Just my stuff

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Alpha Omega

When David Bowie’s last lp Blackstar came out, I remember thinking that I’d get around to listening to it. After a couple of days I thought, Oh, I really should give it a listen. After all, Bowie has been one of my favs since my childhood and early teens. His music resonated through many of my changes.

As a kid I drummed to Pinups. As a teen I grooved to ChangesOneBowie, Ziggy StardustStationToStation and Scary Monsters. And a young man I explored everything else he had to offer, from Low to Another Face. And even though I felt Blackstar would be a dark and jagged lp, I knew I’d have to hear it. It’s just like that with Bowie. Even if you didn’t slice with some of his material – I wasn’t wild about most of The Next Day – you still had to see what the ol’ Jean Genie was up to.

The Collection (David Bowie album)

The Collection (via Wikipedia)

So all this was going through my head when I began working on this tune. After a quick listen to Blackstar, I went downstairs and learned of the sad news that was breaking across the TV screen.

David Bowie has died at age 69.

Returning to Alpha Omega, I gave it an extra dirty mix. Rough, distorted guitars. Not much light. All very heavy. I never knew nor met Bowie. But I was hurting.

After some time I started feeling better and lightened up the mix. I considered dropping the fuzz guitar but decided it had to stay. If this was turning into some kind of nod to Bowie, it definitely needed fuzz guitar.

Anyhow, ’nuff said. Here’s what I wrote at SoundCloud:

This is dedicated to David Bowie. Some call him the Picasso of pop. But I prefer to think of him as the Sibelius of pop. He’s both, actually. And a whole lot more.

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Lazarus (in memory and celebration of David Bowie)

lazarus via Flickr

After an informal memorial for David Bowie (with candles and the song Lazarus) I felt motivated to take this photo. The tin rests on my hi fi speaker. While framing the shot and thinking of Bowie, I remembered that the brass rubbing (from somewhere in the UK) depicted Lazarus. Fitting… but not consciously planned.

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Sad about David Bowie’s passing

English: Duncan Jones with his father David Bo...

Duncan Jones with his father David Bowie at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival for the exhibition of Jones’s film Moon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As much as I believe in the afterlife, I have to admit that I’m still pretty sad about David Bowie’s passing. It’s a strange thing. Especially for those of us who claim to be “contemplative” or “mystically inclined.” We have certain experiences that lead us to believe there is an afterlife. But when people pass, we feel just like anyone else.

I always had a hard time understanding why Jesus cried when he heard that John the Baptist had been killed. I mean, if he’s the Christ and God, why would he cry? Didn’t he know that John had just moved on to the next realm?

Well, it’s not that simple. Jesus was also fully human. So he felt like the rest of us. At least, that is the Christian story.

English: David Bowie's guitar. Located in Hard...

David Bowie’s guitar. Located in Hard Rock Café Warsaw. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my case, I don’t claim to be near the level of sainthood, let alone the grand stature of Jesus. And I feel… all that human stuff. Even though I do firmly believe that we pass on to a better place after death. If we’re good at heart, that is. I don’t know about the scoundrels and rogues in this world.

Only God can judge.

Here’s one of my favorite tunes from the “peak” of David Bowie’s career. I used to listen to this after coming home from high school. A few friends would drop by. It seemed so alive and relevant. Loved it and still do.

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i’m not analog…

Here’s a fun one. The other night I discovered Daisy by AlterEgo. She’s a voice synthesis plugin that actually sings the way you program her (with midi).

Futurebot was one of my “secret” SoundCloud sites that I mostly posted experimental and satirical stuff at. But since Daisy turned out so well, I figured I might as well go public with it.

She might be a bit tricky to understand at first, so I’ll post the lyrics.

I’m not analog…

I’m not digital…

I’m alive right now…

I’m living right now

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freebird – remix

Grundig tape recorder

Grundig tape recorder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a tune I wrote way back, after I’d returned to Canada from my two year sojourn in India.

Originally composed on a Yamaha porta-synth (with those tiny keys), I tried a couple of versions using midi and digital technology some years later.

Because I really didn’t know anything about mixing and mastering, the results were interesting, to put it nicely…

Here’s a remix, using all the virtual tech and know-how I’ve acquired over the past two years:

I like this simple, futuristic tune. To me it has an Asian and Middle Eastern flavor, even if the chord patterns and guitar are decidedly Western.

For the sake of comparison, here’s the (not very balanced) last version I uploaded around 2014:

When I was a kid I used to play with radios, tape recorders and electronics.

English: A RadioShack brand cassette recorder,...

A RadioShack brand cassette recorder, with built-in microphone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a young adult I became an “audiophile” and spent hours fiddling with speaker arrangement, cassette recording techniques, etc.

So my current interest in mixing and mastering is just a logical extension. At first I was overwhelmed by the myriad of knobs and sliders available to today’s bedroom producer. But I’m now getting a handle on it, and am REALLY enjoying the process.

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fly by night

Here’s a tune I worked on over the holidays. Probably doesn’t sound like it but it’s 20 different tracks in Reaper (my audio workstation). All the instruments are either freeware or my stretching the most out of demo plugins. I tried different types of mastering, and finally decided on the rough and dirty FL Studio “Slam Amp Master” preset in its Maximus plug-in. I thought maybe the result was a bit too cavernous so tried adjusting it. But with the demo version it’s a bit tricky. One wrong move and you lose everything (because you can’t save with the demo). After some mastering variations I decided I liked this best.

Uploading the file to SoundCloud changes the sound balance too. SoundCloud uses mp3 files, at not a very great quality (last I heard, 128 bitrate). So you have to take that into consideration too. How will uploading “crunch” the sound?

Anyhow, lots of fun. I hope you enjoy. My favorite part is the piano. Although I do like the trancey guitar too.

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fly beyond

via Flickr

Christmas Day 2015 in Toronto. The weather has been unusually warm. The steady din and chaos of an unprecedented construction boom has – for a day – disappeared. My walk is quiet and sunny. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have stopped to take this scene.


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