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The New Sound

07/25/2014

When I had the chance to visit one of Berlin’s most infamous clubs, I was very interested on experiencing the seminal – ‘Berlin Sound’. A blend of minimal house with tech, deep, dark and unforgiving influences. Disclosure was one of the acts that where playing that night, I was expecting the hits they where known for – but they tailored a set for the Berlin crowd. A dark repetitive set filled the huge industrial dance floor. A perfect combination.

This trip was an excellent chance to try out some musical ideas, some appropriations from genre’s which I had been following and the flavours from countries I had been visiting. After focusing on break-beat structures in the past with previous Dropframe stuff, I have been keenly moving towards a traditional 4/4 pattern. There is an art to a 4/4 repetition, creating interesting and emotional landscapes whilst also retaining the energy and dance-ability. This is my goal for the album, something that can be enjoyed on headphones and also live with a driving beat. Continue reading “The New Sound” »

Back Into The Fray – Part 2 (Voice Acting)

07/04/2014

The dialogue writing has been going well, to some extent a little darker of tone then I had initially anticipated. There is an odd effect that lingers, once you work on poetry and rhyming rhythm – where you notice a lot of naturally occurring rhyming words while reading ordinary text. A forced performance of unconnected sentences, it’s actually quite annoying. In the process of writing the dialogue, I would read each section aloud to work out the natural points of emphasis and phrasing. The goal then would be to record myself reading the story in the tone and speed I wanted – then get the same feeling conveyed professionally by a voice actor.

I had to think on what accent the main character should have. If the voice should twist and turn as the events of the story change. I settled on using a traditional western voice for the male narration (British or American) although each dialogue section will start off in a separate language, both male and female. The idea here is to symbolize that the narration is a plight of all people – the lead character could likely be anyone on this planet. It will also somewhat pay homage to the countries and cultures I visited on my inspirational trip.

A lot of my time has gone into the correct tone and pacing of each part. Each section should give as much of a mental image as possible, the narration had to flow, slow down and pause in sections. Tying each part into the music will be a challenge, I’ll try to avoid directly placing music after each dialogue section and rather sow it into each track. This might mean that ill release a second version of the album as a free download that is purely instrumental, although the album will be best heard with the dialogue intact (and will be performed as such).

I’m collecting a lot of atmospheric samples and planning to record dedicated audio scenarios to push the story outside of just the dialogue. The first part (without revealing too much) will include sirens and a radio conversation between emergency services. Including these atmospherics will hopefully bring more integration and immersion into the world. It will also provide a great backing to the visual show at the end.

The next post will outline my approach to the musical direction that the album will take, highly influenced by my time in Berlin.

Back Into The Fray – Part 1 (Story)

06/26/2014

I returned to Melbourne with what felt like some type of mysterious significance. My plans had indeed changed from what I originally set out to do, although all the same – I had come back changed. Reformed into an idea-machine. Refined and goal focused. The trip had been an inspiration, a method of clarification to how I would approach life and projects for the next few years. I had an overwhelming feeling to wake up, to produce and dedicate my time properly. Not simply productivity for productivity’s sake, but actually build and complete projects at the best of my ability. Determination was an understatement.

Within a week I had accommodation sorted, I pushed to settle as quickly as possible. Everything now was dedicated to the music, I would work 3 days a week in order to survive, the rest would be allocated towards producing the best album I could manage. I had come back from my trip with 6 tracks, in various stages of completion – there was a definite sound emerging from my travels, it was exciting to hear. What I had to do was expand upon these themes, create a richness to the music – Layer elements, build environments and experiment.

The first thing I needed to do was lock down the story concept. I had played with the idea of a dialogue driven story in my previous album “Free to a good home” – A fast electronica release pre-Dropframe. The idea at the time was a retroactive one, I had finished the album then I went back through each track and attached a computer generated dialogue to stitch it all together. It was a wacky concept, although it worked. The feedback I got from the album was very positive and almost always mentioned the story as an original and great concept.

The first Dropframe LP “Monk” in a way was meant to be the spiritual successor, although at the time I decided that I would pivot it into an instrumental release. This time, I can actively weave the story in with the music. The plan is to have ‘Chapters’ which the main character narrates a theme, which is supported by environmental elements throughout the song. I had been quite taken with the ‘Poetry Slam’ style of story telling and I wanted to bring this element in. Poetry Slam has a beautiful rhythm to it, a beat which chops and changes – an element of jazz.

My goal is to make the story interesting but not too complex, as I believe a complex approach (such as multiple characters and multiple storylines) would be difficult to convey clearly. The story would also be an important part of the eventual live performances, with the potential of connected projected visuals.

The story goes like this: There is a central male character (although there will be an effect to give the impression that its multiple people) who starts again, rebuilds himself into a perfectionist somewhat due to failing circumstances in his past and gains fame, then the story switches the other way. It will be made up with 8 points of dialogue in between and woven into tracks.

I cant wait to show this concept to people, it should be a very unique experience.

København

06/19/2014

I was feeling very reflective at this point in time, I could count the days until my return to Melbourne – my reasoning would need to be strong and true to heart. I had been growing deeply as a person, testing myself socially, seeing the limits of my own strengths and motivations. The bubble had been lifted and the last few months had left me bruised yet refined.

Travelling is abrasive, it puts you in situations of which you have no preperation, its shows you to yourself – how you act, how you appear to other people. It redefines what it is to be truly comfortable and tolerant. It strengthens your resolve and subsequently batters it down. The shape changes constantly, but at the end you are cut into a new geometric pattern, a new jigsaw piece with more connecting sides which relate to more facets in life. Socially, you are battered by your anxieties and inner theories – then revived by new found confidence and understanding. Mentally, you are punished by your confusion of new languages, then rebuilt by stronger pattern recognition and coordination. Adaptation or ‘travel legs’ was not an immediate blessing for me at the start, but towards the end I felt stronger then I’d ever been. Continue reading “København” »

Stockholm and Malmö

06/15/2014

Plans started to speed up and my feet became unsettled – I knew things would soon be coming to an end. My intensions were to make my way by land to Denmark from Helsinki through Sweden. My friends in Helsinki had suggested the ‘Party Boat’ would be a great way to get over to Sweden and as I’d been having excellent nautical adventures in Amsterdam – I’d thought i’d give it a try. I searched for a last minute deal and got a cheap reservation in a ‘shared’ cabin (like a hostel type arrangement) – on an overnight cruise to Stockholm, Sweden.

My final morning in Helsinki was up – I packed my bags and headed down to the pier where the cruiseship was already waiting. Cruise Ships up close are incredibly intimidating, the ship rises above the water in what appears to be a physics defying size. I admired the intense engineering efforts that would of been put into a such a construction, onboard was even more impressive. A ‘Shopping street’ spanning the length of the ship was the first floor on this behemoth. Multiple restaurants, shops and bars lined the ‘street’, suggesting that maybe there is a certain type of person who only travels via these majestic and weirdly synthetic environments – with access to brand name perfumes at the whim of a hat. As worrying as it was surprising, I explored the boat up and down, just to see how much they could jam pack into this huge floating bathtub. Continue reading “Stockholm and Malmö” »

Finland – Land of the Midnight Sun

06/06/2014

I looked directly up into the sky, my watch indicated that we had just past 3am after a reasonably boozy night in one of Helsinki’s youthful bars on the edge of the city. A blue I had never experienced was painted across the sky, a deep, dark, soulful colour only broken by small pinpoint stars shining through. Light shined out of the furthest edge of the horizon, hinting that the day was already about to start. An incredible sight.

I had ventured up to Helsinki by invitation from some lovely Finnish friends, a decision that took some consideration as the travelling path would likely lead back through Scandinavia. My reasoning was that I would only have a small chance of visiting Scandinavia again in the near future if I decided otherwise, and I was incredibly interested in the social structure of northern European cities. I boarded a Norwegian Airlines flight from Gatwick and headed to a city which was further then I had ever been away from Australia.
Continue reading “Finland – Land of the Midnight Sun” »

London’s Calling – “Tell them im not home”

05/27/2014

I spent a week in London to visit a few good friends. My view on London is maybe somewhat controversial. I’m generally not a fan, not to say that it doesn’t have a lot to offer – as one influential man once said “If you are bored of London, you are bored of life”. Although, its not really a life that I personally consider desirable. Let me explain.

I put a lot of emphasis on a place by the overall ‘vibe’ it permeates throughout the environment. This sounds very esoteric – although I believe it basically boils down to a combination of dynamics in a space, be it – weather, facial expressions on pedestrians, traffic, sounds, building architecture and so on and so forth. Each space entered on this trip has a completely different feel, although some things do remain similar.

My thoughts are not meant to disprove londoners and london-lovers but are a result of my own personal incompatibility. It’s a city that feels closed, a world which you may observe but not participate. It’s own intricate clockwork which refuses new gears into the mesh. It feels dirty, tired and downtrodden.

While walking I was bumped into constantly, the collective stress throughout the street feels like a tangible, suffocating substance. Olympic sprints to the nearest Metro or bus is a constant sight, somewhat a perplexing spectacle as most services run constantly with only minutes between them. You cant help but feel tainted by the slight depression between people, the constant push of the mouse-wheel. Continue reading “London’s Calling – “Tell them im not home”” »

From Paris With Love

05/16/2014

The sound volume in Paris is pretty high, its a city which hustles and bustles at the same speed of most large cities but there is something a little more unusual. People speak to each other, yell at each other, sing to each other and fight with each other in public. Returning via the metropolis after a day of walking around, I had unexpectedly been placed front-row center in a unscripted pantomime. The characters included a large man with an even larger trombone case, a stark-faced tall man who appeared to literally sway in the breeze and a short stout woman who appeared to have extremely high naturally occurring cortisone levels. The plot seemed to involve McDonalds and required large dynamic arm swaying and facial exchages. Every loud french sentance seemed to be supported by bursts of compassion or utter disgust (with implied spitting). Paris was living up to its reputation.

At first I did not know what to expect, I had doubts if Paris would be more then just a city of sightseeing and if the true underbelly would open up to me as a foreigner. After the high energy experiences I had in Berlin and Amsterdam I was ready for a little reflection on my journey so far, a meditation on thoughts and ideas. Paris indeed provided just the right experience to let thoughts permeate and develop. Continue reading “From Paris With Love” »

Majestic Shenanigans – Amsterdam

05/02/2014

We started to throw 6-can blocks of Heineken into the boat, countless blocks where loaded into the under carriage, next was spirits, food, a generator, 2 large speakers and what looked to be about 5 litres of fuel. A large clear plastic container housed every orange party item you could find in a 10 kilometre radius, horns, clicky-clacky sound machines, scarves, sunglasses. In strong anticipation, I chucked on my brand new “Holland” football jersey – a colour so citrus and striking it could of had its own gravitational field. Welcome to Kings Day, Amsterdam 2014.

I can count the amount of times I’ve been on a boat with a single hand and then count the amount of times I’ve had sea sickness on almost the same amount of fingers. Land dwelling is a great hobby of mine which I respect and enjoy. Water related activities are usually something I avoid, although I’ve recently come to the conclusion that maybe I should give water another go. This conclusion coincidentally was concluded after Kings Day. Continue reading “Majestic Shenanigans – Amsterdam” »

Heads down, Thumbs up – ‘Berlin Part 2′

04/19/2014

We slowly pushed the piano around the corner, attempting not to cause any damage to the floor on the way. I had been looking forward to hearing the sound of the piano for a while, interested in how it would record on my portable producing setup. After setting it in place, congratulating one and other, I opened up the lid and played the first notes. It sounded wonderful.

The next step was recording directly into Cubase through the Zoom H4 field recorder. This usually brings mixed results, although with a bit of tweaking, EQ and reverb – The sound was stunning and full. After recording various layers and finding the sweet spot of the mix, I started to wonder what direction the album should take. I had been inspired by the minimal house and techno which was so proliferate in Berlin. I had been making the slow shift from ‘breakbeat’ patterns to the traditional ’4/4′ pattern for a while now, my appreciation for long progressions and developments in house was brewing. Continue reading “Heads down, Thumbs up – ‘Berlin Part 2′” »

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