Last Christmas

Last Christmas by bassling

Here's a cover of the Wham classic I recorded in '93 and have been sharing every festive season since. Enjoy!

Yamaha RM1x

This baby really is full of techno. As well as gabba, breaks, trance and house.

Yamaha manufactured the RM1x during the mid to late 1990s and IMO this was the golden age of electronic dance music.

From big beat to trip-hop, the dub-influenced Leftfield through to the unique aesthetic of Boards of Canada. Basically from 1993 to 1998, some of my favourite albums were released.

The RM1x reflects a lot of this period but, more importantly, the period reflects a bit of the RM1x. As you go through the presets you find many sequences which sound very familiar from tracks as well as advertising.


trip-hop by bassling

This has been a surprisingly popular song. Maybe my best since Postal.

In the corpse's embrace

This is kind of tenuous but it spins me out a bit that a song I wrote inspired by a project planned for an event in 2003 ended up sounding a bit like an album I heard in 2009 that was recorded by a guy who appeared at the event six years earlier.

Let me explain.

In my previous post I mentioned Oren Ambarchi, I'm a big fan of his album In The Pendulum's Embrace -- although sometimes the compression on the bass upsets my tummy.

Oren's album reminds me of a tune I wrote in 2003 called Stripped Corpse, a fairly experimental sorta track compared to the dance music direction of the rest of the SHAKES album.

In 2003 I first heard about Oren from people in the Wagga Space Program and saw his talk at their Unsound Festival on the DVD thanks to Scott :)

Stripped Corpse had been inspired by a Space Program project based on the Exquisite Corpse parlour game invented by André Breton and the Surrealists in the 1920s.

When I recorded the track in Ableton Live I was literally thinking 'If I'd contributed a track to this Unsound CD, what sort of track would it be?' The tempo change through the piece came about later though because I wanted to use it to link Mumblesings and Slumber on the album.

Workshop with Stephen O'Malley and Oren Ambarchi

There was a concert and workshop in Cootamundra last weekend featuring a couple of my favourite artists, Alan Lamb and Oren Ambarchi. I've gained a lot of experience from Alan over the last five years but this was the first time I'd seen Oren other than his talk on an Unsound DVD and this live video.

With over 100mm of rain falling in the days leading up to the event, it had been scaled back due to the potential for danger on the unsealed road out to the site. So, rather than starting with a demonstration of Alan Lamb's wires on the Saturday, it began with the concert on Saturday night.

The evening began with an introduction to the work of Dr Lamb and a 25-minute collection of his recordings and those of Dave Noyze. I'd only recently heard a few of Alan's albums because they're out of print and I've avoided listening to Dave's work because I've been working on my own recordings of the wires that Alan and Scott Baker set up outside of Wagga Wagga. Since finishing a three-hour compilation of my recordings in February I'd been meaning to hear what's been happening in Cootamundra and this set showed a lot of variety.

It opened with a recording of Alan bowing against a backdrop of the wires building in intensity. Then moved on to a soundscape like a laser battle that was the 1km-long wires during rain. This was followed with either a recording of the wires humming against a dawn chorus of birdsong, or a series of chimes playing along the wires, then some more humming. The chimes sounded great, beautiful tones reverberating up and down the long stretch of the wires.

The intermission featured some wines from Charles Sturt University, their cabernet sauvignon was as light as I remembered but there was more of a character that makes me think of granite.

Then we were ushered back into the dim theatre as Stephen O'Malley and Oren Ambarchi improvised 40 minutes of guitar feedback. That might sound like an endurance test but it was awesome to have so much guitar tone wash over me and to get a sense of their interaction and how the subtle modulation was achieved.

The next day began with a workshop led by Stephen and Oren in which they detailed their set-ups and discussed their approaches. It was great for me because I've had a shortage of people to geek out with about guitar pedals and amplifiers.

Stephen discussed the challenge of created tension and release with guitar feedback because you open with the volume at eleven. He also explained how he uses an Fm tuning with a low A and what his effects do.

In the photo above you can see two Rat distortion pedals on the left, a box which splits the signal off to two (or maybe three) amps, a smaller box which splits the signal off to either a Roland Space Echo 201's delay or reverb (not pictured) or the Holy Grail reverb next to it, which is connected to a (Keeley?) compressor. He was using to Fender Twin amps and also a Ernie Ball volume pedal which isn't pictured.

Also connected were these sampling pedals, which apparently could record up to three minutes. I asked how much of the sound in the concert was layered feedback and Stephen said there was very little layering.

In comparison Oren Ambarchi said he tuned to an open A chord, also with a low A. The drone of that bottom string no doubt assisted the feedback, which Stephen directed by moving his guitar in front of the speaker a bit.

Oren had a Holier Grail reverb, an 8-second delay Alessis unit, a 16-second Electro Harmonix pedal and, on the ground, another delay, a ZVEX distortion (these last two Oren said he picked for their size), a volume pedal and a DOD King Buzz distortion. I think that's a tuner on top of the rack unit and on the far right is a Soundcraft Spirit mixer which he adjusted throughout the performance.

The delay above seems to be used a lot in his playing as well as the video I mentioned earlier and he'd slide the sliders to shape the sounds. The Ampeg amp was used for the direct sound, while the delayed sounds went through the Fender.

He mentioned that he'd had to leave two ring modulators at home due to flight baggage restrictions and that he used a Digitech Whammy pedal to get those bass tones you hear on his recent recordings. I'd wondered how he got those tones because on the album In The Pendulum's Embrace they sound so clean, like sine tones. Turns out they're harmonics dropped two octaves.

It was great watching Stephen O'Malley and Oren Ambarchi creating their sounds and improvising together. The rich and varied droning feedback made my body hum in a way similar to listening to the wires when they're amplified and I really dug being able to watch, learn and ask questions.

Delay effects

Delays are used to create a lot of different effects aside from the obvious one. This table from an old Ibanez unit gives an overview of how the delay works to create various modulations.


One of my first film clips for the track Slumber from my first LP, SHAKES.

Click on the link above to download the album for free.

Orange pedals

Orange pedals look best.


Here is a draft of a tune I've written called Wandered.

It's a bit glitchy and reminds me a little of Boards of Canada -- although it doesn't have their awesome drum sounds. (I was listening to their earlier albums today and noticed the distortion and sometimes delay on the drums.)

Wandered by bassling

The opening drone reminds me of the wires a bit. It could use some birdsong to reflect the theme of the lyrics in the original.

Lyrics? Yeah, it's got them. Here's an earlier draft of this track:

Wandered by ShowcaseJase

I like this

Cool to see other people responding creatively to the potential of aeolian harps.

Water cooler recordings

It's good to hear how things sound through different microphones and I'd been meaning to try and capture the sound of the water cooler glugging. This was the last bottle of water that we're getting so I didn't give myself much opportunity to set the levels before hitting record.

The glug sounds good though.

Water cooler by bassling

Strung out

Aeolus Salute by bassling

Here's a track that will be part of my next album, STRING. I'm planning this to be a collection of manipulated recordings of 'the wires' and tracks influenced by the droning sounds of this unique instrument.

Pedal board

This series of effects produces a gated guitar rhythm triggered by a drum loop.

The guitar output is divided with two chains triggered by the kick drum, one an octave lower and one through a bright reverb. Another chain is triggered by the snare and hi-hat and runs through an Electro Harmonix Ring Thing, using a ring modulator on a delayed signal.

You can hear this set-up in the tune Blue Moon below, along with a few effects added in post-production.

Blue Moon by bassling

Bass Synthesiser pedal comparison

The postman brought a Behringer Bass Synthesiser pedal to me this week. They're about $70 new on Ebay and do a good fuzz wah if you use an expression pedal. Also has some phasing sort of modulation settings and squelchy analogue sounds.

Boss also make one but it's not as good at tracking the notes. Also the Behringer has a pitch hold function. I guess you can hold a note and then use the direct output to play over the top -- a bit like the new Electro Harmonix Freeze pedal I'd guess. (Keen to try one of those.)

The Behringer also gets closer to the sound of an Electro Harmonix Q-tron pedal for that Higher Ground sound. Unlike Boss though, the Behringer is made of plastic.

The Boss's shortcoming in tracking a bass makes an interesting effect on drums though. It creates these somewhat atonal but quite bubbly generated basslines. It's very acid sounding and fun for jamming.

Pedal board

Here's the pedal board I've been using with my guitar recently.

A few comments about the effects:
  • Holy Stain is an interesting multi-effect but, as much as I like the reverbs and tremolo, it falls short in the distortions. Using an expression pedal to control the length of the reverb is a great feature though.
  • Tubescreamer is great for warm tones but also for taming the Giant Cooter.
  • MXR's EQ is beaut, even when it's off it seems to add something pleasant.
  • LPB adds a big bluntness to the attack that's great with the Cooter but I'd like something that adds more presence without the oomph.


"Human beings have the capacity to find various viewpoints to approach a problem or to find a solution. There are an infinite number of ways to look at things"

- Herbie Hancock (one of my favourite musicians)

New bass amp

I bought this secondhand Peavey TNT 160 from a bloke in Coolamon. It's got a lovely deep tone.

This is my first amp with an 18-inch speaker and the sound it produces wobbles my wobbly bits.

It's also got unusual features like this built-in crossover.

I'd guess the amp is 20-30 years old. I had a Peavey TNT bass amp in 1993 that was at least thirdhand. That was my first proper amp after four years of playing through five-watt guitar amps or putting the headstock against my cupboard doors.

Do you reckon I need to replace the scorpion?

Giant Cooter

This is a distortion pedal I bought on Ebay. The bloke who made it claimed it was based a Big Muff. It's got a huge, bass-y tone.

Here's what the bloke wrote on Ebay:

If you cant figure out what pedal inspired this build...its a Big Muff circuit which i have built on vero/stripboard.

its not a straight up clone of any particular era Muff but i spent a good while experimenting with different component/value changes to get to what i thought was my ideal muff.
uses 4x 2N5089 transistors and a few modifications which include:

tone: more woolly/muffy/wall of sound... whilst still retaining have clarity and on the other end of the spectrum, more crisp/tight but without the huge mid scoop on the pedals tone/eq knob (labelled "texture")
Sustain/Gain : more of...

Pedal is housed in an aluminium enclosure (BBE pedal size for reference) and uses Switchcraft input jacks with a Clear/Purple 5mm Indicator LED/Berzel.
It is wired for True Bypass and has a battery snap and Power supply jack (2.1mm centre neg. standard boss style power supply) - NOT INCLUDED
there is additional power supply filtering on the jack (for those with dodgy cheapo power supplies)
NOTE: the power supply jack depicted in the attached Photo has been replaced with one that sits more "flush" with the enclosure, so it now doesnt stick out as much)

The enclosure is enamel auto paint with water laser printed waterslide decals with a layer of micro-sol (for the painted on affect) and then further clear coated.

Back after the edit

In 1 by bassling

This track is a remix I did in 2007 for the ninja.trax series.

The original track was a performance-piece also recorded for ninja.trax. Below is a video I made of one of my rehearsals.


VIBRATING by bassling

Here's part of the three-hour ambient drone soundscape I've edited together for the 2010 RPM Challenge.

You can hear a variety of birdsong along with 'the wires' -- a large-scale aeolian harp built by Alan Lamb and Scott Baker for the Unsound Festival. See for more on this amazing instrument.

A recording from late 2007 can be heard or downloaded below.

041207PM by bassling

IK Multimedia still suck

Amplitube continues to pox my Cubase. Thankfully it'll boot up though, my RPM Challenge project is coming along. Looks like I'll have a three-hour ambient opus by the end of the month.

Of all my VSTs only one is crashing Cubase

And, fuck it, Cubase is what I'm using for my RPM project.

IK Multimedia, get your act together.

RPM Challenge

Just signed up for the RPM Challenge. I'm hoping it will motivate me to finish an album of ambient field recordings.

Funny thing is that when I signed up for the Challenge in 2008, it was to clear my head of some tunes I was playing on the guitar so I could proceed with this project. I was also procrastinating on the Boxgum EP, which has since been released commercially.

Below is a video I made at the end of February in 2008: