Thursday, 26 January 2017

New album update: The Splendour Cascade

Yesterday I started work on a new project to be called "The Splendour Cascade".

It will be made up of songs and pieces of music that I created when I first started writing back in the early 1980's, some of which have already seen the light of day, in various guises, on my Geigertek albums. The idea is to present these songs using the equipment and software I have now which I didn't have 30 odd years ago, my hope is that they will sound as I originally envisaged, maybe even improved by the options and choices that modern software has endowed us with. The pieces that were used on the Geigertek albums will be recorded in their original forms, not the same, but not different - makes sense in my head :-D

I made quite a good start yesterday with a song called "Moonlight Strangers", no vocals but a significant amount of drums, bass, pads and sequences were laid down and it very quickly started to take shape - I find that really encouraging. I did another version of this song about 6 years ago - it was more "pop" in it's style and never really sat that well with me, so I thought I would revisit the original idea I had back in 1987 (when it was written), using a constant marimba riff/rhythm - it worked well, and sounds great with added sequences. The screenshot below shows the Reaper screens with Toontrack's excellent EZDrummer 2 (using the "Rock Solid" expansion), Native Instruments' FM8 (the marimba patch from the Yamaha DX21 via sysex) and the Lexicon MPX Native reverb (amazing buss reverb and it's the bottom of the range one!!!):


Today I started working on a piece of music called "This England". This instrumental was used as an opening number for a band I played in back in the mid-1980's, it's up-tempo, but something I always wanted to do was alter one of the instrumental breaks to make it sound a little more grandiose, with timpani and fanfare trumpets, I suppose as a kind of nod to the pomp and ceremony for which our island nation is so well known for. I did that today, and I have to say that it sounds far better than I could have ever imagined it would. Still much to do, but it was fun actually using a real life bass guitar for......yes you guessed it right......the bass :-) The screenshot below shows the Sonivox Brass and Big Bang Cinematic Percussion and ReFX's fantastic Nexus² synthesizer (one of my favourite plugins):


I have some guide tracks already recorded for another 3 songs, "The Edge of Nowhere", "Go-On" and "The Wild Heart" and another couple of instrumentals called "Just A Little Imagination" and "Dreaming of Thee".

I've taken a look at the "Autumn's Breeze" files (the second F/R-F album I'm doing with my son, Callum) - a lot of work to be done.

And lastly, I've recorded a few "snapshots" for my "Altered States" album - combining Spectrasonics' Omnisphere (I'm still on the MK1 version - not a cheap upgrade!!!) with ValhallaDSP's fantastic ValhallaRoom reverb plugin is providing for some interesting textural ideas, watch this space ;-)

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

I give you the GTK2 Studio......

Yet again, it's been far too long since I last posted - taking my eye off the ball will affect things if I'm not too careful!!! I have, therefore, decided that I must try and get a lot more on this here bloggy thing more regularly.

A series of events, not so long back, forced a double house move (twice in 8 weeks), I also had a very unexpected change of day job (also twice in 8 weeks) and a whole host of other things going on that aren't really relevant for the porpoises of this posting. In amongst that was the dismantling of my beloved GTK Studio, literally just as I had got fashioned in such a way that I was happy with it. Sod's law. But on the plus side, all these events have led to a better place for my fab woman (the lovely Anne) and I on so many levels, not least the creation of a new studio in our new little home.

So, without further ado, back to the title of this latest warbling - my new studio:


The new GTK2 Studio is my own personal little composing/producing/mixing/recording space, it's a bit of a pseudo-1970's nightmare, you can't swing a cat in there and it's very small, but it's really rather nice acoustically, courtesy of 5 rag rugs hung on the walls. It's totally unsuitable for any kind of band work, you can't swing a cat in there, so it's what I believe you would call a "project studio".

I am now totally "in the box", in that I am only using software and very little in the way of hardware, other than a small collection of MIDI controllers. The studio is very small small (box room off our bedroom - handy for staggering through to bed after a late night session, I know, I've tried it!!!), but it's compactness makes it comfortable, warm and a relaxing environment to work in and I'm already very much at home in it.

The completion of the "Interpretations" album was done here and it was a really enjoyable experience, despite the room being in utter chaos and the studio incomplete. I am now eagerly looking forward to starting on a new album of music, which will be called "Altered States" and working on the second F/R-F album "Autumn's Breeze" with my son, Callum Raeburn-Fellowes. Talking of "Interpretations", it's now available to buy on Bandcamp, here's the link to it:


The new GTK2 Studio (imaginative name huh?) has a whole host of new software and hardware gubbings, including new synths from Arturia, Air Music Technology, Sonivox, Rob PapenSoftube and Audjoo, as well as effects from the likes of Waves Audio, eARECKON, ArtsAcoustica, iZotope and PSP Audioware. On the hardware front, the GTK2 Studio has seen the addition of an Alesis Q88 (an 88-note MIDI keyboard controller that's just perfect for playing the Arturia Piano V properly!!!) as well as a Mk 1 Novation ReMOTE 61 SL MIDI keyboard controller (you might recall I had one of these before - should never have sold it, hence it's reintroduction into the studio!!!). The computer upgrade from early 2016 has proven to be money and time well spent, as has the addition of a second monitor screen and the fabulous Evolution UC-33e MIDI control surface (old tech that's still incredibly good, particularly in tandem with the Novation ReMOTE 61 SL). I've also increased the GTK2 Studio's sample loop library with some wonderfully crunchy glitchy rhythms from those dashed brilliant Samplephonics folk - predominantly downtempo/ambient stuff, but hey, that's what I do!!! I have a full list of hardware and software I use on my personal website, which you can find on the following links - if you are so inclined :-) :

GTK2 Studio Hardware

GTK2 Studio Software

I'm intending to do a blog entry on the new software in the coming weeks, and there's quite a bit to get through - all these fab software houses keep having yummy sales!!!

On the cards for 2017 Spectrasonic's Trilian bass module (both priorities) as well as an upgrade (finally) to Omnisphere 2 and it would be nice to get the latest Komplete 11 from Native Instruments.

I had been pondering the purchase of some hardware synths, but I feel there is a certain reality that I will not do any more live stuff for now, plus I really am tight on space within the studio. I recently attended the fabulous SynthFest in Sheffield, whereupon I was shamelessly seduced by the presence of Korg's amazing reproduction of the classic ARP Odyssey synthesizer, their Volca range and their MS-20 Mini synthesizer, all of which would be simply wonderful to have, but alas, I don't have the space for them and being as I have each instrument (as such) in software form, I'm just not certain that they would get used as much as they should be - remember the first GTK Studio a few years back? Yes, and look what happened there!!! No, as things are at the moment, I think it's software all the way for now. In terms of computer hardware, I will probably need to upgrade the SSD to a much higher storage capacity - currently using a 120GB drive and it's not enough, so as soon as I can, it will be a 480GB drive, minimum. And that of course means I will have to reinstall everything again - actually one of my most favourite things to do - I get in the snacks and drinks, so much so, it's like a day out!!!

So, that's it for the moment. I'll start doing some bloggy things about the software and hardware over the next few weeks. Much to enthuse over!!!