Tag Archives: A4+

Trilithon (Song For The Architect)

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This post will be the last to include a new musical piece in 2014. Its been a good run and for me its been a breathless run, grabbing available time to throw herbs & sources into the mix. This one is the end of the Norfolk Cycle and finishes with a piece inspired by Hampshire & Wiltshire.

Some number of years ago I attended Winchester School of Art and during the first week of December, with Mrs A4+, I went back to have a look around- with the best part of 25yr gap. It was a bit of a flash back pilgrimage, I still have occasional dreams that fix in the town, and I was interested to see any changes that have occurred. The WSA Campus is a lot bigger, there are new shopping centres, but the core of the main thoroughfare and are around the Cathedral are unchanged. With a little more time I would have liked to walk some more of the area, the Water Meadows, the riverside area, St Catherine’s Mount but overall the visit was satisfying.

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The one thing I did want to do when in that neck of the woods was to visit Stonehenge. Whilst its more associated with Salisbury its only 20mins drive away from Winchester. I am really quite entranced by the countries very early history, stone circles and long barrows of the peak district I’ve referenced previously in pictures, sounds and moving images. Stonehenge is the ‘holy grail’ (ok, maybe thats in Glastonbury theoretically) being the largest megalithic structure in Northern Europe. Raised between 3000 & 2000 years BC its an unbelievably impressive example of planning & will. The stones were transported over huge distances, shaped with minimal available materials, organised and plotted with unerring precision and raised by methods we can only guess. The site was used over a millennia and was adapted and evolved throughout that time.

Bronze Age people produced monuments from the Mediterranean, through central Europe and up into the British Isles that have endured and surpassed constructions from later more adept civilisations. I’m always struck by the thought of the individual the directed the concept. No matter what the capability of the hive, there must be an architect, scratching in the sand, watching the sky, pointing the way.

The following images are Holga photographs on 120 film with intentional overlapping.

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Winchester Cathedral is a similarly engrossing edifice. When at college I spent quite a lot of time in there, copying patterns, looking at sculpture and being overwhelmed by the architecture. Despite my issues with organised religion I’ve always been fascinated by the power of spaces such as this. They exemplify wonder & glory even though in the main they were constructed through forced labour, associated poverty and coercion over extended periods of time. From York & Lincoln Cathedrals in the UK, the Sacre Coeur in Montmatre, the Alhambra Palace in Granada and the Sagrada Famila in Barcelona the human impulse to honour abstract and indefinite visions is frightening in its intent.

The following are some motion blur picture taken of the windows in Winchester Cathedral.

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So at the end of all this what are we left with? An admiration of the designer, an inability to understand the effort and methods of the builders and the chatter of history – wedding and flowing in it’s attempt to theorise the cause and inception of these great things.

The song / soundscape that I’ve ended up with is a long form piece, a snick over 25 minutes long. It’s roughly in three parts although the overlay doesn’t lead to clean section breaks. The sections are essentially Conception-Construction-Communion.There are repeated sounds in each that link them but they ultimately form the ‘Trilithon. the rock in three parts.

The track uses my ‘kitchen sink’ of tools including Launchpad (for the majority of the chill/cinematic sounds), Amplitude (for effected guitars and for the first time real bass guitar) and is finished off using LANDR mastering which whilst ‘off the peg’ seems to work well in bringing everything to workable level. The middle section might have the affect of inducing some anxiety but it does ‘come down’ in the closing section. In the words of Bill Hicks “it’s just a ride”.

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More Holga fun & The Great Yare

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One of the ‘left overs’ from the Hemsby Havok page is a couple of rolls of Holga 120mm film. I took a roll of Kodak colour film and a roll of Ilford B/W (both out of date) with me. Unlike iPhonography its old school point and shoot with no preview or review. I very mush intended to make use of every exposure and tend part wind the frames so there are double exposures and near panoramas. After getting the film developed (or washed, a phrase I like) I get them scanned as a single strip and then chop and process them on iPad in Snapseed (with a little bit of Photoshop).

These are mainly taken on the dunes or on the beach. I’ve not added any imagery or cleaned them other than a little sharpness & contrast. They have the vagary of memory, fleeting and not entirely accurate. I still find them evocative.

This is the first set from the colour film roll. I had the view set to 16 frames so the individual frames are a little more portrait than the 12 view. Click on any of the images for full screen view.

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The second set are from the B/W film. The linear & text artefacts are from the editing process, accidental but included for continuity.

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One final addition, also a result of road trip is a musical piece. There are little roads and alleys in the are near where we stayed called ‘The Craft’ and ‘The Loke’ (bar, bolt) which to my mind have a slightly witchy and medieval connotation. For that reason this ‘song’ uses (just like the ‘Hounds of Love’) a little background noise from the brilliant movie ‘Night of the Demon’.

There are 3 or 4 basic levels of slide guitar noise used in this, all recorded one evening after the children had passed into exhausted reverie, using the CBG guitar, iRig and Amplitube. Its turned out unexpectedly very much as I’d intended.

This is ‘The Great Yare’ My advice is to play it loud.

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Sea Song and other fictions….the album.

Sea Song Project

I can now report that my third musical venture has landed. ‘Sea Song and other fictions’ is available to buy and download from my Band Camp page. You can find it here.

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I have written an epilog / postmortem /sleeve note for the project which has its own page here . I hope this goes some small way to explain the project.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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Sea Song (Water In My Eye) Revisited

I’m posting this for house keeping as much as interest. This has been on the blog as page for quite some time. That particular page will be replaced to reflect the larger project in the next few days but I didn’t want to lose this entirely. So, step back in time to November 2013 and dive into ‘Sea Song’.

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This piece started life in the back of my mind a month or more before we went on holiday in September. I used some ‘field noise’ in a few of my previous audio creations and broadly had in mind something in the ambient vein, lengthy and unstructured, painterly if at all possible.

As I’m not bound by the need to be taken seriously or to generate income from these exercises I’m blessed with the freedom to let the process happen. As with many good intentions I collected far less environmental noise than I had hoped and ended up with only limited material. From the beginning of the piece there is an almost white noise wave hiss, this has been chopped, echoed, stretched and spliced through out the piece.

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The rhythm track is built up using 60bpm sequences created in DMX#1 on iPad. The intent being to slow down the heart rate, much like the calming experience of watching waves hit a beach or as is used further on, watching the flow from a water fall hit the pool below.

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Further related images and sounds were gathered from both Wollaton Park and Newstead Abbey. Newstead in particular has a feature lake that feeds a number of water features, falls & streams that have all given poetic and meditative pleasure for many years. Like the wind effects I used in the Gib Hill piece these environmental backdrops provide an anchored and enduring point of reference for deep lying human experience.

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I had very much intended to create a single lengthy work and the overall extent of the final item (which runs to a little over 24mins) was determined by a 4x stretch of the base wave noise recorded in Majorca. True speed usage of the sound also reveals the only human noise, the voices of children jumping waves.

Through the more intense third quarter the sounds from the waterfall at Newstead take precedence, that absorbing crushing flow (recorded from behind the fall), linked with the guitar feedback and single note bass.

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The still images included here are shot on an iPhone using the Hipstmatic app. Hipstamatic was the reason I first got an iPhone four years ago and still find it to be a hybrid of dice and sketch pad when it comes to snatching an affected memory. In the first instance these had a monochrome sepia tone but this has been removed for a pure grainy B/W final image.

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In much the same way the video content has been captured on the iPhone and processed, de-coloured, filtered and slowed down using iMovie. The hypnotic effect of letting your eyes  defocus whilst staring at the sea or a reflecting pool, Narcissus face flowing into the weeds and pebbles under the surface of the water. The movie was shot in HD and all credit to You Tube for taking the best part of 24hrs to cook the file into a viewable movie.

This is the full audio version of Sea Song (Water in my Eye)

This is the video.

Please enjoy, download and share freely.

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The Lost Children of Dol Tor

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The keen eyed will notice that this is my second reference to Dol Tor. I had been messing with Korg Gadet noises and DMX1 drum tracks around the same time that I took the road trip a couple of weeks ago. It made sense to connect them.

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Within the song notion was an intention to use the flowing drone and tidal wave of Korg Gadget noise and a fast, almost drum’n’bass rhythm element. This came through with some degree of satisfaction fairly easily. The trip to Dol Tor bought to mind the connection between that ancient landscape appreciation of environment, natural space, transient sky and a tribal community spirit of absorption in the previous, joined with a not insignificant degree of hedonism and party spirit.

I’ve tried to blur the disparity of the two main sound elements in the track using some additional rhythmic elements and three pieces of guitar noise made with Ebow, one of which is reversed and echoed. It’s very much like drawing with two media – say charcoal & watercolour – and then using your thumb to soften the edges. In relation to some of the previous sound projects I’ve made it’s fairly sparse in tracks.

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The final element which is only subtly present is a piece of ‘field recording’.
Recently Cousin Silas questioned the use of field recording or more accurately the definition of this. In many cases it might be a texture, a sonic layer with direct and illustrative reference, waves, thunder, rain, chattering voices. I would say there is a difference between a sound effect whether self sourced or researched, and a piece of content used for its particular connection to the piece. In this piece some where in the first and third minute there is a slight fluttering sound. Whilst it runs through the whole track it’s only barely noticeable but, it being the sound of the wind in leaves at the time the video was made – in that time and place – I hope it ties the audio to the theme, a voodoo hair in the hand of the shaman.

The video elements are made on iPhone using the iSupa8 app in HD. I’ve used all but two pieces of film and worked them chronologically. It’s come out as a kind of archeological scrapping of the site or a forensic investigation of events – a Will Graham mind palace of association – looking for clues and getting into the consciousness of the previous inhabitants.

 

The most recent users of the site most likely had a similar respect for the environment and expressed a connection to the architect ancestors. They have left small tokens and signs of their activity including crystals, Ojibwe, ribbons and the evidence of fire.

The pictures that accompany this are multi-exposed analog 120 film shots from a Holga camera. Using the constraint of the film I tried to form four specific sequences, joined by over exposure. I enjoy the high level of chance in this process and have yet to be disappointed by the out come.

 

 

Given a greater freedom of time to construct these pieces I might be more focused on the amount of content and material I create and more selective in the elements that I use. Every element is a roll of the dice and thus far I have been lucky with the numbers facing up.

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Winterval Interlude

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Welcome to 2014 on one of the least overrated blogs on the inter web. This is my year for art, music, activism and unfulfilled promise. I will be regularly missing self imposed deadlines, relying on the the tolerance and disbelief of my audience and increasing my already embarrassing typo count by homophoning it in with scant regard for linguistic convention and spell check. Your patience is appreciated.

First up this year is a little sound scape that made it through the distractions of seasonal celebration. It will probably go with the ‘Sea Song and Other Fictions’ project although i’m still undecided in which direction to take this. I have an urge to be a little more punk in approach but I might need to hit on Amazon Local for some cheap studio time in which to do some shouting.

‘Winterval Interlude’ uses sounds and images from Ye Olde Market Square in Nottingham. They have an event called Winter Wonderland and I have to confess that I do….wonder… But the kids quite like it and you can never have enough German Markets and Ostrich Burger (or is the Austrich Burghers?).

Here is the video. It uses iSuper8 spliced up in iMovie with lots of filtering. Although its a little overused I really like the ripple drop  transition between shots. There are a few shots of Nottingham’s Victoria Centre in there as well although I’ve tried to avoid anything specifically ‘Christmassy’, aiming more for the Winter Holiday event itself.

If however you are a committed audiophile and more interested in the sonic qualities in the music, please enjoy the following link from Soundcloud.

Now, I recently read a piece on LinkedIn about how the British are often unnecessarily self deprecating when promoting their skills and creative endeavours. Currently I am free from the need to promote my ‘content’ in order to generate income or credibility. I enjoy my spare moments of creativity and don’t try to intellectualise the materials I release into the world. That isn’t to say that I don’t put a good deal of thought into them and try to produce a sequence of ideas that feed on their siblings.  Out of this sequence the thing I am most content with is the following image.

This is piece of pure app lead iPhonography, using three separate images a stew of 6 editing apps. At full resolution it would be half a meter square.

Winter Drops

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He Will Never Find Us

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Apostates…. Another song for you. This finished yesterday and almost 100% original content. The main loops and extended sounds are courtesy of my friend Obo (Ken). He provided some midi snatches and mp3 noodles which I’ve hacked, cut / pasted, stretched, phased, echoed and mutilated. Strangely this has ended up as the most structured and almost listenable piece so far.

What is it about I imagine you asking? The vocal for what it is, is a mantra repetition of the title (well almost, it’s actually “He Can Never Find Us”). It references the world in a grain of sand, insignificance, he won’t find us because he’s not looking. Maybe it’s ‘the man’ or the ‘Man’. It doesn’t matter.

So, a happy place song. Relax, you’re just paranoid.

….and….back in the room. Here, better late than never is the video. Due to the ebb and flow of my interest, not in the least what I had in mind. I do however really like the images and think they roll with the theme. The theme being we are in the end dust, stone, memories and deference….and little more. So basically ‘He’ will never find us because we will be small and long gone. Smiley Face!!

 

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