scales of angels








news

062017



going forward, all news updates will be made via my blog. please click on the link above to visit. thank you!


061517

the art of practicing mistakes



what is a mistake?

by definition, it is an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.

now, if i took anything from my education (which had a particular slant on postmoderist language and theory), i would have to start by saying that this definition is acutally a mistake.

see what i did there? wait, im not being cute, but it kinda leads me to where this is all going.

the reason i believe that it is wrong is that it treats a ‘mistake’ as a closed action. it is a thing that happened, as opposed to something that happened, followed by something else.

i have this midi splitter in my studio. i can use it to route a midi signal from one device to up to five other devices which i would select by pressing a button (or five).

(for non musicians, midi is a common language shared by electronic musical instruments, which for example lets me play a keyboard by one manufacturer and to dend a signal to manufacturer’s device. The second device recognizes the incoming electronic signal and outputs sound based on the keys i am pressing on the first.)

when i first got the splitter, i plugged everything into the rear of the device, set it on my shelf and got to work. i figured, ‘ill just remember what is plugged in where’.

of course, within two days, i forgot.

mistake.

so i took a bit of green painters tape, put it along the bottom of the splitter under the buttons and wrote which buttom corresponded to which device.

learning.

a few weeks later, leaving the midi cables plugged into the devices, i had swapped around a few of the keyboards. i pressed button three, expecting to hear a particular sound, but instead, i got some kind of crazy squeal from another keyboard, because i had forgotten to update my little taped legend.

mistake.

the funny thing was that the new sound was more interesting than what i was originally shooting for. this was a pleasant unintended consequence.

learning.

a few weeks after that, i was switching keyboards around, and i got two adapters mixed up. both of them said korg, and looked identical to the naked eye, but as it turns out there was a slight difference in the voltage they provided. as a result, one keyboard worked just fine. the other died a horrible screaming flaming death. (actually, it was much sadder, cause it just never made another sound. sniff. sniff.)

mistake.

after sitting dead on the shelf for months, i realized the control surface on the dead synth still worked. hmm, what if i could use the control surface to control the still functioning synth’s parameters, which i never do, because the latter’s interface never makes sense to me, while the former’s feels completely natural? bingo. combined the two to create an even better tool.

learning.

everyone of those ‘mistakes’ presented me with an opportunity to learn. i could have continued doing what i had. instead, i chose to take that ‘mistake’ and turn it into something else.

a music lesson i once took posited that when playing a solo, if the note you are playing seems disharmonious to the rest of the arrangement, shift what you are playing up by one semi tone. its a lesson that has served me well and taught me that by degrees, the space between an unpleasant outcome and a pleasant one was one note. one step.

a mistake does not mean an end. mistakes mean a new beginning. mistakes are a way of discovering an unintended consequence of actions, which can either be ignored and repeated, or as an opportunity to learn and try a new approach.



061417
balance




scales are about balance.

they are a binary proposition.

its a thought, that despite being scalesofangels for years only recently occurred to me.

i like binary propositions.

yes or no.
up or down.
loud or quiet.
fast or slow.

what are the binary options within scales?

beyond the above examples (do i touch the filter? yes or no) there a number of interesting binary propositions i have considered as i have been performing more often.

electronic devices or a guitar?
looping or live? analog or digital?
synthesis or sampling?

and that last one got me thinking.

music performance is rife with binary propositions that seem designed to incite argument amongst musicians.

fingers vs pick.
writing on an acoustic guitar vs an electric guitar.
live drums vs programmed drums.
digital distortion vs the electroharmonix big muff.
verse/chorus/verse vs verse/verse/verse.

(and dont even get me started on bridges)

and recently, i’ve noticed that there seems to be a divide in electronic music between the concepts of analog vs digital.

analog is sometimes seen fetishistically by its devotees as superior to digital (in the same way that vinyl junkies scoff at the mp3) while digital practicioners champion its flexibilty and cost as collateral benefits while offering a greater degree of options to generate sound.

i certainly am not the first person to think this, but why do analog and digital need to occupy adverserial places in the spectrum of music and sound creation? i have in the past consciously made music that sought to put analog and digital in the same space (i.e. deliberately using an analog synth and a digital synth in a sort of musical arranged marriage), but i realize now that i have also done it in inadvertent ways.

a few months ago, i was recording guitar tracks for a project i was working on. prior to that, i had been recording keyboard sounds, and the lead from the keyboard was running into a korg kp2. the kp2, or kaoss pad, is a digital effects/synthesis tool, that uses a graphical touch screen interface to modify parameters of the sound. i often use it with keyboards to add delay, filter or any number of effects. but rarely had i used it on guitar. so, lead plugged in, i scrolled through the effects bank to see if anything interesting might happen. sure enough, i found a granular synthesis patch that made the guitar sound distorted, and created a unique stuttering effect.

the guitar? analog.
the kaoss pad? digital.

the more i thought about it, i realized that in order to create that analog/digital hybrid, it didnt mean i had to have a minibrute on one track and a roland gaia on the other. it could be running a bastl kastle through a digitech df7 distortion factory. it could be running a dave smith mopho into an ehx memory man deluxe. it could be syncing the rhythm track on the akai rhythm wolf with the sequencer on the roland mc 303.

somewhere, the blend of sampled waveforms and digitally modelled filtering crosses over with wires and pots and capacitors.

it need not be contrived. it need not be an ‘us vs them’ relationship between the past and the future. if my goal is unpredictability, and reacting instinctively and improvisationally the surprises that occur in composition, the place between the predictable and the unpredictable is the ideal eye of the storm from within which new ideas can explode.

where analog meets digtal, both are changed, and if done right, balance the scales



061317
motorize




be automatic
don’t think
just act

i don’t like this
way of doing things

the man
turned the lever
for 35 years
but never knew why

consume
don’t create

the things they
are telling you
are not truth
but subscription

i didn’t dream
of this growing up

replace it with a robot
they don’t have souls
but neither do the open wounds
begging for more

you wear it
like a bullet

be manual
don’t act
just think



061217
ALTERNATIVE ROCK SNOBBERY (and what you can do to fight it)



i was reading the music news this morning, and one article in particular jumped out at me.

in the interview with jonny greenwood of radiohead, he says “when we were at school, we hated and distrusted anything that was successful on a large scale. We just associated it with bands that did guitar solos with big hair. it’s already such a preening, self-regarding profession.”

(preening? seriously? when i think of the word ‘preening’ i actually think of jonny’s hair)

he follows that with “I’ve always hated guitar solos. There’s nothing worse than hearing someone cautiously going up and down the scales of their guitar. You can hear them thinking about what the next note should be, and then out it comes. It’s more interesting to write something that doesn’t outstay its welcome.”

sigh.

lets be clear. jonny has played solos. ‘just’ has a great one. ‘Paranoid Android’ too. so his objection to solos must be specific to solos of a genre, likely one that preceeded him, and one that he feels he is not a part of.

so, when he complains about big haired people cautiously going up and down the scales, is he referring to cc deville from poison or robert smith from the cure? both have pretty big hair and like to play up and down the scales.

i’m going to go with the former, because what we’ve got here, if i may paraphrase strother martin’s warden from ‘cool hand luke’ , is a failure to accept anything that doesn’t fit into the cool kids’ bucket, also known as ‘ALTERNATIVE ROCK SNOBBERY’.

what is ‘ALTERNATIVE ROCK SNOBBERY’?

‘ARS’ (as i will refer to it going forward) is the younger sibling of the late 70’s ‘I HATE PINK FLOYD’ mindset, wherein the cool kids of that era declared that the music that had preceeded theirs was bloated notey garbage and that ONLY their amateurish chuck berry recidivism was of any value. ‘ARS’ posits that following the birth of ‘alternative’ music’, anything that preceeded it (particularly the 80’s, more often than not on the rockier side of the musical spectrum) too was to be derided and dismissed as nothing more than self important egocentric neanderthal shredding.

to be fair, jonny’s not the first person afflicted by ‘ARS’. i recall a chapter in dave navarro’s ‘don’t try this at home’, in which he documents a debate (i say debate as opposed to dialectic, since the author (navarro) is clearly pushing his own agenda, and not really looking for a common truth) with a friend over the merits of steve vai. his contention it seems is that vai’s instrumental music doesnt have the feel or soul of other styles of music. he casts him as a technician as opposed to a musician.

and what of that entire ‘nu-metal’ movement, in which guitars were omnipresent, but the guitar solo was set in the corner and avoided like herpes. metallica’s ‘some kind of monster’ captures an interesting counterpoint to that period of time in music history, in which guitarist kirk hammett calls the band on ‘st anger’s’ lack of guitar solos. he astutely points out that there shouldnt be a rule for or against guitar solos, but to say ‘no guitar solos’ ties the album to the era of its creation.

which brings us back to ‘ARS’.

i will admit, that given the choice between listening to every solo ever performed by jimmy page or listening to every solo ever performed by robert quine, i’d probably go with quine, but contrary to most afflicted by ‘ARS’ i wouldn’t a) disrespect page’s work and consequently b) disrespect the people who do listen to and enjoy page’s solos. the problem however is that ‘ARS’ demands an almost fanatical need to reject and look down upon anything that doesnt fit into the ‘ARS’ mandated ‘bucket of cool’.

(in order to assist in your understanding of the ‘ARS’ ‘bucket of cool’ i have added a quick reference below:

pavement = cool
guitar solos = not cool
obscure references to french movies = cool
the stooges = cool
vintage equipment = cool
heavy metal t shirts worn ironically = cool
loverboy = not cool
heavy metal t shirts purchased at the actual concert attended = not cool
skid row = not cool
television = cool
metallica = not cool
the pixies = cool
fela kuti = cool
april wine = not cool
fender jaguars = cool
black flag (pre rollins era) = cool
black flag (rollins era) = not cool
ibanez destroyers = not cool
headbands = not cool
references to getting loaded and doing it = not cool

there are many more examples i could cite, but will leave it at this, as this is just a quick reference)

so, what is my point here?

to paraphrase d. boon, music is what you make it to be.

you don’t have to like everything that you hear.
not everyone is gonna like what you like.
and that is okay.

music can be widdly and stupid and crass.
music can be chaotic and genre defying and tasteful.
whatever it is, it is never better than anything else. it just is.

now get off your high horse.

and solo.


DISCLAIMER : i have been guilty of ‘ARS’ but i like april wine, so there.



061117
translate what you dont know into what you do



you sent me a letter in another language the words didnt fit when i translated them but beautiful

i played the guitar took what i had done played it on the keyboard it was strange but beautiful

i spend my days doing things i know instead of the things i don’t it would be chaotic but beautiful

translate what you dont know into what you do



060117
scalesofangels participated in the drone:klub at the roland inspiration centre as part of drone day 2017.
hosted by drone:klub, dreamstate and the roland inspiration centre, the event was to celebrate drone.
in a room full of talented musicians and artists, the drone was strong.
scalesofangels recorded its piece, and present it, 'redacted'.
enjoy.




050417



scalesofangels will be celebrating national drone day by participating in the drone:klub event at the roland inspiration centre (1179 king street west, suite 001, toronto, ontario).
droning starts at 8 with a performance by the legendary dreamstate, followed by an open drone.
attendance is free.
byob.


042117



scalesofangels will be participating in drone:klub:06 on tuesday april 25th at the roland inspiration centre (1179 king street west, suite 001, toronto, ontario).
droning starts at 8.
attendance is free.
byob.


032517



scalesofangels will be participating in drone:klub:05 on wednesday march 29th at the roland inspiration centre (1179 king street west, suite 001, toronto, ontario).
droning starts at 8.
attendance is free.
byob.


021117


scalesofangels will be participating in drone:klub:04 on wednesday february 15th at the roland inspiration centre (1179 king street west, suite 001, toronto, ontario).
droning starts at 8.
attendance is free.
byob.


010717


welcome to 2017.
scalesofangels will be participating in drone:klub:03 on wednesday january 11th at the roland inspiration centre (1179 king street west, suite 001, toronto, ontario).
droning starts at 8.
attendance is free.
byob.


100216
after a period of public dormancy, i am releasing a number of completed scales collections, via my website scales of angels, each with their own story to tell.

first up is 'error : generative music 1'.



this collection was recorded in december 2015, however was thought lost after a laptop failure in my studio. i hear you, backup, backup, backup, however this collection was uniquely recorded, which was what led me to believe it was unrecoverable. in 2015, i spent a great deal of time re educating myself on midi, and had created a new process of composition, where i would compose pieces in midi, and then run them through various synthesizers, playing with parameters on the synths and recording the results in realtime on a small portable unit. later, i would move these to my daw where i would sift and edit through them, picking out moments.

recording was a long process, however i sought to 'edit' in a very quick process, which unfortunately meant the time between loading to daw and finalizing would be fairly quick (for me, at least).

daw crashed. music thought lost.

however, in a recent clean up, i rediscovered the original takes for 7 pieces. all of them vary, but at their heart follow what i believe to be a generative process i have created, which yields soundscapes that are unique from each other, and take the listener to different places, limited only by imagination.

next is 'anasonique'.



'anasonique' was the result of a new 'quick improvisation' process i have begun experimenting with, driven largely by changes i have made in my recording environment. in the past, my studio was a fully connected canvas, with most of my 'devices' connected and ready to play at all times. a recent renovation process however resulted in a decision to tear down the fully connected organism of synths, and to focus on using a smaller number of devices at a time, with a particular focus on 'hands on' interations with a few analog and analog/digital hybrid devices. the result was a series of quick ambient improvisations. languid and ethereal, they float blurrily through the conscious and unconscious states of sound.

the third is '39'.



this is a single drone composition recorded in 2016. a mix of a few different techniques, it is likely the last long style composition piece i put out for a little while. these pieces are performed, which can be a stressful experience. completing a piece of this length sometimes takes several attempts. one minute its august, the next it's september!

lastly is 'number stations'.



the most recent work i have completed. as noted in my comments on 'anasonique', i have been working a great deal with analog and analog/digital hybrid devices, with a particular focus on generating new sounds. sometimes this means taking a four note sequence and letting it run for long periods while i incrementally tweak envelopes and filters as a way of seeing how it all works together. add to that my love for found sound, space sounds and of course, number station broadcasts, and together comes a unique blend of soundscaping. the collection is a journey , up or down, you decide.

and so completes my update.

what is next?

i'll be continuing my work in various projects including completing/releasing and performing with a new project titled 'berlin horse' and plans for a few exciting collaborations the directions of which are still uncertain, but shhhhh, i promise, they'll be good!

beyond that, who knows?!


051615



written during my 'year of the horse' cycle, 'synth vs synth' is a collection of iterative compositions that once written, were performed on a series of synthesizers, with the resulting sounds merged to create a series of evolving soundscapes. at times gentle and at times not, the collection experiments with form, aural soundscapes and tonal shifting to create a set of twelve unique pieces. thought lost after a hard drive crash, i was happy to rediscover the original midi composed files, and now, to share them with you.

please click on the pic to visit the free download page.

i am currently completing a writing cycle which has yielded a number of new directions, and will be working on these throughout the summer. in addition, i will be launching a new musical venture in the next few weeks, which will present a different side of what i do.

keep it tuned but warped!

051615



recorded as part of international drone day, i present my little contribution, 'drones : view' (click on the pic to visit the free download page).
originally planned to be recorded on the 9th, a poor weather forecast resulted in me being cautious and recording this on the 8th. recorded live on top of 'the mound' at toronto's downsview park, 'drones : view' is a binaural beats based drone which seriously plays with your perceptions! repeated listenings have for me resulted in after audio effects, spatial experience and warped time.
in addition to recording the music, i also recorded the event on video (the processing of which is what unfortunately delayed its release). a link to the video is below.



enjoy, and happy drone day!!

041215



'nightmares' an improvised guitar/synth based ambient drone composition is now online, free for download by clicking above.

033015

it has been a year since i started my ‘year of the horse’ project. and i present the last pieces of this puzzle.
now while it seems a bit excessive to release all of this music at once, the thought of holding onto it any longer has been wearing on me.
so, in one big bang, i am completing my 12 releases, putting a few things in order, and making plans for the future.

first the music ...



'echospace' is a series of rule based compositions, recorded live to two tracks, using combinations of guitar, bass and synthesizers. as with the 'haiku', they are intended to function as meditations of and on sound.



'deep glow' is a collection of longer pieces. many hours were spent hovering over sequencers, samplers and pinging away at the synthesizer to create these pieces. in the end, the night seemed to be the thing that united and drew these pieces together. and to me, in the twinkling lights of my many devices, the 'deep glow' feels like my musical home.



'rezzolution' is an obscured collection of sounds. much of the music stemmed from musical training i undertook during the 'year of the horse' cycle. there comes a point as a musician where you begin to wonder, 'have i learned all i can? how hard am i pushing the envelope?' now, if you've listened this far, part of you is thinking 'um, all you do is kind of push the envelope', but that is part of what has made this year so musically rich for me. is discovering that shiver around each musical corner.



'radiate' is a group of sound collages, created using three samplers and three kaoss pads. the kaoss pad has transfixed me since i first tried one, and through the years, i have used them in various ways to alter sound. this collection, prepared over time and recorded quickly earlier in the 'year of the horse' process, but given the lengths of some of the pieces, it took quite a while to arrange and mix.



'ghost movement' is one of the last of the last pieces that i created for the project. i originally was including it in my 'movements' series, however, it did not seem to fit within some of the 'rules' that i had created for them. despite its 'brevity', it is one of my favourites. if anything, an attempt, perhaps, to present what the inside of my head sometimes sounds like.

so there it is.

'year of the horse'. 12 collections. 139 compositions. 14 hours, 37 minutes and 57 seconds of music.

the most challenging musical venture i have ever taken.

so what did i learn? i pushed myself, creatively, technically, and musically. there were a lot of shivers as i thought ‘how did i do that?’. there were moments of frustration as i thought ‘why do i even bother?’. but for all of the questions, answers, successes, failures, at the end, stands a work, that can be listened to, judged and hopefully enjoyed in some way.

so is ‘year of the horse’ done? probably not. there are things i will revisit, be they performance, video, etc, that time just did not allow me to get to. there were three albums worth of material that i lost ('luna pier', 'wooden hearts' and 'bedroom crimes') when my hard drive crashed. while demos and rough mixes remained, i didnt feel trying to recreate them (in the time i had) would do them the justice they deserved. there was something magical in those songs that i know i will revisit at some point.

so what next? along the way there were avenues i discovered that i felt needed more time and focus than this year’s hectic pace allowed. for example, 'blacklightnight', which was originally part of 'year of the horse' has been separated into its own 'drum and bass series'. there's an album of drum and bass in the mixing stages. and an acoustic album. and a loud guitar one. and a disco album. (yeah, really.) with all this music being created, there is a kind of need to take stock.

i am going to be focusing on some of the more 'lyrical' music, but for that, i have created a new musical entity (more on that another day). at the end of the day, scales of angels will remain the home to my experimental side.

so maybe i'll put down the gear for a bit, unplug some bits, and we'll see what happens next.

thanks for listening.

m
scalesofangels


011615

new year, new music.

it may be 2015, but i am not yet done with 'year of the horse'.
(and if you want to get technical, we are still in the 'year of the horse' for another month or so!)
why not start the new year off with a bang?
i am making two releases available today.
'blacklightnight' and 'third movement: echoes' are now online.



'blacklightnight' is a foray into drum and bass, at least my twisted version of it. breakbeats, wobbly bass, tinkling synths. i've given it the car stereo test, and it is for real. havin a little dance off? this'll do it.

'third movement: echoes' is the third in my 'movements' series, and probably the most ambitious thus far. recorded live to tape, using a variety of digital modular synthesizers, mixing composed elements, random glitches, echoes, and reverbs, 'echoes' harks back to the prog experiments of the seventies, pulsing and drifting through space.

up next? almost all of the remaining releases in the 'year of the horse' series have been written. i am actually at a point where i have more music than i expected, and am challenged at times in fitting them together in coherent releases. i suspect that the long promised 'wooden hearts' should be out next, then again, a recent guitar acquisition has seen me re-recording much of that collection! also on tap, a completely sideways diversion into sequenced french/italian disco.
(right now, you're shaking your head and saying 'disco? seriously?'. yes, seriously.)
again, thank you for your patience and thank you for listening!




092014


'second movement: amaranthine' is now online.
this is my second attempt at recording 'amaranthine', which was originally lost when i lost my hard drive a few months ago. this movement is again composed, using synths to perform them, and intended to function as a series of meditations on sound. recorded as a single piece and then broken up into 12 pieces, you can listen to it as a whole, or individually in any order.

i am still playing catch up on my 'schedule', but expect 'wooden hearts', 'falling out of moving cars' and 'motorik' soon.

thank you for your patience!



080114


i present the fourth and fifth entries in the 'year of the horse', 'haiku'.
'haiku' are two sets of related recordings, exploring tonal clusters with different methods. inspired by the haiku, the pieces are intended to function as meditations on sound. as part of the process, i also wrote 24 non traditional haiku, which function both as art for the recordings and as a meditative companion to the recordings.

'haiku 001' is performed entirely using piano and synth textures.

'haiku 002' is performed with a six string baritone and bowed electric.

thank you for your patience!



070414

after a bit of silence i am back.



i'll explain ...
i was working on a number of releases for the 'year of the horse' series, when a computer crash caused me to lose, well, pretty much everything. i do have rough mixes for many of the songs, however, these are not in what i would consider (or accept) as a final version. after a few days (six to be exact) of moping, whining and crying, i decided that the best thing to do is move on. i will at some point revist those collections of songs (there were sixty of them!) however, in the meantime, have moved on and up.

the third release in the scales of angels 'year of the horse' project is 'binary'. recorded live to tape (bloody computers) the work is a multi timbral composed 'power soundscape', which to me, takes it out of the realm of the ambient soundscaping and generative music that i have worked with in the 'movements' series. repeated listens will yield its patterns, and you might be surprised by what you find. maybe this isnt as much as about me, as it will is about you.

once again. the release is available for free, by clicking on the photo above. alternate formats, videos and special offers will be available over the course of the next few weeks.

i have been playing out recently and am planning a few interesting shows this summer. news on them soon.

the good news is that in my new processes, the next release will be quicker to the gate. 'haiku' is next.

thank you for your patience!



022814

its hard to be chatty when you're being creative. (i promise, i'll fix that)



'shelves' is release number two in scales of angels' 'year of the horse' project. it is a second collection of ambient compositions, however, the process and self imposed rules were different from those used to create the 'movement' series. the soundscapes are broader and narrower in places, and to find out what i mean, please have a listen!
once again. the release is available for free, by clicking on the photo above. alternate formats, videos and special offers will be available over the course of the next few weeks.
i am working on putting together a few shows, and will also have news on them soon.
the clock is ticking. next up ... 'luna pier'. and this one has vocals! stay tuned!




013114

i got lost i guess. but the year of the horse inspired me. so here i go. i present 'first movement: into night'



this is the first of twelve releases in scales of angels' 'year of the horse' project. it is a collection of ambient compositions, using a synthesized and natural timbres to create soundscapes that alternately soothe and discomfort.
currently, the release is available for free, by clicking on the photo above. alternate formats, videos and special offers will be available over the course of the next few weeks. but act fast! the release will only be available until february 28th.
thats when 'year of the horse' part two comes out!
stay tuned!


old news

092112

mixing, mixing, mixing. where the whole godamn thing turns into something new and wonderful and makes me want to restart the clock.

090712

nothing quite like draining the water from your keyboards. fuck.

080412

mmm, there's nothing quite laying a bass in front of three amps, and turning on every pedal you have.

072812

sorry, more time off, but i did hit upon a new way to capture the spaces i'm recording in! very excited.

061412

hard at work in my little subterranean refuge.

052912

oh lord do i look terrible without facial hair. time to start the winter beard.

051412

sorry for not writing mom.
just kidding.
have been discovering something magical about the seventh fret e on my fender jazz.
if i position my head about half way between the cones of two cabs facing each other, the sustain makes me perceptibly ill. and to think of all the money i've spent on substances.

040712

returned from my first trip to jamaica. yes, this is a head wound.

031512

thank you for your responses to the music.
it has been a while since i've didn't do something that involved things like meter and lyrics, so your feedback has been humbling!

021212
scales of angels is in the process of cleaning up the past to get to the future.

'ambient soundscapes' volumes 1 - 3 have been uploaded, and a remixed version of 'thirty' is available for your listening pleasure. as you can see on the music page, more will follow. please check back for updates.

in addition, scales of angels are planning its first show in almost five years!

if you are interested in contacting us or in using any of the music contained on this site, please contact us at 'soa@scalesofangels.com' for more information.

thank you.

scales of angels





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