Tomorrow I will be 28. Actually, by the time you read this I will
have been 28 for some time, or possibly even older. Nevertheless,
at the time of writing I will be 28 tomorrow, and in my 28 years
drawer-fulls of music. In the next 28 years I expect to write several
drawer-fulls more, and I was thinking that rather than leaving
it to gather dust I would use the internet as an outlet for my
musical work. Hopefully, having this page will also encourage me
to write more new material as well, but we shall see about that...
Some of the tunes will be very old. Some will be brand-spanking
new never-been-heard-before. Some will be full finished mixes,
others just drafts or ideas. Some will be solo work, some will
be collaborative. Some might even be by other people. To help you
put things in context I will also write a short paragraph about
each piece as it is released.
This is a track that zoe and I put together for E-Bru, back in 2001, but which we never finished. At the time it had some fast break-beat drums going on under the verse and went in a totally different direction, and there was also a second verse that was never recorded.
I think we played it live with Georgie a couple of times, but again it wasn't recorded.
However, it's such a beautiful song that I've decided it's high-time it was finished off. I've ditched the frantic drums, which I think were one of the sticking points that stopped us finishing it - they never really worked - and went for a much more toned-down, stripped-back vibe which brings out the lyric and captures the mood of the song a lot better, and I'm really happy with the end result.
I've also taken this opportunity to bring the site into the 21st century (a bit) so we now include an embedded music player. No more having to download a track to listen to it! Completely co-incidentally, and wholly appropriately, the player that I am using is called Flowplayer!
As Slade would annoyingly shout: "It's Christmas"! And as pedants would annoyingly correct them, "No - it's still advent - Christmas doesn't start until 25th December".
Amazingly, I've found another Christmas-themed song at the bottom of my song barrel, which is an arrangement of 'Little Drummer Boy' that I did for A-level music. I have absolutely no idea why I chose this piece for my arrangement. I think I just liked the tune.
The recording comes from an old cassette tape, so apologies for the quality. It is a simple MIDI recording of the parts, which were transcribed for printing purposes, not for performing purposes, so overall it's not the most inspiring recording I've produced. However, the arrangement is pretty good, I think, so hopefully there'll be some Christmas cheer to be squeezed out of it!
After last week's posting, I thought it might be a good idea to put up some of that early E-Bru jungle that I was talking about, as all the E-Bru stuff that's currently available in the web is a lot more recent (and a lot less jungle).
This track is called simply 'Drums', and rather than putting up the album version, I've dug out a live recording from 1998, which comes complete with all the excitement of the live crowd. Whistles at the ready!
In the Autumn term of my third year of uni, I was casting around for a new musical project to further distract me from my studies. My previous band, Whizzers Of Waz, had drawn to a close the previous term and I knew it would be a hard act to follow (to quote Fraser Smith, who we were supporting at the time, "Whizzers Of Waz - what the fuck were they on about?").
I had decided I wanted to do 'live dance music' but hadn't yet figured how that would work. Of course, the eventual result was E-Bru, which in the early days went down a very definite drum 'n' bass route, but there were various other experiments along the way. They culminated in a live jam with about 8 people - keyboards, guitars, drums (live and programmed), percussion, bass, samples and tape loops. The session was a lot of fun, but made me realise I really didn't want to go down the massive line-up route again. So Bob and I locked ourselves in a room, drank some strong coffee and went looking for a mad singer/dancer to complete the three-piece.
Unfortunately, no recording of the mega-jam exists (to my knowledge), but I do have recordings of some of the earlier experiments, and this is one of them. It was a collaboration between me and a first-year called JD (I'm not sure if I ever new what the initials stood for), and is basically a live jam - JD on drum machine and me on keyboards.
The track is heavily and obviously influenced by Baroque music, which is something I have had a great affinity with since A-level music, where we harmonised Bach corales on a weekly basis. In my second year of uni, I had even toyed with a new style of music I had invented, called Barock, but couldn't drum up enough other interested parties to realise my grand plans.
This track draws from those same influences, and marks the tiny part of the Venn diagram where 18th century fugal counterpoint and 1990s house music intersect. However, as I said, my focus subsequently moved towards a more computer-based approach - proof that the old adage is true; my Bach is worse than my byte!
As I mentioned in my last post, my computer died a smoky death in the middle of the project, before I'd even begun this second remix. I had big plans for this track, all of which had to go out of the window. Without my main computer, I was stuck with my laptop. I had no way of recording any additional live tracks and wasn't even able to plug in my MIDI keyboard to record anything that way. All I had was the source material, my sample library and whatever software I had got round to installing on the laptop (which wasn't as much as I'd hoped). I had to scale back my ideas quite a bit, so it ended up being a bit of a hatchet job, alas.
I did a couple of versions of the track - the first was a bit of a jungle remix, which I quite liked, but which they felt was a bit heavy for the target audience. So, with time running out, I did a more club-tempo version, which is what I've uploaded here.
It wasn't what I'd planned, thanks to the world conspiring against me, but all in all it ended up pretty good, considering!
This is a remix I did in 2008 for a band called The Last Army. They were preparing to launch themselves in the US, and were after club-friendly remixes of two of their tracks, a la Hot Chip or Crystal Castles. (Apparently, that's what was big in the New York club scene at the time.)
This first one is called Dead - you can hear the original here. My remix was slated as a B-Side (or whatever you call it in this digital age) for the US single release, but I'm not sure whether that happened or not. The band, alas, is no more, but lead singer Rebekah Delgado is still going strong as a solo artist.
Unfortunately, my computer died a smoky death in the middle of the project, so I lost a lot of time (thankfully no data!) and was unable to extend this track to the length I had planned. However, at least this remix was broadly finished... the second one hadn't even been started!
Well, it's been a long time, hasn't it! To make up for things, let's re-open the proceedings with a biggie. It is called, appropriately enough, The Awakening, and was the first 'feature-length' piece that I wrote, running in at over 24 minutes. It was written in 1999, with Julie, and is the first of what turned out to be a trilogy of pieces that we wrote together for InterFiction dance company, all of which meshed live performance, video wall and an immersive Clements/Nwankwo soundtrack.
The mood is gothic-horror, with plenty of dark organs, church bells and gregorian chanting, and a vampire-heavy story-line. The piece also features some of the most complicated rhythms I think I've ever written. The middle section is two bars of 11/16 followed by two of 10/16 (though with occasional variations), with an additional 4/4 snare pattern running underneath it all. Not for the faint-hearted!
Now that I'm back, I hope to continue with regular music updates (fingers crossed!). I'm going to be focussing on old material, digging things up and giving them a bit of polish, rather than new stuff, as my current musical projects are a bit more long-term, and are not recording-focussed.
See also:Soundscape - an excerpt from The House On The Hill, the third piece in the trilogy.
Dave and Steve* discover an unmarked bottle, and poor old Pedro finds out that it isn't quite as tasty as he was led to believe...
*Let's make it absoLUTEly clear Dave and Steve were definitely 'not there' - this song proves it once and for all and anyway I told Dave we shouldn't of and I'm really sorry, honest, and we never forced him to drink it or nuffink so it's all Pedro's fault, and anyway, who's Pedro?
I just rediscovered this E-Bru track when it unexpectedly popped up in my music player, and I'd forgotten quite how good Zoe's lyrics were! It's a shame we never got round to recording a really good version of this song, but I was also pleasantly surprised at the quality of the demo. It's pretty rough around the edges, but it's a lot better than I remember. I'm a little confused about where it comes from though - it sounds like a live recording, but although we performed it with Georgie quite a bit, I'm pretty sure the only time we played it live with Zoe it had an extended middle section that isn't present in this version. I guess I'll have to go delve into the archive to figure out exactly where it all came from, but in the meantime here it is, warts 'n' all!
This track was written for On The Blog, the Radio 2 sitcom by Kris Dyer & Dave Marks, and was featured in the first episode of Series 2, broadcast last Saturday.
The song is by Cagouls - a Levellers-style band - and was featured on their EP Civil Britain, a concept-EP based on the English Civil War. The song tells the story of Boye, the poodle belonging to Prince Rupert, who was believed to have super-natural powers which protected his owner from being harmed in battle. At Marston Moor, Boye was killed and (not to spoil the ending or anything...) Rupert was, for the first time, defeated.
I thought it would be funny if the band had a folk-rock cellist instead of the standard fiddle. Plus I can play the cello... even if it has been about 10 years since I last opened the case!
This track came out of an experiment that involved myself, a certain Mr. Steve Haines and one or two boozes. The resulting nonsense was given to Steve's erstwhile companion (and now good lady wife), Kate, who managed to take the disjointed craziness and add a lyric that somehow tied it all together.
Several more sessions were needed to make it actually work (during one of which we 'accidentally' wrote another song whilst playing around with an old Casio keyboard) but eventually it was mixed to our satisfaction, and so, almost a year-and-a-half later, here it finally is!
The lyrics were inspired by the novel Hotel World by Ali Smith. As I didn't write them, I won't comment any further, but I will say that the book itself is well worth a read!
This was one of the early pieces of music that I wrote with Julie (circa 1998, I think). To be honest, I can't remember whether it was for a dance piece that she was working on, or whether it was just written for its own sake. It is based on the Philip Larkin poem "This Be The Verse" and involved some early sampler/4-track experimentation... and a fair bit of musical experimentation to boot!
The more observant above you may also notice a slight similarity between this and a certain E-Bru tune...
I met up with an old friend last week, who was telling me about his fear of hospitals. He told me he can happily sit through a gory horror movie, but he immediately feels queasy if a news report shows even a glimpse of a hospital corridor.
This is a mister badman track that I wrote with another friend with a similar phobia (though you'd never guess from the title...)
This latest mister badman is the highest tune I've ever written. It was composed, recorded and initially mixed in the French Alps, at about 3,500ft. Vocals were recorded via headphones and the original mix done on my laptop speakers. It sounded shit, and languished on my hard drive as a 'lost cause' for over 2 years.
I recently rediscovered it whilst doing a bit of computer house-keeping and decided it wasn't all that bad after all. I fixed up the vocals as best I can, and completely remixed the music, and this is the result. If you've been paying attention, you might recognise the piece of music that fades in towards the end of the track...
This song is a simple acoustic affair (guitar & voice - and yes, that is me singing!).
It was inspired by (but not about) a girl I met at a gig. We had a long chat about lyrics and poetry, and somehow concluded that I don't write enough serious songs. I went home and wrote and recorded this in about an hour (it's only a rough demo) just to show that I could... before going back to the stupidity that is mister badman.
There is ruin and decay
In the House on the Hill:
They are all gone away,
There is nothing more to say.
- The House On The Hill
Edwin Arlington Robinson, 1894
This is an excerpt from a longer piece that I wrote with Julie, called House On The Hill. It was the third of a trilogy of moody Gothic pieces we wrote for dance company Inter-fiction, each between 20-25 minutes long and performed with live dancers in front of wall-to-ceiling video projections. This third effort was undeniably the most successful, and created a very unsettling feeling which was particularly present in the synergy between the video and the music, which was written to picture.
This section is a sound-scape from around the middle of the piece and depicts the separation of two of the characters as they are drawn hypnotically towards the source of the evil energy that has taken hold of them.
I've been in the process of archiving some old E-Bru stuff, and I was listening
back to some old tracks - some of them very old (1998!). This one isn't quite
so ancient - it's a version of Bedroom Life that we recorded with Zoe in 2002.
It's a very early version of a track that we played at most of our gigs, heard
here without guitar or drums - a very different sound!
The song is about being out of work and having nothing to do. I'd like to
say we wrote it when we were out of work and had nothing to do, but as I am
(and was) self-employed, it's more likely that I was 'between clients' (which
is freelancer speak for being out of work and having nothing to do).
This is a song that Julie wrote in 1996, and which we recorded via what could charitably be referred to as "lo-fi hi-fi" onto my 4-track... and then promptly forgot about.
Early this year Julie approached me about getting some of her stuff into mp3 format for use on a website (which as far as I know it has not yet appeared on...). Whilst investigating the available recordings, we discovered that, as part of my archiving process the previous year, I had transferred these raw tracks from the knackered C60 on which they lay, into a sparkling digital format that will last forever. There were 2 each of the piano and vocal parts (all performed by Julie), which were possibly meant as harmonies, although they may have just been alternate takes, I don't remember. Nevertheless, they all seemed usable, so I loaded it up and got to work.
Having removed the MASSIVE amount of hiss from the tracks and edited out the bits that didn't fit together (and, to be fair, may never have been meant to go together) I managed to produce something that, I hope, does justice, to what is a great song and a very beautiful piece of music.
This is the final track that I'm posting from our Mark 'n' Bob Are 10 celebrations (for the time being at least). This one is an E-Bru track, and one that (as far as I am aware) has not made it out of the studio in any kind of recorded form. So here is the only version of the curiously named 'Labrador'. I have the feeling that this is one of those working titles that never quite got replaced, but there's 5 points up for grabs to anyone who can link the title to the lyrics...!
Another "mister badman - Live In 3D!" extravaganza. Here is the spectacular live version of 'What's Your Noun', the original of which is available at the mister badman website*. It's a kind of white middle-class version of 8-Mile. You don't quite get the full effect without being able to see the visual chaos that accompanied it, but hopefully the audio chaos gives you some idea of what the night was like...
In November of last year, me and Bob celebrated 10 years of making music together. This involved a night of music and booze that left my fingers and kidneys groaning (full details can be found at www.markandbobareten.com). I meant to post stuff here at the time, but as you can see I never got round to it, so I plan to post (or repost, if you followed the above link) several tracks from that night over the next week or so.
Given the recent hoo-ha about which cartoon dogs are not actually planets, mister badman took it upon himself to write an update to his famous song (see here for the original post). It seems appropriate therefore, to start the ball rolling with the live version of this song, performed by "mister badman - live in 3-D".
Well, it's been a long time since this was last updated, hasn't it! Partly because I've been lazy and partly because I've been busy. There's a lot of new music that's sitting here waiting to be put up, so I'm going to try and get quite a few updates done over the next month or so - maybe that'll redress the balance a bit!
This first posting is a track that I wrote in May with Steve and Kate in about four 'midnight hours' (you know, those one's between when you should go to bed, and when you actually go to bed). I had just received news that our very good friends Kaf and Dan were expecting a baby! Wowzers! So we wrote this song, based on what we imagine is going around Kaf's head at the moment. "I wonder what's on TV I'm having a baby!", "Oh no, we've run out of sugar I'm having a baby!", "Must remember to post that letter I'm having a baby", etc. Having listened to it you might find it hard to get out of your head too...
Happy Birthday to me! It's been a year since I started this page, and over that time I've managed to add an average of one track per fortnight, which is pretty impressive, I think! And what better track to celebrate this fact than this arrangement of the Happy Birthday tune, which I did when I was 12? Ok - there's lots of better tracks, but fewer that are more appropriate, and after all, isn't that what counts?
Whilst sorting out and archiving some Third Man stuff (after our recent Honda-thon), I ran across this piece, which was the first commercial piece written by The Third Man. It was written for a TV advert for Gunwharf Quays, a shopping and entertainment complex in Portsmouth, and was written to picture under another very tight deadline in November 2001. It required several edits to satisfy the client, and I was never really happy with any of them, so I re-edited the track for this web version.
The Third Man (which is the commercial wing of mine and Bob's musical enterprises), was approached recently to write a piece of music for a Honda web-promo. This was perhaps one of the tightest briefs we've had to work to, and also one of the tightest deadlines we've had to meet. In short, it was a very hard job indeed. They had already cut the promo to a very famous piece of music, knowing that they couldn't afford to use it, and now they wanted us to write something that was exactly the same, but completely different (i.e. they didn't want to get sued). Here's what we came up with. (Oh, and there’s a special prize if you can guess what the original track was...)
Been a little bit busy recently! Maldaba has recently started a couple of huge projects, Blink Twice made an appearance at the Bristol Comic Convention, (which included a demo of the forthcoming Malcolm Magic computer game, which I must say is looking pretty good, folks!), and of course, E-Bru were playing the Roxy Jam surf festival down in Newquay. That's right, a week-long all-female surf festival in sunny Cornwall - Hooray! (And, at times, rainy Cornwall - Boo!).
Whilst down there we were handing out some demos of our forthcoming EP, "Polaroids From A Party"', which we hope to be releasing towards the end of August. And just to prove that you get better info about E-Bru here than on our official website (what's that about, eh?) I thought that as well as announcing the EP, I'd also post the preview copy of one of the tracks. It's a rough, rough mix but hopefully it'll wet your appetite for what's on the way...
Today I was doing some post-production work on a new E-Bru track with Bob, but we got a bit distracted. My fingers chanced upon a random snippet of music that we decided was worth recording into our 'ideas bank'. Next, there's Bob chirping up with a "let's see if we can get some drums that go with that", and an insistence that "we won't spend more than half an hour on it", as there was serious work to be done.
An hour later and this tune was finished. (Still, it's amazing what you can do in just 60 minutes!)
A new tune from mister badman. Using a forgotten 60s track as backing, he tells us what the planets are and in what order.
UPDATE 3rd Septemeber 2006: Well, it appears that the universe is a-changing, so a new version of the song has been uploaded that correctly identifies Pluto as the dog-imposter that he was. Mister badman has swiftly responded by replacing his now 'old fashioned' song with an ultra-modern 'no dwarfs mix'.
In the Summer of 2000 I was part of the comedy group ...inexplicable... who took their show 'A Man Called Martin' to the Edinburgh Festival (much to the indifference of the rest of the world). I was involved as writer, technical director and composer, as well as being responsible for concocting a selection of strange sound effects. For example, have you ever wonder what it would sound like to photocopy a cow?
The show went through numerous rewrites on its way to Edinburgh, including the choice of music used as an introduction. The final version included a rather strange love letter from Stephen Hawking to Tessa Sanderson, but in the original it was agreed (for some reason) that 'Celtic trance' was the way to go. This is the result, which includes a plinky-plonk version of the ...inexplicable... theme (originally written by Al Boley, now of It's A Friday fame).
Another brand new E-Bru track - and it's not even been performed live yet! Once again this is an early mix and fairly rough - particularly the opening which we're not happy with yet - but it's pretty good nonetheless. As usual we will be tweaking it and tidying up the mix as we go, so newer versions may well be posted to the E-Bru site, but this first version will remain here as a reminder of how it all started out.
Well, it's been a long time since I last posted any music, hasn't it? Life has been pretty hectic of late, and to be honest it still is. (I'm currently operating on a seven-list system!) However, I'm going to try and get back into doing regular updates, and when better to start than on Easter weekend?
This track has nothing to do with Easter.
As dawn rose this morning I found myself on top of the house with my flat-mate Rupert and an empty bottle of gin, previously belonging to my other flat-mate, Jim. Jim was not pleased when Rupert woke him by hurling a cup of tea over his bedroom door in a misguided wardrobe-clambering incident. Jim was also not pleased when he found out about the gin.
This track has nothing to do with that either, but it was written in the aftermath, as I sat watching from the rooftops with a guitar and a cup of tea as the street slowly came awake.
As I'm going to be away for the next couple of weeks snowboarding my little ass off, I thought I'd give you a mega-treat to tide you over. I'm warning you, it's about 20Mb (that's 15 minutes of music) so I may well have to remove it from the server once I get back...
This piece was written with Julie for a dance performance as part of the Chichester festival. There were about a million versions of the piece and this one sits somewhere in the middle, although later versions were dramatically different, and almost unrelated. The trip to Chichester for the performance was pretty memorable - I came back with about £150 worth of new clothes, a new girlfriend and a carpet-burn on my face.
This is a funk track (though you wouldn't necessarily guess from the opening) that I wrote from start to finish in a single night whilst at university. I remember being very excited listening to the finished mix just as dawn was coming up and so had to go for a run around the lake - one of those perilous runs where you've got to be careful to steer well clear of the brooding geese (other York students will know what I'm talking about). I missed a lot of lectures at university.
Happy New Year! As promised, here is another early track from my Yamaha days. None of my tracks from this time had names, they were just given vague descriptions based on their style to help me remember what they were like. This was described as 'Speed Rock Style', although I've never heard any speed rock quite like this before. Maybe that was the name of the drum style used as backing. This was the second of nine tracks that I recorded using the PortaSound and its built-in sequencer, hence the PS-2 label (nothing to do with the Sony Playstation), and it's probably one of the best, certainly in terms of 'finished product'. Obviously, it sounds very dated now, but back in 1988 this kind of stuff was all the rage!
Oh my God - well it is nearly Christmas I suppose, and this is the only Christmas song I've ever written. It is also possibly the worst thing I have ever recorded. Coincidence? I think not! Actually, if I think about it, there probably is worse stuff out there, but most of it is somehow defensible. Either it's a good idea done badly or a bad idea done well. This is a medley. It is a bad idea done badly. My only excuse is that I was very young at the time, and perhaps a little too ambitious for my trusty Yamaha PortaSound. And after all, isn't Christmas a time for forgiving?
I won't be doing an update next week as I'll be back home for Christmas, but by way of balance I will make my first update of the new year another tune from around the same time. It'll be much better - I promise!
I've been incredibly busy this past week or so (and it's only likely to get busier as we near Christmas...) so I thought I'd take this opportunity to get something up that requires no additional work, aside from writing this description of course. This E-Bru track was on our previous demo (before Wallpaper Lovers was added) and as it features Zoe's vocals it is unlikely to re-appear on the site (at least not in it's current form). As it is no longer available elsewhere on the web I'm putting it up here for posterity.
Finally, it's finished! It's taken a while, mainly because of other things (like gigs) eating up our time but we've finally managed to finish off a suitably good version of Wallpaper Lovers. It's a brand-new E-Bru demo track so, as usual, expect a fair bit of tweaking and refinement and a whole bunch of slightly different versions (most of which will be virtually indistinguishable from each other) to appear over the next 6 months. The version on this site won't change, but the latest version will always be available via our demo page (which is currently on v2.1).
I'd like to dedicate this track to my sister, but I'm not sure she'd appreciate it so I won't. Happy birthday Sis!
I was chatting to a friend of mine, Pat, the other day (at his birthday, no less!) and he reminded me of a particularly strange studio session we had around Easter time in 1997. We were in the studio from about 1am, having (of course) had a fair number of drinks, with a massive amount of equipment and absolutely no plan about what we were going to do with it. I think the engineer was expecting a live band, but we turned up with samplers, keyboards, effects units, drum machines, an old analogue synth and pretty much anything else I had lying around my home studio. And of course Pat had his trusty Strat and juicy Tweed amp.
By 5 in the morning our heads were wrapped in masking tape and we were getting slightly hysterical. (It probably didn't help that I had arrived back from California just the previous day.) We had somehow acquired a security guard's hat (I think it just turned up in one of my equipment cases) which Pat was wearing, along with some hand-drawn facial hair. Nonetheless we did get something down to tape, managing to use pretty much every bit of equipment we had in the process. I don't think the engineer was very impressed with the result - he did a perfunctory mix-down (which, as far as I know, is the only copy still in existence) which is almost unlistenable to. The levels are all wrong, there's a massive hiss and the guitar was louder than Paisley (both the textile pattern AND the reverend Ian!)
Realising I didn't have anything else to put up this week, and with our conversation still in mind, I decided to fish out that old tape and, with a generous dose of modern studio magic (and a rare free evening) I managed to transform it into something that, whilst by no means brilliant, gives us something to show for that crazy night in the studio.
As it is my Dad's birthday this week, I thought I'd put up the piece he provided for the E-Bru album, 'Something New' which we produced in 2000. It is an arrangement he did of Brahms Hungarian Dance no. 10 for wind octet, which we then 'played with' (i.e. changed the instruments and sped it up) to produce computer game music. Originally there was going to be an extra soundtrack of people playing on the Megadrive, but that idea was scrapped when we decided it was shit.
As a special treat for anyone who hasn't heard the album before, I've got a copy each to give away to the first 5 people to requesting it...
Yesterday, for most of the day, I was tired and hungover. Then, as midnight approached, I was energetic and alert. "Hey, why don't I stay up all night? I'm awake, I've been asleep most of the day, I can do it. Why not?" Imagine what I could achieve in that time!
I achieved a lot last night. Really a lot!
Then, as dawn approached I was somewhat wide-eyed and hysterical as it reached that official 'morning' part of the day where 'morning' means you haven't slept and that there is no longer time to sleep properly even if you wanted to because you're meeting someone at midday and that's not very far away any more and you're wondering whether it was sensible to stay up but then you think "yeah - look what I've done while everyone else was sleeping" and besides you don't need sleep anyway, so you stay up, and you're proud you're still up and you feel good that you made it through the night and you're still awake and full of energy and oh my god let's write a song.
This is a Third Man track which we wrote in 2001. The Third Man is another collaboration with Bob, and the commercial side of our music-making activities. We write production music for adverts, tv and radio shows, web-based media and pretty much anything else people will pay for. We specialise in writing to brief, rather than creating library music, although we do have a library of ready-made tracks available. We're currently working on getting our website up and running, but it is a slow process (how many websites am I working on at the moment??). Anyway, so far this sounds a bit too much like an advert - on to the track! This was written for a TV advert for Telewest who were trying out a new interactive TV service called iSeeTV. The idea was that when shopping using your TV a phone number would be displayed which you could call to discuss your order or get more info about the products available. You would see the person you were speaking to on your TV (they couldn't see you) and they could demonstrate the products, answer any questions, take your order etc. I'm not sure that it caught on (this was 3 years ago and I haven't heard any more about it...) but it was an interesting idea. Our brief was for a 3-minute bed to go under an infomercial which should be cool & funky and not too intrusive. I don't know why we called it Alice, but here it is.
This week's offering is a song I wrote in 1992, about the first Chancellor of the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck. I didn't know much about him, and nor did my encyclopedic dictionary, but by golly I included everything I did know! In a way, this song always makes me feel a little sad. I always imagine it being sung by a washed-up Otto at the end of his career, his heart full of nostalgia for the 'good old days', as he winds up the evening playing to a handful of drunks and drop-out penny-slot gamblers at a late night Las Vegas lounge, before returning to his lonely hotel room and a bottle of Jack D.
A classic example of a track whose name never got beyond the 'working title' phase. However, the track itself is finished and was one of several tracks written for a dance performance (or possibly that dirty word, 'physical theatre') which was taken to the Edinburgh Fringe in 1999. I can't remember most of the details except that it was called 'How To Make A Human Being' and had 'something to do with cloning'. I worked on this with Juleka Nwankwo, who I have since collaborated with many times. This is a good example of an early collaboration, where Julie was mainly directing me and trying to stop me from drifting too far from the brief. I'm not altogether sure that she succeeded... to be honest I'm not altogether sure what the brief was!
A new Mister Badman track - at last! This is the first track which I have written solely using Cubase SX (although I did trim a few samples in Cool Edit before importing them). To be honest, it's not as easy to get your ideas into shape in Cubase as it is in Acid (which I normally use), particularly at the early stages of song creation, but once the blocks are there it is absolutely fantastic. Mixing and mastering is a breeze. Not quite sure if it'll become my one-stop solution yet, but it'll certainly be the backbone of future projects.
I wrote this track with Stephen Wetman in 1995. Part of the way we wrote at that time was to give sections of the tracks names as we were listening back, so we knew what we were talking about when it came to change the track. For example, as we were listening we might say "that drum fill there, we'll call that Jeremy" and then later we would be able to say things like "I think Jeremy should be louder", or "too many Jeremys in this section". It seemed to work at the time. Following on from this approach, we seemed to end up naming our tracks after people as well (though rarely people we knew). This one is called Jess. Put it on at night - it'll help you sleep.
This is a very early E-Bru track, which hasn't been played for many many years. It was written in a couple of hours (does it show?) when we were scrabbling to get our initial 20 minute set up to a playable 30 minutes. I think we only performed it a couple of times, but was always a favourite with the crowd, probably because of the memorable sample, but it was dropped because we couldn't be bothered to develop it properly. I doubt we'll ever do anything with it in the future as our style has moved on quite considerably since then, but I thought I'd put it up here as a reminder of where the whole E-Bru thing started from. This recording (possibly the only one existence) is from the first performance of the track, at the second E-Bru gig ever (back in 1998), and although it's a little rough around the edges it brought back a brief nostalgia for those early experimental days.
I know you've probably heard this track countless times already, but this week has been spent putting together a radio edit, so that's what you're getting today! For those not in the know, this is an E-Bru track which has been through various incarnations with various singers over the past year or so. The most recent version, whilst being generally good, had too long an introduction to work as an effective demo, so here's a snappier edit - ideal for radio play...
UPDATE 30th September: A new version has already been posted on the E-Bru site. To hear the most current version of the track, check out e-bru.com.
I wasn't planning to do a second entry to the 3 Notes And Runnin', but here it is. The inspiration came about when I accidentally pressed the enter key when attempting to move some files and ended up playing ALL 41 previous entries AT THE SAME TIME! It sounded quite cool, so I made this, which is exactly that. No changing of relative volumes etc. and the only effect is a limiter over the outputs to stop it clipping. I thought it's not really worth hanging on to until Sunday, so here's a special mid-week treat. Enjoy!
UPDATE 10th October: On 5th October this track was featured, along with 5 other 'notable picks', on the front page of the campaign site. At this stage there were 127 other entries, so that's quite an accolade!
This week a campaign was launched by music activists Downhill Battle in response to a recent court ruling regarding the use of sampling. I won't go into the details here - you can find all you need to know at their campaign site, 3 Notes And Runnin'. However, the relevant part is that in order to make their protest felt they are asking musicians to write a 30-second piece of music, created entirely from a single 1.5 second sample. You're allowed to mangle and warp it as much as you like, but you're not allowed to use any other sound sources whatsoever. Never one to turn down a challenge I set to and here's what I came up with (and for reference here's the original sample).
For this first release I thought I'd use what is probably the most recent thing I've written. It's called Bring It On Girl, and was the opening music for Nice Mum's Edinburgh show, 2004. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, it never got beyond the draft stage. Most instruments and the vocal were recorded in a single take, and then given a rudimentary mix - just enough to give the boys a feel for the tune and decide whether it was suitable - and this was the version that ended up in the show!