Objects 3

As the leather strap flew loose, sawdust floated out of the unpainted hole in the matte Burgundy surface of the guitar. You forget sometimes that guitars are made out of wood, though this one, with its flat furniture finish on a mahogany body doesn’t have that problem. I searched for a screwdriver, and finding a small needle-style Phillips screwdriver, I put the strap lock back on.

I’ve had to fix guitars a few times. My black Telecaster flew to the concrete floor once, and I was terrified it would crack the delicate blonde maple neck. I looked the shiny black guitar over, which had been flawless, and there was a new white patch on it on the upper rear body, on the corner of the side with the back. I was horrified; I spent a lot of time polishing this guitar to a glossy black shine, and now it had a glaring flaw – not the pretty flaws of fake vintage guitars, but a patch of exposed polyester that modern Telecasters are encased in.

I remembered that nail polish is often made of nitrocellulose. So I went to the store, and looked over the gleaming small bottles for the fine print on their varied branded labels to see if they were indeed nitrocellulose. I found a black lacquer (and also a clear one) and when I got them home, quickly pulled them out of the plastic drug store bag, pulled off the top and applicator, and applied it to the white chip in the side of my guitar, plumping it into the shape the guitar originally had. I looked it over, and it was hard to see the spot, but what would it look like when dry?

I came back a few hours later. You could hardly find the corner. It was shiny and black. It was nice to find a way to restore something to what it was, damaged through my fault, but given a second chance by a bottle of nail polish/

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Objects 2

It is distant, yes: as I expected it to be. But I can definitely make it out – the white bird attached by the abdomen to the white football of a fuel tank, and the two missile like solid rocket boosters at the side. We’re on a hill, and the bright sunlight washes away some, but not all, the greens and blues of the landscape between here and there. White specs – seagulls – circle, swoop and sway in the sea blue air, as vehicles come and go behind us. Columbia will launch for the first time in two weeks.

On the way here, the dusty road looked like so many other roads I’d seen – drainage tunnels run under it periodically, and there are small ditches on each side of the road. But these roads were different – there were alligators in them. I am used to skittish large animals that flee at the sight of any person. Here the gators laze around in the ditch, like beach-going sun tanners, totally unconcerned with the passing of men, women, and cars.

At Kennedy Space centre, the Saturn V lies in stages on its side. It has all the colours and markings it did on TV, the big USA and the black stripes and red markings. But it is so much bigger here – large like many houses. I can’t picture them all stacked up and on a launch pad – they’re just too enormous and unwieldy.

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Objects 1

In the Blessed Sacrament church of my memory, not the one of today, the church glows with the deep reds of the gel lights. Palm fronds wave over the figures in the shadows, portraying apostles and angels. A blanket of sackcloth encases the musicians, hidden away from sight, but crisply yet gently shaking the still air with a song that sounds like John Hiatt’s plaintive voice.

It has been a half hour or more since the censer was out, but the faint sweet smell of incense lingers in the air, not tracing to any one place that was incensed, but hanging over everything like the cosmic background radiation of the universe. His voice rings out,  hoarse and despondent. There’s something more than sadness in the weeping roughened tone; I can hear in his raw throat the harsh cutline of endings.

I can dodge the curtain’s waving threads if I stay still. In my corner, the 10 gage strings of my Telecaster cut into my hands, the connection between my fingers and the maple neck is translating into the exact sounds I want them to. Too bad it may not happen again.

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Beautiful video containing “The Broken”

A year or so ago, I took a beautiful piano piece by Jeris (on ccMixter) and added some guitar, mandolin, bass, and windchime ambience to it – and the result was something I was certainly very happy with.

This piece is in a lot of videos. One of them has seen 63,000 views which is mind boggling (but not as big a thing as the hundreds of thousands of views one ‘Put the Needle Down’ video has.)

This is the nicest video ‘The Broken’ is in, I think. Fits what I see when I hear it.

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Winter is for dreaming

People who write me at ccMixter often single out the remixes I do of the wonderful and talented snowflake. This is very gratifying to me, as this is one of the artists I have remixed the most, and certainly one of the ones whose material I try hardest to do right by.

I certainly gave my best to the stems for Winter Glow. I don’t hear really well (more on that later) so delicate songs with lots of resonant timbres are really hard for me to work on, but it is the kind of music I like making the best. In this case, I wanted to make a gentle string quartet thing happen, so I added a contrabass, a couple of violins and a cello, and of course a bit of finger style guitar.

To really bring out the warmth of the stringed instruments, I added a big string pad underneath, using a Mac plug in called “Sound Magic Orchestral Strings.” This thing had good reviews on kvraudio.com, but I found it was finicky… if you play in the right range, and with the right amount of velocity on the keyboard, it sounds like a string section… but it usually doesn’t. Which is odd, as it is made from real string samples.

Anyway. here is the result!


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Schlock fest

There’s a guy on ccMixter named javolenus who has to be one of the most prolific musicians I’ve ever seen, or heard of. He’s literally writing and posting a song or two a day, as well as adding random riffs and electronica bits. A remixer could probably post a hundred remixes without using sources from any other artist!

He posted a song one day called “Emperor of Rock” that seemed to have a kind of slow, but hard driving and rollicking rock thing happening. So I took it on. A lot of the time with remixes, I just kind of “play the band”, which sometimes is just me being lazy.

But I had an idea for this time – the main lyric is about an “Emperor of Rock.” So I had the idea of throwing in all these classic rock riffs.  This is the result.


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You know, I shouldn’t host a blog unless I write in it

so I shall now go on a posting flurry. 🙂

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So I am chasing down Netlabels… or trying to.

I sent a list of tunes in to Magnatune. Now I expect they see so many artist submissions that I really have little chance of really attracting their attention. That’s just statistics.

I am doing this as I find that I am doing a lot of giving with music, and not really doing a lot of receiving, at least in the real economy. I am a volunteer admin at http://ccmixter.org/ and one of the most prolific contributors of samples (and one of ccMixter’s most remixed artists.) I give away a lot of music at Soundclick. And I am a volunteer band leader at a popular Ottawa Catholic parish. As you can imagine, music costs me a fair bit to make, and even if I don’t expect to really make a lot of money at it, I think it would be nice to be validated by having somebody tell me my music is worth their time cataloguing on their site, or listing me as  an artist.

The problem is finding alternatives to Magnatune. Most netlabels are primarily oriented towards electronic music. And I’ve dabbled in that, certainly. But my own DIY efforts are primarily roots rock. Seems like few out there do that.

In the meantime, if you’re actually willing to support my efforts in your videos, documentaries, etc. please drop me a line. Just don’t ask me about Sunrise (Unplugged). Ask here about that instead.

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Blogs of some of my favourite CCMixters

I’ve been discovering that a lot of CCMixter folks blog about their efforts. I recently ran across unreal_dm online. Anyone reading this blog who has a clue what I’ve been up to know that unreal is one of my favourite virtual collaborators: the stuff he tackles of mine is superb, and I have a lot of fun tackling stuff of his.

There are others. Mind Map That has a blog and a podcast, which I will listen to shortly. She recently got signed to TuneTrack, which is the host of blogs for snowflake and spinningmerkaba.

There’s scomber, Ivan Chew, MC Jack in the Box, and SackJo22. Lots of others too, but now I’m getting too lazy to chase them down!

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Secret Mixter follies

In recent Secret Mixter events at CCMixter, I often go more than one round, as I serve on one might be called the “cleanup squad.” People whose secret mixters stiff them and don’t do a mix deserve to have their own hard work rewarded. So I ended up with two pieces in this one.

Killer Robot Malaise

My assignment was PorchCat. Here’s the thing about assigned partners – you have to work with what they have. As a remixer, I can be lazy… I hunt down materials that I know I can work with easily, and I’ll build on those. Secret Mixter forces you to be more open minded and a little less lazy.

PorchCat’s samples are focused on soundscapes and sci-fi effects. Anyone familiar with my work knows that I tend to build fairly structured “songs”: things that often have vocals in verse, refrain, and choral patterns.  I stretch beyond that occasionally, but it is my comfort zone.

So I decided to tackle this one like I was doing the soundtrack for a movie. Out of PorchCat’s many samples, I built my opening theme, some mystery and build up, and then an action scene, and finally, a hint at a sequel.  I used my guitars to add a bit of drama throughout, and augmented PorchCat’s Cylon voices with a couple of my own. I always wanted to sound like a Cylon. I used Cylonix to do it.

I’m always surprised by how well received some of my secret mixter efforts are – certainly Killer Robot Malaise has no commercial appeal. Its an experimental fusion of alt-rock and trip hop, not a genre easily found in the record store. I’m gratified that it was well received, but certainly a bit puzzled.

Smoked Meat

Scomber was about to get stiffed. So I stepped in here. His Red Carpet Please deserved a response.

I’ve got a fondness for delis. This excuse for guitar wankery which I built on Scomber’s groovy Boxcar Headed West is more than a little self indulgent. I think I’ll probably avoid any excessive guitar work on whatever I do next.

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