Some Cool Things I Did This Year – Music

While I managed to successfully resist the lure of the Maschine, I did fall victim to a few other musical bits and pieces – enough to warrent serious practice and a bit too much late night fiddling around. The main output being the first Lairds of Scunthorpe material.

Monsters in my Attic

It’s a mixture of experimental keyboard/sampling/beats and guitar. Here, hopefully, are a couple of examples.

Beats v1.0

Human League (Not)

Some Cool Things I Did This Year – Videos

Minimal effort video using a toy camera, iMovie and Logic for the music.


Very, very blue. Roger Hiorns' Seizure.

Very, very blue. Roger Hiorns' Seizure.

Having managed to be nominated for a Turner Prize, or at least being responsible for having its creator Roger Hiorns nominated, it’s no surprise that the council who wanted to demolish this old council house block somehow haven’t quite got around to breaking it up. In fact you get the feeling that if they could only find a way to levy a charge on this it would cover the building of a few new decent homes.

Still, Hiorns’ Seizure, a copper sulphate encrusted house that’s well worth seeing, has been reopened (until October 18 2009). It does make you wonder what they’ve been doing with it since they closed it at the tail end of last year. Anyway, it’s great and you all should go and stand in line to get your feet into the now probably very scabby festival gumboots you have to wear to get inside. You won’t be disappointed (foot infections aside). More info on Shapeandcolour and here, oh and here too.

Frankly if Hiorns doesn’t win the Turner Prize, then the art people need their heads examined.

Squire Jules in his new headgear

Squire Jules in his new headgear

Went out to see the medieval jousting at Arundel Castle, where the Boon were able to equip themselves in a style they could only previously have dreamed about – real swords, super-vicious gauntlets and some quality headgear such as this forward thinking child encasing unit – simply place the unit on child and watch them bimble about merrily for the next ten minutes heroically bumping into stuff left right and center. For double amusement equip child with a finely made longsword and back off quickly. We thought the Boon would be enthralled by the fine exhibition of olde worlde sword fighting and jousting, but it turns out they really raved over the castle, which was “A proper castle just like I wanted”. Best bit obviously being the Tower Guards’ outdoor toilet.

Meanwhile, the Lairds of Scunthorpe album has been developing at a pace over the summer. Currently there are 10 – 12 tracks being worked on, from material developed solely on the fantastic Beatmaker on the iPhone, to fully Logiced up songs with some neat beats. I want to get it to about double that before I start working out which ones to focus on.

As if this wasn’t enough I’ve been rewatching The Wire (like anything else is worth rewatching alright). Only this time I’ve added a new twist. I’m watching it in French with English subtitles. That way when I go over to France I’ll be able to talk in authentic Baltimore French, which I guess is a bit like McNulty’s genuine English. Spot On eh.


Another neat little app for the iPhone, Colorspash is probabably the best £1.19 I’ve spent recently.
Colorsplash strips the colours from your iPhone photos, then lets you put it back in a finger painting style. Simple to use and with the best help system of any app I’ve played with, this is both powerful and fun to use. It is also highly versitile, allowing me to fine tune the feathers of The Diva’s boa.
There has been a growing trend for apps that make the iPhone into a truly creative platform – painting and photographic ones especially – and Colorsplash is a great,fun addition to these.

The Diva in performance mode

The Boys discover bottle throwing

Noise Annoys

I’ve been spending time tied down by my sequencer this weekend in the vain hope of being able to actually create a breakbeat of some sort that’s not uniformly shite. This is mainly in response to this post by Alex Buga describing the new Maschine by Native Instruments. Ever since Guitar Rig 2 allowed me to plug my guitar into my mac without any latency problems, I’ve been a big fan of NI, not least because Guitar Rig has meant I can throw away the 20 or so odd bits of guitar paraphenalia I’ve had cluttering up the front room and replace them with one nifty foot control. It even makes my guitar sound good.

Anyway, Maschine is a really cool looking ‘groove production studio’, which means it handles samples, sequencing and a bunch of other stuff, but I figured before I simply splashed out, a decision based solely on the ‘new and shiney’ qualities Maschine possesses, I really should actually try creating some beats or sequences using the stuff I already have. If only so I know that Maschine will make it all better later.

So I smash out some distorted concrete guitar noise and spend a bit of time getting to know Logic by putting a nice bassline on it. The bassline being inspired by John Carpenter’s music for Assault on Precinct 13, which aside from being a great ’70s movie (think crazed ASBO gang attack police station, no survivors) is featured on the back of the 7-inch sleeve of Killing Joke’s excellent Pssyche single. However the bassline isn’t quite right, so I have to mash it up with a certain amount (a lot) of Bitcrushing.

The result –‘John Carpenter Noise’

But that wasn’t really doing much on a sequencing level. So I started playing around on the built in Ultrabeat drum/sampler sequencer that’s built into Logic. The great thing here is that it comes with a whole load of rhythms and kits built in and a nifty little sequencer that’s really simple to use. And I’m playing around with this and I discover that you can drag the sequences from Ultrabeat on to ANY other midi controlled instrument. So a pattern that was originally for a hip hop kit can be dragged onto a saxophone instrument and the saxophone plays that pattern. This is great not just because the Ultrabeat sequencer is easier to manipulate than the normal Logic one, but because the rhythm patterns don’t bear any resemblance to melodies. And the most bizarre thing is that they actually end up sounding really neat, kind of like early 808 State.

I’m calling the result – ‘After Cubik by 808 State’

Now after an entire weekend of sequencing, I still don’t think I can entirely justify the £600 plus for Maschine quite yet. But a few more weeks and I may just have to get one….