My merchandise page on Bandcamp is down for a bit while we count up what we have and incorporate some new stock.
We have loads of new t-shirts and the Blumenkraft CDs are nearly ready so I’ll let you know when it’s back up.
Downloads are still available as usual.
Check out my new studio!
I recently came to the conclusion that, while my studio is fantastic for recording, arranging and mixing, it’s not the most inspiring environment for writing songs. It lacks natural light and presents too many technical options for me to maintain focus on just devising patterns of chords and melodies. Sometimes you just need a good set of basic tools and an inspiring location – and after years of searching I finally found a solution.
My laptop has been capable of providing all of the sequencing and synth tools I needed since about 2003 but the problem has always been the speakers. I’ve tried all kinds of portable speakers and headphones but nothing has ever done the trick. Headphones feel too claustrophobic for me: it feels wrong to be sitting in the open, surrounded by lovely ambient sound only to block it all out with a pair of sweaty headphones.
All of the portable speakers I’ve tried sounded crap and needed AC powering so lacked portability – until now.
That groovy little silver box you see in the photo is my Audio Dynamix Atom V2 and it is absolutely incredible. I bought it six months ago on a recommendation from my brother and from the moment I plugged it in I knew it was special.
It has two 5w drivers in a sealed enclosure [this is an important detail, which I’ll get to in a moment] and a passive bass radiator which provides the bottom end. It uses Bluetooth v4 and also has a stereo minijack in which is great if I want to switch off Bluetooth to save battery on the Atom and the laptop. The battery charges quickly and lasts forever – I get two or three days on a single charge – and it will charge from any USB socket, including the laptop itself.
But the real wow is the sound.
I’ve tried every single portable speaker under the sun because I spend a lot of time on tour rattling around in soulless hotel rooms, desperate to avoid switching on the TV, and listening to music is the saviour of my sanity. Nothing I ever tried really hit the spot, sonically speaking, with most suffering from mushy, indistinct transient reproduction and lame attempts to hype the bass. I tried Jawbone, Bose, JBL, Logitec etc etc in airport gadget shops around the world but nothing ever persuaded me to part with the cash.
The Atom, on the other hand, is a revelation.
Whether it is by amazing design or pure dumb luck, Audio Dynamix have created a speaker which rivals my studio monitors in terms of clarity and transient response. The midrange is uncluttered and smooth, the top end is astonishingly clear and the bass is, quite frankly, remarkable. By designing the Atom as a sealed enclosure they have created a tiny box which reproduces bass transients every bit as crisply as my studio monitors, which just happen to be Yamaha NS10m Studio speakers powered by a Bryston 4B SST amp.
Transient response is important in a speaker – more important than anything else in my opinion – because it gives the speaker it’s clarity and ‘truth’. A speaker with fast transient response will give you more information about the true shape of your audio waveform than a speaker which is slower to react. Sealed-enclosure speakers provide a faster bass transient response than their ported equivalents, and this is where the Atom becomes most useful to me.
In practice it means that I now have a rechargeable speaker system no bigger than a generous ham salad sandwich which is capable of reproducing sound as truthfully and reliably as my industry-standard studio monitoring system. I shit you not. The future is truly here.
As a test, I did some mixes of demos for my forthcoming album [no, I’m afraid you can’t hear them - yet…] alternately using my Atom and my NS10s. Anyone who knows how I mix will know I like to work quietly on tiny speakers, switching to the NS10s every hour or so to make sure I haven’t wandered wildly off course. Since 1996 I have relied on my trusty old Sony radio/cassette player with the line-in sockets but for this test I swapped that for the Atom.
I was astonished to discover that, when switching from the Atom to the NS10s and back to the Atom, the character of the sound hardly changed at all. My ears adjusted in seconds rather than the five-or-so minutes they need when switching between the NS10s and my Adam A7-Xs. It sounded like the same mix, only physically smaller and quieter. Mixes I did on the Atom translated perfectly to every system I tried them on.
At Rainbow Serpent festival in Australia this year I spent the time before my set in my hotel room with my laptop and my Atom, creating from scratch some new bits for my DJ set. This involved mixing drum loops and bass parts and filtered parts of old reggae tunes. When it came time to play them loud on the Funktion One rig at the festival I was a little nervous, in case I’d misjudged the bottom end on the Atom’s tiny 5w drivers – but it translated perfectly.
If you’re looking for something which will fill your room with monstrously hyped bass then the Atom isn’t that. It doesn’t have a ’Super-Mega-Quake-Bass-Shit-Your-Pants’ button or a tuned port which makes the bass line sound like it was played on a giant kazoo.
What it delivers, in the entire frequency range, is tight, clear, focussed sound with a ‘just right’ feel to it all the way up and down. I love it for listening to music in the bath, in the kitchen, in the garden and in hotel rooms while I’m on the road, and especially in the studio.
For the next few months, whilst I’m writing new songs, it will be joining me in the woods with my wood stove, my laptop and a backdrop of birdsong.
[And, in case you were wondering, I bought my Atom V2 with my own money.]
I think it’s time I made a new record – and you can help.
Fresh, crisp mountain air, grubby, painted people and massive stacks of bass bins.
It can only be Sonic Bloom.
See you there, Coloradicals.
Skylon CDs are back in stock – properly this time…
My inaugural visit to Florida. First sign of an alligator-eating python and I’m outta there.
Back in the city that never goes to bed: the longest continuous party ever thrown…
Those lovely people at Microcosmos Records have invited me to play at their indoor ‘Peace & Love’ festival at the Kosmonaut club, Saint-Petersburg, Russia on April 11th.
As a teaser for the incredible S.U.N. festival in Hungary, the organsisers have teamed up with the Elixir Of Life crew to bring you a night of S.U.N. artists at a fantastic new venue in London.
I just added some new releases to my Bandcamp site:
This is three tracks made in 2002 during my “Hallucinogen In Dub” and “Blumenkraft” flurry of activity but which never made it onto any of my albums.
They all came out on various compilations and “Scilly Automatic” became a bonus track on the download version of Blumenkraft so some of you may already have them.
But it’s nice to to get them together and release them as a snapshot of one of the most remarkable times of my life.