February 23, 2008

Out of the Mouth of Virals...

Someone sent me a Steve Ballmer-like clip of a balding white man getting down to some Reggae.

But I'm really glad I followed the links back to the original YouTube clip, read the comments and beyond.

So do click on the video link and enjoy David Rodigan talking about the creation of his own dub plates at King Tubby's

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2007

You should never meet your heroes.

Ah, Geoff Downes.

"The best keyboard player Yes ever had" - Chris Squire.

One half of the magnificent Buggles (he's the less attractive one without glasses in the videos).

Owner of one of the first Fairlights in britain. And who used it to play the brass parts on Kate Bush's "Sat In Your Lap"

For ages, a true hero of mine.

And then I read his blog...

I cursed myself for making this wrong decision - and paid the price, because I felt queasy as soon as I came out of there, as did all of us. I'm not a big fan of Chinese food at the best of times - far too greasy and bland for my liking - Ya know, have you ever seen a healthy looking Chinese person? Think about it. Exactly!


Well I didn't have a great night's sleep after being poisoned by those bleedin' Manchester Tong last night.


OK, now I don't mind the Scottish for the most part, majority I've come across being fairly decent geezers, although it has to be said, from a somewhat underprivileged and uncivilized part of the UK. - There are a few of them however that try on that Caledonian honesty/always trust a Jock image/says it down the line/we tell it like it is bla-de-bla - In my experience these are the most dangerous people from North of the Border, to be avoided, and not to be trusted at any cost. I'm guessing that Gordon Brown is in this category. He's just had his teeth done, is smiling a lot more as the affable Scot in waiting, and ready to continue the Blair legacy of fucking up our country beyond all recognition. I'll be watching this slime-ball closely over the coming months, and believe me, just because Blair is slithering off like a snake into the long grass, when the shit is about to hit the fan on Cash For Honours/Iraq/Fox-Hunting etc you name it - let's not forget, Brown's his little bumboy taking over the mantle, and expect more of the same. It could get even worse!


Well I got to say, not being much of wedding dude myself, having had the misfortune over the years to have been tied to 2 of the biggest witches this planet has ever produced (probably close 2nd and 3rd behind Cherie Booth Blair and/or Victoria Beckham!!), I'm fairly ambivalent about weddings.


Doesn't that Sting guy really annoy you?...He's slightly older than me, is as fit as a butcher's dog, got a body on him like the effin' Adonis, has written a considerable number of evergreen songs in his lifetime, massive career as a solo artist and member of a huge band, actor, icon etc...Makes you sick, dunnit? - and he's still managed to remain - 'cool'. Yeah Sting is cool - never looked a prick in video (unlike yours truly in "Don't Cry"). The only downside for him in life has got to be waking up next to that ogre of a wife of his - Trudy Styler. Gawd, is she ugly? Makes Shrek look half-feminine. And - well you ever seen her trying to act? Board and stiff are two words that immediately spring to mind. No, blessed with the looks she ain't ...In fact when the looks were being handed out, she was so far back, she didn't even know where the front of the queue started. Absolute dog. Mind yous, he's not been too lucky on the totty front over the years for a such a good-looking charismatic guy has he really? His first missus Frances Tomelty, was the scariest looking thing you ever saw in your life. Flippin' weirdo. A walking horror show. She always used to get parts in the macabre British sub-plot dramas, usually as some weird psycho-woman. You could see that she was probably not dissimilar to that in real life. She had menacing black eyes. F**king scary!

Now it just made me think about some famous but miserable people I have come across in my humble life as a small part of this great bullshit music business, and I'm reckoning smart and cool as he may be, Sting's got to be in my top ten. He was pretty off-hand with me on the one occasion when I bumped into him about 20 odd years ago at a Synclavier convention. Other racing certainties from my "Miserable Musical Bastards of the Century Award" would definitely have to include: Tony Banks from Genesis (never seen him smile), the guitarists - Gary Moore, Pete Townsend, Eric Clapton (old misery guts), Van Morrison (he's right up there!), Marillion, anyone from the prog-rock band Arena apart from John Mitchell, in fact most people from the neo-prog bands, The Spice Girls (all of them - ah sorry not in the 'musical category - my mistake!), Billy Joel (as po-faced as they come), Bob Geldof (again, doesn't really qualify because can hardly be classed 'musical' - if he were, he'd be in there!), Paul McCartney (although I never actually was introduced to him - just stood near him at a party, and could feel his miserable vibe emanating profusely) and there are quite a few more I've encountered along the way. Can't think of them all right now - try to forget 'em generally, as they could make you morose even thinking about them. There is just something about these people where you just know whatever success has brought them; they are destined to be real miserable, humourless bastards forever and a day. You'd certainly never want to be stuck next to any of them on a plane that's for sure, let alone spend any more than 2 seconds with. Anyways - f**k 'em - boring old gits! Let's keep smiling shall we folks?

Not going to be rushing to call in any favours on that one soon...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:46 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2007

God Bless Those Who Hang On In There

Bloody hell, the two new albums by William D Drake, formerly of pronk (prog-punk) supremos Cardiacs, are just bloody amazing.

Will write more about this soon (hopefully), but the high-quality* audio files of music I've written for work have finally finished ftping and it's time for bed...

*audio quality. The musical quality is highly subjective. :-)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:18 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2007

We All Know It, But Do We Do It?

Jem goes one stage further than most of us, by actually having backups of his music, but has found himself just a little stuffed by not actually checking if he could read the bloody things back again.

For most of us, this would mean re-ripping some CDs.

For Jem this means losing the originals of his own album. :-(

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2007

Wizards 1, Progression 0

Jem Godfrey (teenage prog supremo, turned multi-million selling pop producer, turned prog supremo, turned oh-fuck-the-lot-of-you-then), whose project "Frost*" I saw as a huge force for good in the world 'progressive rock' (admittedly a world I visit very rarely and gingerly these days) explains why he's given up trying to become the future of prog.

If you look at mainstream rock music, that is actually what's become "progressive" rock. Think of how it's evolved even in the last 20 years, never mind from Buddy Holly to The Beatles. From bands like The Police, to U2, to Nirvana, to Nine Inch Nails, to Foo Fighters, to Radiohead, to Muse etc... Every couple of years something new happens to it that pushes it on and makes it evolve still further. And it's just getting better and better.

Meanwhile, prog is singing twee little operettas to itself about a wizard who has to descend to a deadly platform of death in the underworld. Armed only with the mighty crystals of the mystic woman of Orcnoc-laa, he confronts the Gorgon of justice etc etc....Yawn.

On the upside, there's a great new album in my collection, and a witty new blog to read.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2006

The Terrifying Next Steps

So my new, slightly shrunken, home recording studio is pretty much complete now. It's missing a piano-length-and-action master keyboard, and the 6-octave roland JX-10 (strings to die for) is propped up in a corner waiting for me to clear the shelf it doesn't fit on the least so it can be wired up, but the bulk of my 22 years of buying studio gear is collected again in one place.

Since the picture a few posts ago was taken, a few bugs have been sorted and others have been created. The SY77 and D50 directly ahead of youhave been swapped, so the displays are more suited to the lighting (you couldn't see either). The midi's been sorted thanks to Simon. Yay. I now have nowhere to put the computer keyboard and mouse - boo. The monitor is no longer balanced on a shelf but mounted on a nice extending arm.

This has obviously created a flurry of wishlists on eBay. But I've set myself a condition first.

I have to start writing some music.

For the first time in years and years.

And *starting* is just terrifying.

I've powered things up. Flicked through some sounds and enjoyed the reminiscences (would anybody create a patch now called 'Maxi Prst Bass'?). I've also been really impressed at the impact that a couple of years of piano lessons have made on my technique - I seem to never run out of fingers, I play with much more arm weight into the keyboard, and runs that focussed on octaves have now been replaced by big fat spreads around tenths. And I can see wonderful ways to rework Chopin, Debussy et al within this new setup, should I fancy taking on Tomita.

But writing something new is different. It means, you know, having an idea.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:50 PM | Comments (2)

August 11, 2006

Friday afternoon pure joy

If you were an indie band with a camera and access to 8 treadmills, what would you do?

If you're geniuses, this.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2006

Older and Wiser

As a huge fan of cult student band The Dubious Brothers, I'm rather looking forward to my copy of their former lead singer Monty's newest release, although it sounds like old age has weathered his silly tango-toting ways.

[update - see also Monty's myspace page]

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:34 PM

June 15, 2006

Being busy...over a year ago.

I should point out that the following message is entirely off-message, but it's how I think of it...

If you like slightly folky, pompous, camp, 60s inspired, silly, overproduced, intelligent, lovable pop - and would enjoy the added bonus that I played on it, then why not pop over to iTunes and buy the new album by "theghostorchestra".

Well done to Des for getting it all together. At great financial peril.

(And although I'm not involved as I once was, this is the project that got me to take up learning piano properly - so it's had effects way beyond the original intention. Which I'll spare you from today, but do believe I can go on, and on, and on, and on about it)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:49 AM | Comments (0)

I bet you they won't play this song on the iPod

So it's happened yet again.

I've nearly given up on an album, after having burnt it onto the iPod, only to find out it's just majestic on CD.

This is probably the 8th or 9th time, where a CD I've bought has come home, been put on the iPod for listening, and then sounded...well *less* than it should have. Just not as good as records should sound, you know?

The Pet Shop Boys album referenced earlier was, to be honest, a bit of a disappointment. Where was the sparkle? The texture? The MAJESTY?

There are others who will be able to explain better than I, but it was there all along, and it was thrown away by iTunes as "irrelevant data".

From now on, two rules will apply:
i) I will learn all new CDs as CDs, and then review and remind on the shabby iPod
ii) I will buy real CDs - particularly classical ones - as I'm happy to pay the extra 25p per track just to be able to refer to The Real Thing...in all its sparkly well mixed and expensively reverbed glory.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:37 AM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2006

What's in a name?

Ah yes, the new pet shop boys album, Fundamental.

Featuring those magic words - to some, and you know who you are - "produced by trevor horn".

(Also featuring Anne Dudley, Steve Lipson, Lol Creme and many many more...)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:45 PM | Comments (2)

June 08, 2006

Everyone's an ...ist except me!

As ever Simon HB gets it spot-on over at No Rock&Roll Fun. This time dissecting the Guardian article opinion piece on the Chris Moyles 'gay' ringtone furore.

"Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, agrees that the offence is probably unintended, but adds drily: "He's not especially homophobic because, as Halle Berry pointed out the other day, he's racist as well." Summerskill says he's unsurprised by the BBC governors' response given the "inexcusable" lack of an openly gay board member. "They are presuming to be down with the kids. It's like a dowager duchess turning up at a dinner party in a rubber mini-skirt and pretending she's hip."

It's interesting how the negative stereotyping of homosexuals is wrong, but it's fine to create lazy stereotypes about older people.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2006

Goodbye to My Past

If it wasn't enough that I'm having to pack down the studio shortly, to make way for sprog no 2, my student radio past is disappearing too...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:21 PM

March 27, 2006

Doherty - my new love for diet with Preston

So I'm walking along the street, spotting yet another story in the Evening Standard about Pete bloody Doherty and his off/on relationship with drugs/kate mosss/his band.

But I'm puzzled about the size of the support network he must now need. There's PR people galore, minders, legal people and private clinics galore.

The Libertines weren't my bag, but they sold a few records. Not *tons* of records though. Babyshambles seem to be even fewer people's bag.

So where's the money for all this network coming from? Surely not from his record label.

And it hits me - he is the indie Chantelle.

Someone somewhere (and it may not be Doherty himself) must be running Pete for the press like a more cool and underground Kerry Katona, Posh or Jade Goody. Is his lifestyle and PR identity not the subject of newspaper intrusion, but being funded *by* newspaper intrusion?

If he appears on the cover of Grazia you'll know I'm right...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:07 PM | Comments (1)

[Close] to the Last Moment

Quick quick quick!

I often don't get round to reading the Guardian Guide until a bit too late, so I've only got until the end of today to hear the first episode of Radio 2's 3-part documentary on ZTT uber-goddess Anne Dudley. Art of Noise, strings on ABC's "the look of love", pretty much every keyboard and orchestral arrangement on Frankie Goes To Hollywood, the soaring strings on Pulp's "Different Class".

Go listen go listen go listen...before it's too late.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:32 AM | Comments (4)

March 21, 2006

Adaptive Design in the face of brutal e-commerce

Is it just me, or is anyone else using the previews on the iTunes music store to work out which CDs to go into HMV and buy?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2005

Mind You, CDDB is no better...

If ever you find yourself digitising music - please use the ID3 tags as they are intended, don't stick other random items in fields where they don't belong. I'm getting sick of removing tracks by artists called " - Adagio; Presto; Andante Cantabile" from my list.

(I had to swap the artist, album and track names for every single one of Glenn Gould's Bach 48 preludes and fugues. You gits)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why AudioScrobbler (and others) Suck

The thing that drives me absolutely bloody mad, however, about all these mp3 discovery and management tools, and it's hugely apparent if you look at my last.fm profile is that they completely and utterly fail to deal with classical music sensibly.

Out of the top ten artists, five are classical pianists.

I have virtually no interest in other works they have chosen to perform.

I have lots of interest in other works by *the composers* of the works they have chosen/allowed by their record company to perform.

Alicia de la Roccha - I'm sure you're lovely, but why won't last.fm let me find other works by composers similar to Albeniz? Rafael Kubelik - I think some of your interpretation is really rather ropey, but it's the only recording of Janacek's solo piano works I could find. I'd really like to find something a little more approachable. (And *jesus* there has to be an alternative to Richter's painfully percussive late recordings of Prokoviev's piano sonatas)

And iTunes is no better - the 'browse' window in the library can only be set to group by artist. I've got piano works by Debussy from about 10 different performers in here, but no I have to go and remember every single one of their arsing names.

I suspect I am in the minority, but it shouldn't be that hard to sort out...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why AudioScrobbler Rocks

[Beware - seriously suspect taste in music alert - remember I secretly love great pop songs]

So I got all the audioscrobbler things set up on the new (well, recent) mac, and have been bubbling along for a while now building up my profile, but never went much further. Just assuming it would all become apparent, you know.

But because I've recently had my work laptop nicked, along with all the music I listened to when the iPod went flat, I finally got round to installing the last.fm player. Assuming it would all become apparent, you know.

After a bit of tinkering I finally realised that the player doesn't tailor to me specifically, but draws on the pool of data to recommend other music you'd like based on you saying you typing in the name of a particular artist. Not quite what I was expecting, but I'll try anything once.

As one of Dubstar's finer moments (and they did have both extremes of the spectrum) had been playing on the iPod when it went flat, that was the name that went in. An odd selection followed, some of which I already had and like, some of which I had and hate, and a few things that made me reach for the 'skip' button immediately. But then came this track by a band I'd never heard before. It was a bit dated, but it was pure unadulterated magic.

I thought "I have found my new favourite band"

Then I adjusted my perspective, looking round the office at the young folks and their shouty music, and decided "I have found a band that, had I known about them 8 years ago, would have been my new favourite band".

Followed by the thought "I just need to hear that again".

But noooooooooooo.

The Last.fm player doesn't let you do that. And I didn't know what any of this band's other material was like, so the spontaneous visit to HMV was off.

So I had to sit and skip through track after track after track until finally, about two days later, it came round again.

Right I'm buying this I decide, but no, all their records are out of stock. Once more, noooooooooooo.

So I dig around online, and find that AnneTenna actually have a website. And that all these tracks are available to download as MP3s.

I duly wallow in the track in question "Extraordinary" for about an hour. Drinking it in, and trying to work out who it reminds me of.

And a day later I discover they are the writing team behind an American band called 'EdnaSwap', who broke up when this song they had recorded about 4 times, and could never quite get to that magical point, was covered by a young former soap star called Natalie Imbruglia.

They wrote 'Torn'. Suddenly everything I was hearing made sense.

It's worth a listen to hear how it could have been - and all thanks the the power of AudioScrobbler.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 06, 2005

On Rotation

For the last 45 minutes, Kate Bush's new single "King of the Mountain" has been on constant rotation on the iPod.

Welcome back Kate.

(It's also strange that in the olden days I'd have tracked down a particular old friend to make sure they'd have heard it. These days I just assume they've already found it on the internet.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 19, 2005

The Catalyst in the Hat

I have to admit I'm rather enjoying the new single from Jamiroquai. "Feels Just Like It Should" carries on with the very welcome journey he started with the album Synkronised. I was never convinced by this "must be only done on the original instruments" line, and the arrival of Pro Tools and a million samplers in Jay Kay's life seems to have only done it good.

However I can see why people don't like it. Or rather miss the point about what he's trying to do.

He's no longer trying to be Stevie Wonder, or Parliament, or any of those things. After all, they did it better. Instead he's pushing the studio technology as far as it can towards making the album that those guys would have made if it had been possible at the time. The hugely complicated arrangements, layering melodies and rhythms between different vocal treatments, basslines that are actually sung though god-awful toilet-roll-sounding filters and gated to hell and back.

He's become the 'Garbage' of Funk. (Just as they stop being the Garbage of Rock, sadly).

I love all the overproduction. I don't mind that it's traded some gutsiness for a bit of sterility and a more intellectually satisfying approach. It's a *clever* record, and to be honest I don't have a problem with that. There's still plenty of feel in there, and the tech doesn't drown it, it carries it.

(I should also add that having worked with some of the recent output of music colleges in '04, I have to say he's got a hell of a lot more soul than what's being churned out at the moment. Never have I heard such mastery of Herbie Hancock's chord structure, and such little understanding of why he chose those chords in the first place!)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 20, 2005

All that early promise.

Fascinating fact of the day:

Derek and Clive - Ad Nauseam was engineered by Hugh Padgham.

Who later became 'famous' as the 80s super-producer of Phil Collins and Sting.

I wonder if Sussudio gave him the horn?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2004

Le Magique Nombre

Tonight saw me open the lid of the piano for the first time in ages. This signifies *purpose*. The piano is now no longer a place for ironed laundry to build up. (The downside to a grand that isn't mentioned in the Steinway catalogue).

As I needed to play something pretty sedate, given that Daisy was in bed asleep, and as I was utterly knackered, I picked up my old Dover book of pieces by Erik Satie and tinkled through old favourite Gymnopedie #1 - star of stage screen and advert for many a year. (Only temporarily eclipsed by Gnossienne #1 when 'Chocolat' came out).

But for the first time I carried on playing at the end of the piece.

Gymnopedie (as in 'based in a Gymnasium'. Think nude oiled spartan men posing with a discus) number 2 suprised me because I realised after about 8 bars that I was sight-reading it. Badly, but I wasn't having to stop and count leger lines, and I was managing to maintain something of a pace through it.

But the real suprise was Gymnopedie #3. I realised that I'd Never Actually Heard It Before. All those years of hanging around in the music block at school, all those evenings where flute and piano arrangements were run through by my dad and a family friend...nobody had made it as far as number 3.

And to my mind, it's the best of the bunch.

Admittedly it helps if you're not hearing it as a midi file, and it's by far better when the previous two have set the perfect groundwork for it, but I'm really pleased to have discovered it at last.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 12, 2004

Trevor Says...Relax

I can't talk about this right now, or I'll never go to bed, but the Trevor Horn gig tonight was just absolutely fantastic for an ageing ZTT/ultra-production fan like me.

Highlights: Propaganda full lineup, Buggles playing together after 25 years, Frankie being really rather good, and as ever being in the same room as Anne Dudley makes me feel a bit wobbly.

see piccies from struggling phonecam

More tomorrow I hope.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 26, 2004


It's being said in many other places I'm sure, but Goodbye Peely.

Very sadly missed. And I look forward to the Home Truths where people send in stories about how Home Truths changed them.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 04, 2004

The Genius Unmasked

In his 60 second interview in yesterday's "Metro" Trevor Horn reveals his ethos when working on his new Olympic theme:

My wife manages me and she kept nudging me to do it, saying: 'What about the Olympics song?' So I did it. Emmanuel said: 'Pass The Flame, Unite The World.' I thought: 'There's the lyric, try and make as little as possible out of that and make sure the music is fun.'

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 30, 2004

A Legend Returns

Oooooooooo. Tim Pope is doing the video to the new Fatboy single!!!!

Tim Bloody Pope!!!!!

He of all those classic Talk Talk and Cure videos.

He from the days when videos were about having *lots* of ideas rather than one or two and lots of postproduction budget.

I'm excited about this, can you tell?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 28, 2004

What have the Scissor Sisters started?

The new video from the lovely camp folks of Alcazar contains either terrifying insane musical madness or utter genius at the point where the bridge becomes the chorus.

And my little erstwhile prog-rock head doesn't know which.

(Apologies to the alcazar people for the deep link - it didn't work as-is in mozilla)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

On copyright across the pond

Simon HB at No Rock&Roll Fun gives a typically incisive take on the BPI's latest wranglings over copyright periods...

Leaving aside that they're using Elvis as the posterboy for the campaign, and unless they know something we don't, he's pretty dead ("How can we take away his copyright until the National Inquirer have accepted his death", maybe?) are they suggesting that it's unfair that artists should be disinherited before they even die? How many recording artists own the rights to their records? Hardly any.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2004

Wigging Out.

Today, I finally cracked it.

Stick her in a booffy blonde wig and make her actually smile, as the director of the "Everybody's Fool video chose to do, and the whole world will realise that Amy Lee from Evanescence is actually Charlotte Church.

Pay attention at the back, please.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2004

Saving me from myself

Thankfully, I think, the iTunes music stores keeps telling me that I need to upgrade to the latest version, even though I already have it.

And, as I don't have the time to reinstall every other day, or figure out what's playing up, I guess that's that for now. Still, a few bob saved.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 18, 2004

Well, we know it's worth it, but...

My head hurts from reading how Simon plans to master the new Fatboy Slim album.

I'm sure that to him it's the equivalent of when I go off on one about character motivation in interactive formats, but to me it's like when Paul or Yoz get excited about Perl - it feels tantalisingly like I *should* understand it, but it remains just out of reach in the realm of white noise.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 01, 2004

Like a flat-eared cat

This is the first of two old-man posts.

Last year, I went to one of the best gigs of my entire life. Peter Gabriel live is one of those magical experiences that if you have even the faintest interest in his music will win you over utterly. His staging is fabulous, and the performances blow away everything on the albums. Just shockingly wonderful.

He's playing again on Monday and Tuesday at Wembley.

And everyone I'd go with is either going with someone else, out of the country, or moving house.

It's even pretty tricky to go on my own as most tickets on eBay are pairs.

So if any of my regular readers are closet Gabriel fans and fancy a wallow next Monday or Tuesday, do get in touch...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 29, 2004

And While We Are On The Subject of Herbert

Matthew Herbert's new album 'Plat du Jour' will be made entirely from the sounds of food. He wants you to send him recordings of yourself popping bubblegum or chewing gum before May 1st.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pure Brilliance - Eno Cut-up v Ding

I have to admit I was bowled over not once, but twice, by this piece of music made purely from windows built-in noises. Once at the sheer brilliance of the idea and execution, and secondly at the mental discipline involved in tracking what was needed to make the track and then animating the process in Flash. (Okay, so the windows opening music by Brian Eno gave him a headstart but still....)

Worthy of Matthew Herbert this.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 25, 2004

Why Records Sound The Way They Do

Lovely piece on the transformations music has to go through as becomes vinyl (as opposed to CD) via Simon MutualMisunderstanding.

They described it as 'to some it may seem very technical, to the technical very simplistic'. I found it showed up that I only have some very narrow bits of technical knowledge, which was, I guess, their point!

Nice pragmatic advice such as:

All else being equal (bass, volume and depth of cut), by allowing the end of the record to finish farther out from the label, instead of spreading the grooves farther apart to fill all the space, will actually make the record sound better. However, I understand the concept of making the record look ‘full’.

And mad science facts for parties like

Power amplifiers (100 to 400 plus watts) are used to drive the tiny coils (one for each channel) in the cutting head. ... The coils are helium cooled but still can reach 200 degrees Centigrade.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 05, 2004


No Rock&Roll Fun's blow by blow transcript of the last ever Mark & Lard show does bring a little lump to the throat...

82’ 55” - Fat Harry White turns up to provide a last slew of double entendre - “no problem getting up first thing... i popped inside for a quick nibble... not afraid of offering a man a full spread, is foxy... i spilled my cargo... the whole neighbourhood was watching me shoot my creamy load up foxy fiona’s entrance... me and Fat Larry had the two benders on the left... just a little tiddler to show for it... pulled the zip right down and thrust me tiddler between her flaps... i was sat there for half an hour with everybody looking at my stiff knob... i shot my mess over Radcliffe’s rump...” but, shockingly, at the end, it turns out Fat Harry White doesn’t exist, because it was just Mark Radcliffe with an effect on his microphone all along. How cheated and foolish do we all feel now, eh?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 31, 2004

Return to Form

Okay, I've fallen completely head-over-heels in love again.

The new Divine Comedy album 'Absent Friends' is just marvellous. It's the musical embodiment of the catharsis you feel after a really good cry at, say a romantic comedy or Finding Nemo. The feeling that after all that sorrow there is joy after all - the first shiver-inducing sunshine after seemingly-inexorable rain.

Gone is the need to be overly political.

Gone is the desire to be taken seriously.

Gone is the wish to sound like Radiohead.

Instead there is a joyous, slightly silly album with a faintly dark side. It's like his first albums 'Liberation' or 'Promenade', only with a production budget. Perhaps with some 'Casanova' and 'Short Album About Love' thrown in.

It's a homely record, at ease with itself. Confident in its own slightly skewed world-view. At times it feels like Bonzo Dog when they were being musical rather than 'wacky'.

And it also contains two of the best sets of deliberately bad rhymes I've come across in ages.

Imaginary Friend
Daddy drives the mobile lib-ra-ry. [beep beep]
He works pe-ri-pa-tetically

and of course the future winner of the award for best use of a Star Wars reference:

Happy Goth
Well, her clothes are blacker than the blackest cloth
And her face is whiter than the snows of Hoth
She wears Doctor Martens and a heavy cross
But on the inside - she's a happy goth

A grower worth giving the time to germinate.

Good work Neil.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 27, 2004

Nonweb people always think the web is easy

Ah, this story about the Space website
is very sad.

Brings back many (un)happy memories of doing something very similar.

And I'd rather liked 'Tin Planet' as well...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2004

If you can no longer press your own white label...

As Yoz points out in The RIAA Will Eat Itself, is this the beginning of the end for vinyl? Will CD-based, and digital decks start taking over in clubs?

(The DJ as an analogue with Magic Lantern operator is going to start breaking down here...)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 09, 2004

Advance Warning

The rumbles of my new social life have started.

I got my regular brochure from the South Bank Centre this morning in the post. And I had to realise that there was absolutely *no* chance that I would be going to see Plaid play at the Ether 2004 festival. Instead I shall be being at home with a small person.

It's not a bad thing, but the moment was worth noting.

(Glad they've got rid of the stupid pharoah beards though...)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 04, 2004

Why Postponement Can Be Good.

[Beware - post of interest to about one person. And possibly not even that.]

Well, the holiday season has been good for a great many things - I've made a huge dent in my 'home' to-do list. The bath has been re-sealed, loads of baby things bought, dvd-authoring was learnt. And I decided that Illustrator just wasn't worth worrying about - another weight off my mind.

But sadly, I finally got round to cracking open my Yamaha SY-77 synth to see if I could fix the MIDI on it. This has always been one of my favourite synths, even though the keyboard on it is truly horrible. Clattery is not the word. However, the sound engines in it can produce some truly blistering bass sounds, and shimmering evolving bell-like textures that nothing else seems to be able to muster.

It went off to have something else on it fixed a little over a year ago, and when I got it to the new house I realised that it wasn't sending data to anything else when I played the keyboard. I knew this would involve taking out *loads* of circuit boards I didn't understand, but I was fairly sure I'd find a little connector that hadn't been plugged in when I got there.

So I did, very very carefully, because I didn't.

And there wasn't. Everything I could see was plugged in. Bugger.

So I painstakingly put it all back together again and condemned it to being a mere ornament. Albeit a relatively unattractive one that cost nearly two grand back in 1991.

Mysteriously, the synth now appears to be able to *hear* stuff sent to it, which means I can now start using it for music again, but the midi-out port is dead dead dead.

I know when I am beaten. My baby and I will have to hobble on somehow till there is more cash.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 31, 2003

A slight delia update

Some issues have appeared regarding deliaderbyshire.org, so now they are at delia-derbyshire.org

(Though having now seen her on the fab BBC4 documentary "Alchemists of Sound", I'm amazed nobody mentions her incredibly bad teeth...)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 03, 2003

FAQs from the 70s

This entry on the Larry Fast site is, ashe says, a fabulous little time capsule if you're an electronic musician. Written in 1975, it was the photocopied sheet sent out to fans who wrote in to ask about how he'd produced a largely-synthesiser-based music album at a time when playing chords was still a rarity.

Oberheim DS-2 Digital Sequencer: This is another magic box that serves as a control voltage and timing memory using computer memory techniques. When properly wired into the existing Mini-Moog circuitry, the DS-2 will "remember" up to 72 events (notes, triggers, filter changes, etc.) on command and play them back as needed. On playback the voltage outputs can be varied to provide several octaves of transposition, and the timing can be speeded up or slowed down by a factor of several thousand times. This is one of the most advanced pieces of synthesizer hardware on the market today. It is also one of the first commercial pieces of digital equipment which will most likely gradually replace our current analog-based synthesizer designs over the next 5 to 10 years.

Also fascinating to see the beginning of companies like 360 Systems and Oberheim. And very early quadrophonic recording compatibility issues.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2003


Best of luck to my coz in the Young Drummer of the Year competition - she's down to the final 40!

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 22, 2003


Simon MM and I went on a road trip last night to get his hands on a vintage Emulator 1 sampler owned by Tears For Fears.

Simon's posted some rather fab pictures of the beast in question, but none of them quite capture the excitement of opening up the machine and reseating the Z80 processor chips as we (well, he, really) tried to get it working again.

Whereas I think this blurry photo does the job rather well.


By the end of the day there were only about 3 junctions of the M25 I hadn't driven through. If I'd been more alert by the end, I'd have gone back in on the M11 and done the full Gimpo.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 16, 2003

You Know Who You Are

To the fabulous fabulous person, who managed to procure me a copy of the thing that first made me want to get into music, and without which (despite having gone astray) I wouldn't be where I am today...

Thank you.

It was one of those rare occasions where you revisit your past and find it as good as you remembered. And can see why it had, and agree with, the effect it did.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 03, 2003

If only they knew the price in pounds...

A VH1 poll says that 89% of music buyers think CDs aren't priced fairly.

8% think $14-$17 is okay, but 46% think $10-$13 is fairer. And 43% think $6-$9 is fairer.

Or to put it in pounds, £12, £8 and £6. Makes you think doesn't it?

I also wonder about just how much I've managed to adapt to the UK's pricing levels that one of my immediate concerns is whether it would be possible for musicians to survive on that. (Mind you they make footling amounts on each CD sale anyway...)

But what would the effect of this be, figuratively integrating the curve... If CDs were cheaper would I buy more, less or the same. I have to say the answer is 'marginally more'. But I'd quickly get used to the new pricing level and start thinking 'oooh £7 for an artist I've never actually *heard*, perhaps not'.

And would I physically spend more cash? Would more money flow through this particular sub-economy? You know, I don't think I would.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 22, 2003

Heavy Rotation

As time goes on, and I get to hear it for the...ooooh....80th time from a TV on the other side of the office, "I believe in a thing called love" by The Darkness is inexorably melting into the christmas carol "The Holly and The Ivy".

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 18, 2003

Christmas List

I want. All three.

(The little trailers are worth a look - particularly the michel gondry and spike jonze ones. You realise the full scale of what they've both done.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack