Tuesday, December 28, 2004

You'll Tide...

Christmas, eh? Who'd have it. Why on earth a deity has to prove himself occasionally by visiting the ol' creation stomping ground is beyond me. Good excuse to buy Nic a saxophone though. I'll have her playing horn lines from JB songs before you can say "get up offa that thang" (dooo-do! do! do! do!) - excuse my phonetics.

Still, it gives us an opportunity to tell what level of credit people have left. Funny how the shops are actually having to discount properly. Has the internet finally bitten hard enough?

I'm tired of walking into shops, finding out the prices on 100 pound goods are at 130 and being told "well, that's the internet, isn't it?" - high time the high street got competitive with a service where, let's face it, the goods end up on your doorstep.

I couldn't even get strings for the Ashbory in stores in the UK - I had to shop online in Germany! The postage was massive, mind.

I love it when I pick up a bass I haven't played for a couple of weeks and get a real blast out of it. Picked up the Warwick for the first time in a short while (working on that cover of "superstition" for joost meant I played 5 and 6 string exclusively for a couple of weeks) - man, that thing wails.

Wish I could find my Roni Size CD. I wanted to re-learn the double bass lines from Brown Paper Bag on the Ashbory. Would be fun to jam that with someone (prob joost!) on the drumkit.

Ho hum


Saturday, December 18, 2004

A replacement gig...?

Yay! Just scored tickets to see Muse with Soulwax supporting at Earl's court in london tomorrow. Should be one hell of a gig, they were riveting at reading when I last saw them. And with the new Soulwax album on the iPod, I've been impressed enough to listen to it plenty...

Bassic Stuff
The Ashbory sounds fantastic with new strings and talc, real mwah and a much improved double bass style sound. It's holding tune better as well.

I've started redrafting the daily practise schedule: I think I may even start keeping a practise diary again, I stopped as I thought it didn't help but I suspect as part of my drive to ambition again I need pushing a bit.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Ah, the sweet smell of reading... yes, I didn't get to the Sebastian Bach gig, but i did consider going on my own and touting the tickets...

Nic is exhausted, seems like she had a day much like mine, with everything coming at once. So we got to reading, having managed to get almost totally gunked up in readings infamous IDR. Then nic decided she didn't want to go.

Funny thing is, this is fine! She was in a shitty mood, so I set about cheering her up, which cheered me up immensely. To Nic's credit she made lots of bitchy comments about stuff as we tried in vain to get to Reading station in some sort of good time (just not possible, the place is a disaster area), but she didn't explode at any point, even when my driving was less than F1 standards (which you need to use in Berkshire to get anywhere. Drive like a bastard, get to where you're going. Value your car/life/passengers, get stomped on by everybody else).

And I didn't even need to use vodka and jaffa cakes to cheer her up like I had to when we lived in Alexandra Court in St Andrews - she had a crappy cold so I drank most of a full bottle of vodka, ate a packet of jaffa cakes and made merry until she had cheered up. Unfortunately I then passed out in the en suite bathroom, having locked the door ;) This caused much stress.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

MP3s, iPods, convenience...

Man, organising an MP3 collection can take it out of you. I've been ripping my CDs for so long now I've nearly made it through the entire collection (and my wife's as well).

Trouble is, I wasn't organising them as I went along. With the arrival of the iPod in August, I started trying to organise them a bit, and used MP3Tag ( a great piece of software ) to tidy up tags mangled by the grabber I'm using (the track numbers come out like 1/10 - 2/10 - etc and that toally confuses the ipod).

But it's a huge task... and it's tiring... and freedb's lag is huge today... and I've lost my voice, pretty much :)

All this lovely gadgetry to listen to music, and you spend more of your precious time slaving away to organise Gbs of files so you can remember what the hell you've got to listen to! I reckon John Peel had it better. He was (predictably) a huge vinyl fan, with hundreds of thousands of records in his collection, all housed in purpose built storage where he lived (he did his Radio 1 shows by ISDN). If the spine of the record case has a title on it, you can file it physically somehow: with MP3, the damn albums are buried under directories.

I wonder if there's an indexing system for MP3s you can type in a preference of style to, then have it suggest stuff in your collection to match your mood... of course, this would have to run on a PC at the moment.

I'm sure there's a shitload of stuff I just haven't listened to yet...

Bass stuff?
I've listed myself on a couple of "musicians available" websites, and I'm trying to find other ones. I guess the local freeads paper should really be my next stop.

Maybe I should start hunting in london again. That recording session on Friday seems like a bright spot behind me when I look back, but the tunnel ahead looks very dark. You've got to get out there...

Monday, December 06, 2004

The law of the Stag...

... is frankly total bollocks.

What a blast - a pontins in Camber Sands, East Sussex (you do the multimap if you wish) taken over for the weekend (which really did start on friday night) by a bunch of freakishly tall people who enjoy ranges of music which I can only imagine have evolved so far into the future that you can only enjoy it if you have extra limbs and two brains to process the information.

I'm totally munced, this weekend has left me with a ringing in my soul (I wore earplugs the whole time we were within shooting distance of a stage - the PAs were huge!) - but I can guarantee that it's one hell of a way to put on a festival. The main stages (2 of) were within 3 minutes brisk walk of the warm, comfortable chalets we were in (although the inevitable plastic mattresses were a bit cold the second night) - one main room with a softbed, which was big enough to house our own 2 longditudinally-enhanced freaks Niall (the groom) and Steve (the organiser and best man), and one bedroom with 3 beds in, it felt a bit like you were stacking yourself in a warehouse when you finally decided you had to collapse for the evening.

We were in 551, and the remainder of our plucky 10 person band in 427, a short but ultimately disorienting walk across the totally uniform block structure of the site. It was a little like the Albany Park in St Andrews (gatty to those in the know) - but 2 stores high. You could have filmed a carry on film there and it'd have been perfect, provided you could get the 70s clothes and ensure the trees had no leaves on them.

While 551s kitchen remained relatively unblasted by the excesses of 5 psuedo-batchelors (Stuart and I bringing several packets of instant-pasta and smash style carbohydrates, plus a huge bag of pasta, dolmio a plenty and tortilla chips n dip), 427s sink was nicely clagged with whatever got shoved down there by Sat eve. Stuart and I had a hankering for pasta so we washed pots in the bathroom sink and then he slipped crushed chillis in while my back was turned (curse you Smurf), then beatifically asked if we should put the rest of the (slightly spicy) chili salsa dip from Tescos in. "Oh yes, that'll be fine" said I. And thus Stuart ritually spiked the pasta that most of us ate. There's a mean streak in that guitarist...

The 2 crates of carlsberg, plus the copious amounts of tequila, whisky and (undrunk) tesco value cidery drink (4% mind) - which we nicknamed weakbow - we bought ensured we never ran out of beer, but they also conspired to ensure we didn't realise how much Chilli Smurf put in the pasta sauce. I realised at 9am the following morning, when liquid noises from the region of my bellybutton persuaded me unconciousness was no longer an option. Toothpaste tube, I know how you feel...

Movies????.... but this is a music festival!

The bands varied enormously in quality over the weekend. In between them, we indulged in the ATP channel, which showed a variety of DVDs, often forgetting to put on the copyright notice, but not always. Highlights included the zombie fest night on Saturday (evil dead, zombie flesh eaters, etc) and some woody allen movie on sunday which seemed to have kenneth brannagh reprising the role of woody himself, presumably as he is now too decrepit to dissemble properly through the medium of celluloid. The inclusion of Famke Janssen, Wynona Ryder and Charlize Theron in this movie made me wonder if Ken and Woody had hand-picked the leading ladies which Ken's rather perversely f*cked-up "Alfie" character found himself knocking around with.

And the bands?....

Well, highlights for me included Throbbing Gristle (Niall now has a double CD of the gig, purchased immediately afterwards), Aphex Twin (who hung around the site for the full weekend, utterly out of his tree in the "Queen Victoria" theme-style pub saturday night) who was truly spectacular (even I danced), Bird Blobs (from Melbourne, Aus) who I thought would be a comedy act but who turned out to be respectably energetic black-clad purveyors of up-to-date retro punk rock screamusic, "And you shall know us by the trail of the dead" who had 2 drummers (I was impressed) and predictably trashed their gear at the end of the gig - but, as Stuart pointed out, didn't do an encore afterwards and have top retrieve the now sorry looking instruments and attempt to make noise with them(!)

What about these diminutively-challeneged (i.e. tall) freaks?...

My god, I've never had so much trouble seeing the stage. It's as if the music caused these people to move their heads closer to god or something... or maybe the long, dark hours spent listening to John Peel (cheerio john - he got several mentions throughout the weekend, inducing spontaneous cheers, and at one stage a longish section of one of his shows was played downstairs to great applause) caused them never to see the sun, and we know what that does to plants. They grow up tall, spindly and rather anaemic. Perfect!

I bought a couple of flashing LED wand things and then proceeded to spin them lots, which drew some favourable comments and several pictures. We took a lot of footage of spinning light wands... Stuart and I both had our little Mustek DV cameras. Fortunately with long exposure times they became quite entertaining. Actually, I had great fun with the flashing stick things, and they gave me a great idea. They did have a habit of exploding and turning themselves off though (not at the same time: something which explodes is probably not going to turn back on). I managed to repair one of the two which Niall accidentally managed to mangle :) The other will need more urgent attention with epoxy, I fear... Funny thing, I wore the dreadlocks, and everytime I spun the lightsticks, someone asked me if i had any pills - the police should use thaqt one with undercover agents! The real clincher seems to be if you can spin both of them at 90 degrees to each other and move them around like mesmerising plates.

Niall has a tattoo or two... and a pierced tongue... and yet, lip or eyebrow piercings somehow bring out a sense of revulsion in him. Someone forward me the address of a good therapist :)

Some top people on site. One of the chalets across from us had "YOU ARE WELSH" written on the window in toothpaste during the first night, and someone was reenacting an old freeserve advert on the lawn area outside, on a bike with truly hand-knitted 70s clothes!

More meanderings in a bit

Friday, December 03, 2004

Recording complete!

Well, just got back from the recording session with Joost. Turns out the local high school in Thatcham has quite a music facility: a touch better than what I remember at Madras, where the height of expense was a drum kit :) Mind you, it was 1988 when I left.

Good 24 channel desk, with 8 subchannels (a spirit folio), and a 24 channel tascam hard drive recorder. Good separates, and Joost's drums had some good mics doing their magic! I brought the Pod and the Warwick CCL, but in the end it proved better to just DI the pod in AIR speaker emulation mode - sounded great. The stock electronics in the 5 string aren't as bad as I've read on some websites, it had jsut the right amount of mellow bass plus a little bit of treble from the newly-boiled strings. Actually, that bass sounds best with "used" strings.

I added some white wine vinegar when I cleaned them this time as well, seems to have made a bit of a difference. They lasted beautifully, despite us having a couple of run throughs as warm up and then 4 takes. We forgot the middle 8 scat solo on the first one!

I must try to remember that a whiteboard is an excellent idea when recording - I scribbled up the dynamics of the 2 bar sections played after the chorus, and then we aced it no problem. Probably a good idea to do that in advance...

I think I might have a talent for recording like that - just bass and drums - it felt really natural, I wasn't panicking the way I thought I might when you don't have any other melodic counterpoint to work with. I was actually much more nervous yesterday evening when I had another couple of run-throughs at 12:20am(!)

yawn... and I wonder why I'm tired!

Wierd day though. Now I've got to get off home so I can drive down to close to folkestone(!) for the ATP festival (Their site gives good details) which it turns out is in a pontins holiday camp! Smurf's coming down there with me, he's bringing his acoustic, etc.

Wish I'd got more music on the iPod, the iTrip will come in handy, no doubt. Still no ChiliPeppers on there yet! Grrr... this is whap happens when you don't get around to finishing the MP3tag checking on your MP3 collection. I think I'm part-way through one of the folders... I still haven't even installed Steinberg's "clean" software to get all the vinyl and tapes turned digital... I want Snuff on the iPod!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Recording looms...

Well, it's thursday and I've spent a couple of days working on the cover of Stevie W's Superstition by Nnenna Freelon. Great bass part, full of funky little mid- and high-register trills and fills for variety.

It's cool, the backing part has a lot of spacey feel about it. Laid back electric piano, skeletal swung 16th drums, great vocals: there's enough space between vocal parts for a little bass interest. And the bassist in this case, Gerald Veasley, has a great touch, with excellent vibrato and understated digging in at the right points.

I've got all the way through with at least a good interpretation of the fils, and the structure is solid. It's just a question of starting early this evening and polishing it up.

This'll be a first for me, recording with just bass and drums (no backing at all!) and trying to keep the feel without the melodic and musical feedback you get from other pitched instruments.

Should be interesting. And in my lunch hour as well.

Tch. Must kick this day job habit.