music and recording

New Eurorack Module: Talos. by Simeon Smith

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Talos is passive clockwork electroacoustic module for eurorack synthesizers, featuring a wind up toy motor connected to a piezo. The motor drives a small cog on the front of the module that can then drive... well... anything you come up with.

The piezo works best with a preamp, but most systems will have something that can amplify the module.

The cog can be connected to other cogs; it's lego-compatible.

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-Passive Piezo Tranducer attached to jack output - best used with a preamp module, or mixer.
-10hp acrylic panel.
-Hand assembled.
-Includes mounting screws and swag.

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Break Up and Move On by Simeon Smith

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An interview that really stuck in my mind years ago was one with Bjork where she said that for every good songs, she has to get a thousand bad ones out of her system first, or something like that. 

It encouraged me through times when I wasn't happy with my writing. "Never mind," I'd tell myself, "just another 999 bad songs to go before I write a banger."

The same with that Cartier-Bresson quote, that your first ten thousand photos are your worst. It gave me great solace; "Click-click, motherfucker, I'm getting through these photos faster than anyone else!"

The difference between the two though, is that a photo takes a second to make. A song, often much longer. 

This week I've put hours and hours into a track I can only describe as "Not Good".

Write a melody. Patch up the modular. Record a few different versions. Write a harmony. Go searching for the perfect drum sample. Layer up some sounds. Get some side-band compression going. Write some extra parts. Crack out a microphone and a few real-world instruments. Realise that the original melody wasn't good. 

Realise that the original melody wasn't good. 

Now I don't want to get all philosophical about what good is, and how we define quality, I'll leave that to Pirsig. Hopefully we've all got a rough idea about what we want our art to be like, and can recognise when we've done ourselves proud. 

In music, you can spend so very long on an idea before realising it's not particularly good, and at that point, it's tempting to keep going. To tough it out. More parts. More studio work. More harmonies. More time wasted on a rubbish idea. 

I'm trying to teach myself not to do this. Just break up with the idea quickly, and move on. 

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140818 - Ambient Modular by Simeon Smith

Tonight I sat down to record the demo for my new Eurorack Module, but... then this happened instead.

I often sit and mess with really simple ambient patches like this, and this time I left a camera running while I got myself a coffee. 

I still haven't recorded the demo for the module, and didn't use it in this patch, but i think you might be able to spot it if you can make it out on my super blurry camera.

On the Importance of Community by Simeon Smith

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A friend and I often tell each other about our frequent existential crises and turning points of faith and belief. During one of these conversations I asked him "Why the hell do you still go to church, then?" He replied "It's the only way I know how to make new friends." 

Which is a pretty shitty indictment for our current society. 

My mental health hinges on community. Proper community. Meeting real people at real physical venues and doing something more than drinking beer. 

Recently I've found little communities all over the place. I mean, if church works for you, sure, but if not, maybe you'll find some inspiration here. 

  1. I've been doing some 3d printing and laser cutting (yup, the laser cutting is exactly as fun as it sounds) of synth modules and camera parts at a local "Hackspace",a kind of shared co-op working space with all the fun things that you might want to make prototypes and small runs, but might not have the cash for. It's full-to-the-brim of creative people fixing, soldering, drilling, cutting, sewing, programming and generally not only sharing their ideas and skills, but also their enthusiasm. It's just beautiful and really encouraging to go along and see people's projects develop, and it definitely inspires me to get my arse into gear and step up my maker game. 
  2. Want to know a secret? ShhhhhhhhI'mnotthatintofolkmusicShhhhhh... Now don't tell my band, Captain Cat and the Sailors that! I mean, I enjoy a bit of of a jig as much as the next post-celtic brit, but I'd much rather be in a club with a DJ. Being in a band, though, is the closest thing to family I've ever experienced. For a band to work, it takes trust, commitment, and just enough friction to make things interesting. Plus, everywhere we play we meet new people, have new conversations, and hear other amazing artists. 
  3. I'm a massive geek. I love gaming, be it on a tabletop or an xbox, but playing a single-player game after the kids are in bed for a few hours just leaves me feeling empty and unfulfilled. Pop down a game shop, though, and you can meet new people in a way that gets rid of the social awkwardness because YOU'RE ALL FOLLOWING THE SAME RULES. Literally. The difficulty I've found with game shops is that often the most-played games aren't great games, they're just commercially successful, but that's not the point! Sure, it'd be nicer if everyone shared my taste in games, but I'm not just there to play (and win!) I'm there to meet people, have a chat, unwind in the company of other humans. 

New Video: Andy Hunter - Transition by Simeon Smith

If you follow my blog you probably know how much I work with Andy on the Presence App, a mindfulness / meditation / prayer app for apple and android. 

Here's a video I worked on for the app that has now been released on YouTube. It's probably the most proud I've been of a piece of visual work I've done, and it's a real privilege to be able to set Andy's music to my images.

Have a watch! 

The geeky bit, because I know so many of you love my quirky gear; this was shot using the following cameras and lenses.

  • Pentax Q7  with a 1960s Yashica "D" mount 1.9, 13mm cine lens. 
  • Lomography Lomokino 35mm film video camera.
  • 1980's Lomo 135BC Compact camera with clockwork autoadvance. 
  • Canon 5D mIII, 14mm 1.4

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