July 31, 2012

Magnetic Research Centre 2201

Magnetic Research Centre 2201 is a piece of drama written by Roger Hembrough and David Lynch about 30 years ago (though some speculate it was closer to 1985). It tells the story of a man who works in a secret and dangerous research centre. He tries to retrieve his wedding ring which has fallen into a container – with rather dire results. His recovery requires a scary sounding “brain probe” and he sees and hears his life pass by during his operation.

Finally, the operation is a success and he returns triumphantly back to the land of the living.

I believe they used a Roland System 100m for most of this composition.
It's quite long, but interesting throughout.

July 29, 2012

# 5 Mothership L.P.

I bought this album in February of 1998, about a month after it was released. I loved it instantly. It was dark, electronic and melodic. That ticked every box on my list at the time. I listened to it over and over again. I've probably listened to it close to a thousand times, in fact, I'm listening to it right now! I even sent a self addressed stamped envelope to the address on the insert requesting lyrics, only to have it returned with a big red "return to sender" stamp. I guess he moved.

As with most Christian electronic music: we have an artist who was trying to emulate something and was either so out of touch that they got it all wrong or they had a stroke of genius, made certain stylistic deviations and came up with something altogether different. Whichever it was, it matters very little if one gets the same pleasure from listening. Though, it's still interesting to speculate… especially with an album one's had for so long, listened to in so many different mindsets, loved both as child and adult. I think it's completely brilliant, but based on the evidence I'd have to go with the former-- Randy Rose was going for something and (thank goodness) he completely botched it.

[A young Randy Rose, circa 1987]

Since the late 80's Randy Rose along with his older brother Rodger have been notorious for creating the "Christian alternative to _____" fill in the blank. The greatest example being their Smiths-esq song "I'd Rather Not Go There" which was an incredible (if not somewhat humorous) attempt to impart a little Christian morality into Morrissey's chastity. And the list goes on and on, each album or song with it's obvious secular parallels from Depeche Mode to The Mission UK. But I still, for the life of me, have no idea what Randy Rose' reference points where for the Mothership L.P. I remember when it came out it was billed as "trip-hop". I'm no expert on trip-hop, but it doesn't really seem like an accurate description. I'm glad I don't know what was going through his head though. That's what I love most about music. I'd call it the great mystery: something that seems like it came from somewhere else, something you could never have come up with yourself, otherworldly but still familiar enough to speak to my own northern sensibilities.

It's probably near impossible to find these days. I'm sure it completely sold out within a few years of it's release and it's a real shame because it really is a wonderful album. I do hope it's reissued one day for future generations to enjoy.


July 27, 2012

Pauline Baynes vs. Eyvind Earle

I can't help but wonder if they were inspired by one another, or even aware of one another. Surely they were aware of each other, they were both making stunning, medieval artwork at exactly the same time (50's and 60's). I suppose they were working in different mediums. Anyway, I think the similarities are pretty remarkable.

the Capture of the White Stag by Pauline Baynes from The Joy of the Court

background painting by Eyvind Earle from Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty

July 25, 2012

Top Five Albums

So, my friend David recently suggested that I do a countdown of my top five favorite albums on here. I think that's a great idea. But, just to make it a little more specific I'm just going to do my top five favorite electronic music albums. How does that sound?

David, thanks for the MC-500 disks! They came yesterday. I'm so excited!

(this picture is unrelated)

July 23, 2012

July 22, 2012

Bauline Baynes: Greatest Illustrator of All Time

This is from Puffin Annual Number Two. I can't find the other pages. Here are some other lovely illustrations from Pauline (The Silver Chair):

July 21, 2012

Dance House Children

Wisteria Time by Dance House Children

One of my favorite bands growing up. The sound guy at my church told me about them and gave me a dubbed copy of their first album "Songs & Stories" when I was about eleven years old. I used to lay on my bedroom floor in the dark and listen to their tapes over and over again. I was completely obsessed and still am.

July 20, 2012

Roland RS-505 Demonstration by Salvatore Valentino

"Demo of a few of the Roland Paraphonic RS-505 synthesizer's sounds... not a musical statement, just sounds. I just finished repairing this for a client."

A few weeks ago I went to a Voltage Control Fair. It was a little market place set up for all those new modular synthesizer companies (mostly the small, euro-rack style modules) to show off their new products. As you'd expect there were strange noises coming from every corner of the building. But that's all there was. There wasn't any music happening! Not one vender thought it important to show off the musicality of his instruments. It was then that I really realized (though I had suspected it for some time) that the world of modular synthesizers has completely swallowed itself. These hobbyists or engineers or whatever they are will tinker with their modular synthesizers for all eternity, and to what end? I don't know. I do hope there are others out there who still care about melodic compositions. Salvatore says this is just a demo and not a musical statement, but I can still hear a little music peeking through the clouds.

July 18, 2012

DR-55 Sample Rhythm

I don't know what that cymbal sound is that starts off this rhythm. The DR-55 only has four sounds: Kick, Snare, Rim and Hi-hat.

July 17, 2012

C.S. Lewis and Bambi

It's no secret that Lewis was a pretty harsh critic of Walt Disney: "if only Disney did not combine so much vulgarity with his genius!", it must have been a sort of love/hate relationship. I recently came across the following little story and thought it rather nice:

On August 13, 1948, the Lewis brothers went to the cinema to see Bambi, to satisfy their appetite for speaking animals. "The Disney film had been released in the United States in 1942, but it was only now premiering in England. Warren liked to the coloring of the seasons and Thumper’s fooling and Bambi’s feeling “kinda wobbly” on the ice; the forest fire was full of authentic animal terror. Especially pleasing to the brothers was “the prince of the deer, who without caricature, was given more than brutish dignity and majesty.”

For some reason it's so interesting to imagine my favorite author sitting in a movie theater and watching some of the same movies that I grew up with. I wonder if he ever saw One Hundred and One Dalmatians?

July 15, 2012

July 10, 2012

Computer Fires Park's Fireworks

Happy belated 4th! I meant to post this on Independence Day. I thought it would be clever, but then I forgot. So, just do some mental time traveling. Gosh, I wish I'd posted this when it was meant to be posted. It's not really the same now... is it?

July 8, 2012

MC-500 Micro Composer

One of my dearest old friends from Michigan, David, was in town this past week. He came over for a visit last night. We just talked for hours about synthesizers or whatever, playing with things here and there (I was showing him how great it is to sequence with a TR-808 and CSQ in unison). Anyway, I have an old Roland MC-500 Micro Composer that I got a while back but never quite got working. David had one years ago and knew all about it. Apparently there's a lot that happens with those floppy disks. There are two different types of floppy disks: the older kind, DD or Double Density and the newer kind, HD or Hight Density. See figure A.

It usually says somewhere on the disk if it is DD or HD, but another way to tell is that the Double Density disks only have one write protection tab and the High Density disks have two (that isn't really clearly displayed in figure A). Anyway, the MC-500 only works will Double Density disks. Where can you find them? I don't know, probably somewhere on the internet, but I'd say the cheapest way to get them is to pick through boxes of old junk at thrift stores.

July 6, 2012

Books and Things

Oh, I don't know... nothing has struck me recently to post on here. I don't want to just post for the sake of posting, you understand. I'm going to set up my studio in a few months, that will no doubt spark a bunch of ideas. I did just started reading a bunch of old books by George MacDonald.

I think I'm really going to like them. I'm currently reading Phantasies and maybe I'll read At The Back Of The North Wind or Lilith next. I think I'm going through a George MacDonald phase. We'll see.