Weekly Beats comes but only every two years and since 2012 I’ve committed myself to it as a willing participant. In short, it’s a project that involves its participants to write and record an original piece of music each week for the rest of the year. I’ve never made the full 52 weeks, but since its inception in 2012 I’ve thrown myself into it in order to kickstart some new ideas or nudge along curiosities.
This month I decided to employ a piece of hardware that’s been a studio mainstay for as long as I’ve had anything resembling a studio: my beloved Tascam 424 Portastudio. I bought it in 1999 and made some of my first electro-acoustic experiments on it, way back when I was trying to emulate the weird and disjointed sound of records like Radiohead’s Kid A or Gastr De Sol’s Camofluer. The Portastudio’s tracking, fx sends and pitch settings made it possible to manipulate sounds and create interesting layers and textures. This was long before I could afford something like a laptop and the sofrtware that went with it.
And ultimately, when I eventually got my first laptop, the Portastudio was pushed aside in favour of the cool technological ease of digital audio interfaces.
So, its endeavours like Weekly Beats that can trigger a reinterest in dusting the old thing off once again and putting it to use once again. If anything, it’s great to have a piece of equipment on hand that provides a more tactile interface with sound – whether it be flipping a tape over, tweaking the EQs or creating an endless chain of auxilery effects.
This is where this month’s worth of material started; then, I got the idea of creating short tracks which evoked memories and impressions of places.
On this collection, the hiss, crackle and unpredictability of old 1970’s cassettes is inscribed with the woozy and gurgling tones of my Microkorg, or in the case of the latter track, an agogo played by a couple of prepared loudspeakers. Across the four tracks I’ve employed a digital delay and reverb FX send to add a bit of spaciousness, whilst the pitch features of Portastudio have been applied zealously.
Thanks for listening!
TLR, March 2018.
Howdy folks! It’s been a bit quiet on this blog since I’ve essentially been on vacation and taking leave from writing/posting on here. I’m getting back into the swing of things though and I’ve got a few things planned in the coming months including a couple of new ‘long reads’ and a big website overhaul. The latter project has been taking up a considerable chunk of my time – it’s a big update!
In the meantime, here’s a brand new EP consisting of my first four weeks from Weekly Beats 2018. Details below.
Summer Dreams consists of the four tracks I produced during January 2018 as Adelaide experienced weird tropical weather interspersed with two characteristically Adelaidian heatwaves. Brutal heatwaves. Ah, climate change.
Through the heat, rain, wind and storm activity, I composed these four pieces which explore elements of sound texture and density, whilst aiming to ensure degrees of space and contrast. My ongoing interest in customised percussion and field recordings (specifically spatial and locative properties) inform these pieces heavily. Then there’s the tried and true sound manipulations and iterative processes, which feature in virtually anything that I produce in the studio.
Back in 2015 I recorded an EP as a special release for Christmas. I’m quite fond of this release, but I always thought that the four tracks comprising the EP should have been presented as one continuous track.
I’ve now gone back and remixed this release as one continuous track. It’s now available as a free download over at soundcloud.
Original 2015 liner notes:
As of last year, I reinstated my earlier tradition of issuing aChristmas or End of Year single/EP. This occurred in 2008 (“Enlaced”), 2009 (“Spool”), 2010 (“Parlour”) and last year (“Red Eyes”).
This year I’ve decided to expand the offering to an exclusive four-track suite which has been composed at my studio during November 2015.
Recorded at Maurilia Sound Studio: November 2015.
TLR: Synthesisers, turntable, bass guitar, samples and effects modules.
“Invisible al cuore” contains a sample from Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960 film, “L’Avventura”.
Had such a great time down south this afternoon performing an extended three-hour set of discrete electro-acoustic ambience for the art opening at Sauerbier House. Here’s a small excerpt from the performance (desk > recorder). When I find the time (obv. in the new year) I’ll compile a longer version for the Bandcamp page.
Great opportunity to rock out the new Earthquaker Transmisser pedal too!
When I was considering a new composition for 2016’s single I thought back to some music that I composed for an installation which was exhibited as “Orbits” within the Adelaide City Council’s concourse. This was a long-form piece consisting of layered chords from a vintage reed organ that I’d owned since 1999.
Two chords sequences of different lengths were played back simltaneously to create a phase relation and went through an additional process of subtle frequency and amplitude modulation via a EHX Memory Man and POG2 harmonic octave generator. The final piece was over seven hours long in duration and was broadcasted in the installation space on a continuous loop.
The intended reception of the installation was for the passerby to encounter a brief moment of development in the work (characterised by a texture and/or harmony) – a small moment’s encounter in a complex series of cycles.
* * *
When I think back to the period that I was composing the work it was at the beginning of 2016. Already the year had begun uneasily, yet as personal, national and worldwide events unfolded in the coming months I now arrived at the end of a year which been characterised by momentous changes; for myself and the world as a whole – a reality of Brexit, Trump, post-truth, fascism, the ruins of Aleppo, decimated ecosystems, the felt effects of climate change and countless other atrocities. I – like many others – currently feel exhausted, ragged and worn down by our teneous existence in the early 21st Century. Yet, some of us still love and care about the things that matter. If there was ever a time to be hopeful, optimistic and to passionately fight for things like facts, inclusion, tolerance, empathy, our planet: it’s natural systems and species – there’s certainly no time like the present.
* * *
It seemed only fitting to take a section of a work composed at the beginning of the year and reimagine it through an additional set of sound manipulation processes – presenting a poetic rematerialisation of “Orbits” as a single ‘orbit’ – a snapshot of a drift, disrupted and transmuted by 2016’s uneasy passages.
Here’s to the future – let’s wish for 2017’s journey to be a little steadier.
Listen below (via YouTube)
From my notebook:
9:25am – 10:25am
Recorder positioned with L (north), R (south)
Town Hall bells chime at 9:30am, and periodically every 15 mins.
Lots of sporadic traffic on Pirie Street (trucks, rattling engines)
Construction to building to the south. Frequent sounds of drilling and hammering. Becomes less frequent in the final 15 mins of recording.
First tram passes on King William Street at 9:47am
Nice organ harmonies at 9:53am
Nice low resonances at 10:07am
Patter of leaves blowing at either end of walkthrough
Pedestrians – on foot: 33