Sunday, 18 January 2015

2015? How did that happen?

I cannot believe that we are now in 2015.

My good lady Anne and myself were discussing this the other day as this year, we are both 50 years old.

A half century.


What we found interesting during our chat was that as young teenagers, we wondered about the future, how things would look in the year 2000 (that was 15 years ago by the way), what would the cars look like, what gadgets would we have. And, we came to realise that we now live in that future - our future if you like. Who would have seen wireless internet? Who would have seen touchscreen tablets and mobile phones that, even at their cheapest end, have more computing power than the computers used to send man to the Moon (if you believe they actually did send men to the Moon of course, but that's another discussion for another day). And of course, it's a shame that we have the negative aspects that one would really have thought could not possibly exist in the future, but sadly do, that being chronic social inequality, governments governed by unaccountable corporate entities and the rise of the religious fanatic. When I look at the sociological aspects of the our generic evolution over the last 40 years, I cannot help that we've somehow gone backwards. But, one remains optimistic, we have an election coming up in May and hopefully the awful people that have been wrecking this country will be put out of power and everyone will have a chance to be the person they would like to be.

But that's stuff.

The Christmas and New Year period are great for sales and online bargains, and once again, I've taken full advantage with a few nice pieces of software for the GTK Studio, so please read on:

IK Multimedia British Studio Series:

This three part bundle contains the British Channel, White Channel and Bus Compressor, based upon the processors and channel strips of a classic British mixer. The British Channel looks to be based upon the SSL desk that defined the sounds of the 80's and 90's, providing excellent tonal control with it's 4-band EQ (of which there are two versions, emulating the Black and Brown EQ circuits) with added high and low pass filters. There's also a very usable and effective compressor/gate/expander section. The White Channel is a kind of modern-day equivalent of the British Channel with enhanced compressor and EQ capabilities. The Bus Compressor is Bus Compressor is a pretty cool emulation of the emulation of the 2-bus compressor found in the same two consoles that British and White Channel are based on. It gives a certain something to a mix when added to the master channel on your DAW, in that it glues everything together - I'm still getting to grips with it, but I've noticed a radical improvement in some of my mixes already. it can go from being very subtle to completely over the top, and sounds great on drum/percussion sub-mixes.

TubeOhm Bruno III:

This is an upgraded version of the excellent Bruno-RP synthesizer, based upon the classic Roland Juno 106. This new version adds some seriously cool new features and capabilities, giving a lot more flexibility and a wider palette of sound options. And you know what? It sounds fantastic. I set up one of it's arpeggio presets alongside an arpeggio sequence from ReFX's excellent Vanguard synthesizer and it sounded incredible - please do expect to hear both of these synths on "Hollow Sun" when I eventually get it done.

Nomad Factory PulseTec EQs:

This is a great product. The Nomad factory PulseTec EQs are an emulation of the classic Pultec Mid-Range Equalizer MEQ-5 and Pultec Program Equalizer EQP-1A. These two products have been combined into a sungle plugin, but can be used individually as well as together. Nomad factory have also added in an analog pre-amp section which adds an input/output level controls as well as a simple 'Clipper' limiter at the master output section. The Pulse-Tec MEQ-5 is a mid-range equaliser which is great for adding a bit of body or presence, and sounds amazing on vocals. The PulseTec EQP-1 works primarily on the low and/or top end frequencies without affecting the mid-range tones. I'm already finding it great to use on orchestral sounds and vocals. Not bad looking either in a vintage sort of way.

Sknote Presence:

I found this little bit of software quite by chance whilst reading through a couple of forums looking for an alternative to the excellent Softube Abbey Road Brilliance Pack (insufficient funds and I don't have that seriously annoying iLok USB thing). Presence is a multi-mode exciter, designed to give a little more edge or brightness to the frequency spectrum of tracks, group channels and mixes, useful when fullness, strength or punch are missing, but without affecting dynamics. In the short time I've had it, I've found it be very complimentary to a whole manner of sounds from drums/percussion to string synths and guitars. it's stupidly cheap, insanely low on CPU use and provides a lot of bang for it's buck. Recommended.

I'm currently producing an album of ambient/New Age music called "Autumn's Breezes", recorded by son, Callum Raeburn-Fellowes, using the new software production tools described above and we've really noticed a marked difference in the quality of the mixes since adding them into the effects chains.

On the photography front, 2015 got off to a fantastic start with a gig at Epic Studios in Norwich by From The Jam, which features original Jam bassist, Bruce Foxton. Got some cool photos and enjoyed a great evening of music. In the diary already are minimalist music artists A Winged Victory for the Sullen at Epic Studios on the 7th February, Mariachi El Bronx on the 15th February at Epic Studios, electronic "super-group" Node at the Royal College of Music in London on the 27th February and 80's punk princess Toyah Willcox, again at Epic Studios on the 28th March. Hoping to get a few more lined up, just waiting for the emails with the yays and nays on those. Equipment-wise, I have a Canon 10-18mm ultra-wide angle lens on order which should be here any day now - very excited about that one I can tell you.

You can see the From The Jam pictures on my Flickr page by clicking the link below:

The Review Elektro website is now up and running. I've put on a few reviews already, and will be drip-feeding new reviews in over the course of the next month. I'm hoping to get the first album reviews sorted within the next week or so. You can check out the website here:

It's all go for a great 2015, hopefully the plans being made will see some fruition, but not to worry of not, it's the doing that's most important.