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Chris's Blog Archive: April 2024

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Last update: April 2024

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The older I get, the more I realise that the only sensible response to an increasingly irrational world is to try and make nice things for people. And so I make music. Lots of it.

You can stream or buy my latest album Something To Do While I Think Of Something To Do at Bandcamp, where you can also explore my extensive discography of older material.

Looking for social media? Here's my Facebook Artist Page and Instagram. You can also follow me on Mastodon.

LATE NIGHT

I was out doing sound for a mate's band again last night. They were playing the local pub, and the room can be a bit twitchy for live music because it has a suspended wooden floor that acts like the head on a drum and standing waves can build up in the low frequencies. Also, there really isn't enough room to properly isolate the band from the PA, so I had to be on my toes to kill any feedback that kicked in. It was a full-on task for a couple of hours, and when I got home I realised just how tired I was. But the band have been watching video of themselves on Facebook this morning and said they sounded good, so I'm happy.

The band have lent me a dedicated control unit which I use to configure the mix remotely: a Kindle Fire tablet. I was surprised by just how much more latency it had compared with Ewan's iPad (which I'd been borrowing up until now) but it got the job done and it still had plenty of juice left in the battery when the band closed their set at just after 11 pm. Okay, it doesn't confer the same kudos on the user as a large mixing desk would do, but believe me, it's a lot quicker to put away afterwards and it's much easier to carry about...

AND CHILLY

The sky was clear when I left the pub last night and it remains so this morning; it's a beautiful sunny day outside with clear blue skies, which makes a nice change (even better, my PV system currently starts to generate power at 06:50 am and by 09:15 the battery was back up to full charge!)

But those clear skies overnight resulted in a frost first thing; the minimum temperature in the back garden dropped to -1°C (30°F) so we're not entirely rid of winter just yet...

OOPS

Back on April 9th I updated my Eventide H90 to firmware version 1.8.5, which had just been released. When the pedal restarted, only the left hand output channel was working. After a lot of tinkering and swapping leads in the studio to make sure that it wasn't some other piece of my gear at fault, I realised that it was the H90 itself that was the source of the problem. So I rolled the firmware back to the previous version (which, thankfully, was very easy to do with the pedal's H90 Control software) and hey presto, I had effects processing in stereo once again.

Let's try that again, I said to myself. So I restarted everything and had another go. This time, the update went perfectly and I've been running the pedal on version 1.8.5 ever since.

However, I posted a message on Eventide's support forum asking if anyone else had experienced the same behaviour, and it turned out that quite a few people had. In fact, the thread seems to have prompted an official announcement by Eventide (who have figured out what was going on) and an updated firmware release is due out later today. I will therefore regard the new version of the firmware as being my personal firmware update, and there's nothing you can do to stop me...

NOPE

I plan on having my bathroom completely remodelled later this year. One thing is for certain: I will not be engaging the services of the company who were responsible for this little home decor nightmare under any circumstances. (Found via the always entertaining Kottke.org on Mastodon).

STILL HERE

Any day that I wake up without World War Three having broken out overnight is a good day. Let's hope that this continues.

From the looks of things, the day isn't going quite so well for the orange one though, is it?

SPRING CLEANING

Yes, I've had a tidy up. I've been meaning to streamline the blog's page header for a while now, and after a bit of a play this afternoon, this is what I've come up with.

In the process of doing that, however, I finally tracked down what it was that has been making my pages render strangely in Firefox since December, because when I tested the new layout of the page header from a file on a local hard drive I was rather surprised to see that both the Raleway and Noto Sans fonts that I use were back to rendering like they used to do (with a medium weight, rather than the extremely light version I've been seeing so far this year). It turns out that the way fonts are called from fonts.googleapis.com has been streamlined in order to make using them easier, but my old code, which only called specific font weights, didn't degrade quite as gracefully as one might have hoped. So now I've adopted Google's revised method for calling specific fonts, and hey presto! Now everything looks like it used to do once again.

POLITICS AND POWER

The situation in the Middle East heated up still further overnight and to say that it's making me nervous would be an understatement. Iran may not have nuclear weapons today, but thanks to Donald Trump's ham-fisted handling of things a few years ago it appears that they would find it quite easy to change that situation.

I'm no political pundit but it has long seemed to me that the quality of people who choose politics as a career has declined rapidly over the last forty years or so. I can't think of any country these days which has someone in charge I would trust to sort out this mess adroitly and sensibly.

"Keep my head down and hope for the best" seems to be the only option available.

STUFF GOING ON

DPD should be delivering a custom-built flight case for my D3200 later today. That will make the process of doing live recordings out on the road significantly less risky, even if the current round of sessions in Chipping Sodbury has finished for the time being. I really like the buzz of working in a big room with a live band, and getting out there and doing stuff is a very different kettle of fish from watching "how to do it" videos on YouTube. I've learned a tremendous amount over the past month.

All the same, it's much easier when I can work with the musicians who are involved at home, and that's what I've mostly been up to this week. Last night I was tracking Michaela's vocals for a project with Function 246 and after a bit of thought we decided to go with my Shure Super 55, a.k.a. the "Elvis Mic". It turned out to be the perfect choice as the results show off her amazing voice really well. She nailed every song with the first take, too. Nice!

This afternoon I should be working on guitar tracks with Paul, which is always fun because we're both old musos, and this is what we like to do.

BIT WINDY

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were some of the windiest I've ever seen while I've lived here, and it's coming up on 29 years since I moved in. Storm Kathleen has been clobbering the country for what feels like weeks, and although there's no flooding around here, the back garden is a swamp once again and the lawn can only be negotiated with wellingtons (I just topped up the bird feeders again). I haven't been able to get the grass cut yet (not that this is particularly high on my list of things to do) but I will need to get the garden in some sort of order before the patio and drive are relaid at the end of the month. I'm looking forward to that happening, as it will make quite a difference to the house's appearance.

Last night was clear and chilly; the minimum temperature here was down to just 3°C (37°F) but it probably won't come as a surprise if I tell you that it's raining again this morning.

April showers, indeed.

HAPPY (BANDCAMP) FRIDAY!

Once again, Bandcamp are waiving their transaction fees today so that artists get a little more money from each sale than they would normally do, and I've already made a few purchases of my own. Should you wish to pick up anything of mine on the site, you can find it all conveniently listed on a single page here.

Last night's listening party for Something To Do While I Think Of Something To Do went way better than I expected. The number of people who RSVP'd to the invite was in double figures, and I'd told myself beforehand that if half of them actually showed up, I'd be happy. So I was surprised and delighted to discover that even more people showed up on the night, and they stayed, too!

Bandcamp's listening parties have reminded me just what a powerful and enjoyable experience it can be to sit down and listen to an artist's album in its entirety from start to finish. It was something that I'd do on a daily basis as a teenager, but as I grew older there was never as much time available for such things and I gradually fell out of the habit. The way that music is presented to us has changed, too; simply clicking on a track or letting the random play function take over the responsibility for choosing what you hear means that listening to all the tracks on a single album, in order and without interruptions, has become a rare occurrence. That really needs to change, because we're missing out on something that is positive and sustaining—and simple to do.

GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE

In a triumph for outsider artists everywhere, the late Ron Gittins's extraordinary flat in Birkenhead has been given Grade II listing, which means that the building's current state must be preserved and protected. Have a look at the Guardian's photos and then watch the slideshow tour of the property and you'll see just how extraordinary the place is.

LISTEN IN

It's Bandcamp Friday again tomorrow. For 24 hours from 8.00 am BST on Friday until 8:00 am on Saturday morning, Bandcamp will waive their fees for any purchases made on the site (PayPal, sadly, do not). And I have a new album released there, all ready and waiting.

A couple of my online musician friends have suggested that I ought to do listening parties for my music, so tonight I'm going to do just that. If you click here, you can RSVP and book yourself a space. The online chat part will start at 19:00 BST this evening, and playback of my album Something To Do While I Think Of Something To Do will start at 19:30. I have a "producer's commentary" text document prepared for each track, because that's exactly the sort of thing that I'd enjoy reading during an event like this, isn't it?

I hope you'll join me this evening. And thanks to all the people who have already RSVPd!

IDIOT TERRITORY

Remind me never to visit Tennessee. The American State has just passed legislation banning "the intentional release of chemicals into the atmosphere." The bill appears to have been the result of intense pressure from a small but very vocal group of "chemtrails" wingnuts.

Congratulations, folks. It might not have been your intent, but you just made breathing illegal.

You would have thought that Western civilization had become a little more scientifically literate since the 19th Century, when the General Assembly of the State of Indiana passed a bill declaring that maths as it was was too difficult so they were going to make pi equal to three, but apparently this is not the case.

WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN

This morning the singer Fish posted to his Facebook page that he would be adding another set of matinee gigs to his farewell tour. Some of his more entitled fans had been outraged when he added some extra dates a couple of weeks ago and I know the man's got a wicked sense of humour, but the giveaway was when he went on to announce that the tour would now be sponsored by McDonalds and punters would be entitled to a free happy meal with every ticket.

So this was a quite literal case of what the French refer to as a "poisson d'Avril"—an "April Fish" and what the English-speaking world calls an "April Fool". It made me smile, although I'm now wise enough (or at least cynical enough) not to believe anything I read on the first of April any more. Given the way that truth has more or less been abandoned as a requirement of public discourse, the idea of the April Fool joke has pretty much been made obsolete.

Having said that, Robert Fripp's announcement today that he had joined the OnlyFans website, complete with a photograph of the sort of content he would be posting there, was hilarious and frankly, rather disturbing. Some things cannot be unseen...

FIRST OF THE MONTH

It's also Easter Monday today, so it's a bank holiday. I'm sitting here at my "office" desk updating the blog while listening to the Los Angeles radio station dublab streaming over the big system in the living room (because—as sometimes happens—my usual choice of station, Boston's WGBH Jazz has fallen off the Internet again).

When I've finished doing this, I'll be getting things ready for another recording session with a friend's band. The Korg D3200's flight case hasn't arrived yet, so I'm still using a canvas holdall for it. It's not optimal, but it gets the job done.

Despite it being rather dull outside, the roof is currently generating a kilowatt, and my storage battery is getting topped up nicely. I thought I was obsessed with the weather before I switched to solar energy, but getting an array of photovoltaic panels has really kicked things up a notch. I think I'm justified in this, given that my energy bill this March ended up being less than two-thirds what it was in March 2023.

I'll take that.