October 19, 2020No Comments

Sign

Ankle now seems mostly fixed so back on the running since last time and clawing back some semblance of shape. My weight is heading back down grudgingly. I can’t do anything about looking older, or male pattern balding, but at least I can try to keep in good condition otherwise. Partly vanity, yes, but also something to do other than sitting at home sliding into the abyss.

The new album from Autechre, SIGN, came out a few days ago. Ever since Incunabula their “thing” has been to substitute your more typical Roland drum machine type sounds with pitch shifted / modulated replacements, or hits made from unrecognisable sampled sounds. But over subsequent albums they really pushed the abstraction boat out into uncharted waters making a lot of their stuff inaccessible to a lot of people. Myself included for a long time.

Over the last two years I’ve worked my way through all of their albums. What’s striking is that their music often does have a deep and melodic undercurrent but it can be found hiding behind – or within – the mechanised devices that present themselves on the surface; almost as though the melody itself is too self-conscious to come out into the sunlight in the manner of a more traditional synth line.

What keeps me going back is most of their albums contain at least one track that gives me that deeply pleasant dopamine-linked effect known colloquially as “the chills” but in the case of Autechre, and Autechre alone, it’s both my arms and legs, all over my neck and down my back and also sustained sometimes for minutes at a time. It feels like I’m becoming totally immersed in their soundscapes, which are remarkably three dimensional. Most other music feels quite flat in comparison, a mere stereo field.

And yes it’s sound design porn but I LOVE it.

Standout tracks from the five-disc release elseq (2016) are pendulu hv moda, and freulaeux. Even thinking about freulaeux is giving me goosebumps. 2018’s NTS Sessions (1-4) ends with the 58 minute all end and I currently listen to that about three times a week. It’s partly therapeutic, admittedly. Something about it speaks to my mental condition.

If in elseq and ‘NTS’ they developed new tools and what could be described as ‘systems’ (it’s all bespoke software written in MaxMSP) then it feels like with SIGN a lot of that work has been brought together in the form of a more traditional (by AE standards) album. It’s certainly calmer and more obviously melodic, something that feels quite profound during our current and difficult juncture.

Tayyab Amin writing in The Guardian said its “dystopian soundworld is now in a crowded market” and gave it only 3/5. While sci-fi themes have obviously dominated electronic music since forever this seems both a lazy and a false equivalence. Their work is abstract to the extent that it lives in its own genre – it’s never trying to be like anything else. I don’t know of any other music in the same “market” but I’d love to hear more of it if there is any out there.

Take care, try to keep it together, and don’t pay any attention to Ian Brown.

September 16, 2020No Comments

House / techno mix, Andrew Weatherall stuff, circa 1998

Tonight’s pick from the archive is this vinyl set from late 1998. It was recorded in my student bedroom on the top floor at 24 Royal Park Grove, Leeds, LS6 1HQ. This was the view from my window in the direction of Kirkstall.

I was really into Two Lone Swordsmen at the time (which was current in 98, obviously Sabres of Paradise came before that) and used to listen to a lot of that kind of stuff while most of my contemporaries living in the area were more into the burgeoning acid techno and trance scenes, neither of which were really my cup of tea. Not that I didn’t enjoy some nights out of that ilk; such as Templehead, and various things I’ve forgotten the names of that took place at the West Indian Centre

But anyway, I recored this mix on my trusty decks (when heat death of the universe finally arrives the last intact objects will be Technics 1210s). Rounding off with the luscious Rico’s Helly, followed by Hardly Breathe by Weatherall side project Deanne Day.

It gets cut short because the tape got chewed!

I have 14 mixes here on on Mixcloud. Do have a dig through if you find yourself unable to find any other music on the internet!!!!!

September 2, 2020No Comments

Back in the studio

Over the past few months I’ve not made any music. I had hoped that 2020 lockdown would present a good opportunity but March to August turned out to be my busiest months ever work-wise, made more difficult of course by the fact that schools were closed. And on top of that my mixer died and had to be sent off for repair (it was replaced under warranty so all good).

I finally got everything hooked up again yesterday and it’s great to be able to pop in there without it feeling like a chore. I have the Behringer TD-3 at my disposal now as well as the Volca Modular which I’ve hardly scratched the surface of. Planning to get some tracks together by the end of the year.

Studio kit list

I like to work with hardware and record everything live for a more natural, and less programmed, feel. I then finish things off later on the computer.

I definitely don’t use all the gear at once, most tracks use two or three synths plus some effects. But I probably still have too much stuff.

  • Akai APC40
  • Alesis 3630
  • Alesis Midiverb II
  • Alesis Quadraverb
  • Behringer TD-3
  • Behringer Ultrapatch Pro
  • Boss DS-1
  • Korg Electribe Sampler
  • Korg MicroKORG
  • Korg Volca FM
  • Korg Volca Keys
  • Korg Volca Modular
  • Korg Volca Bass
  • Mackie Mix8
  • Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6
  • Novation Circuit
  • Novation Launchpad Pro
  • Roland JU-06
  • Roland TR-8
  • Soundcraft Signature 12 MTK desk
  • Teenage Engineering PO-33 K.O!
  • Zoom H5
  • Zoom MS-50G

August 25, 2020No Comments

Drum n’ Bass mix

I’m gradually selling all my old records through Discogs. I recently got an order for some drum n' bass records and decided it would be fun to do one last mix using some of the vinyl before it went.

I recorded this mix live using one Technics 1210 deck and Traktor. It’s part vinyl and part digital. 1990s jungle and drum n’ bass. Enjoy!

Direct download link or stream below...

February 12, 2020No Comments

Week 07

On being a creative person trapped inside a technical person’s brain

Read more

January 31, 2020No Comments

DJ mix of my tracks

I have just recorded this DJ mix, with a selection of firstperson tracks from 2017-2018. Putting it all together feels like a good way of closing this chapter. I am pretty proud of a handful of these tracks for personal reasons. YMMV of course. Learned lots and now it’s time to do something a bit different... and perhaps more considered.

People in the US might not be able to play it on Mixcloud owing to the fact they have to process a waiver form saying that I produced all of the tracks in the mix. So just under the Mixcloud embed please find a direct link to the MP3 file.

Selected Firstperson Tracks 2017-2019

Selected Tracks 2017-2019.mp3 (direct link)

January 29, 2020No Comments

For The Future

Further to the previous post, here’s some new music! As usual it’s on SoundCloud which is embedded below.

Just under that is the Bandcamp release where you can buy an uncompressed WAV copy (sounds much better) for just £3.

‘For The Future’ on SoundCloud

‘For The Future’ on BandCamp

February 19, 2018No Comments

Mid-late 90s techno records for sale

I may come to regret this, say, if an electromagnetic pulse from space wipes out all of humankind's digital storage. But I'm selling most of my vinyl records.

You can find them for sale here on Discogs.

February 14, 2018No Comments

Firstperson playlist on Spotify

For anyone with:

  1. A Spotify account
  2. 1.5 hours to kill
  3. No other music to listen to...

...well you're in luck because here's a playlist of all my Firstperson stuff on Spotify:

Follow firstperson on Spotify:



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