I’ve been experimenting with binaural surround sound.
We only have two ears, yet we can still determine if a sound is coming from behind us, above us, below us, and so on.
What this means is we should be able to experience full surround sound using a normal pair of headphones and a standard stereo music file.
For this test, I’ve taken an excerpt of the 5.1 surround mix of Frankenfido’s “Turn Out The Light”, virtually placing the speakers around the sound field using Ambisonics, and converted the output to a stereo file for headphone listening.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares exactly the same ear canal and ear shape, so our individual brains all process sounds slightly differently.
This is where you come in!
Please take a listen – using headphones – and let me know if the surround effect works for you.
For instance, the solo guitar at the beginning of clip pans all around the listener. And the voices in the next section appear from behind the listener. (Possibly!)
As you might remember, Ben Craven & The Section performed live for a video webcast a few weeks ago.
We were interviewed by Kevin Mulryne from Yes Music Podcast in the UK and played four songs – Diabolique, Nobody Dies Forever, Golden Band and No Specific Harm. It was a grand experiment in online streaming and tested the limits of my internet connection and Google’s capabilities. Plus there were hijinks and mayhem and laughs all round. Especially hijinks.
The podcast is now available for download. Grab yourself a copy and if you have any requests for a future streaming event, please let me know!
One Friday in 1999, probably August, I was in a covers band called Shagpile, with Brad Douglas on drums and Jason Curtis on bass. Excellent band name.
Absolutely genuine photo of Shagpile, circa-1999.
We discovered, through a friend, that a prominent Australian alternative radio station (known for “un-burying” hitherto unknown and unsigned bands) was holding a competition for our city of Brisbane. Only trouble was, the deadline for song entries was the following week. This was the period before songwriting competitions had exploded across the internet, and way before I had figured out that (a) when they say recording or performance quality don’t matter, they’re lying and (b) the judging process is frequently more politically motivated than artistic.
Brad and I had already started writing songs together. Enough About You and If You Knew were in the can, but were nowhere near recorded or ready to release. We needed another song, and we needed it yesterday.
So I conscripted some music from one of the demos I had previously filed away for a project that would one day become greater and more terrible. Over lunch, we wrote lyrics for Crippled Minds, a cheery jaunt about the pleasures of working life. What followed was a whirlwind recording effort. We cut the instrumental track over the weekend and recorded vocals one night after work. Then the song was mixed down using cheap headphones. I thought the garage-like sound quality would fit the spirit of the competition. The package was express posted and we sat back and reflected on how clever we were.
Apparently Crippled Minds didn’t impress the one person at the radio station who maybe listened to it.
Shortly afterwards I became dismissive about the song. I felt the subject matter was too heavy and the production unrealised. So that was that.
How would Crippled Minds have sounded if I’d been able to mix it today? That’s what I suddenly started wondering. Perhaps I could have done a better job of hiding the limitations of the equipment we used at the time. I tracked down the original files and gave it a go. Many years later, I now realise that the lyrics Brad and I put down were way ahead of our years, and spot on.
So here is the 2013 remix of Crippled Minds. No re-recording, no new overdubs, and no prizes in the songwriting competition.
Here’s a rough mix of Ready To Lose, from the studio session with the three-piece a few weekends ago.
In the absence of a crowded roomful of musicians, there are a few different touches to the arrangement instead. They might have well gone into the original recording had I thought of them at the time..
Last Saturday the three-piece got together in the studio for an all-day session to capture our current live arrangements. This, we hope, will address our current habit of forgetting them. There were also a number of cameras present, so now there’s a double-whammy of audio and video waiting to be mixed and edited together. It captured a great moment in time and I’m hoping it will see an official release down the track.
Here is a sneak-peek of the opener, Diabolique. Just pretend your eyes are closed. Featuring Chad “The American” Borchard on bass, and Jason “Bloke Falling Down A Long Set Of Stairs With Drum Kit In Hand” Green.
In the spirit of the season, I’d like to offer up this raw nugget from the vaults, from the heady days of my old cover band, Rabble. It’s a version of that Cream classic, (I’m Dreaming Of A) White Room, recorded live in the rehearsal room back in March 2004.
Featuring Brad Douglas on verse vocals and drums, Renae Craven on keys and Jason Curtis on bass.
Time to spill the beans on a new project I’ve started working on, codenamed Band of Bruces.
In the late 1800s there was an Oklahoma outlaw named Ben Cravens. No kidding. By all accounts he was a pretty nasty sort of bloke – horse theft, holdups, murder, jailbreaks, fake IDs, downloading music, etc.
Now, ordinarily his life would be pretty good fodder for a concept album (“oh dear, did he just say concept album?”) if you’re a musician with country tendencies. But if you happen to share almost the same name as him, well the deal is done and dusted.
So here is the first track off the production line, Itchy Finger. Not the first track in the album order by any means (it’s actually towards the end somewhere). But it should give you a flavour of some things to come.