moves the workflow off of the computer screen with mousing around and clicking onto a board full of buttons and knobs  - which is much closer to my goal of hands on music.
The resulting piece is the one at the top of this post. It’s from my ‘music that sounds like it should be used in a film’ category of work. I’ve often felt my music would work well with visuals and to that end I’ve licensed everything on my Soundcloud as Creative Commons - feel free to use it should you have some visuals in need of music - all you need to do is give me a credit!

Possibly Real

My music making has to fit in around work (of which there is a lot - I'm CTO and one of the original founders of Hanzo Archives) and family, which at this time of year includes lots of being out and about in the Lakes. This weekend it all caught up with me and I spent most of the weekend sleeping, reading and swimming in the Lakes. 

Last night after a productive day at work I turned on the modular with the vague idea of making a rhythm track using the Make Noise DPO . This module is capable of some amazing sounds - from musical tones to crunchy FM goodness. In this case I've got both channels of  the SQ-1 sequencing various CVs on it to build up a complex rhythm.

Of course once I've got a basic rhythm it was hard not to sketch out a piece of music around it and as I tried various sounds this piece came together. It owes a lot to Kemper Norton and to Coil (both of whom I love) - the, hopefully, folky melodies and that kind of drone sound that  you can often find - Coil most notably doing it using the Hurdy Gurdy on Remote Viewer. 

I like to work fairly quickly when making music. The modular is small enough I can build a patch as the ideas flow, I don't spend a lot of time on them. The XTk sound is a variation on one I made on friday night. The lead coming from a physical modelling patch in Reaktor  but I find myself wanting a nice mono synth with a keyboard and lots of knobs so I can whip new sounds up quickly rather than relying on  soft synths which I find are far slower to work with. 

I'm messing about with sampling a fair bit at the moment so I'm also going to sample this patch today before I take it down. 

A Blank Slate

Having just released an EP and with the next release - a Junklight album called ‘Return of the Sun’ by and large in the can and just needing editing I figured it’s time to kick back and experiment a bit.

Over the weekend I tried a new approach to making tracks. Most of my recent work has involved making and then playing a large sequencer based patch on the modular and adding additional keyboards (almost the entire upcoming album was recorded like this). Over the weekend I decided to try a more ‘painterly’ ‘studio as instrument’ approach - I sketched a rough outline and then built patches to record small sections of music filling in the whole.

I’m still not quite sure of the result - it’s not really finished yet - but what it was was fun to make.

This evening after I finished working I fancied just messing about with something simple - I still had a synth patch up on the modular and I plugged the Samplr app into logic as well and came up with this:

Cadestic - Stone City

I'm never quite sure whether  I should remain mysterious in my music making or talk about it. I'm giving talking about it a go. 

As can be seen on the front page I've just put together and released an EP of Electronica. You can find it as 'pay what you want' here https://cadestic.bandcamp.com/album/stone-city or on all the usual places - starting with iTunes today but it should appear everywhere else (Spotify, Tidal, Amazon etc etc) over the next few days. 

This EP came about because I was away from home, and my music making hardware, for a week or so. I decided to see what I could do just using my laptop. I also decided to look once more at using drums , something I've not really done since I've been working in a more hardware based way. I also wanted to put something together that I could release in such a way that I could practice with marketing prior to my album release (due sometime in September). 

Interestingly I found that all my practice using the hardware has really improved both my synthesis and music making skills. It was also great fun producing the four tracks very quickly ready for release. The samples are collected from all over - Bristol, Manchester and London. When I got home I was unable to resist adding a few bits and pieces using the modular - most notably the lead sound on the first track. 

The end result is out now and you can give it a listen if you go the link above. I hope you enjoy it.

I've got at least one more release this year under the name Cadestic called Costal a slightly curious mix of electronic rhythms, bluesy electronic Americana and samples. All loosely themed around abandoned and decaying costal structures. I've got 3 decent tracks recorded , need to get cracking on the rest.