Category: Music

‘The Parting Glass’ collaboration

Earlier this year, Mark Bennett posted an a capella vocal on SoundCloud and invited anyone and everyone to make a backing track for it, and post the results. And many results came in – some of them a bit iffy but a lot of them were absolutely stunning renditions of the traditional folk song (called ‘The Parting Glass’).

I discovered this a little late, but got to it and here’s my version. As might be expected, I went for the synthesizer angle bigtime 🙂

Other versions abound, for example by Matham WilsonedFolderol, Drew, and MLucas. This one by Alexia Fredsteres I found particularly inventive.

All great stuff!

 

VNV Nation live at Kesselhaus in Munich

A few weeks ago, Ju and I got a rush of blood to the head and impulse-booked tickets for the VNV Nation compendium gig (celebrating 20 years of the band) in Munich at a converted warehouse – Kesselhaus, along with flights and a couple of days in a hotel so we could have a bit of an explore of the area while we were there.

The gig was brilliant, as expected, and we had a great time. They played for over 3 hours and we found ourselves in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere wondering how we were going to make the 7 or 8 miles back to the hotel, but then we found a nice taxi driver who got us back with aplomb.

We then went and found a late night place to eat, and my rather rusty German turned out to be good enough to negotiate the sale of a bottle of red wine from the owner of the establishment in addition (even though he didn’t sell wine as part of the shop offerings) 🙂

The pictures in this gallery were taken with my phone, as I didn’t feel like taking a proper camera along (in cast it got damaged or lost) but I think they came out pretty well considering. There is some video in addition, which I’ll convert and upload after we get back (I’m writing this in the hotel in Munich).


Finally a decent studio again…

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I tidied up my studio … partly because the new Prophet 6 and Moog Mother-32 synths were deserving of better surroundings and partly because, as I said before in a recent post, I want to get some music done. To that end, I’m currently working on a nice groove which lends itself to a bit of synth demo-ing and a youtube video.

Stay tuned…

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2016 – Time for some MUSIC!

For the last couple of years, I’ve not been very productive on the music front, and I think it’s a bit of a shame. There are a number of reasons why this might be, I’m not entirely sure which apply to be honest, but in recent months the pressure has been building within me and I’m about to kick it all off again.

Certainly, I have been busy with work, and for the last year especially, I’ve put a phenomenal amount of time and effort into the landscaping and construction projects in our gardens. If I’m honest, I’ve also let my studio get very messy and cluttered and this is not a good environment within to get creative.

A big spring clean int he studio is about to commence, and as part of that I have also mixed things up a bit by ordering a couple of new devices which I think will inspire me greatly. The first of these is an analogue synthesizer in the form of a Prophet 6 …

.. and the second is a Moog Mother-32, which is also analogue and I am intending for it to be the start of a semi-modular system…

I’ve also decided to sell some of my digital synths. Certainly I’ll sell the Kurzweil K2500 as I never use it, and I’m pondering selling my Yamaha ES7, as although I do like it a great deal, I think it’s redundant as I have it’s bigger cousin, the XS8, which can do everything the ES does and more. Finally, I think I’ll sell my Korg Triton, as I have the Trinity, and I prefer the sound of the Trinity (even though the Triton is a later model).

Anyway, here’s to a musical 2016, a revamped studio and some thumping good output in the short term!

Review: “EP III” by Carpenter Brut

As a massive fan of the 80’s in most of its forms, especially musically, I was motivated to write this review of EP III by Carpenter Brut. In writing that very sentence I suspect I have already given away more than is usual in the first sentence of a review.

The first thing that struck me about this album was the analogue-style synthesizer sounds emanating from my speakers. The 80’s were replete with such sounds, and pretty much any band from that era used analogue synthesizers to a greater or lesser extent. Carpenter uses synthesizers extensively, a trait that I approve of massively. So big plus point from the off there.

However, I am not so much a fan of the more modern technique of ‘compression pumping’. Although this technique has been around for decades now, it’s always been something I find a little tiring on the ears. For the uninitiated, compression pumping, or simply ‘pumping’ is the process of making the loudness of the music dip markedly on the beat, so it’s as if someone is turning the volume knob on a stereo up and down in military time with the bass drum hits.

That said, on this album it is not applied at levels which particularly bother me, which is mildly surprising, and I would go so far as to say it actually works in this context.

EP III kicks off with a track called ‘Division Ruine‘ which instantly introduces an arpeggiator, plus reminds you of the days you listened to Van Halen. In the subsequent breaks within the track there are elements of computer game music, hints of Depeche Mode and possibly even a little Duran Duran in places. Combined with the heavy grinding more modern feel of the massive synth textures in between these delicate parts, it’s all rather engaging.

The next track, ‘Paradise Warfare‘ delights with a fretless bass poking through a ballad-like mix (replete with Sax-sounding solo parts that are almost worth of Tim Capello) which is reminiscent of  Shriekback’s This Big Hush from the Manhunter soundtrack. It still pounds the ears with frantic synthetic madness in between the calmer moments however and to good effect.

What is certainly evident is the retro feel of the compositions, being somewhere in between the synth-pop soundtracks of 80s movies (such as ‘Fletch‘) and computer ‘soundtracker’ compositions such as the epic (I repeat, EPIC) ‘Space Debris‘ by Markus Kaarlonen, aka ‘Captain’ (these days the keyboardist in Poets of the Fall). The material flows well, does not linger on a single theme long enough to get boring and has a wonderful vibe to it that will remind the listener of any number of other things, while at the same time standing out as an extremely good interpretation of the genre.

It also takes cues from modern progressive/synth material, in places being reminiscent of the excellent work by Frost, although Frost have a greater guitar presence in their material.

In short, EP III is great stuff, I really dig it, and it’s highly recommended on my part. If this had been released in the 80’s it would have blown everyone’s minds sideways and would have stood above much of the great audio to emerge from that decade.

If you like the 80’s (especially the soundtracker files from that time), synthesizers and an energetic electro-mix, you should certainly check out this album.

‘Enormity’

A while back I wrote a piece of music as an experiment to test a software reverb I had recently bought (I still use that reverb actually, and it’s really good, but I digress). Anyway, after I’d written it I put it ‘out there’ via cdbaby just because I had nothing better to do with it.

Recently, cdbaby have been using youtube to add views to the various tracks from their artist members, myself included. So here it is – it’s an extremely mellow, slow-paced ambient track.

Trivia: For the cover photograph I used an image I took many years ago in Scotland near Ben Nevis while doing the 3-peaks challenge.

More of my Grandfather’s work

A decade or so back, I wrote a rather thematic piece of music. Recently, an organ voluntary written by my Grandfather in 1938 was brought to my attention and I rendered a recording of it using modern technology. If we make a ‘two part’ piece by using mine as an introduction to his, then I think the result works very well:

Part I: (c) Eddy Deegan, 2005

Part II: (c) John Joseph Deegan, 1938

So there you go, Grandfather and Grandson doing their thing, across a 67 year gap.

The music of our ancestors

Recently, as I mentioned in another post, I’ve been doing some work to create audio files of my Grandfather’s works which were transcribed as sheet music by my Uncle. I did this one today, and I think it’s rather beautiful so I’m sharing it here also.

The piece, as originally written, was not intended to have an organ accompaniment as far as I know. It was for choir only, but the sheet music had a piano part for practice purposes. I took the piano part and mapped it to a church organ, and I think the result is very striking. Whether my Grandfather would have approved I don’t really know, but as a musician myself I think it does work so I’m sure he’d understand my motive 🙂

My Grandfather

My Grandfather, John Deegan, wrote a lot of music in the mid-late 20th century, and my Uncle, Kevin Deegan, has painstakingly recovered and transcribed a fair amount of this work for posterity. Between us, Kevin and I set up the Deegan Music Wiki which archives the results.

This is a work in progress, but much has been done and it’s a fascinating insight into the works of my Grandfather. The material on there is available in PDF format (the sheet music) and MIDI format. Going forwards we are going to render the works in MP3 as well.

Tonight, I did the first MP3 render (of a work for choir and organ, called Ecce Sacerdos) and I think it came out rather well. It can be found here. I’m looking forward very much to doing more of these MP3 audio renders, as it makes my Grandfather’s music come to life again in a way which, without Kevin’s dedication and perseverance, it would never have otherwise done.