Monday, 9 December 2013

Prog Metal!

Three weeks ago I went to Portsmouth to for another gig.
I went to see Karnivool and TesseracT, both progressive metal bands. In the world of prog metal, they are both very popular, which is totally understandable, they have very good, uncommon qualities to them.

I brought two tickets for this about five months ago, around the same time that I brought tickets for Fuck Buttons and The Haxan Cloak. This was mostly due to a combintion of two factors: the price of the tickets, and the lineup. They cost £10.50 per ticket, which in terms of gigs in general is pretty cheap. I did not know of Karnivool at this point however I had been a fan of TesseracT for quite a while by this time. The idea of seeing TesseracT for such a low price made me consider the idea, which led me to give the headliners, Karnivool a listen. I was quite impressed by them at first, and that was a deal breaker; I couldn't miss out on this opportunity.
This was the first gig of the UK tour, which is no bad thing.
Before every gig I go to, I try to prepare myself by listening to the bands' albums, so I had quite a few months to learn more of TesseracT's material and also accustom myself to Karnivool. I found that as time progressed, my admiration for bands grew and by the time the gig came around, I liked one band just as much as the other.

TesseracT are from the UK, and have only been going for 6 years, releasing two albums (one in 2011, another in 2013) and two EPs in that time. they've come quite far now and have been touring for many years. However they have experimented with various different sounds and have had four different singers in this time. At first they had a heavier sound and in their first album 'One' incorporated harsh vocals. Since then, that singer departed, they got a new singer for a year until he left, which leads us to their current lineup.
They now have Ashe O'hara, who is an amazing vocalist and in my opinion have taken the band into a great new direction. They now purely use clean vocals, which in my mind is a great move, as it adds a lot more precision to the music, which is quite key their sound.

I went there after college had finished, with a friend I made in my music class. We headed off at 4.30, and took a train for an hour. Once we arrived at portsmouth we got some food at a supermarket, and then started to walk to the venue. We got a little lost, so the journey took around half an hour, when it should have taken half that time. It was an odd walk, as it seemed troughout that space of time, there was a persistent smell of marujana in air. I for one, was not bothered as I find it a fairly pleasant smell.
We arrived at the venue around 6:30, which was very early, considering that the doors opened at 8. While we waited at the front of the queue, we obvserved people slowly arriving. One man asked us to take a picture of him in front of the poster outside the venue. He then confessed to us that he had come all the way from Greece just to go to this gig, which we were obviously astounded by! While I am on the subject of the poster, I saw it and thought 'they won't be needing that after tonight, it'll make a nice poster and souvenir of the gig' and mentioned to my friend my intentions. Unbeknown to me, nearby was the woman who was working at the box office that night who chimed in 'No you won't'. I was very disappointed by this, and a little irritated at myself for screwing up. When I came out once the gig had finished, it was nowhere to be seen. The next day, I saw a picture of it on Karnivool's facebook page, which is fair that they, the performers should claim it.



We went in, and I deposited my bag in the cloakroom, while my friend kept his on. TesseracT started playing after around half an hour of waiting around.
I was a little skeptical about them, not because they are bad players at all, but they may not be able to reproduce their studio work in a live environment too well. I needed not worry. They managed to recreate their sound very well, with one or two minor faults that would be expected, even from the best performers and gear. One was the bass was a little much at times, but this also had benefits, as their music is very bass orientated and most frequencies they play with are in the low end. The second fault was the singing, which was pretty much impossible to avoid, even with their amazing vocalist. At points he altered the pitches of some of his highest notes, which was good as it kept the quality of singing, and also is understandable, given that most likely, 9/10 people wouldn't even be able get anywhere as high as his mid-high range.
They played through quite a lot of their new album, but also played one or two songs from their EP Concealing Fate, which is a 36 minute EP which is essentially made up of one song, split up into 6 tracks. The tracks they decided to play were ones that involved harsh vocals, which Ashe managed to pull off very well, at one point swapping from harsh vocals to his perfect clean voice mid sentence. This ease with which he managed this left me momentarily gobsmacked.

Here are a few shoddy pictures I took during their set:









We waited for around 20 minutes before Karnivool's started their set. They mostly played songs from their new album, and the one before that. This was good in my mind, as I think their second album is the best they have produced to date. Their set was a little different to TesseracT's, as they had a mix of a heavier and softer songs, whereas TesseracT mostly played their heavy songs. The fact that Karnivool are closer to rock than TesseracT probably contributes to this difference.
Int their lineup they had two guitarists. In some songs, often the softer ones, the rhythm guitarist would switch roles and play a small synth off to the side of the stage. Their frontman, Ian, was also an interesting character, as during parts where he was not singing, he would dance oddly. However not in the way that you would look at him and think "well he has a bit of an ego", but instead livening the stage up without embarassing himself and looking like a tool. Their drummer was very energetic in his playing. This was not noticable by the sound as it was obviously mastered by the sound engineer, but you could visually see it in his playing.
One thing irritated me during their set; a single member of the crowd who for the entire time jumped about and generally got in the way of people. This would have been fine, had it been a moshing type gig, but the crowd was generally static, so he was pretty much being an annoying prick. The fact that he was tall did not help either..
There was this, but also inbetween songs he would also yell out things like "We love you Karnivool". Over all, he just seemed like an over the top fan of Karnivool, and could be considered a poser.

Here are a few photos I took during their set:















After the gig finished, I had a brief look at the merch stand. There were some nice shirts there, but I decided that it wasn't worth spending £15 on. This was a lucky decision as I didn't have £15; a ten pound note had fallen out of my pocket when I took my phone out.
Despite losing this money, the gig was well worth the £30 it cost me, including travel and a lost £10 note.
I got a lift back home with my dad, and as there weren't any trains running, I gave my friend a lift. We took him to Southampton, and he got a bus service that replaced the train. I arrived home at around one in the morning, which wasn't too late as I usually go to sleep around that time. It was pretty much a standard college day the next morning. Not so much for my friend who skipped the day because he was so tired.

This was a brilliant gig and i'd happily see either of them again live.
Next, (and sadly last!) on my gig list is Lamb of God and Decapitated in January.

TesseracT setlist: Of Matter - Proxy/Of Matter - Retrospect/Concealing Fate Part 2: Deception/Concealing Fate Part 3: The Impossible/Of Energy - Singularity/Of Mind - Nocturne/April/Concealing Fate Part 1: Acceptance

Karnivool setlist:
The Last Few/A.M. War/Themata/Goliath/Simple Boy/Eidolon/All I Know/Sky Machine/We Are/The Refusal/Set Fire to the Hive/Aeons

To counter the lack of planned gigs in 2014, I am planning on grabbing a bunch of friends and going to Bloodstock, a UK based 3 day metal festival in August! Which is also ridiculously cheap (£122 early bird ticket, including camping!).


Friday, 22 November 2013

Anniversary post

This is not only my 48th blog post, but also an anniversary post; it has been exactly one year since I started this blog. 

Looking back, a lot has changed since then, which has been a recurring thing for the past few years.
It will be interesting to look back on later on, to see what things are the same, what has changed and how events have changed me.
Its surprising how many different things I've documented in only 47 peices of writing, ranging from parties, gigs, college, friends, holidays, turning 18 and love.
I should say here that personally I still have a fair amount of distain for the word love, mostly because of its overuse and misuse. The only reason I feel it is acceptable to write here is because looking back on this past year, I've come to the conclusion that I've felt the feelings of romantic love for the first time.
Hence, its easily possible that I look back on myself from this time with a fair amount of disappointment or irritation, for what I put myself through concerning feelings, despite the fact things like this are natural. It has certainly taught me a lesson though, I'm much more cautious of my emotions concerning people now. That's not to say that I won't accept them, but only if I am fairly certain letting them roam free will either be harmless, or have a high chance of working out. 

I think I should make a thankful mention here of my friend Fearne, who first gave me the idea of starting a blog. I am grateful that they were around to give me the inspiration for the creation of this blog.

I say all this, about expecting my reactions I will have when reading back on these memoirs, but to be truthful, life is subject to change, life is change.
In the end all I can say I have no fucking clue what's going to happen, how I'm going to feel about the past.

Bring on the next year, let's see what happens and what gets recorded in this journal.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Steven Wilson

Recently, three weekends ago, I went to London with my parents to a gig. This gig was my 4th this year, and over all, my 7th in total.

I went to see Steven Wilson, touring with one of his solo projects. Before I describe anything else, I feel I should go into a bit of background information about Steven Wilson.
He is one of the most well known and popular progressive rock artists at the moment, and for good reason. He is not as old as other famous groups and people such as Yes, Rush, King Crimson, Camel and others, but in a short space of 20 or so short years, he has almost managed to single handedly create himself a legacy that is a strong contender with them.
To explain this, he has, and still is in many groups: Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, No-man, Bass Communion. To cap this off, not only has he also released 3 albums as a solo project, but also has written music for famous artists such as Opeth, collaborated with groups such as Pendulum, but also has set up his own record label, K-scope.
And he's not even stopping, when I saw him live, he mentioned how he had already written more music for his next album. He's nothing short of a genius.

This was another first gig for me, as I had never been to a a proper 'rock' or prog gig before this. All the gigs I had seen were metal or punk, with the exception of seeing Fuck Buttons and The Haxan Cloak last month with my dad.

The tour that I saw was his second tour of his new solo album, The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories). The group that he has got together for this solo project is something of a supergroup, with Guthrie Govan, guitar virtuoso from The Aristocrats.
Theo Travis, who has played woodwind instruments on all sorts of jazz albums.
Chad Wackerman, who played drums in Frank Zappa's band for quite a while.
Adam Holzman, who has played keyboard with many jazz musicians including Miles Davis.
Nick Beggs, who has played bass and chapman stick in various prog rock groups.
And finally, Steven wilson himself, who played rhythm guitar and sung vocals.

The concert was the final in the run of UK tour dates, held in the Royal Albert Hall in London. It is usually a venue for classical music, so as you'd expect, it was massive. We were a little far back for my liking, however the sound quality was still great, which obviously matters the most.

Here is a picture or two to show how large the concert hall was

This is a picture directly facing the stage from the back of the hall


This is the view we had of the stage

The concert started off at 7.40, rather unconventionally, with a 20 minute film showing a street in a city, and eventually showing a busker setting up to play the acoustic guitar. As the busker began to play, Steven Wilson came on stage playing the song 'Trains', which is off a Porcupine Tree Album.


I did not expect this beginning at all, as from what a friend of mine who had gone to the first tour of this album, said they started with a different song. After playing Trains, the rest of the band came on and the stage lit up as they started playing Luminol, which is the opening track of the album that was being toured.


I'm not going to go through the entire concert like this, as it'd take a fair while to go through each song played and include a link to it on youtube. Instead, i'm going to write out the setlist from beginning to end:

Trains (Porcupine Tree song)
Luminol
Postcard
The Holy Drinker
Drive Home
Wreckage
The Watchmaker
Index
Harmony Korine
Raider II
The Raven That Refused To Sing
Radioactive Toy (Porcupine Tree song)

Wreckage was a new song, that he said he had recently written. It turns out now, that it seems he played it on each tour date, but gave it a different title each time. It was roughly 15 minutes long, and quite soundscapey. I'm looking forward to seeing what it turns out to be like on record.
The song Raider II is in fact 24 minutes long, and due to this fact he played an abridged version of it, 15 minutes long, and joked, saying 'I don't do short'.
During Radioactive Toy, he requested that the audience join in with the chorus.

                                         Here is what the crowd interaction sounded like roughly:


I took a fair few videos and photos at the gig, and felt that I should post the at the end of the blog. I should also mention that some of the photos I downloaded from the Steven Wilson facebook page, as they are much better quality than mine.

Guthrie Govan playing, with Theo Travis in the background

Nick Beggs playing bass

Steven Wilson playing guitar

Steven Wilson playing Radioactive Toy, with the band in the background

Adam Holzman playing keyboards

Steven Wilson singing

Theo Travis playing the trumpet

The whole band playing

The band taking a bow

Now I will put my pictures up, you'll notice a large change in the quality of the photos..


Steven Wilson starting the gig off with Trains

The band starting off with Luminol





I would have included some videos that I took, but I can't upload them as they are too big. A bit of a shame really, as the recordings were of surprisingly alright audio quality.

The next gig I have coming up is another prog gig, however a little different. I am seeing Karnivool and TesseracT, who are giants of the prog metal (or 'djent' as it's been nicknamed) world.
I'm going with a friend that i've made at college, which should be fun, especially as the venue is fairly small.
However, i'm not going to go into detail here, instead make a post after the gig itself!

Friday, 18 October 2013

18

I've been 18 for around two weeks now. Does it feel particularly different? No not really, other than buying alcohol is easier and I can go out drinking with friends. I don't smoke, so buying cigarettes isn't an issue.

For my 18th, I went out to the pub for the first time with five of my friends. I was planning to have quite a few people come out, but at the time, many people were either busy, or they had gone off to university. This is obviously ignoring those that hadn't turned 18 yet. I think it was a good night out, but I have many nights out in the future to compare it to, so I shall see if I decide against this in the future.
One of the people that I was going out with came to my house earlier on in the night after they finished work, dropped their bike off at mine for the night, as they were sleeping round mine that night. We then ate supper with my family and then she had a shower, meanwhile I got ready to go out. I say got ready, but all I really did was have a look through my wardrobe looking for a suitable T-shirt to wear with my faux leather jacket.
I had not really planned out the evening itself, other than we would start off in Weatherspoons for predrinks, then head wherever we wanted. This was because it was student night, so therefore drinks were cheaper, which is always a good thing when it comes to drinking out; it's expensive.
After we got ready, my dad gave us a lift in town and we met one person outside the pub at around 9 o'clock. We headed in and grabbed a drink, I started with a pint of cider as it's never a good idea to start off heavy..the weekend would be clear evidence of this...
Anyway, we started drinking around 9 o'clock and then after a while, I think about half an hour later, another of my friends showed up. He was not drinking that much that night, as he had his practical driving test the next day, but we headed down to the bar and picked up a drink, another one in my case. This time, I moved on to the spirits, as I was too tempted by a whiskey and coke not to give it a shot (haha).
A little while later, the other two people I had organised to meet turned up. In addition, one of my friends bumped into a friend they met in the pub a little a while back, and he joined us at our table too.
In the end, we ended up staying in Weatherspoons for a lot of the night, more time than I expected we would. Eventually however, we left, at about 12 o'clock, and headed off to get some food at a takeaway. My friend that was taking his practical test also left at this time, and from there we went off to the clubs.
We didn't spend too much time around there, and at around 1.30, me and the friend that was sleeping round mine started walking home. I had drunk quite a lot and was not very sober, very drunk infact, but there was still a little bit of room to be worse.
Here was where the night went wrong. They were in a mood for some reason; I asked them what was wrong and they didn't answer. They were also walking quite fast, so with all this taken into account, given my drunken state, I started to get the feeling that they were trying to get away from me. Soon this was really ticking me off, and eventually I gave up on trying to keep up with them and sat down on a bench by myself for a while. Eventually I realized that it was quite late, and thought I should get back in time to have some rest before college in the morning. As I was walking down the lane that I live in, I saw a bike driving past me. I assumed this would be her heading off home, and lo and behold, when I returned home, her bike was gone.
This was a mistake on both our parts, I assumed things wrongly, and her ignoring me made me make those assumptions. I found out after that she had decided to ride home as she had no clue when or if I would return. Despite all this, the fact remains that she drove home most likely beyond the alcohol limit. I remember on the way home that she said something along the lines of "I've been sober for the last hour and a half, which to my memory was a fairly accurate statement. I know it's not entirely my fault for this, as she was the one who made the decision to ride home, knowing the fact that she had been drinking recently, but I still feel bad for it, as if something had happened, I would be partially to fault. Luckily, she got home safely, and we cleared everything up on sunday.

I managed to get up the next morning for college, which was surprising, given that I got home at around 3 A.M. and was woken up by my alarm at 6.30 in the morning! I woke up with a hangover; it wasn't my first, but generally it seems that I don't usually seem to get hangovers much, until now, which is a very fitting time to start. It wasn't so bad, when I get hangovers, it seems that I don't get headaches, so that's half the problem sorted.
That morning I was not feeling like I was going to throw up at all, despite apparently looking a tad green on the bus according to my friends. I survived the day at college just about, being just about coherent in the first two lessons, but I perked up by the time my third and last lesson began.
After hanging around at college for a while with people, I then took the early bus home to get things, such as drink and food ready for my party.
Yes, I held a party, for 10 people, the day after my first night in town. Crazy right?

All but one person that came were from my college. Him, and two of the people from college I have known for around two or so years, but the rest were new friends, that I had only met about a month before.
It was an..interesting party to say the least, in which many people got much drunker that they should have, me included, but it's fine. Despite how messy we all were, I think it's justifiable as it was an 18th birthday party.
I met everyone coming off the college bus at around 5.30, and then we hung around in town for a while. I had it in my mind that we should get to mine at around 7 or so, eat, then start drinking at around 8, so the party doesn't end too quickly. I arrived home a little early with a few people, then most people turned up at around 7. We started drinking about 15 minutes after people had arrived. I personally didn't start this, but someone started drinking, and slowly the rest of us followed suit. It would have been alright, were it not for the excessive amount of spirits that we had brought between us.

This is a picture of most of the alcohol we took with us, and there was at least 10 more cans of cider out of this picture.



The spirits were the reason that the night was so messy, most people that went, me included, remember it in chunks so the next day, we recollected all that happened as a group. We would certainly not have learned so much about it otherwise.
So much happened that night. I would write all about it here, but some of them might not want people to know, and also it would take a lot of time to write out..but I will share these stories about my actions though.

To start off with, I should say what I was drinking that night. When we started at 7, the first drink I made myself was a double shotted whiskey and coke, then another, and another. Then came the many shots...you can probably now see why I got so drunk; I went in hard, waaaaaay too early.
When I picked someone up from the train station at 10 o'clock, drunk (I barely remember leaving the house), I somehow managed to walk to the station with a roughly sober person, and on the way back, I almost got run over, by a police car. This apparently turned out fine, with them just asking if I was okay and my friends explained the situation to them. I'm pretty surprised that I managed to walk to the station, given that I was in that state.
Also, a while before this, I remember needing to use the toilet while I was in the lounge, and instead of walking to the toilet, I said "I won't make it" and pissed off my balcony. I would have regretted this were it someone else's house.
Then to cap the night off, apparently I passed out at around 11 o'clock and kept waking up and falling asleep throughout the night.

Here is a picture someone took of me passed out



In the morning, I woke up still slightly drunk, to find one of my friends wearing a towel round his waist. The explanation to this was he somehow pissed himself..this worried and confused me quite a bit, however it was still pretty funny too. People that went to the party aren't going to forget that happened, for quite a while.
Shortly, I went around clearing away some empty bottles, and in this process I found some ones with alcohol still in them, so I decided to keep drinking.
A little later on, I went up to my room and hung out with some people that had taken the initiative to sleep in my bed the previous night. I wouldn't blame them, it's a really comfortable bed as I have two mattresses. Anyway, we were in my room, and we decided to do more shots of vodka, drunkenness continued.

People slowly started leaving my house in the morning and only a few people were left by the afternoon. I sobered up around two or three o'clock and cooked up some bacon, which is the best food to eat after drinking!

As mentioned before many times, this was a very messy party, but despite that fact, nothing bad happened, just embarrassing things. I was impressed by this, because with all that happened, there was a high risk that something could have gone wrong.
It was a pretty good party, despite the embarrassment; I feel that because it was an 18th party, I am excluded from regret. Well I say that, there are one or two things I regret, only because it involved hurting others by accident.

To finish this post off, I will include a picture from the night, in which every interesting or funny event that happened that night is captioned. A lot of probably won't make sense to people that weren't there, but still I feel it gives a rough idea of what happened. Most of the captions are placed over the person they make reference to.


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

17

This will be my last post before I am 18 tomorrow!
For my 18th, I am going out to the pub with a few friends, then the next morning I will have to get up at around 6.30 for college. I expect it will be quite hard to manage. Not only that, the next night I will be hosting a party at my house, so I will need to make sure I’m not too tired!

I can’t really say that I did much today, on my last day of being 18..I pretty much just had an average day of college, and planned out the next two nights a bit.
I have to say, I don’t expect there will be much difference between being 17 and 18, like it is with any birthday, other than I can legally buy alcohol and other things.
Which in turn will probably mean that some friends will sometimes want me to buy cigarettes and booze for them sometimes, which I will be happy to do so, as long as they are someone I am willing to buy for, it isn’t too much effort to do so, and finally, that they give me money to do so.

I know writing this had absolutely no point, as I don’t have much to write about, but I felt I should do one last post.


My next post will probably be moaning about feeling like shit on saturday, but then again, i'm setting myself up for it.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Ringing ears

before I start this blog, i'd like to apologise for the amount of the times I use the word 'gig', but it can't be helped..

This monday, I went to a gig in Brighton with my dad. I know, it's not a common thing going to a gig with your parents but I was perfectly happy to do so. This wasn't only because my dad was driving me there from college, but also because we both were interested in the music that we were going to see.
In fact, I actually discovered the music we were going to see from my dad, as one of his friends had shown it to him in the past and he took an interest in it. I then saw the announcement of a tour, and thought it would be interesting to see what they would be like live.

After I finished college, my dad picked me up from college and then we drove to Brighton. My dad was suggesting going to get some fish and chips to eat before the gig, but while we wandered around, we found a nice looking thai restaurant and stopped there. I was worried about being late, and felt that having a full meal would be a very bad idea before a gig, but in the end, the gig started later than I expected, and there was a perfect amount of food, not too much, not too little. This was a little unexpected, as  I thought we would quickly pick up a take away or a sandwich, so it was a pleasant surprise having a decent meal!
From the restaurant, we then went on down to the gig..

It was an ambient electronic music gig, the genre would be hard to define, but I think the music can be roughly described as 'drone'. To attempt to describe it, the music is very bass driven as you would expect, but also reliant on dynamics to make it interesting.
In all honesty I think when it comes down to describing what it's like, it's easier just to actually hear for yourself..

This was a first for me, as I have never been to a gig to hear electronic music. All I have ever seen live is either rock or metal. While there are various types of electronic music I enjoy listening to (such as house, drum and bass, ambient and trance) I would usually prioritise seeing a metal or rock band over electronic music. When it comes down to it, I can be quite picky when it comes to electronic music, much more so than any 'traditional music' (rock, folk, metal etc. )
So, I wasn't really knowing what to expect from this, but I was optimistic. It turns out I was right to think that way.
I took a few pictures and attempted to get a few videos during the night. Surprisingly, given the levels of noise present, one or two of the videos sound alright and could be used as a representation of what the gig was like sonically.

The artists that I saw were 'Fuck Buttons' and 'The Haxan Cloak'. Each were different in their styles of music, but they complimented each other well.

The Haxan Cloak is a solo artist, producing music by himself. His music is very atmospheric, with the music being based on opposing dynamics. It can be very soft at times, but then also incorporate either very low bass frequencies in or samples such as voices or acoustic noises. The other side of the music is a driven distorted bass, unlike anything I have heard live before because it sounded so dark, yet clean. He generally uses a mix of these two styles of production, which makes it sound very powerful. I find the juxtaposition of these two styles so great, as it makes the music very interesting and also gives you a varied listening experience.

Here are some pictures and videos of The Haxan Cloak:



video

video

Fuck Buttons are a group comprised of two individuals, who perform together. Their music is different to The Haxan Cloak's, with less clarity and dynamics, but is more relentless and has a much harsher sound. They are also more structured than The Haxan Cloak, which allows them to be more melodic. Their bass and distortion was less clean as well, which suited their more relentless style of music. However I still would say tone wise I preferred The Haxan Cloak.
I personally feel that even though Fuck Buttons were headlining, The Haxan Cloak stole the day and were that slight bit better.

Here are a few pictures and videos of Fuck Buttons:




video

                                       video

In terms of the crowd, it was a very tame gig compared to what i've been before. People there were mostly just nodding their heads to it. This doesn't mean it wasn't any less packed though..by the time Fuck Buttons were playing, there was barely any room to move.

Over all it was an awesome gig, I would definitely see them both again live, despite the fact I know it will destroy my ears (they were ringing for two days after the gig..). I should mention that the videos I posted are not great, but I just find they are an okay representation of what the gig was like. I'll post a link to a album song or two here. Sadly, there are very few videos on youtube of The Haxan Cloak's work.






                                          


I'd also like to thank my dad for this great evening. Now this is our sort of father-son trip!

Fuck Buttons setlist:
Brainfreeze/Surf Solar/Colours Move/Olympians/Sentients/The Red Wing/Hidden XS

To briefly discuss future matters, upcoming things are my 18th birthday soon, which i'm pretty excited about! Also, There are a few gigs coming up in the next four or so months. I'll probably do another blog post and write about them there.

Friday, 13 September 2013

New start (part 2)

So ends the first week of college.

Many people that I know that are starting their second years are complaining already and saying that they don't want to be back at college. For all I know, I may be saying exactly the same as them this time next year, but for the moment, i'm actually really glad!
I feel i'm fitting in quite well there, much more so than I did at my last 6th form. For all I know I may have

In terms of the subjects i'm studying, it's been interesting so far, with no complaints yet other than electronics.
It has been okay so far, and the course looks like it will be interesting, but for the first week, lessons have been quite boring. This because at the moment, we are looking at the basics, which is mostly physics type stuff. It's not too hard, but just we've spent a little long looking at it for my liking. Either way, on monday we will be doing some practical work, which should be interesting. I reckon in time it will become more interesting anyway.

Creative writing is looking really good at the moment, the teacher we have at the moment is great, and i'm pretty happy with the layout of the course. I expect when I produce finished pieces of work, I will post them on this blog or another blog. Of course, this is once i've edited them quite a lot and finished them adequately.

Like creative writing, music BTEC is looking like a great course so far. The first comment I can pass is that from the looks of it, there will be a lot of work to do.
I'm liking the layout of this course a lot, it has many aspects of it that I find are not entirely necessary for what I am aiming to do at university, but considering music as a hobby, it still is great.
As hard as I expect it will be to learn, I am looking forward to learning music theory, mainly because I know it is something that I must do at some point, and it's good to get it out of the way now.
Considering that I am looking to do music technology at university, the music technology side of the course is obviously of interest to me, but the other side that I am really pleased about is the performance aspect, which will be rather new to me. I've never played too much with other musicians so it will be a great opportunity for me.

Now, to discuss the social side of college. While the purpose of going to college is obviously to get an education, the social aspect of it is still important, and it's one of the reasons I decided to move to college.
So far, it's been great. I wasn't so sure what to expect, whether it'd be much different to the 6th form. It is unbelievably different.
So far this week, I would say I have started to get to know a fair few people and started to become part of a group of friends, who are second year students. This is really down to knowing a couple of people in that group, who introduced me to them.
I should mention that i'm very grateful for this, it has helped greatly starting up, and also it's a second time that knowing them has been almost the basis for becoming integrated into a group of friends.

As for the future, it's what I make it really. Socially, I can only see it getting better with time, however I wouldn't be surprised if the workload will become tiresome once the courses start to pick up pace. But, for a start, of course it will be hard, that's to be expected. However it should also be interesting, considering one of the courses is studying a hobby of mine, one is writing, which you would expect to be something I find interesting, given this is my 42nd blog post. Electronics might not turn out as interesting as the other two subjects, but it will be a useful thing to study as general knowledge. Apparently it isn't as hard as other A levels too, so that's definitely a bonus!

Friday, 6 September 2013

New start (part 1)

At the moment, I have free periods till the bus home and was looking for something to do, so I decided to write a short blog post.

This is my third day at college so far. The organisation of timetables and such things has been quite disorganised, but it's to be expected with the influx of  1000s of students. What I found a little irritating is that when I looked at my timetable, it was wrong, with chemistry on it and BTEC music was nowhere to be found. I sorted this out, however after the first lesson, I talked to the teacher and they said that I was on the waiting list for the course. This would be fine, but I had no clue of this until now. Either way, i'm on the course now so it's fine.

So far i've found college is pretty good, people i've met so far seem nice and I seem to starting to get to know people on my courses, aside from creative writing, which I haven't  had any lessons in yet. I must admit though, that remembernig names is a little tricky at the moment, but like everything, there is always time for that.

The one thing I majorly dislike about college is travel. The bus journey takes an hour, which doesn't bother me, however the time it leaves does. It leaves the bus station around 7.45, which means that I have to get up from 6-6.30 in order to have get ready and cycle to the bus station at 7.20.
All I can say, is I hope I get used to waking up this early, and make sure I change my daily sleeping patterns!

After a while I will do a second post and write in detail, but I will leave it for now.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

AS results and subsequent plans

As promised, I will write about my AS level results all things around that area of discussion.
I think I should start the post of by saying I did quite badly.
Talking here in over all grades;

In ICT I got a D,
In chemistry I got an E,
In English literature I got an E,
I failed maths.

So there you have it, not great results at all, but at least they count for some UCAS points. You may be wondering why I did so badly; well I myself don't really know, I can only speculate.
I'm not going to say I wasn't lazy, because I was; you can always do more work. However I don't I feel I was too lazy, I put the effort in where it was needed and studied fairly hard, but obviously not hard enough.
Now, i'm not going to go around saying that if you put the work in, you'll definitely do as well as you'd like; when it comes down to it, A levels are hard.

To start talking about individual subject, i'll start with the worse; maths. I was a little taken aback when I saw the breakdown of my results, I got a U (a fail) in all three exams. I knew there was no chance I would have passed, but still this surprised me. I wasn't too phased by failing it, as I expected a fail, and I also was planning on dropping it in the next year anyway.

English was an odd subject, I was quite disappointed with the breakdown of marks, as I had potential to do alright, but I did very badly in the exam. I got a B in my coursework, which I was pretty pleased about, but then at the opposite end of the mark spectrum, I got a U in the exam. This was rather gutting, because I knew that I had messed up in the exam, but I didn't expect to that extent. I've never been great at english in exam situations if i'm being honest. The worst part about doing so badly in english is that a retake is not an option, because it would mean studying another four texts, by that time I may as well just retake the whole AS.

My mark in ICT was surprising, but not too much of a bother. I chose to study it as a filler subject really, because I had no clue what else to do as a fourth subject, and also because the grades were rescuable by doing a retake of an exam. This wouldn't be too much of a stretch, as it's a fairly easy subject. I think that I slipped up on the essay writing side of it, which in a sense links into doing badly in the english exam.

I wasn't too sure what to expect in chemistry. I didn't think that I would fail, but I wasn't sure how high my grade would be. I thought I might manage between a D and a C, but achieved an E. Looking at my mark breakdown, it seems that I had the potential do fairly well, with a B in practical skills and a D in the exam I retook, but then got a U in the other exam, which was very surprising.

When I got these results, I started to frantically think about where I would go from there. In my mind, I had three options:
1) Go back to my 6th form and continue with A2 exams, meanwhile do retake two exams to up my grades
2) Go to a college and study a BTEC in music
3) Go to a college and mix retaking exams with restarting one or two AS's

I spent a good two weeks considering the options, each had their pros and cons. I didn't have too much time to decide which path to choose.

In terms of going back to 6th form, I wasn't too sure as I don't feel that I fit in so well there. Also It'd be quite a lot of work doing that many retakes along side studying for my A2 exams, which would be fine, but I feel that it wasn't entirely reasonable, given that none of the subjects I was taking related specifically to my plans for university of studying music/sound technology.

I felt that doing a BTEC in music would be good as it focused on what I was planning on doing in the future, however it was also a little too specific. It would not be enough of a general education, so this put me off quite a bit.

I was leaning most towards the third option of restarting some AS's at college and doing some A2s and starting some new ASs, partially because it allowed me to change my subjects to being more relevant to my university plans and also I think that I may get on better there. I decided on this option in the end.
I went to the college this friday to enroll and got in. However, I will not studying what I had first planned to do. In my interview, I discussed the possibility of starting music technology AS, but it seemed that it wouldn't be possible to study it, as I don't have the right skills - specifically, the ability to read music. They suggested that I could do a music BTEC, where I would study things relevant to music  technology and also learn to read and about other things relating to music theory. In addition I could also take music theory grades there while i'm at it, which would also be important. In addition to the BTEC, I could study two AS's, so I thought that I would also study electronics and creative writing along side.
The other option I had was to only do A levels, and study things required to do music technology AS in the next year. This would be good for diversity of subjects, however, it would also be a risky option. My results confirms that i'm not the best at doing exams and my strengths are in coursework.

I finally decided on doing the BTEC, along side AS creative writing and AS electronics. I start on the upcoming wednesday, so I got it all sorted out just in time.
I'm not sure what it'll be like, socially and academically, but I shall wait and see. I know a fair few people going there already which is reassuring.
When it comes to the work load, there is no questioning that it'll be hard, as I will be starting electronics from scratch, having never touched the subject before, with having to write quite a lot for creative writing, and just having to learn a lot over all musically, but hopefully it should be interesting and enjoyable learning, especially in the case of music and writing.

I should probably mention about quitting 6th form here for anyone from there reading my blog, I enjoyed it there and met some nice people, but felt I never fully connected socially I hoped I would. But the fact that my subjects were heading in the wrong direction was the main reason for leaving.

To sum up, exciting times up ahead!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Studio!

I haven't posted here in a while and felt I should update this thread on what I have been doing lately.

In my last post I mentioned about doing work experience at a recording studio for two weeks. This went quite well, I stayed at my uncles house for the week and went back to my house at the weekend. It was not quite what most people would expect from a recording studio, they are client based, where someone will come in and request an album be made. Sometimes it is for movie soundtracks, sometimes video games, you get the picture.

They have about five people working there, with four producing the music and one handling the business side of it. Some of the stuff I heard them make was quite uninteresting, but that was due to the content they were creating, for instance at the time they were working on making on a children's story CD. However, some other work that they had done was astonishing, given that there were only four people, with a guitar, MIDI keyboards and their voices. They mostly did things all by themselves like this, however they occasionally get in musicians to help them. For instance with their latest project, that I expect is finished by now, is a greatest hits of David Bowie album played by a string quartet. For this project they employed a quartet for a day or two and got them to do many takes of 18 or so songs. Once they had gone, and the people at the studio took all the takes and played around with them, combining the best takes of each song and editing them where necessary to create the best sounding track possible.

This was what went on there, now to get back to the subject, I didn't have so much to do there, I spent some of the time doing some more business orientated things, doing spreadsheet and research work to use for album publishing purposes, I directed a session when they were recording a portion of vocals on a track, I helped set up microphones, otherwise, I sat around in the control room and observed what went on, occasionally giving them input in changes they had made to tracks.

Over all, it was a great experience, I was around the right people if I had questions to ask about sound engineering, it was an interesting insight into the business side of the sound engineering world and and it will also help greatly with my personal statement for university!
In addition, when I emailed the owner of the business to thank him for the experience, I mentioned how much I liked the sound of the David Bowie string quartet album they were producing while I was there, and in the reply, he said that he would send me a copy of it!


Thinking about it, I actually have no recollection what I have done over the last month or so, it's all slipped into one big phase i'd call "doing fuck all". So considering the fact that I don't remember the last month, the other big events that have gone on are AS results day and my dad's 60th birthday yesterday.
I will probably write about my AS results in another post, and discuss my dad's birthday for now.

We had some friends of the family round last weekend to celebrate with us. My parent's have known them since they went to art college so as expected they are very close friends.
On Saturday, we went out to to the to Poole for a birthday meal, and stopped off at a beach on the way. Not all went to plan however;
We drove off in the morning and stopped off at Corfe for a little wander around and had a quick cup of tea. I say quick, but our guests were so damn indecisive about where to go for a cup of tea so we ended up staying there for a quite a while. After this, we drove off to Tyneham bay to go down to the beach. It took a little while to walk down there so we only had around half an hour down at the beach. My parents went for a quick swim in the sea, our guests took another ten minutes to walk down and I walked up to the top of the cliffs. As were about to leave, one of our guests slipped over and fell on a rock. To cut to the chase, they had broken their collar bone. We didn't know this at the time, but she eventually managed to get up the hill back to the car. Then we decided to cancel the meal and head back to Salisbury hospital to get her checked up. So there went our plans.

The next day, she spent the day at home and my parents and her husband went up the cathedral spire. In the evening we had a special meal, consisting of steaks and salad. This was great and made up for the mishaps of the previous night. After this we had a fig cake that our guests had baked for my dad, which was lovely. It wasn't the best birthday for him, but we did our best and personally, I would feel that it had worked out in the end.

Monday, 5 August 2013

A busy summer

I once again haven't posted in a while, but i'm not too bothered anymore, as I think that the days of making regular blog posts are over for me, I sadly don't seem to have the effort anymore. I thought i'd write a post now though as i've been doing quite a lot of things lately, and I think I should document them.

Firstly I will mention my new guitar that I brought. I posted a thread on a guitar that I use often, reviewing it and putting up pictures, here is the link to that thread: http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?p=31704699#post31704699

It is my second electric guitar, I brought it off used off gumtree for £170, about half the price it would be new. The previous owner had it for 3 years and it is in pretty good condition considering its age. Besides, dents and scratches aren't always bad, many guitarists look on them with pride as 'battle scars'.
I brought it as I needed another guitar to keep it low tunings like drop C and drop B as generally it's not possible to keep changing your tuning from standard to one that low without messing up your strings and it also requires a lot of work changing the setup.
It is a Schecter Omen Extreme. I'm not going to bother including many details here, if you want technical knowledge, look at the post I made on the forum.

I like the guitar so far, it's a little different from my current one as it has a fatter neck and is a little longer. I will soon become accustomed to it though. In terms of sound, it's fine, but nothing special. This is typical of a guitar in this price range, so I didn't expect the pickups to be particularly good. They can always be upgraded in the future though.




A picture of all my guitars together, in front of my amp

I will now talk about other things, specifically parties, which have been fairly abundant over the last few weeks.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, most of what I have been doing of late has been is meeting friends in town. Parties have also been on then agenda; in the last two weeks i've been to three parties, which for me is a pretty decent number. The latest one was a few weeks ago, I had a campout in a field connected to the house I will eventually live in. Nine people came, all but one of them I have known for at least one to two years. One person was someone that had went to my secondary school, and the rest were friends that I had got to know through other friends. The people people that came to this party were most of the close friends I have at the moment.

I have put off finishing this post for a few weeks now, so I feel that I should get it over and done with. My next post will most likely be about the two weeks work experience at a recording studio that I completed last weekend.