You been holdin' out on me?

j0, all you engineers and producers – you been holdin’ out on me. How come never any of you felt it appropriate to explain to me exactly how goddamn useful automation is? Huh? ‘Cause damn.

And Ardour’s automation tools are both effective and easy to use! It’s freakishly unlike Ardour to be this way, so I’m appreciative. Even if it did assplode my machine today for a while, about which I will now rant.

Because srsly, it was like some sort of goddamn movieOS crash. Windows popping up everywhere scrolling errors at machine rate? Persisting across reboots and hardware resets?That was neat. I figured either something very obscure but trivial had happened and I’d lose a few hours to figuring it out, or I’d just lost weeks of work, ’cause I couldn’t even get Ardour stable enough to export individual tracks – no audio sources or sinks would stay online. I mean nothing worked.

So I started googling and eventually I found a French webaite talking avout something similar in another JackAudio-enabled app environment and ended up reading up on PulseAudio, which Ubuntu Studio won’t let you not install and which plays very badly with JackAudio. So I spent a few hours in the guts of the install making it not launch PulseAudio. (You can’t just uninstall it. APT also tries to uninstall the desktop manager as a dependancy. NOT FUNNY!)

And that’s something I’d been wanting to do eventually, because it’s been problematic for me and causing performance problems, but I had it reasonably working some months ago – they’re supposed to work together – and left it alone after that while I tried to get actual work done. But I guess the Time had Come, so I read up on how to force Ubuntu Studio not to launch pulseaudio (nontrivial) and hid all its utilities (srsly it launches this shit like five different places) and reconfigured Jack and, as I put on moo:

You say, “realtime kernel active… pulseaudio confirmed nonstarting… JackAudio running…”
You say, “outputs ACTIVATED”
You say, “automation engaging… engaged!”
You say, “running… FUCK.”
You say, “wait I think I see it”
You say, “fuck. restarting”
You say, “godDAMMIT that was behaving SO much better.”
Anna aw
You say, “it _is_ behaving better tho – enough to show me something…”
You say, “I think I have a corrupt automation event… <deletes> <restarts>”
You say, “…and outputs up… ”
You say, “…dsp at 29% and stable…”
You say, “about to start automation…”
You say, “automation running…”
You say, “so far so good…”
You say, “Jack and ALSA reporting no errors yet…”
You say, “approaching fail point… still running!”
You say, “past crash point…”
You say, “end of song!”
Solarbird collapses. “Automation shutdown orderly, transport stop normal, JACK and ALSA report all is well. It’s fixed. That was scary and unpleasant! But at least repairable.”

An hour and a half actually working on stuff, three-odd hours of fixing the world, really, that’s about what I expect. I go back and forth on all this – I mean, in the middle of All That, if somebody had squawked “OPEN SOURCE IS THE FUTURE!” at me I’d have punched them right in the face. But once it’s working again, well, at least I have tools.

Even if they explode sometimes at random, like people on LOST.

First public booking of the summer

I love getting the first booking of the summer confirmed. Love it. I’m in talks with a bunch of different venue managers and should have a lot of dates to announce, hopefully soon. But this is the first one confirmed. It’s Dara solo, not the whole band, for reasons probably obvious:

May 13, 2010, Kirkland Wednesday Market, Marina Park, Kirkland, Washington. Time TBA.

If it’s their usual thing, they’ll have a stage tent and some audience seating. But it might be the gazebo, which would be nice. And also funny, because gazebo!

Hey, should I do this?

Hey, waddya think, should I do The Stranger‘s Gong Show? “Shout at the Desert” fits in four minutes, it’s played on a Weird Instrument (Irish bouzouki), and I don’t need anything more than the mic and an amp they provide. Hell, you see any reason not to do it? ‘Cause if you don’t, I think I should.

Assuming my voice is back, I mean. This sucks. I’m on day 3.5 of antibiotics and I feel fine except for my throat which is still lumpy and stupid. (This is how I always get sick: I get tired and a sore throat and generally that’s all there is to it.)

This throat fuckery is really starting to bother me badly. I almost had an emotional breakdown on Friday because I cannot, cannot, cannot stand the idea of my voice getting fucked up on me the day after I lay down the best fucking vocal tracks I’ve ever laid down ever, and I keep having nightmares (daymores?) about not being able to sing anymore now that I’m finally making my voice start to do the things I want it to do. Then I found out “oh look, I have strep” and thought “okay! Tuesday was just the start of symptoms and I got strep throat last weekend. I can deal with that. Hello, antibiotics! Glad to see you [nom].”

But I should be feeling better in the throat by now and I’m not. So I’m getting all fucked up again and I can’t find the name of that ENT on the eastside who sees all the Seattle Symphony Chorale people and is a specialist at working with singers and and and hate.

I hate this so much. It feels like every time I have a srs breakthrough I get a facepunch back in change and have to recover from that. This is yet another one of those times and I’m just AGJKJAHFLSUGFLIUEFGWKUYFD!!! I want to punch some things BUT MY ARMS ARE TOO FUCKED UP adhsflalifuhalweifuhawel (no they’re not worse they’re just the normal bad. But that’s bad enough.)

I should take my antibiotic and go to bed. Today was actually a pretty good day other than that. I did some Norwescon wrap-up, all my laundry, some post-tax paperwork cleanup, and today is housecleaning day and I was a sparkling fury of housekeeping, even where the cats threw up hairballs overnight, like they do. I got a lot of stuff done. I just want a throat that works.

actually…

…it looks like I can edit together two takes I already have. They’re really pretty reasonable. A couple of timing issues but nothing I can fix with tiny snips, and there are a couple of places with a bit of level issues (a couple of notes are a tad hot, a couple are a little too restrained) but I need to learn automation anyway, and it’ll be a good exercise. (Not just for here.) I could fix the three or four problems with that, and maybe should do. And most importantly, Anna likes it. ^_^

This song is mostly on the high end – it’s all mandolin and percussion – so having a bass solo over the bridge really throws it into tonal balance. The bass is as big a surprise here as the flute is on “Artefacts,” but without the shrieking. Ha! I wish I’d thought of that on purpose. Maybe in the liner notes I’ll call it an intentional counterpoint.

take that, primus

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA “Let Me Help” gets a bass guitar solo TAKE THAT PRIMUS!

Really, it’s far too sedate to be compared to anything Primus – “Let Me Help” is Dick Tracy Must Die‘s only slow song, a ballad that I wrote to Anna, and I mean, I’ve only been playing bass a month, so, um, yeah. But it is an actual bass solo, and it’s totally the right thing to do here. I’ll need to re-record parts of it ’cause I’m only good enough to fake it in studio, not get it all right in one take, but the idea is down now.

(Jazz background peeking out? The deuce you say! Hi, have you met my flutework?)

Really, things are moving along pretty well. “Let Me Help” got a couple of new tracks today (including BASS SOLO lulz) and some more remixing, and I fiddled a little more with “Thought You Knew” and even “Artefacts” which got some more mixing clues added and they help. And I discovered (as was kind of inevitable) what kind of driving bodhran line “Stay Away” is going to have. Productive elf is productive.

…it's full of stars!

I DO NOT HAVE WORDS FOR HOW MUCH AWESOME FIXING A MIX CAN ADD TO A RECORDING. I CANNOT LIE THIS IS FUCKING ROCKSTARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

i’m rerecording the vocals tomorrow because now i finally see where i’m trying to go

and it is epic

Back from Norwescon

Back from Norwescon, and am wiped out. But it was awesome. I met the local nerdcore band Death*Star; They’re playing the Blue Moon on April… 29th, I think? Verify the date, and then go see them. We traded EPs, and their Saturday night show was rawked the haus.

Also met up with the effervescent Tricky Pixie, and got to talk with Alec about mixing techniques – he’s been producing his own CDs for years, whereas I’m still learning what kind of shit I have to learn – and just catch up for a bit. (Tricky Pixie just wrapped up a tour – this was their last stop of the spring – but will be playing in Oregon at the end of July.)

My biggest regret is that I missed him and Vixy and Tony doing a workshop on recording techniques. Tony operates Monkey Brains Studios and has a good ear. (V&T’s next show is May 29th, in Seattle). I hope somebody who was there took notes.

Then as things wound down, a bunch of the bands got together for a big jam session on Sunday. That was all kinds of fun.

And now that the studio computer is done updating and rebooting, it’s time to test some of these suggestions. Fingers crossed.

Norwescon omg

For me, Norwescon 33 starts tomorrow. Or arguably a few days ago! Doesn’t matter tho’. Remember: it’s just a show, we should really just relax. If you’re there, say hi!

Out and about

I don’t really talk about them here, usually, but I had a solo gig last night as an instrumentalist; it was entertaining, the people were friendly, the other performer group they had came over and hung out ’cause they liked my work, and they had free b00ze – what else do you need, really?

Oh, right, MOAR GIGS. That’s what I need. Anybody got someplace they want to see me play? If I can get there, I’ll apply! (Assuming the money flows to the artist, of course. You know how that goes, it’s the same as in publishing.) And yes, I do tips/bar sales gigs – whatever works. I’d prefer singing gigs, obviously, ’cause I like those songs better and I write about things that I want out there, but I’ll take either.

Finally, I want to thank all the people who wrote reviews, both positive and negative. You can see a list of reviews here, in the comments section of the announcement post. The winner of the drawing is Maria-Katriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiina! She was kind enough to leave me her email, so she’ll be getting the prize of her choice soon. ^_^

Drawing deadline and reviews

Rosemary and Rue author Seanan McGuire, on her Livejournal, pointed at this article by Michael Melcher called, “What to Do When Your Friend Writes a Book.” The subject is pretty well handled by the title! She linked to it as part of a post on negative reviews. I got a negative review this week, myself; it had some positive things in it, but the reviewer hates my singing voice, at least in these tracks. He liked the instrumental (Cascadia), so I suppose it’s only 75% negative! That’s something, at least.

But I’m not sure what to think of the Melcher article. I mean – changing “book” to “CD” – he’s right about what all this feels like, what people want to hear when they put something out there into the world, and so on. But I think having the sorts of expectations he seems to have is really kind of asking for it. (And maybe also asking a lot. I dunno.) Don’t get me wrong; it’d be nice, but it doesn’t exactly strike me as realistic. What do you think?

Oh, don’t forget, if you want to do a review of Sketchy Characters to be entered for the drawing, the deadline is this Sunday evening at midnight. I have two good reviews and one bad one so far, and not all of those want to be in the drawing, so your chances in the drawing are pretty good!

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The Music

THE NEW SINGLE