Thursday, February 23, 2006


Here is the latest Strange Devotion update.

The website I registered at the end of January is still not available to me so no progress on that front - but I will start work on it as soon as it is handed over to me.

To make up for this I have gone and set up a myspace Strange Devotion page.

Last week I brought my newly purchased second hand Korg ms-10 up to Scotland and spent the first couple of evenings of last week cleaning it up and trying to relearn how to use the thing. I connected it up to my guitar amp in the lounge while watching TV, but I had to juggle this with tidying up the flat as Adrian was coming to stay on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

On tuesday night I had tried connecting everything up and was thinking how I would work with it all. When I just had the Korg prophesy up here it was easy, but now I've got 3 synths things become complicated due to the fact that I don't have much desk space and I don't know how to use Logic to its full capabilities yet.

I just couldn't get my head round it all so I forgot about it and had a great couple of nights with Adrian instead. This ended with a top night out going to see Goldfrapp on Thursday (who were superb), but I think this something for critical mass rather than here.

So this week I was working evenings on tuesday, wednesday and thursday so it meant I had 3 days to try and get into action and start recording some new Strange Devotion songs. I have a reasonable back catalogue of fully or half written songs from the last 15 years or so and although none had been written or recorded as electronic music I thought a few might fit that genre fairly well and decided the one I'd like to try first was one called confusion. When Strange Devotion was going first time round (around 1980) a friend gave me some poems that she thought I might be able to write some music to. None of them had any rhymes or formal structure to them, but she had marked a couple of them as being more suited as song lyrics than the others. The longest of them was called confusion. I liked the poem and thought I could probably write some music to go with them, but never managed it and they fell by the wayside when I joined other bands and started doing other music.

After a break from music, during which time I got married, I started up again after seeing an early midi synth in a music shop in York and realised that with that and a computer the world would be my oyster. I soon got hooked again and started writing recording and buying as much equipment as I could afford. During this time I found my old Strange Devotion lyric book which still contained the poems on a couple of loose sheets of A4. So I thought I'd try and write something to go with the poem called confusion.
I eventually came up with a tune and managed to organise the poem into lines that rhymed and ended up with a first verse and a chorus. I never got around to recording any singing, but here is the tune as I recorded it back then.

confusion - version 1. This was probably recorded in the early 1990s.

I'm not sure what style this music is, but it certainly isn't electronic and certainly isn't Strange Devotion.

Here is a quick summary of how the week panned out:
Decided to unplug everything put it on the floor and reconnect it in a logical way. If I didn't set it up so it was easy to work with it would give me a great excuse not to do anything.
So I moved a bit of furniture put things back together and I now have something I seem to be able to work with. My interface doesn't have many inputs, but I seem to be managing ok by swapping cables when I need to.
I even went through the process of re-initialising all the setting within Logic, but it didn't seem to leave me with anything different that I already had.
I ended the session by creating an empty project in Logic called confusion ready for for me to start recording the next day.

Got up late due to not getting back from work until after 02:00 that morning, but soon got down to building up some of the tracks for confusion. I ended up with an intro and first verse so I had a go at recording the vocal for the first verse before going into work late.

Started work on the instrumentation of the first chorus. Things seemed to go fairly well so I thought I'd record the 1st chorus vocals, but just couldn't get on with the words I had written so decided I'd better write some completely different words and completely change how I had originally inteded the chorus tune to go. This took around an hour of standing in front of the mike with my headphones on and the chorus looping with a pen and my Strange Devotion lyric book in my hands frantically trying to come up with something before I had to pack up and go to work. My biggest challenge was the fact that the song was called confusion (after the poem) and the original chorus had that word in it so I needed to try and keep it in. I finally came up with something which allowed me to have one go at recording it before bouncing it to mp3 and coming into work.

Here is the recording so far. It is a rough mix and only contains the intro, first verse and first chorus. Hope you feel it matches the feel of the original Strange Devotion stuff.

confusion - Strange Devotion version.

The original Strange Devotion demo tracks from 1982 can be found here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Back in Black

I had come to the conclusion that there were a number of things wrong with this blog:
1) It looked messy with some of the customiseations I had done to it.
2) It took ages to load as I was using bits of some of my scanned photos in the background of it.
3) It didn't particularly go with 1980 retro synth music (although the photos I had scanned were taken in the 1980s).
4) The actual postings were a bit boring and possibly self indulgent at times.

I couldn't do much about option 4, but I have addressed options 1 to 3 by changing to an off the shelf number called "Minimal Black" or something. I will add all my links and stuff back on there and then see if I can think of any customisation that would be more in keeping (and within my technical capabilities).

In other news I have:
- failed to win a couple of Revox A77s on ebay
- suceeded on winning on a Korg MS-10 on ebay when all intended to do was watch to see how much it went for
- registered

So now I need to:
- try and get a Revox A77 at some point
- come up with website for
- try and design a strange devotion logo and a way of writing strange devotion
- see if I can come up with a strange devotion t-shirt design and sell it on - and then buy one for myself :)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

It's the 1980s all over again

I have had a bit of a break from recording any music over Christmas, and still haven't completed Secret World yet. I have been messing around with it over the months and after listening to the latest version again recently I have come to the conclusion that the track levels have gone completely to pot with the drums way too loud and other bits hardly audible in the mix anymore. Also the marimba type noise that starts with the second chorus is really getting on my nerves now so that needs removing I think.

I got my new (old) Shergold Masquerader for Christmas along with a line6 amp which I am very pleased with and I began having guitar lessons with Master The Guitar after the new year. I have had 2 lessons so far and am already learning to play 21st century scizoid man.

However getting time to practice is another matter, as over the last week I have decided to reform Strange Devotion. This may sound a bit strange as this blog has been around for a few months and it is called Strange Devotion - but it makes sense to me anyway. I used the name for this blog as I liked the name that I had used in the 1980s when I played synth music, but when I started up my music again last year I had decided to do it in whatever style I fancied playing at the time and even intended bringing some guitar into the proceedings, but after getting a couple of encouraging emails last week from a couple of people who had stumbled on 2 Strange Devotion songs I recorded in 1982 I have decided that I don't think my music has ever been better than what I did back then so I am going back to my roots and will be writing and recording synth music in the old Strange Devotion style for the forseeable future. Last weekend I dug out the reel to reel master from the studio I recorded those demos in and also transferred the video I made to go with them onto DVD so as to preserve it from anymore degredation. I am now trying to locate a reel to reel tape recorder in the hope that the original demo tape has survived enough for me to get a decent copy of both tracks off it. The copy of the songs on my .mac website are from a 20 plus year old cassette so I hope I can improve on the quality.

To help bring Strange Devotion back to life I have just ordered a new Korg MS2000BR for my birthday which should go nicely with my Korg Prophecy. Neither of them are true anolog synths, but the prophecy makes some very nice analog style sounds and I hope the MS-2000BR will be even closer to a true analogue synth. It takes the MS from the original range of MS analog synths, of which I use to own a Korg MS-10, so I think it should be pretty good and I can't wait to give it a whirl. I plan to get a real analogue synth to go with these 2 at the first available oportunity. I managed to get a Shergold again, so maybe I'll be able to get an MS-10 again too.

My final step has been to register so I will then need to sit down and design a site to go on there - leaving me even less time for getting on with my guitar practice and leading to the question - Will I ever finish Secret World?