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Category ArchiveAmbient Albums

Gadgeteteeery

New Year New Gadgets!

 

Being lucky, I (Peter) had a guitar built at Crimson Guitars in Dorset. They created (eventually!) a lovely guitar largely based around similar one they made for Robert Fripp. I had mine made without the midi pick-up which is on his. The reason being that Boss have created a foot-pedal for guitar synthesis that simply doesn’t require a special pick-up (amazing).

I kept a beady eye on Ebay andthe opportunity to get a second-hand SY-300 appeared and I swooped! Being lucky again, I secured the unit for £150 quid less than the very expensive retail cost of £500.00 – The very nice man who sold it to me presumably didn’t get on with it because it was literally just one month old and virtually brand new.

So now, Jazzient has a synthesizer as well as guitar, sax and loops. Don’t worry though, we aren’t planning on being a Kraftwerk covers band. It will be used with grace and reserve. The sounds this thing makes can be lovely with a daunting flexibility using up to 3 oscillators each with it’s own sequencer. Having said that, my favoured sounds are augmenting the natural guitar strings as opposed to replacing them – with the exception of a stringed pad that emulates a cello very successfully.

What amazed me most about this unit is how well it tracks what is played on the guitar. Considering the SY-300 is ‘listening’ to the analogue note played, converting that to a digital signal and then processing it through 3 separate oscillators along with 4 guitar effects, it doesn’t seem possible that the unit appears to have no delay (latency) whatsoever. Having the ability to sound like Rick Wakeman in full portamento while playing a guitar is truly extra-ordinary.

I’ve spent the last few weeks programming it using a well designed PC based app called Boss Tone Central, and now have a palette of around 10 new patches that I really like and will be introducing into some of our live set improvisations. Now the down-side of course is that some of our audience will think we’re using backing tapes but hey-ho.

We’re looking forward to trying it out in full at our next gig…

Great Ambient Music (two)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great? Well No, actually!

So why talk about this album then you weirdo? I hear you say.

Well, a video appeared on FaceBook with a guy playing a hammer dulcimer. And very lovely it is too. I find the percussive sound of this instrument very attractive.  The first time I heard one was a man busking in Bath and I was enchanted by it. I think the story with this album Ambient 3, was that Brian Eno came across a bloke in the States also busking a dulcimer and was similarly impressed. So much so that he invited him to record some in the studio. His name is Laraaji (from Larry Gordon) and I now wonder if the guy I saw in Bath was the man himself? It was about the right time…

Anyway, what transpired of the recordings turned into the 3rd iteration of Eno’s Ambient album series. It features 5 tracks with the dulcimer mainly treated with reverbs to bliss out the sound. It looks at first glance that this might be a treat of relaxation.

However it is not.

What starts out as beguiling ends up after 45 minutes as plain fucking irritating! The problem is that the percussive sound is actually quite stimulating which gives the music it’s immediacy, however after 20 minutes of the aural treat, it becomes something akin to tinnitus and can drive the milder soul to thoughts of murder. As is the case with this album. As a display of the lovely dulcimer it’s great, but as a work of ambience, it is truly a disaster. Just No, Make It Stop!

There is a bright side…

I’m guessing it was due to working with Brian, that Laraaji ended up working with his brother, Roger Eno, who had teamed up with Kate St John and Bill Nelson to create an ‘Ambient Supergroup’ called Channel Light Vessel. They made only 2 albums together. A shame because there was a lot of potential. I’ll probably revisit this one later…

 

 

 

Great Ambient Music (one)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some music stays with you forever.

Evening Star is a work of aching beauty at times. Using their own techniques of recording, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, cooled the tone after ‘No Pussyfooting’ which was an altogether spikier affair. This time they embraced the fullness of ambience and allowed the music to guide itself with cynicism kept at bay enabling pastoral, very English pieces to emerge.

Using Frippertronics, (an early form of looping using a looping length of recording tape on which the sound decayed over repeated playing enabling an ever evolving soundscape) along with Eno’s synthesisers, the backgrounds were created with solos played by eno on ‘Wind on Wind’ and Fripp on ‘Evening Star’ for example.

I recently came across this absolute gem of small group of classical musicians performing the title track using Cellos to replicate the lead parts and although the film is poor quality, the sound is good and it’s just gorgeous – link