one faint deluded smile

Saturday, November 26, 2005


ion side-on

There's been a bit of discussion on the Ion-Micron List about the lack of features in the Ion's arpeggio especially in comparison to it's cheaper Micron cousin. Indeed, you would expect that an update to the Ion software should be able to fix this pronto but there's little word from Alesis about it as yet.

However, I've enjoyed every sound I get out of the thing! I suppose this is mostly due to the newness of the machine (and arpeggiators in general) to me. Just setting it off and letting it run... It's all so different to how I made music in the 80s. And, to be honest, I know I'm only scratching the surface - sequencers, midi control via PC software, etc are all unknown entities to me as well.

In any case, here's my 1st attempts at (a) recording solo in this golden age and (b) using the Ion arpeggio functions:

mp3: arpeggiated (nb - almost 10mb)

I think you have to do 2 things to make arpeggios sound good:

(1) Select the notes and the number of notes to be played judiciously.
(2) Ram it into a delay unit and sync the delay to the arpeggio tempo.

With this in place you get a repetitive sequence of chords and single notes that, depending upon the complexity of the interactions, sounds almost endless.

This track has got 3 of these overlayed and when they all join in there's a rather silly banjo plucking thing going on that makes me smile. Overdubbed on this are a deep, deep kick drum, a few bass notes (with my annoying tendency to fluff the notes as I lose concentration left in) and 2 wanky "lead" runs on the Ion and the Arp Odyssey.

You can see it as my homage to Church Of Anthrax by John Cale and Terry Riley, if you like.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

This is! This Heat Reissues

A very welcome press release from the most fab ReR:

This is!
A new label set up by Charles Hayward and Charles Bullen through Chris Cutler's ReR Megacorp to reissue in definitive form all of this heat's published CDs, unavailable since the death of Gareth Williams in 2001,and to prepare and release unheard material from their substantial archive.

The series will start with the first album 'This Heat' from 1978 (known as "the blue and yellow"), due out in December, fully re-mastered.

The box

To mark the 30th anniversary of the group's first concert on Friday the thirteenth of February, 1976, This is! will be issuing a limited edition BOX SET comprising all the official releases, newly re-mastered: This Heat, Deceit, Health and Efficiency, Made Available and Repeat, as well as a complete extra CD of previously unreleased material. This will come with a substantial and authoritative book of interviews, articles, rare photographs, memorabilia and documents tracing the history and the work of the group. All of these CDs will also be available singly, and further releases will follow later in the year. Everything will remain in print.

For more information on the label, the box and how to get the advance subscription edition please contact our distributor, ReR Megacorp at


So, the 1st album fully remastered at last and previously unheard material. I'm on the advance list for the box already.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Arcane Machinery

shortwave set chicanerey

A scant month ago I started a best of 2005 CD-R compilation for a friend's birthday but never finished it because i became disheartened at the lack of "good" tracks I'd saved away during the year. I tried it again this weekend and finished it quickly because... I absolutely loved quite a lot of the ones I chose. They were already sitting in the "\My Music\2005" sub-folders but, for whatever reason, I didn't pick half of them up the first time. Maybe I had a brain collapse or a lack of solid sleep.

But I'll wait till next year to post my final lists because there's still 2 months to go and I'm continuing to find music I absolutely enjoy.

Here's 4 recent tracks I've loved (from 2005 and beyond) :

mp3: Jan Jelinek - Lithiummelodie 1

Samples and loops - some of the mainstays of post-techno electronic music. And, apparently, Jan Jelinek is really, really good at them. I've no idea why I haven't heard his name before but, that's just the way things go in this wide, wide world. This track doesn't startle. Like a lot of music created using this technology it unfolds slowly with overlays and duplications and repititions. There's a lovely frission in the guitar and slight drums against the whirling electronics. Quite lovely indeed. [Find him at scape records]

mp3: The Shortwave Set - Slingshot

Another slow piece, albeit pop based and this time completely enveloped in 60s psychedelia. You can glimpse bit of Beck and The Beta Band in there as well (the same influences, maybe). But it's the fantastic melody and chord structure that makes it fresh. And it's topped of by a superb, if slightly ironic, arrangement - magic where I least expected it. [visit their cute website]

mp3: The United States Of America - Coming Down

Speaking psychedelicaly - The USA album was re-released in 2004 (I think) with some bonus tracks and a, supposedly, lovely remastering treatment but I hadn't heard that version till last week. "Coming Down" is one of the great psychedelic rock songs. No, sorry, make that THE greatest psychedelic rock song. Swirling 3/4 organ and violin spin around the 4/4 beat. Then there's that omnipresent descending fuzz bass. Synths, effects (especially a judicious use of reverb) and lyrics about a trip. It's got everything that 1968 could offer. [read all about Joseph Byrd, et al]

mp3: The Hollywood Jills - He Makes Me So Mad

Just one of the almost uncountable songs on the 4CD "One Kiss Can Lead To Another" box set of 50s and 60s Girl Groups. There's a lot of stuff in there that I'll skip over every time but then one like this will pop up with just the right amount of garage band backing and wonderful call and response lyrics - "he makes me mad, with the things he does, like... tellin' the gang that i swim raw (well, don't you?)". [girl groups are here]

But apart from these, there's a raft of things I've found that I won't even bother posting because you need a full cd to get into them:

Eliane Radigue - various albums from the 60s to the present: the pure sound of an Arp 2500 warping into transcendency.

Jim O'Rourke - Mizu No Nai Umi: 2 versions of the same long, slow, gorgeous drone.

Nurse With Wound - various albums from their career: I always ignored nww becasue the name reminded me instantly of SPK and so I assumed they were all noise / industrial. As soon as I saw an article about them I skipped it. So it came as some surprise to find that their music is easily the apex of dark ambient / drone.