rpm 2012: the final update!

I’ve just posted my RPM 2012 entry off to RPM HQ, so the challenge is officially complete! The album is called “far side of the mün”, in honour of Kerbal Space Program, and you can stream it from Bandcamp right here! If you want to download a copy, just follow the “Download” link below.

While it wasn’t required at all for the challenge, I think the time I put in to the jewel case design paid off; I even took my final design down to the local office store and had it printed on some nice weighty gloss paper. Here’s how the final CD looked:

far side of the mün -- front cover

far side of the mün -- back cover

As you’d expect, it’s all electronic, but it spans the genres a bit, from sombre ambient pieces through to more upbeat electronic, chiptune, and industrial tracks. None of it is perfect, but given the time constraints I’m pretty happy with the overall result; I’ll post a more detailed post-mortem later on. For now, feel free to stream, download, and enjoy!

new track: texel

After a few last-minute tweaks, I’m finally ready to release my new track. The plan is for this to be the first track of an EP that will be available for download from Bandcamp, but I’m sure that won’t happen for several months, so I wanted to post the track here early to give everyone a chance to hear it. It’s a downbeat, ambient techno-kinda thing I call “Texel”:


mp3 | ogg | flac | 3 minutes 16 seconds

I talked a little about the production in an earlier post, but I have included some further details after the jump.
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album release: sketchbook: vol 1

It was about two years ago that I released my first new track in ages, and since then I’ve surprised myself a bit by sticking with it, producing new tracks every few months. There’s enough there for an album now, so I’ve decided to bundle my tracks together and set them up as an album on Bandcamp:

http://pneuman.bandcamp.com/album/sketchbook-vol-1

It’s a free download, and you can grab it in whatever format you like, all tagged up and ready to go! Even though it’s a bit of an odd mix of tracks, it feels great to have an album’s worth of tracks to my name. With any luck, my next album’s worth will be a little more thematically consistent.

new track: new version of “move along”

I’ve released the updated version of my new track, titled “move along” — it’s the same song (no extra parts were recorded), but I’ve re-balanced all of the elements based on feedback I received, bringing out more of the drums and vocals, and pushing the piano back so that it doesn’t dominate. I’ve replaced the old version with this one, so if you stream it from the original post you’ll get the new version, but I’ve also included it again here. You can also get it from my Bandcamp.


mp3 | ogg | flac | 3 minutes 47 seconds

new track: move along

This track has been a long time coming, but it’s finally done! It’s my first original track with lyrics; it’s about leaving my job after so many years there, though I wouldn’t read too much in to the words. It’s certainly a departure from my usual electronic stuff — this has just piano, bass, drums, and vocals — so I’m keen to hear what people think of it.

You can download or stream it below, or at Bandcamp. Some production notes are under the cut.


mp3 | ogg | flac | 3 minutes 47 seconds

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sketchbook: bouncy game music

Here’s another quick piece done quickly for a purpose: my friend Switchbreak spent the weekend developing a short Flash game for the So Many Rooms game jam, where each developer had 36 hours to produce a game that challenges the player to get from a starting door to an ending door, using whatever obstacles or gameplay mechanics they like. Switchbreak’s game is full of bouncing balls, so when he asked me to produce a quick tune for him, I made sure that it was appropriately bouncy.

This was whipped up on Sunday night mostly in Qtractor, with Hydrogen for the drums, and my Blofeld for all the other sounds. I’d normally record everything in to Ardour and mix it there, but I stayed in Qtractor for this one, and it did a fine job; I had no trouble replicating my usual trick of running the drums on to separate tracks so that I can apply individual effects to each, for instance. The result is a bit trite, but it’s fun, it loops pretty smoothly, and I think it suits the game well.


mp3 | vorbis | flac | 1:18

sketchbook: tunestorm 04

There was another Tunestorm challenge earlier this month, and in the finest tradition of such things, I threw together an entry at the last minute. The challenge this time was to make a piece using a sample taken from a spinning hard drive, which sounded just like a sine wave that slowly dropped in pitch.

You could use other sounds, too, but I chose not to — I loaded a chunk of the original sound in to a sampler (Specimen), ran it through some distortion effects, then through PHASEX, where I tweaked away on the filter in real-time using my Korg nanoKONTROL, and finally through some spatial effects. The result was some throbbing, unsettling ambient art-wankery that I call “pulse”.


mp3 | vorbis | flac | 2:50

new track: phase transition

It’s been about six weeks since I posted my little SooperLooper jam, and here it is in its final form, or at least what became of it. This was a difficult one to pull together — I initially just polished my sketch version of it, but that didn’t give me the results I was after, so I ended up ditching that effort and re-arranging it from scratch, finally getting an inspiration for the central progression and ending last week. Once I had that idea, it didn’t take long on the weekend to flesh it out.

This is another Seq24/Hydrogen/Ardour recording, with Blofeld synths, though I also created my own drum sounds (mostly on the Blofeld again) for this one. I also used PHASEX as the synth for the lead arpeggio — it’s a simple patch, but I really liked how it sounded, so it stayed in the final version.

EDIT: Turns out that the download links were broken! I’ve fixed them now, so if you had trouble downloading, please try again now.


mp3 | ogg | flac | 5 minutes 4 seconds

sketchbook: a sooperlooper jam

SooperLooper is proving to be a lot of fun! Last weekend I fired it up and did some impromptu jamming, following this basic formula:

  • Slap together a basic four-bar drum pattern in Hydrogen
  • Export that pattern as a loop and import it in to SooperLooper as loop 1
  • Play a bunch of random crap over the top, and if it sounds okay, grab a loop of it
  • Lather, rinse, repeat

I saved those sessions, and had a quick stab at turning one of them in to a proper track, which I call “sl3”, by importing the loops in to Ardour and moving/coping them in to an arrangement. I also threw in some effects for good measure: EQ, a couple of delays (can’t help myself with those!), and an insert out to Rakarrack to add some guts to my fairly limp bass loop. I’m sure I could make it more interesting by re-recording a few parts — replacing the drum loop with a properly programmed part with a bit of variety, for instance — but hey, for an hour-and-a-half’s work, I think it sounds okay!


mp3 | vorbis | 2:27

new track: frozen summer

The Tunestorm02 reveal was today, so I can now post my submission for it: a breezy little tune that, for want of a better title, I called “frozen summer”. In accordance with the rules, it’s made entirely from sounds sampled around my house — there’s our doorbell, a blown beer bottle, and a stretched out balloon that I strummed to get a bass sound, along with percussive sounds from hitting various things (mainly my coffee machine).

Software-wise, I used Specimen for the melodic samples, Hydrogen for the drum samples, and seq24 for sequencing, before recording and mixing in Ardour. I’ve also uploaded my Hydrogen kit in case anyone’s curious.


mp3 / vorbis / flac: 2 minutes 48 seconds