Archive for August, 2011

videos and hackery

Thanks to Zorp, who was in the audience at the Gypsy last month, I have a couple of live videos on my YouTube channel! If you’re reading this on the band site, you might notice a new videos tab, to match. Guess what it does! XD Here, have a video:


Live at the Gypsy Cafe; Video courtesy Zorp

That’s “Something’s Coming.” I’ve also posted the first recording – from the same performance – of “World Trapped in Amber,” which will appear on Din of Thieves.

I celebrated Seafair Weekend by rebuilding a 1978-era Pioneer power amp. I’ve had this thing kicking around for a while, and have used it as a monitor amp in the studio, but it’s always been noisy and kind of cruddy, and I was going to replace it until I found out that audio fidelity in my price range has actually been going downhill for the last 10-15 years as more and more money gets put into remote-control/iPod and iPhone interfacing/digital output/etc and less into basic sound quality.

I’ve never thought much of this amp, really; I picked it up used, for no money to speak of. Turns out replacing a whole fleet of really old capacitors makes it A GOD AMONGST AMPLIFIERS. Well, okay, not really. But – re-capped – it has one of the cleanest transistor preamps I’ve ever heard. Cranked all the way up to maximum output on all drivers, the preamp noise level in studio reference headphones is ZERO. You hear nothing. It’s fucking inaudible. And silence on speakers, too. It’s kind of shocking.

I still have some more work to do – I’ve got distortion on channel two on speakers only (headphones are pristine) caused by me trying to hack together the correct replacement cap value when I didn’t have it, and the tone control board is still a noise fountain and still needs the other half of its caps swapped. (Right now I’ve got it bypassed, and you shouldn’t be using that shit in a studio anyway, but I like having all the functionality of a piece of equipment available.) If finishing the rebuild doesn’t solve the tone board noise issues, I’ll leave it bypassed. Or maybe add a switch, to cut it in and out. ‘Cause this amp sounds great now. Seriously, I had no idea.

It’s no Dynaco ST70, don’t get me wrong. But I never knew it was capable of really sounding good. Turns out, in fact: fuck yeah! And that’s the kind of surprise I could use a lot more often. If you have some hackery in you, and see an old Pioneer (or similar) amp hanging out in a garage sale or thrift store or something, and it powers up at all – buy it and recap it, it’s probably worth the rebuild. This one was.

That’s what I did with my Seafair weekend. What about you?

mystery song, broken things, remixed song

I’ve been learning to play melody parts on zouk and mandolin – you might notice the lack of zouk or mandolin solos in the studio album? there’s a reason for that – and I started playing this tune, which I’ve known for forever, and which, in my headcanon, everybody in the world knows.

I’m wondering what it’s called. None of the tune recognition software knows it, and I’ve been asking people and turns out in reality, almost nobody knows it at all! It has an A part and a B part so I thought it was perhaps Irish, and I have it in my head it might be French in some way, but Ellen (whose mom is from Japan) says it sounds Japanese to her.

Here, have a quick recording I just made on my cell phone. Do you know this? If you do, what is it? And is there somewhere that everybody knows this song, or did I just make that part up:

What is this song? Clickie for mp3!

Also, last weekend, I got BONGOS! at a yard sale for cheap and fixed the cracks and refurbished everything else. (I like reclaiming abandoned instruments.) They look like this now:

If I hold them vertically with the smaller drum on top I can play them like some kind of two-tone bodhran, which sounds totally weird but kinda awesome.

Someday I’ll learn to play instruments the correct way. Hopefully not too soon tho’. XD

Finally! I remixed the Cracksman Betty version of “Paddy Murphy,” with new vocals on the first verse and chorus. I like this one better, I think it’s more fun. (Go ahead, you try to sing “O’Leary came with the bagpipes, some music for to play” sober. Can’t be done. BOOST THE ALCOHOL LEVELS TEN! MORE! POINTS!) It’s also a pay-what-you-like download. Enjoy:

I think I’ve really improved as a vocalist – and certainly become more consistent as one – over the last few months.

No time to post Friday, busy. Have a good weekend!

sometimes monday is totally awesome

Hello, London! and listeners across the globe on the ARfm live stream! I just heard that one of our tracks, “When You Leave,” is on your station a few times this week, courtesy Paul Baker’s Soundscapes programme! That is so awesome I do not have words for how much awesome is is crammed into that. Hee hee hee hee Cascadian elfmetal bands say HELLO, LONDON! o/

We’re new, so all this is a big deal for us and we’re not being cool and detached about it, not even a little. Fuck that! This is awesome and we’re not afraid to say so. o/

So poke around the site a bit! Click on the Music link above to free-stream our music, including the new studio album Dick Tracy Must Die, the live EP Espionage (Live from Mars), and the ongoing piracy-and-revolution Cracksman Betty project. There’s also a mailing list you can join to get occasional newsletters and free downloads, and you can friend us on Facebook.

If you like what you hear, tell your friends! We don’t have any gigs in the UK yet, but we’d love to change that!


ETA: Bubo G. Gear just messaged telling me I’m between Betsy Tinney and Laura Palmer on his Dementia Radio-hosted Shifting Gears show tomorrow, Tuesday 2 August 2011, at 4pm Cascadian/Pacific! (That’s 9am London, 1pm Eastern. Archive here, if you missed it.) Talk about some good fuckin’ company, what!

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