Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New blog, new song

I took the plunge and started another blog for all my Cleveland Cavs and general sports-related posts. This is back to being a music-only blog. Well, music and whatever the hell else I want to write about.

The new blog is linked to the left, or it's here.

And now for a new demo. I recorded this over the past couple days. It clearly needs some work, but oh well.


Monday, January 28, 2008

LOP in the wild blue yonder: France edition (plus Vlad McManwich)

Just discovered that 'not if but when' is the album du jour (in the most literal sense possible) at French podcast site Pod En Stock. For some reason it's nice to see a photo of the album being held for the world to see by some decidedly international hands.

Frankly, I'm obligated to mention that the runner ups for the du jour title included Elliott Smith, Cat Power, Pinback and Les Savy Fav (whose Francophilic namesake was apparently not philic enough to usurp yours truly). Better luck next time guys.


Also, a week or so ago I received one the most hilarious emails in quite some time from a kindred Winnipeg spirit:

I just wanted to say I really respect the hell out of independent musicians, and therefore respect the hell out of you. It's people like you, and the sounds that you make, that inspire me to keep writing, playing and recording music in a jerry-rigged basement studio as opposed to learning some actual discernable life skill and contributing to society. So...I think I'm grateful for that? When I'm 40 and people don't respect me because I still live with my parents I'll probably feel differently, but that's like 20 years away. So thanks."

That killed me. A few days later the writer of the email posted some rather excellent songs here on purevolume. The name of his project is Vlad McManwich. Clearly a genius in the making.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


There is a new review of not if but when up on Here are my favorite excerpts:

"Kabeltruiliedjes met kol."

"Denken zoals denken ooit bedoeld was."

"zonder wonder zal dat niet gaan. Werken voor de kost, Will Holland."

I have no idea what these mean.

Also, for the first time ever, someone visited this website from Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia. What the hell?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Larry Hughes, Pt. 1

I've been going to this site for quite some time now but damnit, it's gotten hilarious. It's called Hey Larry Hughes, Please Stop Taking So Many Bad Shots. Seriously, the web address is

Larry Hughes, for those of you who don't know, is the 'starting point guard' (quotations definitely necessary) for the Cleveland Cavs basketball team. If you are a fan of the Cavs (sorry), or a basketball fan in general, you will get a kick out of the site.

My favorite part? Probably the haiku:

Brick brick brick brick brick
Brick brick, brick brick, brick brick brick
Pay him $12 million

Also pure genius is the author's response to a commenter who praised the fact that Larry procured two steals in a win vs the San Antonio Spurs:

Bill // Jan 18, 2008 at 10:16 am

Boy, that was a nice victory! Why didn't you say anything about him being in there in clutch time. What about that nice steal he had on parker?

clefan // Jan 18, 2008 at 10:31 am

Bill, that WAS a nice victory! I couldn't agree more. But you should know by now, this site focuses on Larry Hughes taking bad shots. If you are looking for a site that goes in-depth on Larry's crunch time play or his defensive steals, I recommend these sites:

Cleveland fans, try to stop laughing now. Or maybe crying.

PS - I've posted about Larry many, many times before, but since I just enabled Titling in my blog I named this one 'Pt. 1'

Monday, January 14, 2008

Two quick things:

First, as promised, here is a demo of a new song. I've been working on a ton of new stuff, so there will be more demos shortly.


Second, this is just a fantastic article. A year ago I started writing a little essay that is very similar to this article's subject matter, but frankly the writing blows mine out of the water. Just read it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

It took over two hours, but I finally got my Rock Band drum set to play real drums via Reason on my PC. I had to visit a bunch of different web sites and tried out at least six different programs to get it to work, so here are the instructions - all in one place - if you're looking to do the same thing.

Step 1: Plug in the drum set to your computer via USB if you have the Xbox 360 version like me. Windows might automatically recognize it, or you might have to let Windows search for the proper driver (by following the prompts that appear after you plug it in). It took a few minutes but it finally worked.

1A (optional): Go to Control Panel/Game Controllers (Control Panel/Printers and Other Hardware/Game Controllers in XP) and click on Properties. There you can try hitting the drum pads and see if they register in the calibration program (I will have pictures of everything up soon).

2: Download and install Bome's Mouse Keyboard. This is a virtual Midi controller which will allow you to control Reason via your keyboard. Their website is great, and a lot of what I'm going to post next comes directly from there or from links on their site.

3. Download and unzip JoyToKey. This program will allow you to set specific keyboard keys to your game controller (ie the Rock Band Drums). So you will eventually set the kick pedal on the drums to the 'Z' key on the keyboard using this program (and the 'Z', in turn, will be set to control something in Reason via Bome's Mouse Keyboard).

4. Download and install Maple Virtual Midi Cable. This is simply a virtual Midi Input/Output driver that you will need to 'connect' Bome's Mouse Keyboard to Reason. You will need to restart your computer after installing this.

This next section is taken - almost verbatim - from here. You'll want to follow along on that page for now since it has helpful pictures.

5. After the restart, launch Bome's Mouse Keyboard. Go to File-Import-Knob Presets. It will open a folder where you will select the Presets folder, and then select the 'Reason3_Knobs.ini' preset (they've already created one specifically for Reason. Pretty damn cool). Select 'Add to Existing Knob Presets'. You should get a notice saying the knob loaded successfully.

5A. Go to Knobs-Presets and select the Reason preset you just loaded. Now you should see 10 knobs in the upper right corner of Bome's Mouse Keyboard.

5B. Go to Midi Out and select the first Maple MIDI item you see. This is the virtual Midi cable you installed earlier.

6. Launch Reason. Go to Edit-Preferences. Select the Audio page. Make sure 'Play in Background' is selected.

6A. Switch to the 'Control Surfaces and Keyboards' page within Preferences. You should be able to select 'Bome' as a manufacturer, and then 'Mouse Keyboard V2' as a model. Finally - very important - select the same Maple MIDI item as the 'MIDI Input' as you selected for the 'MIDI Output' in Bome's Mouse Keyboard.

Then click OK.

6B. You should have the option to Make Master Keyboard (if it isn't already). Click that button to make Bome your Master Keyboard for Reason.

6C. Now set up a ReDrum box in Reason, select a drum patch, and then make sure Bome's Mouse Keyboard is active (that means click on it). Hit the 'Z' button on the keyboard - you should see one of the little keys on the Mouse Keyboard depress, but there probably won't be any sound - I had to set the Mouse Keyboard to play an octave lower (I think it was in Options, but I will double check this). After setting it an octave lower, press the 'Z' key again - a different key on the Mouse Keyboard will depress (the very first key on the left) and you should hear a drum!

7. Now launch JoyToKey. Also bring up the Game Controllers-Preferences screen (from step 1A). Determine which button each drum pad controls, for instance, I think the kick pedal is Button 6. So double click on Button 6 in JoyToKey, which will open up another window, and then hit 'Z' to set the kick pedal to the 'Z' button on your keyboard ('Z' always controls the kick drum in Reason's ReDrum kits). Then set the red drum to the 'S' key if you're right-handed (the snare drum). The other three drum pads are up to you, since different Reason drum kits have different sounds set to different places. You can play around with your keyboard first - try all the keys from 'Z' to 'B' and 'S' to 'G' to see what does what, and then set your drum pads to the desired keys via JoyToKey.

8. Latency. It only took me a little over an hour to get to this point, but I had a big latency issue, where I would strike the drum and a split second later the drum sound occurred. It was very close, but once I started trying to play a beat that slight difference made playing impossible.

It took forever, but I finally figured out how to fix it. Just go to Edit-Preferences in Reason and go to the Audio page. Try to select the specific ASIO driver for your soundcard in 'Audio Card Driver' (if it has one). I then tried playing with the 'Latency Compensation', but this didn't really do anything. I finally had success by clicking the 'Control Panel' button (still on the Audio page) and selecting a very low latency there.

I guess other people have had success by altering the latency or the buffer size directly in their soundcard's software.

And that's it. When I finally got it working I seriously felt like it was the greatest accomplishment of my life. It's the coolest thing ever. Hope this helped, and again - I will post pictures soon to help illustrate the instructions.

A few notes:

The bass drum pedal is odd, because the 'button' is pressed fairly early when you push down on the pedal. So the sound doesn't occur when your foot fully depresses the pedal and hits the floor (like on a real drum), it happens a little early, like it's reverse-latency. This kind of sucks, and I can't think of a fix unless someone were to write some code to give only that button some latency (I think Harmonix must have compensated for this within Rock Band, because it feels just fine in-game).

There are other programs you can use for the virtual MIDI driver, the keyboard MIDI controller or the Joystick-to-keyboard program, but I tried a few of each and the ones I mentioned worked best for me.

I'm using a brand-new soundcard (E-MU 0404), and after getting the drums working I went in to do some recording in ProTools and suddenly I can't record ANYTHING. It was working before I set up the drums, so I must have screwed something up in the process, only I can't figure it out at all. Sound is getting to my computer, I can see that via my soundcard software, but ProTools is not recognizing it at all. It plays back audio fine, but nothing coming in is registering. It's maddening and I can't figure it out. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. The drums are nice touch, but I need to be able to record.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Got the soundcard and drivers installed yesterday, but not all of the kinks are worked out between it and the mixer I'm using. I now have to route things differently and it's a little tricky. But I think it works well enough for now, the sound quality is fantastic and I can now use my more powerful computer for recording. I was using the casio to test out the soundcard and the brief little multitrack test I ran ended up being something I think I can use in the future. The first session with the new setup is tonight, so I am planning on posting the fruits of my labors here soon (presuming it is in a finished-enough state - I'm still battling a cold and may not be able to sing well enough).

So it's now a race to get the last two puzzle pieces in place - a midi controller to use with Reason, and a new, 'real' mixer (I'm currently using a ghetto 'Eurorack' mixer intended for DJs).

I was bidding on a midi controller just this morning on ebay. It was cheap, and apparently brand-new in the box. Some other asshole was bidding against me in the closing seconds, and he ended up nabbing it at - literally - the last moment, for a nice price. I should have made my final maximum bid like $5 higher. He got that thing for a steal.

There are more auctions on the horizon, but not at such a low price for such quality. Damn it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I am pleased to announce the arrival of my new E-MU 0404 Digital Audio System sound card. It will allow me to start recording in blissful 24-bit sound and comes with a slew of software titles, most of which I will never even bother installing.

With this new toy (and the Casio, and the violin, and Reason) I am going to start recording some demos of songs I've been working on in the past few months and I'll post them here. I think I'm going to start doing this regularly. Really, with the internet, I'm not really seeing the point of releasing albums anymore. There are no distribution costs whatsoever, so let's lower the barrier between artist and consumer.

I am patiently awaiting the arrival of a new soundcard today. I bought an external hard drive the other day, I bought another ebow a week ago (after my first one inexplicably got fried about a year ago) and I'm looking for a midi controller for my newly-acquired Reason program (ridiculously cool). Also, I don't think I ever mentioned that I got an old 1984 Casio keyboard a month or so ago. The thing is awesome.

Once the soundcard is installed I'm going to proclaim the beginning of Lost on Purpose 2.0. I will be well on my way to actually having a respectable recording rig. I can't believe what I've managed to do with the junk I have, really.

I wonder if there's a way to sync the electronic drum set from Rock Band with a PC and use it to control Reason...

Speaking of which, I'm on a Rock Band hiatus since yesterday morning I couldn't stop seeing the note charts in my head every time I closed my eyes. Too much Rock Band.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Well that was quite an extended absence. I'm back in LA after a three-week tour of the midwest and I'm working hard at putting together a new recording rig. Actually I'm just adding a few pieces to my existing one, the centerpiece of which is a new sound card, which 'should' allow me to start recording on my good computer (I tried this when I first got the computer but the on-board sound card has an incurable lag). I know this is interesting to everyone, but it's important, damn it.

So I now own Rock Band, otherwise known as the greatest game in the history of the world. You may not have heard of it, but it's similar to Guitar Hero, only 15 times better (and if you don't know what Guitar Hero is then you might as well stop reading). This is why Rock Band is genius - it has drums. Like, real electronic drums.

Long before I ever starting playing guitar I wanted to be a drummer. This was like age 12, but my parents wouldn't let me play unless I learned how to read music first. I was ok with this, but they never got around to getting me lessons or anything. A few years later, when I wanted to play guitar, the music-reading stipulation did not come into play for some reason.

In all the bands I've been in I've always taken every possible opportunity to jump behind the drum kit. And over the years I've gotten pretty good. Not 'good' good, but good enough that I jumped behind the kit on Rock Band and could nail every song on Medium with no problem. I've only had the game for a few days and I've made the move to Hard for most of the songs - it's just incredible. It's exactly like playing real drums. Medium dumbs it down a bit, but is still a blast, but Hard, for the most part, has the correct bass drums patterns and everything. You really have to gain independence in your limbs to play this game, and going through the solo mode has an incredibly even learning curve. Best game ever, hands down.

Also, if you habla espanol there's a new review up at a Spanish site here.