Some records just carry you away to some place terrible and beautiful. A place you don’t necessarily want to be. They reminds you of the love you worked so hard to forget. The bells and whistles dragged behind heart break’s gnarly appendages. Some records grow inside you. The more you listen the bigger and heavier they get. Ray Brown‘s album Canyon is one. That record saved me this Autumn, I swear to God. Some things are impossible. Like escaping yourself. You have to slip your soul out of it’s socket and break out of the straight jacket of yourself. Music can do that. Change you. Ray’s new record is just as good. It’s beautiful and ugly and the most honest thing you’ve ever heard in your life. It breaks my fucking heart.
As a quick turnaround creative project this weekend, I headed back to the Concrete Cathedral, in the company of actor James O’Connor. We made a super quickie video for my friend Ray Brown’s 2012 single Staten Island. Ray recently visited Dublin and performed a number of gigs with Cal Folger Day and Myles Manley. We shot on a borrowed 5D Mark ii, and edited the results in a few hours on the free Davinci Resolve package. Davinci is the video equivalent of Reaper on the audio side – effectively free, lightning fast, quirky to use but feature rich and powerful. There’s a lot to be said for rapid, limited scope projects which build a few concrete skills and fuel creative expression. This project gave me lots of hands on experience with the full frame Canon, and colour grading in post on Davinci – something that’s way less intimidating on a short fun project. Thanks to Shane Conneely who graciously lent us his camera and lenses (85mm, 14mm ultrawide, and 24-105mm zoom).
It seems like just a moment ago blogging was young, the web was exciting and the mix had slipped from tape and CD onto the internet. We downloaded mp3’s from blogs, livejournal and the hypemachine, and mixtapes were back in vogue, passed like notes in class. Notes that whispered of love, lust and the joyful discovery of music.
We don’t make mixtapes anymore. No one has a CD player, and who even plays for spotify? But it’s still possible to make someone a mixtape. I recently stumbled across 8tracks, a service I used way back in 2012 (you remember, that year the world ended). It lets you take songs you’ve just ripped from youtube, and make a playlist to share with someone special (like the cop who koshed you into hospital, or the nephew you’ve imprisoned in a shipping container). Guess what? You can even embed playlists on wordpress. Here’s one I made (much) earlier.
Finally, my years of romantic tragedy have served a purpose. I’ve a wee part in the new music video from Gar Cox, as one half of a warring couple. Let’s hope it’s as big a hit as the last video I had a cameo in.
Hey folks, ¡NO! the psychedelic rock outfit featured in Episode 4 of Mad Scientists of Music, are running another of their monthly improvised music events in Twisted Pepper. This time they’re playing with avant garde Japanese saxophonist Katsura Yamuchi. If you fancy something chilled out and unconventional head down on the afternoon of October 18th. It’s a mere five euro.
Here’s the blurb…
From the black deeps of the Twisted Pepper Basement, the 3rd Saturday afternoon of every month, Concrete Soup has been bringing together international, national and local avant-garde musicians of all colours and stripes for nigh on a year now. Hosted by new psychedelic improvisers ¡NO!, Concrete Soup features a monthly guest and fuels itself on wailing walls of guitars, space jazz bass, brain bending keys, stair collapse drums, nuclear winter clarinet, high wire sax and generally mutant noise. Oh, and it’s often washed down with heavily psychedelic visuals. If you have a penchant for a mash up of the styles of Can, Pere Ubu, Captain Beefheart, Sun Ra, 70s Miles or early Sonic Youth, this will fix you nicely. October’s Concrete Soup will feature internationally acclaimed Japanese minimalist saxophonist Katsura Yamauchi. As per the usual form, Katsura will play a solo set as well as a collaborative set with hosts ¡NO!
Concrete Soup New Psych Music Afternoons
The Twisted Pepper, 54 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1
18 October 2014 – featuring Katsura Yamauchi
Admission: 5 euro
The event is called ‘Mad Scientists of Music’, and it’s on Tuesday
16th September in Twisted Pepper. We’ll have chiptune, circuitbending
and experimental electro-acoustic noise stuff, from a variety of crazy
Irish experimental artists.
Acts featured on the night include Deathness Injection, KaraKara,
Luxury Mollusc, Siam Collective, MarQu Vr & The Trumpets of Time &
Glotchbot. We’ve cooked up a wee playlist to give you a taster!
And here’s a wee interview about the gig, from Near FM’s Art’s Show last week (interview starts 6 minutes in).
The final episode of the series looks at the future of Irish experimental music. We find out how techniques like ‘Live Coding’ (where computer programming during a concert, creates the music and visuals in real time), ‘Geocached Music’ (intrepid explorers following clues to discover hidden caches of music in the real world), and new interfaces like ‘Leap motion’ (which tracks users hands as they move through space) will change how audiences can interact with the music. This episode ties together the threads of the series, and offers a glimpse into the future of music, technology and creative collaboration.
Part 1 – Geocaching with Ewan Hennelly
Irish electronic musician Ewan Hennelly, formerly HERV, now known as ZPG, has combined his love of hiking and electronic music in an unexpected way. Climbing the hills and valleys of the South Downs, Ewan takes part in geocaching. Tracking down geocaches (tiny boxes for marked on an online map) with his GPS, Ewan leaves tapes of his experimental music for curious travellers to encounter.
Part 2 – Simon Kenny’s Inventions
Simon Kenny (Bitwise Operator) is a musician and inventor. He takes us on a whirlwind tour of his software experiments, working with a variety of groups like Galway Autism Project. Simon also shows off his cutting edge software synthesiser ‘Oscar‘.
Part 3 – Andrew Edgar’s Weather Machine
Andrew Edgar of Gamepak Collective has a dream. He wants to build a new kind of instrument, a ‘terrarium’ that can be teased into sonic life by musicians ‘like Gods of yore’.
Part 4 – Ed Devane’s Binaural Recordings
Electroacoustic musician Ed Devane has been experimenting with binaural recordings: Sending these hypnotic microphones out to vocalists all over the world. The results are beautiful and dreamlike.
Part 5 – Sebastian Heinz of Patchblocks
Patchblocks are a new invention, successfully kickstarted by Belfast based, German born Sebastian Heinz. Part synth, part midi instrument, they can be used alone or as a programmable effects pedal; with a huge library of community effects to download.
Epilogue – Success in music
Niamh De Barra and Roger Gregg talk about succeeding as an artist in the twenty first century.
Mad Scientists of Music is a six part, BAI funded documentary series on Near FM. The show explores the world of Circuit Bending, Chip Tune, and Electroacoustic music in Ireland. Low cost technology, recycled instruments and a new attitude to tinkering embodied by the ‘maker movement’ are helping to reinvent music. A new generation of Irish musicians raised around computers, the internet and video gaming, see noise as something to be hacked, taken apart, and reconstructed. These artists build their own instruments, whether by recycling toy keyboards, modifying video game consoles, or attaching electronics to traditional stringed instruments. They often share their music online for free, and in doing so challenge our ideas about copyright and ownership. Their playful attitude to technology finds new uses for obsolete devices and brings the collaboration of musicianship to engineering and the arts.
Chuffed to be able to present my first piece for RTE Lyric FM’s ‘Culture File‘ programme. It’s a short on Chipzel, the Chiptune artist profiled in Episode 2 of Mad Scientists of Music. The piece features much of the same material from that report, but presented in a more straightforward way, which was an interesting challenge. I grew up religiously listening to the incredible BBC Radio 4 arts programme Kaleidoscope, and Luke Clancy’s Culture File is a sort of modern day descendent of that show.