Naviarhaiku104 - My jealousy

The Naviar haiku this week is a ripper. It's a great image and I started to thinking about the warmth of distortion.

I'd been playing with making loops from the Morphine cover I recorded earlier this week. I mean, I call it a cover but I changed the key and played different bass riffs, as well as killing the drums. When I recorded it I entertained the idea of using different lyrics and the line ended up being used in this song.

The lyric also comes from Morphine. Their song 'The Way We Met' has a line about being too far gone to be wrong or right. I meant to record "Gone too far to be wrong to be right" but forgot the line and recorded "Gone too far to be wrong or to be right".

I murdered Mark Sandman

A friend reckons that 1993 was the greatest year in music. It's a strong argument, I think.

When I remember 1993, I remember great music and this includes Morphine's album Cure For Pain. In fact, looking back there was so much good music that I feel I took it for granted and, in a way, took Morphine for granted. Like, I never bought their music because they were always on the radio. And I never saw them live either.

When I watched The Sopranos on DVD there was a Morphine track that gave me something of a '90s flashback. Then last year I saw the doco on Sandman where Les Claypool sang his praises and began thinking about the economy of the songwriting, as well as the economy of guitar strings.

This week I've been listening to Morphine and feeling restless to make music. It came to a head yesterday with this attempt to cover 'Eleven o'clock' from Morphine's 1997 album Like Swimming. As usual, I've spent more time editing video than rehearsing, performing or producing the audio. Might remix bits yet.

The video has been edited because the final section fell into disrepair. It was messy. My drumming is clearly challenged by the idea of playing behind the beat. I totally murdered Mark Sandman!

Why Rod Modell hates synths

"I really really hate synthesizers. I like to see music produced, not twiddle knobs. So I’ve really grown to love the Zen of a computer for music. It’s really the most efficient tool for making music. In the time I would patch things up in hardware studio just get ready to record, I could make a whole track on a computer. I do have a recent fascination with vintage samplers, but that’s really about it for hardware. Anytime a synth company creates something truly interesting, no one wants it. They just want repackaged 1970’s technology. Like Electribes and Aria’s. So I stopped supporting them. In 2015, there is more interest in synth technology than ever before. The eurorack phenomena is massive right now… which is good enough reason for me to not use it. I like to buck the trends and do things differently."

Sandman's bass


Was at a loss today, so I thought I'd improvise a song. As usual, I ended up spending more time producing it than spent playing or writing it. So it's not that great and seems to need something more, other than smoke.

Disquiet Junto 0209 Audio Journal 2015

Here's a selection of material produced during the year. This follows the direction for five seconds from each month used by the Disquiet Junto in previous years, and this year I've made a video too -- which is at the bottom of this post.

I'll add text discussing 2015 below and you can find a playlist of the 2015 videos here.

The year opens with the Junto directions to "Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it." 2015 marked my third attempt at producing this piece and I think it was my best yet, but 2016 isn't too far away now. Some audio of an orgasm I shared in January was one of my most popular tracks on Soundcloud. That Junto based on a recording after midnight was interesting to return to but it also made me think about the documentary nature of sound and the idea that sexuality is an intrinsic part of character. It's self-indulgent but I was wondering why I hadn't encountered more of it and used Juntos to explore the idea a bit.

February features a similar technique but I've made a song from fireworks using old footage shot outside Wagga. It's worth mentioning that I also made a song during March that used a short sample of a spank. The original sample has become my most-viewed Youtube video, which isn't an achievement that I anticipated but reiterates the observation that the small amount of my sex life that I shared online this year has been surprisingly popular.

March featured a highlight of my 2015, when Naviar Records shared one of my haiku as inspiration for their musicians. I've been writing poetry for years but this was one of the few times it's attracted attention, although it wasn't to be the only time this year. Naviar Records have also inspired some of my best tracks.

In April I spent some time jamming on drums with loops recorded on guitars, as well as mashing up the Beastie Boys' 'Gratitude' with The Pixies' 'Where is my mind?' I also sang other songs in 2015, so this track can represent those too (like this one). In hindsight I was learning a few songs and thinking about the role of lyrics. This reflection led me to cover another song this week.

May was an opportunity to re-record one of my favourite compositions from 2014, which sometimes called 'Ophelia' and sometimes 'Mistletoe' for various reasons. That Junto asked for a performance wearing gloves and they provided a nice, muted effect on the bass guitar.

June saw the completion of a collaboration with my colleague at Western Riverina Arts, poet Derek Motion. This was the result of a project we proposed to Wagga council for projection, which was an interesting exercise since I started with a focus on sound and it wasn't until we asked how they'd like it delivered that we realised there wouldn't be an audible soundtrack at the presentation. It's a shame as the remix of KlanKman's 'Trein' was another highlight -- and one that was overdue after his beaut remixes of my tracks, like this one.

I was in Queensland for some of July, including Modifyre. Did a Junto based on my name that turned out good and used a 5/4 time signature, which is another thing I mean to do more often. There are some beaut grooves beyond 4/4 and the soundtrack for that Modifyre video is another success, though with 3/4 -- which was a time signature that I've used for basslines a bit recently.

In August my friends at RealArtWorks invited me along to their camp outside Wagga. It's great to be involved with these artists, although my digital workflow is at odds with their analogue materials. Still, it was great fun. Video of musician Mike Smith writing braille was accompanied with an electrified braille machine instrument.

September was a busy month with preparations for installations at Trent's, Burning Seed and Lillypilly Winery during October. The Junto responding to a clock worked out really well though, so I've included it instead of those projects -- although remixing Trent's was fun.

October was busy and it shows, since I only had this video made from a lawnmower, drums and guitars to share. That recording was made for a Junto and I ran out of time, so I used them for a Naviar project instead. I think I should have another go with this material as the bassline is kinda groovy but the track takes a while to get going. Returning to material and remixing it further has been fruitful recently. Another remix chain was completed too, which was the second for the year -- see here.

November saw a Naviar assignment lead me to produce a beaut track on the fretless bass and loops made from broken branches. A similar workflow led me to a great result in April with the track 'Polish' for a Naviar short story project and that track was included in their compilation of the results from those stories. Those projects were fun and encouraged me to explore MIDI composition and the Ableton sample library.

Now it's December and there are hours of music that I've produced in 2015. I thought I'd conclude with this collaboration with my son, Oscar. We made six videos together this year and it was fun to produce someone else's material. The first is best.

There's more I could reflect on in 2015, particularly my professional development, but I think this is enough for now. All the best in the new year!

Disquiet Junto 0208 In Situ

The Disquiet Junto this week was one of those sets of instructions that didn't quite make sense for me. Dunno, maybe it was the direction to use what was on hand in one step and then to use source recordings.

Anyway, in a way, it doesn't matter. Sometimes those reactions are part of the process and it seems to encourage a degree of disassociation that helps with improvised compositions. Although, one thing I've been thinking, was about an earlier Junto for "sonic tinsel" and I think this is a better result for that characteristic. And earlier this week I was thinking about this recording of that composition.

Anyway, it seemed impossible to get around acknowledging Christmas. Originally I'd planned to record a metal frame but it was raining in Wagga this morning, so I set a new time to compose when I returned to Leeton. The noise at home was more noticeable after being away from the suburb.

My neighbours seemed to be playing backyard cricket and it was getting increasingly rowdy. You can hear a cheer and also the exclamation "That's what I'm talking about!" I'd heard yells throughout the afternoon and wondered how to incorporate them into the Junto.

The Christmas cards were at hand. I've been playing around with juggling their triggers for years but obviously they seemed a good accompaniment to the festive sounds. The birds chirping were also a nice contribution as I'd been listening to birds in Wagga and thinking about them for the Naviar haiku.

Once I'd recorded this take and one other, I spent a little while manipulating the sounds in Ableton Live by adding reverb and delay. It still needed something, so I added a few notes on a VST synth with MIDI.

Naviarhaiku103 - Leaving its nest

The Naviar haiku this week was a good one. It brought to mind watching sparrows learning to fly on a windy day. The little birds were blown about like kids playing in waves.

This chord progression was written on bass while I was visiting my 'outlaws' outside Wagga. They live on a hilltop and the second storey of their house looks into the treetops, where the bird community has been breeding in large numbers this year -- as a result of the wet winter.

Naviarhaiku102 - As darkness draws in

The haiku proffered by Naviar Records this week brought to mind those times when fatigue must be overcome. Particularly when I've been partying and realise I'm ready for bed but it's still a long way away.

Darkness doesn't draw in as early as I'd like at present. We've had the summer solstice this week and it's been challenging to get my kids into bed before I fall asleep, since they're on holiday but I'm still working. So, yeah, this track didn't get as much attention as it should've.

Disquiet Junto 0207 Remixing Marilli

The Disquiet Junto this week asked for a remix using three short samples from Michel Banabila.

To start I open Ableton Live and apply a gate to the samples. This lets me identify useful transients, which I like to find first as rhythm is usually my starting point. There were a couple of percussion sounds that stood out, then I added some bass parts as there wasn't a kick sound. The high hat sound comes from a preset in the effect Replicant.

Then I'll experiment with re-pitching short loops and see if I can create a chord change or melody that works over the rhythm. In this case I added reverb to get a more ambient sorta synth pad wash as well. Valhalla Shimmer is great.

At some point I'll record the loops onto the timeline and then automate the volume or effects to organise the sounds into a structure. You can see some shorter loops, which were re-pitched for variation. I also used Live's Utility effect to explore the stereo field of the M3 sample, which was then heavily reverbed.

Finally, I use a couple of bus tracks to compress the rhythm and add reverb. Then I add some more compression on the master and export. The track for this junto was completed in about four hours.

The title comes from Terry Pratchett.

Doorstop Discovery

Had another go at making music using a dripping tap, as well as the bassline and drums recorded for a couple of Juntos. Ended up with a bit of a dub sorta sound, thanks to the tape-style delays.

Naviar haiku 0101 Someone else's clock

When the Naviar email arrived I thought about recording a clock. On Sunday morning I was keen to record. After spending the night listening to a dripping tap, it didn't seem such a leap to use the percussive drops.

The recordings were mostly made using a Nikon camera with a Rode video mic. These were looped and then re-pitched to create a chord. I also made recordings with a stereo Rode mic and a Zoom recorder, which is also in the mix.

Initially I started with a bass loop and then added drums. Then I deleted the loop and recorded this part. It's an early take. If you listen closely it actually loops near the end but the chord progression starts to loop much earlier. Maybe it needs a breakdown?

As mentioned, I recorded the bass part quickly on the fretless. The video suffers because I didn't shoot the bass. I shouldn't have been so lazy. Next time I'll make an effort but I didn't because it felt like I should put on pants.

The title is about sleeping over at someone's place but also that sense when you hearing a noise in the night and know your sleep is over.

Screen door acid house

Video for my remix of a screen door with haiku lyrics, which was recorded for this Junto too.

Satan is my roadie

I was inspired by this tattoo of Bruce Lee.

Disquiet Junto 0206 Three Switches

The Disquiet Junto this week brought to mind number 101, where switches were recorded and manipulated. I considered finding those samples but another idea took hold.

The idea of switching between parts suggested a kind of call and response melody. Or a kind of call and response and response melody in this case.

I settled on the idea of recording a vocal, a bass and percussion, then I went back and re-read the Junto and realised I'd read it wrong. However, this was the idea I ended up recording.

The idea of writing a lyric appealed to me. I've been writing haiku all week. One thing I like about haiku is the 17-syllable limit because it forces me to think how to phrase ideas to fit. It's a fruitful creative constraint for me but, yeah, the idea to use a haiku for the Junto was a bum steer.

I quickly recorded the melody on the bass and asked my partner to sing the lyric and then spent hours wondering how I was going to make it work. In the end I left the track in frustration and went back to one that I'd been putting together earlier on Friday.

The vocal needed to be stretched and re-pitched but it sorta worked as a house remix with the three-quarter bassline I'd written. I love the way the shorter loops on the bass give the track an evolving quality. It's one trick I've used a lot since I heard Dave Graham recommend it.

The result is a song that switches between a heavily effected screen door, voice and bass guitar against a 909 drumbeat and another bassline. I don't think it works but the project led me to produce a remix that I like, and I like it when a Junto inspires new material because it's usually something different.

Reliving the emotion

Started recording a haiku, ended up with a house remix.

Secret Dream

Here's a quick remix from recent recordings, including the Under Beat and Beat Basis juntos. Not much of a video though, as I only had the footage of the drumming.

Naviar haiku 0100 Winter evening

The Naviar haiku this week is a milestone in the form of the 100th exercise. The poem itself didn't resonate with me as this month marks the start of summer.

The project was a prompt to develop a track and this one uses a recording of my fireplace from 2013. I had been thinking about remixing a recording of a screen door that was made for my first Naviar haiku project, number 17. Then I found this fireplace recording and thought it was better suited.

The result is a rhythm from the fireplace accompanied by fretless bass. I made the beat first and then experimented with ideas until I settled on these two chord changes. It seems like it still needs something but I'm not sure what yet.

Disquiet Junto 0205 Superposition

The Disquiet Junto this week was another great opportunity to revisit ideas. The "graphic notation" assignments have often been fun and the picture this week held many possibilities.

My partner observed that the two sets of notes suggested a mash-up. My track interprets them in having two drum parts, but I combined the notes to create the dominant riff.

It's partly in 3/4 time signature with the notes interpreted in the kick drum rhythm, which shows six quarter notes against eight tambourines. This morning I settled on the drum parts and then, after taking my kids to the library, added the synth and bass parts.

I like the contrast between the two time signatures. I've been revisiting old projects recently and this one draws the time signature idea from this Naviar haiku junto.

When I wrote that piece, I recorded the lock on my screen door. That recording is currently on my desktop and I considered it for this piece, but used the recording of the fire starting instead.

That fire was lit in 2013. I'd been looking for an opportunity to use that recording and the Junto this week was it. My levels are a bit low though. Things haven't been the same since I started listening to playback through my PA instead of my monitor speakers, which are usually turned down 10db.


Another variation on the recent experiment with looping recordings of small sticks being broken.

Freaks and their frequencies

This Musical Spiral reminds me of Oliver Sacks' observation that people with synesthesia rarely agree on the colours they see for specific notes. In a way that comforts me because I've often thought I'd prefer to learn how music makes me feel, and use that to guide the experience I gain in making music, rather than formulas.

Naviar haiku 099 At the deepest point

The haiku from Naviar Records this week prompted me to record sticks being snapped and add a bassline. It's an approach that I've been meaning to try again, as I did something similar when I recorded stones being knocked together for the stone-cutter story, which worked out sounding good.

The recording of the sticks didn't go to plan, as I forgot to 'arm' the track when recording and had to use the sound from the video. Below is an excerpt.

Within a couple of hours I'd shaped these sticks into a collection of percussive loops and a few notes on a VST synth, as well as one part that I'd treated with a Sinevibes effect to create an upbeat bassline. It added a lot of vibe but wasn't the key I wanted. When I returned to the track the following morning, I knew it had to go. I remember thinking there must be an Oblique Strategy that says to destroy the most obvious element in the track.

I recorded a few takes on the fretless bass and could hear a few different chord progressions. The take used was the second or third, which only needed a couple of edits but I think I could've changed one more note. Then again, it sounds a bit 'broken' at that point, so maybe it works with the theme?

Disquiet Junto 0204 Under Beat

For the Junto this week I recorded a couple of takes on the drums and half of one on bass guitar, accompanying “Beacon, For Marissa” By Toaster. My playing feels a bit messy, as it has been ages since I played a musical instrument.

In the computer I layered up the drum parts and looped a bar of bass. As a kind of challenge to myself, I've been recording single-take parts for the Juntos. It was something I found myself questioning when the drum parts drifted apart. Yet it seemed important after I gave up on trying to record a single take on the bass.

Then I used Ableton Live's convert to MIDI function to create harmony and melody parts that were run through Phosphor and Absynth VST instruments.

This six-minute result feels a bit long. I might edit my parts without Beacon... and tidy it up.

Disquiet Junto 0203 Beat Basis

The Junto this week asked for an accompaniment to the track 'It' by Name Constant.

The track was a bit of a headfuck. I don't know what the time signature is but I eventually settled on counting four twice and then two as I played bass guitar this morning. Does that make it 5/4?

This bassline was only a few notes but every time I had an idea to add more or try a different bass, I ended up struggling to remember the feel.

Once it was settled, I added a simple drum beat and picked a few notes on the guitar. Then my kids started fighting and I had to stop.

This weekend has been the third spent pulling up carpets, underlay, staples and tacks. Carpet moth has infested my house and drastic action was required.

After calming my kids, I returned to pulling up and hummed melodies to myself while thinking what else to record with 'It'. Conversation turned to reading horror stories, as my youngest insisted we start something scary. My partner pulled out a copy of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.

As I read aloud the blurb on the back of the cover, it occurred to me that it would work sung to the melody I'd been humming. My partner encouraged me to record my idea while the inspiration was fresh (love that woman!) and what you hear was my second take.

Wasn't sure about the direction "do not change the source audio," since adding anything is going to cause it to change. I've EQ'd 'It' and turned it down, also edited the beginning by keeping the opening and then fading into a part about a minute later in the original track. To be honest, I probably didn't care much for the direction as I like to use the Junto as a prompt to develop new material.

This track recorded for the Junto took about six hours from start to finish. I think it's my 111th Junto project.

Naviar Soundbook

My track 'Polish' is part of the new Naviar Records compilation. See video below!

Naviar haiku 095 First autumn morning

The haiku by Murakami Koji resonated with me for capturing a sense of heading into one's middle years.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought I should use it as a springboard to explore another sense of paternalism.

The melody on the bass guitar was one I started humming in Easter this year, a time that became associated with the murder of Stephanie Scott. I spent the following weekend thinking about the symbolism of her death at Easter, which in the southern hemisphere marks the start of autumn.

Since then I've been thinking about the feminist argument that the personal is political, so this poem led me to think how a father is a symbol of patriarchy and how governments are patriarchal in claiming to act in the best interests of citizens.

I think governments are influenced by lobbyists, who are largely acting on behalf of corporations. Just look at the TPP and the secrecy in which it was negotiated and signed by governments, making a farce of democracy.

Anyway,  the Naviar haiku was a prompt to record a first draft of this idea that I've had in my head for half a year. It's good to have a deadline to realise such ideas and I almost missed this one as various events have kept me busy this week.

Layering up three bass guitar parts is a recipe for a muddy mix, as well as a similar number of vocal parts. I think I can better realise this track but it's good to have made a start.

Disquiet Junto 0200 Kadrey Score

A milestone for the Disquiet Junto this week as it reaches 200 consecutive weeks of projects. Huzzah!

It's recognised with a special guest in the form of writer Richard Kadrey, whose Sandman Slim books I like a lot.

Using only his recording of a short story, I've created a soundtrack to accompany the first part of seven. A pop near the end was ideal for a kick, while I took the ess in 'piece' to make a high-hat.

Other parts came from 'o' and 'a' vowel sounds, as well as a 't' sound that is kinda percussive. All were manipulated with gates and Live's beatrepeat and Valhalla Shimmer reverb rises through the piece.

Infrasonics 723

Disquiet Junto 0199 Space Crickets

The Junto this week is really fun but I'm not sure I can explain it. It's ambiance for space, background noise for interstellar travel.

Anyway, I immediately turned to recordings of a favourite spot but now I wonder if I could've played on the idea of space cricket -- like, if an Australian astronaut listened to old cricket commentaries.

Or maybe just mixing The 12th Man with some industrial hum?

Brian Eno on the worst in some people

Q: How do you explain the proliferation of "unplugged" performances by rock stars lately? 

A: I think I can sympathize with what it is reacting against. Because a lot of music in the last 10 or 15 years has been made on computer-driven sequencers, it has a certain flavor to it. Sometimes that flavor's all right. But I'll tell you what the main effect of sequencers has been: Everybody thinks that when new technologies come along that they're transparent and you can just do your job well on it. But technologies always import a whole new set of values with them. And one of the values that sequencers imported was everything's got to be exactly right. 

It's so easy because a computer is basically a nerd-designed, screwdriver addict's machine. It's a machine that's perfect for making small adjustments and not very good for making bold strokes. I think people just got sick of sitting in studios for hours while some bloke in front of a screen kind of tightened everything up, so that every kick drum beat fell exactly on the one. 

If you've been around that way of composing and you pick up an acoustic instrument and hit it, you think, "Jesus, it's so full of life. There's so much going on in here." So I think people are really reacting to what has been rather an unimaginative use of computer technology so far. What I think is, of course, that there'll be a new generation of people who'll use computers with the same freedom that Pete Townshend uses an acoustic guitar. But those people are just starting to emerge, I think. The computer brings out the worst in some people.

Naviar haiku 092 Close my eyes silence

It's been a little while between Naviar tracks for me, for various reasons that mostly relate to a shortage of free time. Working full-time across two jobs is taking a toll, as well as recent projects like the installations at Trent's and Burning Seed.

Anyway, I'd recorded my lawnmower and a jam a couple of weeks ago for a Junto that didn't get finished and the haiku this week spoke to me. It said "Remember silence?" And I thought 'no' because I have three kids, so my best quiet time is early mornings, bath time and mowing the lawn.

The bassline I'd recorded was simple but still seemed too busy, so I gated it to follow the drums. The drums were also simple, so I multiplied them three times. The guitar was also simple, so I added reverb and delay. The lawnmower I spread wider across the stereo field but mostly left as it was for background noise.

Trent's Coffeehouse in Narrandera

Here's my remix of Trent's Coffeehouse in Narrandera for #bringtolightproject15.

It was great to see instant interest in the installation. This little guy watched the video a couple of times and then discovered the percussion laid on top of the television, which screens sound-activated visuals and is going to Burning Seed this afternoon.

Disquiet Junto 0194 Clock Play

The Junto this week to make a track from a clock was a great prompt to try an idea I'd had. Last week I recorded a drum part that I thought sounded good but my family thought sounded like all my other drum parts.

Undeterred I thought it'd be interesting to make the track into a round. So I duplicated the drum part and staggered their starts by a bar each. Then I got stumped by the idea of composing a melody to also be a round with it.

When the Junto instructions arrived I was disappointed that I haven't recorded this amazing clock at my new workplace. It's a German grandfather clock from the 19th Century that came to Griffith via an auction in Melbourne. It looks amazing with numerous bears carved into the case and large chimes.

Instead I thought of my alarm clock which makes a horrible bleating sound. I've heard a bit of it since starting my new job. It was recorded using my Rode VideoMic. The drums had been recorded using a Rode NT4 stereo mic.

Once I started manipulating the bleating alarm in Ableton Live, I found it sounded keyboard-like when dropped an octave. For a while I played around with different pitches and speeds, then I went back to an early attempt and gated it with the Beat Repeat effect.

A bassline was made using a VST, then Valhalla Shimmer reverb was employed for that octave above and below effect. Then I went to bed.

When I returned to the draft this morning I began thinking of a guitar part. I experimented with a few chords and then, when time allowed in the afternoon, recorded a part and layered it four times to create another round.

Then I added a bassline, which seemed way too murky multiplied by four, and raised the VST bass part an octave to sit behind the alarm clock. The reverb on the drums smoothed out some of the parts which drift out of time, which is something the delay on the guitar does too. I panned the guitar parts from left to right.

If you listen you can hear the round go 'round your head, which is kinda cool given the circular representation of time on an analogue clock face.

This is my 40th Disquiet Junto video.

Disquiet Junto 0193 Semi-Parallel Lines

I think I might've misunderstood the Junto this week. Seems like I've ended up with a sketch I meant to record but a different feel than what I wanted.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up the guitar and spent a while riffing around E7 before settling on the chord progression here, E A# D C. For the parallel part it goes to G.

I recorded the drum part so that I'd have something to keep me in time. Then the guitar part, then the bass but these two were recorded independently of each other with just the drums in my headphones.

Lovely warm day today, it's starting to feel like spring. I've been busy working on a soundtrack, so it was good to be motivated to record this riff although I think I could do it better differently.

Gentle Borrower

John Oswald's essay Bettered by the Borrower: The Ethics of Musical Debt inspired this song about inspiration and copyright, Gentle Borrower. This is a new version using the vocal Jo recorded in 2008, as part of the album VISCERA recorded for the RPM Challenge.

Dunno, the timing might need some work yet. And that keyboard during the first verse doesn't quite sit right. I think I'm still to get a definitive version of this song.

Disquiet Junto 0191 Held Chord

I really enjoyed hearing the result of this Junto, where the idea was to use a single chord across multiple instruments.

I cheated, I think. My result used a MIDI'd chord and sampled instruments but I really liked hearing the chord progress seamlessly through a baker's dozen playing E.

The idea was that the range of the instrument would determine the order. I ended up recording the parts and then arranging them by ear.

Braille machine duet

Video made from footage collected at the RealArtWorks Nothing Is Useless camp outside Wagga earlier this month. Results will be exhibited at Wagga Art Gallery later this year.

Disquiet Junto 0189 Tone Layer

After having a break I felt a bit rusty getting back to the Junto but the assignment this week wasn't too demanding.

I decided to record the bass guitar but soon found I had to create very short loops to sustain the tones. The notes were going to be in the key of A but once in Live I dropped the root down six steps.

The rumbling bit was good, I'd like more of that. But, in hindsight, I wish I'd used a different instrument. I think human voice would've been better, as I always enjoy making vocal drones for Juntos -- although I rarely end up using those tracks on the albums I compile.

Disquiet Junto 0186 My Name

I've always wanted a theme song. One that could play like a soundtrack heralding my arrival in a room or a party. The Disquiet Junto project this week could be that song.

Early on I decided that a 5/4 time signature would suit repeating the five letters of my name. The drum beat came next, inspired by an Amon Tobin track. Then I used the MIDI for the beat to play the synth part. It all came together quickly.

This piece reminds me of an earlier Junto project that spelt my name using Morse code, which ended up on my album WHILE.

While on holiday

There was a creek crossing near where I was camping in southern Queensland. It had a pipe that made a droning kinda gurgle. I noticed that there seemed to be a few frogs around and wondered if they were attracted by the noise.

Naviar Series 006

The new Naviar Records compilation includes a slinky house track I wrote in 3/4 time signature. Download it here.

Here's a beaut review of the album and it singles out my track for a mention. Nice!

Disquiet Junto 0181 Instrumental Dream

The Junto this week takes the idea of realising within music the dream of an instrument. It's quite a sweet idea, I think.

My favourite instrument is my Warwick bass but I've been neglecting it recently. The idea was to record a track in which the bass leads the other instruments. At first I was going to play a B minor seventh thing I've been playing on the guitar but it seemed wrong to use a riff from another instrument.

I was feeling a bit discouraged when suddenly I had this idea of a string melody looped over a breakbeat, like something from a solo Wu Tang album. So I quickly sat down and figured it out on the bass. Then I had the idea of some chords that could accompany it and imagined them played by an orchestra.

Do bass guitars dream of leading an orchestra? Mine did, so I used Ableton Live's convert-to-MIDI function to drive the Suite of orchestral samples to get a lush result.

Trein leaves the station

On a recent visit to Sydney I collected the final part for my remix of KlanKman's Trein. Platform 23 was where I waited for the train to go to the Airport.

Disquiet Junto 0180 Matryoshka Music

The Disquiet Junto this week was based on the idea of Russian dolls. Y'know the ones? Each nestled inside the other.

I had a few ideas. At one point I thought about looping Kate Bush and playing it back through different sized reverbs. At another point I was jamming on the guitar and drums to a Peaches riff and singing creepy lyrics: "I can't wait to crack you open. I can't wait to see you're small inside."

I thought about recording the sound of dolls, as I'm sure there's a set in the toy box but I didn't want to deal with the toy box. I'm worried there might be food in there but I'd prefer not to know. And, dunno, it seemed too literal to record actual Matryoshka dolls.

Then I started MIDI-ing stuff. At first it sounded a bit robotic but the idea was to move upwards through keys. Then I went back to the guitar and recorded MIDI with it. What sounded like a dinky riff on the guitar ended up sounding even dinkier through an organ preset, but I thought it worked better for it.

Naviar haiku 074 Sing

The Naviar haiku this week was an opportunity to further my experiments with the abandoned silo used in a recent Disquiet Junto project.

Although it spoke of aeolian harps, this built on my experiments with 'the wires' in using singing and whistling. These can be seen in this video of my performance at the Unsound festival outside Wagga Wagga in 2004.

You can hear that I've added some instrumentation using Live's audio-to-MIDI function to trigger samples from their Suite.

[video forthcoming]

Disquiet Junto 0179 Tech(nique) Talk

The Disquiet Junto this week asks participants to share a recent technique 'figured out' in the production of music.

This isn't the most recent technique I've used in making music, that would probably be Live's audio-to-MIDI conversion that I think Ethan Hein has already discussed.

It's been about six months since I saw this technique on Tim Prebble's blog Music of Sound, in the excellent Detritus section.

The idea is to generate a piece by looping a series of ascending notes in E minor. I used this idea in my track Seabreeze.

For the piece recorded on glockenspiel this week, I've changed the formula to something closer to 4E2. I see something as I was loosely interpreting the tempo when recording and then manipulated one part further.

Disquiet Junto 0176 Walk It Out

My 100th junto asked for a track inspired by an idea recorded on a walk. While I've recently acquired a cellphone, I opted to record the initial idea using a camera -- leading to my 35th junto video.

Over the weekend I started to think about collaborating. My son and I recorded a song he chose. My daughter and I talked about using one of her recordings. Then I remembered the silos nearby and thought how they could inspire something, so I invited my regular collaborator to do something irregular.

My partner and I went to this abandoned site in my semi-industrial suburb. The silos were accessible, it appeared kids had been practicing their spray-painting there. We each sang a few notes and enjoyed the ambiance.

The mic I used didn't sound as good as the one on the camera. I added more reverb once I opened the recording in Ableton Live. Then I remembered the 'create MIDI' options and added a couple of Native Instruments synths. The result sounds a bit operatic to me, possibly inspired by the chapel-esque reverb.

Naviar haiku 070 Weakened

A couple of weeks ago I was setting up to record my drumming, when my son decided to join in. This track has a loop from our jam, along with a take on the circuit bent Casio SK-1 and Warwick Thumb bass parts recorded for a Junto and a remix last week.

My 100th Junto project

The Disquiet Junto is an "association for communal music/sound-making" with weekly projects that foster experimentation and learning.

Today I uploaded my 100th track that has resulted from Junto instructions, although that century is not reflected in being the 100th project. Because I submitted two tracks for a project earlier this year, I still have another project to complete before I reach 100.

I also feel a bit cheated on the century because I've stumbled on a couple of Junto projects. The first time I attempted a Junto I realised I'd misinterpreted the instructions and didn't submit my track. Another time I thought I drifted too far from the spirit of the project and didn't submit it. I'm not sure I'd feel that way these days because it's the tracks that fail that help me to learn my limits.

One thing I like about the Junto is having regular deadlines to develop work. My last couple of albums have been collected from these projects and many of my videos on Youtube too. See the playlist below for my Disquiet Junto videos.

Disquiet Junto 0175 Rough Play

The Disquiet Junto instructions this week were to combine part of the process of recording a piece with the result.

When the suggestions mentioned patching I thought of the circuit bent Casio I recorded recently. Here I've run parts through a Ring Thing pedal again for stereo.

While recording the patching I quickly moved from the auto-chord part to bends that would allow the drum part to play alone with a few glitches. Then I recorded a take of the drums, which I ended up looping and fading in later in the piece. These have Space Echo added, decaying at the end.

Once I'd recorded the backing, I realised I didn't have a piece in mind. So I improvised, sticking to the black keys.  I recorded a pipe organ part, riffing on a few chords, and then a couple of vocal parts.

Because I forgot to record one of the vocal parts, the final piece has four takes layered up: patching, drum loop, pipe organ chords and vocal notes. The 'rough' part with the mangled auto-chord at the opening, ends a bit earlier than the final note before the decay on the drums. The video showed the chord could've continued for a bit longer, I think some parts went for another half a minute.

I added different effects to the video parts as well as the audio. The pipe organ part was widened with the pedal and then reverb and compression. Visually it gains an 'overdrive' effect. The drum loop is a lot more beefed up than the original drum sound on the Casio, although I ended up leaving out the loops video part because it cluttered the screen.

KlanKman's Trein

After those beaut remixes of Dinosaur and Gossamer parks, it occurred to me to ask KlanKman if there was a track of his I could mangle. He offered Trein, and my work-in-progress is above.

I'm hoping to add a few train noises yet, when I get a chance to make recordings in Sydney in the next month.

Naviar Soundbook 007 The Sea Nymph

The story of a man abducted by a sea nymph inspired this song for Naviar Records.

Many of the sounds came from the circuit bent Casio SK-1 video I posted earlier in the week. Others came from Drumax and V Station VSTs.

Naviar haiku 069 Silently observing

The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week suggested reflection, so I put Replicant on my gloved bassplaying from yesterday.

Disquiet Junto 0174 Glove Songs

The Disquiet Junto this week had me returning to a bass arpeggio from project 0102 and handling it like one would handle archival material with cotton gloves.

Actually, these gloves are used for dishwashing and have been in use for more then 21 years. I bought them when I started getting exzema while working at a coffee bar.

In hindsight I think it was drinking coffee that gave me exzema because it would ease up when I stopped drinking caffeine that way. And, aside from doing the dishes just now, I've been getting stuck into coffee again. I blame Aeropress.

The bass piece was written as musical tinsel and just today I was saying that it was a favourite piece. When the Junto arrived it was the first idea to come to mind. The feel of the piece is better than my usual plodding approach to arpeggios.

When I recorded it in 2013 my daughter led her two friends into the kitchen as I started and began to dance along with my bass playing. It really changed my approach, I should do that again sometime. The piece was looped to play for longer when it appeared on my album AND as Mistletoe.

Circuit bent Casio SK-1

I'd been meaning to record my newest Diabolical Devices-modified Casio SK-1 and today was the day. Towards the end I turn on the Ring Thing pedal, adding a ring modulation effect.

Naviar haiku 068 In midst of the dark

The haiku this week shared by Naviar Records grabbed my interest.

I'd been covering the Beastie Boys earlier in the week and 'Lighten Up' is one of my favourites. I was stoked to see them play it live.

The haiku reminded me of the line about looking up at the night sky when you are troubled and imagine one star as your problem, then looking widely at the sky and adjusting your perspective. So 'lighten up' seemed appropriate but I took some liberties as my vocals were boring..

Naviar Soundbook 006 The Mayamah

The Naviar Soundbook this week featured a story from one of the many Aboriginal cultures in Australia.

After last week I was still in the mood to make electronic music. I used a couple of chord progressions I've been playing on the guitar as MIDI through VST synths including the V Station, which is a bit cheesy but a favourite.

While polishing up the piece last night, I found a way to make the bass less heavy and I like the way it kind of sounds like old acid tracks. They didn't have deep bass.

Disquiet Junto 0173 Over Version

The Disquiet Junto this week involved scaffolding, or at least that was my interpretation. I've written elsewhere here that scaffolding is a process of building a song on an existing track and then removing the original.

At first I wasn't sure how to respond as I knew the track would be another challenge for my drumming and alternate approaches like MIDI and adding loops were difficult to keep in sync with the original track.

In the end I thought the track has potential but I'll have to shorten it and tidy up my playing with edits. The camera battery ran out while I played the drums, so the video didn't work out. The fretless bass drifts out of key in parts and the melodica also hits the odd bum note. The result could be a backing track, so I might come back to it.

Beasties on Pixies

Today is the birthday of Check Your Head, so I recorded this mash-up of the Beastie Boys' Gratitude and The Pixies Where Is My Mind.

On a related note, I had a chuckle while nearing the end of Ed Piskor's Wizzywig when I spotted this quote from a sample on Check Your Head -- my favourite of their albums for the way it mixes up their interests in punk, hiphop, Buddhism, etc.

Rupture of the Rapture

Today I recorded a slower version of the song I attempted to play on the weekend. It's based on a song written last year with looped parts of a bass line, Rapture of the Raptor.

The bass is looped in this video with a JamMan.

Naviar Soundbook 005 The Stonecutter

The Naviar soundbook this week was a Japanese folk tale about a stonecutter getting enough wishes to be happy as he was.

The thumb piano came to mind as the chord seemed like one that would accompany the granting of wishes. Something about the shimmering chords makes me think of entrance music for a genie.

The rocks seemed an obvious choice. I selected pairs from a small pile of beach stones that I've collected and recorded them with a Rode NT-4.

Then I recorded a bass line, moving between verses in F# and a chorus in A. It worked well for outlining chord progressions within the thumb piano loops, which I'd re-pitched.

Finally I added a synth part to give a sense of lift, as the story outlined transforming into a cloud. Was tempted to use strings but this track still seems like it'd sit alongside the songs I've previously made with Ableton's orchestra samples.

Disquiet Junto 0172 Digital-Analog Conflater

The Disquiet Junto this week set an interesting task to record in analog and then digital. For me this meant recording the drums acoustically and then as MIDI and then repeating this approach with the guitar, although I captured MIDI at the same time and then added a bass part.

Actually, back it up a bit, I first decided on recording a version of my track Rapture of the Raptor. I knew the high hat would be a challenge for me but I decided to record single takes on each instrument. I also knew it would start to fall apart quickly, so I reworked the riff to be a bit simpler.

The MIDI parts were used to trigger VSTs, a kit of samples from an 808 and the synth Massive. The two drum parts, guitar, bass and synth parts were then given EQ and reverb.

Outpsyjah's Outward Flow アウト

Naviar haiku 066 I Am Evolving

The haiku selected by Naviar Laboratory this week really resonated with me. I liked the idea of becoming transparent and smooth.

I had the idea to write lyrics for a song in response to Haris Strange's poem and it took a few drafts before I was happy.

The chord progression also took a while to develop and was nearly a different one. I settled on an idea I've been riffing for a while then got a bit disco with the bass line.

Disquiet Junto 0171 Oblicardo

The Disquiet Junto this week continued with the One Minute Past Midnight (OMPM) theme, asking for a rework of an existing track based on instructions from the Oblique Strategies cards developed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt.

Like the Junto, I've been a fan of Oblique Strategies for a while but not used it for recording music. I tend to look at the widget occasionally when I've something on my mind and don't want to ask my partner to get her tarot cards out.

When the Junto email arrived I checked the Strategies and it said "Remember those quiet evenings" and I thought immediately of playing guitar.

As the day progressed, I looked again and got "Go outside. Shut the door" -- which made me think of the second recording I made for the first OMPM project, when I'd set the mic outside and you can hear me shut the screen door.

That recording was the 'safe for work' version I'd made a bit after midnight because I had doubts about using the 'not safe for work' recording. Both can be found here. Last week I remixed the other version and I didn't consider using it for the Junto this week

Then this evening I consulted and found it offered a few new strategies, particularly "Abandon normal instructions" and "Use your own ideas" and "Make what's perfect more human" and "Trust in the you of now" and "Give way to your worst impulse" among others.

It led me to set the microphone outside again and record myself playing the guitar. I don't know many songs and, while I could've improvised something, I wanted to record my song 'Blue Moon'.

I've recorded it a number of times since I wrote it in 2008 by adapting a poem that I remember writing at the Hyatt in Canberra in the mid-1990s. One of my favourite versions is this instrumental take on gated guitar.

The result tonight isn't particularly polished and uses new ambiance from my backyard but it's what the Strategies were telling me to do.