Morgan Page – Open Heart Ft Lissie (Seb Konstantine Remix)

This is probably one of my favourite remixes of the past year. Most remixes I tend to keep for a few months on Soundcloud and then delete once they’ve out stayed their welcome.

The things that I look for in a remix and aim at for myself as a guiding principal is to do something that takes it away from the original an steers it in a new direction. This doesn’t necessarily mean put it in an already existing genre that would be acceptable but to really try something. there are some songs where this is a possibility. Sometimes it means trying two, three or however many versions until you arrive at one that seems to resonate. However there are just as many lying buried on a hard drive that failed to even get off the ground.

I like voices. I especially like voices that have some sort of quality to them, some sort of grit. Clearly Lissie has this and it really comes out. If you get a chance to just listen to the voice without the music then you’ll probably hear this quality. She’s got a sound that’s very reminiscent of many female artists, especially from the 70s.

Anyway, the remix type I opted for was one where I tried to keep the vocal performance in its entirety with as few edits as possible other than the insertion of space to allow for new sections of differing length. SI also wanted to integrate the acoustic and electric guitar parts at some point, played, I assume, by Morgan Page and piano. To these I overlayed some more acoustic and electric guitar parts and additional piano.

The overall aim was to make something of a heavier acoustic ballad track that was the opposite of the original and its electronic setting. Within this overall style aim was the drive to create something that allowed for a developing narrative to emerge as the song progressed. As much as I like voices, I also like sounds and instruments. I think it’s great when producers are comfortable not to succumb to the ‘tyranny of the voice’ and not allow anything else to come through.

I think my attempts are evident in the following sections. The middle, starting at 1’59” and the extended outro starting from 3’36”. They’re all demonstrative of my aim and working practice. The process is less refined or defined in the beginning, partly because I’m working on capturing a feeling or sense of something I’ve associated with the song. Many of the sections are built over time and generally jammed through and then refined.

Anyway, I hope you’ll have a listen to all versions of this track. Page still has the files available on Splice if you fancy doing your own remix.


Sample Library Manufacturers

I use Ableton and there are a load of small quite niche oriented sample library makers. I love the versatility and I love discovering things within the packs and to repurpose them. One such plugin pack, which comes free with Ableton, is Hecq The Forge.

Generally things go well in the world of bespoke sample packs but occasionally there are packs with unresolved file references. Recently, I’ve purchased packs from two sources that exhibit this problem. Personally, I expect not to encounter any dialogue box telling me that the file can’t be found. However, when it’s quite clear to me that the issue concerns file naming conventions then it should be a straightforward swap.

Of the two manufacturers, one replied with courtesy and didn’t take me for a ‘numpty’ and the other one was so full of himself that any decent discussion was never going to get off the ground. the latter developers’ position was that the (paying) customer was always wrong. If you’re interested I’d spent nearly £100 with this developer. Their username Starts with a Z but doesn’t have a G in it!

There is a certain arrogance among some of the smaller providers that all issues are the users and not them. Of course they’ve probably modelled their approach on that taken by Native Instruments who have never responded to a single email. However, many developers and sample companies are great and people could learn a lot from someone like Steve Duda creator of Serum and LFOTool. Even big companies like Waves respond with very little prompting.

So well done to the other developer, Afro DJ Mac, for hanging in there. Take a bow!


What’s Up With Dance Music, Steve Albini?

Listen to the tune:

OK, so I found this and didn’t really like the underlying message. Everyone can and should have an opinion but an opinion should not be viewed as a universal truth. The pseudo-scientific approach employed by Albini is questionable on a number of levels and this is exacerbated by the unchallenged access given to his diatribe by Mary Anne Hobbs and the BBC. I think we should be in a suitably enlightened position, particularly ones as experienced as Albini and Hobbs, to forego the ‘my music is better than your music’ merry-go-round.

I believe Albini to be so wide of the mark as to make the quintessential mistake of many by narrowly constructing music based on their own taste. In many ways Albini will probably claim some ‘punk ethos/methodology clap trap as giving him license to make such sweeping statements masked as unbiased thinking. It’s not. What Albini has perpetrated is an argument that is often presented by those of the high music art world against all popular music. These are the twin arguments of enrichment and impoverishment. In short, popular music (constructed to include folk, jazz and all other genres and sub genres including those that Albini is a part of) is not sufficient as a form or practice to be considered enriching and you need to listen to things that are ‘better’. In many ways Albini has played into the establishment ideology that continues to erode music making in schools and music making as a social practice. Clearly not one of his better days but also not a great day for the Beeb and Mary Anne Hobbs. In many ways one could sum it up using a Boards of Canada album title ‘Music Has The Right To Children’. Albini doesn’t like the ‘offspring’ but Music is a constructed and deterministic act whether conscious or not, artistic or economic. It’s use value is one that is determined by the listener and not necessarily just by an authority (authoritarian??) figure.

My response could have been one of anger and ranting at the injustice of it all. Instead I decided to put it in a piece of music. I submitted it to Fresh On The Net and to my surprise it got accepted and is on the listening post. Thank you to Louis Barrabas for his review and eloquence.

Also thanks to Steve Albini for the rant and the degree of ‘sprechgesang’ that seems to be a part of his speech pattern. I did very little editing of his speech in general. The bassline for the tune comes from his ‘specifically, for dancing’ section of the recording. As such this demonstrates an interesting internal correspondence between the music and his speech.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the tune and, more importantly any thoughts that might come up as you try to navigate the world of music and consider the politics of taste.