Monday, 1 July 2013

News Roundup

The busier I am the less frequently I seem to update this site, despite possibly having more than usual to talk about ;-) I guess I've been busy. VERY busy... So here's a (somewhat overdue) whistle-stop roundup of both recent and imminent happenings, some of which I may have mentioned previously in passing, and others that are brand spanking new - Be prepared for a hodgepodge of subject-matter:

Since last blogging way back in early Feb' there have been a few fresh reviews published, both of 'Faith In Worthless Things' (which is still finding new audiences) and the more recent spin-off remix collection 'The Cracks Within. Some of these have been reproduced on the Reviews page here.

Tribe Magazine (of whom I'm now a Trustee) recently published a new interview with me. It's available to read in the Audio section of their site, plus I've added the text to the Interviews section here (alongside January's Specimen 13 feature).

Here's an interesting one: A few weeks back I 'accidentally' discovered that in February I was on the list of nominees for the Music Producers Guild (MPG) Awards 2013. Though I didn't win it's nice to know my that name was apparently in the mix...

Speaking of "in the mix" I recently completed post-production for the forthcoming album 'New Peace' by US drummer / artist Troy Jones. The project was produced by my friend & collaborator Markus Reuter with post-production & mixing handled by myself, (I also mastered the CD). I thoroughly enjoyed mixing this record which contains stellar performances from a number of guest players including Adrian Belew (King Crimson, David Bowie), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, David Bowie), Tobias Reber (centrozoon), Alex Dowerk (ZweiTon), and Erik Emil Esklidsen (The Friendly Guitar Trio), as well as Markus himself. Despite the chiefly minimalist nature of the compositions there were many wonderful details in the performances that I was able to pull to the fore during the mix process, resulting in a robust, three-dimentional, multi-textured sound with an uber-strong groove factor! I'll post further details once a release date is set.

I'm currently producing 'Unrecorded Beam', the forthcoming album by the superb 7-piece band Billy Bottle & The Multiple. This project should see the light of day during the second half of 2013, but will be my main focus for the next month or two. It's a concept album (in the very best way) based around a poetry fuelled song-cycle, but I'll talk about this more when post-production is complete... The standard of musicianship is tremendous - Once again I'm blessed to be working with an abundance of musical talent.

Since last posting I've also completed and uploaded a couple of new OLDER THAN GOD 'webisodes', both of which profile Markus's time within the Europa String Choir and feature exclusive interviews / performances from the band.

In May I was once again a guest speaker at the A2D Music Expo - This was my third year on the trot! Lots of fun was had with friends new and old.

Looking a little further afield I'm already writing material for my next 'solo' album :-) Mainly lyric-writing at this stage, (lots of it), though some melodies / chord structures exist in demo-form and an overall feel is emerging. I'm incredibly excited about this project, but I'm not going to rush things - For now I have other production commitments, but I'll be quietly working on this in the background until later in the year when it'll move centre-stage and recording will begin. There'll be some returning players from 'Faith in Worthless Things', though I intend to mix things up a little and bring a few new folks into the team :-) Much as I'd like to share a morsel or two with you I won't be doing so for a while... ;-)

Another project I'll be producing this year will be Markus Reuter's next solo album. Despite being one of the most prolific musicians on the planet it's been some years (seven to be precise) since he last put out a solo record... Soundscapes were recorded in Innsbruck this past weekend, and I'll begin sifting through the raw material over the coming weeks. I already have some ideas / plans for the sonic direction.

Last, but by absolutely no means least, Markus, Lisa and I (together with guest performers Tony Levin, Tim Motzer, Alan Burton and Tobias Reber) released a new single a couple of weeks ago, ('Islands' - a Mike Oldfield cover)... I'll save all the latest on this for a future blog post - No really, I will!

Btw, even when I fail on an epic scale to blog regularly I do tend to update other areas of the site quite routinely, so it's sometimes worth having a nose around to play "spot the change" :-)

Lee x

Friday, 8 February 2013

Within 'The Cracks Within'... FiWT Remixes | MS Fundraising

I've never been particularly fond of remixes on the whole, possibly because all too often they jar with the mood and sentiment of the original, and perhaps I’ve heard one too many lazy efforts that essentially slap vocal samples over an unrelated dance beat...

So, what better way for me to kick-off 2013 than with a remix collection?! ;-)

As far as I'm concerned 'Faith in Worthless Things' was complete the moment I sent the masters to the pressing plant. I'd worked on it a long time, and If there were any inclination (on my part) to tinker further I would have done so back then – The CD / download is the default version and it is what it is... I did briefly consider remixing a couple of tunes for a proposed single release, but having already ingrained my DNA into the originals I wasn’t suitably motivated to reinvent the wheel. Better to save my creative energy and ideas for a follow-up album, (which, incidentally, is already in gestation).

But then it dawned on me – I'm fortunate to have a lot of talented musician / producer friends, each with their own unique sonic language. The idea of a specially curated album of remixes by some of these guys & girls began to appeal. If presented as a body of work, rather than random one-off mixes floating around the web, it could be an interesting and musically valid spin-off from the album.

I approached several people that I pretty much knew would sidestep those remix clich├ęs I loved to loath, and luckily they all said yes immediately! One of the rules I set myself was to only invite folks that hadn't appeared on the parent album, though I immediately broke that directive by asking Tim Motzer! ;-) He's the exception though, and his mix is of a track he didn’t originally feature on.

So, what songs to include? Whilst the production and arrangements of all the songs on 'FiWT' were important – almost an extension of the songwriting really – there were a couple of pieces that felt more readily open to reinterpretation: 'The Inner Voice', which was the closest thing to a conventional pop song on there, plus the title track which was musically quite sparse (deliberately so). Both also had particularly suggestive lyrics that might help conjure fresh musical ideas. Compiling an album that features only two songs might have been limiting, but I had faith (see what I did there?) that the material would be diverse enough to carry it. So that was that - I gave the remixers the choice of either song, (Ingo Vogelmann opted to tackle both), prepared audio stems from my original mixes, and handed the reins over...

The only real brief I gave was for them to follow their gut and do what felt right. I also asked that they respect the lyric and try not to break it up too much – Thankfully Tobias Reber ignored the latter request and significantly rearranged the words, but did so in a brilliant way that enhanced his rendition and still managed to convey the core 'message' in a stark and beautiful fashion :-)

Here's the full cast of remixers:

Tim Motzer (track 1)
Tobias Reber (track 2)
Worldengine (track 3)
Hollowcreature (track 4)
Ingo Vogelmann (tracks 5 & 9)
Adrian Benavides (track 6)
Branwen Somatik (track 7)
Fabio Trentini (track 8)

I'm truly grateful to all of these folks for their enthusiasm and creativity!

'The Cracks Within' came to me as a title almost from the outset. Not only is it a quote from the song 'Faith in Worthless Things' but it seemed especially fitting as these mixes would to some extent be exploring the sonic cracks (or 'grooves' if we're gonna be old-school) within my original arrangements. Together with designer Oscar Henriquez (who had worked on the previous release) I put together a deliberately stark cover design for the collection, one that echoes a particular detail of the (physical CD) packaging for 'FiWT' - It also alludes to the eight remixers in an abstract (but probably obvious now I've said it) kinda way...

As for the results? Well both my co-featured artists (Lisa Fletcher and Markus Reuter) and I are delighted! No two pieces are alike. There's "something for everyone", as the saying goes... Some renditions are alternate views of the originals, whilst others are almost new compositions entirely, built around the lyrics and vocal melody. It's a good balance I think, and whichever approach has been taken all of them are clearly linked to their origins. I think in summary I would describe this collection as a "sonic parallel universe" to that which is presented on 'Faith in Worthless Things'.

It's been interesting for me to see / hear the various angles explored by individual remixers. Some choices I wouldn't have made, but that's entirely the point! They are fascinating nonetheless :-) I only got directly involved on two or three occasions, after being actively invited to give feedback, and even then my comments were minimal – I didn't want to influence anyone's stylistic approach or expression. For the most part I stepped back.

I'm pretty sure that I'll work with several (possibly all?) of these folks again, and not only in a remix capacity. So the project also has added value to me as R & D for potential future collaborations :-)

During the process I considered several different distribution models for the project, including pressing a physical CD. But ultimately that wouldn’t have been cost-effective, and whilst it's presented as a collection it's not really the follow-up album to 'FiWT', so better to make that distinction. Plus, I wanted to ensure that as many folks as possible got to hear this work, so it made sense to keep it online and essentially FREE.

Having decided not to personally benefit financially from this release I wanted to see to it that at least some money would go to a very deserving cause - Therefore everyone who downloads the album is invited to consider making a donation to the MS Society, a (UK-based) charity that supports those with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and helps fund much needed research into this currently incurable disease. My mother has a very extreme case of MS that has rendered her mostly paralysed, so it’s a cause that is very close to my heart.

I have no qualms about adopting a Bob Geldof style persona for this bit: If you download the music and get some pleasure from it PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING to the MS SOCIETY. Think of it as 'sponsorship' for the music... Thank you :-)

The best way to support the fundraising is to make your donation via the special 'Just Giving' page I've created for the project, (either click on the image above, or go HERE...) Just Giving pass the money securely and transparently to the MS Society, so it's a clean and simple way to get involved.

Alternatively, any donations made via the Bandcamp page for 'The Cracks Within' will be manually transferred by myself to the Just Giving fund. Some folks have already done this... PLEASE NOTE however that Bandcamp take a 15% cut of the transaction, whereas Just Giving will pass all your money onto the charity.

The choice to donate or not is yours... Either way, we hope you enjoy the remix collection and ask that you share all the relevant links (Bandcamp download & Just Giving) with any friends and contacts that you think may be interested. Thank you!

Lee x

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

FiWT Voted 'Best Album' by Progopolis

The lovely folks at (US radio show) Progopolis have chosen 'Faith in Worthless Things' as their 'Best Album of 2012' in the show's annual "best-of" roundup :-)

I'm hugely grateful to hosts Vince & Daisy Jane for their ongoing support. Some of you may recall that Vince previously published positive reviews of both 'FiWT' and 'Propeller' (a previous production of mine), both of which are reproduced in the Reviews section of this site.

Previously broadcast Progopolis shows (including the aforementioned episode) are available to stream or download HERE, or by clicking the image below...

The show is always great fun, with a truly eclectic mix of tunes that go way beyond what one may readily think of as 'prog' music...

You'll also find them on the ol' Book of Face (of course).

Stay safe.

Lee x

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Tribe Magazine

At the end of 2012 I was approached by Tribe Magazine (digital purveyors of contemporary arts) and invited to join the management board as a Trustee. Having followed their excellent work from issue one it didn't take me long to accept...

Today marks the organisation's first birthday, so what better time to properly announce my association and encourage friends and followers to check them out :-)

More than a 'just' a digital magazine, Tribe is an arts platform created with the sole intention of showcasing the best in creative arts practice from around the world. Free to the end user, with no adverts or sponsored content, yet the same high standards one would expect from a premium print publication.

Whilst the focus has primarily been on the visual arts to date selected musicians (such as Steve Jansen in issue one) have been under the spotlight too. Over time this element will increase, not only in the magazine but via the website's associated features - This is an area where I can give particular strategic assistance to the editorial team...

Naturally there's also the obligatory Facebook Page for those who like to "like"... And don't we all? ;-)

Please show them some love - They'll love you for it, (and you may discover some wonderful art in the process).

Lee x

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Interview - Pt 1

Denis Rodier of Specimen 13 (whose 'Echosystem' EP I mastered) recently interviewed me for the S13 blog. You can view part one here, (or by clicking the image below).

The second instalment will be published in about a fortnight...

DJ / Producer / Composer Ingo Vogelmann also links to the above-mentioned interview in a recent blog, as well as sharing his thoughts on 'Faith in Worthless Things' (which he describes as "one of my top albums of 2012/2013...") Again, click on the image to get there.

Thanks guys! I'm honoured to have the support of such talented folks :-)

Lee x