Sunday, October 12, 2014

Influence 2014

I've been moved by much new music lately. Not only have I been moved by my friends in the Electric Future Collective, but by what's going on in the larger music scene.

My classic influences are many, and I revisit them often. I always return to Brian Eno, for instance. Laurie Anderson Is huge in my influence as well, as is Robert Fripp. Interested in the cutting edge, I found their material  right on that line. They pushed the boundaries of what people would consider music, and opened up new areas to explore.

Today I look for those same qualities, and have found much new music to inspire.

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs is a big influence for me at the moment. She uses loopers on both her voice and drums and loves her new Minimoog Voyager. Sounds like it's right up my street to me, and indeed it is. Influenced by African rhythms, she traps herself beautifully, finding novel ways to arrange her music. Recently she participated in a conversation/interview with Laurie Anderson, where they discussed just about everything under the sun. Laurie had indicated a desire to work on a duet with Merrill, who was enthusiastic about the idea. Let's hope we get something from these two! You can listen to the interview here: Merrill Garbus with Laurie Anderson

Annie Clark. Sheesh, I had such a crush on her a couple of years ago! By getting into her stuff, I was able to see what I needed to go forward, and her brilliant keyboardist Daniel Mintseris showed me the way into the new technology. I had just gotten Ableton Live, and St. Vincent showed me what could be done when a whole band is powered by AL. Another band with a Voyager. Coincidence?

When watching a great concert from tUnE-yArDs, Merrill Garbus had started gushing about the support band for the gig, Sylvan Esso. I was intrigued and went looking for them. I did like it a lot, but I didn't think much of it at first. Those earworms did their work, however, and I finally got hooked on Coffee. After that it was over, I love their entire eponymous album. This band is a Cinderella story of two professionals getting together for a remix, but finding their true sound. Amelia Meath of a Capella folk band Mountain Man gave Play It Right, one of her songs that she thought could be bigger, to Nick Sanborn, producer and bassist for Megafaun for a remix. He took a year to discover it, finding a new way forward and knocking the remix out of the park. The pair's usual bands were in hiatus, and they started to write songs together. Her beautiful vocal performances, coupled with his trapping and Moog Minitaur stuff in Ableton Live are beautiful and timeless. Nick performs with an Akai APC 40, his trap machine in which he also controls his Minitaur. This stuff is infectious.

So that's where my head has been influence-wise. There's a lot out there, and my friends on Twitter have a lot of pull in my stuff as well. What a wonderful time for discovering new music.

Listening: Sylvan Esso's Dreamy Bruises

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Progress 14-10-05

©2014 Linda Palmer
This week saw the development of a piece I'd originally written this last spring. I'd been messing around with the arpeggiator on the Roland SH-201, and was able to program a sequence that I'd liked. Wanting more tracks of it, I put the output into Ableton Live and recorded the resulting MIDI. I was not able to figure out the piece's meter before recording, however, and although I'd been able to chop and arrange the piece, nothing would sync properly with it. This made it very difficult to work with.

I started from scratch, and transposed all the notes into a 16th note grid this week. I found that the tune is in common time, not 6/8, and my rhythm parts will work much better. This works, and I am working on recording the tracks now.

Oddly enough, the heart of the piece is a voice on the Roland JV-35 called Wave Bells. It's a PCM sound that is wonderfully dynamic and has a  nice stereo image. I took that and ran it through AL9's Four Pole Phizzle phase shifter for  a very beautiful bed of mallets. The theme is insomnia, and the image is very dreamlike. The SH-201 uses a supersaw based voice to back it. I'm working on the vocals and leads now, and hope to have something for you soon.

Listening: Inner Vox's Future ElectricityPodcast OO7 (09-14) 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Progress 14-09-28

©2014 Linda Palmer
Things are finally starting to gel, and a new set list is developing. I've got the basis of at least five new tunes. Lyric writing continues on these pieces, the rhythm tracks I've been working on are getting fairly refined. The next step is refining the vocals and leads.

Utilizing Ableton Live to route MIDI signals, I had a little fun using the sequencer built in to the Arturia Beatstep to send a sequence to many MIDI channels at once. This gave me an opportunity to explore the options of both the sequencer and AL9's MIDI effects. The results were interesting.

This musical period for me is defined by my setup. Although I can set down a quick recording for things, I generally do not. The setup is designed primarily to be a way to hear all instruments at once, rather than being confined to a single stereo input. This allows arrangement to be done more easily. Reconfiguration will be made for actual recording, however, so that everything remains in sync.

Listening:  Eisen Dank by Der Wanderer(Belly Full Of Stars Resonance Remix) by Belly Full of Stars and Der Wanderer

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Progress 14-09-21

This week I delved deeply into routing signals in Ableton Live while I worked on some new Beatstep configuration. Having set up my usual Impulse, I noted that I had eight pads unused, the eight I usually reserve for mapping effect controls to in AL9. I reconfigured the Impulse into an Instrument Rack, dropping a drum rack into the same rack.

The unused pads were tuned down to the C0 range, and so did not sound. I found some hits to drop in that range, and now I have eight more sounds with independent signal chains in AL9. I'll be playing with Beat Repeat on some of them, and perhaps a Phaser on a chain or two.

Shake Map still develops. This week saw some really good work on the Summer Storm project, this may have brought in the rain, and it's showering outside right now.

Listening Peter Cline on Soundcloud:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Progress 14-09-13

©2014 Linda Palmer
Nothing shows you how you've progressed as a musician like playing with other musicians. I enjoy playing with others, as it's a fun social activity as well as a challenge to  see if you can use what you know. However, sometimes things just don't gel when you jam.

I fell into the groove several times despite the overall failure to jibe, but playing by ear only gets you so far, and the band plodded on without me on a couple of tunes.  The drummer and bassist were solid, so I got my best stuff trying to play off of the bassist.

In my studio, things are back in order. Work and learning continue, and things are developing. I hope to come up with some templates for Ableton, but I keep revising the projects as I learn new things. Suffice to say that Ableton has many, many options.

Listening:  Peter Cline's Ascension

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Progress 14-09-07

©2014 Linda Palmer
This week found a lot of discovery centering around my latest and very connected setup.  It's not much more than just putting in the time to make music, and work with the equipment in this configuration.

Having standardized a lot of the setup, I was able to tie down cables and tidy up the workspace. It works very efficiently now, and just in time for me to take it down again. Some old friends have invited me to jam with them, and I'll be taking the whole thing.

I should have some fun jamming with these guys. They do a jazzy surf thing, and would like to add some keys. I always enjoy the laid back surf jam, and have been tempted by that style. It'll be fun, and I'm listening to a special playlist of Television and Adrian Belew to get my head together. I can't see me doing the theremin in Good Vibrations.

My own work continues. Shake Map is coming together nicely. It is decidedly un-surfy. I've been playing with a lot of TR-808 tones, and have spun off a couple of little improvs in Ableton Live from working with it. As the vocals take shape, the arrangement begins to gel, and I'll be laying the rhythm parts down soon.

I've been using my SH-201 in very analog fashion, using the 4 LFO's per voice (2 voices) to create pitch , filter, and envelope changes. Although I'd like to sync the LFO's to the beat, the only way to do this is to sync Ableton with the SH-201. However, if you do this, then the LFO's won't be controllable. Switch it around to external control of Ableton, and Ableton can become unresponsive. I'll continue working with this problem, hopefully finding a solution.

Listening:  Odd Common's Never Been to Sheffield

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mandala 13 1

I'm excited to see that my work Cycle 2 has been used in a video by color spinner A. Minor. This is a shorter version to fit this minute and a half video, and was the version I used in the Electric Future Podcast. Here it is, enjoy.