The Spider Hill is dead, long live The Spider Hill

Hello all

I’m not going to be posting here any more, as I’ve bought a URL and some web space and am going to make some attempt at doing this thing properly. My new blog is over at www.thespiderhill.com, so please readjust your bookmarks, feeds and very kind links accordingly.

The new space is going to be principally getting me back into doing what I love most, which is listening to loads of music and then spewing out bile or joy dependent on my reaction. There’ll be the odd bit of other stuff in there, but it’s mostly a space for me to go on and on AND ON about music until you’re all sick of me. ENJOY.

www.thespiderhill.com

From Light To Sound recording – day one

The recording continues apace. Yesterday was a day in the studio recording drum and guitar parts for three tracks, ending at 11pm… this morning we kicked off at 10am recording synth and bass parts, then we’ll move onto rough mixes.

Here are a few photos from yesterday’s recording session…

Messing about with Storytlr

I’ve been messing about with Storytlr today, which to all intents seems to be an altogether swisher and nicer-looking way of aggregating your online activity than the somewhat utilitarian Friendfeed. It’s kinda neat – plug in your networks, from Flickr to Last.fm, give it a date span, and it produces an editable ‘story’ made up of pics, links and your general musings. Very interesting to stick in a week or so and see what your online life looks like – here’s one from me.

Unfortunately, since basic WordPress seems to hate you embedding anything, I can’t stick it directly in here, which is quite frustrating. Go and have a play, though.

Recording my new band

Exciting times ahead this weekend, as my new band From Light To Sound (although it’s been going for a year, so I should probably stop calling it ‘new’) goes into the studio this weekend to record our first tracks together.

It should be an interesting process for me particularly, as I’ve never done a ‘traditional’ recording in a proper band with live drums. Recording with Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element simply means me separating out all the individual electronic drums sounds into separate tracks, which I can do from the comfort of my own bed, then playing some guitar and synth parts over the top. A bit like a techno-guitar Milli Vanilli.

And recording with The Evenings I overdubbed my keyboard parts (have a listen over here) on top of band recordings already done without me being there.

This time around, we’ll mic up the drum kit, put everyone’s guitar parts through amp modellers/pods, play through headphones while we record the drums and scratch guitar tracks. Then re-record each guitar part properly, at volume. And we have eight hours to nail two or even three tunes, which will be tight.

Sunday will be mixing at my house, interspersed with Mario Kart Wii and a nice roast dinner being cooked by the bassist.

I’ll report back with some pictures and stuff, and of course the finished tracks when they’re done, but in the meantime here’s a rehearsal recording of one of the songs we’re recording, called ‘Compliance’. It was recorded with a little MP3 recorder in the corner of the practice room, hence the distinctly lo-fi quality.

Nice Country Walk

In the absence of anything better to write about, ravaged as I am by a minor illness, here’s a collage of some nice pics from today’s Nice Country Walk out at the White Horse in Uffington…

White Horse collage

The future is here

Wow. Assuming I’ve not messed this up, I’m now posting my first blog entry of 2009 from my iPod. The future is here and I claim my free hover car.

Hope you had a great new year. I’ve promised myself I’ll post at least three times a week, so more over the next couple of days.

Top 10 albums of 2008

Looking back over my records at the end of the year as usual, I was pleased to see that I had bought/been exposed to loads of new stuff this year, which makes a top ten worth bothering with. I also noticed that there was loads of stuff from this year that I keep meaning to buy but haven’t got round to, like Fennesz, Bon Iver, Stereolab, TV on the Radio etc., so this list might have looked a lot different if I’d managed to get hold of everything I meant to listen to.

Any other highlights of 2008 you could recommend for me to check out?

1. Portishead – Third

portishead

This was going to be number one in my list from the first moment I heard it. It’s magnificent, groundbreaking music with everything from krautrock and Silver Apples to scratched old soul records and swish futuristic techno. It made me think differently about music to some extent, and I can’t praise it any more highly than that.

2. Earth – The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull

earth1

This is just wonderful – big, long droning monoliths with every single note deliberate and crystal clear. It’s doomy and sludgy, but manages to combine that with beauty and a real light touch.

3. Avrocar – Against The Dying Of The Light

avrocar

Affable ambient Brummies who quietly go about creating some of the most gorgeous electronic music in the world, while virtually no one notices. This is superb stuff, and, even better, accompanied by a lovely hand-written letter from the band when I bought the album. You just don’t get that from Brian Eno.

4. Zombie Zombie – A Land For Renegades

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I first heard of this band when I was offered a show by them on their UK tour last year, but we didn’t have space to put them on. But the press material got me salivating. So here’s a band with ‘zombie’ in the name TWICE, who are synth-driven krautrock lovers from the same musical school as Holy Fuck? Yes please! Daft Punk meets Neu!

5. Glasvegas – Glasvegas

glasvegas

Allow me to join the massed ranks of critics gathered to worship at the feet of Glasvegas. I fell in love with ‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart’ as soon as I heard the demo version. They were terrific on the three occasions I saw them live this year (including a show at the little Jericho Tavern that I’m sure will drift into Oxford music folklore in a couple of years). And the album is so good that it doesn’t collapse beneath the weight of hype dumped on top of it before it was released. Anyone know if the Christmas record is any good? All the record shops here have run out of copies…

6. Fujiya & Miyagi – Lightbulbs

fujiya

Absolutely more of the same from Fujiya & Miyagi. I’d have no trouble believing these songs were done at the sametime as Transparent Things – they’re so similar to the first record. Thankfully the first record was terrific and this is also great. Not for me to worry about where they head next, and ‘Knickerbocker’ is my favourite sing-along-in-the-shower pop song of the year.

7. The Bug – London Zoo

bug

An album I bought purely on the strength of critical praise and the fact that your man there had something to do with Techno Animal/Godflesh, apparently. And it’s a real treat, going from pretty brutal breakbeats and seriously heavy bass to lighter, ragga-inflected stuff, frequently within the same track. This is far and away the most, umm, ‘zeitgeist’ record on the list, for want of a better term.

8. American Music Club – The Golden Age

amc

Not a patch on Love Songs For Patriots as far as I’m concerned – it really seems to lack some of that heartfelt despondency and rawness. But what it lacks in that area it makes up for in being really rather pretty and charming, and ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Decibels and the Little Pills’ and ‘Windows on the World’ are up there with any of their vintage material. Shame there’s a fair bit of filler on there too, though.

9. Kid606 – Die Soundboy Die

606

Technically only an EP, but in here because it is EXCELLENT. I’ve already reviewed this and you can see what I thought of it over here. Bags of fun, basically, and his live set at Audioscope was bang on form.

Kid606 live at Audioscope from thespiderhill on Vimeo.

10. Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element – More Than 20 per cent

sunny

Yeah, I know. I’m in the band. But if you can’t put your own record into your own top ten records that affected your life this year, then something’s up. And there’s some good stuff here – the live tracks sound good and clangy, and there are some great remixes. My favourites are by Karhide, Space Heroes of the People and Kosmische. BONUS TREAT for blog readers – get your hands on some free Sunnyvale MP3s over here.

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