A Week of Beans

Hello from Planet Music Bean.

The music beans made their debut live performance last night and it seemed to go quite well. I may do it again, perhaps even indulge in a bit of Ustream! Below is a picture of me introducing them to the big, wide world.

A closer look at this week’s music beans:

Paternoster
This one is an instrumental track from the datapuddle album, MonkeySkyMonkey, which is still available pay-what-you-like at the moment. The song was originally written around an acoustic guitar loop and the underlying electronic beats and we augmented those in the studio with live bass and drums. Both acoustic guitars are played with one of those little three string capos up at the seventh fret, if you’re keen on that kind of info. The sounds that come in near the end are of Mr Puddle giving it some on a toy megaphone. Visuals, by Mr Earbrass, were originally used as part of our live presentation of the track.

Bubblewrapped
Another preprocessed bean, this time from an early collection of lextrical tracks, Whatever Happened to Boredom. A bit scary this one – the incessant, percussive attack was created using Nanoloop 2.1 and augmented by a few bass guitar tracks and a guitar line. The artwork is the cover art to the album – the result of meddling in Photoshop.

All-Seeing-Eye Hi-Fi
I’ve been making making contact with a bunch of webcomics people recently and this is the first visual contribution from Nathan James Page. I imagine that an All-Seeing-Eye Hi-Fi would sound something like that, but there are no guarantees. I created the track using Synplant and bashing on midi pads. I look forward to doing more stuff with Nathan.

Spool
This music bean worked the other way around. I sent Zora the track to listen to and gave her free reign to interpret it. In fact, we worked in a similar way on Fairy Chains, Dance of the Broken Robots and Power Supplied, with me supplying the music and/or lyrics to Zora to work with. Check out all of her music bean work, it’s really great! The tune is from my forthcoming album Heavy Lextricity. It has been finished for ages now, but there has been a problem with the master for the final, 12 minute long, track that caused delays. It will be available very, very soon! Anyway, the music was originally built up around a loop that I put together on a loop pedal, but it is one of those pieces that has undergone so many changes and mixes, with various instrumentation and rhythm tracks being added and removed, that the original loop is still there, but only comes in and out later in the track. It has been suggested that this piece sounds like the fairies in the track Fairy Chains escaping from their shackles. In my musically addled mind, I think I was trying to channel a warped vision of a Susumu Yokota track, but I doubt that makes much sense to anyone but me.

Hot Dog

A lot of fun this one. As I was saying, I have been making contact with webcomics humans through the power of Twitter and I was sent this piece for sonic interpretation by Adam Smithee from The Apple of Discord. I started off with some Spanish guitar and then moved the piece through a mangle of synth sounds, spitting the guitar back out at the end. Maybe it should’ve moved more quickly and been a bit shorter? Given more time, I imagine that I would’ve given it more fine tuning, but that isn’t really the meaning of the beans. I’m very excited to make more music beans with Adam and all the other fine comics folk that I have been speaking to. If you haven’t already, then please send me stuff.

Seeya tomorrow for the start of another week of music beans.

Greetings from Planet Music Bean

Hello there.

After following a daily schedule (with a few briefish interludes) for 113 music (& video) beans, I have decided to give myself the weekends off. It really is intensive trying to create some new sonic something every day and, with Mr Earbrass being very busy in the real world, coming up with my own visual distractions too. Big thanks to him for his hard work so far and to Zora Mae, Army of Trolls, robotyoung and Tom Munday for their fine contributions. Also thanks to the artists who I have been communicating with regarding providing new music bean illustrations; these will start appearing as of next week. If you haven’t been it touch yet, and you would like to contribute, then beans[at]magicmusicbeans.co.uk is my direct line. Please use that address for any other missives too.

I started this project as an antidote to constantly fiddling with the mixes for my now completed Heavy Lextricity album and because I found myself at an underemployed juncture. The full release of Heavy Lextricity has been delayed by a problem with the master for one of the tracks, but it will be available very soon and you can check out some previews here. My unemploy, however, appears to be ongoing. If anyone has any work for a music promoter/project & product manager/musician/dinosaur attendant/account manager/taxonomy & keywording specialist/social media meddler/beanmaker etc, then good. And can you please let me know using the address above.

It’s bean an interesting ride thus far – sorry, couldn’t resist the pun. There are now well over two hours of music beans; the majority of them new, but a few drawn from my back catalogue. If you are hungry for a music beanfeast then they are all here. That is some sketchpad of ideas, and hopefully I will soon embark on the voyage to nurture some of the best of them into more fully fledged pieces. Watch out for Growing The Beans!

Right then, onto a retrospective look at this week’s music beans. The player below holds the tunes in question, so press play now if you wish to enjoy the full audio/literary/educational experience. The titles link to the original posts if you wish to view the images and videos.

Encounter
A videobean featuring de1bert (legendary spacemonkey actor – his words, not mine) and his friend (and mine) Mr Matt Stevens. de1bert telepathically tells Matt a joke and I was a little concerned the ensuing gigglefest would result in Matt doing even more damage to his already very painful back. Fortunately, he survived the encounter, but it is probably best that they stick to communicating with each other online in future. Both de1bert and I believe that Matt should take up regular swimming to help get himself better. If you know him, or even if you don’t, then please inundate him with tweets pestering him to do so! As well as being a spacemonkey companion and Dr Who enthusiast, Matt has also been known to play a bit of acoustic guitar, so I decided that an acoustic guitar-based music bean should soundtrack their meeting. If you want to know what tuning it is in and/or where the capo is on my guitar or even what the chords are, then I can’t really help you. I’ve been very lacklustre in documenting such details, which could make it mighty tricky if and when I want to rework anything guitar-based. I should really start taking more notes and drawing diagrams, but mid-bean it never seems like the thing to do. Also, the initial impetus for this project was to quickly create new stuff and to put a stop to endless revisiting and revisions, so it somehow seems not to be in the spirit of the thing. What I can tell you is that amongst the guitar picking is some e-bowed acoustic guitar and the percussion sounds are taken from me knocking the guitar before I start playing. There’s also a good dose of reverbs and a Leslie effect going on. The film was recorded on my trusty PXL-2000, a Fisher Price invention from the eighties that records wonderfully lo-res, lo-fi images onto an audio cassette – remember those? Those of you familiar with my work and de1bert’s oeuvre, will have seen a few similar visual experiences on this site.

Billow
Another videobean. These images are treated footage of a sea anemone taken with a Pentax underwater digital camera that subsequently leaked and ceased to operate. The music’s underlying loop was created on Nitrotracker, a fantastic homebrew tracker for the Nintendo DS. There are a bunch of great musical tools that people have created for that system and you may have noticed that I use quite a few of them. Also underpinning the piece are a heavily treated, chopped up piece of phone message – a snippet of a plumber calling to apologise for not having been in touch – and a bit of a drum loop. The Spanish guitars were simply recorded using the mic on my Macbook. For some reason it was particularly tricky coming up with just the right title for this one.

Verdant
Created in Nitrotracker. Scary trumpets with a dissonance going on that I really like. This unmanipulated image was taken on my phone in Norfolk. It is of a field of sunflowers. I was taken by it’s painterly qualities.

Try
This track was created with samples of the Hunter’s Loaf album, Solomon’s Radio. I sometimes play bass with Hunter’s Loaf, but none of my playing is actually on this music bean. It was originally a longer piece, but I thought it worked better in this context as a cut-down version. The spoken words are “How and explain how and why?” – a snippet originally recorded off shortwave radio. If you fancy a bit of post-folk meandering then do check out the Hunter’s Loaf albums. The image of the watermelon man was something that caught my eye in a shop/gallery window in Budapest. If you are ever there, beware of the ticket inspectors – they take no prisoners!

Zebra Finch
Pieced together with really lo-fi samples captured on my phone at the CĂ©leste Boursier-Mougenot installation at Barbican Centre. Apologies to them for breaking the rules of the exhibit to do that and the accompanying photograph, which I was caught taking! It was a really brilliant piece of art as this video demonstrates. I was keen to try and create something that captured the essence of the installation, but that still worked as a music bean.

Semblance
Another of my videobean creations. It is treated Pixelvision footage of flowers. I particularly like the shapes and movements that appear – often like assymetrical Rorschach blots. It often looks like letters are trying to form. I produced the beats using Glitch DS – another homebrew DS app, and layered on top of them are synth sounds created on my K-Station, recently retrieved from my datapuddle partner-in-crime, Steve Puddle.

Thanks for tuning in and please spread the word of The Beans. See you on Monday for more.