‘Swarm’ ‘single’ now released
‘Swarm’ ‘single’ now released
‘Ambient minimalism, with (poly) rhythmic elements’
Now up on the streaming sites and my Bandcamp page with a free exclusive track.
‘Speed of Life’
‘This is quite a different Igneous Flame release. Imagine elements of mid-period Peter Gabriel, Japan, Plaid and Yellow Magic Orchestra with an idiosyncratic ethnic percussion section jamming along with a psychedelic guitarist playing rhythm parts and liquid sustained guitar solos over the top’
Both albums draw on material from the same pool, so I decided to release them at the same time even though the production is very different.
An ebow is a great combination with a fretless guitar. It’s not easy to play but it has a unique sound – almost like a ‘pseudo slide guitar’. it allows for non-chromatic slides, which isn’t possible on a regular fretted guitar. I’m hoping to use it as something of a ‘signature sound’ on my upcoming ambient guitar project (to be released at the end of 2018). It has made me learn some new things, as I can’t play the usual ‘licks and riffs’ on it (as I tend to on a regular guitar), which is somewhat refreshing !
Regarding non-ebow playing, a fretless guitar doesn’t sustain like a regular guitar does and playing with spot on intonation gets tricky (particularly higher up the fingerboard) All round, I find it’s a challenge to play, but very interesting nonetheless. With fretless in general, legato lines become very fluid and vibrato becomes much more of a musical parameter.
Here’s my Samick / Greg Bennett guitar, now converted to fretless. It had fret issues and I was about to ditch it, but before I did, I thought I’d have a go at converting it to fretless. I bought a dedicated fret pulling tool, which took the frets our pretty cleanly, then applied five coats (or so) of super glue to thew fingerboard, then a radiused sanding block to sand down the super glue flat (going through a few grit grades of wet and dry). Lastly, a rub down with a polishing compound. It’s not perfect (I think the neck may be slightly warped), but it’s now functional.
Album projects update:
I’m rather behind schedule for my next releases, the reasons for this are twofold:
1) I needed a break. I have been releasing consistently for some time now and I felt my creative juices were in need of rejuvenation – the last thing I want to do is to go in ‘auto-pilot’ and release very samey sounding albums, so a break (which wasn’t entirely a ‘break’, as I’m still perusing / experimenting with ideas) was in order.
2) Guitar stuff – for one of my upcoming projects, I need to practice guitar to a degree where I become far more fluid in my playing (as I needed to with the fretless bass, for my last album). I also have been buying guitars, which takes quite some time to get them to be in a good playing / working order. I’m experimenting with all manner of guitar / pickup combinations to find the ‘tone’ that will suit what I have in mind for the project.
I have been creating videos of some of the guitars / sounds I’m planning on using. They will more likely to be of interest to people interested in those instruments. However as I have to do multiple takes to get a decent performance, there is an element of playing live which may be of interest (particularly as I don’t actually perform live)
Hopefully, towards the end of 2018, I will be closer to finishing these projects off.
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’: