Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Merry Gristlemas



A very fine gift from my lovely partner...a Gristleism...

The Gristleism is a piece by Throbbing Gristle & Christiaan Virant and is a small box beautifully packaged that is a loop player containing 13 throbbing gristle loops with a volume control and a pitch bend. The loops are all experimental sounds some with a pulse others more droning and some more noise based...its a fascinating piece to play with...I think it may be the pre show music if I ever do a solo experimental gig.

Find out more about the gristleism here

or jump straight to the video of 3 of them performing together here

Saturday, 7 November 2009

CELLS



I've been playing with this synth that I made for the No Label event photo'd above about a million years ago! It makes strange drones that sound delayed and looped (although it has no delay or loop just a looooooong release stage and lfo) and is designed to be fiddled with rather than played or sequenced. At the time I made this I had the idea of creating a pendrive full of little applications that could provide possible sound or sample inspiration played only by the pc keyboard and mouse. I was also into the idea of really clean looking Gui so much so that nothing on this synth is labelled until you click the tiny "?" in the bottom left hand corner..then an overlay appears with all the labels...I'm pleaed with the fact that in this view you can still manipulate all the knobs and stuff through the overlay.



Anyway I'm releasing it into the wild... although before I do I should say that I don't plan to do any updates or mend anything or do any development of this...please watch your volumes (it launches with the volumes low) as it can get pretty loud. The download is a zip file including the application, a read me (contains some instructions) and two little dat files that it generates in any folder you copy it too so don't worry if you lose those. It should run on anything win xp and above and can run from any drive so pendrives, memory cards or internal drives....here you go

concretedog CELLS

You can use or distribute this in any way you want...if you create something with it please let me know.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Video Gig Flyer

WARM DATA & SOMBOM @ BAR342 from Warm Data on Vimeo.



The Warm Data labelboss is a fine man when it comes to whipping up a flyer... really looking forward to playing at this.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Proudly posted on Concretedog Linux 0.2.4!




I've made my own Linux distribution...but first the history

So I've been playing with linux for a while now...I still boot windows most of the time but I have an old machine that has run Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Puppy Linux, DSL and more at one time or another. I'm definately still a newb to but I am learning all the time... I am really interested in the politics and philosohpies that underly the development of Linux and for me that is the main draw to using it....I learnt a lot about the history of linux from the excellent book rebel code......

So last week I discovered via the excellent Lifehacker a new service called SUSEstudio and I think I've seen the future! SUSEstudio is an entirely browser based tool for creating your own linux distribution...for those who don't know a distribution is an entire operating system...but unlike windows, linux distributions include many 3rd party application preconfigured within. What SUSEstudio enables people to do is create their own operating system based on openSUSE and then configure and customise the software and settings it contains....amazingly after this you can hit the build button and it creates one of numerous options- disk image, Live cd/dvd etc...this is created and stored on the SUSEstudio server (they allocate each user 15gb!) and then the magic begins....you can testdrive the distribution you just built live in the browser for up to an hour each time...wow...any changes you make in testdrive mode can then be overlayed into the build file for your next build.

So I have spent the last week building Concretedog Linux...which as I type is at version 0.2.4 and is a live cd (so you can and indeed I am at this very moment) running the entire distribution on a cd on a windows machine...and when I boot this machine next without the cd in the drive my windows xp installation and filesystem etc will be untouched....

Concretedog Linux currently contains a stripped down studio environment with software including,

Ardour- a multitrack studio DAW
Milkytracker- My choice of oldschool style trackers.. no effects no gimmicks just a rock solid tracking platform
Audacity- a great cross platform audio editor
Hydrogen- a drum machine and sequencer
lots of LADSPA effects that can plug in to hydrogen, audacity and Ardour

The GIMP- a brilliant image editing program
and Opera...a great fast browser that I use all the time on my mobile phone so I feel right at home using it on my laptop.

I've also added a pack of my samples from my circuit bent instruments so that basically armed with this cd and a pendrive I have a creative environment I can carry with me and use on any machine.
Although the more I play with this the more I am likely to install it to my harddrive.

I need to make a few more revisions as a couple of things are broken but after that I will press a few disks up and give them away to friends...but I urge you if you are interested in making any sort of appliance...be it a kiosk machine, a stripped down server or a live multimedia cd give SUSEstudio a go...If I can do it....anyone can!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Gig lineup confirmed



Looking forward to this gig...it's been a while since I freaked out with some wires and broken things.....

Friday, 25 September 2009

New Instrument, Live rig and Gig



My new toy...quite a simple pitch bent kawasaki keyboard but I've added some trigger inputs for some of the keys so it can be midi controlled by my first yamaha QY10- via the highly liquid MSAR kit....



...and the QY10 is also sending midi time code to the old faithful TR505..



I'm slowly working up a loud set (I'm going to be in NOISY techno mode) with this rig for a gig I have on October 30th at Bar 342 in Bangor. Warm Data artists in one room and Acid Casuals in another..nice.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Prosound and Paint



A quick project... this gameboy has the pro sound modification and a nice red glowing led in the speaker vents...i'm tempted to have a go at backlighting the screen on this one as I think it would look great. I'm pleased with the way this turned out though.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The ups-downs-ups of circuit bending

Ages ago I circuit bent a yamaha qy10 (this one) and it has been a grand bit of kit...so much so that I got another....



What you are looking at here is the end of an emotional journey! My original idea was to mildy bend this qy10 so that I could midi the 2 of them together and that this one could use some stock sounds with some distortion bends whilst the other one went bonkers with bent sounds....I set about finding some good points on this machine but then the inevitable...I began poking around the sequencer/cpu chip in an attempt to get something interesting...which I did...the tell tale magic blue smoke!

The sequencer was knackered and so was keyboard input..hmm not a happy bunny I put it on the spares pile....

A nights sleep and I awoke wondering if it would respond to midi still...it did...yeah, there's life in the old girl yet...albeit short lived.
I managed to bridge a connection on the voicing chip and despite clearing the solder bridge the unit remained in a permabent state....

Disgruntled I made tea and ate oranges...

But then I realised..it's ok...its ok that this machine now can't make stock noises, record sequences or even be played by its own keys..it still makes sounds and it still responds to midi notes from other machines so it's still useful...in fact it's somehow more free..more inspiring...more emancipated from itself...

Fired on I ended up sticking some random extra bend points to the voicing chip which run out of ther back of the machine and terminate with small magnets, there is then a patchbay area stuck onto the back which consists of some scraps of ferrous metal which you can then attach the magnet wires to to further glitch the sounds from this beast...as the majority of the buttons are rendered useless a fugly spray job is the finishing touch...the beast then lay to dry in the beautiful sunshine..a happy ending!

Monday, 31 August 2009

Edge of Sleep



So it was a rainy day....I set myself the challenge of making a piece that consisted of only sounds generated from my gameboy advance using my flashcart and numerous bits of software. I ended up using Pixelh8's free version of MusicTechPro, GBEdrum, the Nanovoice demo and Nerdrix the last 3 of these are classic gameboy programs so you have to use Goomba to get them working on the gba. A good source for gameboy/nintendo homebrew software is mooglecharm

Everything was played live into reaper and then the only processing I allowed myself was to use my own VST effects...its a WIP but I quite like the first draft...

<a href="http://concretedog.bandcamp.com/track/edge-of-sleep-wip">Edge of Sleep (WIP) by concretedog</a>

Saturday, 1 August 2009

RoboRehearsal

So I spent some of today trying to get all the midi controlled things I have built set up and begin to make some sounds together. Since building the robocymbal player I have hacked together a couple more things including;


Above is a machine that has a couple of motors under midi control, each motor has a felt strip attached as a rotor which kind of strums the wires attached to a piezo disk..I love the effect you can hear it on the track at the end of this post coming in at around 36 seconds.

Also in the track you can hear an effected drum clatter, this was made with my second drum player here;



Opening this majestic piece (!) is the sound of my modified Amdek percussion synth, this synth that is designed to be hit by drumsticks is being triggered by a simple motor with a bit of wire and a weight like so;



So here's the track
<a href="http://concretedog.bandcamp.com/track/robots-rehearsal">Robots Rehearsal by concretedog</a>

So today has given me a big jobs list... I need to sort out better ways of being able to attach things to each other (particularly the drum/cymbal player things) I also need to sort out communal powersupplies for some of these things as at the moment everything is running on rechargeable batteries which is getting slightly ridiculous when most items are running at the same voltage.

I also want to build a few more instruments before I sit down and hopefully write a sizeable piece with all this stuff...and then write some visual stuff....then find venue....I'll get there eventually I guess!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Lastfm

My bigbadlabel boss has sorted out the warm data content on lastfm you can find my Warm Data released stuff here to stream

Monday, 29 June 2009

Modded gameboys...



In amongst working on other things, I've done another couple of modified gameboys. Both these fellas have the "pro sound" modification done, I've done this mod before but on these I've done it so that the new improved output has its own socket in the bottom of the case meaning you can retain the headphone socket. As the mod renders the (awful) internal speaker useless I decided to pull them out and fit LED's to shine out through the speaker grill...I really like the effect.

A lot of people have got into adding backlight kits to old gameboys, but I managed to pick up a couple of these slide on "Nuby" lights which again..I love the look of...so I probably won't attempt this mod.

However it has come to my attention that I have procured way to many gameboys than one could ever need so this one is off to ebay to try and raise some cash towards a new portable recorder...(mmmh micro br mmmh) EDIT...Heres the ebay link if anyones interested

Friday, 19 June 2009

Midi Motor...



Today I made a midi controllable motor with a phono socket to hook it up to the msar. I am going to do some motors that, when triggered, do something mechanical, ie turn something to make a sound, strike something or possibly create a strumming motion. However this one I have just been playing through a tape deck head of a hacked walkman. Its interesting as a dry sound but I can get some good sounds by feeding the walkman through an effects unit. Here is a short sample, starts dry and then I dial in a chorus/reverb effect..

<a href="http://concretedog.bandcamp.com/track/msa-r-motor-and-tape-deck">MSA-R Motor and Tape deck by concretedog</a>

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Finishing things...



So I've been putting in some time finishing things off, below is a picture of my finished MSAR kit I've posted about before. I've finished it by giving it phono socket outputs for each relay and mounting it in a plastic food box! Believe it or not I've given this enclosure a lot of thought.. the sealed nature makes it pretty splash proof (good for gigs with drinks involved) it's see through so (with some extra led's in the box) its easy to see what is plugged in where, I've also made it so that the on off switch sits under the lip off the lid so when it's powred up and the lid is on you can't accidentally knock it off...similarly you cant knock it on when it's in transit.



I showed a couple of posts ago a rough mockup of a robotic cymbal player well I've also completed a better more final version...



So this robocymbal machine is built using more bits salvaged from the original toy that I got the solenoid from, the base of the unit is one of the pcb's from the toy and the uprights and the "drumstick" are made from some plastic tubing that came with some packaging. Again I've used a phono socket as the connection so its a simple phono lead to connect it up to the msar.

Lastly it's a bit of a pain to connect this all together and then to a midi source if I just want to check that the robocymbal unit is working, so I made a switched phono plug just for test purposes...sometimes the simplest things are very satisfying..



and yes I do like leds... they are useful for showing that things are receiving power...but also look great in the dark...like so..



next jobs are more instruments for midi control...stay tuned!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Warm Data Soundcloud



The mighty Warm Data netlabel have a grand selection of tunes available for streaming on their soundcloud site. There is a tune off my EP that I didn't do a video for so you may not have heard it..(unless you are one of the great people who bought my ep:)

Here's the link

Monday, 1 June 2009

Robocymbal....

Concretedog Robocymbal from concretedog on Vimeo.


A continuation of my tinkering with the highly liquid MSA-R kit, today I built a little test system that plays a ride cymbal controlled by midi...Its kind of inspired me to create a robot band!...I'm sure it will pass!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Soldering on



So I've finally got round round to building my own MSAR midi to relay kit from Highly Liquid, after building this one for a friend. Again I was struck by how well laid out these kits are...a real pleasure to put together...I need to pick up a couple of bits to finish this one and find an enclosure for it but I should finish it this week.

In other news, the interview I did for radio wales about warm data and my ep is not on iplayer anymore but is now available to listen to here if anyone wants to hear my dulcet tones wittering on about circuit bending!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Great Gigs in London...wished I lived closer...



I got an email today from someone who had been reading my blog and thought I might be interested in these gigs celebrating the life and works of Moondog happening in London... I don't usually do promotion on this blog but these gigs look really interesting... I'd love to see Britten Sinfonia and many of the artists espescially Max De Wardener...his album "Where I am Today" I would site as a big influence on me.... unfortunately "where I am" is a long way from these gigs!

Here's a link to the barbican site

But here's the details/lineup anyway

Saturday 30 May 7.30pm
The Viking of 6th Ave - The Music of Moondog

Tickets: £15 / 20 / 25
Barbican Hall

Saturday 30 May 11.30pm
Moondog Around Midnight

Tickets: £5 (50% discount for main concert ticket holders)

St Giles Cripplegate

Presented by the Barbican and Eat Your Own Ears; part of Only Connect

A glimpse into the world of iconic American composer Moondog (1916-1999), whose music has influenced generations of artists, from Philip Glass and Steve Reich to Charlie Parker, and later devotees like Mouse On Mars, Anthony Hegarty, Damon Albarn and Elvis Costello.

This unique concert event features a number of guest artists who reflect the extraordinary range of the composer. Before the show, a Freestage set from composer Max de Wardener and percussionist Tom Skinner will explore the canonical music from the 1970 Moondog 2 album.

The first half will feature the specially–assembled Moondog Choir featuring the idiosyncratic vocals of Lightspeed Champion, Pictish Trail and Adem; they will perform with London Saxophonic, joined by pianist Liam Noble, percussionist Paul Clarvis and others. Domino Records stalwarts Clinic will also perform two Moondog compositions in the Hall before their own set on the post-show Clubstage. In the interval, Moondog-inspired DJ set from Caribou.


In the second half the Britten Sinfonia will perform under the baton of AndrĂ© de Ridder of the Viva Orchestra, along with Andi Toma (of Mouse On Mars), who collaborated with Moondog on the music for Elpmas while the composer was living in Germany. The Britten Sinfonia will perform some gems from Moondog’s classic CBS repertoire as well as previously unheard works.


Alongside Clinic on the post-show Clubstage will be a DJ set from Kieran ‘Four Tet’ Hebden, mixing sounds from all kinds of genres and crosses any musical borders he can find.


In a companion event, Moondog Around Midnight takes place in the beautiful setting of the church of St Giles Cripplegate at 11.30pm on the same evening. US organist Paul Jordan, a veteran Moondog collaborator, will play a concert of the composer’s organ music; tickets are at a 50% discount for main concert ticket holders.

‘Moondog was as recognisable in the New York City landscape as the Empire State Building ’ - New York Times

‘Wonderful music: strange, jaunty, sad, eerie, virtuosic, maddeningly catchy’ - The Independent

Monday, 27 April 2009

Radio Wales Iplayer link



Image is courtesy of Adam Walton

So an interview and some tracks from my ep went out last night on Adam Waltons show, it was an interesting show from the start with fellow Warm Data artist Dez Williams having one of his tracks featured right at the begining. My stuff was in the last hour and starts at about 2hour16mins on the iplayer version. The whole show is well worth checking though with a diverse spin through electronica both in and outside of north wales.

Here's the iplayer link

Friday, 24 April 2009

Concretedog on BBC Radio Wales this Sunday



I spent a nice bit of time with a gentleman named Adam Walton the other day who came round to have a look at some of my instruments and interview me for his radio show "The Mystery Tour" that airs on sundays 10pm-1am on BBC radio wales. We discussed lots of things including circuit bending, Warm Data and my ep Until Forever. This sundays show is focused on different electronic artists working in Wales and seems like it should be really interesting. He has mentioned a bit more about the upcoming show and his time visiting me on his personal blog which you can find here

complete with some nice pictures of my circuit bent stuff....I covet his camera....

I love this quote from his blog...
"Joe (ME) is Frankenstein... without the manic cackle"

So the show airs on sunday night 10pm-1am on BBC Radio Wales which can be found in lots of places, fm, mw, dab, freeview, sky etc etc find out how to listen here
You can also listen again on iplayer next week.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

More Gameboy Stuff!!!


I should be working on a new live setup really as I'd like to do some gigs this year but I keep using my spare time to do more gameboy music stuff. Today I had far to much fun by synching 2 gameboys with a link cable (the kind you could use to battle tetris against each other etc) and synched up 2 copies of nanoloop 1.3 I've managed to collect. This essentially gives you an eight track setup in 2 groups of four and you can switch patterns on each track on each gameboy live.. sort of groovebox style. I routed one gameboy through a reverb unit and used this one for more lead sounds (arpeggio chords and hi synth stuff) and the other was essentially for breaks n beats.

I called this resulting recording "Scurge" and have been brave and thrown it into the lions den of 8bitcollective!...

listen here 8bc

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Modded Gameboy...



Continuing with my gameboy chiptune stuff I've modded this gameboy today. Apart from the new ghastly paint job (it was a grimy scratched yellowed grey DMG01 originally) the main thing I've done is an internal "prosound" modification. Although these DMG01 gameboys have arguably the best sound of all the gameboy variants with a rich bass and little hum/hiss (see here for gameboy sound comparisons if you're interested) they still are quite quiet when you plug them into a desk. The mod I've done gives a boost of around 13db and comparing it to my other DMG's it seems to my ears to be a better signal to noise ratio. I've done the modification (which is essentially bypassing some circuity that the audio doesn't need to go through) internally using the original headphone socket...this mean that the socket now puts out a line level signal which although louder on the desk now has less power to drive headphones (it still drives headphones.. just not as loud). I'm just going to use this gameboy for recording and/or live stuff so i'm not to worried. You can do this modification and add an extra socket and keep the headphone jack if you choose.

The only other thing I did was replace the power led just to change the colour from red to green...I was waiting for the case to dry.... my soldering iron was on..... and these small things please my small brain....

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Where next...? Chip n Trumpets.....


So ever since finishing the EP I guess I'm thinking "what next" and experimenting with different stuff.

So tonight the result of this seeking led me to this, a childs trumpet that sounds more like a nasty harmonica (with lots of weird overtones) and a gameboy running nanoloop 1.3 and a couple of my homebrew vst.....
<a href="http://concretedog.bandcamp.com/track/chip-n-trumpet">Chip n Trumpet by concretedog</a>

Monday, 23 March 2009

Trying out Nanoloop 1.3



I picked up a second hand copy of Nanoloop the excellent synth/sequencer cartridge for the Nintendo Gameboy and an old DMG 01 gameboy which have the best sound output. I was away for the weekend so took just my gameboy and my eee which made a fun portable setup. I'm slowly getting to grips with Nanoloop...it's not to complex I needed the manual to work out how to save patterns and sequence songs etc but once you've done these proccess it becomes pretty instinctive...I found I spent a lot of the time i had available experimenting to find sounds...there is an astonishing array of tones in this app..

I'm sure I'll use this to create something better than this.. but just for kicks here are my first and second attempts...both of which linger around the darker sonic side of nanoloop! These are just recorded straight into reaper and normalised with no other proccessing...

<a href="http://concretedog.bandcamp.com/track/nanoloop-1-3-2nd-attempt">Nanoloop 1.3 2nd attempt by concretedog</a>

<a href="http://concretedog.bandcamp.com/track/nanoloop-1-3-1st-attempt">Nanoloop 1.3 1st attempt by concretedog</a>

Monday, 2 March 2009

Until Forever EP released



Its here...my six track EP "Until Forever" is released on Warm Data today.

All the tracks are made from my homegrown/hacked/modded/circuitbent machines rescued from charity shops, bins, skips and car boot sales or some feature handbuilt electronic instruments. My labelboss describes it as a "Six track E.P of wonderfully wonky electronic soul music".

I've released videos for the first three tracks...here they are...

This opening track features a string type sound I love thats from a circuit bent yamaha pss6, the video is made by bouncing a laser pointer of a fragment of a cd stuck to a speaker driver thats having the audio track played through it.


Concretedog Bifurcation, Until Forever EP track1 from concretedog on Vimeo.


This track has a lot of circuit bent tr505 and a lot of my yamaha qy10 on it. The video is made entirely of jpegs of the display on a ciruit bent computer toy I hacked a couple of years ago...this video was an epic of editing as each image was placed on the timeline individually!



Concretedog Salient Otto, Until Forever EP track 2 from concretedog on Vimeo.


My labelboss at Warm Data decided he wanted to do a video to this track when he heard it...I love the results on this the title track for the EP.


Concretedog Until Forever, Until Forever EP track 3 from concretedog on Vimeo.


As for the other 3 tracks (and these) they are all available for preview (and purchase of course!) at the following places

Warm Data on Digital Tunes


Warm Data on Peoples Music Store

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Ep released next week



Next week (03.03.09 to be precise) is the release date for my new 6 track EP "Until Forever"...It's being released on the excellent Warmdata label. The 6 tracks are all made from my homemade/modified/hacked/circuitbent arsenal of toys, drum machines, keyboards etc.

I'll post the links to the shops on the release day where the tracks will be available for preview and purchase but I also plan to release the first 3 tracks as free to view and download videos again posted here.

Stay tuned!