U2 Who Knew?

I’ve never been a big U2 fan. I think I bought “The Unforgettable Fire” and never really went back to them. Along the way there have been a number of their songs that I liked a lot, but being U2, it was unnecessary to actually acquire a personal copy. Their music is on the radio and ‘in the air’ enough that actually owning it seems redundant. Plus, when it comes to music I’m always away from the big campfire poking around under the bushes, looking for interesting and odd things.

But U2’s performance on David Letterman last night pretty much blew me away. I don’t even know the song — it’s one from the new album. But several things struck me about the performance:

The band is supernaturally tight, and it only takes 3 of them to generate an arena-sized sound.  I know the new album has a lot of Eno’s mutters and burbles from what I read in the Times the other day, but these guys could cut an album in a day, just playing live, and I think it would be just as good.

Bono, when I hear recordings, kind of leaves me cold as a singer.  He’s always a bit over the top, in an almost Elton John way, only with a much better singing voice than Elton John.  There’s something too ingratiating and eager to please in his delivery.  But seeing him do what he does in front of an audience it all makes sense.  Put him in front of an audience and he’s several things at once — carnival barker,  ridiculous go go dancer, rock and roll singer, and regular bloke just chuffed to be there. As an aside, I’ve seen Coldplay on TV a few times recently, and I realize now that Chris Martin’s hyperactive contortionist shtick he got straight from Bono, but on Martin it looks awkward and self-conscious.

And the audience was as interesting to watch as the band in this context.  The first 2 thirds of the song, the collection of random out-of-towners and college students stayed in their seats and enjoyed the show pretty much as though they were watching it on television. But the last third of the song, after Bono got right in their faces and commanded  them to stand, they were all on their feet clapping and cheering, almost as loud as the band itself.  In the course of five minutes U2 owned the joint like they’d already paid off the mortgage.

The fact that I got this all from watching it on television really says something.  After a lifetime (Almost 30 years, dude — their first album was all over college radio when I was in college in 1980) of listening to U2 with an attitude of indifference, I get it now.  I still will get more excited on a day to day basis about Omar S and Fennesz and Burial and Melt Banana, but as far as I’m concerned U2 has nothing to prove to me any more.  They’re a great band long after most of the performers in their cohort are dead or bitter overweight night watchmen, and perhaps the best live performers currently working.  Basically it’s U2, Prince and Bruce Springsteen, and everyone else a distant second.

Jumping on the Dubstep Bandwagon, 5 Years Late….

I don’t claim to be an expert on Dubstep. I’m not British for one thing, and my taste runs to stuff that really isn’t in the clubbing Dubstep comfort zone. What I like about Dubstep is its heritage twice or thrice removed from Jamaican Dub, its re-purposing of the 2 step shuffle from UK Garage, the deep bass, and most of all, the way certain producers go their own way when the big bucks are in cranking up with the next wobbly bass stepper.

Most of these are tracks I’ve acquired (by paying for them, funnily enough) along with a few oddities, like the Random Trio track, which turned up in odd corners of the internet. I’m sure I’m doing it all wrong, with respect to real Dubstep DJs, and I’m sure my track choice is probably way too obvious to some. But it’s something I enjoyed spending a few hours lashing together, and it’s meant to be an example of the form for an article I’m planning to write…

Direct Link For Download

RECORDING TECHNIQUE: Ableton Live, sequenced live with a MIDI controller. 43 minutes 33 seconds. I did edit the last mix after I was done, but everything else is just fingers in motion.

Track Listing

1. Martin – Vancouver (2562s Pour Natuur Mix)
2. Random Trio – Marachi Kinky
3. Scuba – Twista
4. Plastician – Unhappy Shopper
5. Vex’d – Ghost
6. Mark One – Doomed
7. Skream – Bahl Fwd
8. 2562 – Greyscale
9. Burial – U Hurt Me
10. Scuba – Timba
11. Kode 9 & Space Ape – 9 Samurai
12. Burial – Archangel
13. Martyn – Virgo

Pluggo gratification

Well it took 4 days, but my shiny new Pluggo is authorized. In honor of this I put together a sort of fake techno jam:
Pluggo Test

All sounds are from Pluggo Instruments — Analog Drums, Analog Percussion, Deep Bass, Additive Heaven. Pluggo FX are Feeback Network and Chamberverb. Other than that I used a limiter on the channel playing the Feedback Network.

Of course, Pluggo is wacky, and one unusual wackiness is that the instruments can stumble rhythmically. You can hear this happening at 1:16…

I can see why a lot of people don’t think very highly of Pluggo; compared to a lot of other plugins they’re kind of difficult to control and they can sound really raw, even ugly. Of course those are the things I like about them. They’re a nice compromise between the
low level monkeying you have to do with Reaktor or Max, and the limited sonic possibilities of more straightforward plugins.

Oh and ‘Pluggo’ is also, apparently, the manufacturer of of machines that put the rubber caps on sterile blood sample vials.


SO FAR SO SO: Retrospective 1995-2005

I’ve been meaning to do this for some time, so here goes. This is a collection of unreleased songs from my back catalog. There’s all sorts of genres represented, but in choosing the tracks, I tried to pick songs that were the best example of I was doing at any given time. I haven’t dated them here, but some of them date themselves. For example, when was it a big deal to do an Amen break track? When were 90BPM hip hop instrumentals something people made a million of?

These tracks are lousy with uncleared samples; consequently if anyone actually recognizes a sample of their work and objects I’ll remove the file.

If someone takes a particular shine to a track and wants to remix it let me know. Most of these only exist as mixdowns of long-lost percursor files and sequences, but if I can provide individual sounds, I’d be happy to.

So Far So So — one zip file

1. NYE[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/01%20NYE.mp3]

2. Morton’s Shadow (samples from Morton Subotnick “Silver Apples of the Moon” and DJ Shadow) [audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/02%20Morton%27s%20Shadow.mp3]

3. Lucas[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/03%20Lucas.mp3]

4. Noise Dub[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/04%20Noise%20Dub.mp3]

5. Grandiose (with Lucas Williams on Guitar)[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/05%20Grandiose.mp3]

6. Sweetness (samples Lush)[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/06%20Sweetness.mp3]

7. Windchime[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/07%20Windchime.mp3]

8. Monked (samples Theleonius Monk and Weather Report)[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/08%20Monked.mp3]

9. The Wrong Trousers (with Axy Jeeb)[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/09%20The%20Wrong%20Trousers.mp3]

10. Mayday[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/10%20Mayday.mp3]

11. Little Miss (samples Raymond Scott and Elaine Elias)[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/11%20little%20miss.mp3]

12. Inna (samples Inna & the Farlanders)[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/12%20Inna.mp3]

13. Hubert (samples Hubert Laws)[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/13%20Hubert.mp3]

14. Honey (samples (samples Sweet Honey In The Rock)[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/14%20Honey.mp3]

15. Gee Why[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/15%20Gee%20Why.mp3]

16. Busy Signal[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/16%20BusySignal.mp3]

17. AD Remix (based on samples from Andrew Duke)[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/17%20AD%20Remix.mp3]

18. Labor Day[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/18%20Labor%20Day.mp3]

19. Nativity (samples some crazy bible story 7″ record)[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/19%20Nativity.mp3]

20. Redux [audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/SoFarSoSo/20%20Redux.mp3]

Creative Commons License
SO FAR SO SO by Kent Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.cornwarning.com.