My annual jaunt to Burton On Trent was yet another wonderful evening of music from the Ambient Live team. I played first, followed by Neil Fellowes (and son Callum) and the truly wonderful AirSculpture. The audience was slightly larger than usual, with an unexpected smattering of (gasp!) women to be seen.
The temperature indoors was unpleasantly high, not helped by the rigid seating (I forget every time to bring a cushion). Complaints about “noise” from a local resident meant the doors had to be closed during performances, although not for mine, being so gentle on the ears 😉
My laptop had it’s daily crash during the soundcheck, so performed impeccably for my 35 minute set. I’m still struggling to make effective use of the controller, largely due to the faff of selecting control map sets using a rotary controller and pressing another key to switch the active channel on ableton. I’m sure this will get easier with practise, but I probably need to find another controller. I resisted the temptation to use the keyboard itself!
One feature of the Awakenings gigs is that you can buy a “virtual ticket” and receive an audio file of the complete evening – this is a wonderful idea, recognisijng that ambient fans can’t be expected to travel the length and breadth of Britain for their fix. I look forward to reliving the evenings performances in due course.
Spotted this fabulous video by Gareth Whittock on a facebook looping group – it’s just wonderful! Expressive and amazingly, doesn’t sound at all like an e-bow to my ears! I’ve tried it on various guitars without luck – maybe my ebow isn’t charged up enough to vibrate the string whilst touching it, however gently. I may need to scour ebay for a lappy now
An eerie sounding scale, Bill Walker (check his superb looping work on youtube says it’s arabian minor. R, b2, maj3 ,P4, P5, b6, maj7. This *will* work its way into my set at some stage – truly ispirational.
I’ve had an email from Andrew Keeling, who is writing the definitive book about the criminally ignored Comsat Angels. Pragmatically, he’s sticking to the facts and not the internal politics (bit of a shame 🙂
He’s asked me to write about the brief time I spent with them in the 80s, so I’ve obliged. The memories I’ve unearthed are tinged with sadness, but ultimately happy ones!
Here’s a shot of Mik and Andy (plus Chris McMahon of Haze) jamming with me at my 30th birthday party. I’m playng Steve’s gold Strat. As I recall, we played “Third stone from the sun”, “Purple Haze” and others.
The last track that I mixed of the collaboration between myself and Peter Hill is online at soundcloud. Sadly, the partnership didn’t turn into a longer-term project, but it was a hugely creative and inspiring few months. I wish Pete all the best in his future projects.
For many years I’ve used (and loved) the Alesis airFX – a truly revolutionary concept. However, one huge drawback is the lack of midi output.
Thus, you’re tied to the effects in the unit and cannot use it to control other devices. I pointed out this obvious next step to Alesis, to which they replied “we have no plans to continue development of this unit” and it’s been discontinued. Naturally, they won’t share any technical information about it. Well boo hiss!
So, how do we achieve this using the flexible, cheap and wonderful Ardunio board, which I used elsewhere? This page seems a good way forwards and I’ve ordered a couple of cheap sensors from China for tenner via ebay (look for Arduino Sharp GP2Y0A2YK). Will keep you updated.
I’m currently having a wonderful time playing with a Sheffield musician called Pete Hill – he plays drums, all kinds of percussion, keyboards and lot more besides. Here’s the fruits of yesterdays session, recorded live onto his computer and given a slightly-tweaked mix by me.
Direction-wise, we’d just spent an hour trying to recreate an arrangement of an earlier (improvised) tune. We decided to chill for a while and Pete set an i-phone pattern going, which sparked this relaxed mood. All the guitar looping & processing was done in Ableton.
A Blue Peter badge to the first person to spot what the title references…
My first gig with a laptop passed reasonably trouble free, except that the lighting was almost non-existent, meaning I struggled to see the faders & knobs on my edirol controller keyboard. My first bright idea was to bring down a genuine 1950s PIFCO lamp to illuminate things, but I’m now considering other options. One is some kind of USB light, perhaps even this wonderful fishtank job, to be found on ebay.
Jez (aka Modulator ESP) swears by “fingerlights” (which look like something to be found in a sex shop!) but they might just impede my guitar playing.
I actually bought some plastic glasses with a little led light on either side, but I feel too much of a disk to wear them and the “clear” plastic lenses almost defeat the point of wearing them.
I’ve seen some fairly cool “glow in the dark” knobs, but they are seriously expensive for what you get, it would cost more than the damn keyboard to replace all the knobs. Plus, they only seem to offer the ends of faders, not knobs themselves.
Ebay offers rotary knobs with a glowing stripe, but once again, they seem so expensive and being a tight Yorkshireman, I’d sooner paint my own. Will investigate luminous spray next. Any bright ideas?
I’m a looping guitarist living in Sheffield, England. I have been performing for 45 years in a variety of professional bands and latterly, as a solo artist / collaborator.
Repetition and Intuition are the key factors behind my music, which places dynamics & timbre high up the list. I see the guitar as an organic sound source that uses looping technology and laptop treatment to build moods & soundscapes. My pieces are born, evolve and die away.
A good first (and only) rehearsal with Martin Archer last night, preparing for tonight’s gig at Bishops House. It went smoothly from a tech perspective, although my previous audio “hiccup” issue seems to have returned on an occasional basis – the sound cuts out and I get digital clicking until I adjust the sample rate (then reset it!). Frustrating. It may be an under-powered laptop – it’s 1.8Ghz, when ableton recommend 2Ghz as a minimum. Could be further expenditure is required!
Musically, we soon decided not to loop the keyboard as well as the guitar – things got too mushy too quickly. Even with a single guitar loop, Martin’s twin DD20 setup filled things out nicely 😉