Series of Images as part of my ‘documenting the seasons’ photography posts. Usual ‘gear’ – iPhone 8 Plus and various apps.
Also, a new video of the track ‘Sada’ from my ‘Sylvi’ album released last year – graceful swans in slow motion.
In the spirit of striving to continually create, I have two musical projects which I plan to finish and release in 2018.
One, is based around sequences and semi-generative pieces, with more overt guitar playing (than I’m used to including in my ambient work) and an element of rhythmic (sequenced) interplay.
The other, is a darker affair, based around spatial field recordings with a significant amount of spatial processing. I’d like to see it as a development of my 2010 album ‘Orcus’ – with a more modern production.
I have already worked on these projects quite a lot and have a substantial work-in-progress pool of material for them, but (currently) they are still at an earlier stage. More developments will follow.
All the best for the new year !
Late Autumn Images, taken locally with an iPhone 8 Plus.
Also, to update as to my musical activities – I’m currently experimenting with a more overtly guitar based project. It’s still fairly nebulous, but expect some kind of electronica / EM / full-on rock solos hybrid ! It’s still fairly early days with this one, as well as another much darker project, which will be based on spatially processed field recordings.
I’ve just released my new album entitled ‘Sylvi‘, which is an ambient guitar (and fretless bass) work.
The primary instrumentation used was electric guitar, fretless bass, nylon string guitar and the ebow. The ebow was used on the electric and the fretless (which is a somewhat more unusual approach) to create melodic lines and low pitched swells. The electric contributed the main chordal and melodic parts.
Lots of guitar techniques were employed – slide guitar (electric), clean guitar swells (‘violin-ing’ – using a volume pedal).
In compositional terms, I tried to combine individual elements from the guitars and bass on each track, intending them to work as a whole. I avoided ‘noodling’ and playing overtly solo parts, using more restrained figures and lines.
There are some other sourced sounds on the album too, but they are pretty much ‘in the minority’ – the processed guitar parts forming the accompanying drones and textures
The production is somewhat ‘muted’ in terms of the high frequency elements, purposefully. I didn’t want it to sound overly bright. considering the ‘tone’ of the tracks.
‘Sylvi’ is a primarily sonorous work, with a smattering of more ‘oblique’ tracks included.
Brief Equipment used list: (for those interested in such things !)
Electric guitars – Tokai LoveRock, Yamaha 112 (modified), Tanglewood Les Paul copy (on the track ‘Helmi’)
ESP Ltd B-205SMFL 5 string Fretless Bass:
This is a lovely instrument, it’s right handed, but I played it upside down (I’m left-handed), it has ground wound strings on it, which are a nice compromise between roundwounds and flatwounds.
‘Cuenca’ Nylon string guitar (1983)
Used as the preamp for all guitar and bass parts (a Zoom 8080 was also used as well) Very versatile !
Nebula Cabinet libraries (Ownhammer Blufunk):
Used for all the overdriven / distortion sounds (mostly the ebow tones) Still the best thing for these sounds, IMO.
Last but not least – the mighty ebow !
I’ve used the ebow for a long time, it’s a fantastic thing in it’s own right, but I find it needs considerable technique to get it to sound good (not harsh). It’s very dynamic, for one thing.
Finally, the album was mastered using a pair of Shure SE535’s (thanks to Achromus !) and I also used a pair of Parrot Zik 3’s for some ‘out and about’ listenings, which were surprisingly good.
Free Track from Sylvi sessions – ‘Lowna’:
New Album Update
Work is going well on my new (as yet untitled) album.
This album is something of a departure for me, in that it is almost solely a guitar (and bass) ambient work. It is beatless and features all manner of guitar styles – predominantly ebow, fretless bass, nylon string guitar, electric guitars, etc.
Expect something different !
I hope to have it finished in a month or so. More updates will be posted here.
‘Moonglow‘ is the ‘sister release’ to my previous album ‘Ocean Sighs’.
The image used for the album cover was taken with my old Sony R1, which was one of the best cameras I had.
Please see here for more details:
After almost 18 months since I released my last album, I’m very pleased to say that I have a new one to release !
‘Ocean Sighs’ is a selection of ‘ambient seascapes’ which incorporate tonal drone textures and harmonic vocalisations, set against a continuous ebb and flow of treated ocean sounds. The two elements were equally considered in the construction of the tracks and are intended to be complimentary.
Technical Info / further detail:
Binaural recordings (*) feature throughout the album. They were incorporated to give an enhanced spatial element. The binaural recordings were recorded by myself locally in North east Yorkshire, UK. I also utilised other sea recordings from ‘Freesound.org’ (see below), as my collection of recordings was quite limited, in terms of the types of sea sounds that I had. I wanted to work with a greater variety of sea sounds – distant / rumbling / stormy etc. Some other binaural material (wind and storms) was also used, albeit very subtley.
I’ve used environmental recordings sporadically before in my work, but this time they were used throughout the whole album as an integral part of the album.
Due to the usage of the binaural recordings and the spatial processing employed, Headphone listening is recommended.
The binaural recordings were recorded using a Sony PCM10 recorder with a home-made pair of binaural mics made from Primo EM172 capsules. In terms of processing (of both mine and the Freesound recordings), I employed many combinations and variants of spatial ‘enhancements’ – Middle and side ‘widenings’ / binaural treatments etc and lots of filterings ! A sense of ‘motion’ and flow was achieved by using low pass Filter automations (over a long-ish duration) – to create a sense of high frequency ebb and flow – the sea sounds having significant high frequency (noise like) components.
Regarding filterings, I also used high frequency parametric Eq ‘sweeteners’ / bandpass filters and fixed low pass filtering. Low pass filters in particular were used on pretty much all of the vocal textures, as they had accrued a lot of annoying (to my ears) high frequency content due to the processes I did on them and the sea recordings had sufficient high frequency eleements to balance things out spectrally. I probably spent as much time on the
processing of these sounds as I did with the tonal elements.
No compression or maximisings were employed on this album, as I wanted to keep the recordings in a natural state, in terms of their dynamics. Finally, the overall spectrum was ‘softened’ slightly, using Har-bal.
A point of note, is that the montages of sea recordings ‘never existed,’ in the same place / time and have been brought together to create something of a composite ‘seascape’. I don’t know how this will translate for listeners, but the ‘From the Sea’ track is a particular example of this.
Lastly, there is a another album planned for late 2016 release, of a similiar nature to ‘Ocean Sighs’, but which focuses on a different set of binaural environmental recordings – wind, rain, streams etc. combined with female vocal textures.
(* in-the-ear microphone recordings that capture spatial elements very well – in my view ! )
Freesound Attributions / credits:
North Sea at Night (pulswelle)
DagmarBformat (Lossius) (converted to Binaural)
waves at cliffside resort beach (nikitralala)
Waves in Rio Martil (keina_espineira)
north Sea (Soarer)
Hanakapiai Beach – Na Pali Coast (RTB45)
ships horn (inchadney)
All the Freesound recordings were processed, from simple editing to more involved, multiple processings.