15: Space Babies

Listen out for these sounds in Space Babies:

When I was working in my studio one day, a heavy rain and hail storm poured down on the roof and made quite a nice mix with some Tom Waits music I was playing

Roel Knappstein

When considering what might constitute a positive noise to me, personally, many things came to mind as possibilities – from early recordings recently unearthed of my daughter at a very young age, before she could properly speak, to nature sounds collected from close to home or further afield. 

I figured you might be getting a bunch of stuff like this sent your way already anyway so instead decided to pay homage to the keyboard which arguably started my obsession with making music, particularly the electronic variety, from a very young age (3 or 4 years old I reckon) – the Casiotone MT-40.

This very short piece features the three Casiotones I now own – the MT-40, the MT-46 (which I bought off ebay when still playing with Found, still adorned with a sticker featuring Kev Sim’s illustration of Herbie Hancock), and the MT-68 which I was lucky enough to retrieve, in pretty immaculate condition, from a skip last year. 

All parts were played live, going through one of my more recent and frequently used bits of studio kit, the Polymoon Meris delay pedal.

The first tones are the sound of me scrolling thru the tones on the MT-40, a mode in which you could only play one note (A), so I took this as the basis of the piece, adding either bass, drums or chords from the other Casiotones.

Being that none of the equipment has MIDI, all rhythm parts and delays had to be tweaked live in order to stay in sync, another nod to the days when I had limited access to the sort of home studio technologies we might take for granted these days, when I had to be quite resourceful in order to achieve the results I was after.

These days I’m often trying to recapture those feelings from my earliest days of making music, when it was almost always entirely fun. Quite often I will give myself strict parameters to work within now, I suppose in a way to mimic the limitations I used to have, but also to force myself to work quickly and intuitively. 

Although I gave this piece quite a bit of thought before approaching it, I effectively wrote, played & produced it all in one evening – and intend to leave it at that.

Gavin Sutherland (Other Lands)

I changed my mind about what I wanted to send, as Bonfire Night is my favourite night of the year and usually sees me go to visit my oldest friend, stay at her house, go back to my home town and see an amazing parade of fireworks and a huge bonfire (it’s near Lewes and much of the same paraders that repeat the festivities a few days later). But this year of course it was cancelled. Instead I went with Sim to our nearest hill in Bristol, Troopers Hill, where lots of people had gathered (distantly, though it doesn’t really sound like it!) to watch little fireworks twinkling all over the city. Then later we went down to the river to make a campfire of our own and I recorded that just as a plane flew overhead, jarring with the timeless sound of a fire, and hopefully giving some lovely sub-bassy frequencies. If there’s anything I can do to boost those or improve the sound quality, let me know.

It was a lovely evening despite not being what I am usually used to, and quite touching / almost a little eerie – the fireworks could definitely sound warlike and menacing as well as celebratory.

Sarah Tanat Jones

This is from a forest outside Bangalore in BR Hills. The Soliga tribe lives here and the drums you hear are them drumming at night to keep wild elephants away.

Babitha George

Track named by Eva Sutherland. Written and produced by Tommy Perman, Gavin Sutherland and Sarah Tanat Jones.

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