Here’s the latest mix from a live improv session between myself and Andy Peake AKA Lost Garden. I love it!
The Garden is the name of my latest improv duo, featuring the wonderful Andy Peake on keyboards & FX. The last time I played original music with Andy was back in the 80s during my brief tenure in his band the Comsat Angels. We’ve been good friends since and done plenty of jamming with various drummers & bassists, but more recently we’ve shrunk back to a duo and are developing a sound & feel. You can check out the first fruits of this on a live recording called Kairos
Our first gig will be at Bishop’s House on friday May 30th, alongside Martin Archer and Mark Hadman.
For my covers band, Rachel & the Riffs, I’ve been running my Line6 M13 into a JMP preamp (with a stereo reverb send to a zoom 1201) then into a stereo power amp. Great sound, but I lose the stereo end of the M13. So, I’m switching back to a GP100 preamp.
I’ve found out how to split the banks of the M13 so banks 3/4 are sent via the FX output to the FX send/return of the GP100. This will keep FX in stereo at all times and place the spacial effects where they should be, after the preamp. It means an extra set of cables, but this won’t add much to the setup time. I’ll need a midi pedal to select patches on the GP100, but I was using a similar device to select patches on the JMP1, so no extra gear overall. The GP100 will also have reverb running, so I can lose the Zoom from the rack.
The other logic behind this is that I’m using the M13 for distortion to boost solos etc. This is more easily done by having the EQ section of the GP100 foot-switchable so whatever patch I’m using, one pedal will go into boost mode. This should reduce the reliance on the M13 for tone and allow me to set up scenes that are FX only, not tone or distortion. I can also go a step further and trigger patches on the GP100 that are set up for a given sound including things like compression, again reducing the M13 toe-tapping and scene switching.
Sadly, the GP100 shows it’s age with choices of delay, mod etc, so the M13 can’t be replaced altogether, but the tone section is still pretty good. I have a pal Mark who uses a GT-100, I’ll borrow that, check it out and see if I can summon up the energy to persuade my wife it’s a necessary upgrade. I’ll start by showing her the cost of a Fractal AXE-fx 😉
My main band don’t go in for extended jam/improv sessions, where the M13 shines, so I’m hoping this setup will mean less worriting about what to press with my size 11 and more chance to focus on the music 😉
For many years I’ve bemoaned the fact that midi controllers are either inflexible, too darn large, or simply too expensive! So, I’ve decided to go down the DIY route and custom build one. Based on the amazing Arduino chip, this has only taken a few nights of soldering and quite a lot of getting my head round the C++ required to program it. There are loads of existing scripts to adapt. You write the code in the free debugging environment, then simply upload via USB and test!
I’m using mine to send various midi CC messages to my rack jamman, to switch into fade, delay modes etc. I picked up an ART pedal for a fiver on ebay, a fee LEDs, wires and a midi socket and it’s actually working! I need to make it bullet-proof for live work, so will have to figure out how to mount the board firmly, with access to the power socket & USB.
Part of the fun is the little subtleties you can build in. For example, when I go from loop mode into delay mode, I want it to flash when I’m recording something, but stay constantly on when the delay is frozen. This is easily achieved with a few lines of code.
Having acquired an Echoplex Digital Pro which lacked the foot-pedal, I’ve extended my arduino to control it. The hardest part was finding a suitable casing – in the end, I bought a marshall f/s, covered the existing holes up and added new ones. I drew a visualisation of what I wanted (on the right), but as I started wiring the whole thing together, I found I’d run out of available arduino inputs.
The finished delight is shown right. I now need to learn about multiplexiing, to merge more switches through a matrix (apparently!). However, the pedal works and has been used live. Occaisionally I manage to fool the programming logic and leds are on when they should be off, but I’ve coded a line to say long press=reset. I’d like to work on a mk 2, but need to find a suitable enclosure – let me know if you’re handy at bending aluminium!
Just spotted Fenders latest combo, the “Vaporizer” – no idea how it sounds, but it seems a strange choice of marketing & branding. Fender and robots? How does that work? The brand name has it’s own vintage, valvey, beige chic and doesn’t need sci-fi imagery, IMHO. A big leap from “champ” and “princeton”…
Maybe if they had an endorsement from Futurama’s Bender it might have worked, but this, to me this is dreadful.
12 watts, 3 knobs….
I found this video on my drive today whilst doing some cleaning and thought I’d share it, for the music rather than the uninspired video!
I recently needed repairs to my old Laney AOR30 combo, which has been gathering cobwebs for several years & rmade contact with an old and dear friend, Alan Walker. His roots go way back to a band Greensleeper, who I saw in the early 70s. As part of the infamous “Alan & Ozzy” duo, they ran Input studios in the 80s, later home of the Comsat Angels & responsible for almost every decent demo made in Sheffield. I’d seen him in his band Rodger over the years (and at a Pink Floyd tribute gig!), but we’d lost contact.
Anyway. He’s now retard errrr retired and running a company called Telemods, who set up guitars and specialise in retro-fitting Roland GK technology. I made some disparaging comments about his website and Bob’s yer Aunty, have redone it in return for some techy help.
Do check his services out, you won’t find a friendlier guy to work with and he knows his onions!
Oh yes, the combo – Alan recommended a local(ish) company called Blueberry Pie run by John Beaty from North Anston. He diagnosed a transformer failure and fitted a new one within a week. It works fine, sounds great and is earning a crust in my new band Muskoka Drive.
The latest Ambient Live CD release includes one of the tracks (Deep Blue) recorded by a short-lived collaboration between myself on loops / guitar / keys and Peter Hill on drums, loops and effects, with Aidan Hall on guest bass.
Thanks to the wonderful John Sherwood for putting this (and other CDs I feature on) together. Ambient live are an amazing group of people encouraging the performance and promotion of ambient / trance material.
1. Magnetron – Moderators of Perspective 25:17
2. Glenn Alexander – Zarathustra 11:04
3. HyperEx Machina – Hypnotic Hypermnesia 13:24
4. MyOneManBand – Onwards to Oslo 7:48
5. Nick Robinson – Deep Blue 7:06
6. Venja – Zen 4:22
For years I’ve been admiring the music made using the Looperlative and bu**er me, one is for sale on ebay in Sheffield!
I shan’t be buying – a) can’t justify the expense b) committed to laptop looping now. However, I’ve sent the guy a message, who knows maybe some local collaboration might result?
I’ve often pondered as to why I never made a success in the music industry. Lack of fashion sense, inability to keep my mouth shut, an earlier obsession with the guitar before the the music, all played their part. But I like to think that the biggest factor is just plain dumb luck ;(
I played with the Comsat Angels (and recorded) for six months in the 80s and was all set to tour the States with them when the record company pulled the finance, insisting the band write some hit singles before coming back to them. It’s a short & sad story, but by the time they toured again, I was no longer involved.
Much more recently, I’d been jamming with Mik, Andy and a superb bassist called John Prideaux. Totally improvised and nrestrainedly jazz rock in the “Billy Cobham” mode, it was sounding, to my ears, pretty darn good. Words cannot explain how inspiring it is to be playing with three such superb musicians!
Then Mik suddenly reached that time in his life when a “man’s gotta” and has decamped to Whitby to settle down as an old drumming sea-dog (or pi**-poor Goth). The end of yet another dream-team ;(
I recorded one session and shot a few low-fi vids on another. Since it’s unlikely to happen again, I thought I’d share some of it, a video on youtub and a longer recording on soundcloud. The latter sounds more coherent to my ears, but then the video is only the second half of an equally long bash.
Good times (these were the)…