Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Our second live gig on NakedBeatz

So, another live X-Amount show on NakedBeatz..

We had this rather ambitious idea of playing as much new stuff as possible. From an aesthetic point of view, this made a lot of sense; we had been so busy putting new jams together we had built up quite a backlog of material that was waiting to be edited and mixed. From a practical viewpoint however, it was not so good. We had decided to perform in a similar way to the last show (back in January) and do two forty minute sets using our laptops hooked up via Airport, running Ableton with a bit of DJ'ing inbetween. That meant editing and mixing an hour and twenty minutes of music beforehand to prepare the gig. A tall order given the amount of time we had before the performance.

We decided to go for it! It was up to me, really. I do the post-production side of things (with Andi's guidance/advice/complaining/swearing), and after a long period of contemplation I decided that it would be worth a go. We would do some recent tunes and twelve new ones. If I ran out of time we could always fall back on the previous gig's work.

It was incredibly complicated and hard work, but we got there. We also added in a re-work of a favourite track of ours from last year - "Oppressor" (from "You Need Glasses"). This was a good result as it originated from our earliest (maybe first?) jams using Ableton. Back then we decided to throw away everything after we had improvised with it. A kind of art-punk attitude which we later realised was a bit daft..

So, I got this huge project in place eventually and we jammed through a rehearsal session at Andi's the night beforehand. It was all looking good.

Two screen shots of the pre-gig arrangements in Ableton (click to see larger)

But! On the night we were all ready to go and things went pear-shaped. We had set up at Mr. Bloor's house in Deptford, South London. He DJs for NakedBeatz every other week (as DJ Simple). The NakedBeatz studio is somewhere else entirely, what happens is that the set is broadcast via a PC in Mr. Bloor's house, you switch over from the previous DJ (who could be anywhere in the world) when you go live.

When it came to the time for us to go live, Mr. Bloor pressed the button and the computer went "error". Bugger. Mr. Bloor frantically tried to sort the problem, but to no avail. Andi and I were sat there poised and ready to go for nearly an hour and a half before we finally went on the air. Even then it still wasn't working properly, so we have no idea what the poor listeners suffered (apologies if you were one of them).

All the technical hitches threw us somewhat and it was quite difficult to get into the right vibe, so we were not at our best. Still, the recording of it is not so bad..check it out and let us know what you think..

Rather than explain the tech bit this time, I thought I could run through where the sounds came from on each track.. you might find it interesting..

Set 1:

1: Steam
The set opens with a recording of a carrier bag. The bag features throughout the two sets. The bag was scrunched up, a microphone placed inside and the bag was recorded as it un-scrunched itself. The next sound to enter is a treated recording of me hitting jam pot lids with a butter knife. Other samples are of shortwave radio. Andi made the synth sound using Propellerheads "Figure" on his iPhone.

Figure by Propellerheads

2: Box
Box has been explained in a previous blog (see: here), so I won't go on about it here. This is a "re-dubbed" version. I like the acoustic sounding kit. Listen out for a recording of Andi tapping his feet at work and cutting strips of wire (reversed).

3: Oppressor
This was rebuilt from the original samples used for the version on "You Need Glasses". I added a synth bass to enhance the bassline that originally was generated by filtering one of the drum loops. The voices and other sounds and voices are all treated shortwave recordings.

Again, this one has been explained in a separate blog. The squeak was recorded in the local kids playground (the swings). The crowd sounds are a combination of a recording in a cafe and Andi walking around a building site, recording. The low pitched voices were recorded on the 208 bus in South London. The hiss noise is a waterfall and one of the synth sounds was generated from tape hiss. The main bass is a filtered section of the cafe recording.

5: Hobo
The bag and the jam pot lids return. Three bags this time, one heavily time-stretched. The bassline is a pitch-bending long 909 bass drum. Glitchy treated acoustic guitar. The synth sounds and one drum loop are again made by Andi using Figure on the iPhone. Plenty of easy to spot shortwave samples too, which is also where the chattering voices come from.

6: Crush Your Pride
This track is named after the shortwave sample present here, where there seems to be a translation going on of some Christian principles regarding "pride". There is a filtered Rhodes riff, sub bass and another synth and drum loop generated using Figure. A pad synth riff and drum parts were made in Logic. A sample of the Roland R8 drum machine and shortwave recordings.

7: Disgrace
The rather disturbing bassline for this was made by Andi using the Korg iMS20 on the iPad, as were the beeping sounds in the front half of the track. The voices are all recordings of shortwave radio.
The second beeping sample is overlapped from the next track (Flap Flops) and is a recording of the pelican crossing outside Waterloo Station.

8: Flap Flops
The recoding of the pelican crossing is melded with some shortwave radio beeping sounds. The snare-like sound here is actually a recording of someone throwing something large and metallic into a skip. There is a treated recording of the swimming pool at Bromley Leisure Centre and sounds from Wrotham Steam Fair last year. There are some treated Gamelan Gong sounds. The track ends with the sound of someone running to catch a train wearing flip-flops.

1: Matter
A pitch bend acoustic guitar and a familiar sonar sample begin this track. Then you have some shortwave mutterings with drum parts made using Ultrabeat in Logic. Another acoustic guitar completes this snippet.

2: Tang
A dirty feedback guitar that Andi calls "Simon May on the roof" begins this track. Most of the other parts of this track were built in Logic then trashed in Ableton. There is, as usual, shortwave lurking.

An accidental sample that I recorded on shortwave comes from Nicki Minaj's "Beez In The Trap" has been chopped and twisted. The other vaguely musical sound is some sort of eastern Zurna-like instrument I also picked up on the radio. I never found out what it was properly as I preferred not to tune it in correctly, keeping the barmy distortions. The low voice I call "the beast" comes from another snippet of shortwave, and there are other shortwave voices present too. All the drum parts were built by Andi using the Korg iMS20 on the iPad. The bass is made from a recording of the pier being deconstructed in Herne Bay, I think it is actually a motor boat engine in the distance.

4: Lost A Grand
The main voice in this says "since I started work, I must have lost a grand". This man was recorded on the 208 bus in South London and had plenty to say. At this time he was going on about being ripped off by credit card companies. The crowd voices were recorded at a protest march by the Congolese people in Whitehall, London. I recorded sound whilst my son Dillon took photographs. More shortwave and synth loops built by Andi using Figure and myself using Logic, and some synthetics made using white noise. There is also a treated recording of a digger on a building site.

Photo by Dillon Skyring-Birch

5: Bottle Banker
This was originally called "Dennis' Tune" because Andi's daughter's Guinea pig Dennis seemed to like it (hello Mr. Bloor, that info was for you). It begins with a recording made at the bottle bank in New Ash Green. The carrier bag and jam pot lids return again. There is the sound of a train door's 'closing' beep sound. Voices come from shortwave recordings and there is some reversed acoustic guitar. The disgusting bassline was made on the Korg iMS20 by Andi.

6: Auk
Most of the parts of this were built in Logic, synths with a real electric bass. The main synth is treated live in Ableton using the Saturator effect along with a filter that exaggerated and created harmonic vibrations. Shortwave effects and trashed drum parts complete the picture.

7: Stammerung
So named after mis-spelling "stammering" when identifying one of the shortwave voices here, it also seemed to fit with the German 'counting' voice. There are drum and synth loops made on the iMS20 alongside samples of the Roland R8 drum machine, synth loops made in Logic and a real bass guitar. Some sounds are made from a recording of strings on a piano being plucked that I made at Nicky's house in Salisbury, which have then been effected by Andi.

8: Gannett
Synthetic double bass and piano parts recorded in Logic and then trashed in Ableton, with some random acoustic guitar harmonics shimmering. Shortwave lurks as usual, this time heavily gated and chopped up.


Note: to see more of Dillon's photography go to:

Note 2: The tracks listed here that have clickable links as their titles: clicking the link will take you to the SoundCloud page that has a free downloadable version of the track

On the tech side, this was all put together using pretty much the same methods as the previous gig back in January (see: Our live gig, tech details & stuff), only without so many mistakes. I have since learnt to always use WAV (or AIFF) files with Ableton as the program reads and understands them better. If you use mp3s the program simply converts them and stores WAV versions it creates in its "Decoding Cache" folder. This folder can get pretty massive quite quickly if you are not careful. Use WAVs and there is nothing in it at all (besides the ever present "cache content" file).

No comments:

Post a Comment