Saturday, August 28, 2010

The European Son

Another track from the instrumental "Upon a Sleepless River" album, available as free download on Bitkins label.

This was mostly done with Korg Wavestation, Moog Little Phatty and Prophet 08.

The European Son by khoral

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Guitar : Vintage V100

While I love the Emperor Joe Pass I'm currently playing, I felt the need for an alternative, that is, a Les Paul-type guitar.

The Emperor sounds great, but being a hollow-body guitar, it produces quite a lot of feedback and has a rather short neck and less frets than a solid body.

Why Les Paul? I'm looking for a rounder, softer tone than, for instance, Stratocaster or Telecaster-types.

I've tried several guitars, including the Epiphone Standard line, which is pretty good, and then found this interesting deal on a Vintage V100.

Nicely built, great looks and of course, very good, warm, full sound. A bit muffled perhaps, but a wonderful creamy tone with a decent overdrive or fuzz.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Photo du Jour

More snapshots from the Greek islands.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Upon a Sleepless River

Final track off the new "Upon a Sleepless River" album on Bitkins.

All done with Gforce M-Tron Pro.

Upon a Sleepless River by khoral

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Soundtrack Life

Another ambient study for sci-fi film project "PEG".

Korg Wavestation and Prophet 08 (and some Gforce VSM at the end).

PEG Test 2

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Retroblog : Dennis Wilson's "Pacific Ocean Blue"

This is one occasion where the cover pic grabbed my attention on the shelf and got me to listen to the record. I never was too much into the Beach Boys, so I didn’t realize at first that Dennis Wilson was part of that Wilson family. It was the vintage-looking photograph of that sullen bearded man that caught my attention. Since then, I managed to listen to the whole Beach Boys canon, and found out that Dennis Wilson’s career had a George Harrison curve to it, from being a simple performer to providing the band with isolated gems that would prove to match the main composers’ efforts. Like Harrison, Dennis Wilson went on to release a superb first solo album, and here we are in 1977, with the musically rich and profoundly humane “Pacific Ocean Blue”.

The opening track, “River Song”, is a good example of Wilson’s very personal style, starting out with a most classic piano riff in major mode, the sort of riff you might expect from any other 1977 middle-of-the-road hit single, followed by a gospel choir. But then, as Dennis’s raspy, powerful voice begins to wail about cities and pollution, the music slowly evolves into a raging, dark, almost apocalyptic clash of ultra-low voices and massive rhythmic strokes. It all moves down to a simple, quiet piano part, then back to a coda of pure electric joy.

The rest of the album is equally great, and shows what a sophisticated writer and arranger Wilson had become by then. After “River Song” come a batch of intense and brooding celebrations of rock and roll and Jesus (I don’t know the connection, but Wilson seems to do), evoking boiling hot LA friday nights and fruitless dreams of fame. The music slows down and envelops itself in cascades of synth strings and warm guitars, for a series of bittersweet, summer-tinged ballads, which shows Wilson at its rawest and most sincere, whether meditating about the dissolution of love (“Thoughts of You”) or its timeless flow (“Time”, “You and I”). One more catching ode to Mother Nature (“Pacific Ocean Blues”), a humble, moving funeral tune (“Farewell my Friend”), a sweet and refreshing love song (“Rainbows”) and there we are, at the “End of the Show”.Well, it’s been a wonderful one indeed, and just like Elliott Smith and so many others, too bad it ended so quickly. Dennis Wilson lived a life as intense as its songs, drank too much and fought too hard, and drowned in the ocean he loved so much one December day of 1983, leaving an unfinished album (“Bambu”, featured on the last reissue) and this enduring masterpiece.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Free Album : Upon a Sleepless River

If things are on schedule, my new instrumental album has been released today on netlabel
"Upon a Sleepless River" is a dense, dark, political, cinematographic album with moody piano improvisations, noise experiments and a mix of cold digital landscapes and searing analogue leads.

This is a work about victory in the XXth century, from Harry Truman to General McArthur, with Kurtz the European Son providing historical perspective.

 1 - Harry S. Truman at Hiroshima

2 - The European Son

3 - Last Words of Mistah Kurtz

4 - A Remarkable Man

5 - McArthur visits Unit 731

6 - Upon a Sleepless River

Main instruments : Moog Little Phatty, Prophet 08, M-Tron, Korg Wavestation, Roland D50.

Groove on “Last Words” and ambient sound design on “McArthur” by John Fisher aka Ricemutt aka Bagger288.

 “McArthur” is featured on short film “Cold Sweat” by Thomas Lesourd :
The album is available as a free download or CD on
Check it out!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Retroblog : John Cale's "Paris 1919"

In my series of "albums you should definitely listen to"...

John Cale, « Paris 1919 », 1973.

Child's Christmas in Wales
Hanky Panky Nohow
The Endless Plain of Fortune
Paris 1919
Graham Greene
Half Past France
Antarctica Starts Here

Like probably most people, I came across John Cale through the Velvet Underground, and, again like most Velvet enthusiasts, soon found out that the temperamental Welsh had a most fascinating solo career. This 1973 gem is probably his best known record, and yet (like the rest of Cale’s career) remains much too obscure.

The title and the artwork say it all, this is a European record, set at a particular time and place, namely the Plains of Endless Fortune that were Europe after the apocalypse. Musically, the record perfectly captures the melancholy quiet of post-war Europe, from the opening “Child’s Christmas in Wales” to the placid, but somehow vaguely menacing “Antarctica starts here”. At first glance, the mood is light and sunny, but it’s only the deceptive quiet after civilization has been put to a painful halt. A misanthropist Cale leads us “down on darkened meetings on the Champs Elysées”, taking snapshots of colonial empires crumbling to pieces and deadly boring tea parties in England, musing aboard a train going nowhere : “From here on it's got to be/ A simple case of them or me/ If they're alive then I am dead”.

The instrumentation lean to the classical, as exemplified by the title song’s chamber symphony, and Cale provides some of his most beautiful acoustic ballads with the suitably glowing “Andalucia” and “Hanky Panky Nohow” (and its memorable line : “Nothing frightens me more/ Than religion at my door”). With the Velvet, Cale was the experimental guy, the Larsen master, the prince of noise, and would later go to extreme fits of violence on stage, but “Paris 1919” stands as a monument of subtlety and class, a musically complex yet organic sounding, lyrically oblique, a timeless piece of work.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Retroblog : Patches Everywhere

Some synth sounds I've posted last year.

Moog Little Phatty

(Hit a low key, hold it and put the mod wheel to maximum, for some apocalyptic and analogue crescendo).

Atari Forever
(Switch the arpeggiator on and toy around with bizarre chords and the mod wheel)

Prophet 08

Speedallish (Bank 1 - 25)
Electronic sequence, quite dynamic

DoublePad (Bank 1 - 35)
An experiment with the Prophet's dual layering : a low pad morphes into a higher one

4VoiceDreampad (Bank 1 - 36)
Another 4 voices analogue pad... use mod wheel to add some nice vibrato

Four Sounds

Roland D50

The Bank
A complete bank of great factory sounds... it's mostly strings and pads, but note that the bank also features Jarre's sounds for the Revolutions album (the "Industrial revolution" intro sound, etc...) Please please, remember to back up your own bank before sending this sysex, because everything will be replaced!

If you need a freeware to manage all that stuff, try MIDI-OX.