150 / V/A: FWONK*150

Every milestone is just as important as the last, no mountain is too high to climb. For this, our 150th release on the label, we present to you a new compilation featuring 12 exclusive new songs and mixes from our artists, including 3dtorus, Antti Tammimaa, echosonic, Heskin Radiophonic, hxw hxw, Katarrhaktes, Quiggers, and we are not broken. Here’s to 150 more to come! Cheers!

download: bandcamp | archive.org

100.1 / V/A: FWONK*100

Welcome to FWONK*100 – our hundredth release on the good ship Fwonk*! As we settle down, to read our congratulatory letter from HRH The Queen, we give – as the first salvo in a five-album salute – this massive compilation to you.

Featuring Fwonk* regulars and old-timers such as Heskin Radiophonic, Styli, Vasko The Pig, Katarrhaktes, Fudgedubnofunk, Organic Shift Man and Nemmo this also features – at long last! – the first Fwonk* recording from Norwegian progmeister and father-to-us-all Eivind Fivelsdal.

Fwonk* would especially like to thank Katarrhaktes for the going and building that amazing sculpture and making the artwork just for lil’ ol’ us.

download: bandcamp | archive.org

Pete Townshend and the John Peel Lecture

The BBC and Pete Townshend came together to deliver a lecture to discuss the nature of the current music industry. This what Auntie Beeb has to say on the matter:

Pete Townshend examines the current state of music media and asks the question: Can John Peelism survive the Internet? In an age of free downloads and a disposable attitude to music, can creative people earn a living, and without radio how can the “unpolished” music that John Peel championed find an audience?

Now, I will admit I haven’t even had the opportunity to listen to the lecture yet, but will be doing soon. The rest of this post though, is about the questions raised in this press-prepared paragraph.

Firstly, is Pete “it was only research, honest, officer” Townshend really the most appropriate person be delivering a lecture about the internet? As a member of rock’s greatest generation, I have no problem with his musical output – vintage Who records are some of the most dynamic and thrilling music ever put to tape. But Pete Townshend is also part of that same generation who have recently won a copyright battle to ensure that they kept earning money from 50 year old records. This is not a change to the law to help nurture creativity or foster new talent – this is a change to keep rock dinosaurs in their gilded towers.

Can musicians earn a living in the internet age?

Music is as old as humanity itself, and although the recording industry is over 100 years old, it is only from the late 60s that the musicians have made much money from their albums: the Beatles were given a pittance along with Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and everyone else. The money – even from the days of classical composers with their printed sheet music – has for the rest of time been gobbled up by the publishing companies – the men in the suits.

For all of human history musicians had to earn their money by going out and performing it. We have had a 30-40 year window where musicians could stay at home and earn money. It could be argued that the internet has changed things back to how they have been for millennia – it applies to Lady Gaga who has made about $1.37 from over 12 billions plays on Spotify, but earns her millions through live performance. I’m not saying it’s fair, but when has life ever been fair?

What about “John Peelism”?

John Peel was probably most famous for playing the records that no-one else would touch with a shitty-stick. For every time he helped to launch a band into the big time (which I’m not sure he ever did!) there were a hundred that never made it, and these people made music for their sheer love of it. These long forgotten bands made roughly $0.00 in their entire music making careers, had to take day jobs to pay the bills, sweating it out in crappy pub gigs in Huddersfield, not headlining Wembley Stadium. Townshend and the BBC are conflating rock and roll megastars with the long forgotten, and erroneously equating them.

I think that “John Peelism” – music that is gritty and unhyped, bullshit free music created by people for their love of making music – not only survives on the internet, it positively thrives. The computer revolution can put an affordable recording studio in anybody’s home, and with an internet connection, you can have it heard around the world within seconds of uploading it. There’s Bandcamp, Soundcloud and many, many more sites that allow you to upload your music and make money from it – with no middle man. There are netlabels, there are internet radio stations, there are podcasts and more to help push it.

Much missed though he is, you no longer need a John Peel, you only need a search engine. BBC and Mr Townshend… welcome to the internet.

[Tutorial Thursday] Learn to Live Vol 3 Ep3: Capital City DJ Olympics Postmortem

Ok, so that happened!

First, I want to say thanks for sticking with me as I blog about my entry into the Capital City DJ Olympics. This will be the last post on that topic. Returning readers may remember that 2 weeks ago I was freaking out about entering the DJ competition, and was scouring the internet for tutorials. Then, by last week, I had pretty much set up my Live Template for DJing, in preparation for my first DJ performance on 10/23/2011.

SO… HOW DO IT GO!?

It went well, I think. I – along with the other DJs in the competition – owe some thanks to the guys at Boxcar Management for putting on a great event. Lots of people came out, and it was a great time.

Live footage of my set:

(SPOILER: the camera never turns away from the goofy looking DJ guy)

… and a recreation of the set on Mixcloud:

(I forgot to record the set at the event itself, but based on what I remembered about the set and the live footage I could recreate the set pretty well.)

Anyways, yeah. As promised, here’s this week’s tutorial, on warping tracks in a way that will make your DJ life more convenient:

See you next week! Leave some comments if you have any questions!
-Clint

Buying The Dark Side of the Moon (again)

So, here it is again, Pink Floyd’s veritable cash cow. Released again in new packaging, newly remastered and sold to the public yet again. I must confess that this is the fourth time I’ve bought the album – the first was a cassette in the late 80s, followed by the unremastered CD, then my long-since destroyed vinyl and now again in it’s newly remastered form.

Why do I keep coming back to this album? Why do I, and clearly so many others buy it time and time again? The answer is obvious – cos many people think it’s brilliant! And, in it’s own way, on it’s own terms, it is.

More to the point, why am I buying it again? I was drawn for two reasons. Firstly, and less importantly, I wanted a remastered CD of it, and a quick A-B with my old unremastered CD (the only previous copy I still have) is a revelation. It’s crisper, cleaner and just better. It’s like having an old friend round. Lovely.

The main reason I wanted it was because it comes in a 2xCD edition with a live version of the album from 1974. Now, I will confess that I have many Pink Floyd bootlegs from throughout their career, and their 1971-1974 period sees them at the peak of their powers. I note that the packaging doesn’t say which of the Empire Pool shows from Wembley this is – it’s probably an amalgamation, certainly Roger’s clanging bum-note from Us And Them on the BBC live broadcast gig is missing in this latest version.

There are things I miss in the official non-bootleg, polished version of the live show(s) – guitars and bass are too loud in “rockers” Time and Money, at the cost of some exquisite keyboard work. I’m not particularly keen with the mixing and EQing of the bass sound on many tracks to give it a deeper/”sub-ier” sound – I love the classic Fender Precision wooden plank sound on the bootlegs and Live at Pompeii concert.

But these are the petty whinges of an absolute Floyd nerd. Let me say that the live concert is stunning – On The Run particularly benefits from official studio time and extended frequency range, synths throbbing in the basement, stereo squeals and more. It is probably the first official Pink Floyd release that lets you hear just what a good bass player Roger Waters can be.

And, as The Great Gig in the Sky finishes with jazz noodling, the cash-till clanking on Money begins to fade in, you realise something not accomplished on the actual record. You realise that The Dark Side of the Moon is not a collection of songs, it is one piece of music – much in the way the Atom Heart Mother and Echoes previously had various “scenes”, so each song is a “scene” in the entire piece. You understand why Pink Floyd sued EMI for selling individual tracks online – it’s that these aren’t individual tracks, they are sections of one 45 minute long song. And that is why I keep buying it: it reveals more and more on every listen.

Going Straight: Week 3 – The Dream and the Fulfilment

Balham, a little while before the turn of The Millenium.

This was the first time I had moved out of home and my life is a haze of Northern Lights and Squishy Black. Doves, Mitzubishi and Red Bulls cost 15 quid a pop, I go clubbing at Heaven, Tennents Super actually tastes nice and “music is my life man!” The music I am obsessing over is The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Nine Inch Nails and I’ve Just heard Aphex Twin’s Come To Daddy for the first time. My band mates have all buggered off to Uni and I can’t be arsed to find new ones so it is at this point I think Dance Music is the way forward. Guitar and Peavy amp mothballed in Ma n Pa’s attic, I trundle into the nearest WH Smiths and pick up the latest Music Tech Magazine (or it might have been Future Music.. not sure).

Adorning the front in glorious red and blue are KORG’s EA-1 and ER-1 Electribes. I fall in love with the look before I even know what they do, the CD given away with the mag has some samples and they sound just so.. so good! This surely is the heart, the squeal and chainsaw buzz of the music I love! (at this point I had no idea what a 303 was).

I then read the price tag: £350. So not gonna happen. I only just maxed out my first credit card on an N64 and Turok two years ago and really can’t do that again.

Upon further investigation it looks like you also kinda need a PC to do all this Dance Music malarkey and I don’t have one of them either. So I buy the mags for a while, read the articles and looks at all the pretty pictures (keep hold of the cover discs just in case, for later) but slowly the plan dies and I get distracted. The glowing and flashing KORGs get forgotten.

Fast forward a decade, three kids, a wife, a mortgage and a beer gut or so and we find ourselves on eBay again staring at this blue thing with buttons on it. And a wheel. And some pads that look suspiciously like they may glow in the dark… a quick internet search later and my heart leaps! Flashback!

This is the lead/acid synth I was looking for!

There are a steady flow of these going throught eBay it seems and they tend to be on Buy It Now for about £150. Some patience however can (as ever) reap dividends. After a fortnight of looking I found one on a 99p start that ended on a Tuesday morning(!?!) and snapped it up for 70 quid. 70 quid!!

It’s pretty knackered to be honest, scratched and dented to fuckery and some of the pots are a bits sticky but by God does it sound special. My first two hours were spent just playing with the cut off and res on all the pre-sets grining stupidly to myself. “Lookameee! Josh Winks!”

I’m just waiting for the wife and kids (and maybe neighbours) to all be out so I can run it through my Boss ‘Metal Zone’ distortion pedal. Hehehe, hehehehheeee.

NEXT WEEK: Second Hand Software.

Going Straight: Week 2 – The Plan and The Purchase

..and so it was that having decided to rid myself and my HDD of this illegal filth I thought I’d get all James May on the task and try and go about replacing all my bits and bobs in a sensible, logical and cost effective manner.

As discussed briefly before, it looked like Reaper is going to be the way forward as far as a DAW was concerned and to that end I have set aside some PayPal balance for it to be purchased later this month after my 30 trial runs out.

I though the best way to organise my shopping list was to look at my most commonly used bits of kits and find specific replacements. I’ve been flogging stuff on eBay over the last month and had gotten together a bit under 300 quid so had a half decent budget I reckoned.

While I have nothing against freeware I had my heart set on owning a couple of ‘big brand’ bits if I could and so it was back onto eBay and checking out what second hand stuff their might be. Turns out there’s a steady flow of it if you are patient. Of course they joy of ‘second hand’ software is that (barring scratched discs and registration problems) there is nothing second hand about it! As long as you are happy with a slightly battered box (fnarr) then there really is no point in buying it brand new… is there?

I was also in a mind to buy some of the stuff from the people I had previously not given any money to. If you know what I mean. The whole ‘try before you buy’ ethos perhaps actually ringing true.

With this in mind I started my search for the first thing on my list:

Primary lead/acid and bass syth.

I have used Rob Papen’s Albino 2 and 3 on probably every track I have ever made. Simple layout, obvious controls, easy to learn and the best arpeggiator I have ever used.

Sadly there was no second hand Albino software that I found and brand new it costs a hundred quid or more and I didn’t want to spend that. What I did find on my search was an LE edition of Blue! I had tried Blue a while back and I didn’t remember it being particularly ‘lead synth’ material but that it had some great pads and really intricate and delicate stuff on it. It’s an FM synth and so not directly comparable to Albino but I like Papen’s stuff so well worth a punt at £35 (+ £6 p&p….).

Anyway having used Albino, SubBoomBass and the awesomely evil Predator for a while nowI though maybe I owed him some of my 300 squid!

 

So first purchased made: Rob Pappen’s Blue LE.

The LE edition looks pretty much like this but has fewer presets and also fewer editable parameters.

 

NEXT WEEK: Primary Lead Synth yearnings still not utterly sated.. Hardware!!

 

Bandcamp – the best music solution yet?

Bandcamp - best music solution yet?

We here at Fwonk* love Bandcamp. We feel that it is currently the best, free, social platform for musicians to release their music and get it to a wider audience. MySpaces have come and gone, Facebook is bugger all use for musicians, Twitter doesn’t offer album downloads and the Internet Archive hasn’t moved on since 2002.

Soundcloud is fantastic, but unless you fancy spending lots of money getting extra space, it is rather limiting. Bandcamp, however, offers unparrallelled features for musicians. And when we say unparrallelled, we mean no-one else has bothered to do any of this!

For instance, the ability to ask for a donation for your music, rather than giving it away (or charging lots of money that no-one will pay). Or the fantastic analytics monitoring for all you stat g33ks out there.

Here at Fwonk* all of our latest releases are made available via Bandcamp, and we are offering a new solution for artists releasing music on Fwonk*, whereby the artists Bandcamp site becomes a Fwonk* site with a few easy mouse clicks and keystrokes.

But what do you think, readers? What’s your favourite social site for music? Let us know in the comments.

By the way, do people still use words like ‘whereby’ or am I reading too many Victorian novels?