Category Archives: Studio

New Youtube Channel!

Dronescaping Ynys Prydain

Dronescaping Ynys Prydain.
Youtube channel featuring movies created by UAV footage and by Go Pro and Cell

On this channel I will be sharing some of the fantastic hidden gems that inhabit one of the remotest and least populated areas of all England and Wales. I will be using my DJI Mini 2 UAV orv ‘drone’ to reveal fabulous birds eye views of some of these ancient kingdoms historical and mythical Hillforts, Cairns, Stone Circles, Chambered Tombs, Standing Stones and other ancient artefacts.

The DJI Mini 2 is a fantastic beginners drone, there are plenty other channels that explain how it works, the remit of this channel is to get out there and get some wonderful footage. For me, the Mini 2 is a cinematic eye in the sky with the ability to record crystal sharp images and 4k video footage. I have been developing my drone flying and cinematographic techniques, it’s one thing to fly high and take pictures but it is another to entice, add drama and expectation, to tantalize, to thrill with a beautifully cinematic drone footage, revealing hidden Hillforts in all their glory.
All music by Steve Spon and Nostramus.

DJI Mini 2 Drone Cinematic footage of Teifi Valley Hillforts Part One Caer Gwytheryn

Welcome to “Dronescaping “Ynys Prydein” for those of you who are not familiar this translates from old British or Welsh into English as “The Isle of Britain” PILOT MINISERIES Part One : “Caer Gwytheryn” Hillfort WA2192 This is a pilot two part series, looking at three Iron Age Hillforts overlooking The Teifi Valley in Wales. This is part one of my series pilot investigating and revealing private, hidden and secret Iron Age Hillforts, most yet to be investigated by Archaeologists. Not much is known about these forts, communities and settlements , there is no doubt our ancestors in this part of the world utilized high promontories, atop deep cwms (narrow coombes or valleys) to either protect themselves or to show off to their neighbours or other would be adversary’s.

We are set in the kingdoms of West Wales, Ceredigion, Carmarthen, Pembrokeshire all counties in the former kingdom of Dyfed in Cymru in Ynys Prydien. Or sometimes this is spelt Prydian. There are literally hundreds of these hillforts scattered around this part of the world. Many are lost, sometimes they crumble into the Sea or sometimes they simply get ploughed out and forgotten. These are where the ancestors of these lands once lived, in this rugged and Atlantic affected part of the world where the ancient mountains, once high and sharp have been eroded by the eons and ground down by the glaciers, to form a rugged terrain of solid hills reaching up to 350 metres, with deep gullies or cwms to quickly dispose of the water dumped by the Atlantic Ocean. Farmers have mostly tamed the land today and Cows and Sheep are what provides for the current look of the landscape, but you are never far from a bit of rough ‘Gors’ (Marshland)or Waun (Moorland)

This is the land of the Welsh Annals of Arthur, Merlin and as written in the ‘Mabinogion’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mabinogion Some of these Castells, Caers or Dinas are mentioned in the tales of the Welsh Annals and one such is “Craig Gwrtheyrn” situated on a dominating strategic outcrop, high above the Afon Teifi (River Teifi). This castell or fort was formerly know as “Caer Gwrtheyrn” (Vortigerns Castle) and written about by 9th century scholar Nennius quoting Saint Germinus.

The quote is read out in this video by Ella Jo , the performance is delivered in appropriate and usual dexterity adding to the mystical and mythical atmosphere as we peacefully drift over sheep chomping like there is no tomorrow, blissfully unaware of the human history , both mythical and real just meters below their feet.

DJI Mini 2 Drone Cinematic footage of Teifi Valley Hillforts Part Two Hen Castell and Pen Coed Foel

#DJI Mini 2, #Cinematic Footage, #Ancient Landscapes, #Arial Photography

Welcome to “Dronescaping “Ynys Prydein” for those of you who are not familiar this translates from old British or Welsh into English as “The Isle of Britain”

PILOT MINISERIES Part Two : “Hen Castell” Hillfort WA2193 and “Pen Coed Y Foel Camp” Hillfort WA2302

This is a pilot two part series, looking at three Iron Age Hillforts overlooking The Teifi Valley in Wales.

This is part two of my series pilot investigating and revealing private, hidden and secret Iron Age Hillforts, most yet to be investigated by Archaeologists.

Not much is known about these forts, communities and settlements , there is no doubt our ancestors in this part of the world utilized high promontories, atop deep cwms (narrow coombes or valleys) to either protect themselves or to show off to their neighbors or other would be adversary’s.

We are set in the kingdoms of West Wales, Ceredigion, Carmarthen, Pembrokeshire all counties in the former kingdom of Dyfed in Cymru in Ynys Prydien. Or sometimes this is spelt Prydian. There are literally hundreds of these hillforts scattered around this part of the world. Many are lost, sometimes they crumble into the Sea or sometimes they simply get ploughed out and forgotten. These are where the ancestors of these lands once lived, in this rugged and Atlantic affected part of the world where the ancient mountains, once high and sharp have been eroded by the eons and ground down by the glaciers, to form a rugged terrain of solid hills reaching up to 350 metres, with deep gullies or cwms to quickly dispose of the water dumped by the Atlantic Ocean. Farmers have mostly tamed the land today and Cows and Sheep are what provides for the current look of the landscape, but you are never far from a bit of rough ‘Gors’ (Marshland)or Waun (Moorland)

This is the land of the Welsh Annals of Arthur, Merlin and as written in the ‘Mabinogion’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mabinogion Some of these Castells, Caers or Dinas are mentioned in the tales of the Welsh Annals and one such is “Craig Gwrtheyrn” situated on a dominating strategic outcrop, high above the Afon Teifi (River Teifi), we focused on this on part one . This episode focusses firstly on ‘Hen Castell’ in Carmarthen which rises on a promontory overlooking the Afon or River Teifi across from Llandysul which is on the Ceredigion side.’ Hen’ in Welsh means old so could be the early settlement predating Llandysul. It is interestingly opposite the ‘old’ church dedicated to the Welsh Saint Tysul who was related to the Welsh Patron Saint St David. There is no dating evidence for this Castell. It is situated on a promontory, jutting into the would be straight course of the River an it is about 80 to 100 feet higher than the surrounding topography, today it is forgotten by humans and is grazed by Horses and Sheep. Pen Coed Y Foel Camp is situated a mile to the north on a large dome shaped hill rising high above the Teifi as it rounds a bend. It has a flat top and is crowned by two solitary trees which distinguishes it for those with a trained eye within the surrounding landscape.

On the foot of the hill which I missed on the production of this two part-er, is another small fortress and a solitary standing stone. There have been artifacts found on Pen Coed Foel which places the dating around the classic La Tene stage pottery period (500 to 1BC~) The period more commonly known as The Iron Age. All three Hillforts visited are within a mile or two of each other and dare I say must have been related to one another in some way. It is said that in the time of the post Roman period with incursions from the Anglo Saxons in the East and with from the west from the Irish, The Picts and a plethora of other Mediterranean privateers, that the former Romanized Britons (Prydeins)~ once again refortified these hillforts and formed new mini kingdoms in a time of transition culminating in remembered history merging mythological and Christian meanderings to create the fabulous tales of the Mabinogion, put to pen many years later.

Adding to the mystical and mythical atmosphere, we peacefully drift over sheep chomping like there is no tomorrow, blissfully unaware of the human history , both mythical and real just meters below their feet.

The link to the Atlas of Hillforts https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk/ “Hen Castell” Hillfort WA2193 and “Pen Coed Y Foel Camp” Hillfort WA2302 , Craig Gwytheryn” Hillfort WA2192

Dronescaping Ynys Prydain

“On this channel I will be sharing some of the fantastic hidden gems that inhabit one of the remotest and least populated areas of all England and Wales. I will be using my DJI Mini 2 drone to reveal fabulous birds eye views of some of these ancient Kingdoms historical and mythical Hillforts, Cairns, Stone Circles, Chambered Tombs, Standing Stones and other ancient artefacts.”

All music by Steve Spon.
The DJI Mini 2 Drone aircraft weighs less than 250 grams

Dronescaping Ynys Prydain Youtube Channel

Optimum Singularity

Nostramus #Ambient #DarkAmbient #Drum and Bass #ChillOut

A new single from Nostramus

“Optimum Singularity” is the third of a trio of singles I am releasing between February and May 2021 There are plans for an album but for the time being that project is now on hold but I will continue releasing single tracks in the meantime, perhaps summing together for an album combination later.
Depending on the style of each track from now on in I will be suffixing my Nostramus moniker with either #Ambient, #DarkAmbient #Drum&Bass #Glitchcore #Trapstep #OldSchoolDrumAndBass #Tribal #Cinematographic etc.
The above should distinguish the genre’s I work with. I am not a DJ Producer I am a musician Producer but I realize that DJs and listeners will like to know what genre I am producing.
I have an eclectic taste in my productions which are all broadly speaking ‘alternative’ and ‘underground’ rather than music produced purely for a commercial market. I make music that firstly I enjoy making and secondly if I feel good about a production I like others to enjoy as well.
“Optimum Singularity” what is it about?
Continuing the theme from “Multiversal” and “Crystalwytch” I am attempting towards lucid and dark realms of musical rotations that hopefully emulate visual manifestations orbiting around a musical and gravitational inevitability in temporal space. The music can be described as a helix ~ a spiraling circle in three dimensions as a metaphor for quantum tunneling and a theory that in some fashion Black Holes can channelize potential warp drive and create pathways to time travel and circumnavigating the Universe. The point of ‘Optimum Singularity’ being the perfect transcribe for a theoretical event that would open up a gateway to the infinite as proposed in Kubrick and Clarkes 2001 A Space Odyssey, an optimum singularity.
The oratory is a reading from Kingsnorth’s ‘The Wake’ spoken in a shadow language related to old english. It refers to the time of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, where the former inhabitants were brutally defeated and subjugated. Wives (Wifmen) and daughters raped, villages and land burned to the ground and pillaged and the ordinary peasants turned to slaves for their new masters. The Norman’s whom by the way still cling to power in many cases in form of the landed aristocracy, in Britain. Our orature wanders the wasteland after losing his family and village and eventually teams up with the resistance fighting back against the Normans.

Recording? I use Cubase and a host of plugins these days to produce my music. I have recently upgraded my set up so now I have the added possibility of working my sound to moving video, which frankly adds another layer of inspiration to my work. Working to video blimey but it does open ones eyes to landscapes and soundscapes and all betwixt.
I hope you enjoy ‘Optimum Singularity’ released on the last of the pandemic lockdown Bandcamp Friday’s. However as I mentioned earlier there will be more tracks to come so please watch this space…

Thanks to everybody who has supported Nostramus.
lyrics
Words to poem coming soon….. 

credits

released May 7, 2021
Music conceived and written by Steve Spon for Nostramus.

license

all rights reserved

Crystalwytch

Nostramus #Ambient #Drum and Bass #ChillOut

A new single by Nostramus.

“Crystalwytch” is the second of a trio of singles I am releasing over February, March and April before a brand new album is released this summer.
Depending on the style of each track from now on in I will be suffixing my Nostramus moniker with either #Ambient, #DarkAmbient #Drum&Bass #Glitchcore #Trapstep #OldSchoolDrumAndBass #Tribal #Cinematographic etc.
The above should distinguish the genre’s I work with. I am not a DJ Producer I am a musician Producer but I realize that DJs and listeners will like to know what genre I am producing.
I don’t see why I should select one genre as has been suggested in the past. I have an eclectic taste in my productions which are all broadly speaking ‘alternative’ and ‘underground’ rather than music produced purely for a commercial market. I make music that firstly I enjoy making and secondly if I feel good about a production I like others to enjoy as well.
So ‘Crystalwytch’ what is it about?
Continuing the theme from “Multiversal” here the work is played out to Helen J Street’s lucid and phantasmagoric poem “The Crystalwych” which is whispered as in the breeze on a moonlit night. The ‘Crystalwych” could be described as analogous to a night time version of the ‘Green Man’ of the woods or a Druidic gathering in the Grove. Riding a chariot with seven jewel incrusted horses into the white marbled and sparkling heavens. A pagan allegory for what in realty is yet another alternative universe or simply a gentle attempt at autonomous sensory meridian response? In the poem things might not be the way they seem to be, the ‘Crystalwych’ may actually be a visitor from the other and the chariot and seven horses a craft sent from a far distant but mourned future. Who knows?
Moving on from the previous single ‘Multiversal’ I now re-enter the world of ambient and jazz flavoured drum and bass. I am not sure whether or not this would make a hard core floor filler, rather than attempting a mesmerising transcendent auditory meditation, or perhaps better still both. I have sat here with this song playing back in a loop and have been absolutely tripped out on it, of course I would say that but hopefully this will work the same way for at least some of you.
I am much indebted and would like to thank Ella Jo for her input here, for her whispered oratory. Also Tony “Redfish” Gee once more for his magnificent and succinct trumpet playing.
Tony recorded his trumpet remotely and I felt as always, quite confident that he would deliver. As a scientist in his day time job, he has that heightened empathy and love for the great British eccentricity that makes for a true thinking-outside-of-the-box, musician. Hopefully there will be much more “Redfish” collaborations in the future.
I enjoyed playing electric piano on this, which is how the idea kicked off. I laid down the chord progressions and then played a lead pattern over the top of the chords. The overall effect I was looking towards was ‘soft’ and ‘jazzy’ although I would be the first to admit that I am simply not good enough to play ‘proper jazz’. I do go for the mood that works and once I obtain something like the desired performance, I record it warts and all. I then refine and edit it into place.
Quantising? I think that subtlety and nuance is vitally important in performance. I used to quantise the f*** out of everything I played and eventually I came to realize that in certain cases there is a danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I was super conscious of allowing as much free style playing as possible without severely quantising the vitality out of my performance. So I left as much heart and soul as possible in the played keyboard parts. However to counteract I sequenced a triad of quantised but hypnotic moving pads that nail down to the Drums and Bass.
I then plugged my guitar into my pedals and created some jagged but ephemeral washes that gently glide over the rhyme. Initially I had the guitar much louder over the song but I came to realize that ‘less is actually more’ at times when working on composition. When I turned them down in the mix , the whole song lept out of the speakers at me. So we are left with just a hint of their former glory. Who knows I may do a remix at some point with the guitars featured more. I am known for my guitar playing in post punk band UK Decay and IN Excelsis so its probably right to point the above out for those that may expect my usual guitar performance’s.
Recording? I use Cubase and a host of plugins these days to produce my music. I have recently upgraded my set up so now I have the added possibility of working my sound to moving video, which frankly adds another layer of inspiration to my work. Working to video blimey but it does open ones eyes to landscapes and soundscapes and all betwixt.

So I see “Crystalwytch” as part two of a trillogy, a further invitation to journey between musical dimensions. I hope it does it for you.

UPDATE: May 2021: You know, I am just going to carry on releasing solo or single tracks, hopefully monthly but my target is ten new tracks a year.

Thanks to everybody who has supported Nostramus. 

lyrics

Words to poem coming soon…..

credits

released March 5, 2021
Conceived, written and produced by Steve Spon for Nostramus.
Lyrics: “The Crystalwytch” by Helen J Street
Whispers: Ella Jo
Trumpet: Tony “Redfish” Gee
Electric Piano: Steve Spon
FX guitar Steve Spon
Thanks to Diamond Seeds Media Productions.

license

all rights reserved

Multiversal

Nostramus: Ambient #DeepSpace #ChillOut

A new single from Steve Spon’s Nostramus

Multiversal” is the first of a trio of singles I will be releasing over the next two months before a brand new album is released this summer.

From now on in I will be suffixing my Nostramus moniker with #Ambient, #DarkAmbient #Drum&Bass #Glitchcore #Trapstep #OldSchoolDrumAndBass #Tribal #Cinematographic

The above should distinguish the genre’s I work with. I am not a DJ Producer I am a musician Producer but I realize that DJs and listeners will like to know what genre I am producing.
I have an eclectic taste in my productions which are all broadly speaking ‘alternative’ and ‘underground’ rather than music produced purely for a commercial market. I make music that firstly I enjoy making and secondly if I feel good about a production I like others to enjoy as well.

So ‘Multiversal’ what is it about?

I rather like themes that are based on different quantum possibilities than we take for granted in our search to try and understand the world we are living in. Just suppose for one moment that time travel is possible.

Then how would this sound like how would it look, what about paradoxes? We can’t go back and stop our parents meeting. One idea is that is may be possible to journey forward in time, but not backwards. I like the possibility that the structure of time moving forward is rather like a tree. Maybe the Tree of Life? But in an infinite universe could it be plausible that at every moment there are choices and our sense of consciousness is merely traveling up through the branches, each time there is a choice, we take one new branch or another as we continue cursing along our destiny. Like a tree, what if other versions of ourselves took a different choice or were befallen by accidents and hiccups along parallel branches existing in unfolding and infinite universes? In some of these one may no longer exist or one may have taken a completely different journey in their lives. Could it be that we live in an infinite universe of infinite dimensions? Sometimes we may get a sense of a nearby universe or dimension where things are slightly different than our current journey. Could dreamtime or trance-time be a lowering of the veil between these worlds?

So I start the piece with a rather innocuous bar-room piano and it quickly rises and invokes in my mind a sonic dream sequence of arpeggios and other hypnotic shape shifting effects that rise and lull the listening into hopefully a higher state of sonic bliss as the motif’s rise and crescendo building with subliminal and phased drums that leap forward and back into the wash and waves of the invocation. Well that’s what I am calling it. I was tranced out into a state of bliss whilst making this, maybe if it can do it to me it can to others as well and so far, the folk I have played this to absolutely love it to bits as a ‘chilled out’ passage.

“Multiversal” was never meant to be a traditional Nostramus Drum And Bass sound but it was always part of a broader and more eclectic church in the sound I produce for Nostramus. Who knows maybe in the future it is possible I will remix it in another style, maybe? I have so many other ideas to work on it may be sometime before I re-address it with another mix.

Recording? I use Cubase and a host of plugins these days to produce my music. I have recently upgraded my set up so now I have the added possibility of working my sound to moving video, which frankly adds another layer of inspiration to my work. Working to video blimey but it does open ones eyes to landscapes and soundscapes and all betwixt.

So I see “Multiversal” as an invocation, an invitation to journey between musical dimensions. I hope it does it for you. 

lyrics

Instrumental.

“This is a deep spacial ambient mix, designed as an invocation to reset and relax mental stress in its hypnotism” Steve Spon.

credits

released February 5, 2021
Conceived, written and produced by Steve Spon for Nostramus.
Thanks to Diamond Seeds Media Productions.
Thanks to Ella Jo for moral support.

Music Takes You!

Blame speaking on Radio 1 about the making of Music Takes You

Nice to see or rather hear Contrad Blame on Radio 1 from a couple nights ago talk about the making of his early Jungle/Hardcore anthem classic, “Music Takes You” This was first recorded way back in 1992 at Luton’s very own “33 Studio” at the Art’s Centre in Guildford street and it was originally engineered by yours truly. The original white label I engineered for Blame, “Music takes You” went on to be taken onboard Rob Playford’s Moving Shadow rostrum and became a huge hit reaching number 1 in the Dance Music charts and making the lower end of the national charts.

A  bright eyed youth walked into 33 Studios one day in 1991 and claimed he would receive a grand for making a record. After we ripped a couple of records for samples, we laid out the track added some MIDI synth lines then I suggested we try my Juno 106 for bass sounds. After a twiddling we set upon a big fat sound. He left the studio with a smile and I thought that would be it! Six months later he returned with a 12" and a bigger smile. The record had gone big time in the underground rave scene. Although you won't find me credited on the sleeve, as Rob Playford had seen the potential and took Konrad (Blame) under his wings and produced 3 other mixes and re-released with proper clearances. I recorded and helped Konrad produce the 'Original Mix' and yes, the phat bassline was from my Juno!

Above taken from my Discography
If the Video does not show then please click here

Barney The Musical

Barney The Musical CD - screenshot

Barney The Musical CD – screenshot

2020 Forthcoming

A few years ago I upgraded my DAW with a new Alienware I7 Quadcore PC and my software to the new Steinberg Cubase Pro 8. Now I have Cubase 10.5 with multiple SSD Drives which greatly speeds up playback I am loving it to! I have been using Cubase now since 1990 and the days of the good old Atari putor’s. This one is the best version yet, Steinberg now have the backing and benefit of the Yamaha music group behind this next generation virtual studio technology. So a music tech marriage made in heaven between the Cubase software brains and the Yamaha hardware interface, will lead to further integration into the future with innovative new digital work surfaces and controllers. For the time being I will have to settle with my brand new Steinberg UR22 Audio Interface, which does the job superbly, with as high quality sound as you might need.

The first major project of the new set-up was a slight divergence to the normal musical production and it came as a refreshingly different and pleasant surprise. Ella Jo Street who I have recorded music for in the past , asked me if I would record an Audiobook of one of her kids stories. I was a bit dubious at first, although in the past I have recorded spoken, plays for the radio and podcasts. Anyway we ran through a dress rehearsal of the 6500 word story and I recorded it onto an MP3, it played back at around 50 minutes and in places it was hilarious with EJ Street finding great character in her performance.

I also recently acquired a Rhode NT1A microphone, so after a bit of tweeking EJ and I decided to record the story again , this time obtaining a top quality sound and putting some thought into Foley and other sound effects. We set up the environment with a dampened space away next door, ran cables under doors, set the laptop up on the table for a text read out. Then we sat EJ down comfortably , with headphones, with talk-back. I set up the phantom power on the UR22 and set up the recording levels. I set up a number of Audio channels on Cubase, which I set to run at 24bit and 44.1khz, we did a few test takes until we were happy. Then we started.

We ploughed our way through the first 15 minutes before we listened back. We were largely really happy with the take, the sound was good, the performance was excellent, EJ had really done her homework on the characters voices.. The only things we needed to touch up later was a slight volume adjustment I had to make as it was recording some three minutes in. I had to compensate for this in the post production process. Once the new level was set, it was good for the recording of all the following narrative. Later we went back and replaced the continuity headings narrative.

The new Cubase Pro 8 - screenshot of the Barney The Musical Project page

The new Cubase Pro 8 – screenshot of the Barney The Musical Project page

As time wore on however, EJ tired quicker so we ended up doing more takes, which I knew would have to be edited later. I didn’t want EJ’s voice to give either before the end of the reading. So we stopped for a cup of tea break. Had a listen back to the work so far, hey! It was sounding real good!

We returned to finish the second half, which in fact turns out to be more or less an hour long. EJ needed me to rewind a couple times to check her character voices were right, eventually we got to the end. A great performance but some serious editing was needed to edit the different takes into the right order. I literally had to follow the text and check every line whilst editing, which I needed to do right away, whilst fresh in my software memory! After a few hours of editing I had something to play EJ for her to check, she spotted an ‘audio typo’ or two , we put it right. Set up a soft limiter and slight eq on monitors. We ready for the next stage.

This is where we were to have fun!

“Barney The Musical” is a story from Ella Jo Street’s “A Witch called Gwubbin’s” series aimed at kids between 5 and 11 years. Gwubbins creates magical spells with the best of intentions , but the spells go hysterically wrong leaving her visiting actress sister Alidusta from the end of the universe and her dog Barney in ‘pandabonium’ in a stage musical.

We decided we would make an audio book to remember. As this was a musical we decided that we must depart from a normal narrative (Like most audiobooks) and add some bespoke ‘musical’ songs.
So how would the new Cubase Pro 8 cope with an hour long Audiobook with foley and music?

On another project we started work on the bespoke musical pieces. This was to involve lots of practicing of scales, donkey honking, yodeling, murmuring, whispering. We needed to create the sounds of wonky contraptions, magical broomsticks, dogs barking and running riot.

Using Halion a VST sampler I created an Orchestra on different layers and created a loop on one idea. On another we needed a kind of fanfare so I used the same orchestral multi-timbral in Halion, eventually creating four or five pieces . Once reasonably happy I suggested EJ write some lyrics. In the story she mentioned a few songs for instance “The Dog Show Cabaret”, “Howling Moon Blues”, “Winner by a Whisker” and “Barney in my Dreams”.

Very soon EJ had four short songs to work with, so I got her to drop the vocals onto each of the songs. What a fine job to! She got into full operatic character and before long we were creating mini mixes to slide into the main book.
So we were now armed with most of the sounds and Foley we needed to create our masterpiece!

It was just a case of layering on different tracks, using the new ‘REVelation’ Reverb hosted in Cubase Pro8, I found a general theatrical ambiance for the live on stage stuff. Later we played about with the different characters voices, the elf for instance we transposed up and layered, the magic spells needed a peeling harp and bobs your uncle, there were many other treatments, that all hopefully augmented to a well put together story that is all but graphically animated!

“Barney The Musical” is a kids story at the end of the day, it is kids that it is meant for however in places it reminds me of Sir Henry at Rawlinson End , or Jeeves and Wooster or something similar. This is not a regular audio book in the true sense, it is a listening experience par excellence!

I do have a serious grumble about Cubase Pro 8 however.
Note: This problem has now been resolved on the latest versions of Cubase

Most songs that one might want to record are never more than a few minutes. However with “Barney The Musical” being over an hour long , it did manifest a peculiar problem that made it very difficult to work with. As more tracks piled up over the narration with different sound effects and some control changes, editing got slower and slower. Yes I agree it was a very huge song! But I would have thought Cubase should have coped admirably but it let me down!

Everything was fine when editing near the beginning of the material but after about a third of the way through, editing took longer and longer the nearer I got to the end! At the end each edit would often take as long as two minutes to perform, a real pain in the neck that slowed the work down significantly. I took time out to read the manual and help sections , I tried various setting changes in the audio devices pages. I turned down the ‘undo’ in fact I spent several hours trying to track down the problem. I went online to the Steinberg Cubase forums and tried several searches for others that may have had the same problem. I did find a couple of leads, like turning of the ‘auto-hit detection’ in the preferences (It’s on by default) I removed all of the hit-points which were totally unnecessary in audio book narrative material anyway. There was one tantalising thread that sounded just like my problem but no-one had got back with any answer , so I still don’t know if it’s an inherent problem with the new Cubase Pro 8 or whether it is a setting somewhere! If i am going to use Cubase to create any more audio books I am going to have to nail this problem. When I get a chance I will address the forum with it.

In the nineties I had a similar problem with Cubase when it moved over to VST with audio for the first time. I was getting these timing anomalies they seemed pretty random. I couldn’t work out if it was a multitude of differing facets to do with the multi-track sync or in the software or what. I spent weeks trying to track the problem down and it caused a lot of disgruntled customers to complain which meant I had to compensate with so much extra time in the studio. At that time there was no internet in the studio, in fact it was early days full stop. I never got to the bottom of the problem at the time. It was a couple years later when I was reading through the upgrade history to a later version of Cubase that I came across an entry that stated…

version…such and such…”fixed…..anomalous timing discrepancy” and sure enough it was fixed!

All of that time wasted, hours of trying to track down, the disgruntled customers, the heck!

The fault lay in the software all the bloody time! Since then my lesson learned is to never jump in with brand new software, let someone else be the guinea pig.

So after a few sessions we now have our first audio book. There were many lessons learned in the creating of Barney The Musical, now it’s onto the packaging, marketing and promotion. It will manifest both in a CD form and digital versions. We have plans for more audio books now, I will have to nail the Cubase problem, but I am sure that will be fixed very soon. All new projects are likely to have teething problems, it’s part of the learning process.

Gwubbins The Witch Audio Books – Barney The Musical

The Origins Of Goth

Mathew Hudson’s ITV Anglia News piece featuring Bauhaus and UK Decay about the origins of the Gothic Rock genre in Luton and Northampton. Interviews with Bauhaus manager Graham Bentley, UK Decay’s Steve “Abbo” Abbott and myself…Steve Spon.
Also includes footage of a very early Bauhaus gig at the Romany Pub, Northampton. The TV piece was first shown 31 October 2014.
The location of the mixing room, rehearsal and interview footage was Sound Arc Studios in Shefford near Bedford, recorded summer 2014.

The Pneumania Story

The Pneumania Story: parts 1 & 2

Part1

Pneumania formally known as ‘Snow White and the sic Punks’, were formed early in 1979 in Luton UK by founding members and nihilists, Steve Spon and The Captain (not Sensible!). They had just converted a basement in a soon to be demolished terraced house in Luton, into a rehearsal room and went on a hunt for a Vocalist and Bass player.

Spon, Steve Harle and The Captain
Their search led them to the ‘Grapevine’ public house that was the ‘hub’ of the thriving Luton Punk scene. Amongst the throng of ‘spikey-tops’ and ‘Seditionary’ clothed regulars, one girl stood out from the crowd. Her name turned out to be Gaynor and although she had never sung before, she gladly accepted an offer to come along to a jam session in view of forming a Band.

Gaynor had spent the last year or so, charging tourists along Kings Road in Chelsea for taking her picture. With her bleached white ‘Jack Frost’ haircut and stunning punk fashion clothing she wouldn’t fail to catch the eye, but the ‘real deal’ about Gaynor was in spirit she was a seminal punk Goddess. It wouldn’t matter if in a musical sense whether she could sing or not, what she had to say would be more important.

Gaynor (Sow White) and Steve SponInitially, the Captain who formally played guitars and at the time was currently playing Bass with Luton’s first punk band  ‘The Jets’, would now focus on drums.
Spon who formally played keyboards, would take up the guitar. For the first few sessions this was the line-up and although much ragged round the edges, within a short while a new sound developed with a hand full of songs becoming established.

Recruiting the right Bass Player however, was proving a problem. Cue Steve the Voice, who had been on the sidelines for a little while. An ex-art student with his ‘nose on the streets’ who couldn’t play a note wanted to give it a go. With initial reservations he was given a chance to prove himself on bass, which after a while he did! For the early part of 1979 the new band thrashed away in the basement and gathered together a set of tunes.

 

A name for the band was chosen, ‘Snow White and the sic Punks’ and before long the first live gig was on the horizon. This provided a dilemma for ‘The Captain’ as the ‘Jets’ whom he also played bass for, were booked  on the same bill! This thought the Captain, wouldn’t go down very well with the guys in the Jets. To get round this the Captain played the first ‘Snow White and the sic Punks’ gig completely swathed in ‘Mummy’ style bandages, so as not to be noticed by the Jets or so he thought!. Half way through the gig the bandages inevitably started to come adrift eventually leading to severe embarrassment on the Captains behalf. This led to an altercation the following weekend whereby Captain was indignantly thrown down the stairs to the washrooms at the Grapevine by the guys in the Jets. After this, the Captain decided to move into management, vacating the Drum kit.

The first gig at Luton’s Barnfield College was historical in the sense that this was the location where the Idea of ‘The Split Single’ was first conjured up,  alongside fellow Luton punk band ‘The Resistors’ (UK Decay) who were on the same bill. Putting aside ‘Captains’ embarrassment, it turned out to be a really ‘stunning’ gig. However, ‘Snow White and the sic Punks’ were now in need of a drummer.

Pneumania on insert of The Split SingleCue Nigel Dark, a friend of Steve the Voices, Nigel was an accomplished drummer with a grounding in Jazz as well as ‘Nihilism’. Within a few rehearsal sessions Nigel had fully integrated himself into the sound and it was at this point that ‘Snow White and the sic Punks’ would now change their name to ‘Pneumania’… TBC..

 

 

Part 2

The ‘Welly Street’ abode complete with rehearsal room and outside bathroom – minus roof, during the early part of 1979 quickly became established as the HQ for Pnuemania and The Resistors -who later changed their name to UK Decay. The formal tenancy of the house was at an end and the demolishing contractors were pulling the houses down around to make way for a new development. This sense of uncertainty galvanised much support from the punk community whom rallied round to help.

Punk Girl a disgrace!

The Captain and Spon who were then residing there, decided on a strategy to hang on to the home and base for as long as possible. One day the contractors started demolishing the house next door, the response by the punk residents was to fetch the amplification equipment up from the basement and to set it up in the street outside – then to blast the neighbourhood with loud punk music, in the middle of the working day -in Luton town centre.

Meanwhile Captain got onto to phone to the local press who were based just a few streets away, they could hear the noise from their offices. Very soon, the local press, police and a huge crowd had gathered to see what the fuss was about. Very quickly the demolition work halted and a stay of execution for a couple months was granted for consideration. This created much interest locally and provided motive and a strong sense of mission to achieve as much as possible in the time remaining at ‘Welly Street’.

Around that time a ‘locally -famous’ piece of Luton graffiti appeared – ‘C-O-U-N-C-I-L – V-A-N-D-A-L-S’ – each letter man-sized and painted with a roller-brush of white paint, running along a street full of front doors – each house sadly empty and awaiting demolition. This proved a great spin for the press to use as a certain Mike ‘English’ , made sure he had this as backdrop when the local press took his photo.

It was spring 1979 that the idea of the two bands collaborating came to root amidst this background. Thatcher was now in power, things looked grim all round. An idea was taking shape, the two bands pooled their resources and a new record label – ‘Plastic Records’, was created.

A release date had been set for two months and Pneumania set about writing and perfecting the two songs they had committed for the recording session. Captain now took on a ‘Manager’ role as new drummer Nigel ‘Dark’, who stood tall, aloof and looking every bit a character out of a Hammer movie – took his seat. His style was much more flippant and progressive, compared with the standard ‘2 – 4”s of the usual punk drumming. Grounded on the ‘arty’ and ‘jazz’ side, Nigel’s involvement showed great promise for future progression. He had a highly distinctive and original style. However the nickname ‘Dark’ wasn’t just his punk pseudonym – it was how he was. He would keep everyone guessing as to whether or not he would actually turn up for a rehearsal or even a gig!

Within the ‘Split Single’ development period, the two bands collaborated on a number of self-promoted gigs. They also self-penned their own networking tool – a fanzine called ‘The Suss’ which was released to coincide with these events.
The homogenisation of not just the two bands but by now a thriving community, was working very well. These were very creative times and the whole ‘Plastic Records’ gathering was gaining momentum. The recording studio was booked and the day had arrived.

Pneumania recorded two songs; ‘Exhibition’ and ‘Coming Attack’ that day, it turns out to date the only songs the band ever released. ‘Exhibition’ is the liturgy of a pure raw strangled, angry punk goddess – lamenting the attitudes the rest of society has towards her and her ilk. Her performance on the record was full on with her insides hanging out for all to see. Her ‘naked and beleaguered punkette soul’ – looking into the mirror. The music was raw and cutting with juxtaposed ‘dubby bass’ and ‘staggered drums’. The guitars phaser-slicing – jagged chords from Spon’s five strings. It builds, there’s tension, followed by a finale. “It’s a freakshow – nothing new”. Superficially it was wide open to criticism, but on another level it was a really potent performance by all in the band.

Pneumania side of The Split Single‘Coming Attack’ – the terror at the heart of urban nightmares- is a poem written from the narrative of the deceas-ed’s perspective. The loneliness of the victim succumbing to the inevitable fate in a street attack. Being a ‘Punk’ didn’t necessary mean being any different to anyone else in society. We are all vulnerable and made of flesh and blood. Actually being a punk back in the day, did increase the risk of ‘inviting’ attack.(Sadly, there are still isolated cases today – visa Sophie Lancaster)

This actually happened back in the day, to three of the band whilst returning to the rehearsal room one night. They were ‘jumped’ by a stick wielding thug who nearly broke Spon’s arm.

The music is a very fast paced three-time rhythm with a running bass line, the sheering 5 string guitar plays a single rhythmic chord. It builds, peaks rebuilds and finally crescendos as the knife strikes home. It’s all over in little over a minute – but wow! what a unique idea and production.

The afternoon in the studio had been reasonably successful, the band were happy, now it was time to get the recording released. All systems go on the ‘Slit Single’ project – five weeks to go before the deadline…….

To Be Continued…..