Friday, 30 September 2011

Grizzly Bear GO TO CHURCH (via @aschernathan)

Not really much more to say... Veckatimist for me is one of the greatest albums in the last few years. A complete masterpiece by an insanely talented band. Great to see a glimpse of how it was put together... Thanks to my pal Ascher for finding it

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Drive (Cliff Martinez Appreciation Post)

Went to see 'Drive' last night. Had never seen any of Nicholas Winding Refn films before but had heard great things about the Pusher Trilogy and Bronson, and obviously this had Christina Kendricks in it so needed to be watched. She's actually in it for about 5 minutes but anyway.

As the credits started rolling I saw that the score for the film was done by Cliff Martinez, and I just rolled back in my seat... got comfortable. I knew I was in good hands musically. Martinez is responsible for some of my favourite modern-day film scores, namely Traffic and Steven Soderbergh's remake of Solaris. Fantastic suites of music. The Traffic OST was quickly deleted, but fortunately for you music-fans Martinez has made all of his deleted soundtracks available for FREE DOWNLOAD. Awesome-o.

Anyway, I digress. Needless to say, the sounds in 'Drive' are on point. Musically (and visually) it feels very much like an homage to the 80s work of Michael Mann. Mann's films were largely scored by the kosmische band Tangerine Dream and their various members, so it's no surprise that Martinez's roots are in rock music; he played drums for Captain Beefheart, in his final incarnation of the Magic Band, and then for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers on the early albums where they worked with George Clinton as producer.

Despite all this love for Martinez, what really steals the show in Drive is the song 'A Real Hero' performed by College (featuring Electric Youth). Don't know much about the band, a quick googling shows that they are a belgian electro-pop band doing the whole 80s revival thing. The song just fits so perfectly. it crops up at various points in the film, but when it plays over the end credits, it's heartbreaking. WHAT A SONG. I can't remember the last film I saw where the music was this impressive. It's highly recommended.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Digitech XP Series and the mysterious Jetpack

In other Digitech news, I have recently acquired a jetpack-modded Digitech XP-1000... it's amazing and definitely the most mental effects pedal I own (although the Shin Ei Companion Fuzz I got recently is a bit freakay)

Digitech, for the uninitiated, make pretty much universally-undesirable shite digital effects for guitar. There are a few anomalies though. The talker, their attempt at a vocoder, is awesome though and rightly scoured for on eBay by me and others. Also, they released a range of expression pedals prefixed by XP of which a couple are awesome. They failed commercially and they are now discontinued.

Firstly, the XP-100, also called the Whammy Wah, which is a slightly shitter version of their classic WH-1 Whammy pedal as used by Jack White, Tom Morello etc for those crazy dive bomb effects. This gives you the ability to pitch your signal up and down via an expression pedal, up to a range of two octaves. kewl.

Then, the best one, the XP-300, also know as the Space Station. This has crazy presets adding synth swells to your signal, the time warp delay presets (which can only be described as like someone doing drunken scratching of a record of your guitar playing), and other weird stuffs like bitcrushing, ring modulation, eerie resonant reverbs, sample and hold... Here's a demo of some guy who sounds like he's in a toilet doing a demo of all 40 presets. His trainers are well ugly:

There are also the Modulator and Reverberator pedals in the series, which are crap apart from the reverse reverb presets which are cooliamundo...

Anyway, the point of all this, is that there existed a legend in guitar nerd world, of a man, known only as jetpack, who could modify any XP series pedal so that it had ALL FOUR MODELS IN ONE, interchangable with a chicken-head knob that could be turned when the unit is powered down.

I had to have this pedal... and I managed to track jetpack down from a completed eBay auction. He actually no longer sells them on eBay and does them in incredibly limited quantities. Took a few months of negotiation, skip to the end, yesterday it finally arrived. I absolutely can't wait to reamp vocals, drums, synths through this thing... it's so so so so cool. Thanks jetpack!


I've been lusting after a digitech talker recently (as used by Daft Punk for all their vocoded classics) and was reminded to check a rather cool link that my friend Nicolas, a talented french house producer himself, sent me on the history of the vocoder. It's all in french and that studying I did for my GCSE has long since disappeared from my brain, but the video on the page is supercool