Last W/E In November 2016

Fun times were had by all!

Friday was a quiet night in with Mrs. Backhouse – we just chilled in front of the telly and had a good catch up – it’s the backbone of our relationship – these quiet times – and it is an amazing thing that we still get to have them. I love my wife with all of my heart. She is someone very special to me – if I put in a bit more work she may reciprocate the sentiment 😉

Saturday night and Allan’s studio, Creao, stank of Allan’s, Watson’s and my creative juices. We had everything flowing from premium lager to Dub Mixing. We are investigating getting Bitwig Studio for the band (Guerrilla Dub System) and we were trying to get that sorted. Then we had a live dub and a DJ sesh.

Sunday was spent getting ready for the evening. We met Karen & Stewart at the train station and were Leeds bound within minutes. The first stop was the restaurant Little Tokyo – the fun-size Japanese restaurant complete with Geisha dog – Bork Bork!

Me and Stewart had a pint of Asahi Beer and Kat went for a smaller lager – both were really palatable but what stole the show was Karen’s Plum Wine – it was like nectar! The main courses: we all ordered Bento Boxes on the advice of Stewart & Karen – I had Mackerel in Teriyaki sauce with Tempura veg – It was amazing! The highlight of the meal was the Japanese style profiteroles – Ice-cream deep-fried in batter on a skewer; although I think my wife won the pudding tournament with her marshmallow spring rolls – she claimed they were ‘genius’.

We then hot-footed it up to the Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen to see the world famous Sun Ra’s Arkestra!

I had been waiting around eight years to see this band live – whilst they did not have the man himself (he orbits a different star now) they were led by the spritely Marshall Allen, at 92 years young.

– Image first appeared in JazzIz Magazine

There seemed to be four surviving musicians from the Arkestra under Sun Ra in the early days of Space Jazz. Dozens of musicians—perhaps hundreds—passed through Sun Ra’s bands over the years. Some stayed with him for decades, while others played on only a few recordings or performances.

Sun Ra was personally responsible for the vast majority of the constant changes in the Arkestra’s lineup. According to contra-bassist Jiunie Booth, a member of the Arkestra, Sun Ra did not confront any musician whose performance he was unsatisfied with. Instead, he would simply gather the entire Arkestra minus the offending musician, and skip town—leaving the fired musician stranded. After repeated instances of U.S. jazz musicians becoming stranded in foreign countries, Sun Ra’s unique method of dismissal became a diplomatic liability for the United States. The U.S. State Department was compelled to tell Sun Ra to bring any fired musicians stateside rather than leave them stranded.

But, what was the experience of seeing Sun Ra’s Arkestra like for a fan-boy like myself? Well, it surpassed expectation. Hands down the best gig I have been to in years. Whilst I did not recognise all of the tracks that they played – seeing ninety year old’s dressed as Space Pharaohs lucidly conducting an Afro-Futurist ensemble was worth a trip out in anyone’s books.

LANDR Review (With Audio)

As ever, I am probably the last to the party on this one – but – this is my LANDR Review (with audio). Now then, I often make out that I am some sort of audio-file; I really am not that much of an audiophile. However, I do like it when my radio shows sound good. So, I have subscribed to the online Mastering Studio, LANDR. But, what are my first impressions?

The User-Interface is good; very intuitive and clean with crisp fonts and graphics. I like their look. The site is easy to navigate and you soon find out where you are and what you are doing.

I decided to test it with one of my radio shows. The edition I tested LANDR with was an, as yet, un-broadcast version of the Guerrilla Dub System’s Radio Show – a dub and roots show in which I just play records and with no talking. Here, below, is the version run through LANDR.

After the initial (slow) upload of 990MB – LANDR presented me with three versions of the mix to chose from. The option was to then download one of the versions as a High Quality MP3. I chose the version with the ‘High Intensity’ mastering – it seemed to fit with what I was hoping to achieve. However, I will let you be the judge of whether you think the mastering worked. Level-wise, the mix was all over the place originally – there was a lot of contrast between the volume levels of the tracks – do you think the mastering has made it better? I do. If you want to chip in with your two-pence worth then feel free to leave a comment in the box at the bottom of this post.

As readers of this blog know, I have a few irons in the musical fire and I intend to use LANDR for the benefit of those projects. I reckon I will roll out the use of my account to a few mates too – in exchange for beer. It seems I will be using the app for all of my radio shows.

However, if I was to gripe about one thing it is that there is only the option for ‘Low’, ‘Medium’ & ‘High’ mastering – it seems like one big normalise switch. However, if taking the dynamic range out of your recording is what you want to do then this is for you.

You will have to choose your own side in the loudness war – the options are simple and concise with few variables – it is kind of like the speak-and-spell version of mastering. But, that is the level I operate on. The idea is to get the components of the tracks (yes, I will be using it for music too) sorted – then – we will be cooking on gas.

Fish

The good lady wife, Kathryn, is away out at a charity fundraiser. Metal sans Frontieres is a rock night that raises money for Doctors Without Borders (Medicins sans Frontieres / MSF) and it is a right laugh.

I try and go to such things but my sleep pattern is a bit wobbly at the minute and I have had to bow out of tonight’s proceedings.

However, I have made a track – here it is:

It is a very laid back IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) type track. I have made music for years – most of the time with zero success. However, buoyed off the back of the success of Guerrilla Dub System I am starting to experiment again.

See, I only really got in to making Dub to see if my musical chops were where they should be. I have a prodigious output as an experimental artist and I just want to see where I am in relation with other tracks.

‘Fish’ is a return to the norm. However, I will not give up on the use of basslines in dub or put down the microphone for Field Recording just yet. I am quite proud of ‘Fish’ – there is not a single Drum Loop in there – I have been using Ultrabeat in Logic to programe all of my drums for years now. Seems to be working.

The Parish News

I seem to be doing an awful lot of audio posts – but, here is another: eagle eyed readers of this blog may be aware that I have the good fortune to run a wee label called Focused Silence. I write about it here.

As part of the record label, I present a radio show of tunes that inspire and provoke the label. Here below is an example of the radio show –

Now then, I was just recovering from Tonsillitis when I recorded this – I do not normally sound so husky. It is fair to say that the heady mix of anti-biotics and good IPA wrecked havoc with the links, but it was good to be able to speak again.

I try and record each show every Monday at Creao Studio in Harrogate – I may be asked to build them a site as a way of saying thanks for the the use of said building but more on that later.

 

Some Research For My Mate Stewart

I am sat here at my desk listening to the John Kane’s Northern Soul show on BBC York & North Yorkshire. I like what I hear. Northern Soul is not a subject I know much about – neither does my friend, Stew. So, in light of Craig Charles coming to town in a few days, I have dipped in to the internet archives and boy have I dug deep. In this article, I may be teaching your Gran to suck eggs. However, it was all new to me and I intend to dig further.

It seems Northern Soul is a music and dance movement that emerged independently in Northern England, the English Midlands, Scotland and Wales in the late 1960s from the British mod scene. Northern soul mainly consists of a particular style of black American soul music based on the heavy beat and fast tempo of the mid-1960s Tamla Motown sound.

The northern soul movement, however, generally eschews Motown or Motown-influenced music that has had significant mainstream commercial success. The recordings most prized by enthusiasts of the genre are usually by lesser-known artists, released only in limited numbers, often by small regional American labels such as Ric-Tic and Golden World Records (Detroit), Mirwood (Los Angeles) and Shout and Okeh (New York/Chicago).

Northern soul is associated with particular dance styles and fashions that grew out of the underground rhythm & soul scene of the late 1960s at venues such as the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. This scene and the associated dances and fashions quickly spread to other UK dancehalls and nightclubs like the Chateau Impney (Droitwich), Catacombs (Wolverhampton), the Highland Rooms at Blackpool Mecca, Golden Torch (Stoke-on-Trent) and Wigan Casino.

As the favoured beat became more uptempo and frantic, by the early 1970s, northern soul dancing became more athletic, somewhat resembling the later dance styles of disco and break dancing. Featuring spins, flips, karate kicks and backdrops, club dancing styles were often inspired by the stage performances of touring American soul acts such as Little Anthony & The Imperials and Jackie Wilson.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, popular northern soul records generally dated from the mid-1960s. This meant that the movement was sustained (and “new” recordings added to playlists) by prominent DJs discovering rare and previously overlooked records. Later on, certain clubs and DJs began to move away from the 1960s Motown sound and began to play newer releases with a more contemporary sound.

The phrase northern soul emanated from the record shop Soul City in Covent Garden, London, which was run by journalist Dave Godin. It was first publicly used in Godin’s weekly column in Blues & Soul magazine in June 1970. In a 2002 interview with Chris Hunt of Mojo magazine, Godin said he had first come up with the term in 1968, to help employees at Soul City differentiate the more modern funkier sounds from the smoother, Motown-influenced soul of a few years earlier. With contemporary black music evolving into what would eventually become known as funk, the die-hard soul lovers of northern England still preferred the mid-1960s era of Motown-sounding black American dance music. Godin referred to the latter’s requests as “Northern Soul”:

I had started to notice that northern football fans who were in London to follow their team were coming into the store to buy records, but they weren’t interested in the latest developments in the black American chart. I devised the name as a shorthand sales term. It was just to say ‘if you’ve got customers from the north, don’t waste time playing them records currently in the U.S. black chart, just play them what they like – ‘Northern Soul’.

The venue most commonly associated with the early development of the northern soul scene was the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. The club began in the early 1950s as a beatnik coffee bar called The Right Wing, but in early 1963, the run-down premises were leased by two Manchester businessmen (Ivor and Phil Abadi) and turned into a music venue. Initially, the Twisted Wheel mainly hosted live music on the weekends and Disc Only nights during the week. Starting in September 1963, the Abadi brothers promoted all-night parties at the venue on Saturday nights, with a mixture of live and recorded music. DJ Roger Eagle, a collector of imported American soul, jazz and rhythm and blues, was booked around this time, and the club’s reputation as a place to hear and dance to the latest American R&B music began to grow. However, other towns and cities across England had similar enthusiasts around this time who would tune into pirate radio broadcasts, and record shops would help bring the U.S. soul sound into Britain. Pubs such as the Eagle in Birmingham were frequented by young British soul singers such as Steve Winwood and Robert Plant, who both released songs of similar style to the early U.S. soul sounds, and the emphasis in the Midlands was more on live soul bands than discos.

Focused Silence

I have been thinking – I have been thinking that I would like to be a patron of the arts. But, the way I have gone about this is to become a facilitator of the arts more than a patron.

Yes, it would be great in cramming my pokey flat with original artwork such as photographs, paintings and collages. However, that would be a bit too self-serving for me. Whilst I have no gripe with other people doing this, I would like to invest my money in the artist rather than their work.

So, I started a music label.

My music label is called Focused Silence and can be found at www.focusedsilence.com – I have about 17 releases on it which is not bad considering the amount of time it has been active (couple of weeks). Most of the albums are transplanted from a doomed label called Artapes Productions – It seemed fitting I give them my full attention now that they have a new home. The label, Focused Silence, deals in Free Music and Field Recordings.

Well, I hear you cry, what the hell is Free Music & Field Recordings?

Field recording is the term used for an audio recording produced outside a recording studio, and the term applies to recordings of both natural and human-produced sounds.

Field recording of natural sounds, also called phonography (a term chosen to illustrate its similarities to photography), was originally developed as a documentary adjunct to research work in the field, and foley work for film. With the introduction of high-quality, portable recording equipment, it has subsequently become an evocative artform in itself. In the 1970s, both processed and natural phonographic recordings, (pioneered by Irv Teibel’s environments series), became popular.

“Field recordings” may also refer to simple monaural or stereo recordings taken of musicians in familiar and casual surroundings, such as the ethnomusicology recordings pioneered by John Lomax.

cropped-the-parish-news-square-1024x1024.jpgFree time is a type of musical meter free from musical time and time signature. It is used when a piece of music has no discernible beat. Instead, the rhythm is intuitive and free-flowing. In standard musical notation, there are five ways in which a piece is indicated to be in free time:

  1. There is simply no time signature displayed. This is common in old vocal music such as Gaelic psalms.
  2. There is no time signature but the direction ‘Free time’ is written above the stave.
  3. There is a time signature (usually 4/4) and the direction ‘Free time’ written above.
  4. The word FREE is written downwards across the stave. This is mostly used when the piece changes to free time after having had a time signature.
  5. Instead of a time signature, a large X is written on the stave.

Examples of musical genres based around free time include free improvisation, free jazz and noise music.

The artwork for the label is all done by myself and is quite good – there is a link to the focused silence artwork album here. The albums of music are released on CD and the Field Recording albums are as high quality downloads – it seems a lot of fun.

A part of the label that I am immensely proud of is the radio show associated with the label – I call the radio show The Parish News and it is where I get to pretend to be on Radio Caroline. The format of the show has a lot to be desired, at the minute it is just me quickly rabbiting on between links. However, I hope I grow in to the show and that I become a ‘natural’. A link to listen to The Parish News is here. I am trying to syndicate the show to as many stations as possible – at the moment I have interest from FM Stations in Todmorden & Glasgow and a Digital Station in the South West of England. It really is fun.

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‘Heart Of The System’ On The Beeb

In a scene similar to the 1960’s motion picture, Spartacus, the second reggae track I have ever made got air on the BBC.

BBC York & North Yorkshire to be exact – as presented by Jericho Keys. For the full show, please head over to this link to listen to the broadcast from the 28th May 2016. There seemed to be a bit of confusion as to who Andy Backhouse is – rest assured, I am Legion. There are many of us.

I do not know if it is okay for me to do this – I am unsure as to the legislation about taping your own stuff off the radio, but, if I have erred then I will take it down.

So, here is the track – “Heart Of The System.” As said, this is only the second ever reggae track I have had a go at producing – the first was also aired on the same show – they seem to like what I have been up to …… If you want a copy of the track, it is available as a free download when you sign up to the mailing list for the outfit I have put together to make such music – just visit www.guerrilladubsystem.co.uk and follow the links for FREE TRACK.

Frisson

You know that feeling when you’re listening to a song and you suddenly feel a chill run up your spine or down your arms? It typically comes during a dramatic shift in music, but some people also feel it while looking at an engaging piece of artwork, watching a particularly emotional scene in a movie, or having physical contact with another person.

This experience is called “frisson,” which in French means “aesthetic chills” and is also known as “skin-gasms,” or goosebumps. It’s the feeling you get when a sudden wave of pleasure runs through you as a result of these artistic experiences, though studies have shown that only about two-thirds of the population are able to experience it.

While the details of this phenomenon are still under research, scientists have traced the origins of frisson to how humans emotionally react to unexpected stimuli in an environment. The reactions happen mostly in music when there are unexpected harmonies, sudden changes in volume, or in the entrance of a particularly moving solo. The change violates the listeners’ expectations, in a positive way, ultimately triggering a frisson reaction.

So why do these thrills cause such chills? Some scientists suggest that goosebumps are an evolutionary holdover from our earlier ancestors, the hairier ones, who used an endothermic layer of heat retained beneath the hairs of their skin to keep warm. Goosebumps were the result of a rapid change in temperature, but haven’t phased out of our evolutionary trajectory since the invention of clothing. Perhaps it is starting to decline, though, as frisson is only prevalent to about 55-86% of the population.

So who are the lucky ones? What types of people are able to experience these “skin-gasms”? Scientists at the Eastern Washington University set out to find out. After testing the cognitive immersion of several people listening to a variety of different songs, known to contain thrilling moments, and asking them to complete personality tests, their research concluded that listeners who experienced frisson also scored high for a personality trait called “Openness to Experience.”

Studies have shown that people who possess “Openness to Experience” have “unusually active imaginations, appreciate beauty and nature, seek out new experiences, often reflect deeply on their feelings, and love variety in life,” explains social psychologist Mitchell Colver. Some aspects of this trait are inherently emotional and others are cognitive, so the combination makes for an imaginative empathizer with great intellectual curiosity and appreciation of beauty.

Their research found that listeners were experiencing frisson as a result of “a deeply emotional reaction they were having to the music.” Contrastingly, the results also showed that “it’s the cognitive components of ‘Openness to Experience’ – such as making mental predictions about how the music is going to unfold or engaging in musical imagery (a way of processing music that combines listening with daydreaming) – that are associated with frisson to a greater degree than the emotional components.” This conclusion indicates that “those who intellectually immerse themselves in music (rather than just letting it flow over them) might experience frisson more often and more intensely than others.”

The findings are now published in the journal Psychology of Music and contributes to the forever-building database of knowledge we have concerning music and the human connection. We are grateful for the precious moments music provides, and the scientific studies as to why we have certain reactions to such further proves why we Live For Live Music.

Join fellow frisson-loving Reddit users in this page entirely dedicated to frisson-causing media, and enjoy this “Light” from Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in 2012, which Robert Randolph once told us really got him “caught up in the Phish moment.”

[via Science Alert]