Sunday, 8 October 2017

Updatey Thingy......

Not been around for a month, time goes so incredibly quickly!!!

Anyway, as per, I've not been idle. Far from it.

Inevitably there are some new bits of software for the GTK2 Studio, a couple of new camera bits, gig photography news and album update. Best I get on with it.

Buying music software is still a thing with me, however, it really is coming down now to what the software can offer, rather than just buying stuff for the sake of it (though I suspect it seems that way - lolz). The few bits I have recently acquired certainly fit the bill of what they can offer and are definite work tools.

The first up is iZotope's Neutron 2 channel strip plugin. I got the first version earlier this year and it has been quite invaluable because of it's track assistant and track comparison capabilities. Version 2 sees a definite step forward with the track assistant and it was enough for me to make the upgrade move. It's a real beast to learn as it has so many facilities within just one program, but it is a definite bonus to the studio.

I've been hankering after iZotope's Ozone mastering plugin for some time and with the release of version 8, I decided it was time to take the plunge. I have a definite learning curve to overcome here, but a little time invested will, I know, pay off. More on this as and when I get to grips with it and start using it.

I've been watching and wondering about Audified's MixChecker since it's release a while back. It basically lets you hear what your mixes sound like on a smartphone or a laptop or a tablet and even in your car!!! I umm'd and ahh'd until the proverbial "price drop" came along and like the vulture I am, I swooped in and snaffled it. It's a cool piece of programming and I like what it offers as I get an insight as to how my tracks will sound on different devices and sound systems. This is useful when mixing and helps you get the EQ right - MixChecker is a really nice tool alongside Neutron 2.

Now, I am a big fan of Softube's Modular synthesizer - it's their virtual take on a Euroack modular synthesizer system, based on the Doepfer A100 and with pay-for expansion modules from the likes of hardware module makers Doepfer, Intellijel and 4ms. When I saw that the Buchla 259e Twisted Waveform Generator was the latest addition to the expansion module list, my debit card immediately swung into action!!! As you might have guessed, it's a virtual recreation of Buchla's revered and sought after hardware module of the same name, and reports already suggest that it's pretty accurate facsimile of the original.  It's a dual oscillator module that performs the duties of digital waveshaping, aliasing noise and foldover frequencies, capable of traditional synthy sounds but also adept at self-modifying, screeching and snarling digital sounds and textures, morphing effortlessly through it's many disguises. I'm finding a lot of similarities with the Madrona Labs Aalto semi-modular software synthesizer in terms of sound and approach - this is a good thing, trust me!!! I've already started using it on "Altered States".

Waves continue their phenomenal Summer sale as well as continuing to drain my bank account - lol. Vocal Rider is as it sounds, it provides the ability to ride the fader for your vocal tracks, keeping them from getting out of control. Used it for the first time on a vocal track for a singer recording a song for his wedding, and it worked a treat. As did the second acquisition from Waves, that being the Waves Abbey Road Reel ADT. Artificial double tracking was a technique developed was back in the 1960's by those awfully clever people at Abbey Road Studios in London, it's purpose being to provide an artificially created second take using a specially adapted tape machine unit - the sound became something of a signature thing for The Beatles. The effect is still quite something, even in this day and age, and can save a lot of time by NOT having to have your singer do a second take. I used this with the singer mentioned earlier and it's effect was seriously cool.

Sticking with Waves, they released SSL G-Channel component of their SSL 4000 Collection - it was cheap, the E-Channel sounds great and it seemed a logical step to get it. So I did :-)

Moving away from music now and onto the other passion in my life - photography. Last year, I bought a Canon 60D digital SLR camera from a good friend of mine, who's a professional photographer, called Simon Watson. It was a step up in many ways from my trusty 1100D's which I have been using since 2012. Now, I have been increasingly wanting to re-focus energies back into photography, and in particular gig photography (more on that in a bit), and I came to realise that it would be wise to invest in a second camera that could match my 60D with regard capabilities. And this is what I did, and that investment went into a second 60D - it made sense to get the same camera so that I could match settings etc when out and about. Got it at a good price as well ;-)

Alongside the new camera, I felt a need to improve how I work whilst shooting a gig. To date, I have been using a Canon 10-18mm wide angle zoom and a Canon 55-250mm zoom lens, but that gap in the middle, normally filled by the Canon 18-55mm kit lens, had proven to be a bit of a hindrance as there isn't time to change lenses during the window of time you have to get your shots (normally the first three songs). So, I raided the bank account and decided to invest in a Tamron 18-200mm zoom lens. Okay, it's 50mm short on the zoom from the Canon, but that isn't too much of a big deal for me, the main thing was that 18-55mm hole I previously had is now a thing of the past and, hopefully, will provide me with a wider range of opportunities in the photo pit.

I mentioned earlier about a desire to re-focus energies back into photography, in particular gig photography. I reached a certain level after 4-5 years of intensive work and enjoyed a reasonably good reputation for what I did, however, as happens to everyone in life, things come along that take you off the path you had before you and either steer you  in a new direction or impose something of an involuntary sabbatical. Fortunately, the latter was the case and I have now reached a point whereupon I am properly kitted out, have some degree of relevant and positive experience and have the time to commit to the pathway I set out for myself a few short years ago. It really is time to get back into the saddle and get myself back out there. And that is the case for the music as well, and once more, I'll bring that into some clarity in a bit. I'm now actively chasing gigs to photograph, looking at different avenues to explore with the photography and contemplating a number of options that I may have open to me within the next year or two.

One thing that I started and because of the sabbatical was lost, was the music review website called "Review Elektro". It was fun to not only photograph gigs, but also talk about them afterwards, sharing not just my pictures, but also my thoughts and feelings on the concert I had been to. I'm struggling to get the Review Elektro domain name back for some reason, maybe next time I post here that will be sorted out, so in the meantime, I have set up a page at this wonderful Blogger place, under the name of, yes you've guessed it, Review Elektro. It will do to get me started again, it can pretty much cope with what I want it to do, so it seems logical to take advantage of this cool site to get the ball back rolling again. I'm considering whether or not to include reviews of albums and electronic music gear, but for now, the main focus will be on gigs.

And talking of gigs, I haven't been idle on that front either. I already have two in the diary and I'm hoping within the next few days to have a few more lined up. The two I have are a couple of acts that are particular favourites of mine, and I'm already excited by the prospect of being at these evenings. The first of these is none other than one of my most favourite artists in the history of everything, Gary Numan, who I am so pleased to see is enjoying something of a major renaissance with the release of his critically acclaimed "Savage (Songs from a Broken World)" album. I'll be attending the LCR in Norwich on Tuesday 17th October 2017 and please do say hello if you're there!!! My second confirmed gig is another outing with the fab Scots rockers, Big Country. I first photographed them back in 2014 and had a great time, so I can't wait for this one to come around. They're playing the Waterfront in Norwich, so again, come and say hello if you're there.

With everything that has been going, including a day job (yes, I also have a full-time day job!!!), you'd think I wouldn't have time for music-making. But, against the odds, I have!!! The "Altered States" project is coming along nicely and has taken something of a surprising shift in it's character, tone and style. Without realising it, I have changed direction from where I originally started with it and how I wanted it to sound. I have kept the elements I have already done, so it's not a re-start, however it is a re-start because the focus of the music's style and dynamic has completely shifted. Rather than fight it, I have opted to go with it and let it take the form it needs to take. This is not going to be like anything I've done before and certainly, there will be some who just will not like it. As with the photography thing, I've been experiencing a very strong desire to re-focus energies regarding my music. My little studio is now properly set up, the hardware that I use is now fully programmed and integrated into the studio's computer system and a new way of looking at things/approaching things has brought me to a place where I want to commit and invest myself into it. I have new sounds, new skills, new ideas, new approaches, fresh thoughts and altered ideals, all of which combined with the photography, have created something of a boiling cauldron that's bubbling away. Whereas before I felt that I really wanted to do these things, I now know I have to do these things.

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