2014 began with me finding myself at something of a self-induced cross-roads with regard to my involvement with the electronic rock group, Code Indigo.
The last 12-18 months have seen some pretty significant shifts and changes in my life away from music and photography, and as such, I have been feeling that my ability to dedicate the time and commitment needed for Code Indigo had been somewhat compromised. I played a part in the initial writing of the album "MELTdown" with David Wright, but my involvement in the long production aspect thereafter was zero and my preparation for the fabulous E-Day concert we performed was not all it could and should have been. Then, for a second year running, there has been a lot going on with Code Indigo etc and once again, I've had zero involvement. This has been through no fault or practice of the other members of the band, far from it, it has simply been down to "life" circumstances with which I have had no choice but to go along with. I reached a point where I believed that my position within whatever future Code Indigo has, had become somewhat untenable, so I contacted David Wright to say that, rather than carry on drifting through possibly another year of last minute preparations or on-going uncertainties, I had decided that the most appropriate thing was for me to definitively bow out, thereby leaving David, Nigel and DJ able to get on with what might come next and me not feeling like a passenger. My time in Code Indigo has been a blast and positively eye-opening. It's also given me some great opportunities and some great moments along with some very happy memories. For all of that, I am genuinely thankful, after all, it's not every day that you get to be a part of one of your favourite bands!!!
So, the future lies now very much with the completion of "Structures of Paradise" (which, as you may know, will be the studio realisation of the set my son Callum and I performed at the Awakenings Evening of Ambient and Electronic Music last July) and working on the fourth Geigertek album, "Hollow Sun".
Talking of "Hollow Sun", I've decided to start again from scratch with this album. Over the last 2 years, you will have seen my GTK Studio grow from a handful of software synths to a well stocked-hardware/software studio. In the last couple of months, I have acquired software that really lends itself to the direction and sound I want for the album, and if I'm honest, I wasn't entirely happy with what I had done. So, the start of the year saw another crossroads and another decision that needed to be made, and that has been done. When will it be finished? I guess the simple answer is, when it's finished.
In a previous posting, I mentioned that I had been asked to be part of a Norwich-based outfit called Weathered Wall. As said in that posting, Weathered Wall, formed back in 2009/10, is fronted by Dean Burnett who has a fair bit of music business experience gained in the late 80's/early 90's with two bands called Japanese Whispers and The Tower, both of which enjoyed a modicum of success. Weathered Wall is quite an open-ended project which very much works for me at this time, in that there is no defined pathway and no what you might call full-time members - music is made, it's released and whatever happens thereafter happens, there is talk of possible live stuff, but nothing is cast in stone at the moment. Dean and I have had a couple of "jamming sessions" and what came out was rather surprising, in a good way. I'm currently helping out with the fourth WW album called "Josephine", written and performed by Dean on his own, with him using the GTK Studio for production. Once that's done and I've completed "Structures of Paradise", we'll then start on new material. We have talked of the possibility of performing some live synthesizer-based improvisation sets outside of the Weathered Wall framework, but more on that once we get past what we're both doing at the moment and as time allows.
Some more goodies have joined the studio in the form of the Korg Legacy Collection. This suite of software synthesizers comprises top-notch emulations of the following classic synths: Korg MS-20, Korg Polysix, Korg MonoPoly, Korg Wavestation and Korg M1. It also comes with an effects unit called MDE-X and a program called LegacyCell which allows you to use combinations of the MS-20 and the Polysix with the MDE-X - very powerful. All in all, I am seriously pleased with this collection, it sounds amazing and be sure you will be hearing them on "Hollow Sun", particularly the Wavestation.
Also joining the GTK Studio software posse is the utterly brilliant LuSH-101 from Polish software house D16 Group. This VSTi is an emulation of the classic Roland SH-101 synthesizer, but D16's version is so very much more. Built in sequencers and arpeggiators combined with patch layering make this piece of programming a real "go to synth" for many aspects of electronic music, not least bass lines and leads. I am a big fan already.
I had a sales e-mail from a music company called Cakewalk (I use their Sonar 7 Producer Edition DAW and Rapture and Dimension Pro synthesizers) telling me about a significantly reduced in price synthesizer called Z3TA+ 2. I've been using their Z3TA+ synth since 2007 and when I saw the discount that I got as a Cakewalk customer, I couldn't resist. I've really enjoyed the Z3TA+ synth and this mark 2 version really is more of the same but with added bells and whistles. It's a very rich and full sounding piece of programming and I consider the investment to be a good one.
If you follow this blog, you will know that during 2013, I bought the OP-X synthesizer from SonicProjects. It's an excellent emulation of the legendary Oberheim OB-Xa which I have found very useful. Well another sales e-mail came through from SonicProjects offering a very significant upgrade to their OP-X Pro II for very little money. Couldn't resist and it made sense to get it because of the sound of the thing - it's phat!!! Wonderfully warm and luscious string pads, filter modulations and, well, everything. It's a joy to play.
A couple more sound libraries for the Alchemy Free Player by Camel Audio have also found their way on to the GTK Studio hard drive. Adding some extra sonic gorgeousness are "Arp Dimensions" and "Luftrum Ambient". Both are high quality collections featuring patches by such sound design luminaries as Ian Boddy, Colin Fraser, Martin Walker and Luftrum. I cannot begin to tell you how lovely these libraries are, and added to the ones I already have, the GTK Studio hard drive is now very rich in sonic sources.
On the camera front, a few bits and pieces added there as well. First up is a Canon 55-200mm ISM II f4-f5.6 lens. Took it out for it's maiden run on the Midge Ure gig at Epic Studios on Norwich on the 14th December and it worked a treat. Hoping to get out very soon in the Norfolk countryside (weather permitting) to give it a shake-down in the great outdoors.
I've purchased what might seem a couple of quite unexciting things in the form of 2 reversing rings (bought 2 of them because of different lens barrel sizes). The simple premise of the reversing ring is what it says, you attach the ring to the front of camera as you would a lens, but when you add a lens, you turn the lens around so that you screw the lens barrel onto the ring. This idea allows you to take photos of images at very close quarters. I've yet to take some pics using the reversing rings, but when I do, I'll post a couple here.
I was hoping to add some pictures to this posting, but since the last upgrade of Internet Explorer, Blogger has been acting a bit weird. So, apologies for that.