I got a postcard!

And although it may seem terribly ridiculous, I’m so happy about that!

Since we all moved to e-mail, instant messaging, texting and that stuff, it was years since I last got a real, physical postcard, delivered by snail mail.

It was such a nice pleasure to find it there instead of bank statements or commercial letters! And that joy of opening it while wondering how it will look and what will the message be!

Actually my birthday isn’t today, it is on Sunday. I was trying to wait until then for tearing the envelope but I have only been able to resist two hours.

Ableton and me

After having seen the excellent results that Neurokin and AMB get with Ableton, I decided to give it a go. That was some months ago – in fact, more than one year ago, now that I recall. First time I tried, I couldn’t really understand how it worked, with all those modes for sequencing and arranging and what not.

I’m more used to the more plain way of arranging notes which is used in trackers (in fact, some people say it is like assembly code for music), so being able to move so freely around is kind of confusing to me.

But past week I brought back my goal of understanding Ableton and suddenly all of it made sense. Or almost all…

The missing part is something which nobody has ever mentioned: the controls response. I can’t find a way of moving those knobs in a predictable manner. If I move the mouse just a little, they hardly move. If I move the mouse slightly more, they all of a sudden move towards the maximum/minimum value (it’s all quite random) making the whole idea of a knob completely useless and rendering it into a nice round on/off switch: it’s either zero or all.

How am I supposed to move those knobs in a soft and sweet manner? I have tried displacing the mouse left/right or up/down while holding clicked the left button, plus several combinations with the right mouse, shift, control, command, and even tried to use my MIDI keyboard’s knobs but nothing worked as I wanted/hoped.

Then in a sudden fury went to Schism tracker and built one pattern in 3 minutes, in a futile try to forget about my Ableton sorries. It wasn’t good at all and the samples sounded horribly plain (once you have been playing with all those reverbs and echo’s and autopannings from Ableton, everything else seems an old crappy instrument). It frustrated me and then I began to think about how could I connect all those pieces of software using MIDI, like when I managed to send MIDI data to Reason from Schism Tracker using some MacOSX internal routing, but I didn’t want to get even more frustrated because of the latency so I just went to Reason and continued a bit of the remix that I started when I saw that r08028 had done a remix of Hard Dreamings

I have advanced a little bit more of that remix today but it’s still nowhere near being finished. At least it’s being fun to do it, and seems that my musical blockage is slowly fading away and I am able again to elaborate melodies and all that, so I’m happy, even if I can’t understand how to control those cheeky ableton knobs.

A night at Old Street

Schmoof at Bar and Kitchen Hoxton Square

I went yesterday to Schmoof new album The Glamour release party. It was at Hoxton’s Bar & Kitchen and that only means one thing: TONS OF COOLNESS!

As I was waiting for mr.doob to meet me, lots of megatrendy people passed by. Since I normally just see gothic & punk people there at Camden with their tons of piercings and black leather clothing, I was delighted with the contrast: Summer-of-54 glasses, funky hats, urbanites and modernites. Maybe a bit of a preparation for Schmoof’s gig…

After having dinner at one cool place which played music that I liked -and had cube lamps like ours, but hanging upside down, we went on to a (short) exploratory tour along Shoreditch High Street. I had that deja-vu feeling which was systematically rejected by doob (No, you haven’t been here before) and also found a guy cheekly flirting with me for the second time in a day (first one was in the tube). Don’t know what was going on with me! It might be Spring time.

We finally went towards Hoxton Square and onto the gig venue. First one we saw after paying and entering the venue was Lloyd Schmoof. Actually we almost ran over him since he was so close to the door!

There was a group playing first. They said they were something like Red Pepper but I couldn’t find their page at the infamous myspace. Must say they were nice, specially liked the Japanese guitarist, and all the energy he put into playing. They kind of reminded me to The Long Blondes but in a more poppy way.

Finally and after all the neccessary hardware preparations, including the cruel Sinclair Spectrum loader routine sound playing high and loud in the speakers (which happens to be Track 13 in the new album) while the visuals were loaded, Schmoof got on the stage.

First song to be played was my favourite: Rock Wife. I love the yeah-yeah samples, and I like so much the song that I can’t decide about what to do for the remix contest they were organising (they provided their samples for people to remix that song). But I’ll do something one day, I promise!

The venue wasn’t packed with people like last time I saw them (at Ginglik, Shepherd’s Bush) so I could even dance a bit which was very appropriate since they are introducing stronger drum sounds in their style, while still keeping their warm electro touch. Backseat driver with its crazy Yamaha guitar-keyboard solo was almost ecstatic, and Northern Line was terribly funny with that Kimono-dressed guest singer and the heart-shaped Tube bulls-eye sign being drawn in the screen with big and blocky ZX pixels… ahhh we were back in the eighties for a while!

As always it felt too short, I think they’ve got enough songs for playing some more minutes, and I also think they should remix or improvise a bit more when doing lives, that would make things way more unpredictable … and even funnier!

UPDATE: found this video at youtube