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1 September 14 (permalink)

THE END OF SUMMER

The schools are back, and summer feels like it's over. This morning it's grey and cool outside and a light drizzle is falling. The nights are beginning to draw in really quickly now, and it's only three weeks until we reach the autumn equinox. The supermarkets have already started to put out their halloween displays, and I've even heard tell of some Christmas products going on sale. It never used to be like this, surely? When I was a kid, it felt like summer evenings went on until at least the end of September. I used to walk home under the trees, crunching the sweet chestnut husks underfoot and picking up conkers that looked promising for matches at school. It was only the clocks going back at the end of October that started us thinking about winter: Bonfire Night would get things off to a good start, and then we'd begin counting the days until Christmas and wishing it would snow. Now the seasons go past in a blur. If I have to drive anywhere in it, I greet snow with an exasperated sigh. I don't miss the 350Z at all when the weather is bad; driving it when there was ice under the tyres was terrifying.

But this time of year has always been a favourite of mine. Summer's warm glow still lingers in the landscape, and when the leaves turn golden the countryside around here is quite lovely. Up the road, Westonbirt Arboretum will look spectacular. They get 350,000 visitors a year, and the largest number of those visitors come to see the autumn colours.

AHEAD OF THE GAME

I've kept up the pace of writing at least one song a day for over a week, now. That puts me ahead of schedule for writing fifty songs in the ninety days between July 4th and October 1st. I think yesterday's song for 50/90 may be the silliest thing I have ever written:

The title is another one that I got by clicking on the Videogame Name Generator. As soon as I read what it had given me, the first couple of lines popped into my head:

There's wild things in the woods and monsters in the park
They're all up to no good so don't go out after dark...

After that it was a case of imagining which playthings from my childhood would be the ones who'd come out on top in a Toyland deathmatch. I reckoned the toys from Play School would pretty much be the cream of the crop; they're survivors, having got through several decades in the brutal environment of children's television relatively unscathed. Just don't mention knitting needles in front of Hamble. Vocally, I used the lower timbre that I used on Gear Acquisition Syndrome a few years ago. The whole jazz-funk feel seems to suit it, and I'm really pleased with how the vocals sound when they're double-tracked.

As for the music - I recently bought the Funkmasters expansion pack for EZDrummer2 and I've been delighted with the drum patterns that come with it. The drum samples themselves are from the Claustrophobic expansion pack that's become my default go-to drum sound over the last six months. Combine that with the Korg M3's great Fender Rhodes and brass section sounds and its extraordinary capabilities for speeding up the compositional process, and I had the whole track put together in about two and a half hours. Not bad at all, if I say so myself.

NOT OVER YET

The Bárðarbunga volcano in Iceland continues to grumble, and a fissure has opened that is emitting lava. But it's all happening in a very calm and non-explosive fashion and with no spectacular eruptions to look at, the story has dropped off the front pages of most news websites. There are still plenty of earth tremors going on in the area though, so things are by no means drawing to a conclusion.

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