Haszari Live at the Library

As part of NZ Music Month I was invited to play in the Dunedin Public Library. Because I love libraries, and this one (a marvellous concrete construction) in particular, I jumped at the chance! And of course I'm generally obsessed with the idea of playing electronic music live.

Cue a month or so of fervent anxious work getting a set together. Because this was a 20 minute slot, I felt that I could pull out all the stops and make this as complicated as I wanted. Over the last wee while I've been making lots of little loops so I had a bunch of material to play with.

The first time through (I had two slots booked - a Sunday morning and a Thursday after work), I had a technical problem, and had to play a (boring old, not even live mate) DJ set instead. In the intervening time I dusted off a custom nodejs websockets OSC UI thing to replace the bits that didn't work (studiomux providing OSC-over-lightning cable). This worked great, turning the iPad into a wireless pattern-trigger controller.

On the laptop I used SuperCollider as a MIDI pattern sequencer and also to play back texture samples. This all fed into Logic Pro X where the synthesis, effects and mix happened (with lots of params assigned to hardware knobs).

Here's the recording - great background music for reading perhaps? Hope it's as much fun to listen to as it was to put together :)

Tracklist:

  1. Like So (live dub)
  2. Maenyb (live dub)
  3. Nevozo (live dub)
  4. Janura Crossing (live dub)

The Nomad is running a remix contest for his forthcoming album 7.

It seems there's nothing that gets me fired up quite like a remix comp. I heard about this on Saturday afternoon, grabbed the stems, and finished the mix that evening. Pretty happy with that given that I've not completed a track/remix in about a year!

The original is a hip-hop track featuring UK artist Lotek. I've bumped it up a bit (0.3), resulting in a dark bass-house slash vocal-breakbeat thumper. Best thing about this: the vocal. Huge fun layering a nice beat under that flow.

Anyway, have a listen to the track and let me know what you think. Also check out all the other remixes in the soundcloud group.

As mentioned in a previous post, I have long dreamed about being able to play electronic music live. I've finally done it!

Here's the audio (freely downloadable if you want to listen later, and I may put it on the beats reality podcast too).
Haszari's First Ever Truly Live Set by haszari

A Rudimentary Approach

As far as live electronic music goes, this is a somewhat primitive performance. There are four songs, each has approximately 3-4 parts, and there are a small number of effects/parameters available for me to tweak. Also I'm relying heavily on a great-sounding dub delay effect which can feedback; I've used it to fill things out, give things dynamics and shape, and also used it (screaming feedback like a guitar amp) for short-term sound effects.

Also, of the four songs, 2 are built from short loops of (my own) previously recorded material - i.e. the notes are not being sequenced live, and there is no synthesiser producing the notes live.

Another limitation is that there are no stabs or manually-played samples/notes/effects; everything is in some kind of pattern which is triggered quantised. (The main reason for this is I ran out of time.)

Limitless Possibility

But I'm really excited about what is happening in this live set. Even though I've heavily used samples, I had a huge amount of control available to me live, and more importantly, it was easy and fun to perform with no plan in an underground bunker (through my low rent sound system, running the whole night off a single power outlet). I had a lot of flexibility, nothing much was planned. What did I have control over?
  • Within each song, I had a level fader for each part, meaning the songs were mixed (in a primitive sense) live. These faders could be set up differently depending on the part, for example one synth strings part had the fader pre-reverb.
  • Each part had at least one other parameter on a knob; this could be a filter cutoff for a synth part, or a fader between two drum sounds for a drum part. 
  • All parts had one or more (looped) patterns, which could be triggered/untriggered (quantised to an appropriate interval) with a button. In the case of multiple patterns, a button allowed me to navigate up/down to select the pattern to play next time around.
  • Some parts had a triggerable variation or fill - for example, hold down a button to play a randomised (schizofrenic funk drummer) fill until the button is released.
  • Each song was assignable to a global (DJ-ish) channel - with a level fader, 3-band EQ, and a send to the global dubdelay. Assigning a song also made its parts available - i.e. I could only trigger parts etc when a song was "loaded" into a channel.
  • Although I only had two songs' worth of hardware control, this was live-mappable and I could easily manage (parts of) all four songs playing at once if I want to.
Of course this was all implemented in handy SuperCollider. I spent a bit over a month or so of occasional evenings and bits-of-weekend developing things and jamming it out. Most of my time was spent on infrastructure - things like setting up the code to live-map a song to a hardware channel, implementing a simplistic EQ/band compressor for the channel strip, factoring out the dub-delay effect so all songs can opt-in to using it, etc.

What made this really exciting and fun for me is that I could treat this like a software project. I could start small, implement a simple beat that I could drop & interact with live, building in more complexity later. It felt like prototyping - sketching out a framework of how things should work, and revisiting different aspects later until I had something much more complex, organic and live up and running.

I may post again with more detail about how SuperCollider supports writing and performing like this - so comment if you want to find out more about something.


I have a new remix out - on Newclear Music. The original is by Squeezer, who are from Auckland (NZ). I don't know too much about Squeezer, but when I heard the parts I put my hand up and said "yes please". I haven't really done that before, because I know it takes me a long time to complete a remix (note - this was probably almost a year ago).

Anyway what drew me to the track was the beautiful guitar part - which for me evoked certain 80s film soundtracks, e.g. John Hughes movies, or Twin Peaks. I aimed for a slightly seventies disco downgrade, drenched in acid 303 lines against a chilled out bass and beat. In all, quite a different sound for me, and I'm pleased!

Also on the EP are diverse takes from none other Newclear honcho nsu, AK deep d&b slow burner Soul Science, breakbeat champion Will Marshall, as well as a new remix from Squeezer (the TSV remix).

Go out and buy the EP! This week!

Yep - SoNic Smith's Ladies Style (Haszari's Le Mans Style remix) is number 1 on Dunedin's Radio 1 Top 11!

So huge thanks to everyone who voted, this is quite unexpected and we really appreciate it.

How far can we take this story? Well if you're elsewhere around the country, or just feel like voting, you can vote for us at any of the bNet/independent stations:
Dunedin / Radio 1:
http://www.r1.co.nz/top11.php
Auck / bfm:
http://95bfm.com/default,top10.sm
Christchurch / RDU:
http://www.rdu.org.nz/music.html
Wellington / Radio Active:
http://www.radioactive.co.nz
Palmy / Radio Control:
http://www.radiocontrol.org.nz/page.php?9
Auck / George:
http://georgefm.co.nz/
Hamilton / Contact:
http://www.contactfm.co.nz/

If you want a piece of the action, you can now buy the EP (or individual tracks) direct from iTunes. So get yours! And.. if you want a freebie, sign up to the mailing list at Cartoon Beats. We'll be sending out regular mailings with news and free exclusive tracks, edits & mixes.

And again, thanks to everyone who's helped us get this far - DJs who played the tracks & demos, wives/partners, radio stations who played our stuff, Radio 1, Rob Vouchermate, people who voted, people who've come see us play... etc. Too many names to list. Thanks!

CBR001 Cover Art
SoNic Smith & Haszari - Cartoon Beats - Ladies Style - the JAcket
 

Haszari and Haydn (of Deux/Cool Kids Club who put the night together).
 

Trash Disco.
 

The main event - The Aston Shuffle!
 
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Lasers. Critical to the night.
I’ve entered a contest to remix Deepcentral’s "Is It Real", a progressive/eastern euro trance track.

I need your help - listen to the remix, let me know what you think, and vote & comment on the site!
Visit the label site to have a listen:
http://contest.e-motionsounds.com/index/userdetail/iduser/315

If you have trouble with their player or site, just head on over to the Cartoon Network DJs myspace, the track is the first one in the player. (and why not check out the other snippets while you’re there)
http://myspace.com/cartoonnetworkdjs
(and/or just complain bitterly to me about the inadequacy of trying to listen to music in shitty little flash/js custom web audio players).

My remix is a deep progressive chugger with a bassline that is a bit of a nod to early Dirty South. I’m quite pleased with it.

Please comment your comments here, at the contest site, or myspace or facebook or email.

Not quite all made with free software this one. More like made with all the software I've tried out recently - this is a 3 & 1/2 platform process.

There's a bit of a story so if you have the time I'll tell you all about it...

  • chorded out on guitar

  • prototyped in seq24 & general midi on an old Pentium II running linux/debian/64Studio

  • "shit, perhaps these vocals I just randomly downloaded for this comp might work with these chords"

  • re-prototyped in GarageBand and edited & combined with Deepcentral parts

  • chugger bassline added in Reaper (demo) using Phadiz VST plus some bleeps with a VST theremin

  • (and finally, the free-opensource part) mixed and more importantly low-end sidechain compressed (I have to do this to everything now) using SC3, jack, jack-rack, Ardour running in 64Studio of course (on my now quite senior Athlon64 desktop, needs RAM, needs RAM)

  • and mastered in good ol' Audacity


Cheers, see you at Pop this saturday for some cocktails + banter + beats...
I've remastered and tidied up The Jacket, used some more sample, and made a housier version which may be more clubby. They're all available at last.fm (see player below) or GarageBand which is a good option if you wanna iLike me on Facebook.

I used the EQ in excellent JAMin to make the spectrum roughly flat (it was quite low-end-heavy and there were little dips here and there). I didn't use any compression, but I think the EQing left a lot of room for makeup gain, so it could well be a lot louder. Anyone know about mastering? I don't.

If you want higher bit rate versions send me an email, sweet as..



ADDITIONAL ADDITIONAL:
The new ("original") version is now in the last.fm player (128k) and still available at zshare too (320k).

TOP POST UPDATE:
There's a new version I've put on zshare (cos I know all you blog readers love viewing zshare ads).. it has a nice complementary sub and some swooshes here and there and the drums are tidied up:
Haszari - The Jacket (original) [320kbps]

It'll go up on Last FM (etc) eventually but they're rejecting the 128k bla bla bla ...


Original post follows...

Here is a work-in-progress track currently called "Jacket". I'm happier with this (even in its current state) than I have been with any homemade music thus far. Here's a last.fm player, and the track is free-downloadable from last.fm, so go and grab it!

It was made with my favourite free software: ZynAddSubFX synth, Hydrogen drum machine, Ardour digital audio workstation, and sequencer Rosegarden. This is all installed and configured to run with low latency by default in the wonderful free operating system (Debian based) 64Studio.

Now your bit: leave comments below or let me know more directly what you reckon, what would make it better, etc etc. Thanks.
Since bringing up the issue of song-destroying monotonous electro remixes, I have gone out and shown my support for the track by buying the old-arse not relevant original mix from that dang beatport.

Just before I did this, I found a presumably old remix competition which had the parts of the song freely downloadable (128k mp3)! Great!

The bonus is that now that I realise the original doesn't have much of an intro, I might be able to give it one with a bit of looping of some of those parts. And I keep the smug "I actually bought this" warm fuzzy feeling.

Slightly curious is that one of the parts is kick and it seems to be eight minutes of kick drum (with gaps for breaks of course). (The others are vocal, bass, drums and music.) I guess this is house music; the kick is pretty important right?

Cheers, Remix Mag and Gabriel & Dresden.
I heard the King Unique remix of Gabriel & Dresden's "Tracking Treasure Down" on the weekend while helping out with our local house music radio show, Energy Flash on Radio 1.

My reaction was: the original was a great crossover clubby trance pop song, with a very pop/song structure, and King Unique succeeded in using the vocal over a much more constant/monotonous (i.e. the chord changes are not there) electro track.

Which is fine and all, obviously that's more relevant, and that's what I tend to be into a lot of the time, but for me it had the effect of making the vocal fairly irrelevant.

If you want to hear the King Unique remix, listen to the energyflash podcast. If you want to hear the original, get in a time machine and go back to last year and listen to Pete Tong's Essential Selection thru early/mid 2006.