Thursday, 29 March 2012

"Soundtrack For City Living" enjoying success

Just been told that my album "Soundtrack For City Living", which was released last October by AD Music, has topped the album chart of independent radio station, One World Radio. Very good news and a real boost :-)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

My First D.I.Y. Electronic Drum Pad - Part 2

After the disaster that was yesterday in terms of using a soldering iron for the first time, I took some time out to practice soldering different things together, including using the remnants of the first piezo/jack socket combo. After a short period of time, it seemed to come together, which for me was quite a major thing because I have a very long track record of  D.I.Y. failures on something of an epic scale. Quite literally, in "Neil Speak", D.I.Y. stands for Destroy It Yourself :-)

So, this morning I have been very careful, I have taken my time and I have been patient - all three something of a tall order at the best of times. But I tell you what, it's paid off because the piezo transducer is now stably connected to the jack socket AND it works because I put a lead in from the studio mixer to the jack socket and when I tapped the piezo, there was sound!!! It nearly brought a tear to my eye I can tell you. Now some of you reading this might be thinking "what the hell???!!!" because soldering is quite simply a basic skill - my 15 year old daughter can use a soldering iron with some degree of skill. But if you knew me and knew what I have been to the "self-build" thing, you would understand what a major break-though this has been.

But............all is not yet done as the next phase of testing is yet to come. That will happen this evening when I visit my good friend David Wright at his Planet Recording Studio in Suffolk to test the thing out on his Alesis DM5 drum module. Should that prove to be the success I hope it will be, world domination will follow......sorry, no......I meant to say I can then get on with building a finished drum pad. When that has been done, the plan is to build a 4 pad electronic percussion unit.

I shall now visit the shower and do other things before this evening's test session - I have no shame in saying that I'm quite excited :-)

P.S. Pics, and possibly video, to follow......

Monday, 26 March 2012

My First D.I.Y. Electronic Drum Pad - Part 1

One of my projects for 2012 is a new electronica outfit called "Neil Fellowes and the Impossible Men" with my good friend Peter Dagg on guitar and my son, Callum Raeburn-Fellowes, on drums and electronic percussion. The one problem we have is that we don't have any electronic percussion because funds are tight to say the least and collectors of electronic music gear are annoyingly artificially inflating prices which puts the stuff we want out of reach for now.

So, not being one for being beaten, I thought I would look into making my own. And I tell you what, it doesn't seem to be as difficult as I first thought it would be which was a VERY pleasant surprise. Anyway, yesterday (Sunday 25th March 2012), I took a trip to our local Maplin and gathered the pieces I needed, which included a soldering iron, a piezo transducer and a 1/4" jack socket - all very nice and cheap thought I. I managed to purloin an unused/unwanted mouse mat and searched, with success, in the shed for a piece wood.

The pieces are now before me and so I guess it's time to get started. And in typical "Neil Fashion", I start with a mug of coffee :-) Now, it has soon became very apparent that my total lack of soldering skills is going to be something of a handicap, as perfectly demonstrated by the completely annihilated piezo transducer lying on the table before me. So, it's back to YouTube to watch some tutorials and also to read some tips just sent over to me by my Internet chum, David Hughes - he builds synthesizers so I would guess he knows a thing or two about soldering. I also need to get the materials again as I have destroyed the originals.

And now that replacement bits have been obtained from Maplin, back to it, but with a more considered and better informed approach.

I can do this. I will do this.

Time for tea now - jacket potato with butter, cheese and beans if you're interested.

Where I grow'd up......

Where I grow'd up......Where I grow'd up......Where I grow'd up......

Where I grow'd up......, a set on Flickr.
The Fuji and I had a little trip out the other day exploring some of the lost railways of Norfolk (more about that soon), which took me through the village of Ormesby St. Margaret, near Great Yarmouth, where I spent my childhood.

Here's a few pictures of the place where I grew up. It was an unusual place for a child to grow up in and quite an interesting environment to one to go through their formative years. I definitely had an interesting childhood that was chock-full of life lessons with all the things that I saw and heard - so many stories to one day tell and so many red-faces that would cause. I always found it quite amusing that no-one noticed the little 10 year old boy (me!!!) who sat and saw all, heard all and said nothing ;-D

Friday, 9 March 2012

The next Geigertek album......?

Further to the previous blog entry, I've been continuing to mess about with the Roland JV-2080 for the last couple of days and I've found that what I've been recording has given me enough solid material to put together a full album of approximately 60 minutes of music. And this is what I am going to do.

The new album will be called "Drift" and comprise music that is very ambient and bordering on New Age, but not quite. The album will be made up of three tracks and their titles are:

1. Drift
2. Drifting
3. Drifted

I'm using no  soft-synths other than the Short Circuit sampler for rhythms, with everything soundwise coming from the JV-2080. My intention for this album is for it to be something that could be used for relaxation or meditation, or for simply helping the listener shed the load of the day that's been and put to bed all the events of the day. Maybe it could be for a rainy afternoon with a glass of wine and a few candles or a romantic evening in with the one you love. You get my "drift"? (Pun shamelessly intended)

I have the bare bones of the album now recorded and so the process of adding a few layers here and there and sorting the production is now what lays ahead. I expect it will be finished within the next couple of weeks and as for release, at the moment I really cannot say, but I am quietly hopeful of a release this year.

You know, I even have a draft set of ideas for the artwork - plain pale blue backround with a bright blue rectangle, a smaller red rectangle and a yellow circle, with added "grunge" look and black typewriter style typeface - looked at it earlier, and in a crazy sort of way, it fits the music!!!

So, keep a watch out for further news as it happens. I'm quietly excited by this "out of the blue" collection and hopefully it'll get out into the world sooner than later :-)

Monday, 5 March 2012

Something musical is occuring......

A few months back, I bought myself the Reaper 4 DAW as made by Cockos. It's brilliant and I'm very happy with it.

Now, I thought over the past weekend that, as I'm getting more "au faix" with Reaper, it was high time I plumbed my Roland JV-2080 synthesizer module into my computer system and got it all up and running. The JV-2080 is lovely instrument with some seriously cool sounds (not bad considering it's now 15 years old) and hooked up to my Novation Remote 61 SL MIDI keyboard controller, it's awesomeness has expanded considerably.

So, I thought I would settle down this evening and have a bit of a play, just recording the JV-2080 into the computer wth no other soft synths and no effects. And lo and behold, something quite lovely has started happening. Totally unplanned, totally unprepared and totally unintentional.

All I'm doing is layering up drones and pads, then automating Reaper's mixer to simpy fade the various bits in and out of one another. Nothing fancy, nothing intricate and nothing particularly clever. But, the sounds that are coming out of my speakers have taken me aback. I am guilty of seriously under-using and under-estimating the JV-2080, for which there can be no excuse. My JV-2080 has an additional choral expansion card fitted and the choirs and humanesque voices sounds awesome mixed in with a nice low, single note, continuous drone as well as shimemring glass-like pads and evolving soundscapes which the JV-2080 does so beautifully.

Watch this space......