Tricks and Treats

Today is Halloween and as neither a Pagan nor a Christian I see it as a chance for young people to dress up and have a bit of fun. Or threaten old people and risk getting poisoned by perverts. I'm not sure anymore.

Having a night in I got a supply of sugary treats in, put them in a bowl by the front door and waited. Only one group of young people came to the door. No costumes, a bit of attitude but priceless looks on their faces when I revealed the sweets. If I had been stronger I would have told them to bugger off and come back when they had made more effort.

Richard has sent me a copy of one of his songs so I can write lyrics for it. It's a great tune and I'm excited about contributing to it in this way. And no, Anonymous, that wasn't the big news either. Sorry. I guarantee big news on November 14th.


Mixing 3

I spent yesterday with Richard mixing another track from Coffee-Housing. Crackling sounds were removed, bass sounds became more bass heavy, bad solos were edited out. A satisfying day.


Size isn't everything

I just logged on and spotted that the blog has reached its 10,000th visitor. Now I appreciate this isn't much by some standards... but by my standards this is pretty amazing. I'm going to celebrate with a wee dram and can now tell you the big news I've been threatening to mention is... coming on Sunday.

Bad sentences

I spent the day at college. I was expecting a cold, empty office where I could write UCAS references while soaking up a soundscape or three. When I arrived the light was on and a colleague was already there. My work took a lot longer than I thought but the bonus was a collection of conversations even more satisfying than listening to soundscapes in a room with a 98% chance of not being interrupted. Sorry, terrible sentence.

Mixing of the CD is back on for this Saturday. More news soon.


Originally uploaded by Roostar.
J and I visited friends in Wolverhampton this weekend. This was one of the faces we saw.


Take me to the Bridge

Hurrah! Some very probable Bridge Street activity on the horizon. For those of you who don't know, Bridge Street is the three-piece spin off from Soul Beaver which allows myself (bass & vocals), Richard (guitars and vocals) and Richard (drums) to rock out with extended arrangements of songs by Hendrix, James Taylor, Scott Henderson, Stevie Ray Vaughan and even Randy Newman. This has been an exciting and powerful little band which hasn't played much recently. There's a very good chance we'll be appearing in Oxford in the next few months - I'll keep you posted.


Love and teabags

[Today's entry is also part of the mass observation/national blog project as part of the 'One Day in History' campaign.]

Proof that life is sometimes perfectly fair? I'm not sure, but it's a great story.

I got up this morning with only minutes to wash and dress. The alarm had gone off but my instinct was to sleep again. I got to work with minutes to spare and had a good day. A feeling of overwhelming happiness was with me today. All around there was stress and hassle but my colleagues and I ended the day in a spirit of positivity - yes I know I sound like a hippy, but this is how it was. Anyway, half term is coming.

When I got home it was to an empty house (apart from the cat). J is at work and I've had to route around for something to eat. Some miso soup and pitta bread later I'm here, still in the kitchen with the cat wondering why I don't pay her more attention. The reason is I'm watching Buena Vista Social Club on the Powerbook. I don't want to do any lesson planning tonight. I want to wait for my wife to come home so I can give her a kiss and tell her how much I love her. Or, if CSI is on telly, wave to her and hope she bought teabags.


Mixing 2

An afternoon back at Richard's place mixing the album. He had fixed the computer's ills and we had a glitch free session mixing two further tracks. It's hard to show enthusiasm for someone else's work, especially when it doesn't connect even vaguely with your own style. I am, therefore, terrifically impressed with Richard's attention to detail and willingness to mix all this stuff I've produced.

Today's disaster was the discovery that the lush strings at the top of track three were distorted. Quite how I hadn't heard this before I have no idea. We had two solutions; process the sound of the strings until it was hard to know what was distorted and what wasn't (tempting - after all this is non-mainstream, avant garde stuff so who'd know) or go home and re-record the strings. I opted for the latter.



Originally uploaded by Roostar.
A ghostly but beautiful J in the hotel last weekend.


Originally uploaded by Roostar.
A view from the hide J and I discovered last week. I may retire here (or Manhattan).

Mixing 1

Just back from mixing. Richard and I took a while to get started but were soon pulling in the tracks for 'The Panty Cats.' Hearing your song pulled apart, with each track (bass, drums, stick, etc.) on its own is quite a humbling experience. I had expected a fairly simple loading up of tracks and mixing but oh no, nothing could be that easy. Firstly, Richard revealed the possibilities available with EQing and intelligent sound balancing (when you know what you are doing). Secondly, Richard's computer in his studio began making disturbing glitch noises every other time we pressed play. This, as you might imagine, made for quite a frustrating mixing session. It's the computer equivalent of having to wait seven hours for the drums to be set up in a recording studio.
So, a day in the studio and we have mixed one song and begun the set up of the second tune. Quite a lot more to do.

This wasn't the big news by the way.


A long day at the day job.

Home within a few minutes of J's arrival for the second time this week. We go for a walk to help keep fit but I return with a sticky toffee pudding. As the evening progresses J sleeps on the sofa while I listen through tracks I recorded in the summer. Oh! the sticky toffee pudding... I'd better go.

Very big news, very soon.


Back in the mix

After a few false starts the mixing session for 'Coffee-Housing' is back on. Hopefully it should all be done by the end of this weekend. I'll update the Myspace page as soon as it is.


All the strangers came today

It's been a good weekend. I'll tell you all about Saturday another time but on Sunday J and I went to London and booked into Hazlitt's Hotel. It's a lovely place, just up Frith Street from Ronnie Scott's club. We settled in then enjoyed a walk through Soho and Chinatown before feasting and heading back to the hotel. I had a course to attend in Islington the next day, while J enjoyed her birthday mooching around the shops of central London.

We stopped for sushi again on the way home (I had tuna nigri, my favourite) and returned to a very unhappy cat.

Today, back to the day job and then home again. I was washing up listening to the iPod which gave me the following:

Brothers gonna work it out - Public Enemy
You're getting a little too smart - The Detroit Emeralds
Saint Agnes and the Burning Train - Sting
Oh! You pretty things - David Bowie
Ale House - Martyn Bennett
Vrooom - King Crimson

Quite a mix. Through all this, with the music pumping through my headphones, I could hear the doors slamming in the neighbour's house.

Some real news soon. In the meantime Happy Birthday Alison!



J and I got out for a walk today. We walked around a local reservoir but, this time, we got a key for a hide. It's supposed to be a place where people go to watch birds and marvel at the beauty of the reed beds, but I immediately marked it out as a place to come for quiet reflection.

Last night was really hard though. I came home from work feeling very rough. An infection, or growth, or something in my nose has been making my life miserable for months now. On top of this it has been quite a stressful week (albeit one with a superb concert in it) and one of those rare crushing headaches appeared too. A good night's sleep sorted me out but that's a Friday night I would like back.


And the winner is...

Who wins most pretentious blog of the week award? I do!

The other day I was discussing, with a colleague, the concept of aggressive suicide. By later that afternoon J and I were chowing down on sushi in London. In the evening we were watching Sting playing 16th century songs on a lute.

Come on, beat that!

Actually the lute music was stunning. Sting looked suitably nervous but had able assistance from Edin Karamazov, who certainly brought the idea of shredding alive on a lute. The songs were mostly by John Dowland, who could write beautiful, melancholy music any modern composer (or songwriter) would love to claim. There were a few surprises too. Having heard a piece by the Robert, the son of John Johnson (Elizabeth I's court lutenist) Sting encored with a piece by another Robert Johnson. Hellhound on my trail. It's all blues.

It's truly refreshing to see someone, who really doesn't need the hassle, doing something new for the blatant love of the music.