Category Archives: Nostramus

Ysbyty Ystwyth to the Devils Bridge

Views From The Dashcam Episode 2

Activity to help alleviate isolation, mental health and loneliness during the 2020 Coronavirus 19 Global Pandemic Lockdowns.

We present another amazing immersive experience! Join us for a spectacular journey into Sound And Vision as we bring you

‘Views From The Dashcam’

“This episode filmed on a late sunny October afternoon, highlighting the autumn colours as Spon and Jon take a drive to Devil’s Bridge for some shamanic shenanigans. This trip reveals the spectacular wooded Cambrian Mountain countryside in Ceredigion, Wales. Although this area is often cold an wet in the winter, palm tress can be spotted amidst the almost alpine scenery. Devils Bridge, Pontarfynach”

On a bright sunny autumn  day back in early October my good friend Jon and I headed out to the mountains around Devils Bridge in Ceredigeon in West Wales. We were looking to travel from our base to the heights above Devils Bridge at the Hafon Arch 1300 foot 375 metres above Sea Level. By Himalayan standards it’s not that high but for this part of the world close to the Sea and at this latitude , that is pretty high. It is the point where the moorland starts. Beyond this area know as Cymystwyth/ Hafon is the “Wilderness” or “Green Desert” of Wales. This is an enormous swathe of unpopulated barren moorland that stretches for tens of miles and it is commonly known as the Cambrian mountains.


 

The Mountain walks and scenery above Hafon Arch
On the edge of the “Green Desert Of Wales”

There is a minor road an old pack horse route leading through to Rhayader on the other side and then some miles to the north is the main road , the A44 leading from Aberystwyth to Llangurig again on the other side of the mountain range.

We decided that day to visit the area above the Hafon Arch with it’s stunning views and pleasant mountain walkways (and mountain biking tracks) One could set off from here on your nike or by foot and get lost for days! This is nothing on the scale of the ‘wild west’ or Canadian outback but for the southern UK this is one of the remotest areas in England and Wales. Not as busy as Snowdonia but this are in many ways has plenty of scope for discovery and adventure.

Looking south east towards the Cambrian Mountains

It would be good to mention at this point that our mission would include some autumnal foraging and that part of the ‘shamanic’ mission was moderately successful and we had an enjoyable walk . Anyway back to Devils Bridge, one and a half miles downhill from the Arch, the chocolate shop was closed! Ah well

We lit the massive cheech and chong and we forgoes the munchies, the only food available was those white things dotted about in the fields everywhere round here but they were still alive. Or kind off, whether or not there is anything going on behind those wide eyes and non stop munching is hard to know. One thing for sure, there are more Sheep around here than people.

At the time of writing England is once more in lockdown. Earlier this year we invested in a modest 4k webcam for the car and I put in a 64 gig chip. It continuously records but wipes the earliest recordings with the latest. At any one point there are several hours or even days of motoring trips. This year I have driven a lot around beautiful Wales. It struck me that the video footage may be worth watching. So I downloaded everything after our first trip around Llyn Brianne and was gobsmacked at stuff I had missed because I had my eyes more on the dodgy mountain roads than admiring the scenery.

I had been building up a new PC music system and fitting up my Studio and was sifting through some of the work I had been doing under Lockdown and just prior to it, when I hit upon the idea of placing my sounds onto the video footage.

I run music production software called Cubase and this not only allows me to create and record music but it will also play back a video file in sync whilst piecing together the music for it

This I found truly inspiring. Not only was I able to relive those lovely journeys in the autumn colours but composing music became an almost magical shall I dare say a spiritual process?

Devils Bridge



Devils Bridge pic
By Alex Liivet, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5614794

Devils Bridge or to give it it’s correct Cymru name “Pontarfynach” without looking into it “Pont” I think means “Bridge” (ie pontoon)  “arf” I am unclear of “y” I think means “The” and “nach” hmm I think this means “Small” Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong So The Small Bridge ?? (I have just read that it actually means the bridge over the river Mynach)

The word Mynach is Welsh for monk; one theory is that the river got its name from the fact that it was near land owned by a monastery. Wikipedia


Watch the video. Please turn up your volume first

Anyway the story oft told is that “

“According to legend, the original bridge was built after an old woman lost her cow and saw it grazing on the other side of the river. The Devil appeared and agreed to build a bridge in return for the soul of the first living thing to cross it. When the bridge was finished, the old woman threw a crust of bread over the river, which her dog crossed the bridge to retrieve, thus becoming the first living thing to cross it. The devil was left with only the soul of the dog.” Wikipedia

 

You wouldn’t know it from driving across the bridge that actually there are three bridges each built on top of the other one. It is said that the Romans built the first bridge nearly 2000 years ago which was rebuilt in Medieval times. What we know for sure was that the first bridge was built in Medieval times then built over on two separate occasions each time the newer bridge was built over the older bridge. The latest bridge an iron bridge was built in 1901 and then refurbished in 1971. The bridge spans a deep gorge with a waterfall running through it down to the Rheidol Valley (Cym Rheidol) 230 metres below. Many tourists visit this spot and apparently there is an Annual Welsh car rally that drives through it.

The Hafon Arms Hotel

As written on the Youtube video….

“But why just admire the view when we can add music? Set up your audio speakers and playback loud on a good quality sound system for maximum effect and enjoy the ten minute journey accompanied by “Port Sian” a stunning new track written by Steve Spon for Nostramus. Share this exhilarating experience from your armchair as we take the high roads of Wales. We hope you enjoy the ride! Please click “Like” and “Subscribe” to our Channel below. Also please support us at our Patreon Channel, coming soon! “

Eighteenth century view of Devils Bridge. Wikepedia commons

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Finally please check out our playlist which includes further dashcam roadtrips with more music from Nostramus

A drive round Llyn Brianne

Llyn Brianne is a man-made lake or reservoir in the headwaters of the River Tywi in Wales. Built in the 1960’s and finished in the early 1970’s the water provides many of South Wales larger urban centres. The dam is the tallest in the UK at 300ft (91M). The river Towy which flows through it is the longest river flowing entirely within Wales at 120 km (75 mi)

One a perfect September afternoon we primed up the Diamondseeds mobile, gathered our acutraments and set off for the mountains in West Wales. We had recently invested in a supposed HD Dashcam, which on the day we didn’t actually think about as we drove roud the lake. A lot had happened in our lives since the Coronavirus pandemic kicked off in early 2020. The lockdown had been severe for many people including ourselves gradually and dubiously over the summer the restrictions opened and we were tentatively allowed out once more. Knowing that this “freedom” may only be a brief respite before further lockdowns and dodging the showers, (yes it does rain a lot in Wales), we unleashed ourselves to explore Wales Green Desert. For us Llyn Brianne would be the first episode with many more to come. But boy what a spectacular drive.

Th scenery was gobsmacking but we had a perfect day weatherwise.

It’s not far round the lake but we took a slow meandering drive stopping often to take in the vibes. I would imagine the hippy bus with a bunch of tripping stoners taking all year driving round this lake and convincing themselves that they were abducted and carried off to an alien planet. At least that’s what my imagination threw at me, too much Cheech and Chong in my youth I expect. Anyway the scenery here on a sunny day may not be the Himalaya or Peruvian in scale but Roerich would have been at home, every twist and turn, every scene floating by with golden sunbeams flickering off the waters below and lighting up the reddened bracken on the hillsides. Then the disasterous monoculture of the Fir plantations which sadly have now been seen to have been a grave environmental mistake as the fungus has ravaged parts of the Tywi Forest which surrounds the Llyn.

Turn on and up your speakers and enjoy our roadtrip around Llyn Brianne. Music by Nostramus

This area is also one of the last habitats in the UK of the sadly endangered Red Squirrel, although unfortunately we didn’t see any that day. Forest management have been trying to curtail the spread of the infected trees by bulldozing tree free areas, combined with a longer term plan to return the forest back to a more sustainable variety of decidious native trees. This all adds to it’s own kind of corrupted beauty in the golden hour as the Sun sunk lower, often getting in our eyes. This happaned at quite some inappropriate moments whereby my passanger felt rather uncomfortable looking overperilously close, steep drops on their side at times, but the sheep – those white fluuffy things you see everywhere in Wales – didn’t seem bothered by heights.

This kept happening luckily no steep drop this time

Anyway the road trip continued and neatly placed at regular intervals were laybays that one could pull in as many did with campervans (some with surfboards). Also dotted around were little encampments scattered here and there with a fire and hippy looking characters that looked like they got lost somewhere after Woodstock or the Isle Of White Festival or maybe the Vietnam war. My mate J reckon’s there is a lost crew of a once popular sound system lost somewhere beyond this expanse of hills, which incidently is one of the most remote and uninhabitted areas of all England and Wales. On foggy days it is often remarked that once the RAF and USAF have stopped their daily war games if you listen hard near certain standing stones it may be possible to hear the faint tomes of Hawkwind or the earthy baselines of Bob Marley or even wild techno that in its isolation from normal society had evolved into an entirely different and independant species unkown to humanity. So we are going to intrepidly explore an area that is known as a blank space to the outside world.

Daylight was rapidly drawing to a close and we had some wild moorland to traverse, in fact miles of it, before we reached anywhere near civilisation, so we had to keep moving near the end.
It was a great trip!

We will be back to explore further so if you would like to accompany us you would be more than welcome – click the video link to see this amazing journey with added music by Nostramus and friends.

Steve Spontaneous

2019 Update

Update:

Well it has been a while since I posted here, I have been busy working on a new bunch of ear candies for you delightful people.

First,
I am back on the road playing guitar with UK Decay for a few concerts this year to mark the 40 year anniversary of the band. It has been five years now since UK Decay last played at the Blackpool rebellion Festival back in August 2014. The band is thus far booked to return once more to Wave Gottic Treffen in Leipzig Germany on Saturday June 8th 2019. A month later the band are set to play the Castle Festival in Wraclaw Poland on July 12th. There will of course be UK gigs to be announce for later in the year.

Me at Wave Gottic Treffen in 2009

Nostramus,

Whilst back in shape on the guitar once more I am currently crashing out a bunch of new ideas on my updated DAW. I have upgraded this lately so I have a heap of new software and stuff to aid my quest for the ultimate auditory orgasm. I will be complementing my usual foray into Intelligent Drum and Bass and Ambient Dub with new left of field compositions using cutting edge software plugins and hardware effects. As always I will look to the past to seek out a future that should have been and could never have been within this current timeline. Yes at my time in life I have ideas coming from all directions and I have seldom felt so good about my compositions. There is some time to go yet before anything will be ready for public consumption but currently I am reaching perhaps a couple albums worth with a different feel or style on each. My working title for one of the collections is “Ear Flowers” but that may change once published. It may be another year before I get this shit out but I am sure the wait will be worth it.

5.1 Mixing,

I have made the decision to mix all of the new material in a 5.1 also called Surround format in a way to kind of future proof it. I will also be recording my master files to the 192k bitrate, which currently is one of the highest resolutions possible. All this is to guarantee the best possible quality. In case you are wondering, there will also be the standard CD stereo quality. 

UK Decay to Nostramus – Interview

Diamond Seeds talks to Steve Spon on matters Nostramus and UK Decay.

We recently caught up with Steve Spon to ask him about his re mastering of ‘Earthlights’ an album that he wrote and produced in 1997 for Nostramus. Steve Spon (aka ‘Spon’) has recently re-joined the re-formed legendary eighties post-punk-goth pioneers, UK Decay.

We were fascinated to gain a glimpse into the thinking behind the re mastering of the classic nineties ‘D ‘n’ B noir’ album.

Which, according to one reviewer is  “probably the best Drum and Bass album you have never heard

Where the worlds of drum ‘n’ bass and post-punk and goth collide, stands a man like Spon

We were intrigued…….

D.S.# You have returned to your punk roots playing guitar again with UK Decay, in your musical evolution how does that relate to your D ‘n’ B oriented Nostramus?

“Although it can be argued that the music of Nostramus is completely different from the music of UK Decay, I feel there are threads of similarities between the two. Born out of the alternative punk-post-punk-early goth mela of the early eighties and like many ex punk types, I moved with the musical underground into the heady nineties rave scene. I sacrificed my guitar and took the technological path. It was important for me to continue to create music with an alternative message to counter the commerciality of popular music.”

D.S.# Would Nostramus appeal to the average UK Decay fan given ‘drum and bass’ surely had so much bad press?

“I know Nostramus’s mix of Drum ‘n’ Bass, Dub and Electronica may not appeal to every UK Decay listener but I know it will to some. Most of the guys in UK Decay, actually love Dub and Reggae music and have done so since the 70’s so there is nothing new there. The D ‘n’ B scene has received a lot of bad press in the past. Understandably, for many, the tragic murder of Sophie Lancaster by ‘hoodie’ thugs has put some people off the musical tastes of these low-life monsters. But I believe that mutated minorities in any genre, should not be allowed to hold good music to ransom.”

D.S.# Drum and bass was cool back then?

“From my point of view, the early hedonistic nineties D ‘n’ B scene was an invigorating and exciting proposition for many who wished to carry alternative music forward. The development in recording and playback technologies opened up a new universe of musical exploration and possibilities. Earth shaking bass lines, impossibly tight drum structures, emotive complexity in keyboard sound-scapes and sampling, all led to a new excitement in the then stale music scene. I took the plunge into this maelstrom, as it’s part of my make-up to explore new musical adventures.”

D.S.# Surely being an ex-punk had drawbacks on the emerging drum and bass scene

Spon comming at ya!

Spon on the run

“The movers and shakers of this emerging British scene were young DJ’s who had no hack with the old ‘rules’ of creating music. Like many others, evolving from the former 80’s punk scene I moved into the D ‘n’ B at a early stage in its development.

I liked the anarchic approach to creating the music and found for a time comradeship and a sense of purpose and enjoyment in the underground party scene. Back then I found a refreshing openness and tolerance to the music and the people generally in the scene…anything went!”

D.S.# What gave you the idea, or set you on the journey to creating a drum and bass album?

“Drum and Bass as well as other so-called ‘rave-music’ was developing it’s own set of rules that related to the flux’s and flow of the dance-floor. My tastes were still on the darker, deeper and hopefully more thoughtful side. At that time I was a recording studio engineer/producer and that made me open to a wide input of styles. Steve Harle introduced me to the D ‘n’ B scene back in the very early nineties. He encouraged me to embark on the musical journey that would eventually create my first album under the name Nostramus.

I called the new album ‘Earthlights’ and it summed up four crazy years of my experience of the underground party scene at a time when the music was at its most vibrant, purist form.”

D.S.# What was your aim in creating Earthlights your first album, how did you go about determining what it would be?

“The album was written using Atari computers, but I wanted it to have a live feel. I invited guests to contribute spoken and sung performances. The tunes included obscure iconic samples to create light and dark moods to give a sense of meaning. My aim was to create the most organic quality as possible, to create a journey for the listener. I wanted something that was easy to listen to, yet also had a deeper, substantial level. As a ‘non’ DJ, I even broke the dance mix rules, making it virtually impossible for DJ’s to mix the album with other tracks. I wanted to make ‘Earthlights’ stand out in a crowd.”

D.S.# Sum up Earthlights message?

“‘Earthlights’ takes the listener on a journey through themes, ranging from our pagan past, to future space travel. It questions and studies the doubts and optimisms of the human race.”

D.S.# How many did Earthlights sell back in the nineties, how did it fit in with the drum and bass scene?

Earthlights original 1997 released in the UK by Recordings of Substance

Recordings of Substance version of Earthlights originaly released in 1997

“I released this album first in the UK in 1997, on ‘Recordings of Substance’, and then licensed it to ‘Shadow Records’ for the US market in 1998. In total, there were 6000 sales worldwide. It didn’t make the top ten, but it sold steadily over a period of time and some of the feedback from reviews and emails have been fantastically encouraging. A review a couple of years back summed it up quite nicely “Probably the best Drum and Bass album you have never heard!”

D.S.# What led you to re-mastering Earthlights?

The new Earthlights 2010 re-mastered

Earthlights 2010 re-mastered CD front

“Although I was reasonably happy with the original mastering of Earthlights, I’ve since become more fluent with audio mastering techniques. In the new edition of Earthlights, I reworked the source master tapes, taking care with every step of the process in order to retain the original concept and flow. I feel I’ve now created a much more considered dynamic to the sound-scape, hopefully bringing the whole thing up to today’s audio standards and listen ability.”

D.S.# Did you just re-master or is there anything else added or taken away?

“Aside from the re-mastering, I have re-edited and re-mixed ‘Babel’ the opening track to the album, mixing in some new warped-up a-men from the un-released Jungle version of Babel. There are also one or two other new samples, subtly crafted into some of the other pieces to spice up the mix. Overall, I am much happier now with the sound and flow of the re-mastered album and I hope the listener will enjoy it even more”

D.S.# What about the rumours of Earthlights II any chance soon?

“I have had most of the material for this sitting on my shelves now for a good few years. Now with the help of Diamond Seeds work is in progress to see this project through. I shall be editing and remixing some of the material and with the addition some new performances and samples, I will collate into the final cut. I am hoping for around March April 2010.

D.S.# UK Decay are famous for being one of the first eighties post-punk bands, to make the crossover from ‘punk’ to ‘goth’

What are your future plans with UK Decay, are you enjoying their revival?

UK Decay on their Italian Tour spring 2009, Spon on the left

Spon back with UK Decay in Milan, May 2009

“I am really enjoying playing live with Decay again. It’s a real buzz playing guitar in a live situation, I had forgotten about that.

Because of commitments however, Decay can only play a few times a year, which is fine by me. UK Decay are currently working on a new album, which is an exciting challenge. Getting wild sounds out of my guitar is refreshing to me after so many years of programming songs together. The guys in UK Decay between them have a wealth of new ideas and experience to draw upon. At the end of the day UK Decay were adventuress in seeking out new sounds, we were ‘dark’ back in the day and that’s partly my fault, so they tell me! I look forward to mashing it up with them.”

D.S.# Any future Nostramus beyond Earthlights II?

“We shall have to wait and see!”

Click here for Earthlights Re-mastered 2010 £10.00 inc. shipping

Click here for Earthlights Re-mastered 2010 £10.00 inc. shipping. thru Paypal

Nostramus is now signed to Diamond Seeds Productions.

Seeded from the Diamond Seeds Blog