Beat Broadness

Recently, a lot of press went up about the now infamous DJ Shadow mix that got him kicked out of a nightclub in Miami. A lot of comments were about how crazy it was that he incorporated so many different styles into a mix. Its a really good mix, but I don’t think its as pioneering as it is a “poster child” mix for beat broadness. Here is the mix in question:

When I listened to it, I thought it sounded a lot like the mixes I have been listening to for years from Ninja Tune’s Solid Steel. To me, Coldcut and crew are a great model of eclectic beats. What surprised me was that they are celebrating their 25th anniversary of their radio show that has been perfecting the art of beat broadness. Last week they posted some mixes they did back in the late 80’s/90’s that had everything from house to reggae to hip hop:

It was interesting to see to both of these pop up on Soundcloud close to each other. The number of electronic music subgenres has been expanding exponentially, especially with the way technological development constantly allows for new techniques. Regardless, traversing the width of these constantly evolving  and branching styles is a great feat for any DJ. I love striving towards working on a wide range of styles for the performing challenge as well as the varied new listening experiences.

Christmas Spirit

I had the great fortune to be a part of many great holiday traditions, and they all happened to be scheduled for last weekend. Here’s a recap of how they all went along with some video entertainment.

The first was last Saturday with Portland’s Tuba Christmas. It was my second time playing, and the first time attending one in Oregon. It was outside, and the weather was cooperative (a Christmas miracle for the PNW), so turnout was amazing. There were 300 tubists and Pioneer Plaza was filled to the brim with audience members. We played about  an hour and a half of music, covering a lot of the holiday classics. I wasn’t a fan of the tubas dropping out and people singing carols with no accompaniment, or the fact that the audience wasn’t asked to jingle anything during jingle bells, but the concert was still very enjoyable. I did not realize that there was a tuba decorating competition with prizes. I will be coming out swinging next year. Here is a video of the whole concert:


On Sunday, I played with Encore Brass for the opening of the Liedertafel’s annual concert of German Christmas music. I had lots of fun sitting in the choir balcony and playing some Christmas music with my brass friends. We also got to listen to Liedertafel’s great music and enjoy baked goods. All around a great time.

On Monday, I got to go see a holiday special, which was a nice break from playing. I am a huge fan of Everything is Terrible and was excited to go see their holiday special. I brought three Jerries wrapped up for them, and got to put them under the christmas tree after the show. The special was their usual great editing of the 80’s and 90’s worst into something very entertaining, along with puppets and people in costumes. Here is one video that was highlighted in the show for you holiday enjoyment.

The holiday season is a great time for enjoying the arts in the form holiday concerts and shows. What are some of the best holiday performances you have enjoyed  or will be enjoying this year?

Squarepusher – Concert in Review

Portland is a great place for concerts. Living in Cleveland, I would watch all of my favorite artists hit New York, Chicago, or Detroit and pass me up. Here, the hard part is tracking all of the different groups and venues so I don’t miss anything.

One thing I was going to be sure not to miss was Squarepusher’s first concert in America in 6 years, and the first concert in Portland in over a decade.

I started listening to Squarepusher in 2005 after hearing a bass player who listened to IDM talk non-stop about him. I was still into more house and big beat at the time, but soon afterwards got into drum and bass and later IDM because of his album, “Big Loada”. I’m not sure if its his most popular album, but its the one with the crazy Japanese dog brain-switching video. He then swung away from crazy drum processing, and his last album focused more on jazzy settings for his awesome bass playing. It was ok, but when I think Squarepusher, I think snare rushes and big breaks with the bass. That’s why I was so excited when he announced his newest album would be a return to a “purer form of electronic music”.  He also posted this awesome video of his live set.

On Tuesday, I headed over to the Wonder Ballroom to experience the awesomeness. The opening act was Natasha Kmeto, who was really good. She does a similar setup to mine with Ableton and a mic and beats and looping, and is from Portland. The big differences between my work and hers is that she is more on the bass side of things where I lean towards ambient, she sings instead of being trumpet, and I am a lot sexier when I perform.

Then came Squarepusher. It was an awesome set up with the LEDs and faceplate, but the first half of the concert he literally ran through his album, I’m pretty sure in order, stopping in between each song. The songs were great, but an dance concert is supposed to be about the live remixing and mashing up songs and most importantly no stopping between songs and making the dancin’ folk wait. It went from great to ok, until he pulled his bass out and did a half an hour of face-melting, crazy, glitched-out bass solo with live visuals. The polished, stand-in-front of the computer performance transformed into an unique musical moment.

Overall, it was a great concert, except for one thing: I forgot my earplugs. My hearing was screwed up for the better part of this week, and the ringing is finally getting quieter. Even if earplugs seem lame, being able to hear is crucial to continue to go to awesome concerts  and actually hear what is going on. I will save you a much longer rant for later, but remember to treat your ears kindly as they let you enjoy music.

Discussion:

Before the concert, I heard a bunch of people talking about how Squarepusher was their favorite drum and bass artist, or favorite IDM artist. One guy even said Squarepusher was his favorite trip-hop artist, which made me wonder what kind of trip-hop that guy listens to. Do you see Squarepusher as more drum and bass, or more IDM?

 

The musical beer critic

This is a couple weeks old, but I have been working with Azuvu with some of the aspects of the Jamcast they are working on. It’s a great format: get together with musicians, jam for a bit, taste and review a couple beers, and then jam some more. I got a chance to be a part of one of such podcasts a couple weeks ago and had a great time playing, drinking, and talking about my recent cross country trip.

In related news, I attended the Portland Brewfest yesterday and had a great time. I drank a different Bayern (their dark doppel bock) that I liked more than the one from the Jamcast. It made me feel guilty because they are from Missoula, and not from my beloved Oregon. I also had a quite delectable Scottish Ale from Fearless Brewing in Estacada. The rest of the beers I had weren’t as noteworthy, except for the lavender flavored beer. Lavender is good for smelling, not for drinking. Overall, I had a great tasting experience, and thoroughly enjoy living in the beervana that is Portland.

 

Cheers!

Music Market Roundup #1- Bandcamp

In these wild west times of the cloud, there are so many different ways to access music online. As a listener, its great to have all the different ways of finding the music you love, or the music you will love. As an artist, its great to have different ways to interact with fans and listeners. As a web designer and a musician, I am always trying out the new and exciting startups and big name favorites to see what makes each one tick. With all of the work already done on my part, I figured I’d give you a quick run through of what I’ve found so far. In my first installment, going vaguely in alphabetical order, I am going to cover Bandcamp.

From the Producer’s End:

Bandcamp is a go to for many DIY artists. I think this is mostly because its free to set up an online store. This definitely fits the hobbyist budget, and still provides a lot of customization and options to personalize your portal on their site. The other big feature that I enjoy is the ability to set your own price, even free. There are some advanced features I’ve played around with as well. One having pre-releases where you can have an album pre-ordered and the listener can get a track for free. They also have some options for merch and physical CDs, but I haven’t dug into that realm too far.

From the Listener:

I have never heard anyone talking about perusing Bandcamp for new music. I have repeatedly heard “Hey man, check out my Bandcamp.” That being said, I have listened to other artists on Bandcamp, but only because I could only find them there. When you go to their homepage, you have to scroll down before you even see information about what the site does for fans. As a listener, I would only imagine you seeing a Bandcamp page as the store linked from the band’s website.

My Experience:

I heard about Bandcamp through some other producer friends a little over a year ago. As I was preparing to release my  first EP, I thought it would be a good way to start off with offering my music for sale online. Since I got into iTunes and Amazon, and offering that on my store page, my views on Bandcamp have significantly dropped off. When I had it as my only outlet, however, it worked great.

Shameless Plug: http://clodewerks.bandcamp.com/

To see all of the roundups click here.

 

Hectic Zeniths- Review

The internet makes sharing music and media a very strange experience compared to live performance. I’m so used to being in a concert or lesson and having the immediate response of the people in the room. With the Internet, there is this ominous veil I can only see reactions if people comment or hit a like button. So I was very glad when Adam Prince, the man behind Hectic Zeniths, contacted me to review his new album, as it showed that my target audience was more than indecisive people or avid lovers of lovers of Beethoven. When turned the album on for the first time, I was in elation.

The album is full of  great vocal noises (reminiscent of the noises Brian Mcwhorter makes ) and heavily uses classical instruments in effective ways. The use of vocals was very cool in that they were mostly textural and sonic mainly without discernable lyrics. I feel like sometimes in music, the lyrics overshadow the music, and this avoids that altogether. As for the instrumentation, the piano is thick in all of it along with some very full string sounds. The combo of more classical elements in very cool electronic way reminds me of Daedelus. It is very a very beautiful album as a whole, and I recommend giving it a listen.

The only negative thing I would have to say about the album would be the two interludes. The first one is a nice more upbeat track, but doesn’t fit in with the washy subdued piano sounds of the whole album, but then again maybe that’s why its an interlude. And the second one is a voice message.  Aphex Twin pulled it off, so I guess its ok.

Overall, its a surprisingly great album. And you can preorder it right here, and listen to a few of the tracks while you wait. The album drops January 10th.

While I have you here, don’t forget that on the 28th of this month I am playing at the Ash Street Saloon in Portland. I also just got confirmation for two dates in January with Waffle Taco on the 9th and 23rd at our homebase, the NEPO42.

Happy Holidays!

Survived Live!

Last week, Clodewerks had its first live performance that was longer than one song. Despite the years of performing original works, and decades performing on trumpet, last Thursday it all coalesced into thirty minutes of fun. No pictures were taken, so I will have to paint an image with my incoherent ramblings.

It all went down at the Waypost up in the NE part of the city. Its a cool place with a cool bartender and a lot of interesting stuff going on every week. They have a very nice podium that I put to good use in my performance. I was up first, I was supposed to be one of two openers, but I was the only opener instead. I got to business, playing the following set:

  1. Intro
  2. Week 1
  3. Black Friday
  4. Terrasjesweer
  5. Mintberry Slush
  6. Instant (new live version)
  7. Pink Baby Monster Remix
  8. Hope

By the end of my set, the place was abuzz with merriment and appletinis. Next up was the main act, Lost Trail, who busted out a great hour-long set of sounds from a guitar using some pretty interesting techniques. All and all it was a cool show.

As a first attempt at building a set of original music and playing it down, I think it went really well. I did feel like I was a bit under equipped, mostly in the department of relying on there being an awesome podium to host my controllers. I am definitely ready to get back out there and show more of Portland what Clodewerks is about.

In other news, I took Labor Day as an opportunity to sit down and do some studio work for the first time since finishing Selected Clodewerks. The second release is all sketched out and I already got started coloring some of the sections in. No release date though, its proving to be a “whale” of a project.

IMDB Checklist

Things are finally settling in with the big move up to Portland. The home studio is set up and the work continues on the ep, some remixing, and preparing my live act. However, I’ve mostly been unpacking and organizing. The good thing about that was that I was able to have some movies in the background so I could continue with the IMDB list. Also, since I didn’t have the monitors set up, I was in a mood to do some web work. The situation culminated in my checklist for the list. As you can see, I have the top twenty five down, the top thirty sealed by christmas, and I am only 7 away from the top 50.

The thing I realized right after stating my goal was that 250 movies in 365 days means about five movies a week for the whole year. As a recent college grad working hard to get started in arguably the hardest industry around, I don’t think this is going to happen. The new goal then is to have 150 movies watched off of the list, and the top 50 done.

As I go, I’ll update my list, in case you are interested. If you need recommendations on any of the movies, feel free to send me a message. As part of my Tuesday slot that will fill in for my radio playlists, I am going to start doing reviews of some of the movies from the list along with music reviews, and stories from my experiences here in Portland.

State of the Mac Address

I caught yesterday’s address from chancellor Jobs and his dark lords of software development on their eminent plans to unleash Lions and dominate the personal computer market.

I probably shouldn’t phrase it that way as I sit here on my MacBook, watching the keynote from their podcast while in iTunes, and writing a whole blog post about how it makes me feel. But I can’t shake this feeling that things are going to change for the mac, and I don’t know if its for the better. First was the September not mentioning of the iPod Classic, and the seemingly ridiculously small nano touch screen. I was fearful of what would happen today.

The keynote started off well, Macs are selling more and more, and their goal of world domination is quickly being fulfilled. They are also ready to take over the engineering market with an upcoming inclusion of autoCAD, which is an interesting development considering some of the other announcements they made.

The big thing that came out was iLife 11. I don’t use iPhoto that much, so I won’t comment on the craziness of it tracking all of your online accounts, where you took the photos, and who’s in every photo. I was hoping that iMovie would revert back to the actually functional iMovie HD of ye olde 2007 times, but it continued in catering to people who would rather not learn how to use editing software. The keynote took a horrible turn when the demonstrator “fixed” some clipping audio by turning it down. IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT! Garageband has always been a good beginner DAW, and I have heard some good projects from it. However, Apple decided to make it into some sort of Guitar Hero Pro with midi tutorials and time stretching to fix your horribly uncoordinated band. Maybe its just the audio professionalism in me, but the iLife stuff oversimplifies things in such a way to compromise quality of how people edit things.

I am excited for Face Time for mac, i think it will be truly cool to call someone’s computer from an ipod… I just downloaded the beta, you should call me from your mac device!

Unfortunately, Face Time wasn’t enough to make me happy after they went on to unleash their newest big cat ever… Lion. Basically the idea is that they sell more iPhone than macs, so they are going to make the mac a different version of an iPhone. Multi touch gestures seem like they would improve work flow, hopefully they work the way they say they do. Auto Save isn’t necessarily a thing to want, especially with my workflow of saving multiple versions of a file so that I can see the changes or go back if I screw up. The handling of Apps is where the real change/evil begins.

Lets begin with a little history of computing:

Once upon a time, people wanted to calculate things faster than humanly possible and in mind-numbingly huge quantities. So they made programs on punch cards so that they could solve these problems. As time went on, programs got more complex, becoming word processors, games, and more. But then there was the internet. All of the programs slowly began to move to faraway servers and the computer used one browsing program to access all of the different processes they want to create. You could word process at googledocs, game on Farmville, or waste a lifetime on Youtube. Then came the Smartphone. With them, browsers were meaningless because you couldn’t type the URL or Google something easier. So they invented the “app” model of computing. You just use a touch screen and point your finger on what you want the computer to do. The screens were small, so you would only want the apps in full screen.

Now, apple asks the question why not use the “app” on a computer?

Because you have a mouse and a keyboard. You have enough screen real estate to run multiple programs. All of my stuff is already saved on the cloud and I already am used to do things this way. When they change an app online, you don’t have to download anything. I’d rather run one browser than run 10 apps. That’s why. Maybe its easier to learn how to compute this way, but I am tired of dealing with people that don’t know how to find files in finder (or windows explorer) because they only use apps, and never have to learn how a computer works.

Maybe as someone who uses the mac as part of my profession, I am less inclined to the notion of sacrificing my control of a software and the specifics to ease of use. Although being able to do all of the template things in the new iMovie will be great, I don’t care because the art is from breaking the molds and doing your own thing. I’d rather sit down and create midi in Reason than use some appleloops from garageband because then it will be me. I feel like the app model of computing requires people to do more while thinking less, whilst the cloud-browser model makes us think more about how we are computing.

I guess I’ll finish up with some comments on the new Macbook air. It seems like flavored water. I either want water or juice, none of this froofy in between nonsense. I either would want a portable iPad or a real Macbook, not an anorexic Macbook.

Do you care about what apple releases? What do you think about cloud computing versus app computing? Can you believe I wrote this many words? Please comment with your own rant about Macs!

Summer in Review

The Summer is that magical time of year when I think I’ll have more free time to do the stuff I want to accomplish, but end up filling most of it with the down time I deprive myself of throughout the year. That being said, I felt that I actually did better in the goal reaching department than most summers. At the end of the school year I made a list of things that I wanted to get done, lets see how I did.

1. Read three books: Reading Where the Wild Things Are and Fantastic Mr. Fox before witnessing their cinematic disembowelment aside, I did manage to accomplish this part of my overall goal to read more. I read the amazing The Rest Is Noise, the not as funny as Fluke book Lamb, the Gospel According to Biff, and I re-read The Restaurant At the End of the Universe, because I forgot half of the plot since I read it in middle school.

2-3. Write an hour of good music, and perform your music: I didn’t accomplish either of them this summer, but I made great head way by Practicing what I could perform, and writing some new stuff. I also worked a lot with the features of Ableton to work out some ways of improvised performances. I did put down some tracks, but did finalize much yet. Most notably I wrote the so-far un-named song that will be in a contest fairly soon. Don’t forget that you can still name it! I’m also working on a remix for another contest in October.

4. Get better at DJing: I got the Korg Nano Pad and Nano Kontrol and have devised some pretty exciting stuff with the samplers and 8 channels of Kontrol. This is one that I’m actually 100% that I accomplished.

5. Learn a new programming language: I was really ready to sit down and learn Flash AS3 and have it under my belt for the beginning of the year. But then I haven’t heard much positive about it and its future on the web. A lot more hype about HTML 5. I ended up just working on Max and doing more with that.

6. Come up with a senior project: I basically was setting myself up for failure on this one, as it won’t be approved until school starts back up. I do have a few ideas, but I don’t want to give anything away.

7. Create a website: This has been a goal for a long time. But since May, I think this has been as good as a website for summing up my works and other ramblings. However, there will always be a sleeker web solution out there, like my own domain and or some sweet HTML 5 crazyness.

8. Lose Ten Pounds: This is one that I can safely say that I failed. On the other hand, I haven’t gained weight, and in Northeast Ohio, that’s a big positive. There are more wings, better burgers, Great Lakes Beers, and so on and so forth. In fact, I laughed in the face of this goal with some pretty impressive culinary accomplishments. In one glorious night I survived atomic wings at Quaker Steak and drank baileys out of a shoe, both amazing gastronomical feats.

As summers go, I feel that this one went pretty well. Now its time to get ready for another exciting year of the University of Oregon.