uncharacteristic productivity

I don’t know if I’ve been feeling particularly inspired lately, but I’ve definitely been feeling productive. Today I submitted my entry for Tunestorm02, a music challenge that called for creating a track entirely from samples of household items. Last Tunestorm I whipped up something really rough and ready at the last minute, but this time I put the effort in and came up with a proper track that I’m actually pretty happy with.

With that done, that’s four tracks I’ve finished in the last two months. Sure, one was a cover, and one was a bit of cheap ambient art-wank, but that’s still more than I managed last year, and we’re only a few months in. I think it’s just the result of practice more than anything — I’m definitely getting quicker, not just with the tools, but with the writing and arranging as well. Working with some new tools, like Seq24, has helped as well I think.

I don’t have any particular ideas right now, but I’m sure I’ll jump on my PC over the weekend and start playing around with something!

testing ubuntu lucid

Ubuntu 10.04, aka Lucid Lynx, is just a couple of days away, so I’ve been testing it on my laptop to see just how it’s coming along. I rely too much on both my laptop and my desktop to mess with new OSs before they’ve been released (or even just after they’ve been released), but I do keep a little 4GB partition spare on my laptop, so that I can install and test new releases without messing up my primary install.

So far, it’s looking really good. The new visual theme is great to look at, and while it still insists on moving the close/minimise/maximise widgets in window title bars, it at least puts the close button in most accessible place, in the far left. It also has “teh snappy” — Firefox 3.6 on 10.04 snaps tabs around just as quickly as Chrome did on 9.10. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I suspect it’s an Intel video driver update at play.

In terms of music-making, 10.04 gets two big improvements: JACK is now in the “main” repository, which means that a bunch of apps that didn’t ship with JACK support in earlier versions now can (and do), and LV2 support is much more widespread, with major apps like Ardour supporting LV2 out-of-the-box, and more LV2 plug-ins (such as the Invada pack) available as standard packages. The JACK package now automatically sets itself up to get realtime priority access, removing a manual configuration step that’s often a stumbling block for users new to Linux audio.

new track: tiny droplets

Two tracks in as many months? Madness! This is another ambient track, but without the drone — it has more of an early Aphex Twin vibe, but with some glitchy drums. I sequenced this in seq24, a pattern-based sequencer designed for live use, and in fact this was originally a “live” take, which I’ve edited and added to. Apart from that, it’s the usual suspects — Blofeld on the synth sounds and some drums, Hydrogen on the rest of the drums, recorded/mixed in Ardour.

mp3 / vorbis / flac: 4 minutes 26 seconds

sketchbook: enjoy the silence

Here’s one for the Depeche Mode fans — a cover of Enjoy the Silence, which is fairly faithful to the original. Since buying my fancy-pants mic last year I hadn’t actually sung anything (even though I have done a crapload of podcast recording), so this is me correcting that, and also having some fun with synths and sequencing. I did a lot of this on the laptop, so there are more Linux soft synths in there, but I still pulled out the Blofeld for the bass and the “beeeeow” sound in the chorus. Let me know what you think of the results!

mp3 | vorbis | 4:10