Friday, November 14, 2014

Craft

©2014 Linda Palmer
Although there will likely never be a single standard for aesthetics, the degree of skill in crafting a piece can be evaluated in terms of effectiveness.

There are several things I look for when spectating. What is the overall emotional effect of the work? How much originality and individual style is shown? Is the intention of the piece clear enough, and does the piece succeed in conveying such intent? If the piece is purely sensation, then what is the effect, how is it achieved, and how well is it achieved? These are the types of things I enjoy experiencing in music.

While it's true that chance can play a role in creation, often it's how we as artists define the work that makes a difference. The choices we make are crafting as well, the strategy to realize the piece as we imagine it, and often the experience to know how to craft our vision. Not hard and fast rules, but a level of craftsmanship that allows the artist to succeed in conveying intent. This is what I look for, even in pure sensation. Decorative arts can be quite skillfully and originally done, and dance music can be well executed as well. No better or worse, just well crafted.


Listening Herr Absurd's  Dark Mythologies

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Wires, String, Circles and Angels

Compelling and novel sound design fills wires, string, circles and angels, the new instrumental electronic album by Peter Cline.  Each piece is unique, each an exploration into untested territory. A forest of synthetic sound has been produced, with the occasional digital reproduction of acoustic instruments complimenting the anodyne sounds.  I, myself, try to find that balance between the anodyne and the dissonant. Peter achieves this.

As with many things I listen to, this album is not ambient, merely instrumental. Attention is paid to the compositions, which are intended to be listened to, not to float in  the background. That's not to say there is no subtlety in the pieces. As with Peter's musical alter ego candytrash, the rhythmic pieces such as Datacrime and Chinese Red venture into the dance realm, but in a different way than electropop.

When you listen, listen actively. There's a lot going on in these pieces. I can see that some of the groundbreaking combinations will be the stuff of future genres, as it's far ahead of the curve. We have nothing to adequately pigeonhole it today. And I like that.

You can follow Peter on Soundcloud and Twitter, and don't miss candytrash as well.

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 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