Saturday, 15 June 2013

My album on Bandcamp

I thought I'd embed one of the new bandcamp music players. You know, just for the hell of it.


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Boards of Canada - the original ‘Instagram’ band?


While literally writhing with anticipation over the imminent release of BOC’s third and very long awaited album, ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’, I’ve been thinking about my expectations.

Firstly, where have BOC been? Seven years is a very long time. Have they been making tracks all this time and just not been happy with them? Did family life take over? Were they feeling the pressure and just needed to step back a while? All I do know is that I shouldn’t expect any answers.

For me, BOC invented the Instagram, Super 8, nostalgia aesthetic. The way they filtered and warped their vocal samples and melodies always transported me to fuzzy, half-remembered Saturday mornings watching Sesame Street (was it even on Saturday mornings? I did say ‘half-remembered’) or going through draw of faded polaroids with my Mom and brother and laughing at the embarrassing hair-dos. BOCs music did this to me. Beneath the strong tunes there was a powerful connection to the past.

Their label, Warp, naturally understand how much BOC have been missed. A few teaser trailers, one video and word of mouth is doing the rest. Social media is a gift once you have a reputation.

Will the new album be more of their signature sound or has their style changed?

I don’t mind if it hasn’t.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Electronic Music Bromances

While enjoying the latest Daft Punk album on the way into work this morning a realisation struck me.

A surprisingly large amount of the successful electronic music bands are essentially male double acts. Off the top of my head there’s Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers, Orbital, Air, Coldcut, Autechre.

No doubt I’m missing many. Maybe I’m just seeing a pattern in a bigger chaotic picture but I can’t think of a single female electronic double act or even one male, female example.

Apart from sharing any money you might make, I can certainly think of many advantages to being in a double act; splitting the creative workload and having another pair of ears when you’re having that “is this actually shit?” moment, having a friend when you’re touring far from home or you just need someone there to motivate you to “finish that bloody track”. Friends can fill some of those roles but it’s hard to get an honest and constructive opinion unless they are as invested in the project as you are.

I’d consider collaborating but maybe I’ve been messing about too long now to find someone on the same wavelength.

There’s clearly some magic to it though.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Sympathy for Adobe?

I've just finished reading the comments about Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) in a report on Wired.com.

I found one, often repeated, criticism interesting. This was the complaint that many of the software updates that Adobe charge for, Photoshop in particular, aren't radical enough for the money.

Photoshop is a fantastic piece of software which I've used every day at work now for over 20 years. Photoshop pretty much started doing everything I want a photo editing program to be able to do, since the version when they added 'layers'. I really don't want radical changes made to it. I'm happy with the incremental improvements.

Similarly for Illustrator and InDesign, version CS4 had all I need day-to-day. The feature differences between CS4 and CS6 (yes that two upgrades) really are minimal and imagine most graphics professionals hardly need them.

This puts Adobe in a difficult position. They're not an arts project, they are a business. Nobody could realistically expect Adobe to declare Creative Suite complete, only cover OS updates and just sell it to anyone who hasn't already bought it? Adobe then have quite rightly expanded their range of software applications to tackle other tasks that graphics businesses may face such as editing video, animating a vector or building a website but most of us don't need them all.

The whole software bundle is the grandly titled Master Collection. It's great but it is quite expensive. I have it at work (CS6 version) but only really use the three titles mentioned above and AfterEffects. I can definitely do everything I need to with CS6 as it stands.

At work, our incentive to upgrade is already low. With Adobe CC it's lower. Adobe CC is too expensive for the new toys and the minor upgrades. We want Adobe to stay in business but not at our expense.

Adobe is a victim of its own success. Adobe has a problem.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Fela Kuti and Afrobeat

Without a doubt, the best music style I've come across in recent times is Afrobeat.

Afrobeat isn't new. As I understand it the style was created by Fela Kuti in Nigeria in the early 1970s. It's a kind of Funk and Jazz hybrid with African rhythms and chant vocals. Fela's lyrics were often political which got him in lots of trouble with the Nigerian goverment of the time (most notably his criticism of the army on an EP called Zombie) but they earned him the respect of African people continent-wide.

Tracks by Fela Kuti are long - averaging 15 to 20mins, with the vocals usually not kicking in until halfway - but the amazing sax playing, that's Fela.

Another major performer in Fela Kuti's band was Tony Allen. Brian Eno called him "perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived." He's still alive and has collaborated with Damon Albarn among others. He records albums under his own name - Lagos No Shaking is a personal favourite.

Other Afrobeat artists that I think you should check-out are Antibalas, Fanga, Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti (just two of Fela's many sons).

Afrobeat has definitely influenced my own music. Polyrhythms (or cross rhythms) have long interested me and Afrobeat puts these to work in a big way. Tracks of mine called Lagos and Kalakuti Republic are my most blunt attempts at a sort of electro Afrobeat although I still haven't achieved a truly loose and natural feel yet.

Fela Kuti died on 2nd August 1997. I'm reading his biography now and what a life he had. His music and lyrics live on and keep finding new fans - I think that would have made him very happy.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Carbonmade porfolio

I've taken the plunge and created a Carbonmade portfolio account. I was drawn by its simplicity and Project foldering format - very easy for me to put the commercial and playful stuff on there but keep it separate. I've also given Google Analytics a try to track any visits.

Here's the address:
http://ianjgavin.carbonmade.com/

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Brunk poster

I knocked up a poster for Brunk




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