Friday, 12 February 2016

Album, goth metal, photographisting and software......

The "Interpretations" allybum has taken a massive step forward with the acquisition of some new studio software that I genuinely hadn't planned on getting, but, as it's all panning out, I'm bloody glad I did (more on those in a bit). I've got four tracks now pretty much finished, save a little bit of mix manipulation/automation/fuckingaboutamation. I'm really pleased with the way it's coming along and I think I have managed to create "a sound" for it that will manufacture the required separation from the very obvious influences of Isao Tomita and Wendy Carlos. I've had a few people "test listening" and the feedback has been pretty favourable, with the comments and opinions offered proving to be highly constructive and very valuable.

One of my few little "jobs" to do over the next few days is to start seriously looking at some sort of kickstarter/pledge campaign to raise funds for expenses such as CD production and associated licencing. As soon as that's sorted, I'll blather on about it here, but I now have something of a ball-park figure and what I need to do to get there. Another of my little "jobs" is to get my websites updated and a little more "with it". All good fun and it's quite enjoyable walking the do-it-yourself route.

I mentioned goth metal in the title on this latest blithering. And with good reason. my son, Callum Raeburn-Fellowes, is a drummer in a goth metal band called What Lies Within. It's your typical wall-of-sound/noise that you would expect from a teenage band with bags of angst and baggage that you wouldn't want British Airways handling. Now, whilst goth metal really is NOT my cup of tea at any time of the day/night/afternoon/early evening/first thing in the morning/a little after luchtime/just before tea, they are actually quite good. With titles such as "Destroy the Tyrants" and "Killhouse", you know you're in for some serious hi-energy,distorted,over-amped,overdriven,fuzzboxed melancholy, but the guys are getting their act together nicely and are starting to make something of a name for themselves in the fair city of Norwich. They met whilst at the Access for Music college (which is operated in a part of the Epic Studios complex in Norwich's Magdalen Street), where they are in the second year of a 2 year Music Performance Diploma. They took the initial college band further, away from the college context after they found that they got on as a group of teenagers, as much as they did a group of music college students. They've been working hard playing as support for a number of the metal bands around not just the city, but also the county, doing gigs in pubs, youth clubs, festivals and "battle of the bands" events (one of which they won). Tonight (11th February 2016), they did their first "headline" act at a popular live music venue called the B2 and it went very well. I am very proud of my son because he is showing a lot of promise as both a performer and as a showman, something that is lacking in pretty much every teenage band at this time, but that's another story for another time. And I feel very proud for the band as they are proving themselves and focusing on the future as much as the present. One of their quirks is that they have a young lady lead singer by the name of Heather who is, apparently, pretty good at the scream thing. personally speaking, I don't get screamo, I fear that those who practice this dark art are going to wake up at some point in their future and realise that, yes, they sound like a fucking three-year-old having a tantrum. However, we must have open minds and accept that one man's art form is another man's "shut that fucking row up". Anyway, I digress. Screamo and indiscernible ear-splitting wall-of-noise aside, I'm pleased that these guys are doing well and naturally, I get to every gig I can, often with my camera (check out my concert images where you'll see pics of What Lies Within). As per usual, I have done my infamous "a million miles around the bush to make the point" thing. I was both pleased and horrified to be asked to help them prepare a demo and that has now started. It's meant a lot of reading and learning new skills associated with recording rock guitars, drums and vocals whilst at the same time giving me the ideal opportunity to use some of the fabulous software I have been amassing over the last 18 months. We're working on a track called "Tyrants" (it was called "Destroy the Tyrants" but I think they got fed of me saying it sounded a lot of like "Destroy the Toilets" when they performed it), and we have a guide drum track laid down as well as the guitar parts. Hopefully during the coming week, the bass player will come in and do his part followed by the vocals. It's been quite fun thus far, they're a great bunch of kids and I'm looking forward to hearing the end result. An electronic music artist producing a goth metal band. Should be interesting.

The photographic side of life is starting to pep up again. I have three concert dates in my diary with, hopefully, a few more to follow. I'm kicking off the gig season tomorrow night (12th February 2016) with Public Service Broadcasting at the OPEN music venue in Norwich. Really looking forward to this as I am quite the fan of PSB, who I first encountered back in 2014 when they played as part of the Norwich Sound and Vision evening of electronic music alongside Ulrich Schnauss and the Radiophonic Workshop (yes, THAT Radiophonic Workshop - I got to meet them as well the gentleman that created the TARDIS sound and the Dalek voices, Brian Hodgson - my chum, well-brilliant togger Simon Watson, and I were in serious fangirl mode and I thought I would self-combust that night!!!). Anyway, PSB headlined and they were basically brilliant and got a new fan. Talking of Ulrich Schnauss, I will be snapping and reviewing his performance at the Norwich Arts Centre on the 25th March 2016 (another one I'm looking forward to). And talking of the Norwich Arts Centre, I'll be heading there on the 24th April 2016 to tog and review Earl Slick and Bernard Fowler performing David Bowie's "Station to Station" album - support on that night is the lovely Lisa Ronson, daughter of Bowie's Spiders from Mars guitarist Mick Ronson, and a terrific performer in her right. The begging e-mails are out for other gigs, and as soon as I have some sort of confirmation, I'll blither about it here.

And last on the title of this postering was software. And on boy, the software!!! Waves Audio have been insanely generous again with their sales, and I've taken full advantage. The Nx virtual mix room demo I mentioned in the previous post to this one has now been bought and is really doing the business - it's given me a lot more flexibility and less time needed checking mixes on the studio monitors after a late night session using headphones. I cannot recommend highly enough that, if you are a recording musician, you at least give this piece of programming a try - it's fucking brilliant and worth every penny of the asking price. They will be releasing a headphone attachment soon that will negate the need to use a webcam, and I for one will be wanting that. Also from Waves Audio, was a curious little plugin called Center (I so want to change the spelling of that to what it should be!!!). It allows you to either hear only the sound that comes from the sides of your stereo field or the centre of your mix or a blend of the two. It's fantastic for tracking and getting a finer balance of frequencies and sounds within your mix and when couple with other products toys such as compressors or EQ's, you have a very flexible workflow. It took me a matter of minutes to get the gist of what Center was about and how it does what it does. Again, try it, you won't be  disappointed. And lastly, I got hold of Waves Audio's hugely popular and very famous L1 Ultramaximizer limiter plugin. I did two nights of YouTubing and reading to get to the heart of what this thing does and can do and oh boy, it's a killer. The name of the game is subtlety, too much and too little can seriously screw up your mix, but if you keep it restrained, the end effect is nothing short of stunning. My mixes have gone from "yeah, that's kind of okay" to "WOW!!!" - I'm very excited about completing "Interpretations" to hear the end result and the difference that the L1 has made to my mixes.

Right, enough already.

Time for bed.

So far, I have no work tomorrow, but that can change in an instant, so I'm hitting the hay and aiming to be up reasonably early to get some more work done on the album, before going into photographist mode tomorrow night.

TTFN xxx