Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Summery Summary

The sun is out here and I've got 10 minutes to spare, so I've tidied up the Deserters front page, removing all the old 'Track of the Week' entries and replacing them with a single list of links to the files and links to each blog entry so you can read all about them.

So, if you've enjoyed a track or two, they're now all handy for downloading in a thrice for the full Deserters experience. What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Final Track of the Week

Phill Up The Glass
a glass

Week 17 of the grand mp3 download extravaganza.

For the last 'Track of the Week' (at least for the next few months), here's another original track from the Bordet / Leigh spin-off album 'Mux-Ip'. You may have guessed from the name that it is inspired by the music of Philip Glass, in which case you'd be correct. However, the track started life quite differently as a study in using bird song in music. I transcribed the songs of a number of birds in the local area, with the plan of building up a whole piece of music, but on listening closely found that the repetition occuring naturally, when put in a musical context, ended up coming out like a minimalist piece, so I went the whole hog and filled out the birdsong themes with those repetitive-sounding arpeggios beloved of the minimalist movement.

This was one of the last pieces I wrote using the music computer I bought some years earlier (a Yamaha CX5M) and which required every note to be manually entered one at a time.

That's it from the Deserters archives for the time being. I hope you've enjoyed the music as much as I've enjoyed re-visiting the past. Normal service will now be resumed, so don't forget to check back for news of current activities (or use the RSS feed if you know about such things).

Click here to download.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Lunar Sea

The Moon

A good week for music...


The local band I'm doing sound engineer for are gearing up for a couple of gigs in the next month - they've build up a decent setlist now, and feel ready to perform in public. Should all be good fun, I hope. Final practice session next week, then the first gig after that.


Today also saw another get-together for the progressive project mentioned previously. I think it is safe to reveal we'll be calling ourselves...

The Lunacy Board

Still a two-piece line-up so far, but we're building towards a more cohesive vision of what we're looking to achieve. We recorded a number of pieces this afternoon - some complete improvisations, some based on riffs or chord changes we've been playing around with, and swapping instruments between guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and theremin. This was the first time I've played the theremin within an ensemble environment, as I usually either pratice solo or with a quiet backing track, and it quickly became clear that the monitoring system I had tacked together was not going to be as useful for theremin as it had been for the other instruments. You can afford to not hear the odd note or two when playing most instruments as long as fingers are in the right place, but with the theremin this simply results in out-of-tune notes. I will need to invest in a little monitor amp for the theremin in the future...

The hope is that we can put some of these together to start to form some longer pieces, which can then be further tweaked and potentially lyrics added. We'll be approaching our music from a couple of different angles including improvisation, music for film and music for the spoken word, which covers most of our interests at the moment.

Gear Hassles

I set out a selection of musical gear for us to use, but made the mistaken shortcut of using a previously unused recording package to record the music. For some reason the correct input to the computer was distorting, so I ended up using the microphone input, which is never a great idea. In this case it led to a pretty high level of background noise as well as our inputs being summed to mono. Not a problem for the recording stage, but it will make things awkward for the editing. A little lesson learned for the future, I think. Irrespective of this problem, I think we got some good base material recorded today, which will help to set us on our way.

Watch this space...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why Doesn't Somebody Buy Him A Guitar?

Track of the Week

Soundtrack of a B-Movie
Plan 9

Week 16 of the grand mp3 download extravaganza.

In one of the periods between Deserters activity in the late 80's, Jennifer Leigh & I recorded a limited run album called 'Mux-Ip', which was a collection of cover versions and originals performed as a duo. This week's track, 'Soundtrack of a B-Movie', comes from that album (as does next week's track).

This was one of my earliest uses of multi-track recording, and was recorded using a mini keyboard (a Yamaha SHS-10) and a dodgy Strat copy guitar. The low-budget nature of this track is emphasised by the lack of the original recordings to take this from, so this is a 3rd generation cassette copy. It does, however, have a certain charm, despite its failings.

The piece is effectively a 6 minute guitar solo with cheesy auto-keyboard percussion, some synth pads and the occasional effect (tubular bells, radio clips, etc.)

Click here to download.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Complexion Like Mouldy Corned Beef

Track of the Week

Heavy Metal Ballad
Corned Beef

Week 15 of the grand mp3 download extravaganza.

We're coming towards the end of this run of free downloadable goodies. Whilst there is more Deserters music in the archives, it's not yet in a form suitable for the web. I've probably got enough for another two weeks, so enjoy it while it lasts.

This week we have a song which has a title which is a bit of a misnomer - 'Heavy Metal Ballad' - as it is neither heavy metal, nor a ballad. It has a similar feel to 'One Night in the Back of a Fire Engine', but deals with the teen angst of spots, dental hygiene and body odour. Simple and upbeat, with a bit of a nasty streak. Lyrics by Lee Newe, once again, with music by yours truly.

Click here to download.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Polish the Blade

Track of the Week

The Complete 1978 Song

Week 14 of the grand mp3 download extravaganza.

This song has a similar feel to 'The Woman In Red', however this is certainly no love story, but a very sparsely arranged murder ballad, inspired by the story of Lizzie Borden. Music and Lyrics are by Lee Newe on this one, which has a bit of a strange history.

It started life as a heavy metal celebration of biker life; "Motorbike, Motorbike, Do what you like. I'm gonna pull a chick on Saturday Night." The original lyrics by Lee were put to music by yours truly, but never recorded. Probably just as well. I do still have a backing track for it somewhere, but the final song was a definite improvement on the original.

Click here to download.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Whistlin' Dixie

I've had more than my fair share of hillbilly / redneck experiences in this last week - must be something in the air.

Jerry Springer - The Opera
Jerry Springer Logo

At the start of the week we treated ourselves to a night at the opera; 'Jerry Springer - The Opera', to be precise. It's had quite a bit of press about some of its content and indeed, the local holy Joes were out in force with leaflets condemning us all to hell for even setting eyes on it. But really, what a great show! It's probably closer to rock-opera than plain opera, but the very sound of trained opera singers belting out a string of obscenities is worth the ticket price alone. Add to that the fact that the content of your average Jerry Springer-type show is EXACTLY the sort of stuff that makes for all the best operas (yes Puccini and Verdi may be more high-brow, but they're writing about THE SAME STUFF) - adultery, murder, cross-dressing, journeys to Hell - it's all here.

As for the content the moaning Minnies are upset about, it's pretty tame stuff, and in fact most of what they're shouting about isn't even true (big surprise, there). Yes, they do a Jerry Springer show in Hell, with various biblical personalities including Jesus and God included, but it's looking at the battle between good and evil, the grey area in-between, and acheiving some kind of balance. It's more about the issues, values and choices that most religions claim to be about (basically be nice to each other), rather than the figureheads that organised religions end up concentrating on. And no - they don't have Jesus wearing a nappy.

So if you're not easily offended (by swear words - a lot of them - or the use of religious figures to tell a moral [kind of] tale) then I'd thoroughly recommend seeing this show. It is 'fall-off-your-seat' funny, with plenty of memorable songs - lines like "Dip me in chocolate and feed me to the lesbians", a coherent plot and a Zappaesque sense of humour. There's a trailer here.

Hayseed Dixie

I'm no great fan of AC/DC, nor of bluegrass music particularly, but when I was offered a ticket to see a band playing AC/DC in a bluegrass style, I just had to know more. These guys can play - guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and bass - pretty much as well as any bluegrass band I've heard (not that many, admittedly), including a pretty nifty version of 'Duelling Banjos' from 'Deliverance' in their setlist.

You've just got to smile when they kick into 'Whole Lotta Rosie' or 'Highway to Hell' whilst dressed in authentic(ish) hillbilly gear and singing with that mountain-man drawl. It's an assault on the senses - 2 hours of high-octane (moonshine) finger-pickin' acoustic rock, but somehow it works. It really shouldn't, and yet it is disturbing how easily AC/DC (and other rockers like Aerosmith and Motorhead) translates into bluegrass, and the original version of 'Ace of Spades' sounds like a laid-back ballad compared to the speed these guys take it at.

Certainly not everybody's cup of tea, not even mine really, but definitely an entertaining night out and a must-see for lovers of heavy rock (especially AC/DC) wanting to try something new. Have a look here for more info, including a video clip of 'Ace of Spades'.

See y'all later, y'hear?

Eat Your Greens

Track of the Week

My Wee Green Buddy
A Sprout

Week 13 of the grand mp3 download extravaganza.

If you liked the 'Yet Another Granfalloon' pieces, then this short instrumental ditty should be of interest. It's an earlier attempt at a similar style, in this case purely electronic, owing much to Zappa's 'Jazz From Hell' album.

It takes its name from a series of books by Robert Rankin which feature (amongst many other things) a time-travelling sprout called Barry who takes up residence in Elvis Presley's brain and uses him to re-write history. Yep, it sounds pretty daft, and it, in fact, is. But it's a bit of fun, and if you like Douglas Adams and / or Frank Zappa then why not give it a try. Rankin's a bit of a Zappa / Beefheart fan, and loads of references appear all through most of his books, not least of which is the brilliantly titled "Sprout Mask Replica".

Click here to download.