The album tracks part 2: For Gaza

It’s hard not to feel powerless against the human rights violations being committed by Israel. Back in 2014 when it flared up, again, I saw a video by Israeli film director Naomi Levari. A very brave move for an Isreali national. I composed For Gaza quite quickly, to raise some money for the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) whose aim is “…to participate in international efforts to put pressure on the Israeli state to cease its oppression of the Palestinian people”.

The fund-raising was a great success, and this new album was an opportunity to do a remix of the track, and change a few things that were not quite right.

The process

The origin of the piece goes back to 1990 with the little Casio SK-5 8 bit sampler and the Yamaha CS-5 synthesiser. The heavy drums and the bass loop are sampled from that original tape with all the noise and distortion it had. The strings are a development of an idea from back then. I didn’t even realise this at the time. I just went for a performance on the keyboard, while listening to the horrendous news from Palestine with tears in my eyes. In electronic music, what you hear has often been programmed in the the computer. This artificially tight, sometimes robotic rhythm is one of the cool things about electronic music I think. But it’s good to have actual live human playing on it too! Towards the end of the process I was very tempted to move some of the notes around because I felt they weren’t quite on the beat. But that’s where the feel is. Sometimes, just because it seems to measure right it doesn’t mean it hits the soul! So I built up some layers of different string sounds, to give a Turkish ensemble effect, a sound I heard a lot in North Africa and Southern Spain. The slight variations in each part are just like what happens with a real string section.

The rhythm guitar is sampled from a jam session with one of my old bands, played by Ken Hayes. This was cut up in Recycle and the parts placed across the keyboard so they could be replayed. The lead guitar at the end is from the same session, with the notes and timing played around with in Melodyne, an amazing software tool that makes pitch and time totally flexible.

The atrocities continue, so please support the IPSC.
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The Album Tracks Part 1: Orchestrion

This is a combination of atmospheres and sounds from the 1870s and the 1970s. The Orchestion of the title is an Imhof & Mukle Orchestrion Music Machine. It uses a wooden barrel with pins on it to open valves in over 100 pipes that are built like woodwind instruments such as clarinets and flutes. Basically, a large version of the barrel you would see in a music box. To run it, you wind a weight up to the top of the machine, and as it runs down it drives the barrel and pumps the air through the pipes. This one was located in Dunkathel House, where I worked in the recording studio. Here’s a picture of the actual machine in the house, courtesy of the RTÉ archive.

Orchestrion featured on Treasure Ireland (1993)

Orchestrion featured on Treasure Ireland (1993)

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New album release

It’s finally here!

madtheory-electrickery I’m very pleased to get this released. It’s been a long time brewing. Many thanks to my friends who helped with feedback and encouragement:

 

Aidan O’Driscoll
Brian Dunlea
Dominic Murphy
Eoin O’Sullivan
Enda Grennan
Gary McKee
Mike Gavin
Mike Lyons
Michael O’Sullivan
Ralf Kleeman
Ronan O’Dea
Rupert MacCarthy-Morrogh

And my lovely wife Sally O’Reilly for encouragement both musical and emotional 🙂

Some of these ideas go back to 1990 when I first started to compose. I think it’s important to keep an archive of ideas and stuff to play with- play being the key word. I really enjoyed the process, with all the help and support. I hope you all can feel the same joy I felt in making this music. 🙂

 

 

[bandcamp width=350 height=786 album=519834530 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5]

Also available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc. etc.

BBC Radiophonics live at the National Concert Hall

I recently had the pleasure of the Radiophonic Workshop at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. This was a dream come true. When I was about 10 years old my father joined the Rory Gallagher Music Library. This holds a massive collection of recorded music and spoken word. First it was Goon Show tapes, and later the full BBC sound effects library. Essential Science Fiction Sound Effects Volumes 1 and 2 became some of my favourite albums and a major influence. 🙂 Continue reading

Why vote yes? (Irish Marriage Equality Referendum)

So there’s this gay guy Keith Mills who is voting no.  As we get nearer to voting day, some of the no side are (ironically) rolling him out to bolster their claims. I read the article and I was amazed and angered at the doublethink and obfuscation. So I decided to take his argument apart.

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1. He believes that civil partnerships are a better way of legally recognising same-sex relationships. This is a misunderstanding of the legal principles involved. Believing something is better doesn’t make you right. You have to have evidence, and he provides none. He’s wrong because a married couple enjoy constitutional as well as legal protection. A civil partnership couple only enjoy legal protection. Legal protection can be taken away, amended or reduced by an Act of the Oireachtas. Constitutional protection can only be taken away by a vote of the people.

Mr. Justice Kevin Kearns explains that, and more in this very clear article which explains what the referendum is all about in layman’s terms. I recommend you read it before you make up your mind.

2. Marriage is not so clearly defined in the constitution that it allows for marriage equality. He claims that “Successive Attorneys General have told their government colleagues that same-sex marriage is in conflict with this”. Well d’uh, that’s what the referendum is about. He’s making a very sneaky obfuscation there.

3. He states that “Obviously other family units exist, and children can be raised successfully outside of traditional marriage” then goes on to contradict himself “The result of allowing same-sex couples to marry is that agencies that are entrusted with finding parents to adopt and foster children cannot legally favour families that can provide a mother and a father, which all evidence suggests is the best environment for children”. The poor man is suffering from doublethink, and in fact the evidence is that there is no difference in outcomes for children. Here is a list of long term studies that prove that there is no difference.

He makes some other points too, but they’re diversionary and unimportant compared to the clangers above. He seems to be just adding points for the sake of it, rather than being honest with a clear and concise argument. But he has to be unclear, because he has no evidence for his claims.

So I encourage you to vote Yes for Equality.