Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Lone - Galaxy Garden

Some excellent album art to boot. Nice job!
While I do make a point of supporting artists by buying music, it's not often that shops actually stock music that I like - especially mainstream ones. After popping into my local record store on a whim, I actually ended up buying tons of stuff that had just come out that I had no idea was actually available. Lone has a new album that I totally didn't know about, as did Simian Mobile Disco and Logistics, so HMV actually had a pretty good credit-crunch busting Friday.

In particular, the new Lone album Galaxy Garden was available and as I am complete sucker for his brand of 808 State-inspired dance music I had to make a point of writing something here to spread the word.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Piracy boosts music sales?

Piracy =/= stealing. Learn the difference
I recently came across an article online that argues that file sharing (in this case, file sharing using bit torrent as a medium) actually provides a boost for music sales. The author of this piece is actually an economist, a Mr Robert Hammond, who collected data about music downloaded and analysed this in regard to actual sales and found that it actually helped to sell more copies.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Radium & Barium - a real radioactive duo

Two new tracks that have finally been finished and that I am happy with after tinkering with them for ages are now available for your listening pleasure. 

For more information on either Radium or Barium and to hear them in all their glory, please click on the below links and read the descriptions on my Soundcloud page.



A bit of an analogue brute.

I am loving the look and sound of the Arturia Minibrute at the moment and I can't get the idea out of my head that for just over £400 I could own my own monosynth that I could incorporate into my existing setup. It not only provides a modern synth with nice, gnarly basses and leads but also a better quality keyboard with aftertouch than the Akai I already have. That being said, it is also cheaper than the Moog Minitaur; nearly £70 cheaper from what I can find online.

In a way, I'm glad that I have been too busy to keep an eye on what is going on at the moment as Arturia have put the release date for the Minibrute back to May 30th; oh shit, that's actually next week - awesome. I have also noticed that the exchange rate for GBP to EUR has also changed even more in my favour, so I'm definitely hoping this will be something I can get a hold of and use.

Daft Punk - Derezzed (Floppy Version)

Now that we're firmly into the 2010s, the floppy drive has all but died a death (I can't recall the last time I have even seen one on a computer let alone used a floppy disk!). This also means that people have been chucking them into the garbage alongside their Zip drives as they upgrade to more useful storage media, such as USB thumb drives.   

Recently, I've come across an interesting use of these old and discarded floppy drives, which is to hook them up to an Arduino board and shove MIDI files at them with a bit of software to get a symphony going. The raspy chuntering and clicking that is so distinctive of the medium are coaxed into making musical notes and the results are at once cute and awe inspiring.

This particular version has five drives playing Derezzed from Tron Legacy and I particularly like this one as it uses one really noisy drive to nail that bassline. 

Robot rock indeed!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

RIP - Queen of Disco

Also of note recently is the death of Donna Summer, after a battle with lung cancer. At 63, she had achieved a lot in her career, but I felt that this was still to early for her.

Despite all of the negative press she had received, her back catalogue still stands well today and of course, we'll all remember her for her performance on Giorgio Moroder's disco classic I Feel Love, which was light years ahead of its time.

Rest in peace, Donna: You've earned it.

Google Doodle - Bob Moog's Birthday

In celebration of Dr. Robert Moog's birthday (he would have been 78 this year), Google chose to honour the inventor of the modern synthesiser with a Google Doodle this week in the form of the Minimoog, albeit with some Google-stylings on the main board and a vintage recording device.

Technically, this synthesiser is quite brilliant to be able to run in flash, if a little confusing at first as it has barely any labels for all the knobs. It can also be played with your keyboard (tab is the last key, bottom F) if you fancy jamming properly with it. Moog also posted clearer instructions on how to operate this synthesiser, although the page for this doodle at Google's site also has some directions as well.

RIP Bob Moog. You might be gone, but your inventions live on!

To play around and full instructions

Revenge Of Shinobi - Sunset Blvd (Yuzo Koshiro)

Another Yuzo Koshiro track, although I genuinely didn't realise until after selecting this track that he actually wrote the soundtrack to this game as well as Streets Of Rage. In hindsight, I am not surprised but I'm glad that his talents are exercised on this title as well.

Revenge of Shinobi was the home sequel to the original release of 1987 on the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis, following the exploits of ninja Joe Musashi. Released in 1989, you've got to save your bride to be and take on an evil clan of ninjas called Neo Zeed across the city. It was a straightforward platform beat-em-up with a difficulty ramp that kept things interesting (especially a labyrinth level towards the end) - all underpinned by a healthy dose of Far East-inspired dance tracks. 

"Sunset Blvd" comes up a few times amongst the levels and is a great example of Yuzo's manipulation of the Mega Drive sound hardware. I feel like flipping out just listening to this track.

Monday, 21 May 2012

How much??!

A recent study performed by Audio Technica UK has revealed a number of interesting statistics about the amount of music we listen to in the UK.

When you think about it, we've got loads more places we can listen to music nowadays. The Walkman and later the iPod and even smart phones mean that we are not constrained by location any longer when listening to audio recordings. Radio is still everywhere, despite the lack of variety on most commercial play lists and incessant advertisements. Online options have improved as well, with places like Youtube, iTunes and Spotify providing on demand download and streaming services to access music, videos, mixes and podcasts. 

According to the 1000 or so people surveyed, the average person will listen to 4 hours of music per day, leading to around 13 years spent listening to music in the average lifetime. This doesn't sound (if you pardon the pun) too bad at all: as Betrand Russell said, "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time"

I'm sure mine is likely to be longer, all things considered, but I doubt that messing with synthesisers making blips and blops can be considered music.

Oh well; it's always better than spending 4 years of your life on the toilet...

Further reading:


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Streets of Rage 2 - Under Logic (Yuzo Koshiro)

Streets of Rage was Sega's answer to Capcom's Final Fight series; a city-wide crime spree perpetrated by a violent street gang, overseen by master criminal Mr. X, and harkens back to the days of the Sega Mega Drive and home releases in the early 1990s. It spawned two sequels on the platform, re-releases on multi-game cartridges and numerous fan-made remixes.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Synth1 Rundown

Style: Panel #111111 and Text #cdcdcd
The VST I tend to use the most is Synth1, which provides the basis for me to create all bit of my music with. As it was included with the default installation of Madtracker II, it also became the first VST synthesiser that I got to grips with and started using 

Despite being a free product and not being updated in well over a year, this belies the absolutely stonking power of this VST. 

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Shure 440 Headphones review

After trying a few pairs of headphones on in my local audio shop in London, I opted to buy a pair of Shure's SRH 440 studio headphones for use in my home studio and also for general use on my PC and laptop.

Given that this was originally written for Freshdnb.net over a couple of months ago, it remains relevant nowadays as well. Shure have since expanded on their line of headphones as well and all are looking good on the main review sites.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Rage Racer - Silver Stream

Another mention of a Ridge Racer title,  it's not difficult to see that I was a big fan of racing games when I had my Playstation and thanks again to Namco, the experience was heightened with the inclusion of some excellent dance music. While CD quality games did mean the death of chiptunes, I do love to listen to high quality soundtracks as well and this from Rage Racer is no exception, with a marked difference from the clubby tracks from its predecessors, preferring a darker sound.

This particular piece Silver Stream from Rage Racer is a great piece of pre-2000s jungle with some excellent double-bass lines, lovely retro piano leads and searing string lines. It's also one of those tracks that flows very well as it develops, with nice chord changes and layered drum patterns that vary the depth of the breaks and drum lines. Personally I wouldn't have bent the bassline quite as much, but as it stands, it works well with the rest of the track. One of the more interesting breaks under it all is the Tighten Up break - it's funny how these breaks turn up everywhere!

Another classy bit of jungle on the same soundtrack is Lightning Luge, which I heartily recommend if you like Silver Stream.


Monday, 7 May 2012

Ridge Racer - Night Stream (Kohta)

I'm always amazed by what Japan can come up with and this is by no means the pinnacle of what electronic music is possible. A jazzy jungle mashup with orchestral string stabs and some excellent mixing throughout - check out the amazing drum pattern shuffling around 1min40secs together with the bass and rhodes. 

Pure bliss and perfect listening for playing Ridge Racer to. You're one smooth operator!!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Instant Melodies Course

As part of a recent Groupon offer, my girlfriend very kindly sent me to a music production course over in South London's Brixton, home to a number of small yet professional recording studios. A weekend course of two mornings of study was priced at £30 a head, with options for either beginner or intermediate learners at the Instant Melodies recording studio on the Coldharbour lane.