22 November 2015

[audio] Fields of the Nephilim live in Birmingham, 4 October 1990

Fields of the Nephilim live at Hummingbird, Birmingham, England, 4 October 1990.

I came across this Fields of the Nephilim board tape on Dark Circle Room, and the original flac is downloadable here- http://darkcircleroom4.blogspot.fr/2013/10/re-upload-fields-of-nephilim.html. It has a lot of things going for it:

1. It was recorded on the tour for Elizium, the same tour that spawned one of the best live albums of all time, bar none, Earth Inferno. This was a period when the band was at the height of it's powers (aka before they started losing original members and eventually morphed into a second-rate heavy metal band).

2. It sounds super amazing for a board tape. In stereo, no distortion, very good balance between instruments.

3. It's an epic concert. One hour and 40 minutes, including all songs from the Elizium album.

4. Technically, it's a very clean recording. Cassette was pretty much standard back in 1990 for these type of recordings, but this sounds much cleaner than cassette. So maybe dat was the original recording medium*?

But, with that said, I also noticed some deficiencies, some room for improvement:

1. Somebody had obviously transferred it from cd to flac at some point, because it has those little audio hiccups/gaps right where one song transitions into another. I hate those things, so I edited them out. There were also some fade outs and fade ins to edit out the time between encores, so I edited those out so it now sounds like one continuous recording.

2. In the original flac, the one minute intro thing is not quite in tune with the intro guitar of the first track, Preacher Man. Not everybody will notice stuff like that, but I'm a musician, and that stuff makes my ears cringe. So I pitched that intro down 1/4 of a step, and now it's perfectly in tune (Waves SoundShifter Pitch to the rescue!).

3. The bassist misses a note in one of the songs, so I fixed it.

4. The entire recording needed the standard remastering treatment, so now it sounds a bit fuller, ballsier, sharper, crisper, and all around more pro.

* I have suspicions that this isn't a standard board tape. First of all, the crowd sounds are much too present to have been picked up by only the mics on stage. Plus, the crowd is in stereo. Which means somebody set up mics specifically to capture the crowd sounds, and there's absolutely no reason to do that except for the specific purpose of multi-track recording the concert for a live album. Also, you can hear in the intro of Blue Water where the crowd is cheering the previous song's performance, and when Carl starts singing, the crowd sounds drop off quite unnaturally. That tells me that the at least the crowd was multi-tracked, and had their own faders.

Secondly, the mix is just too good for a board tape. I suppose that could be a coincidence that the relative volumes of all the instruments and vocals simply fell into place so the front of house mix sounded this perfect as well as the signal being sent to tape. Especially with all the volume coming from the amps on stage, as well as the monitors, it's too unlikely that this is a standard board tape.

Have you seen the Visionary Heads video? That's the live video from this tour, with many of the songs in that video being the same versions as on Earth Inferno, and a couple extras. You will notice in that video that there are many shots that are used and reused and reused again. That recycling isn't that big of a deal; I never gave it too much thought. But now as I hear this Hummingbird recording, I have a somewhat far-fetched theory-

I think this Hummingbird show was professionally audio and video recorded, but for one reason or another was never released, neither audio nor video. The video that was recorded on this night was meant to supplement the footage that became the Visionary Heads video, but for some unknown reason wasn't able to be used. Or maybe I'm completely wrong, but in any event, I strongly suspect this show was multi-track recorded (or perhaps submixed to ADAT with drums on two tracks, guitars/bass/synths on two more, vocals on another and the crowd sounds on two more), and somebody had the wherewithal to mixdown a copy of the entire concert for themselves to a couple cds (which is why there's also a break in the original flacs right at 51:30, thus splitting the concert into a first and second half, because the full concert is far too long for a single cd's 80 minute capacity), and those cds eventually found their way to the internet.

It's just a theory. I dunno.


(0:00) Dead but Dreaming
(1:05) Preacher Man
(5:57) Blue Water
(11:37) Love Under Will
(18:01) Sumerland
(26:22) Wail of Sumer
(32:49) And There Will Your Heart Be Also
(36:28) For Her Light
(40:51) At the Gates of Silent Memory
(48:27) Paradise Regained
(51:27) Moonchild
(57:05) Submission
(1:04:59) The Watchman
(1:11:09) Psychonaut
(1:20:33) Last Exit for the Lost
(1:30:57) Dawnrazor

16 November 2015

[audio] Axiome live in Brussels, 31 October 2004

Axiome live at Breakcore Gives Me Wood vs Boups, 31 oct 2004 at Dexia, Brussels, Belgium.

Experimental industrial from Olivier Moreau and C-Drik Fermont.

I post all my audio to hearthis.at as well these days-

I post all my audio to hearthis.at as well these days-

26 October 2015

I updated a few recordings on my Mixcloud

So I've been aware for some time that a few of the live recordings that I've posted to my Mixcloud are greyed out. I looked into it one time, and found that it's only the US listeners who aren't able to access those recordings. Something to do with royalties or licenses or copyrights or something like that. Something about mixes not having more than three songs from the same artist in the recording. Which is a bit absurd, because I've posted about 100 other recordings which have many more than three songs from the same band in them, yet those aren't blocked in any countries.

The only thing I tried to do is to delete those recording's tracklists, and label the entire recording as one big single track. That didn't do the trick, and those few recordings were still greyed out. It sucked, but it didn't bother me too much, as I expected somebody from some other part of the world would find some way to download the audio and post it somewhere else for download or as a torrent or whatever.

But now I see that for one reason or another, at one time or another, I signed up an account with a Mixcloud clone site called hearthis.at. It was super simple to transfer all of my Mixcloud recordings over to HearThis; it was just a single button in fact. But those recordings that were greyed out didn't transfer over.

So I dug out my archive hard drive and found the original aiff mixdowns and tried to upload them directly to HearThis, and apparently HearThis has no qualms whatsoever about making them available to everybody, worldwide. So now all you American listeners can rejoice, as you can now access these recordings-

Enduser live at Berghain, Berlin, 14 May 2010

Venetian Snares live at El Corazon, Seattle, 7 June 2008

Enduser live at Scoundrel's at Liquid Den, Las Vegas, 5 May 2007

22 October 2015

[audio] Dj? Acucrack live in San Francisco, 6 June 2006

Dj? Acucrack live at DNA Lounge, San Francisco, 6 June 2006.

Despite having one of the lamest monikers in all of electronic music, Dj Acucrack made some amazing music. Here's the duo, captured at DNA Lounge in San Francisco in 2006, before the death of founding member Jamie Duffy.

Industrial strength drum and bass with many samples of metal guitars (ala Pantera, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails…). They pack a whole lotta music into 34 minutes.

RIP Jamie.

20 September 2015

DeviantArt > Instagram

So the last time I wrote about Instagram was when I first signed up with them about 9 months ago. At the time, I thought it was absurd and laughable that they forcibly cropped every picture into a square, no matter of it's original dimensions.

But now that they've seen the error of their ways and have joined the rest of us in the 21st century by finally allowing for 16:9 widescreen photos, I might give it another whirl.

Although do they allow for original resolution or do they crush everything down to a certain size or dpi? Maybe I'll find some FAQs or just do a test.

Edit 1: Why can't I upload pictures directly from my laptop? Why do I have to first email the photo to myself, pull up the email on my phone, save the photo to my phone and then upload it via the app? Instagram, why are you making this a pain in the ass? Ya, I know of the workarounds. BlueStacks is always the first thing mentioned, but reading the comments about BlueStacks, it seems that it's either equally a pain in the ass to use, or it's not even functional, or riddled with viruses. Other options don't fare any better.

Edit 2: OK, so even though Instagram says it accepts widescreen now, I see that all preview/thumbnails are still displayed as square and are only widescreen when you click on them. So it's either totally half-assed of them or completely disingenuous when they say that Instagram is now widescreen capable. I suppose technically that's true, but they're really making an effort to make it difficult* for us users to view widescreen pictures as they were originally shot. And, by the way, they're totally small- about 600 x 325. My giant-sized 5200 x 3450 photos smashed down to 600 x 325. That's deplorable.

*Ya, I know, how is one mouse click 'making it difficult'? Well of course, no it's not. It's just that it shouldn't have to be that way. There should be something in settings where we users can default it to view all pictures in their original ratio, thumbnail size or largest size or anything in between.

Edit 3: And now I see that Instagram pictures can't be downloaded, either in small size or as shot? What is this shit? We all know the shift-command-4 trick. Why are you making this more difficult than it has to be?

Seriously, I'd be better off signing up with Deviant Art. Because of all the complaints I spelled out above, Deviant Art has answered every one of them. Deviant Art displays the thumbnails of the pictures in their original dimensions, the pictures can be viewed large size in their original dimensions, and can be downloaded in their original dimensions (although there are customizable settings on Deviant Art if for some reason I want to prohibit downloading of any specific photo(s)), in their original size too, even if the picture is 5184 x 3456, which is what I've set my Canon to shoot. And I can upload pictures directly from my laptop. And users of the site can comment on my photos, can follow me so as to get notifications when I upload new photos, and can share my photos with their followers. 

In fact, I just went ahead and did it. Until Instagram pulls their head out (and I won't hold my breath), I'll be posting pictures to Deviant Art here- http://humorlessproductions.deviantart.com/gallery/

All my Humorless Productions photos will go there, and probably some (old and new) random shots that don't have anything to do with anything.

Message for Instagram: Get your shit together. Work this stuff out and maybe I'll consider using your site.

15 September 2015

Humorless Productions on ello

So I have an ello account for all my original Dancu music here- https://ello.co/dancu (aka @dancu).

I've now created one for all my Humorless Productions affairs here- https://ello.co/humorlessproductions (aka @humorlessproductions).

I post everything I work produce all my pages (personal FB, Humorless Productions FB, HP Wordpress, HP Tumblr, HP Blogspot, HP YouTube for videos, HP Mixcloud for audios), so if you're following any of those, maybe you don't have to bother with Humorless on ello. Up to you.

08 September 2015

[audio] Gridlock live in San Francisco, 17 October 2004

Gridlock live at DNA Lounge, San Francisco, California, 17 October 2004.

Gridlock's hometown show (more or less), touring in support of their Formless album, so they play many from that release, as well as a bunch from earlier releases, and a couple of their more obscure tracks.

If anybody knows the titles for tracks 9 and 16, please let me know, and I'll update the tracklist.

1. Pallid (0:00-4:17)
2. Return (4:17-9:46)
3. Voiceless (9:46-14:30)
4. Displacement (14:30-19:03)
5. Scratch (19:03-21:32)
6. Uh4.17 (21:32-26:01)
7. Estrella (26:01-30:38)
8. Recycle (30:38-35:43)
9. unknown (35:43-38:51)
10. Without (38:51-43:15)
11. Sever (43:15-49:28)
12. Bring Out Your Dead (49:28-55:34)
13. Program41 (55:34-59:09)
14. Individual Totem: In Memorial (Gridlock remix) (59:09-62:56)
15. De/Module (62:56-67:23)
16. unknown (67:23-69:54)

05 September 2015

In the process of remastering/reformatting some board tapes

As I suspected, Salt Lake City isn't exactly a hotbed of live experimental electronic music or industrial or breakcore. I'm sure some shows will pop up here and there occasionally that I'll want to record. But in the meantime, I'll continue fixing up board tapes that other people have recorded that I've found in various spots on the internet and shape them into something that sounds like a proper live album (like the Autechre and the Tool and the recent Noize Creator recordings that are on my Mixcloud).

It's beyond me why so often whomever records and posts these recordings doesn't even put in the most minimal of effort to master them or even just even out the level across the recording. They either don't know how or are incredibly lazy.

The good news is that I'm not lazy, and I know how to do it. I already have a couple in the can that are worth posting, so I'll post those soon, and I'll see what other recordings I can drum up.

I've posted almost every recording that I've made myself. I still have one or two original live recordings that I've made in past years of some top names in noisy electronic music, and I've repeatedly asked those artists (via email or FB message) if they'd be cool with me posting them, but they ignore the question. So until I get an explicit yes, those will have to remain tucked away on my hard drive.

07 August 2015

[audio] Noize Creator live at Norbergfestival, 2006

Here's a Noize Creator show that I didn't record myself, but I'd happened to have had in my ipod. Originally it was just a board tape, so I worked my magic and remastered it and threw in some crowd sounds. Presto, live album.

And I wouldn't bother posting it here, except it seems that this board tape isn't even available anywhere on the internet any more, which is sorta baffling because it's a great one.

This is one where he starts off slow and brooding and menacing, and then gradually gets faster and heavier, and then faster and heavier, and then faster and heavier, and then faster and heavier, and then faster and heavier, and by the end it feels like the world is about to collapse.

The first half of the show showcases his proto-industrial dubstep, before all the brostep wub-wub-wubs infiltrated the genre and made it the biggest embarrassment since electoclash. Then it ramps up in the mid-section and his breakcore sounds make their way to the forefront. It gets poundier and poundier while keeping all the breakcore sounds, and he rounds it out by adding a little bit of his metalcore noise (but thankfully, not too much).

Originally recorded at Norbergfestival, Norberg, Sweden, 2006.

29 June 2015

I'm moving to Salt Lake City

Good news. Got a job. Moving this weekend from San Diego to SLC.

San Diego is a perfectly good city, but it's time for me to move on. And SLC was absolutely at the top of my list of cities where I'd like to relocate, so I think it's all gonna work out.

I haven't done too many recordings lately, and I certainly don't think moving to SLC will provide me any more opportunities for live recording than San Diego. If you wanna play the word association game and I say 'city with an amazing underground experimental aggressive electronic music scene', neither San Diego nor Salt Lake City will be on the tips of anybody's tongues.

The best thing about living in San Diego in this regard was that it was (more or less) just a stone's throw from LA, where the noisy electronic music scene is markedly more active. And now that I'll be in SLC, that option is now off the table.

So, I know this is the most unfortunate announcement, but it looks like I won't be pumping out recordings like I used to. I'll definitely still make an effort, but that's just the reality of the situation.

But I will of course keep my eyes and ears open, and will always appreciate it whenever anybody contacts me here or via my FB about shows that might interest me. If it's a big enough deal, I wouldn't mind driving the 6 hours to Vegas to record a show. I'm always open to recording non-electronic music as well.

Also, and not so incidentally, if any of you who are reading this are in SLC, please drop me a line and say hi. Or if you have friends there who would be hip to it, please, by all means. Or if you have any tips as to whom I should introduce myself, please let me know. I still want to be involved with the underground electronic music scene, no matter where I'm living.

This by no means signals the end of Humorless Productions. If nothing else, maybe I'll have more time to work on my original music and/or movie scores.

13 April 2015

[audio] The Young Gods live at Roadburn 2009 remastered

If you didn't know, the authoritative blog for all difficult or otherwise impossible to find live recordings and bootlegs from 80s, 90s and 2000s goth and industrial bands is Dark Circle Room (blog, FB). They're huge on Sisters of Mercy, and have an extensive catalog of all the big names from those decades. Lots of videos as well as mp3s, and all for download. Many of the recordings don't sound all that great, especially the audience bootlegs which probably will appeal only to the diehards. But they also have many board tapes, tv broadcasts and audio rips of pro-shot VHSs which are worth grabbing.

I was browsing through their Young Gods selections when I found a download of a webcast of a performance at Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands in 2009. So it sounded pretty good in the first place- no doubt they just fed the main board mix to the internet. In effect, a board tape. Young Gods are one of my all time favorites, so I was stoked to have found it. At the same time, me being an audio engineer, nothing ever meets my ears without me thinking, 'hmm, I bet you anything I can make this sound better.'

The instrument balance was done for the speakers in the venue, not for the webcast/recording, so it's understandable that some stuff will sound kinda weird. In this recording, the vocals were buried way down in the mix, and the drums were way too loud. I'm sure in the hall it sounded fine, but for my purposes, I wanted to try and even that out. And I have the tools and the skills to do that, so I did it. Also, one thing that plagues every webcast are the little hiccups and drop outs in the audio, and this one was no different. I fixed up all of those as well, and also fixed the overall level which was a bit lacking in the original.

So what I ended up with was a pretty great recording. I know I'm not the only Young Gods fan out there, so I sent my remastered version to Dark Circle Room and asked if they could post it. They were kind enough to do so, and it's now available for download from their blog. Go get it here.

12 April 2015

[video] Oake live in Los Angeles, 20 March 2015

Like many of you, I hear a massive amount of new music. Most of it is garbage; every once in a while I'll run across something that's actually worth dropping into my ipod. Almost never ever do albums come along that totally knock me off my feet and blow me away and shoot straight up into my top-10-all-time list.

But recently one of those albums hit me over the head, and I was fortunate to not only see/hear the band perform, but also record the performance.

So drop what you're doing and go get Auferstehung by Oake, an album by a duo from Berlin which combines some bleak, end-of-the-world, apocalyptic industrial with some gorgeous, ethereal, almost opera-like female vocals.

But don't take my word for it. Here's a song from that performance. From 20 March at Mount Analog's Nuit Noire XI at Jewel's Catch One in Los Angeles. All audio and video recording and post-production by me.

07 April 2015

[audio] Venetian Snares live in Seattle, 7 June 2008

Here's one that I played on my Mixlr internet radio shoutcast thing a couple years ago, but seemingly never bothered to post to any of my blogs.

It's a monstrous live set by Venetian Snares at El Corazon in Seattle that I recorded in the summer of 2008, on the same weekend that Detrimentalist was released.

Unfortunately, if you're in the US, I think this one might be blocked for you. Some legal BS about licensing or something. Sorry, not my call. Complain the Mixcloud about it if you want, but I'm gonna guess that their hands are tied. Everybody else around the world, have a blast. Tracklist follows the player.

(0:00) Deep Dicking
(2:25) Splooj Guzzlers
(7:14) Crashing the Yogurt Truck
(10:56) Mongoloid Alien
(14:47) Einstein-Rosen Bridge
(17:21) Poo Yourself Jason
(19:14) Kimberly Clark
(20:24) CCUK
(22:12) Husikam Rave Dojo
(25:22) Sajtban
(29:53) Eurocore MVP
(31:19) Circle Pit
(33:30) Szerencsetlen
(34:21) Gentleman
(37:05) Kétsarkú Mozgalom
(43:31) My Half
(45:55) Masodik Galamb
(49:58) Dollmaker
(51:44) Crackest
(53:49) Make Ronnie Rocket
(57:30) The Most Sadistic (Necro mix)
(1:01:33) All the Children Are Dead
(1:05:22) Befriend a Childkiller
(1:10:17) A Lot of Drugs
(1:11:50) Hand Throw
(1:13:45) Kakarookee Hates Me
(1:17:10) Skelechairs
(1:20:21) Skelechairs (Megamix)
(1:24:14) Where's Bill?
(1:27:26) Winnipeg is a Dogshit Dildo
(1:30:18) Winnipeg is a Dogshit Dildo (reprise)

25 March 2015

The Humorless Productions restorations of a few tracks from Metallica's …And Justice for All

(edit March 2015)

With the recent headlines concerning Metallica's 1988 masterpiece …And Justice for All and the assertion by mix engineer Steve Thompson that it was Lars who ordered him to 'bring down the bass so you can barely hear it in the mix', I thought it a good opportunity to share with you these reconstructions I did of a few tracks from that album.

I could have sworn that I posted these tracks to my blog when I did the reconstructions two years ago, but apparently I was mistaken about that. Better late than never I guess.

TL:DR version- some video game has Jason's parts isolated for five Justice songs: the title track, Blackened, The Shortest Straw, One, and Dyer's Eve. I re-inserted the bass tracks into those songs and mixed/mastered it properly. Other people had attempted to do the same thing, but invariably went totally overboard with the bass parts, pushing them way too loud in the mix. My mixes sound exactly how the album should have sounded, before Lars' interference.

Two of the five songs were rejected by Soundcloud immediately over copyright concerns, but for some reason three of them didn't trigger any flags, so those three are below.

Full technical details and exhaustive wordage follows the tracks.

(original text from Spring 2013)

Proper progressive thrash, mixed properly. I'll tell you the story-

As we all know, …And Justice for All has no bass guitar in the mix. There's no disputing it. Of course, rumors have swirled over the years as to why this is, the most prominent theory having something to do with the rift between Jason and the rest of the band at the time when they were recording the album, and that the other guys in the band dropped Jason's part out of the mix and as big FU to him.

Now, I don't know any better or worse than anybody else, but I don't buy this at all. I think it was a purely technical decision.

The problem originates in the kick drum, which in the album version, sits way down at 60 to 100 hertz. I don't know if that's intentional, but every music producer, every mixing engineer and every mastering and remastering engineer should know that that's gonna spell trouble, because that's the range normally reserved for bass. You can sometimes get away with it in electronic music, but for rock music, the kick drum should be centered a little higher, say at 150 hz, which will give the bass guitar a little bit more breathing room down at the bottom end.

I think what happened, was that when they mixed the album, the drum faders go up first (as is standard procedure for just about any audio engineer on the planet), and everything else fills in their own spot in the mix. When it was time for Jason's faders to go up, all that low end accumulated right at 60-80 Hz, and no doubt it sounded like crap. The only way around it was to drop one of the faders, and we all know who hit the chopping block.

The thing is, there's not only one way around it. Because it's really the simplest of procedures to throw an eq on the kick drum and drop the 60-80 Hz and (if needed) boost the upper low end which gives plenty of room for the bass to live beneath it. Why they didn't just do this I have no idea. The fact that they didn't sorta gives credence to the whole 'FU Jason' theory. But at the same time, bands know that their names will forever be stamped on their releases, and because of that, won't want to release anything with such monumental imperfections. But perhaps I'm being naive.

But whatever the reason(s), I've made an attempt to fix it. I started with Shortest Straw. And it's funny, because I started working on it on a whim by applying my own synth bass part, which sounds like a weird idea, but actually it sounded pretty damn good. But then (for one reason or another, I really don't remember) I came across a YouTube of Jason's isolated bass part for the song, as uploaded by user metfan4l here. I thought 'how does this person have access to this?' In doing some research I discovered that some songs from the Justice album were included in some music video game where the individual parts could be isolated and exported, is this correct? Well, I'm not a gamer at all, so this was news to me. I don't know if that's where these bass parts originated, but it's what I ended up using. We all know that YouTube's sound quality ranges from questionable (even on the high definition uploads) to utter garbage (on just about everything else), but this sounded good enough that, with a little processing, it would sound good enough for my purposes.

So here it is, the fully restored remix/remaster with Jason's bass part slotted back in place. The result? Instant awesome! Seriously, once you get accustomed to these versions, you'll never go back to the originals ever again. Coincidentally, the album came out 25 years ago, so I guess you could call this my attempt to commemorate the original's 25th anniversary, and hopefully to improve upon it.

And now I'm thinking, how have I not run across other people's attempt to restore these songs? Quite frankly, I've not really been interested in Metallica since this album came out 25 years ago, so it's not like I'm just gonna hear any remixes unless I go looking for them. But when searched around the internet, I only found a couple, and it seems like those who attempted to do it got all hyped up on finally hearing Jason's part and got all carried away and ended up totally overloading the mix with low end. Am I the first one to make an actual proper mix of these songs? The mix that should have ended up on the album itself? How is it possible that the internet isn't flooded with And Justice for All remixes? I dunno, but I couldn't find any.

Couple notes-

1. The way I did it is I had the cd mix on one stereo track and Jason's part on another. When mixing, I was really tempted to try and warm up the cd mix even a little bit, to try and move away from its very clinical, sterile sound. I tried a couple things, but nothing worked to my satisfaction, so in the end I left the cd mix untouched, outside of dropping some of the low end to make room for Jason's bass as I described above.

2. I'm well aware of all the 'loudness wars' controversy that exploded all over the internet surrounding Metallica's later releases. Even though this version that I've uploaded looks totally brick walled, it's just Soundcloud's visual representation that makes it look like this. Everything I've ever put on Soundcloud ends up looking a lot more blocky than it actually is, and this one is no different. For the band part of my mix, I used an aiff that I pulled straight off my original release cd. I did all he arranging/mixing in Presonus Studio One 2, and the final master in Soundtrack Pro, all on a MacBook Pro.

Comments, critiques, suggestions? Throw 'em at me.

29 January 2015

silly little thing I cooked up

Upon hearing it, a friend of mine said, 'This is the stuff of nightmares.' Best compliment ever.

I wish the church organ at the end could have been louder, but it was crowding the mix too much.

Don't think it's gonna be a keeper. But I do really like some of the synth sounds, so I'll probably use those for something else someday.