Archive of: music

  • Encoding data in dubstep drops

    Dubstep songs are often criticized as sound extremely computer generated and often just too aggressive/“digital” for a lot of people to enjoy. It’s not uncommon for people to joke that they sound like someone had added a bassline and drums to modem noises

    For some tracks this is truer than others. After all, it’s a genre with more aggressive interpretations and more relaxed ones.

    But that had me thinking, how much effort would it be to actually embed machine readable data inside a dubstep track, while ensuring that the sound could be enjoyed by humans as well…

    Encoding data in dubstep drops.

    I want to call this something punny. Dubsteg? Dubsteganography? Dubstepanography?

    Via O’Reilly’s Four Short Links (which is well worth space in your RSS reader).

  • Top albums and films of 2017

    Around this time last year I foolishly said

    Well, the less said about the state of 2016 in general, the better.

    … little did I know.

    Thankfully it was another cracking year for music and cinema. So here are my top ten albums and films of 2017. Film was especially difficult to narrow down to ten.



    (my full stats for 2017 can be seen on Letterboxd)

  • The punniness of Michael Giacchino

    I’ve been on a bit of a soundtrack binge recently. They’re great to work to (and at the same time pretending you’re a spaceship/dinosaur/shark). While listening to Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack for The Incredibles, I spotted the title of the last track: “The Incredits”.

    Heh, punny.

    Then I looked at a couple of his other albums.

    • Inside Out: “The Joy of Credits”.
    • Ratatouille: “End Creditouilles”

    Wait, is this a thing?

    It is a thing. In fact if you search for “michael giacchino puns” you get over 62k results back. My favourite has to be the alternate titles for Rogue One.

  • The Cellar

    If you are in any way linked to Oxford, you may have heard that The Cellar, one of our most beloved music venues, is under threat of closure.

    It’s been gratifying to see everyone mobilise so quickly, and after heartfelt posts by Richard Brabin and Sarah Tipper, I wanted to tell the story about my relationship with The Cellar.

    My first exposure to The Cellar was before I moved to Oxford, or even thought of doing so, back in 1995.

    I was living in Coventry, and helping out my friend’s bands where I could. One of the bands I crewed for booked a gig in at The Cellar, so we loaded the gear in the back of the van, and after a trip down the motorway, the doors opened.

    “Oh, McDonalds”

    It wasn’t quite the Oxford I’d heard of, the home of Radiohead and Supergrass, the Dreaming Spires. There we were, on Cornmarket, hungry, tired, trying to work out where the gig was. We found the alley

    “Fuck, that’s a lot of stairs” 1

    The Immaculate Assassins played to a couple of people, but it was a fun gig, and I remember the bar staff being lovely.

    Cut to 2003, I’d been in Oxford six years now (that’s another story), and The Cellar had become part of my life. At least once a week I’d find myself there, discovering a new band, meeting new people, a lot of whom are friends to this day.

    I wasn’t from here, but this had become my home. This was my Oxford.

    I was playing guitar in a band 2 with some friends (I say “playing”… I was trying to find interesting ways to get effects pedals to cover up for my lack of talent) and we’d been having fun rehearsing at Glasshouse. We’d started to get a set together, and we’d invite friends to rehearsals to hear what we were doing. They’d bring beer, we’d swap instruments, play some covers, arse around, but we kept coming back to the set. And we got tighter.

    I can’t exactly remember how it came about, but talk turned to actually playing the set in front of people. An actual gig.

    Then we got a gig, and it was at The Cellar. Playing support… but it was an actual fucking gig.

    I remember panicking slightly.

    (…it’s the Cellar…)

    Then I panicked a lot.

    The Cellar!

    (…we can’t play there, that’s where… proper bands play…)

    The day of the gig I was a wreck, I was so nervous I could barely speak. My partner was an absolute rock, we sat in my flat watching films, and she held my hand the whole time and told me it would be okay.

    We set up, we sound checked, I had a confusing conversation with the sound engineer about the amount of feedback I was producing (“…I’m going for Jesus & Mary Chain, I’ve got this… I think”), we got a round of applause from the bar staff (I told you they were lovely), and then we waited.

    Next thing I remember is seeing my band mates on the stage, and my partner saying “shouldn’t you be up there?”, I panicked, ran round the back of the artist area, up on to the stage smacking my head on the lintel on the way (if you’ve played The Cellar, you’ll know the bit of architecture I mean), plugging my guitar in, and thinking “this is it, I’m on stage at The Cellar, and I’ve given myself concussion, I’m about to pass out. Good work Garrett”.

    Polytechnic - Garrett

    I didn’t pass out, and by all accounts we played a good gig. I don’t remember much of it. At the bar after the gig a friend said that I had an “unconventional” style of guitar playing. I took that as a compliment.

    The Cellar is an important part of my life, and it’s an important part of countless other lives.

    The Cellar is one of those place where memories are formed.

    1. The plaintive cry of roadies everywhere. 

    2. We were called Polytechnic, for some reason I’ve forgotten, hence the domain. 

  • Top albums and films of 2016

    Well, the less said about the state of 2016 in general, the better.

    However, it’s been another inspiring year for music and film, so here are my picks of 2016. In no particular order, and as it’s my house I didn’t limit them to ten.



    (If you want to see what I picked when limited to ten films, then you can have a look at my Letterboxd Top Ten for 2016)

    • Arrival
    • Deadpool
    • Zootopia
    • Sing Street
    • Hail, Caesar!
    • Hunt for the Wilderpeople
    • The Nice Guys
    • Swiss Army Man
    • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
    • Kubo and the Two Strings
    • Midnight Special
    • Captain America: Civil War
    • Jungle Book
  • Oxford Punt listening notes

    Select quotes from this month’s Nightshift so I can work out who I’m seeing at the Oxford Punt tonight

    Purple Turtle

    • 7pm Moogieman & the Masochists (are cleverer than you or us and have songs about the murder of Rosa Luxembourg, astronauts leaving their phones on the moon, and Wolf-Rayet stars)
    • 8pm The Aureate Act (smart enough to realise there’s nothing wrong with teenage musicians declaring a love for Genesis, Pink Floyd and King Crimson)
    • 9pm Being Eugene (purveyors of metalcore of a particularly virulent strain)
    • 10pm Drore (a malevolent, doomy crustcore supergroup)


    • 7.30 Great Western Tears (roadhouse country-blues)
    • 8.15 Slate Hearts (grunge riffage)
    • 9.15 Kanadia (Radiohead/stadium pop)
    • 10.15 STEM (electro duo, Portishead and Sneaker Pimps)


    • 8pm The Beckoning Fair Ones (tightly reined-in rage)
    • 9pm Cherokee (mighty heavy rock songs)
    • 9.45 Crystallite (big ol’ 80s stadium rock and blues given a goodtime grunge kick up the backside)
    • 10.30 Too Many Poets (in-your face gothic rock)

    Turl Street Kitchen

    • 8pm Charlie Leavy (hints of soul, jazz and even funk, Alicia Keys)
    • 9pm Coldredlight (frankly astonishing emo-blues)
    • 10pm Little Red (twist folk music into sublime new shapes, Imagine Nick Cave leading First Aid Kit into the forest to have tea with the Big Bad Wolf)
    • 11pm Crandle (lo-fi cabaret duo armed only with the cheapest Casio keyboard in the shop)

    White Rabbit

    • 8.30 Kancho! (lo-fi, high-octane two-man hardcore assault, At The Drive-In, Shellac)
    • 9.30 These Are Our Demands (taught, Sonic Youth-flavoured rockabilly ruckus)
    • 10.30 Lucy Leave (energetic and lo-fi noise approach, underpinning tigerish Pixies pop with bulldozing Hawkwind basslines)
    • 11.30 Brown Glove (Victorian gothic and dark sexual themes)
  • David Bowie RIP

    Today, listen to “Hunky Dory” and “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”

    Tonight, watch “Labyrinth” and “The Man Who Fell To Earth”.

  • Top albums and films of 2015

    Continuing the semi-regular (i.e. not at all regular) list of my favourite films and albums from this year.


    (It’s been a fantastic year for music, and it’s been tricky to narrow this down to ten, so I didn’t)

    In no particular order:


    Again in no particular order:

    • The Force Awakens
    • Ex Machina
    • Whiplash
    • Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
    • Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
    • The Martian
    • Sicario
    • Inside Out
    • Mad Max: Fury Road
    • Superbob
  • Albums of 2013

    In no particular order, my albums of 2013.

  • Music was my refuge

    Music was my refuge (151/365)

    Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.

    Maya Angelou


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