Friday, January 31, 2014

Loving ... "Structure" by Neue



I love the music Mike Lemmon aka Neue creates and his latest release - "Structure" - builds on the already firm foundation he has in my consciousness.

There is a distinct progression apparent in the music presented on "Structure". Lemmon's previous release - "The Planets" - was a neoclassical tour de force that still gets played in my household ... his latest album isn't as singular, bring in themes and ideas from post-rock, ambient and even longform drones.

The album opens with "Dawn" ... an exquisite ambient piece backed with a field recording of a running stream. The ambient guitar and glockenspiel together sound so good making "Dawn" a brilliant opener.

Neoclassical purists shouldn't worry about the progression ... the cinematic orchestration is still apparent in "Into the Distance" ... but this cinematic vastness of sound is aided by rhythmic percussion (sounds like a vibraphone or similar instrument) that has a distinct post-rock feel.

"Underground" is a wonderful stand-out track with immersive beats and a haunting backing ... reminiscent of Amon Tobin's soundscapes albeit far straighter and less cut up. The track features melodic drones and has an air of the future ... the Blade Runner / Wipeout (computer game) kind of future.

 "Illusion" is a more ambient affair ... a delightful, melodic experience with beautiful synths and a repeated note that creates a lilting rhythm.

"Vital" on the other hand is a more upbeat slice of electronica with melodic piano, beats and a droning backing. I found this track utterly engaging and memorable ... a highlight on an already strong album.

This electronic feel is maintained in "Runaway" with glitchy percussion and a melodic sequencer underpinning another delightful melody played out with piano and strings. It is a rich, full bodied, euphoric track that I cannot get enough of and have had it on repeat on more than one occasion. The big percussion is fantastic ... this is a track that needs a hi-fi to be fully appreciated.

The penultimate track - "Emerge" - has a singular Morricone-esque melody that plays over a haunting ambient soundscape ... it is the perfect come-down after the euphoria of the previous tracks. Around the 2 minute mark the melody becomes more apparent ... a haunting, otherworldly melody that makes me smile.

We then arrive at the closing track - "Eternal Machine" - which is a full-on longish-form ambient drone. This track does seem slightly out of place ... it is a beautiful drone, don't get me wrong, but it lacks something of the variety of the other 7 tracks. I guess it is let down by being in the company of and therefore compared to truly exceptional music. It is a beautiful track but would sit better with others of it's ilk or on its own, rather than as the ending to "Structure".

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed "Structure" as a whole with "Eternal Machine" included ...  it is a powerful testimony to the progression and growth Lemmon has experienced as a musician ... and a really treat for music fans like me who love their ambient, post-rock and neoclassical expressions.

I cannot recommend this album highly enough and know it will feature in my end-of-year list for 2014. Have a listen below to see if you agree:


http://neue.bandcamp.com/album/structure

Loving ... "reBOOT" an rM Sampler


One of my favourite netlabels - relaxed Machinery - has released an utterly delightful compilation to celebrate their fourth anniversary.

reBOOT features some of my all-time favourite ambient musicians: folks like Chris Russell, Steve Brand, ├Ąpne sine, Chronotope Project, Frore and Peter James contribute towards nearly 2 1/2 hours of ambience.

The collection is rather remarkable and well worth checking out ... with tracks by Chris Russell and Chronotope Project particularly grabbing me.


In fact, I was so impressed with this release that I dedicated my 8th Circumambient mix to the music featured on reBOOT. Have a wee listen below:



An offline copy is available over at circumambient.co.uk.

Check it out and do what you can to support independent music.

Tx

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New *Digital* Music no2



I have been listening to the following music recently...

First up we have an EP from Western Skies Motel, released on the rather awesome Audio Gourmet netlabel. According to the liner notes:
Western Skies Motel is an instrumental project helmed by Danish musician Rene Schelbeck, operating in the cross-field between Americana and post rock. Rene spent many years performing as part of obscure Danish punk and indie bands before he took several years out to concentrate on raising his family. Recently, he has found himself experimenting with sound again and the music has been oozing out and thus, the Western Skies Motel project was born.
I really enjoyed this EP ... the idea that it crosses Americana and post-rock is one I haven't heard explored too often before and it is one I really welcome. It has an utterly delightful ambience ... a sound that gently lilts along. I recently watched the Coen Brothers' classic "No Country For Old Men" and could easily see music from this EP fitting nicely with the film.

Recommended. Free download.


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"Rising Sea" by Darren Harper on the fab Twice Removed microlabel features two longish-form ambient soundscapes that provide the listener with an immersive ocean of sound in which to float in. As the liner notes state, these are...
Improvisational studies for Fender Telecaster and Ableton Live. Reflections on the ever changing landscape of our planet, and the sea-change events that are in motion...
I found them fascinating and hope to feature at least one track in a Circumambient podcast.


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From the delicate sounds of the first two releases we move in the opposite direction with "Lustbient" by Tangram ... a self-released full-on electronic wall-of-sound that engages the listener with old-school synths and programmed beats. According to the notes, this is...
"Tangram's world of lust and ambient."
...and while the music isn't what I'd call 'ambient', it has a certain sensuality about it that I found engaging ... think "sexy Kraftwerk" and you'll get this album.

Free Download.


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"Miasma" by Looper827 on Empiric Records is a two-track EP of powerfully hypnotic techno soundscapes that could easily provide the backing for a distinctly dystopian Gibsonian 'Sprawl' ... think "Neuromancer" and you'll get the gist. I thoroughly enjoy these tracks and look forward to more material from Looper827.


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That's me for now ... take a listen and, if you can, please support truly independent music.

Tx


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Kingsport Art Club



While I've been off I've been able to tick off some of the 'someday' tasks in my GTD system. One of these 'someday' tasks was to set up a Tumblr that celebrates sci-fi and fantasy cover art ... especially from 'pulp' paperback novels.

The idea came from Cousin Silas and Kevin Lyons who both read voraciously and love their pulp sci-fi. They post pics of the books they are reading on Facebook and I love to see these pics ... so I decided to collate them in one place for future reference.

This place is the Tumblr of the "Kingsport Art Club" and can be found here >> link <<




If illustration is your thing then please bookmark the site. I will try, with the help of Cousin Silas and Kevin Lyons, to keep it fresh and updated regularly.

Tx

http://kingsportartclub.tumblr.com

Monday, January 27, 2014

Loving... "Lake Hope" by Felixdroid



I love receiving music to listen to ... and in my current state there is nothing better than to be sent a link to something therapeutic and soothing.

I was grateful to receive this track today from Felixdroid. I don't tend to embed music from Soundcloud because it tends to be more transitory than Bandcamp ... but I couldn't NOT embed this track - it is simply stunning ... and has me looking forward to his next album.

Oh and while we are talking about Felixdroid ... check out his 2013 release "Hammered" which was one of the albums that should have featured in my end-of-2013 best-of list ... but I only remembered after the fact ... I should have listed 50 albums instead of 30.


Enjoy. Tx

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A round up of recent music on weareallghosts



I am a bit behind in promoting the recent releases on my netlabel - weareallghosts ... so here goes the catch up:

First up, we have some fine analogue ambient guitar loops from Stephen Briggs:


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We then have the 14th long-form dronescape from Cousin Silas ... ambient bliss at its very best.


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... followed by some dark ambient:


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We then had our end-of-year celebration with a compilation of new and innovative tracks from the waag stable plus other artists such as Row Boat, and Crows Labyrinth & Microvolt. This is a free download that should be on your mp3 player of choice.


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We then have some wonderfully futuristic sci-fi sounds from a rising star in the ambient community, Ade Hodges:


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Following Ade was the latest album by Wolfgang Merx ... "Security (waag_rel040)" is a collection of seriously of deliciously abstract Krautrock synth anthems:


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After Merx, we released a collaboration between Christopher Alvarado and Stephen Briggs ... this track was intended for the end-of-year compilation but I missed it in my in-box. When I found it, I thought it so good that it merited its own release:


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The penultimate release in this round up is a collection of utterly compelling sci-fi soundscapes from Ivan Ganza:


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Lastly, we have today's release ... or should I say 'rerelease'. I'm proud to rerelease "Translucence" with a couple of bonus tracks. Alvarado's form of ambient music is deeply engaging and well worth checking out:


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Do what you can to support truly independent musical production.

Tx

Friday, January 24, 2014

"A Wolf at the Gate" - a Kickstarter campaign from Mark Van Steenwyk



I'm a wee bit late to the game here ... but for my friends of faith ... and those who aren't but are interested in fab illustration ... my friend Mark Van Steenwyk has a Kickstarter out.

He has written a book entitled "A Wolf at the Gate" ... it is billed as an imaginative retelling of the legend of St. Francis and the wolf, in which peace overcomes violence ... and is beautifully illustrated by Joel Hedstrom.

Mark has raised his initial goal and has a few 'stretch' goals that are of interest to me ...

If he raises $9,000 Mark will also professional record an audio-book that will be freely available in digital form to EVERY backer ... and if he raises $11,000 Mark will commission and collaborate with a musician to create a children's album based upon the book. Again ... this will be freely available in digital form to EVERY backer.

As of writing, we have 16 days left and I, for one, want to encourage anyone interested to pledge what they can to make these stretches happen.

Tx

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/markvans/a-wolf-at-the-gate

30 years of Mac


The Mac is 30 years old ... and Apple are celebrating over on their website with a beautiful video and interesting timeline. It is well worth a look. I grabbed some of the screens that particularly resonated with me ...



Graphic Designer, David Carson



Composer, Hans Zimmer



Musician, Moby



Photographer, John Stanmeyer

For the rest of the timeline and the video ... go here >> http://www.apple.com/30-years/

Oh and for the record ... my family and I all use Macs.

Tx

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Tolkien Obsession no2



Here are a few more of my Tolkien finds ... I hope you enjoy them as much as I do?

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First up ... we see The Lord Of The Rings featured on a billboard at the Kansas City Library.

Source >> https://twitter.com/Brilliant_Ads/status/424511188844945409

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Thanks to Michael Ross for the heads-up on this new game - Hobbit Tales - from Cubical 7.

According to the website...
In Hobbit Tales players are Hobbits telling tales in front of a mug of beer at their favourite inn in the Shire. Silent woods and remote mountains, Elves, Goblins and Giants populate their stories. 
During the game, players take turns as the Narrator and improvise a story using a hand of illustrated cards. The other players try to twist the tale, playing hazards and fearsome monsters. Drinks are served, smoke-rings are blown, and the best narrator is cheered by everyone present. 
Hobbit Tales is a game for 2 to 5 Hobbits, authored by the award-winning designers Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello, creators of the Tolkien-themed War of the Ring strategy game and The One Ring role-playing game.
I am very tempted to check it out.

http://www.cubicle7.co.uk/our-games/hobbit-tales/

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Now these videos may be, to some, sacrilege ... but I found them funny:



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I hope you saw the funny side too?

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We then have a collection of book illustrations ... sourced via one of my new fave blogs - Book Graphics - who has featured some excellent and alternative visions of Tolkien's Middle-Earth.



We have the familiar Alan Lee ... who worked on Peter Jackson's films and his vision is part of that aesthetic. See the top of this post as well as below for further examples of his work.



We then see Middle-Earth through famous illustrator Frank Frazetta's eyes:





Frazetta even manages to do his 'thing' with the next picture ... a rather busty Eowen fighting the Witch King of Angmar:



Whilst I appreciate different visions of Middle-Earth, I prefer the female characters to have more clothes on ... which brings me to Donato Giancola's work ... here is his rendition of the same scene:



His Galadriel is astonishing:



As is this battle scene:



Donato Giancola



We then have the work of Justin Gerard ...



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Justin Gerrard

His artwork is available to buy here >> http://www.gallerynucleus.com/artist/justin__gerard



We then have the stunning work of Jian Guo ...



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Jian Guo



Lastly, we have the work of Sam Bosma ...



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Sam Bosma

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My new fave blog - Book Graphics - is a visual treat and recommended for anyone interested in illustration.

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That's me for another wee while ... follow the links and, if possible, support the artists & games-makers featured.



Tx

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Seven questions with ... Paul from Poco Drom



Serendipity is a wonderful thing. Yesterday I made the acquaintance of Paul from Poco Drom through an exchange of tweets with my dear friend Ellis aka '@littlewarrior' on Twitter.

I spotted that Paul was a musician and went almost automatically to his Bandcamp page. I loved what I heard.

His album - "A Wild and Wonderful Musical World ... Alternative Children's Animal Songs" - is simply wonderful.

Now I'm not his target audience ... and unfortunately both my daughters aren't either. These are delightfully unique and energetic children's songs that most under 5s will absolutely adore. I'll happily admit to falling head-over-heals for 'Elephant Poo'.

I would highly recommend these ingenious acoustic numbers that entertain and educate in equal measure.



Anyway ... after listening to Paul's music I simply had to ask him my wee blog interview ... this is what he had to say:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Paul from Poco Drom. I write children’s songs, poems and stories about animals and nature and then I sing them to the world.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished our first full length album ‘A wild and wonderful musical world’ and am busy promoting it through workshops and performances, oh and starting to plan what will hopefully be a summer packed full of festivals and time in our campervan!


3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
I’m a child of the 90s and I love the alternative music of that era. Even though I write music for kids I have the same influence I had back then so maybe Frank Black from the Pixies. I think that’s why a lot of parents like our music too.

- Name place that has inspired you.
I love Caldey Island in Pembrokeshire. It is such a spiritual relaxing place with beautiful woods and beaches. I could get lost there for a lifetime.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Well I guess it has to be nature. I think there is nothing more inspiring than being in the open, in the woods or by the coast. I find so much wonder in all things wild. I’m lucky enough to live by the sea in Devon so we try to make the most of it.


4) What drives you to do what you do?
A love of music and showing people that music is for everyone including them and getting people outdoors, away from the TV and being creative.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Positivity, love and respect for others and the world around us and the importance of laughing…all the time…at squirrels.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
In my workshops I’m constantly building little communities. Group music is all about people coming together and sharing. I try to break down the performer/audience barrier whether people want to get involved or not…but they all want to by the end.


7) What is next for what you do?
Lots of performances and workshops trying to get people to engage with nature through creativity and I do have this crazy idea of forming some sort of electro avant-garde alternative punk band singing songs about badgers with Evan Dando from the Lemonheads but he doesn’t know about this yet.

Anyway ... check out http://pocodrom.com to keep up to date.

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Thanks Paul!

Seriously ... everyone with young kids or young nieces and nephews should get Paul's album ... it is an utter joy. Have a wee listen below:


Every movie poster Saul Bass created



I love Saul Bass' designs and found this post over on Film.com utterly fascinating ... every poster Saul Bass ever made!!!



I loved looking through each of the posters ... and thought I'd put up three that grabbed my attention.

First up we have (right at the top) the poster for "Love in the Afternoon".



We then have the poster (or one of the posters) for "Vera Cruz" ... and this one for "Saint Joan":



A worthwhile read for any design geek.

Tx

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Replacing the harddrive and battery on my MacBook Pro



I have a 13" mid-2009 MacBook Pro and I love it.

That said, recently it has been showing its age ... going really slow & beach-balling all the time as well as lasting half the time on battery that it did back in September 2009 when I got it.

I have been very fortunate to be able to replace both the harddrive & the battery (thanks Mum & Dad!!!) ... and it feels like 2009 all over again.

I followed these easy-to-follow instructions >> link << and went from the standard 160gb harddrive to a 240gb solid state drive (SSD). My boot-up time is dramatically faster ... as is my MBP as a whole. Photoshop and Lightroom are a breeze to load up now ... and the beach ball is very rarely seen.

As for my battery ... the only tricky bit was ordering the correct 'tri-wing' screwdriver to enable me to release it. I had to wait for one being shipped from Hong Kong ... which was a bit of a pain ... but didn't wait too long.

As you can see from the screen cap above ... prior to swapping over my existing battery was 3057 mAh or 56% of what it was in September 2009. It is now sitting at 5831 mAh ... ready for another 55 months of use.

I guess the moral of this story is to see if you can replace/repair/reuse wherever possible. For less than £200 I have my MacBook Pro back ... working away as if it was 2009. Both changes were easy enough for me to do ... so anyone can do them.

Tx

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