Saturday, November 26, 2005

Current rotations...

Tactical Sekt - "Geneticide"
Suicide Commando - "Godsend/Menschenfresser"
[:SITD:] - "Richtfest"
Skinny Puppy - "Rabies"
Skinny Puppy - "Brap"

Posted by Jon at 9:52:04 AM in Rotating (5) | Comments (0)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Georgie R.I.P.

Well, I suppose we all expected it to happen.  But now that it has, and George Best is no longer with us, perhaps he will be remembered for all the right reasons.  Of course, Best's name was made before mass pop culture really came into force and before television induced and produced mega stars like a production line.  Best was part of an era where football was played in shirts minus sponsors logos, on muddy pitches in an uncompromising fashion during a time of relative innocence and naivety.  A far cry from the cynicism and commercialism of present-day football.

Best was a true genius when it came to the playing of the game of the football. Greats like Pele thought so, as did many other luminaries from the beautiful game.  Admired and respected and feared by his fellow professionals and honoured by them, Best truly was the first sporting superstar.

Let's hope that the partisan and cynical nature of football gives way to a genuine appreciation of a footballing legend.  It's time to appreciate the joys and triumphs that Georgie Best provided rather than chart the decline  of his career and his becoming a casualty of fame. ...

It's upsetting to see some reactions to news of George Best's passing. In particular, in mentioning George Best's death to several people today and reading some internet postings I have come across judgements about how his transplant was wasted on him or how he should not have been allowed the chance to live.  It's easy to judge such a person ((unknown and unconnected to us as they are) and cast a negative opinion, especially when tabloid newspapers are inclined to feed that very viewpoint.  I would just say in response, if it was your father, your brother or your son would you be the one to tell them that you were going to deprive them of the opportunity of life?  Would you be the person to tell a doctor not to undertake that chance?  If one were to extend that further surely someone involved in a drink-driving incident would be deprived of treatment, someone who took part in dangerous sports would be left uncared for, and those who through any of their life choices put themselves ar risk would be untreated.  I don't think that is feasible.  In George Best's case his alcoholism was an illness and a disease in itself.  No amount of pathetic jokes about it can deny that George Best's alcoholism was part of his ill-health, physical or mental and therefore he deserved treatment. .    .

Posted by Jon at 2:12:45 PM in Musing (23) | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


To say I am tired would be an understatement of a significant order.  Extremely tired would do my feelings some justice, but it would not be quite the full story.

You know you are really tired (or tired-looking) when people you don't know well or only meet on a casual basis (e.g. out walking their dogs) tell you that you look tired - in the middle of the day.  People who never see a person outside of daylight hours probably have substantial authority to determine that a person is genuinely fatigued, rather than simply tired.  And so it was, as I dragged myself and Sophie (my black labrador friend) around the muddy lanes and tarmac pavements of the village, that my tiredness was recognised and pointed out by a fellow dog walker.  It's funny how people close to you can miss such things, but a more or less complete stranger homes in on it with laser-guided precision.  Sad, though, that the first follow-up question was a line of enquiry involving a suspected cause of that tiredness. Parties and socialising.  Not quite the case here.

Working up to a tight deadline can be a nightmare for all parties concerned, but particularly for the person or persons actually "doing the doing" so to speak.  Anyone who works in the design or publishing business will no doubt concur and shudder with an instinctitve recollection of such circumstances.  It is under such conditions that I have been working these last few days.  Such is the lot of a web designer, scraping to make ends meet without meeting an end... [ see what I did there... totally seamless ] .

There are worse occupations, of course. And there are even worse ways to earn money, full stop.  I'm sure a lot of it is down to me, perhaps I expect too much recognition for jobs well done, or appreciation for the work I do.  I certainly don't expect too much financially, that is for certain.  That is something I need to work on.  When you don't get much in the way of thanks or consideration or a sense of being valued, somtimes you have to filter out that part of your brain which responds to those things and concentrate on providing yourself with the means to allow other parts of your brain to respond positively.   Which means money, so that the parts of your brain which worry about bills and about getting some respite are compensated accordingly for the lack of "warm fuzzies" in the part of the brain that deals with value and appreciation.   It's a bit like telling one part of your brain to look away whilst you feed another part of it.  Or something like that...

Ah, value and value. Being valued - thanks and appreciation for efforts, knowledge and expertise.  A valued being - the financial rewards for the same.  An internal market of exchange rates and currency fluctuations.  Are there traders in this market I wonder?   What's the current exchange rate between the "being valued" currency and the "valued being" currency?

I am not sure myself at the moment.... I wonder if my internal currency market crashed a long time ago a la Black Wednesday.  Still, at least unlike the real traders I don't have to wear a silly waistcoat.  Yet.

Posted by Jon at 10:27:19 PM in Musing (23) | Comments (2)

Current rotations...

 :W: - "Evoke" (hmmm...)
Assemblage 23 - "Disappoint"
Suicide Commando - "Construct><Destruct"
Hocico - "Signos de Aberracion"
Fractured - "Only Human Remains"

Posted by Jon at 10:00:55 PM in Rotating (5) | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Winter's Walk

Honestly, you can keep your hot Summer days, as nothing comes close to a cold, bright Winter's day such as we have had this week around this part of the UK.  Air so cold and so still, and so fresh it feels healthy just breathing it in with gasping mouthfuls.  The perfect medium within which sound waves travel.  The perfect medium also for me to travel.   Every sound is as clear as the light around you.  Every slight rustle of a frosted leaf falling comes to your ears.  Each drop of water hitting the ground, deposited from a thawing tree branch lit by blue and golden shards of sunlight.  Each crunch of the frozen earth and the cracking of twigs underfoot.  Yes, even the sound of distant traffic or a buzzing electricity pylon is borne swiftly to you on a cold and crisp day like this.  But it cannot spoil the calmness and serenity of walking - your breath visible to you as you make your way through dew-laden grasses - through the white-dusted countryside surrounded by the sounds of nature. Nor is your walk spoiled by the return to civilisation, to traffic and to noise of a different kind.  Instead, as the door closes behind you on your cold environs, there comes a new feeling of warmth.  And the welcome return of the feeling in the tips of your ears..        

Posted by Jon at 1:37:53 PM in Musing (23) | Comments (2)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Paperweight, and wait and wait

"Not much to say today" - quite frankly those are not ideal words to begin a blog entry with.  And a split infinitive is not an ideal follow-up either.  But I am tired - it's been a long, hard day trying to get a web site prepared for a very tight deadline, so I feel rather emptied out.  I noticed tonight, however, and this is the reason for writing, that the paperweight I had intended to put on eBay a couple of weeks ago is serving a good purpose despite its impending relocation.  Put to one side, ready for photographing and listing on eBay it has found a niche for itself - as a paperweight.  Still in its presentation box, no less.  There's something poetic about that, but then again, I am easily entertained and distracted particularly when tired.  I am looking for the bigger philosophical meaning which can be gleaned from the paperweight finding a niche for itself.  I am sure there is one, probably involving intent, purpose and disposal, but  for the life of me it cannot be pieced together .  So, for the time being at least, the paperweight will have a stay of execution in lieu of its beneficial properties as an unintended paperweight. 

So, as I said... "not much to say today".

Posted by Jon at 1:52:44 AM in Musing (23) | Comments (3)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Colin McRae Rally - Senior Edition

 Just a bit of fun...(click to view)

Posted by Jon at 5:05:37 PM in Musing (23) | Comments (0)

eXT as a live tool

l have not used eXT as a live tool either in theory or in practice, so my little sojourn tonight into its capabilities was quite an eye-opener and rather fun. 

Here's the set up

Start out with a MIDI patcher component so you can set up some keyboard splits.  This allows you to use part of the keyboard for triggering live and part for playing in realtime (detail at bottom right of the screenshot below)

In the example below I've got three splits set up - one for triggering midi components connected to a DeltaIII, Albino and Zero Vector, one to Microtonic to trigger its internal drum patterns and fnally the rest of the keyboard is connected to Absynth for playing freeform synth lines.

Each of my MIDI components is set to trigger when a note in the lowest split in the MIDI patcher is played - note toggle is selected for each midi component and I set each component to a different note (C1 to D1).  I've turned off MIDI THRU on each of these because I don't intend to send anything other than the initial trigger notes to them and I don't want to hear that note coming back to me through the respective synths/drums.

The Microtonic has three patterns set up on keys C2 to D2, a basic rhythm, and two fill variations.

Lastly, I have an audio in set up for guitar which is playing through the Trash distortion unit after equalization..

Here's the screenshot of the set up

So, basically in space of about 20 mins set up I have at my disposal for live use:

1.  a bass line I can trigger on/off on one note
2.  a synth line I can trigger on/off on one note
3.  a second synth line I can trigger on/off on one note
4.  a drum synth with three pattern variations on three notes
5.  another synth on the remaining higher notes
6.  an audio input for guitar ( I might also have set up a trigger for the distortion unit on/off)

I could alternatively have used MIDI CC messages for all the triggering.  In addition I could use the same techniques to trigger sample components in real-time.

All I need now is an audience... oh, and an extra hand for the guitar bits ;)

Posted by Jon at 1:19:29 AM in Muso-ing (9) | Comments (0)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Current rotations...

Saints of Eden - "Proteus"
Leaether Strip - "Positive Depression"
Leaether Strip - "Carry Me"
Hocico - "Wrack and Ruin"

Posted by Jon at 6:36:38 PM in Rotating (5) | Comments (0)

What am I good at?

This question has been bothering me a for a little while.  I am not sure quite what it was that caused this little menace to infiltrate my brain, but it is there now and it seems to have bought clothing and supplies suitable for an extended stay in my cerebral region.

So, what am I good at? 

Well, actually the simple answer is that I am quite good at quite a few things. See how deadening and deprecating the use of the word "quite" was there?   You see, I'm not great at anything, it seems.  I'm proficient and logical enough to do some programming - sort of.  I'm dextrous enough to play guitar reasonably well -  passably, anyway.  I'm literate enough and nimble enough to have a reasonable wit and do cryptic crosswords - sometimes.  I'm creative enough to do some design work and eke out a living from it - just about, anyway.   I'm imaginative enough to get some songs written and recorded via computer.  I'm intelligent and resourceful (or perhaps able to play the system) enough to have gone through a total of almost 19 years of almost continuous education.

Behind the facade of that simple answer, however, lies a complicated backstage area inhabited by an answer which is rather more shadowy.  The problem is that I don't feel that I have really gor any "gifts" or "skills" or "talents" that truly stand out in any kind of definite way or which I feel are hooks onto which I could hang some baskets (with eggs in, of course).  Perhaps I should be happy that I don't have that burden to bear or be relieved that I have avoided some kind of one-dimensionality.  But, at times, and recently in particular, it has begun to prey on my mind that there is really not a single thing that I could honestly say that I have a special capacity for or capability to do.  

Are you in the same boat as me?  
(if so, I'm quite a reasonable sailor, but not great at it)

Posted by Jon at 1:32:15 AM in Musing (23) | Comments (1)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

From Glitch to Glitswitch via eXT

In a recent post (see "Glitch") I mentioned how useful it would be to be able program a sequence which would send output to different effects on a note-by-note basis.  E.g.  note 1 send audio to this FX plugin, note 2 bypass, note 3 send audio to this other FX plugin.  Glitch does this with its own internal effects.

Well, steffensen over at KVR has come with a solution using eXt and Soma's Audio Switcher.   Here's the link to the discussion.
It looks complicated but the basic principle behind it is quite simple (use Steffensen's light version first as it's a bit clearer). You have a midi part with each note corresponding to a toggle of Soma's Audio Switcher, which then sends output to your designated FX plugins. So, just insert the effects you wish to use and then sequence away. Great solution! Kudos to all concerned! Not got eXT? Get it here...

Posted by Jon at 11:52:50 AM in Muso-ing (9) | Comments (0)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Comfort Food...(serves one right)

You will need:
- an appetite (healthy)
- cold weather or some kind of difficulty in your life (optional)
- a large baking potato (unbaked)
- some mature cheddar cheese (grated)
- a small onion or half a large one (shredded)
- butter (optional)

Part-bake your potato.  I'll rephrase that - put ALL of the potato in your oven (you can start it off in the microwave if you wish, but you'll need it to be crispy when finished not soggy and limp).  Whilst the potato is baking, mix up about 90% of your grated cheese with your shredded onion.  Don't do anything with this just yet - no, I must insist on that.  Now, go and do something else for a while. Not for too long, just long enough to pass some time before your potato is almost done.   Tidy your room or something.

Okay, here's the tricky bit.  Take your potato out of the oven, carefully ensuring that the temperature of the potato in contact with any part of you does not cause any ill-effects.  Halve your potato without completely reducing it to two parts.  I'll leave it to you as to whether you do it longtitudinally or not.  Scoop (you don't need a scoop for this, it's just a good verb to use)... scoop out the potato and blend it with your cheese and onion mix.  (At this point, you can also add a little butter for that creamier taste or if your potato needs a bit of softening up).  Then scoop it back into the somewhat sad-looking shell of a partially-baked almost-halved potato.  Mush it in a bit - you'll need to because what you took out is less than what you are trying to put back in now.  Remember, you added cheese and onion didn't you?  Okay, now garnish the rest of the cheese on top of the two halves.  You did take notice of that bit didn't you?  Ok, put the whole thing back in the oven and let it finish off baking the potato and allow it to render the top a little crusty and brown. 

Serve with anything, really.  Coleslaw is good.  Beans are good.  Both is probably a bit greedy.  But, up to you...this is comfort food after all.

Posted by Jon at 7:35:24 PM in Musing (23) | Comments (1)

Current rotations...

Amduscia - "Impulso Biomecanico"
Agonoize - "Evil Gets An Upgrade"
X-Fusion - "Dial D For Demons"
Aslan Faction - "Sin-Drome of Separation"
Fractured - "Only Human Remains"
the wretch - "ambulatory"
Sythilix - collected tracks...

Posted by Jon at 4:19:34 PM in Rotating (5) | Comments (0)

A slow and painful...

My pack of rolling tobacco reliably informs me that "Smoking can cause a slow and painful death."  Undoubtedly true, but it got me thinking what products should have a similar corollary.  That is to say, a warning about a slow and painful life?
Some suggestions:

D.I.Y products.  Reader's Digest.   Boneshaker bicycles.  Tortoises with feet prone to blisters.  Police cars which escort wide loads. 

What else?  .

Posted by Jon at 12:37:29 AM in Musing (23) | Comments (2)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Confession Time

Okay, I admit it. I don't know what I am doing.  This is not something that will come as a surprise to some of the people that know me, as it seems to be a perspective shared by many on me.  But in the sense of blogging, I confess I don't know what I am doing.  I had this problem the last time I started a blog some five or so years ago.  Surfing around other blogs with their extremes of expression guided by the Muses Polemic and Minutae, I struggle to find a niche and wonder what it is that I offer and can say.  Nothing new there, either, but perhaps it's important to really have an idea of what your blog is about?  Perhaps?

It's not that I don't have things to say on various topics and don't think I can't be even a little bit entertaining at times.  It's just that the vast morasses and masses of the blogging community just about have it all covered, veneered and varnished.  My rational side counters with "Ah yes, but they are not you and your prespectives are unique because they are yours", to which my cynical, self-critical side retorts, "Yes, and you think that makes it worthwhile?". 

But then I realised that probably someone else out there in BlogVille, BlogLand has undoubtedly had the same conversation above, posted about it on their blog, and now I am no longer worried or burdened by it because let's face it, it's not worth it.  [what a waste of two paras]. .

On a lighter nots, a comedic situation in Wilkinson's today.  Vic and I both needed to buy glue (me for my aforementioned lost sole - Joy Division anyone? - he for a broken somethingorother) which resulted in a conversation about how it looked quite bad that we were both buying super glue at the same time and that it might raise some eyebrows.  My punchline?  Well, of course it had to be..."But Vic, surely they know that friends stick together".

Anyway, more later perhaps after a quick sojourn to the pub...

Posted by Jon at 9:30:42 PM in Musing (23) | Comments (0)


A strange perversion of the trickle-down effect seems to be happening around me.  Trickle-down being the principle that actions at a macro level have knock-on effects through a system at increasingly finer scales.  It's a term usually applied to such grand things as macroeconomics or to environmental systems.  However, it seems possible that the current large-scale troubles and upheavals in my life have induced their own particular form of trickle down to the domestic scale.   Perhaps it is payback time but the fates are all out of dramatic events so it's the mundane stuff for me.

Note, the sole of para boot coming loose when out walking in the mud - at the furthest point from home, of course, and naturally when followed all the way home by other people.  You try walking when it feels like you've got a boot on one foot and a flipper on the other.. in the mud... with a dog...

Note, suddenly proclivity of the bathroom light "pull" not to work when pulled in the customary perpendicular fashion - oh no, it has to be at about 25deg from the vertical and away from you in order to work now and even then it's hit and miss.  

Note, desktop light choosing to flicker every once in a while in poltergesit-style fashion.  Not simply going off.  Not simply flickering.  But more like a kind of Swan Lake dying scene routine... and then several moments later, it is back to life again.

But still,  I am sure there are rational explanations for all the abovc, most likely involving the words "old", "need" and "replacing".  Sounds familiar.

On a brighter note, snooker is going well...

Posted by Jon at 12:26:09 AM in Musing (23) | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Current rotations...

The Retrosic - "God of Hell"
Fractured - "Only Human Remains"
Virtual<>Embrace - "Roots of Evil"
X-Fusion - "Demons of Hate"
Leaether Strip - "Underneath the Laughter"

Posted by Jon at 11:25:14 PM in Rotating (5) | Comments (0)

Review: Fractured - Only Human Remains (CD)

 I have been eagerly anticipating this release by Fractured on Dependent - the label's only debut release in 2005 -  ever since hearing and being very impressed by the title track on the Endzeit Bunkertracks compilation.  The CD does not disappoint.  First things first, the title track is indeed different from the version on that compilation, and the differences are a microcosm of what to expect from the album as a whole (download it here).  More punctuated drum and synth lines, glitchier percussion and shredded vocal effects mark the title track out from its earlier release version.  The CD opens up with a spoken word track ("What Is The Moment of Truth") which develops into a tirade complemented by heavy beats and shuddering guitar. A fine opener is also matched with the excellent album closer, "Cold Eyes", which ties together several tracks including "Only Human Remans".   In between, there's a varied mix of the melodic, the powerful, and more atmospheric tracks, including several slower songs notably "Haunted Memories".  There's a little of everything here and clearly manifold influences - but it's intellligently done, never clumsy nods to anything or anyone.  Vocals are treated differently on an almost song-by-song basis, which is at times a little disconcerting but it works at the global level.  There's a high degree of glitch programming and rhythmic complexity which is impressive, but it never detracts from the accessibility of the song structures.  It does not feel like it is done for the sake of it.   Overall, a fine album which will no doubt reinforce their rapidly-growing reputation for complex but accessible dark electro music.

Posted by Jon at 5:19:38 PM in Muso-ing (9) | Comments (0)

Monday, November 07, 2005


 No, not a problem with the site.  Rather, Glitch from dBlue is a very impressive VST effect which will do unspeakable things to your audio signal, and is particularly effective on percussion parts.

What's novel about it is the ability to apply particular effects within a siequence of up to 64 steps (you can change the length of the sequence to suit as well).  The nine effect "slots"  include modulation, bit crushing, shifting and flanging, and all of these have their own filter to refine the effect output.

Randomize functions abound (for effects and the sequencer) and you'll lose a few hours just messing about with those.  It's a lot of fun, and runs from subtle to extreme (put a hard limiter in your signal chain after it, but you do that anyway of course!).  It makes me wonder if someone should come up with something similar which allows you to host your own effects into those slots in a modular fashion all controlled by that sequencer.  As it is, Glitch is perfect for glitchy drum loops and chopped up percussion.  Put a pad sound through Glitch with a low wet setting to add some interest and movement to it.   It's surprisingly controllable once you get the hang of it..

Download the beta here

Posted by Jon at 2:02:24 PM in Muso-ing (9) | Comments (0)

Sometimes it's the simple things...

 Life can be complicated. The harsh realities of it can sometimes hit you when you are least able to cope with it or are least resilient to it.  It's very easy to get swept under the waves of complexity and become overwhelmed by responsibilities, practicalities and expectations.  When you're already feeling like things are not going well, these are like individual hammer blows to the spirit.   Trying to maintain a sense of perspective through difficult times is quite a challenge, especially when often the immediate reaction is to get in there amongst the complications, get dirty, and make a lot of noise.  

Simplicity - the kind of feeling that children, with their limited outward reference and restricted sense of repercussion and appearances, experience all the time - feels like a precious resource at present.  It's hard to emulate as an adult - it takes quite a knack and effort to switch off from adult emotions (particularly paralyzing feelings of failure and self-consciousness) and embrace something more basic and primary, such as the feeling of walking through leaves, squelching through mud, cooking for yourself, laughing at a daft dog in the park...

Child-like fascination in things, in sensations, around events and ahout people  is very simplistic.  Children do things just to see what happens, in anticipation of well, absolutely nothing.  They inquire, they question, they prod and they open themselves up to things which adults tend not to.  Or at least they used to.  How true it is now I don't know, but I hope that it is.

Going through a rough patch at the moment, I'm even more intent to make the most of the simple things that come my way and enjoy as child-like a vision of the world as I can.  Not all that easy when you have adult responsibilities (a business, family, bills) to consider, but they feel very important to me at this time when other things have taken a disastrous turn and when life has not quite turned out how I had hoped (and not how others had expected/hoped for/from me, perhaps).  I know too many adults who have lost their sense of simple curiousity, of simple relation to the world around them, and it is not pretty.  I see bitterness and tiredness and it's sad to see.  It's not how I want to be.

So, cooking properly for myself, walking daily (sometimes with and sometimes without borrowed dog), quiet drinks in the pub, the little bits of music-making I can fit in, chats with people around the village, and little triumphs of spirit over adversity... all of these things have an amplified value and importance at the moment.  Not complicated things, but things I can manage and can feel some sense of well-being from doing.. 

Posted by Jon at 12:47:15 PM in Musing (23) | Comments (0)