Monday, November 8, 2021

Freak Kitchen: Discovering Music That Speaks To You

 


Discovering music is such a random thing. There is so much out there, you will only ever come across a small selection.

I first head of FREAK KITCHEN around 2014 on the community TV show in Sydney Australia, GUITAR GODS AND MASTERPIECES.   Not the show that would ever be on a commercial network, but I am clad they existed. Since then the Community Channel in Sydney was shut down and is now home shopping or something,  You can find this on the extra channels like 7mate on occasion, and now YouTube.

What I first heard was FREAK OF THE WEEK, from their second last album. I then found their videos on YouTube, then bought the COOKING WITH PAGANS CD from Amazon USA, as it wasn't available in backwards Australia.

Loved it, and GGAM would show various Mattias guitar tutorials and videos sometimes.  

Now 2 years ago I moved back to Japan, and have watched more YouTube than previously, and learnt about their back catalogue, and what they have been about. And Freak Guitar too.  And I have now bought all their old CDs and their book from second hand stores here in Japan in the last 7 months or so. Become quite the fan. Even bought the T-shirt!

Only just finished reading FREAK WHEN SPOKEN TO, and it seems amazing to me that they had released 4 albums, and the drummer and bass player still couldn't make a living from music, and with other issues, quit the band. I love those early albums. JAPAN was one of the places they were popular, so why I could get all their old CDs.  

My last 5 songs have been very influenced by Mattias "IA" Eklundh in so many ways. Drop C# on a Strat being one. They say things that are meaningful to me, in a metal type way. Wish I had discovered them way earlier.  

Long live FREAK KITCHEN 

I know there is so much music out their I would love but will never come across. But also no-one has that much time to search!

 And you will note that shirt in various cartoons of me I have done in the last 6 months too.... 



I'm not always such a huge fan of some of his IAs wiggly harmonic lead stuff though. Technically amazing, but not always melodically musical to me. You are not going to want to hum it which I think is important. 


His FREAK GUITAR albums are more that direction, and I tracked down second hand CDs of those too. Eddie Van Halen's leads are far more to my liking, even if that is not what I try and do at all.





Thursday, November 4, 2021

THE SHILLS, a 4 page comic

 Easiest way to read this is click on a page, then use BLOGGER image selection tool bottom of the screen









Friday, October 29, 2021

Oh, What a waste, 勿体ない... music and comic

 


We redid the artwork for our music track, Oh, What a waste, 勿体ない last week and used that in the comic above too.

The photo is constructed from 3 different photos. Single use plastic garbage washed up on a beach in the foreground, used tires in the center and a garbage dump in the background. 

Japan does recycling so much better than Australia, and people don't just dump garbage on the street, but it is still a problem. 

The release of Windows11, and it currently making even recent computers obsolete is just as disgusting as the trash in the picture above. What a waste!  Same with Mobile phones that can't have the OS upgraded, and gradually stop working as apps use "the latest api" and "don't support that version of the OS" anymore.

It is all so reckless and see this as an environmental issue. Bigger than used straws. Unfortunately the management of companies are rewarded using these strategies, even if it screws the customer base...

Not saying I have any answers, but now having my 3rd Android phone purely because of built in obsolescence, doesn't fill me with bliss.  And that you can not exist without a Mobile phone number now is bizarre.  Without one, you cannot verify who you are!

Used this in my first Instagram video too.  The frame size is wrong in this earlier thing I put on Youtube, but it doesn't matter on Youtube.  This has the lyrics in English and Japanese. Putting those in took all the time. Each is a separate text title, so their starting and ending times is set on the time line.  










 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Short HEADPHONE comic

 




Read all kinds of things in the media and on the 'net. Some are true, much is false.

You shouldn't do that, but use this. All related to shipping product, or the ego of the want to be gatekeeper/ opinion leader/ influencer. Seen one YouTube channel with a really young guy doing it, and he has $500 sets of headphones saying these open back units are what you need for mixing and mastering.

Whereas an actual expert, Andrew Scheps, just uses SONY MDR-7506 $100 closed back headphones and has for 20 years. 

May expand this comic to include BINAURAL  mixes which are a different thing again. 

THE SHILLS are everywhere, and I wrote and recorded a song on that too.





Thursday, September 16, 2021

One Page comic on Andrew Schep Mix Tricks

 


We wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered 5 new songs in the last few months. That they had multitracked vocals was pretty new to me. I mixed them pretty much they way I have for the last 10 years. lead guitars have delay effects, and bass is dry. A little plate reverb on rhythm guitars , drums and vocals.

Everything has EQ to remove out of useful band stuff and compression. I have never put a compressor on the mixed output. Final loudness is controlled in a separate mastering project with Ozone5, and I don't use it's multiband compressor. Doesn't do anything I like.

So I was thinking I should try something new, so have tried a bunch of mix tricks from YouTube in a remix of THE_BOTS_ARE_AT_IT_AGAIN. 

Still searching...


  

Monday, September 13, 2021

New Music Track. Time: Use It Well. And a Summary

 

 Free download at: https://megacurve.bandcamp.com/track/time

also have a YouTube video 


This was something I did months ago, but abandoned.  Came back and it is okay, added some lyrics, keeping it mostly an instrumental.

Social Media sites are mostly terrible. Facebook and Twitter are filled with the most terrible people and things, and encourage that "for engagement".  But I stay away from that and don't play that game. So I have so few "friends" or "followers" and follow so few, that being on social media is mostly a waste of time.  I have an Instagram account, posted a few things when I opened it, but use it to follow a friends art project progress.

This is a reminder to myself to not waste time with social media. Much better ways to spend your time. Like making music, cartooning or studying something new.


The Summary

So in the last few months we wrote and recorded 5 new songs and we put them on our Bandcamp, and we made simple videos for YouTube too.

At the time of writing this blog post individual songs have been played between 7 and 30 times. Years ago, when I used my music as soundtracks to my illustration video samples they had some 60k views, but YouTube has all changed since then. 

Have a blog post about that too.  

Hugely popular YouTubers describe dropping views and subscriptions not sending notifications like they used to, but for a channel like mine, YouTube has it pretty well hidden now.

So if I wasn't making music for just myself, it would not be worth doing.





Tuesday, September 7, 2021

FREE COMIC: Recording Our Songs. What and how.

Been involved with music production systems and Home Recording for a long time, but only recently tried my hand at being a Singer Song Writer. This briefly covers how and why. Free 8 pages comic on Recording Our Songs.

Writing a few original songs was a bucket list time item to me, not some thing I am dedicating the rest my time to.

The songs for free download: https://megacurve.bandcamp.com/
The comic





Tuesday, August 24, 2021

New Music Track: The Gatekeeper Narcissist

 

 

The Gatekeeper Narcissist
Another strange metal-pop song about a type you may meet in the workplace or in a club. I've seen more than I have had to personally deal with. Companies and Fandom have more than a few. THE THING is the thing your a fan of, or the job you do.

Uses a project Template I have set up, so it looks like the last 3 songs I've done. Quite possibly I am still remaking the same song.   😅  Uses Ibanez 7 string in DROP A.


Will have to go in a different direction next time, but don't expect that will be weird time signatures with different measures ending after some random beat count! That seems a feature of some Prog Metal, but I am not a fan. I love a very heavy metal chorus, and the verses can be "whatever" as long as the vocals are melodic and understandable. Don't care if there is a guitar solo or not, and prefer more melodic lines. 
My tracks start out as just instrumentals, but when I add the lyrics, it doesn't need the lead melody type lines going on any more, but I don't delete them. They are just lower in the mix. This I think is an unusual thing to do too.

I'm not Eddie Van Halen though. He sure knew how to write pop songs, even if they were mostly metal. 

Here is a "video" of the track on Youtube.



The first time I heard about this type of person was how some people I know were treated by the person running FANDERSON a few decades ago. They are still around and in even more Otaku (person who is obsessed with particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills ) fan things now. Also have Facebook friends very involved with Dr Who, Star Wars and things like MARVEL movies who are always going on about someone and their minions are harassing people about the casting or a role.  Originally the working title of the track was FANDOM, but my working through the lyrics made me expand the coverage and make it about gatekeepers.


I jot notes on lyrics, then try and sing them.  a chorus or verse at a time. Maybe only have half a verse, but will sing and record that as there is some word association thing that happens.  I rewrite the lines so I can see them easily to sing them. Once I get a line I record a few takes. Hopefully the later takes sound like I actually know the song, because in reality, I don't yet. I may cut and copy parts from different takes.  May come back later and change the wording after I play it 10,000 times. 

What I have done in other songs, but not (yet) in this one, is re-record new melody guitar parts that mimic or are a counterpoint to the lyrics that are now the focus of the verse. All very interactive.

The final lyrics up on Bandcamp are what i transcribed from the actual FINISHED song.   

The stuff I have put on Bandcamp, rather than Soundcloud, has gotten 10 or so plays.  So I really just  do this for myself, as I don't have any audience to bother about.

In more detail.

The Gatekeeper Narcissist

A hallmark of a Narcissist is being the self-appointed "gatekeeper" of a group, club, community or workplace, but not in a good way. While the "gatekeeper" position is often a normal part of many groups, an integral function is to welcome new people genuinely and openly; rejecting new people or current members is rare and only done when a person is found to be actually dangerous. 

The Gatekeeper Narcissist does not welcome one and all to join, even if the group is supposed to be open and public. Only those who do not threaten the ego or personal agenda of this person are welcomed into the group. For example, anyone who the gatekeeper narcissist believes is more talented, smarter, better looking, nicer, or more charismatic than he or she is will be kept out of the group with any means possible, or made to look bad to everyone else if they do get past them. 

Anyone who has seen through their agenda will definitely be kept out, even if they have no ill intent. This rejection will be fictionalized to anyone who asks; it will be said that the person is undesirable in some way; they are too weird, slutty, stuck-up, untalented, prima dona, unworthy in some way; the nastier the better; it has nothing to do with reality. This person could be as kind and humble as Mother Theresa, but will be painted by the Gatekeeper Narcissist as a "rotten apple" somehow. 

The preferred method is directly discouraging a person by treating them with disdain and arrogance, sending a "message" directly to the person that they are "unwanted". This is often done by only one or two people, but to the target it can be daunting, and there is no way to know if the whole group is similarly arrogant and cold. (Of course, half the time the rest of the members have no idea why this person stays away from the group, and to the Gatekeeper's delight, they often assume that the person either was not interested, or didn't like it.) It is a rare person that ever stands up to a Gatekeeper Narcissist, because doing so often results in major drama, and whoever the Narcissists sycophants are will turn on the whistleblower. 

People seem to know instinctively that standing up to a Narcissist who has the smallest amount of influence will enrage them, and he or she will trash them to kingdom come. Only the bravest of us will risk the drama that is sure to follow. Unfortunately, most of the time the Narcissist Gatekeeper is left in his or her "position" because those who are aware of them don't want to deal with the fallout.



Wednesday, August 11, 2021

New Music Track: The Bots Are At It Again

 

 

Fun On Social Media, the food pics, the love from your closest 1000 friends, the fascist bots, the misinformation, the utter ratbags, the trivia...

So this is a love song to Social Media.  It always seems to me the most trivial, or hateful,  things get a gazillion likes and the simple 2 step plan to stop world hunger gets 2.  Mostly shows people are terrible much of the time. 

Also made a "video", that is mostly the Reaper Project.



This is the fourth song with lyrics and singing I've now written. Of course it takes more than 4 times to be actually good at it. Practice makes you better at it.  The writing, recording, re-recording and editing all happen at the same time. But the first thing that I make is a drum track with a fill every 8 or 16 bars.  I record to that and never turn on the click. I hate the click.  I record many long improvised sections that I edit together to form the composition.  My ideas for lyrics get modified as I try and sing them.  Once I know the song I will record them again, and change things that seem to need changing. It is also just a song, so ambiguity in the lyrics is par for the cause. This isn't a policy whitepaper or report. 




A very interactive process. As I have many alternate takes, I can come back later and edit in parts of other takes to change something, and I usually do. What I do want is a simple, memorable, catchy chorus lyric. That is a core of pop music, but also what I want for my Metal-ish stuff. 

The problem in making something is ALL YOU CAN HEAR ARE THE MISTAKES.  So I assume most of them are "character" and only fix the biggest things, and leave the rest. My method still makes the result a performance.  

Feel the more songs I make the higher the percentage of "acceptability" is, so practice makes them better. 

I can hear a few things wrong with this, particularly, slightly off vocal pitch, but those are the bits that are "bots POV".  Guitar in the verses is overplayed and too busy, but the level is low, so it doesn't hide the vocal at all.

This was done on a 7 String Ibanez GIO GRG7221, with the lower B down tuned to an A for DROP A, 1 finger power chords on the lower 2 strings, even though the lowest chord is just a C here.  Distortion is BOSSS METAL CORE DI'ed into computer, and used cabinet IR's. for final sound.

Again very inspired by early Freak Kitchen, and Mattias's do your own thing. Grow your own moustache, being his term for that. 

The chorus is very METAL with lots of CHUG, but most of the verses are more POP.  I do like that chorus riff. 

Put together this one page comic, but it has way too much small text and needs to be MUCH longer to do the subject justice.



Next song has to be about my distaste for  Fandom gate keepers.  



Monday, August 2, 2021

FARSCAPE, that was 20 years ago...

August 1st 2021 was the 20th Anniversary of us moving back to Australia after 15 years living in Japan. Just a couple of days ago as I write this. Moved back to Japan to live 19 months ago now though.

There was shortly to be 9/11 which caused almost as much trouble as the Corona Virus has recently.

Living in Japan for 15 years meant that there was a lot of non-Japanese TV I had not seen, such as Seinfeld  and .  Really big at the time, but non existent in Japan for us.

On getting settled back in Sydney and looking for work, I did manage to watch  Home Improvement as it was on 10AM every week day. 9/11 pretty much made the work world for me stop for 6 months at least. No one was doing anything and took a wait and see attitude to any new projects.

One of the things I did start to watch soon after getting back to Sydney was Farscape. It had been running for a few years and was being made there in Sydney Australia!


Must say I don't remember much about it now. I didn't see it from the start. Maybe from Season 2 or 3.Did the cartoon above about it. Remember there was a LOT of running about the ships corridors, as he is depicted above and a lot of interesting characters and puppets. But it was just a TV show I bothered to watch. 

I bring this up as a few months ago I think Farscape became available on a streaming service and people like Joseph Mallozzi saying how great it was. The guy with gun did end up in Stargate, so there was a connection there. 

So I think about what I remember feeling about it 20 years ago and wonder if it is worth the trouble of tracking down and watching the first 3 seasons. Probably on DVD, as that is most convenient for me here. 

So far it isn't a hard YES. Don't remember being that interested in it, other than someone was actually doing something in Sydney that wasn't just a cheap soap opera.

A bit later Battlestar Galactica started and I started watching that, but I was finding getting consistently work hard at the time, and I didn't need the downer that was that show. 

So I'm not sure if that confused memory has rubbed off on Farscape a bit. There are many shows I have never watched. Haven't seen any of the shows raved about, briefly, on streaming  like THE MANDALORIAN, BREAKING BAD, STRANGER THINGS or  GAME OF THRONES.  

Seem to doubt Farscape is worth the trouble. But I will want to watch something before I re-watch Babylon 5 again in a couple of years. I watch TV to relax before going to bed but don't want a show to send me to sleep, and I think some of Farscape did do that.





New Music Track: What A Waste (Mottai Nai)

 

Free to Download if you put in $0

A METAL-POP-PROTEST-SONG 135BPM with Guitars in DROP C#

This swaps the J-POP K-POP song thing around where the verse is in English and the chorus is a standard Japanese expression Mottai Nai. Means "Wasteful", "isn't that a waste"  a few variations on that in the chorus. A lot of wasteful things around and Japanese say "Mottai Nai" a lot...

Pop-ish verses, Heavy Riff Chorus, but vocals still pop-ish.  

This is again our down tuned Squire Strat and J-Bass.  Wanted a really heavy chorus riff then a dramatic change in the verses, even if the vocals remain pop-ish double tracked through out .  Been studying old Freak Kitchen and some recent Metal on those heavy riffs. 

My inspiration for song structure and complexity are DEEP PURPLE "Smoke On The Water", "Black Night" ,  BLACK SABBATH "Paranoid" and JUDAS PRIEST "Living After Midnight" .  These are all very simple songs that don't have massive guitar solos in them.  They also became really popular, so simplicity is more likely to be easier to listen too.  But, the riffs in these songs are very different than modern lower register, low string pedal note riffs.

The Guitar Pedals and Ashton microphone.

My song writing , production and recording all happen at the same time in Reaper. 


I record much more than gets put into a song off  after the end of the song. The song is made of 8 and 16 bar sections, and I select those from much longer takes.  Editing, cut, copy and pasting bars and sections, the way you use a word processor.  Takes are all improvised on the spot. The verses are using the D# Aeolian (Natural Minor)  &  Pentatonic scales.  The chorus uses C# Aeolian (Natural Minor)  with 3 tracks of guitars.

The vocals were sung with a hand held Aston "SM58 look alike" cheap dynamic microphone. It is so hot here, my AT2020 condenser microphone picks up the air conditioner in the next room. The studio is also only a 2 mat room, so the dynamic mic doesn't pick up the room tone either. So a Lo-Fi vocal without the unwanted room tone and environment noise. 

Guitar Distortion was the METAL CORE, and we used the GE-7 EQ as a Cabinet Simulator on a chorus track. J-bass used the Behringer GDI21.  On other sounds we used Cabinet IRs in Reaper. Particularly the "Gods_Cab_1.2" using a SM57.  The Cabinet Sims take away the Buzz and Fizz of the DIed distortion pedal and also allow you to position the cabinet microphone. 

My ORANGE Micro Amp is only for practice . I never record it's sound.

This is only the 3rd Vocal based Song I've written and sung so I don't have much experience. As long as I can equal or better Bob Dylan's singing voice I am happy at the moment.

Not sure what I will do next. Needs to use the 7 String though, even though down tuning a 6 string gives just as good results, I have now discovered.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology.




Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A New Music Track: The Shills free download


 

 

 
We have been very inspired by Rick Beato, Ola Englund and Mattias IA Eklundh in recent months. We have revised our studio now with two second hand guitar pedals and a 7 String Ibanez.  The very small studio I now have made me change what I was doing as far as monitors and other things. Now using small JBL-104 powered speakers. Love them.  I have bigger Yamaha Towers in the adjoining room for final mix checking. I also have a small portable fold up guitar stand now, as there is just no room to lay a guitar on the floor next to my chair anymore. Also using headphones more and tools to support that listening.

I did a similar thing about 10 years ago when I changed a lot of what I was doing. That is when I bought my Reaper DAW license and did serious computer based recording. I also discovered back then  I was using the wrong type of guitar pick, getting much better feel with a DUNLOP 500 1.5 , the purple one.
I used DROP D back then, but this track is using my Squire Strat down tuned and in DROP C#. Here is a cartoon  about this 




Freak Kitchen style of lyrics is also a dramatic change for me. Most of what I had done was Instrumental. Want the next few things to actually say something. 

BUT I'm not interested in sounding like a commercial pop or rock group and will do things with non standard song structures. THE SHILLS  isn't your standard structure either, but close if your not   listening very carefully.  

Has a loud "drunk" pop verse-chorus vocal over a very metal riff. There is then the very different almost spoken verse over a Scottish Jig style backing. I just didn't add bagpipes to make it obvious. I used a cheap Ashton SM58 looking cardioid microphone hand held to record the vocals. It doesn't have the sensitivity of my AT2020 so it doesn't pick up the air-conditioner or fan noise on these hot summer days.  Probably more lo-fi sound. It also doesn't take up much space and is easy to put out of the way.  Haven't done a lot of singing, so if you think the vocals are a bit off, then your right.  I call this "character".  I need more practice.  Do warm up exercises and the like before just doing it, next time.

My Jazz Bass was recorded thru a Behringer GDI21 in high gain mode. Until now I always used a Line6 BassPod, but I think this sounds better in this case. 

Following  Mattias's "do whatever you want".  Having fun. All the instrumentation is very METAL, but I don't think that is what you hear at all. No one makes any money to cover costs of  recorded music, so it is what it is. I will listen to it far more an anyone else will.

More to come...

The Shills  Reaper Project

And the Youtube video we made. Now in Reaper v6.35 and we redid the vocals and changed the mix


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Youtubers...Are Friends Electric? Rick Beato and Ola Englund





Been very much enjoying Rick Beato and Ola Englund YouTube channels. They have been at it for years now and have a lot of content.

I came across Ricks work because of his WHAT MAKES THIS SONG GREAT? series. I think YouTube just recommended it to me and I had never heard of him before then.  His analysis of how the songs have been put together and key parts is fascinating.  His enthusiasm is infectious. 

The Record Business has always been some kind of broken. Seeing a few of Ricks videos get taken down by a stupid record label, and his reasoned approach to the problem, and getting the videos back shows how completely unthinking most in the business are. How pop music has been reduced to the same progression with auto tune, just continues the SameThink in the record business. Rick is truly a breath of talented and considered fresh air.

I came across Ola looking at current metal distortion pedals and he show cased some with is CAN IT CHUG? series.  It is his other stuff that I found more interesting.  He also has a tour of BOSS Japan and the Hamamatsu R&D Centre (where I worked for 12 years  up until about 20 years ago!). I used to give the tour of the  R&D Centre Anechoic Chamber to specific types of visitors. 

Ola should  make clearer what is "paid promotion" in his videos. What gear he has been given in the reviewing process, and not loaned or he bought himself. This is normal in the Media world. 

Ola has so many different types of things on his channel. Riff Challenges, equipment promotion / reviews and how he has made his latest solo record and started his SOLAR guitar brand. Live streams of playing and practice. Even eating stuff. 

They are both way better guitarists than I am! 

And like the cartoon says, when you watch enough of their content your start to feel they are a friendly face.  They aren't your friends though. Something Social Media is distorting in relationships maybe, more than TV and movies ever did. 

Anyway, 2 channels I recommend. Two guys I respect, but they aren't my friends 😀

I have bought Ola Englund's Starzinger Guitar CD pack too. Awesome.

I can be contacted at: Art & Technology 






Sunday, March 14, 2021

Recorded Music On Loudspeakers - Mono -> Stereo -> Mono , A Comic

A short 4 page comic on Music On Loudspeakers. Easiest to read by clicking an image, then use Bloggers image selector at bottom of screen.






Specifically Stereo isn't something most people hear over loudspeakers anymore.

UPDATE: AUG 18 2021.  For my own mix checking on a typical users system, I bought a JBL FLIP5, a mono 20W Bluetooth only speaker.


Have to say it sounds great, has a real kick to it and is very convenient. Very different sound than you get from an Auratone. No idea how it sounds compared to an Apple HomePod.
 





Thursday, January 14, 2021

Hi Fi Memories - How I started with HiFi, a Comic

 How I started with HiFi. A Comic that is actually sketching illustrations and narration. 








Looking at High End HiFi is a bit like looking at Supercars  Lamborghini, Ferrari, etc. Fun without actually spending your money on it.

Things have changed a lot since the late 1970s. The Sony Walkman started the trend, and Home Cinema completed it. People now more likely to be listening to music on their phone with earbuds. 

My own Home Project Studio is what my interest in HiFi lead too.