Sunday, December 18, 2005

Awakenings 02.12.05 AirSculpture, SkinMechanix, Astrogator, Entity

Well I had a pretty good night, barring a few 'technical' problems things went quite well. Here's a brief review:

Entity opened with a good set of spacey ambient/sequenced EM. They played one continuous piece, also called 'Entity'. John and Steve produced some nice music with a very minmal set-up. There is a download of part of their set available from here.


Astrogator was fun. One member of the audience said it was like seeing TD in '81. We did a very sequencey set, semi-improvised (Steve and I had exchanged some basic ideas on CD so that we weren't too crap). Track 1 didn't work out as planned as Steve couldn't hear half of what he was playing, and the original melody got lost somewhere along the way. Tracks 2 and 3 were more fun because by then we were both a bit more relaxed and decided to go for it. Due to time constraints we couldn't really go for the long drawn out gradual development of our more improvised jams, but most people seemed to prefer it when the sequences all kicked in. Maybe next time we'll be able to do a bit more spacey stuff.


SkinMechanix had had problems getting to the venue and had to setup halfway through the gig. Dave played some new stuff, which was more ambient/melodic, some of which even used the Zeit! Dave's more structured appoach to EM isn't really my cup of tea these days but there were some good bits when it all came together.

Airsculpture played two pieces, the first was about 40 minutes of solid sequencing, which got off to a slow start but gradually built-up into some sort of demented hybrid of EM and dance. do I detect the influence of Mr Nagle?
The second piece, their encore, was a bit more traditional and started out as the intro to TranceAtlantic, then built solidly as more sequences were added and then changed. Nice


More photos here

All in all, apart from a particularly horrible drive home, it was an excellent end to the first proper year of Awakenings gigs, thanks to everyone who played, attended and especially to John Sherwood for setting it all up and organising it.

Looking forward to next year already.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hampshire Jam 4: Liphook 12.11.05

The Hampshire Jam was a bit different this year, as Steve Jenkins, the organiser, had decided not to do the usual Berlin School sequencer fest. He'd got an interesting line-up, with plenty of variation, but even though nothing stood out for me as much as Arc at HJ3, there was some good stuff from each of the acts.

Narcosis played a short set, which was a bit like the more improvised bit of Stephan Whitlan's HJ2 set, with Steve Jenkins adding backing textures and sequences. Stephan then performed his infamous SF medley.



RMI played a very mixed set, started ambient and weird and then built up into some huge sequences, then did a couple of pieces which didn't really do it for me (too structured and rather formulaic, with cheesy organ chord sequences) and ended with a very experimental piece (which was like an excerpt of the Leeds Awakenings gig) and a guitar, bass and drum workout called 'Syd Barrett'



Keller, Schonwalder & Broekhuis had a few problems with gear in the first part of their set, but got back on track for part 2 and their encore. Nice to see a laser harp being played. Also some nice sequence manipulation from Mario. I thought Detlef played some really nice stuff, esp in part 2, but just wished that the sequences had been a bit more upfront.



Technical problems throughout the day held everything up so much that der Spyra went on an hour late. His set started out very modern and quite melodic then he was joined by a guest performer, who played the 'bow chime' for a mulimedia experiment in Metallitronics called Steel Lament, with projections of steelworks and such. The second part of the set was much more powerful, with some nice basslines and sequences (from 2 laptops). Wolfram really seemed to get into this part of the set, even standing up to play.



All in all a good day of live EM finished off with a good curry with Adrian and John from Airsculpture.

What more could you want?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Free System Projekt: NSC 29.10.05

Went to see the extremely wonderful Dutch EM band FSP last Saturday at the National Space Centre. They play some quite retro stuff inspired by the great electronic music of the '70s. I saw them do a great set last year at the Hampshire Jam and expectations were high.

As ever there was plenty of new and vintage equipment on stage, which was put to work producing deep sequences, dark spacey pads and drones and weird effects.




They played two long sets and an encore and there were some amazing moments in both sets. A particular highlight for me was when the 3D light show took us on a journey through the Solar System and out into space with FSP's music providing the soundtrack.

More photos here

Monday, October 24, 2005

Two have fun in Holland - E-Live 2005

Well, it's taken a while, but I've finally caught up on nearly all the things I had to do and now have time to record the adventures of Steve and myself in Holland

Day One - Thursday 13th October - Departure

I had to work Thursday morning, so I didn't get home to get my stuff ready until about 2:00, Steve was coming to pick me up at about 3:00. It took me ages to get all my stuff together, even though most of it had been packed the previous night, as I spent ages looking for one power supply. Even when Steve arrived I had a bit of a job making sure I didn't forget anything. Eventually everything was packed and we headed off to Hull.

Arrived in Hull around 6:00 pm and got to the ferry terminal about 6:15. We were on the ferry by about 6:45. We found our room, dumped our stuff then headed up to the top deck so we could get reception to send a few text messages. Enjoyed some entertainment from a Yamaha Grand acoustic piano, which was merrily playing itself, and then some 'light cocktail' music from a young lady singing acoustic ballads.

We then had a wander round to see if we could find some food, discovered everything was really expensive and finally settled for some Continental snacks. We then headed back to the cabin for a can of beer. Steve was pretty tired from all the driving and went straight to bed, whilst I had a play on my P600 for an hour or so and then decided to get some sleep too.

Day Two - Friday 14th October - Lost in Holland/ Garden Rehearsal

The ferry arrived into Rotterdam at about 7:00 am, which was 8:00 am UK time. We had directions from Ron from Rotterdam to Best, were he lived, which looked fairly simple, but were in fact rather confusing. We found ourselves looking for a road called the A16, but could only find the A15. Not having a map we decided to stop at some services to see if we could buy one. Unfortunately they had maps of France and Belgium, but not Holland. Luckily there was a map on the wall on the way out which we used to get our bearings and plan our route.

Back on the motorway we made good time and got to Best around 11:00 (NL time). We found Ron's house quite easily and rang the doorbell, which was answered by his wife, who invited us in and made us a drink :)

Ron wasn't there when we arrived as he was finishing a few jobs ready for the big day. We wanted to unload our gear and Steve wanted a bit of practice, so rather than clutter up Ron's house, as it was a lovely sunny day, we decided to set up outside, under a canopy on Ron's patio.

Gear in the garden

Posing

Ron returns


Steve played through his set then we practised a few ideas for our encore as Astrogator and then just jammed for a while. Whilst we were playing we were joined by Mick Garlick who had come over with Michael Shipley and Steve Smith (VoLt), who stayed for a chat and a bite to eat then had to head off to check in to their hotel, but not before arranging a rendezvous in Eindhoven for beer that evening.

We finished rehearsing, packed all the gear up, moved it into the house and then sat out on Ron's patio as darkness fell. Ron returned from some more preparations and we had a discussion about the electronic music business and Ron shared his views on EM from the perspective of a musician, label owner and retailer. Some thought provoking stuff.

Then it was time for dinner, burgers and fries (with egg) and then into Eindhoven for beer. We decided to drive, as taxis are relatively expensive in Holland, so we got directions from Ron and confidently headed off. Unfortunately we hadn't got our bearings right and got horribly lost, then found a road into Eindhoven, then had to do several circumnavigations of the town centre as we couldn't find anywhere to park, eventually finding a car park near the station. Then we had to find our way to our destination, based on memories from last year, which amazingly, we did.

We met Mick, Steve and Mike, as well as Phil Booth and Ian Russell and spent a pleasant couple of hours enjoying some fine Dutch lager and chatting about electronic music. It was quite weird the way the bar was run as waitresses came to take orders, but never took any money. Soon it was time Steve and I had to leave, so that we could get back to Ron's before the door was locked at 1:00am and we still hadn't paid any money, so as the others were staying, we left them some money, which was lucky for Mike and Steve, who got the bill for the whole evening when they finally decided to leave.

Well, unsurprisingly enough we had a job getting back to Ron's in time as we managed to find a different way back to Best and got completely lost, ending up going round the ring round trying every exit until we accidentally found one that led to Ron's. We were pretty tired and headed off to bed as we wanted to make an early start as we had a big day ahead.

Day Three - Saturday 15th October - E-Live 2005

After the previous two rather tiring day our good intentions of an early start came to nothing as we slept in late, luckily, as we were playing in the evening we only had to get our gear to the venue by lunchtime. We just about managed it as we only got slightly lost on our way to the venue. thanks to Ian we got our stuff in as Pyramid Peak were sound checking, and stored it all on the side of the stage.

We then went off to the artists dressing room for some food and a chat with the Kees and the boys from VoLt, then we had a wander round the stalls before the acts started up. It was nice to meet a few people from the EM forum and chat about music and stuff.

The first act on was 'Fear Falls Burning', billed as an ambient guitar project. He produced some rather loud and occasionally abrasive drones and loops that built into a cycling wall of noise. It was rather interesting to see a mass exodus of folk who weren't at impressed. No photos I'm afraid as it was too dark :)

Next we nipped upstairs to see René van der Wouden, from Holland, who was performing on the sub-stage between the acts on the main stage.



René apparently played three quite different sets, but due to having to get our gear onstage and soundchecked as soon as Pyramid Peak had performed, we only managed to catch the first set. This was pretty pleasant melodic EM, with some nice sequencing and understated solos.

Next up on the main stage were Pyramid Peak, from Germany, who seemed to perform their set to backing tracks played from a DVD which provided the synced visuals. The music was quite good and what was played live was execute well, I just felt that the backing sounded a bit flat and let them down a little. It was an extremely professionally executed performance, but it just seemed to lack life.



Next up were Steve and I, Steve to do about an hour or so as Create, then the two of us to do the encore together as Astrogator, following the example of Gert Emmens and Ruud Heij from E-live 2004.

Both VoLt and us had about an hour to setup and souncheck, apparently we did really well as we were ready to go after 45 mins, so Steve got some extra practice time.

Setting up


Soon it was time to take my seat and watch Steve's performance, which I thought was much improved over his performance at the Awakenings in August, thought there was one small timing problem in the last track, but I doubt many people would notice.


(Thanks to Martin Hoegee for the photo)

As Steve started his final piece I started to get a bit nervous as I would be joining him on stage soon. I actually thought about pretending to have fallen asleep, which wouldn't have been too difficult as the long days and lack of sleep were starting to catch up on me. Then Steve was announcing that I was to join him and I had to do the long walk down to the stage, across and up to my synths.


(Thanks to Martin Hoegee for the photo)

I started the piece with some rather nice ambient sounds from my Prophet VS and some FX from the Prophet 600, then layere in an arpeggio from the Korg Mono/Poly. Steve joined in with some spacey sounds and we gradually built it up until it was time for the main sequence to come in. I dropped ou the arpeggio an layered up a few sounds to allow Steve's sequence to be mixed in and then we were off on the main section and all the nervous energy was unleashed. Too soon it was time to draw everything to a close, which we did in time honoured tradition with a nice spaced out ending.

I think it went down well as we seemed to get a fair amount of applause, which helped make all the effort worthwhile.

Loads of people came up to the stage to look at our gear and take photos and several said they had really enjoyed it. There were some nice comments about my gear too.

We got some good feedback about the fact that both Steve's main set on his own and the two of us together as Astrogator had obviously been 100% live, which people seemed to really appreciate.

We almost sold out of Astrogator CDs after the show and Steve was busy signing Create CDs. I even got asked to sign a copy of The Darkness Between, which was quite nice.

All too soon it was time to head back to the auditorium to see Steve and Mike. VoLt had almost as much gear on stage as we did, and used it to good effect, producing a set of classic sequenced EM, marred only by a mysterious hum which turned out to be somehow be something to do with the lights. A particular highlight for me was a medley of old Michael Shipway tracks in the middle of the set, and the rocking encore.

I have to say, if I had only gone as a paying audience member, this set would have made it worth going all the way to Holland. As it was meeting VoLt and getting to know Mike and Steve as fellow musicians made seeing them play even more enjoyable.



Then it was time to pack up, helped once more by Mr Russell. Unfortunately we couldn't go into town for a farewell beer as we had a car full of gear to get home so we headed back to Ron's for the traditional post gig kebab supper with the crew.

As ever we managed to get lost once more, but still made it back just as everyone was starting to eat and managed to get some food and join in the discussion about how the day had gone. which was very well apparently, then it was time for bed, 'cos we were knackered.

Day Four - Sunday 16th October - The Aftermath

We stayed in bed 'til 11:00, then got up to have a lazy breakfast, then we were joined by Ron who showed us round his studio and played us a new track from his next album. We had an interesting afternoon talking about gear and recording and found out a lot about Ron's history as an electronic musician and the history of E-Live.

Soon it was time to head for Rotterdam to catch the ferry home, which we managed to do without getting lost at all :-)

The ferry back was much the same as the ferry over, so not much to tell, except we decided to have the beers we hadn't been able to have the night before and had a pleasant evening getting ever so slightly drunk ;-)

Day Five - Monday 17th October - The Traffic Nightmare

With the time difference and journey time we expected to get into Hull pretty early, only to find that they had obviously come back slowly to compensate, which lead to us getting into Hull just in time to hit the morning rush hour. It took us nearly an hour to get onto clear roads, then we hit fog on the M1 and it was back down to a crawl for about another hour. This wouldn't have been so bad except that Steve had to work that evening and wanted to meet his girlfriend for lunch before he went on a late shift for several days.

In the end it he was lucky as work actually gave him the day off, but it was pretty frustrating as we were sat in traffic, and nearly spoiled the whole experience, but not quite.

Maybe one day we'll get to go back and do a full set together, I certainly hope so it was great fun.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It was a dark and stormy night...

...as I drove down to Northampton motorway services to pick up my latest piece of musical equipment, a Korg Mono/Poly purchased at the weekend from a guy called Matt from London, who had intended to send it to me by courier, but on Monday when he'd gone into work to pick up the box he'd put aside for it he discovered that it had been removed. Not wanting to risk posting such a fragile item without proper packaging we agreed to meet up halfway. Because he worked until late he couldn't head off until 9:30, so we arranged our rendezvous for around 10:30. Rain was pouring down and visibility on the motorway was abysmal, but we both managed to get there on time and though the trip was pretty scary at times, it was well worth it

Friday, October 07, 2005

Eos Flight - New Modulator ESP track uploaded

I've just uploaded a new track. Eos Flight is an almost complete track I found lurking on my hard disk recorder this evening. After giving it a quick listen I thought, this is pretty good, all it needs is a few small overdubs, basically some fx and a lead part, and it will be finished, so rather than mess around, I added the extra parts live whilst mixing down to the pc. Hope you like it.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Awakenings 30.9.05: Vietgrove, Second Thought & Nick Robinson

Nick Robinson got things off to a good start with some ambient looped guitar, using fx to morph the loops into otherworldly textures.

Then Second Thought, in his first ever live appearance, made some interesting rhythmic electronica with a laptop and acoustic guitar. He was very nervous and kis keyboard stopped working but he still made some nice noises.

Finally Vietgrove returned to the stage after 8 years to perform a selection of new and old tracks. both Mark and Norman played lots of guitar, with a lot of the rhythmic keyboard parts being sequenced. Not surprisingly there were a few rough bits, but there were also som bits where it all came together. norman used his Wiard modular for some ambient bits and for their final improvised encore.

After all the trouble we'd had earlier, with the main PA amp dying and so on, it was a great gig and we actually managed to finish early - hurrah

And here are some photos from the gig:
Nick Robinson

Second Thought

Vietgrove


rest here

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Modulator ESP + Astrogator 04.09.05

The gig went pretty well and was pretty enjoyable. Thanks to those who came, especially Ian and Phil who came a long way and Pete for taking some photos.
Dave did eventually perform, but only a very short set as he was not fully recovered.
Unfortunately I don't think the venue is very suitable for EM gigs as the stage is quite small and the room is up two flights of steps. Will have to keep looking



Saturday, September 03, 2005

Live 04.09.05: Modulator ESP/ Astrogator Update

David has had to pull out due to ill health, but as they say, the show must go on. The line-up will now be Modulator ESP and Astrogator, with an hour of each. Popped in to Bunkers Hill this afternoon and it's looking good following it's recent refurbishment. Hope to see a few people

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Live 04.09.05: Modulator ESP/ Astrogator & David Davies

Started preparations for the Bunkers Hill gig on the 4th September and got some new sounds and sequences programmed today, but there is a lot more work ahead. Steve Humphries will be joining me for the encore of my set and we will perform a piece or two as Astrogator. As ever it will be all new music from both acts. NB it looks like we will be going on first so will probably start playing about 8:30, rather than 9, so that Dave can go on just after 10.
Gear will be much the same as the Rose of England gig, but with the addition of the Prophet 600 and my other new aqcuisition.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Awakenings 12.8.05: Create, The Glimmer Room & debut of Astrogator

The Glimmer Room went on first with a very minimal setup, which was good, as Steve's gear took up quite a lot of the stage. Andy and Mark were both using laptops, Andy had a controller keyboard and a Nord Modular rack and Mark played bass and guitar. Their set was pretty chilled out and included re-workings of material from both of Andy's previous releases, Tomorrow's Tuesday and Grey Mirrors.

Steve was on next with a run through of his set for E-Live. The set included some new and old stuff, Kindred Spirits and Biospherical Imagery Part 1 (Awakenings Mix). His keyboard setup was pretty impressive and sounded rather nice. For the encore I joined Steve onstage and we played two pieces together as Astrogator. The two pieces were completely unrehearsed improvisations which seemed to go down well.

We hope to have a repeat performance at my next gig, where Steve will join me for the encore. All this will be good preparation for when we play together at E-Live in October at the end of Steve's Create set.

Minimal gear for the night:
Adrenalinn
Korg ER-1
Nord Modular, with laptop to edit
Roland SH-101
Sequential Prophet VS
Sequential Prophet 600

Unfortunately none of the pictures with me in came out very well, but there are a few good ones of Steve







The evening also saw the release of the Astrogator CD 'The Darkness Between' which is now available by mail order direct from the band. See the Astrogator music page for samples and ordering details.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Gig and other announcements

The next Modulator ESP gig will be with my old friend Mr David Davies at Bunkers Hill Inn, Hockley, Nottigham on Sunday 4th September 2005. See my gigs page for details.



Also worth noting, I will be making my live debut with Steve Humphries (Create) as Astrogator at the Create Awakenings gig at the Brudenell Club in Leeds on Friday 12th August 2005. The gig will also see the launch of the debut Astrogator album 'The Darkness Between' (artwork below). See the Astrogator music page for details and mp3 samples. I've also recently designed a nice little website for Steve's Create project.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Nice day out to Manchester

Had a very nice trip out to Manchester today, to view a vintage Prophet 600 synthesizer. Took my girlfriend and went by the scenic route through the Peak District. Nereta did an excellent job navigating us there. The guy selling the synth was really friendly and it was in excellent condition and sounded gorgeous, so I just had to buy it. Then as we were in the neighbourhood we popped round to Steve H's to see his new house and visit his local for a rather splendid pub lunch. After which we headed back to Nottingham. Had a bit of a play with the P600 this evening and it looks like it will slot perfectly into my live and recording rig and that I may now be able to retire the trusty Yamaha AN1x.

Sequential Circuits Prophet 600

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Chesterfield Jam 2 Report (23rd & 24th June 2005)

Well the 2nd Chesterfield Jam is done and dusted. Once more we booked two days at Digital Image Studios in Chesterfield.
Day One: We arranged to meet at the studio for about 10. Steve beat me there and was having a cup of tea and chat with Glen whilst waiting for me. I was itching to go so started unpacking whilst Glen made me a brew. With Glen's help we managed to get all the gear through the house to the decking outside the studio (see photo). As we had both decided to streamline our gear as much as possible and Steve had invested in some new stands so we were set up in double quick time. The only slight problem we had was Steve mangaing to scrape his Mum's car when moving it after we had unloaded. Luckily we managed to get some stuff to cover it up when we nipped out for lunch.

True to his word Glen had re-arranged things so that we could use the large half of the studio and had plenty of room to spread out in comparison to our rather cramped experience last time. This was extremely fortunate as it was a very hot, extremely muggy day and we would probably not have survived the heat.

Glen outside the studio:



Once set up we got straight into recording and did a mixture of ambient and sequence based tracks, plus work on some ideas for use in our upcoming live performances.

Astrogator in the studio:



We nipped out around 6 to book in to the hotel and thanks to Glen's wonderful map drawing skills managed to get almost but not quite completely lost, though not for too long as Chesterfield isn't actually that big. (the B&B we used last time had unfortunately just been sold). On our return we did another session until 10 then went for a curry. We went to the same place, got the same table and had the same food and it was gorgeous just the same.

We went backed to the hotel for a well deserved shower and off to bed, ready for an early start on day two.

Day Two: We awoke to find the weather had changed somewhat and found that although it was still hot, it had clouded over. We had fun getting back to the studio due to some roadworks prompting a bizarre diversion through the countryside. After another diversion for breakfast we arrived at the studio in the middle of a huge downpour and got completely soaked. No sign of Glen as he'd been out for some beer the previous night, so we had quick cuppa then back into the studio for some more recording. Strangely enough the heat was even worse and got extremely tiring. We had quite a productive day ending with a totally retro Mellotron and sequencer fest. Then it was time to pack up at the end of two days that had flown by.

Big thanks to Glen for cups of tea, helping with carrying the gear and generally just a being a cool dude, even on day two when he was nursing his hangover. We both can't wait for the next one, but we've got a few gigs to perform first.

More photos here

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tangerine Dream 11.06.05 "Retro gig shock"

Well, the Awakenings gig on Friday was just the start of my weeken d of Electronic Music as Tangerine Dream were playing the Shepherd's Bush Empire on the following day.

The gig had been billed as the first live performance of Phaedra an album originally released 31 years earlier in 1974. As TD have quite a reputation for re-vamping older material, sometimes so much that it is virtually unrecognisable, it was all a bit up in the air whether this would be one of these Dream Mix gigs or something more true to the spirirt of the original music.

Steve Humphries came down from Manchester to my house just after lunch where we were joined by Pete Challoner, who had offered to drive us down to London. We made good time and got down to London in time to meet up in the designated pub for a beer before heading off to get a bite to eat from Subway, after which we decided it would be best to get a place in the growing queue.

Whilst queueing I handed out some Awakenings flyers and in doing so managed to avoid the TV crew interviewing fans in the queue. I wonder if Steve and Pete's comments will make the final cut?

After a while queueing we got into the venue and got ourselves some nice seats on the first level of the balcony, just behind Dave and Marion Horrod (EM's biggest fans). After a trip to the bar and a chat with Marion it was soon time for the gig to start.



Which it did with Edgar messing around on electric piano, having some fun with the piano intro to Ricochet part 2, after which he joined the rest of the band onstage in the classic 3 player formation, starting off with their backs to the audience then moving to face the audience after a few older pieces.

Onstage throughout the gig were Edgar on e-piano and synths, Jerome on synths and guitar and new guy Thorsten Quaeschning on synths, occasional percussion and e-pinao. They were joined early on by Iris Camaa on percussion and at various points by Linda Spa on sax and synths and Zlatko Perica on guitar.



They played a varied set of mostly older material, and mostly sympathetically to the original versions, though there were a few Dream Mix style pieces and one new piece. It was nice to see a few nods to their history, particularly the use of huge monitors showing the Arturia Moog Modular V software, though there is some question whether this was actually used. Also from my vantage point I could see that it looked like everyone was actually playing, but it was obvious that there was alot of pre-recorded backing which was kind of disappointing.

The other thing that was really disappointing was an over zealous security woman enforcing the no photography rule. It really spoiled my night. The ights were pretty good, the sound was pretty clear but seemed to lack a live dynamic.

After the gig it was time to hit the road, but not before a quick kebab to keep us going, especially Steve who wouldn't be home for a long time. How little did we know then how long!

Well, it had been a pretty good day so it was no surprise that something had to go wrong somewhere and for us this was heralded by a a strange flapping noise and a warning light on the M1 about 40 miles from Nottingham.

Luckily Pete had the presence of mind to pull over on to the hard shoulder and get out and have a look. To all intents and purposes, to us non-mechanically minded EM fans, it looked like his fan belt had come off.

Pete was all for taking a chance on driving off, but I persuaded him to call the AA to check what the risks might be. They suggested we err on the side of caution and wait for a patrol. Luckily we did, as it wasn't his fan belt, but the timing belt, unluckily it took over an hour and a quarter for the patrol to arrive, to tell us we had to be relayed back to Nottingham as it wasn't something he could repair.

That hour and a quarter, standing in the cold on the side of the M1 at 1 o'clock in the morning was incredibly bizarre. We were all a bit tired, more than a bit pissed off with our bad luck and getting quite cold. After we had finished totally dissecting the gig and deciding that TD were a rubbish live act we ended up making up silly songs about waiting for the AA man to the tunes of such classics as Autobahn and Cars.

I think Steve got home about 5:30 am and Pete was lucky to not do any major damage to his car. What a night - there's always something isn't there.

More photos here

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Awakenings 10.06.05 "It's dark in Leeds"

Well it's been just over 2 weeks since the last Awakenings gig, which was the first of this year's mini-festivals and featured 3 acts, 4m33s Extended, Omega Syndicate and Radio Massacre International. Organisationally this was quite complicated especially with John sherwood the main organiser performing as 4m33s, so I went down early to help man the doors and merchandise stand during John's opening set.

4m33s Extended

John started procedings around 5:15 if memory serves and produced quite a varied set, with much more rhythmic content and support on guitar from Steve munslow aka HyperEx Machina (hence the 'Extended'). highlights for me were some nice sequencing and leads from John and some tasty guitar from Steve. It all came together pretty well, considering the only prior collaboration had been by emailed mp3 files. They also performed some stuff from their 'ambient rock' project Cult of Ashand, which was different.



Omega Syndicate

Dave Gurr and Xan Alexander's set was only their second live performance and unfortunately was beset with technical difficulties, with mixer and sequencer problems. Whilst this made their set a bit disjointed in places, when things got going they produced some excellent music. They made a nice effort to dress up and brought a nice backdrop and lighting effects to enhance their set. Hopefully more gigs will help to iron out the bugs.



Radio Massacre International

Well, what can I say, RMI's set was 'different' to say the least and consisted of nearly 2 hours of continuous music, built up of drones, looped bass and guitar, cosmic synth fx and percussion. It ebbed and flowed at an almost tectonic rate with long almost unchanging sections gradually morphing together. It was also very dark and quite oppressive. Occasional sections of sequencing raised the energy levels but were far from the norm. As John said afterwards, "this will be a classic in years to come".



All in all it was a pretty successful night of EM, the audience was more than the last one and we had some famous guests in the guise of Ian Boddy and Paul Nagle.

Paul was somewhat out of it, but made an extremely astute comment after the gig, when told he was off to Bradford, he remarked, "I wonder if it is as dark in Bradford". Now there's a good name for the album if RMI release their set :-)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Gig report: Rose of England 04.06.05

Well, that was a strange one - there was I expecting to go on first as support to Dave Davies (ex-Shadowdancer), when out of the blue I'm going on last and there are some surprise special guests. So Dave went on first to do an experimental electronic set, accompanied by first guest, Dave Atkins (also ex-Shadowdancer) on acoustic guitar. This set had it's moments but came to an end all too soon.

Following this Dave D strapped on his bass, fired up his drum machine and did some Rush covers (Tom Sawyer, Spirit of Radio) and a old Shadowdancer song 'Secrets of the Sphinx. These didn't work too well for me without a proper prper band backing and Dave seemed at times to be struggling, unsurprisingly as he hadn't been able to bring a stage monitor.

Next up was second guest, 'Saltfish John', a local character, from Monserrat, who played (sang) a few 'tunes' (including the Monserrat national anthem and the Beatles 8 Days) whilst playing a snare, military style. Quite bizarre. He also did a couple of songs on acoustic guitar, OK I suppose, but not really to my taste.

After this Dave A did a short set of songs on acoustic. Quite mellow after John.

Then it was time for me to play. I was feeling particularly weird after all the strange goings on so started of with something nice and spacey, to counterpoint the surrealism of the preceding acts. This gradually built and evolved as I added sequences, mostly stuff from Leeds, but with some new layers and edits. I watched the minidisc to time the ending around the half hour mark.

For my second piece I was joined by Dave A on acoustic guitar, which I thought might be a bit of a gamble, but worth the risk. Unfortunately things didn't really gel until about halfway through, with it all going a bit chaotic in places, but I think we pulled it together by the end.


Davids Davies and Atkins




Photos courtesy of John Sherwood. More available from here

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Back from holiday/ latest gig news

Well I got back from a nice week in Cornwall to prepare at rather short notice for my next gig. Whilst in Cornwall I visited some nice places including The Eden Project, Boscastle, Tintagel, and Goonhilly Earth Station. Whilst there I logged onto my email to find that my old bandmate Dave Davies had sent me an email to tell me he had booked a gig and ask whether I wanted to play. Obviously I said yes, even though it was a bit short notice, so here I am with less than a week to prepare. The gig is at the Rose of England, Mansfield Road, Nottingham on Saturday 4th June. all the details are on my website. Mini-flyer below

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Fear of Backwards continued

Well, I managed to get the remaining three parts up this evening. I'll look into uploading the second piece from the gig when I get back from my holiday

Fear of Backwards Part Two

Fear of Backwards Part Three

Fear of Backwards Part Four

Fear of Backwards

I finally got round to listening to the recording of the first piece from the Awakenings gig and decided I quite like it. It's a bit rough in places, but has some nice development, though the levels of some bits are a bit off, but hey, it's live.

Due to the interminable slowness of my dial-up connection I've got to upload it in 4 parts, and will hopefully finish uploading the bits over the next few nights.

Anyway, here is the first bit: Fear of Backwards Part One

Friday, May 13, 2005

Even more Awakenings photos

3 out of a further 10







The rest are on the Modulator ESP Images page