Monday, December 15, 2008

Mandelbrot Set Feedback


Mr Coulton has given some positive comments about the 'Mandelbrot Set' and our first effort HERE.

We're currently going through the democratic process of selecting the next song for our treatment. Why not drop in if you liked our take on "Re: Your Brains" and cast your vote.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Mandelbrot Set - Re: Your Brains

Some time ago I mentioned I did some instrumental parts (bass and guitar) for a version of Jonathan Coulton's song "Re: Your Brains". It is now complete, with a final mix available to download, featuring a zombie chorus, and a reasonably eclectic mix of instruments.

The Mandelbrot Set is comprised of the following:
Angelastic - Zombie Chorus
bigcambridge - Banjo, Ukulele
Bry - Vocals, Zombie Chorus
Colleenky - Vocals, Zombie Chorus, Sound Editing
Lunacy (Mick Bordet) - Electric Bass
MaW - Vocals
mtgordon - Vocals, Zombie Chorus
Shruti - Flute, Zombie Chorus
SpaceParanoids - Piano
The Doifter - Ukulele

[UPDATE-AGAIN!] The link below has been updated to the NEW final mix.

You can find the finished article for free download right HERE.

Monday, November 03, 2008

So Long Lonesome Cowboy Burt

Jimmy Carl Black - RIP

Jimmy Carl Black

1-2-1938 to 1-11-2008

Another rock legend has left the stage...

JCB was the drummer with the Mothers in their earlier days and stamped his unique sound onto some of the finest albums in the Zappa collection. What he may have lacked in the technical skill of later Zappa drummers, he more than made up with character and humour.

I was lucky enough to see Jimmy perform a couple of times, both as drummer with the Grandmothers and vocalist with the Muffin Men, and on both occasions his presence filled the stage. We're starting to run out of rock's great characters...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Round-up and In The Flesh

Song Fu logo

Just to finish off the Song Fu experience and tie up any loose ends, I have stuck all the songs together up on, which is worth a look as a way to find new music similar to what you already listen to.

Last week I made the trip back West to see one of the 'Masters of Song Fu', Jonathan Coulton, doing his thing live on stage in Glasgow. A great show, slightly curtailed by the management of the Oran Mor imposing a 10pm curfew - probably the earliest finishing gig I've ever attended. A great night's entertainment all round, with plenty of amusing between-song banter - something often sadly lacking in many modern acts. Mr Coulton enthusiastically embraces the creative commons licence, meaning that live recordings and videos are positively encouraged. So here is my recording of his Glasgow show:-

Jonathan Coulton - Oran Mor, Glasgow, UK - 25th Oct 2008

We were supposed to be seeing the 'Bad Shepherds' next week. They're a folk band playing punk songs, and include ex-members of Jethro Tull and Iona within their ranks, as well as former 'Young One' Ade Edmonson. However, their tour has been cancelled for reasons still unknown (no details as yet on their website. Pretty annoying.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Update #11 - Bad Fish (The Song From 'Jaws')

Song Fu logo

You must choose one of those 1970’s Williams-scored Spielberg/Lucas flicks (JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, 1941, or STAR WARS). and write "The Song From..." that the film never had, in the style of a 1970’s pop tune (particularly in your instrumentation).

And thus ended Song Fu...

Here is my final non-competitive effort. The instrumentation could have been a bit more lush and over-the-top, but I was running too short of time for such luxuries. The bassline is a bit more mundane than when I first recorded it, as it became the subtle reference I mentioned last time. Then I blew any subtlety away in the last few bars as the bass reveals itself much more blatantly - it's super-corny, but I just couldn't resist it. Sorry.

Click here to hear the song

I don't know whether there are plans for another run of the Song Fu challenge and, if there are, whether I should re-apply. A couple of the deadlines have been pretty tight (usually due to being away with work), but I've got 4 new songs out of it of varying quality, with inspiration for a couple more. What do you reckon?

Anyway, here are the lyrics and chords:-

[verse 1]
C Gm7
My, what big teeth you have,
Am F
Said the swimmer to the fish
C Gm7
One drop (of blood) in a million
Am F
And she became the dish
C Bb Fmaj7 Fmaj7
of the day.
C Bb Fmaj7 Fmaj7
of the d - a - y.

[verse 2]
The mayor of "Shark City" is
A sceptic through and through
Ignoring the problem until it
Swims up and bites you
on the ass

It was a bad fish
Am Gm7->Bb
Like a piscine Jack the Rip-per
A bad fish
Am Bb
A giant psychopathic kipper
Fmaj7 x4 bars

[verse 3]
Swapping tales of scars
With buddies and a drink
You'll need a bigger boat
This one's going to sink
fairly soon


[verse 4]
You'd be a much more efficient killer
If you didn't have that tell-tale fin
And you could still be alive today
If you'd swallowed that oxygen
Smile you son of a bitch


Fade out on Fmaj7

Friday, October 17, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Update #10

Song Fu logo

You must choose one of those 1970’s Williams-scored Spielberg/Lucas flicks (JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, 1941, or STAR WARS). and write "The Song From..." that the film never had, in the style of a 1970’s pop tune (particularly in your instrumentation).

The song is written, both music and lyrics, and is called "Bad Fish". It has four verses, each one of which deals with a key scene in the movie, and a silly little chorus that's somewhat scathing about the protagonist of the story.

There was nearly an accidental reference to 'The Man in the Boat', which would have been quite apt, but it interrupted the flow of the song, so it was left out. There is another subtle reference, though, which I'll leave you to work out when you hear it.

The next step is to start the recording process and dig out suitable quantities of funky 70's pop sounds...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Great White Shark

I've got a few possible verses put together for the Song Fu challenge, though no music as yet, but my research into Jaws and the history of the film and book has given me inspiration for another new song. I did think about making it the challenge song, but it is a couple of steps away from the plot of the film and too serious to be done as a 70's movie-pop song.

The off-shoot comes from the story told by one of the film's characters, Quint, in a monologue not in the book and apparently substantially ad-libbed by actor Robert Shaw, about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during WWII. Having read some actual survivors' accounts of the event, there's a lot more to the story that resonates with the best and worst of human character. I'll elaborate more about it soon, once the Song Fu song is done and dusted and I can concentrate on bringing the story threads together in a way that makes sense within a song.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Update #9

Song Fu logo

The fourth and final challenge has been posted. The competition is now between the remaining challenger, Jason Morris, and the leading master, The Rifftones. The challenge is another genre-specific one, though the remit is a bit more limited than previous rounds:-

You must choose one of those 1970’s Williams-scored Spielberg/Lucas flicks (JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, 1941, or STAR WARS). and write "The Song From..." that the film never had, in the style of a 1970’s pop tune (particularly in your instrumentation).

I can think of a few possible options for this, but I think I'll go for Jaws as the one with most scope for writing an interesting song about. Time to put the string synth to the test - cheesy orchestral washes coming right up...

Incidentally, I actually had a dream last night that I was attacked by a shark whilst swimming in Loch Lomond (which is freshwater and shark-free), defending myself by punching it on the nose (which apparently CAN work as an act of last resort). I don't know what prompted that subject, as I've not been aware of shark-related news since this article caught my attention a couple of weeks ago, however it is too good a coincidence to ignore!

Changes Afoot

Blogger Logo

I've been away for a week, removed from phones, TV, internet and the World in general. It's been bliss. I took along my guitar, uke and micro-studio, but neither wrote nor recorded anything new. Just doodled. Sometimes that's just what is needed.

You may have noticed a couple of changes here. Firstly to the look and layout of the blog. I've moved over to the newer Blogger templates which supposedly offer more flexibility and nifty add-ons, taking the opportunity to make the blog fit in with the Lunacy Board site, thanks to the colourful header image provided by my daughter (she did this when she was just five).

You'll find a new section titled 'Common Topics' to the right hand side - this will let you look at all posts dealing with certain topics, e.g. click on 'Deserters' to see posts relating to the Deserters in some way, or for more detail about the steps leading up to the first Lunacy Board album, click on 'Eponymous Debut'. It's also a quick way to pick out all the posts with links to downloadable music. Hopefully it will make this blog easier to navigate around. You'll find these 'labels' at the bottom of each post as well, so you can skip between related posts quite quickly.

On the subject of blogs, when I first started this blog I simultaneously started a couple of others with the same content. The idea being to see which one generated most interest, was easiest to use and read. Blogger won. The others have not been updated for a couple of months now, and most likely won't be again. It's a pain in the neck to copy & paste all the details between them, but more importantly I don't think it's a great idea to have several copies floating around the web - hopefully anybody following the others will pick up from here, which will be the definitive place for my waffle outside the Lunacy Board and Deserters sites.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lunacy Board Downloads

Scottish Music from The Lunacy Board

I've had a few queries about making the Lunacy Board albums available on iTunes or similar, which I can finally answer, having looked into a number of possibilities. iTunes is not really an option for us at the moment, though I wouldn't rule it out forever. For the moment we're going with a crowd called 'Scotloads', who (surprise, surprise) focus on Scottish bands.

I say 'for the moment', because they have a pricing scheme which I think is too steep for downloads, with a fixed price of £7.99 for an album. This is pretty reasonable compared to high street CD prices, but is actually more than our standard CD price for UK buyers (though it is a bit of a saving for overseas listeners).

What is good about their system is that it will allow you to listen to a clip from every track on both albums before buying, as well as letting you buy single tracks for 79p each. Hopefully a more reasonable alternative for album downloads will be available soon, but if you just want a couple of tracks - go for it!

Just click on the scotloads logo above to see The Lunacy Board on their site.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Update #8 - The Ballad of Rufus Amos Adams

Song Fu logo

Your task is to write a country ballad - using a backstory of your own creation – called "The Ballad of Rufus Amos Adams".

Here's the song for Round 3 of the Song Fu challenge (you know, the one I was knocked out of at round 1):-

Click here for the song

For some background to the song and the additional challenge I set myself, see this post. It does include all the items I mentioned, including a wobbly theremin-pretending-to-be-a-pedal-steel-guitar solo. Having now listened to the other challengers I realise that there was no yodelling, but I don't know that would sit very well in a ballad, plus it was not in my original list, so too bad.

Here are the lyrics and chords (non-Scottish readers - minor translations included - move your mouse over a word you don't understand):-

I left the farm in the morning, around 6
Fed the cattle on the way
Headed South for Dallas to pick up my girl
And that's when my life went astray.

[verse2 - same chords as v1 except last line]
She was waitressin' in the Korean restaurant
Noodles on poodles she'd serve
When a truck, red 'n' green, with the name of Christine
Too fast round the corner did swerve

Gm Gm Cm Cm
What happened just then, I fail to recall
Gm Gm Dsus4 D7
But my world it descended to Hell
Gm Gm Cm Cm
There was kimchi and shitzhu and bodily parts in
Gm Gm Dsus4 D7
The rubble and dust where they fell

[verse4 - same chords as v3 except last line]
I grabbed the truck driver and gave him a kickin'
For killin' my sweetheart so swell
But she wasn't dead - she'd just banged her head
Gm D7 Gm G
And I spent time in the Bar-L

I'm known around here as Amos Adams
Sometimes as Rufus or Hank
I'd consider it lucky if I lived in Kentucky
Instead of a village just West of Buckie
Where the trains are sporadic, money is tight
A bottle of Talisker gets you through the night
I wish to God that my Mama, that sod,
Had named me something like Shug.

[verse5 - same as v2]
Let out of prison this Christmas just past
I hoped for a change in my luck
When I got home she wrote, on a tiny wee note
"I've left with the man and his truck"

[instrumental verse - same as v2]

[verse6 - same as v2]
Now I'm only a jakey from a wee Scottish town
But my life's like a Johnny Cash song
My name isn't Sue, but Rufus will do
I guess Nashville is where I belong

... Had named me something like Tam.
... or named me something like Doug
... or even something like Shug

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Update #7

Song Fu logo

Your task is to write a country ballad - using a backstory of your own creation – called "The Ballad of Rufus Amos Adams".

The song is now written, having walked around all week with a list of the requirements in my pocket and no idea how to get them all together. The answers came once I had the story behind the ballad, and the various items then all slotted into place fairly well.

It's the story of a Scottish lad with a country and western name and the trouble that follows because of it - it sits somewhere between 'A Boy Named Sue' and Billy Connolly's version of 'Tell Laura I Love Her'. It features ALL the subjects required for the 'perfect' country song as well as a little reference to 'Stobby'. I'll post the lyrics when the recording is complete, probably tomorrow night.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Update #6

Song Fu logo

The third challenge is up and ready to begin. They're down to just two Masters and two Challengers now, with the final round approaching soon. The latest challenge is a bit of a stinker:-

Your task is to write a country ballad - using a backstory of your own creation – called "The Ballad of Rufus Amos Adams".

To me this is a bit of a wide-open challenge - really the song could be about anything so long as Rufus is mentioned somewhere. Time for some self-imposed restrictions to get the brain something to grab onto, but what should they be? Country is not a musical genre I'm particularly familiar with beyond the 'classics', and have almost no experience writing anything in that vein. The possible exceptions to that being 'The Middle Eastern Western', which was just a country backing to some Gulf War (v1) and old cowboy film samples, and more recently 'Stobby', which has a bit of a country-rock sound to it in places.

So, what makes a good country song? 10 seconds googling gives us a list for the attributes required for the 'perfect' country song. They are as follows:-

  1. Clever lyrics (a pun, a joke, or a play on words, preferably in the title of the song)
  2. Regret
  3. A stalwart, but flawed, protagonist
  4. A pedal steel guitar
  5. Alcohol (of course)
  6. Reverence for the land, especially the South
Steve Goodman and John Prine also suggest:-
  1. Mama
  2. Trains
  3. Trucks
  4. Prison
  5. Gettin' drunk
  6. Farms
  7. Dead dogs
  8. Christmas

Arguments about lists like this could rage for decades, but it seem like a good start based on the country songs I'm familiar with, so here's my additional challenge:-

Include at least 10 of the subjects required for a perfect country song from the supplied list.

Of course, I will try to get them all in the song, but that might be just too much to ask!

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Update #5 - The C5 Shuffle

Song Fu logo

Your challenge is to choose a famous inventor and craft a song proposing a “dance craze” based on either the inventor or one of his/her most well known inventions.

Just finished mixing this non-submission to Song Fu.

Here is a link to the song.

Sinclair C5 Press Photo

It's called 'The C5 Shuffle' and the inventor in question is, of course, Sir Clive Sinclair. For those outside the UK or too young to remember, Sir Clive designed the best-selling home PC in the UK. It was pretty wretched, even for its own time, but was the door into computing for thousands. His follow-up invention was eagerly anticipated, but the battery-powered C5 was something of a failure, being both before its time and far from reliable or even practical. There are plenty of them still about, see here, but I think I've only ever seen one on the roads myself. From the way the vehicle is driven in the picture and the chorus of the song, it should be pretty clear how the dance works.

Here are the lyrics for the song, along with some chords for the musically inclined:-

Trundling along
So close to the ground
3 wheels are spinning, but
what's that clicking sound?

Watch out for the fumes
Roundabouts are deadly
Hills are out of bounds
In our electric pedalled medley

G D D7 Dm7
We're gonna do the C5
C G G6 G D
It's kinda like a three-wheeled jive
Invented by good old Sir Clive
Let's take it for a Microdrive
And the Hoover motor might contrive
To get us all home alive

Arms close to your sides
Grab the handlebars
Shoulders up and down
Wiggling your arse
Battery's gone flat
Pedal for a while
Now get out and push
You're dancing with such style

We're gonna do the C5
It's kinda like a three-wheeled jive
Invented by good old Sir Clive
Let's take it for a Microdrive
And the Hoover motor might contrive
To get us all home alive

Gm F C2 Am7
I've got used to the scornful looks from the passing cars
Gm F Am7 C2
and their comments and mocking tone so derisory
Gm F C2 Am7
But they'll be laughing on the other side of their faces
Gm F Am7 D D(higher)
In 10 short hours once I've recharged the battery

Arms close to your sides
Grab the handlebars
Shoulders up and down
Wiggling your arse
Battery's gone flat
Pedal for a while
Now get out and push
You're dancing with such style

We're gonna do the C5
It's kinda like a three-wheeled jive
Invented by good old Sir Clive
Let's take it for a Microdrive
And the Hoover motor might contrive
To get us all home alive

[alt chorus]
We're gonna do the C5 (ah ah ah)
It's a miracle we're stayin' alive
We're gonna do the C5 (it's so delicious and moist)
I dunno how we're still alive
We're gonna do the C5 (we're heading for home)
Let's hope we all arrive alive

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Update #4

Song Fu logo

The second round of Song Fu has begun and the next challenge has been set. As expected, I didn't make it through to the next round, but I'm planning on following through with each of the challenges anyway. It focuses the mind and sets an unbreakable deadline to create something new. So...

Your challenge is to choose a famous inventor and craft a song proposing a “dance craze” based on either the inventor or one of his/her most well known inventions.

This struck me as a much more interesting challenge than the first, as within the space of a minute of reading this challenge I had 3 ideas about subject matter, though it quickly became apparent that only one of those was really workable. I won't reveal any more at this stage, though I'm pretty sure that it won't be duplicated by those still in the competition as it has a bit of a UK bias. I will say that I have already got a first draft of the lyrics written, which I'm pretty happy with. Just need to work out some music to go with them and I can get stuck into recording.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Re: Your Brains

Re: Your Brains

I've just completed a couple of tracks (bass and guitar) for internet-based Jonathan Coulton covers band 'The Mandelbrot Set'. Cover versions are something I generally steer clear of, mainly because I have little enough time to record my own music without revisiting something that somebody else has already recorded. However, I like JC's approach to music, and his use of the Creative Commons licence (as we used to release 'Difficult Second') means that people are free to record or perform covers of his songs without fear of having their arse sued out from under them.

The song (about zombies in the office environment) is still a work-in-progress, but a basic mix can be found by visiting the JoCo forums at and following the link from my post tonight. When it is finished I'll stick a copy up here for easy access.

End of the offer

The 3-for-2 offer on our CDs has now come to an end, so your chances of getting hold of a limited 'Difficult Second' are slim if you missed the deadline. We have a handful left that will be distributed by other channels... Most likely as competition prizes or similar.

Of course, the album is still free to download via the web, and you can burn your own CD. In fact, burn a stack of them and give them to your friends!

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Update #3 - 100th Post!

Song Fu

The final day of voting for round one is here, and I think I can safely say that it's the end of the road for this song fu disciple as far as the official competition goes. I enjoyed the challenge, though the song is not a great piece of work - certainly it didn't deserve to be in the top of the pile, though I did personally prefer it to a couple of others in the competition. Of course, my tastes are pretty far from normal songwriter fare, so I'll not name names.

So thanks to those of you who voted for my efforts - 1% of the vote may not seem like a lot, but it means that almost 20 people thought my song was better than all the rest, which is fine by me. Or maybe I just got the 'pity' vote.

Whatever the reason, thanks, and you'll maybe be pleased to hear that I'm planning on continuing to follow the challenges even though I'll be out of the official competition. I think it's a good way to keep flexing the old songwriting muscle and building up my Fu for the next time...?

100 Posts

Yes, this is the 100th post to this blog. I'm really pleased how far things have come since I kicked this off a couple of years ago. Thanks to those few of you who pop back for a visit now and again, and also to my family who put up with my musical meanderings.

Have we got a video?

There is now a video to accompany the song 'Choices' from 'Difficult Second'. You can view it in miniature above or at the Lunacy Board site, or click here to see it on YouTube - please leave your comments and feel free to give it a nice high rating!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Update #2 - First Impressions

Song Fu logo

After quite a bit of fiddling about I finished the new song last night, and it is now available for download at the Quick Stop voting page.

Don't forget to vote!

The song is called First Impressions and is a "Moon's-eye" view of the Earth and the influence of the Moon on us and vice-versa. The uke part I recorded didn't really sit with the style of the song, so I dropped it, but did keep a gentle little harmonica introduction and outro. I think this is the first time I've recorded a song with the mouth organ - it's not something I play very often, but it sits here quite well and is a little reminder of the portable nature of this recording.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Masters of Song Fu - Update #1

Song Fu logo

Bad planning.

Here we are, two days left to the Song Fu deadline, and I'm away all week with work. South of the border with half a song.

Over the weekend I worked out the music and lyrics, ably assisted by my lovely wife. I laid down drum, bass and guitar tracks, but a bit of a mixing desk crisis on Saturday night put pay to normal working conditions.

A couple of weeks ago I was doing my live sound role at a gig up near Inversneckie, when my car was rear-ended on the way there. The desk was beside the damaged part of the car and suffered a substantial shunt - not enough to write it off completely, but it did stop one main channel from working and apparently dislodged the workings as the channel LEDs all disappeared into the body of the mixer. It was okay to continue for the gig as the room was reasonably small and one set of speakers was enough to fill the room, but far from undamaged. This weekend I used it again, and wasn't so lucky, as within seconds of plugging it in, smoke started seeping out the back. Not good. We got by with an old mini-mixer we carry as a back-up, but the normal desk is well and truly gubbed.

And so, sat in a Midlands hotel room with as much gear as I can pack into my case, which amounts to just the ukulele, a moothie and my trusty boss handheld recorder, I'm embarking on recording the rest of the song as best I can. Sometimes limitations can be creatively inspiring, sometimes a pain in the bahookie... time will tell which in this case.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Song Fu Challenge

Song Fu logo

Fresh from creating a whole album in a day, the latest challenge I've undertaken is the 'Masters of Song Fu'.

Click the logo above for more information about the whole event, but in short it takes the form of a series of knock-out challenges to write songs against the 'Masters' including Jonathan Coulton, Paul & Storm and the RiffTones

I'll be providing updates here where people are welcome to leave comments about the song(s) I submit to the challenge, as well as giving a little bit of insight into the creative process.

The first challenge is to write a song about the Moon at least 1 minute and 45 seconds long. What better topic could there be for a member of The Lunacy Board? Give me a day or two for ideas to form...

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Lyrics Galore

Lyric View

To give a little more insight into the Board's songs, the lyrics from all the songs in the first two albums are now available on the website.

Simply click on a song name on either the Eponymous Debut page or the Difficult Second page to be taken to a more detailed view of each song showing the lyrics and credits for the song. Over time we'll probably add to these details to give some more background about the songs and their inspiration.

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Phew! Back to some state of normal.

The final article - 3 lunacy board albums

I thought this blog would be very busy over the time we were putting together our 3-album release, but in fact the whole process has been so demanding of time that nothing has been posted here about the albums. So over the next week or so I'll try and rectify that with a series of posts about the albums, starting with a quick run through of all three before I go into more detail in the next post.

Eponymous Debut

Some artwork problems (of my creation) created a delay in getting this album completed, and there was some to-and-fro between the duplication company and myself to fix it, but once sorted and the CDs arrived I was very pleased with the results. Thanks to Stuart of Gillies Audio for providing a great service and being patient in the face of my errors.

Difficult Second

There was a lot of preparation involved to make the 'Album-in-a-day' work smoothly, but it paid off and despite a couple of glitches (no sound on the webcast and me falling asleep unexpectedly) I think the results speak for themselves. The finished result is certainly rough around the edges, but we came up with some tracks that I'm really quite proud of that could easily sit beside anything on the first album were they subject to more rehearsal and a less rushed recording process. There are elements of everything from progressive rock, folk and blues through to the avant-garde, music hall and even country all tinged with a bit of a punk spirit.

To mirror the collaborative nature of the first album, we put out a call for guests for this album, resulting in an album with three different theremin players. Gordon Charlton of Beat Frequency and Wilco Botermans added a wide variety of theremin parts, from simple melodic accompaniment to wild and weird sound effects, to six of the nine tracks - thanks go to both of them for taking the time out to join us.


All the music on 'Stockholm' is improvised instrumental music, but some of it was recorded as far back as our second rehearsal on fairly basic equipment, so some editing and noise-removal was required to bring those pieces up to a similar sound quality as the more recent recordings. There are a few tracks for which only a few seconds will be audible in the film of Stockholm, but the whole track is included on the CD for the sake of completeness.

Incidentally, the picture above shows the artwork for all three completed albums in almost all its glory. What you don't see in the picture are the insides of the CD booklets - all three have two pages of liner notes about the songs, including a short extract from the Stockholm script in the case of that album.

Last Chance

And finally, the pre-order offer was due to end on the final release day, but with the delay to 'Eponymous Debut' we decided to let it run until we had sent the first batch of discs out. In that time we got a few more orders for all three discs, so I'm going to let the offer run until the end of this month or until the 'Difficult Second' discs run out (which won't not be long as only 50 were made). Once they are gone we'll not be producing any more, so the only way to get the second album after 31st of August will be by download.

Click HERE to order the 3-disc collection before they're gone.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

In the midst of an album-a-day

Difficult Second

This just about marks the halfway point of the Album-a-Day project, "Difficult Second", and I'm pleased to say we have an album's worth of material. It is perhaps a little rougher around the edges than our usual fare, but such are the constraints of time under these circumstances.

I'm pleased to say that we've already had some submissions from some of our previous collaborators, Beat Frequency and Wilco Botermans, which will be included in the tracks already recorded, and hope to have some more by the end of the 24 hours.

Having been out last night until 4am doing live sound at a wedding, I'm feeling more than a little tired, but now comes the time to sit down and work through the various takes we've had at the new songs and instrumentals, adding the occasional overdub and getting the final article into a shape worthy of the Board. In just over 12 hours you'll be able to download the album for free and hear the full effect of our labours.

Finally, apologies for the lack of sound on the webcast - it was working this morning, but the PC froze and now I can't seem to get the sound back. you're still welcome to drop by and watch or chat!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Lunacy Board - 3 Albums in 3 Days

This is the news I've been waiting to announce - it's a big undertaking, so we wanted to make sure it would all come together and so far everything is going to plan. As you know, there has been a flurry of recording activity for The Lunacy Board's first album - plenty of details here in posts over the last few weeks, but what hasn't been mentioned is that the soundtrack material for the Stockholm film is also completed, having been recorded alongside the main Board album. It made some sort of sense to release these together, so why not make it a trio of substantially different, yet complementary albums?

Yes, we're releasing three full albums in three days.

Eponymous Debut

Eponymous Debut

The first album will be released on the 13th of July 2008. This is the one with all the songs, including a couple that have been available to download from for a while now. It has unexpectedly turned out to be a concept album, or at least to have an underlying theme. Full details are available here, including the ability to pre-order a copy now to be amongst the first to hear it.

Difficult Second

Difficult Second

The second album will be released on the 14th of July 2008. It will be part of the 'Album-a-Day' project, being written, recorded and published within a 24 hour period immediately following the release of the first album. Sounds like a suitably daft thing to do, but the idea is to open up the improvisational and collaborational nature of the Board so that anybody watching the live webcast can contribute an idea, as well as keeping us well-and-truly on our toes for the day. I can't describe what will be on it, as it will all be inspired on the day, but you're welcome to be a part of it!

No risk with this one - not only will you be able to hear it being constructed, but it will also be available as a free download at the end of the 24 hours. If you really want it on CD, we're doing a very limited run of signed, numbered copies for anybody who pre-orders both the other albums. Further details are available here.



Our instrumental soundtrack album will be released on 15th of July 2008. Featuring almost entirely improvised pieces recorded over the lifespan of the band, which form the soundtrack to the forthcoming animated film "Stockholm", this album travels from rhythm-led rock numbers via jazzy interludes to sinister ambient soundscapes. Full details, pre-order information and downloadable samples are available here.

It's been hard work and a lot of fun getting this all together, so get your pre-orders in and put the 13th/14th of July in your diaries to join us at the webcast!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Ninki V

Over two years ago I mentioned a re-mix that I had completed, but no more was said. Unfortunately the album it was destined for, a special re-mix version of Ninki V's album "We Can Fly", is currently on-hold, so the song, called "Count the hours, Fix the Wings", will appear on our debut album.

We Can Fly Cover

The song is based on Ninki V's original solo melodica piece, which has been warped and extended before adding several layers of theremin, guitar, mandolin and vocals. I have now also re-recorded the vocals and added some de Florette drums through the process of xenochrony, and so we now have another Lunacy Board track to add to the growing collection.

Ninki V's style is certainly as eclectic as our own - she composes for a Wakemanesque collection of Casio keyboards, theremin, flute and melodica, whilst her stage show includes playing the theremin with her hair and extensive use of puppetry. Jump over to her website for some samples.

The Dougmeister

In a similar vein we're pleased to be including our first foray into xenochrony on the album. "Xenochronous Requiem For A Head Laying In A Field In Butler" was based on a bass solo by Board collaborator Doug Boucher and was originally destined for the "Stockholm" soundtrack album.

Since the track fits within the style of the first album so well, and has already been regularly featured on Spellbound Radio, it has been placed where it belongs. Doug has been pretty busy writing new material for his solo shows lately, so a trip to his Myspace page is worth a regular visit as he swaps new material in and out on a regular basis.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Album's in Sight

We had a pretty long, and fairly intense, recording session today, getting drums, bass and lead vocals completed for all the remaining album tracks. Since we've done most of these in practices for over a year now it was not a case of learning things anew, but rather laying down the definitive takes. After a slightly creaky start we got well under way, with Sean adjusting to playing along with a click track on some songs - not something we've ever done before, but a necessary evil of doing the initial base tracks that I've been working on over the last couple of months.

We got some good recordings for the three 'big numbers'; "Performance Evolution" where we managed to navigate through several time signature changes and vocal styles, "Fairytale Propaganda" which we've tended to play too fast in the past, but settled on a more laid back tempo today, with a long building introduction partly inspired by Pink Floyd's "Shine on you Crazy Diamond" and the new song "Freeman" which came together quite naturally and took on a new life with bass and drums.

The two atmospheric spoken-work songs, "PKD Dum Dum" and "The Bell Curve" had a few layers of percussion and vocals added, which I'll be editing down to fit into the style of the music. "The Parallel Curve" also started life as a slow spoken-word thing, but we've tried a number of approaches to it over the last year without success. Today Sean started singing the lyrics at a much faster tempo and it fit well, so we quickly pulled together a rhythm part for him to sing along with and we finally had a recording of the song that actually works.

With all that put together, I have some further overdubs to add, then work can begin on mixing, so I'll probably not be reporting back on here until I have some completed songs to comment on (i.e. Hype!)

There will also be some lead-up PR work being done over the next few weeks to let people know what's coming from The Board, including the cover for the album, which is now complete and agreed and the ability to pre-order the album with a special incentive!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Winning the Smile


I've just finished off the first of the three songs that have been worked on for the last week or so, 'The Winning Smile'. I ended up taking out all the midi tracks and keeping everything analogue - vocals, guitar, ukulele and the Crumar Performer string section - it sounds totally different to the first attempt.

Then, after posting this and looking through the lyrics to the song it dawned on me that I had missed a whole section out, which explained why the song had ended up about a minute shorter than I had expected.

Currently busy with the artwork for the new album...

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Lick of Paint

In preparation for finally getting this album out, I've given The Lunacy Board website a bit of a makeover. It's not quite as haphazard as it once was, and should be a bit easier to find your way about.

No update on finished base tracks, as I ended up working on three at once, two of which are our longest songs, so are taking a while. The other day I spent a lot of time on the introduction to 'Fairytale Propaganda', which builds up gradually from a quiet and gentle start to a full-blown rocker. When I returned to work on it at the weekend I realised that it was just too ornate and over-orchestrated, so it will need to be stripped back a fair bit.

'The Winning Smile' also had to be changed, as I had set it up with a simple piano backing, but it just didn't sound as good as it had done previously, so it now has a gentle guitar backing to start it off, but is still in the early phase of construction, so will also be getting some bass and strings.

'Performance Evolution' is our big concept number in about five sections which vary in style from ethereal dream-like harps and strings via neanderthal punk waltz and sugary pop to aggressive guitar serialism. Needless to say, this is taking a while to come together, though all the basics are there - it's really only needing drums, vocals and lead guitar parts added. More on this when it's done.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And Here Comes the Ice Pick in the Forehead!

Walter Freeman

This was a very productive evening, following a bit of research over the last few days, I have written and recorded the basic backing parts for a whole new song. It is an upbeat, almost 50's style, song about the antics of neurologist Walter Freeman. He came up with the idea of the transorbital or 'ice pick' lobotomy, featuring the practice of inserting sharp implements into the eye sockets of patients and waggling them about inside their brains. No, really.

What I think is more jaw-dropping is that he traveled the USA in his lobotomobile (yeah - see what Batman was missing!) performing this procedure without surgical equipment or even any surgical training. Sometimes it worked, but there are many documented examples, of over 3000 he carried out, where things didn't exactly go to plan.

Although lobotomy in general has been widely banned and replaced by antipsychotic drugs, there are still a few places in the world that practice a more refined variation. Like Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, just up the road from here.

Nice to know.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Bell Curve

The Bell Curve

Another set of backing tracks have been completed, this time for a short spoken-word piece by Sean, called "The Bell Curve". It is a very laid-back track, starting with an atmospheric build up of synth textures which give way to a gentle string-based backing. This was the first time I've extensively used my 'new' Crumar Performer on a recording - the resonant synth-brass sound sits in the background of the introduction, then the string sound was used in the main part of the track. It can be quite noisy compared to modern synths, but has a great feeling of movement which helps keep the fairly simple chord pattern interesting.

Some of the effects noises in the introduction came from the depths of my old TX81Z sound module, several of which were originally designed for the instrumental "Mick's Astonishing Megamix (parts 1-4)" back in the Deserters - slowly evolving drain-like sounds. Great fun to revisit those things and find another use for them.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dum Dum

I'm progressing well with the base tracks I'm putting together, but took a little detour tonight. Shortly after we recorded 'The Unofficial National Anthem', Sean wrote a song called 'PKD dum dum', which had a set of pretty complex chords. Not unplayable, but certainly hard to commit to memory. I've been sitting on it for a while now, digging it out every once in a while to see if I can fit some structure to the chords, but it has always evaded me. I tried again tonight, not using the guitar as I would normally, but very slowly on the keyboard instead. What emerged was a dream-like track which wouldn't seem entirely out of place in Twin Peaks. I love it when a song takes you somewhere you really didn't expect!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Busy Busy

Lunacy Board Logo


It's been a hectic month or two, mostly due to the day job, but there has been a little progress on various musical fronts. Non-Lunacy Board collaborations are ticking over very slowly. One is a duo with an electronic musician from Manchester - so far I have a handful of his pieces that I'm working through - adding, warping and generally abusing to create something new, and we'll also be meeting up occasionally for more spontaneous creations. The other is a local band which is in a fairly embryonic stage at the moment - still waiting to confirm the final line-up - playing original blues/rock material. Something of a change for me, but as they say, a change is as good as arrest.

The outside world is still holding up things in the world of the Board, so in the mean time I have been working on some basic tracks from a few songs we've put together over the last year or two, but only played in rehearsal. Fairytale Propaganda had a live airing at last year's "Hands Off 2007" gig, but the studio version builds more slowly and is a bit more complex than the original rocky take. The other song is a bit of a prog epic - the demo comes in at around 15 minutes long. We've practiced it in sections so far, and I did prepare a cut-down version for HO2007, but the looper packed in before I got to it, and as a solo piece it needs the looper to pull it off, as there are about 5 main sections to it, most in different time signatures. Once I have these together it should make the recording sessions for these run more smoothly and hopefully let us catch up some lost ground in time for...

Project Quintilis

Just a working title... suitably pompous? I'm really quite excited about this, if we can pull it off. I'm just working on the plans for it, but I need to keep it under wraps for the moment until I know we have the time to make it work. Let's just say it involves our first album and related activity. More details in June if it is going ahead...

New Songs

And finally, a significant number of lengthy roadtrips over the last two months have given me various bits of inspiration for some new songs. I have vague outlines for 5 new songs and another is almost complete. They are all character-based, rather than my other recent songs which have had a large element of social commentary. Two of them are Dunoon-centric - yes, I'm rapidly heading towards having a whole album's worth of Dunoon material, which seems to be almost writing itself. I suspect my muse is trying to tell me something...?

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Splinters 3


Anybody wishing to get their hands on the first CD appearance of The Lunacy Board, before any official release, now has the chance with Splinters 3.

This is a double CD compilation of artists influenced by Roy Harper and includes everything from progressive rock extravaganzas to simple folk songs in a single package. At only £6.50 it's a bit of a bargain, too.

The Lunacy Board track featured is 'The Unofficial National Anthem', so if you like the song and want a copy in its full CD-quality glory, rather than the mp3 version on the website, get yourself over to now to order it!

Other news from the Board... Not so much to report - we've had a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get together for more recordings, but various factors have conspired against letting these happen, so no new songs or recordings to report. Work on 'Stockholm' continues, though at a fairly slow pace. More news on that front when it arrives.

Finally, I may have another slow-boiling collaboration on the way - something quite different to the Board, but it's all a bit tentative at the moment to let any more out of the bag at this stage.

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