december gigs

I will be playing in the Hush DJ Competition Final on December 16th, at Hush, in the usual 2100 to 0200 three-way-tag format, with Ryan Seven and a finalist to be determined.

And, I’m playing at the Island Kidz Fundraiser on December 21st, at the Jungle Room, tagging with DJ What.

tdpl15: how can you tell – the dreamer from the dream

My new release on Tide Pool is out today:  click here for the details.   It’s pretty and sad and goes “click” a lot.

monday, monday

I was interviewed for this article here in Monday Magazine, about local record labels. Check it out, do.

the alan moore project

So my somewhat mad friend Dave sent me a metric fuck-ton of poetry, written and read by legendary author Alan Moore. Now, Mr. Moore has an amazing touch for language and intimacy and urgency – but he also has an astonishing Northhampton accent. This means that about every 15th word sounds exactly like your jolly olde English Uncle, which totally ruins the mood.

Be that as it may, however, Dave has been harassing me to make some drum & bass that samples this epic collection of speech, and I am going to do it. Even better, I am going to do make said drum & bass using only and entirely samples of his speech. So not only will it be a massive techstep dancefloor scorcher, it will be a wonderful piece of audio geekery. More as it breaks.

irony, or mr. campbell

Just a quick burst of wisdom from Mr. Eddie Campbell, on current creative output:

“In the old days i’d have made a one-page ‘Alec’ out of this , but today we squander our narratives in a blog.”

the best player in the world…

…plays for Barca:

The impressive thing, for me, about that goal is that his first touch *totally* lets him down, the ball goes 180 degrees away from where it should – and he scores anyways. Ridiculous.

In unrelated news, it’s snowing here in Victoria. Polar bears are roaming the streets, and cannibalism is expected within hours. More as it breaks.

WAV FTW OMG: Why mp3s suck for DJs

Once again, pursuant to all the jibber-jabber on good old rave.vic, I am here to spread truth on the realities of digital. I would warn the non-technical that there is SCIENCE involved in this discussion, so be prepared, all ye sinners! Bring torches and rioting crowds! For today I am going to tell you why MP3s are bad, bad, bad.

As you may or may not know, MP3s sound mostly as good as full-bandwidth WAV files, and take up substantially less space. I just encoded a six-minute track that was 68 MB as a WAV, and as an MP3 it was 14 MB. So the compression ratio is about 4:1. But where on earth does all that extra data go?

I’m *so* glad you asked.

MP3 compression is based on a simple theory: What They Can’t Hear Won’t Hurt Them. It uses a psycho-acoustical and physical model to determine what frequencies will not be heard by the innocent listener, and then downsamples the heck out of those frequencies. And it does a generally great job of it. I currently have Winamp on shuffle, going between WAV and MP3 version of a remix I’m working on, and I don’t think I could tell the difference. (though I just tried, and was two for two. Huzzah!)

HOWEVER. When you look at the exact methods that mp3 compression codecs use, some scary shit comes to light. Here come the (simplified) science: The compression algorithm takes 26 millisecond chunks of an audio file, and splits them into 576 frequency bands, from 20 Hz (which is bass so damn low you can’t hear it) to 22050 Hz (which is the shrillest of high noise. You probably can’t hear it either).

Our compressor then decides, based on which of those frequencies is most likely to be heard by the lucky listener, how high-quality each band needs to be. It downsamples as needed, and then moves on to the next chunk, finally doing some cleanup for aliasing at the end, and then gives you a bright and shiny .mp3.

There are two problems with the above method of encoding. One, human hearing works differently at different volumes. To be specific, very low and very high frequencies are harder to hear at lower volumes. This is why some records sound great in a club but sound like pee on your sissy home speakers.

So, if your mp3 codec assumes playback at 80 dB, and downsamples things accordingly, when you play the song back at 110 in a club, low-fidelity parts will jump out at people. I would stress here that I don’t *know* what playback level the LAME codec assumes – if anyone knows, please tell me. With that said, it’s still an issue. Probably not a huge one though.

The much-huger issue is the way in which compression codecs divide up those 576 frequency bands. They do it in a linear, rather than exponential fashion. For those of you who did not have a lightbulb go on, please allow me to explain. Again, look out for SCIENCE.

Go to your piano, or keyboard, and play the lowest darn C that you can. Then play the C an octave up. What’s the frequency of the second C, relative to the first, lower C? It’s 2:1. Now go up another octave. What’s the ratio to our first C? 4:1. How particular.

The upshot of this is each octave you go up doubles the frequency of a note. So let’s pretend that our first C is at 60 Hz (please note that 60 Hz isn’t actually a C). The next octave is 120 Hz. Then 240 Hz. Then 480 Hz, then 960 Hz. That’s FOUR OCTAVES of music. But our codec, because it assigns frequency bands linearly, only gives those all-imporant low frequencies about 24 bands. The other four and a half octaves? They get around 552 bands. Well then.

This is a great scheme in some ways – it focuses detail on the areas in which human hearing is the most exacting. (1500 to 6000 Hz or so) However, it shortchanges the low end that is an inextricable part of house & techno. This, kids, is why you have to turn up the bass on your MP3s. Because, honey, it just ain’t there. Be a man, spend the extra $1 at Beatport or Bleep, and buy a WAV or a FLAC. You’ll be glad you did.

(Details were taken from this article. If you have another source that disputes or extends this, please let me know – the topic is one that interests me very much.)

calling blade runner

Meet the LASER KOTO: Almost certainly the most future thing you’ll see today. Wired has more about it.

why record stores matter

So there’s been a lot of drama on my local electronic music message board, about the whole vinyl vs. digital thing, and the value of analog and quality control in music and so on and so on and so on.  The dead horse continues to be beaten.

With that said, I’m almost entirely certain that record stores will never die.  Or, if they do, they probably shouldn’t.  This is because they push music at you.  The digital world is almost entirely a pull medium:  labels and artists and distros all whore themselves at you, legs spread and moaning.  “HAMMERED BY ALL THE TOP JOCKS!  PETE TONG’S #1 TUNE!  HUGE FOR TIESTO AND VAN DYK!”  These people need your traffic and your money, and it shows.

A store, on the other hand, while it is no less needy in terms of customer dollars and cents, gives you things, forces them on you.  It filters the entire world of electronic music through the lens of the staff of the store.  They sort the wheat from the chaff, they tell you “here, give this a listen”, they say “I really like this”.  They are, or should be, there for you.  A record store offers another perspective on the gargantuan, fractal-expanding world of music.  It prevents you from totally disappearing up your own ass, and bludgeons you with the fact that you Do Not Know Everything.  All of those things are beyond valuable, and are the reason why the shops won’t go away any time soon.

Music I Just Bought

Nathan Fake – Silent Night [Border Communty]
Qbical – Warm Fuzzy Electrons [Manual]
Roel H – The Dancing Bears [Furry]
Audion – Mouth To Mouth [Spectral]
Alexander Kowalski & Barca – Start Chasing (Extrawelt Remix) [Different]
DJ Hell – Buttersaure (Perc Remix) [Kickin]
Mashtronic – Supernova (Demi & Lolitas Remix) [SexOnWax]
Jaytech – Manipulator [Rapid Response]
Andrew Kelly – She Thinks She’s Underground (Stuart McKeown’s Burial Remix)
The Rogue Element – Dead Drummers [Exceptional]

Edit:  Also just picked up the Prins Thomas remixes of ‘Tape’, by 2020 Soundsystem, and a release on Spectral by Sami Kovikko called ‘Paajaasa’.