Half way. The sun is a little higher in the sky. Each day is a little longer. There's just a little more energy in the system. Time to take stock.
2018 Good Stuff
- Single Greatest Thing Of The Year 2018: Figuring out how to poach eggs in a mug in the microwave. Lunchtimes are revolutionised. Poached eggs have been kryptonite for me over the years. Now I am invicible.
- Life status: Everything has been ticking along nicely. One should not take these things for granted. I'm a very lucky boy.
- Achievement: Ran my first half marathon in a couple of years. Wasn't completely useless!
- Making music: I shelled out for up-to-date licenses for the software that underpins Looptron (Ableton, Guitar Rig). Began recreating the live rig and figuring out a new recording workflow. The first proper NEW Looptron tune in a couple of years is inbound any day now - I’m currently listing to release candidate five six.
- Achievement: Getting everything web related off Tumblr, etc. My back end is my own. (Oo er, missus, etc.)
- Read some books: Enjoyed Autonomous by Annalee Newitz a lot, and I think I enjoyed Gnomon by Nick Harkaway. If it's even me doing the thinking. Not sure either of those came out this year, but that’s when I read ‘em.
- Played some (well, a lot) of games: On PS4 Red Dead Redemption 2 (obvs, despite it effectively being a suffering simulation), and as a new Nintendo Switch owner the boy and I particularly enjoyed Super Mario Odyssey and Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime. Honourable mention to God of War, which was great fun. I also finally made it to Elite in Elite Dangerous. On the phone... Ticket To Earth is fab although the wait between episodes 2 and 3 was 1,000,000 years. UPDATE Jan 2nd: I totally forgot Spider-Man on PS4, which was great, but so short I clearly failed to make any meaningful memories of the experience.
- Listened to music: I started a whole low-spec music blog so you can just look there. In terms of specific tunes.... “IUD” by Okay Kaya has stuck with me, Matt Maltese’s album is really good if you like apocalyptic lounge piano. Also “Set It Off” - Jess B, “Health Machine” - Sam Evian. "Quarrel" by Moses Sumney. The Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime soundtrack is great.
- Watched telly: It’s basically a golden age. Westworld was probably my favourite thing. I enjoyed the final (sniff) season of Daredevil a lot. Killing Eve was wonderful. Discovered The Good Place, which we binged so hard that my wife and I both had anxiety dreams about being in The Bad Place. (But, you know, in a good way.)
- Saw a few films: Struggling here, because I didn’t actually go to the cinema that much and I only saw the tent-pole sequels/prequels. Avengers: Infinity War was a good chapter in a bigger story, but I’m not sure it’s a good film. Solo is a much more enjoyable movie than people give it credit for. But, controversially, I think our house favours Teen Titans Go! To The Movies over Incredibles 2.
- Went to not-enough gigs: It wont get better than seeing Saucerful Of Secrets in the Half Moon in Putney. Pink Floyd in a pub! (Gary Kemp was a revelation too.) LUMP were awesome. Also, Nick Cave (always) and there was a great line up at his All Points East thing - Courtney Barnett, Patti Smith, etc.
Having witnessed @nickmasondrums #SaucerfulOfSecrets:— looptron (@looptron) May 21, 2018
1. They accord early Floyd the exact reverence it deserves (i.e. some, but not all)
2. The gags!
3. That @garyjkemp is One To Watch. He should be in a band.
4. It’s a brilliant wonderful thing and there should be more.
- Bought gadgets: Cheap Anker Bluetooth headphones, which are effectively disposable at the price and yet sound perfectly good. They're for the times when you don’t want to take your expensive noise cancelling ones running/drinking and the magnet clippy thing is great. Also, I had to replace my iPad mini and (because Apple refuse to refresh the iPad mini line) I stumped for a new iPad Pro. It’s too big, rather fugly but it’s actually replaced my laptop as my “walking around” computer, and the pencil stylus thingy works really well.
- Played guitars: Nowt much new (in fact, I’m culling), but I got a Chinese-made Squier Affinity Telecaster - the reviews weren't wrong and they are obscenely great for the money. I hacked an old Japanese Mustang into a surf wizard. I'm currently taking apart my US made Strat deluxe to figure out why I don’t like it (despite my having coveted it for years). Pining for a Fender Meteora, but I’m not paying sixteen hundred quid (!!) for Tele bits, no matter how much I like the body shape. Late entry here is the Gretsch G2655 which I played yesterday in Andertons and now I'm thinking all the thoughts about. Had it not had a scratch on the one in the shop it might have come home with me...
- Played other musical devices: After rigorous 10 minute selection process the Akai MPK mini Mk 2 is the new control surface for Looptron, and it is the very definition of cheap and cheerful. I finally acquired a Pocket Operator drum machine and it’s wonderful.
2018 Bad Stuff
- Politics, all of it. Just. Ggggggngh. Idiots. I think watching our national suicide unfurl has caused me to grind my teeth in my sleep. I already have a good MP here so there's not a lot I can do locally, but might I direct you towards the People's Vote campaign? Parliament isn't going to get us out of this.
- Had to move house in the summer, which is a faff.
- The print came off my Battle Of The Planets t-shirt after just one wash. Sad smiley face.
- It’s been a bit of a tubby year, weight-wise, despite training for half marathons, etc. I'm actually eating pizza while typing this. And them I'm going to have a custard cream.
The 2019 "Grand Plan"
- Top Priority: Acquire a Fender Meteora for less than sixteen hundred quid. Hahahahaha. (But don't come back to me saying you don't know what to get me for my birthday, okay?)
- I already have developed a number of good habits based around "daily prodding" phone apps (Duolingo for French/Spanish, Seven for making me do the occasional sit-up, MyFitnessPal to keep me off the cake). So... 365 day streaks on all? I’m planning for “all of January” to start. I need something similar to make me practice my scales, etc on the piano/guitar. Hit me up on @looptron if you’ve got any recommendations.
- Create five (5) new Looptron tunes. (Not including the one I’ve just done.) That's an EPs worth, although I suspect we'll just go one at a time from now on.
- Lose five (5) kilograms of lard. (Three of which is made of Quality Street.)
- Fight the fascists and haters.
- Be kind.
- Do a gig. It's been a while.
That's yer lot. I hope 2019 brings you happiness and peace. Maybe I’ll see you out there in the post-Brexit wasteland.
Happy new year!
Full disclosure : some if that linkage above is iTunes/Amazon affiliate linkage, but all recommendations, etc, are mine. No one is paying me for the above, but if you do click and buy a thing I might get a teeny bit of cash back which I can use towards my ever growing hosting bills.
Posted Monday, December 31, 2018.
I’ve been hoarding gear for twenty years and have completely run out of space. For the next few months I’m going to be chucking some odds and sods on eBay. The occasional guitar, some synths, a shed load of FX pedals and a couple of slices of Looptron history...
End of days for Daredevil
Marvel and Netflix have rammed the billy club of cancellation through Daredevil’s skull. This is no bad thing.
Made a little timelapse film using my iPhone and the top deck of a surprisingly empty 207 bus from Shepherd's Bush to Acton. I'm teaching myself Final Cut Pro using my typical "learn by doing” method. As such, I have discovered my default approach to editing video is the same as playing the guitar. USE ALL THE PLUGINS.
Sell your eyeballs direct!
Radioactive Love (Rig Mk2 Demo)
New(ish) song, first successful(ish) run through on a rainy Tuesday lunchtime. Ableton is doing patch switching in Guitar Rig AND the loop triggers as part of the scene changes so only one pedal is required to drive this. It's the future people.
FFS. Google have now started putting banners in Inbox (my mail app of choice) to remind everyone that they're killing Inbox next March, something I'd be studiously ignoring since they announced it back in September. I actually wish they hadn’t told me at all because my OCD will be spending the next 6 months evaluating Inbox replacements and rebuilding my "workflow" in them (which mainly consists of repeatedly snoozing mails until I HAVE to deal with them) before I inevitably give up and just revert to using Gmail like they want me to.
Twenty years ago today.
It had been fifteen years seen the hero beat up his father so badly the old man died from his wounds. Fifteen years since we watched a group of terrorists enlist the help of the Care Bears to slaughter thousands of unwitting civil servants and proceed to overthrow the closest thing to a strong and stable government the galaxy had seen in millenia.