Ziran: Passage to Nature VR Experience

I wrote the music for this VR experience for Oculus Rift. Hopefully the first of many VR projects.

Written by moshang in: News,Video |

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Written by moshang in: News |

Suncake Lounge Vol. 2 – Multiply Me

Suncake Lounge  Vol. 2 - album coverMy new album with guitarist Chris Bailey “Suncake Lounge Vol. 2 – Multiply Me” is finally out and available from good e-music retailers everywhere. Along with the current usual suspects, iTunes and Spotify (to mention a few), it’s also available from CD Baby.

I’ll let Chris pick up the story about the making of the album:

MoShang & Bailey, “Suncake Lounge Vol.2” has been a long time in the making. The way this album came about was, MoShang sent me a bunch of rough mixes that he’d created – some as far back as 2005 – containing various grooves and undeveloped song ideas. I listened to all of the mixes I was sent and carefully selected the grooves that I liked best and felt we could cultivate. After expressing to MoShang which tracks I wanted to start working on, the next step was to get together and jam out on these grooves and see what sparks of musical magic we could conjure. Thankfully, I’d worked on various projects in the past with MoShang and was really looking forward to hanging out and creating music with the guy. 

So to get things started, pretty much every Sunday afternoon, I’d load up my scooter with my guitar and heavily burdened backpack and then zip on over to MoShang’s apartment which is about a forty-five minute ride from where my girlfriend, beagle and I live in Taichung City. At this time, I was still drinking heavily and therefore was sure to stop in at a liquor store on the way and stock up on a good healthy six-pack of beers to get me through the afternoon. On arriving at MoShang’s and promptly cracking open a brewsky, we’d usually first sit out on the balcony and have a listen to the grooves we were going to work on while I soaked back some tinnies and punched back a stack of durries. After this, we’d head on in to MoShang’s quaint little studio and jam along to the chosen grooves that MoShang had created. 

I think that it’s important to mention that as musicians we’re both coming from completely different backgrounds. MoShang is coming from a more electronic, samples and studio driven musical milieu, whereas, I honed my craft playing blues in smoke filled rough and rowdy Australian pubs and while touring the blues festival circuit in Oz in my early to mid-twenties. So in many ways, our styles couldn’t be further apart. Yet interestingly, it works! For the first few sessions, we’d trade solos and do some call and response style solos and just let things happen naturally. If I played something that MoShang liked he’d usually stop and praise what I’d played and then loop it and explore it for a while. In this sense it was becoming a fun and rewarding experience. MoShang has a way of making you feel relaxed and chill about playing music. He also has a way of making you feel good about what you’re doing by complimenting and praising your work. This is really important, as it builds confidence and enables you to play without inhibitions or hesitations. In a sense you’re able to play fluidly without the hiccups and hurdles that negative vibes can sometimes create. When appreciating that the solos are one hundred percent improvised, I think it’s safe to say that good energy is an important constituent when striving to create a good sounding solo.

So, for about three months of solid Sunday sessions we were able to make a fair deal of progress and then, MoShang’s and his wife’s first child was born. His name is Louis and I’m certain that he’s going to be the greatest guitar player in the world some day! Therefore as you can imagine, we took a break from recording while MoShang and his wife adjusted to their new roles as parents. Which I might add, they did exceptionally well. MoShang and I always entertained the idea of getting in a drummer and a vocalist for a recording session. And in February 2012, we went into a little basement studio to record drummer Dave Ramey as he laid down drum grooves on top of all of our tracks. This session went very smoothly and MoShang returned to his studio and blended Dave’s drumming into the mixes. As a result, our music was beginning to sound more organic.

At this point, the overall structure of our music was complete, and for my part, it was just a matter of adding more rhythm guitar and solos to the tracks. One thing that is so great about working with MoShang is that he’s a very hard working musician/music producer. Therefore, he was constantly sending me the new mixes as he tweaked and updated them in his studio. This made my task very easy. Basically, I’d just first listen to the music numerous times, and then kick back with the music coming through my headphones and play along on guitar. When I was happy with certain guitar parts I’d played, I’d pause the music and makes some notes in my notebook. And importantly – so as not to forget what I’d played – I’d then record the guitar idea on my mobile phone. It wasn’t until June, 2012 that we resumed our Sunday recording sessions with the intentions of getting this puppy done. Only now, we were recording and completing the finishing touches of our album at a band rehearsal space downtown. I decided that I just didn’t like the tone of transistor guitar amplifiers run at low volume levels, and that it was imperative that I play through a nice valve amplifier cranked really loud. Thankfully MoShang went along with this little caprice of mine and agreed to embark on the home stretch of our recording project at this change of venue. In agreeing to do this, MoShang also lugged bags of recording equipment downtown and we set-up shop – so to speak – in a sound proofed underground basement. He’s a really good guy to go along with this idea of mine! The sessions in the basement were tons of fun. And we spent time experimenting with feedback, harmonics and different effects pedals, etc. We also, used this time figure out new sections to certain songs we weren’t completely happy with and also just jam over tracks and see what we naturally came up with.

It would have been around this time that I decided to quit drinking and smoking and made a big decision to turn my life around and start taking better care of myself and the ones I love. So after much soul-searching, MoShang & Bailey, Suncake Lounge Vol.2 was approaching the finishing line. In December 2012, Sonja V. was cool enough to catch the HSR down from Taipei especially to record some vocals on two tracks. She wrote some really good lyrics and came up with a seriously sweet vocal melody to two of our tracks. She certainly made a positive musical contribution to the album. And it was really cool to meet her, make music and hang-out.

MoShang & Bailey, Suncake Lounge Vol. 2 is more than music. It’s a celebration of life and an embracing of our ever-changing existence. It takes your mind, spirit and soul on a journey into the ether where there are no boundaries and anything is possible.

Chris Bailey, Taichung, May 2013

If that’s piqued your interest (and admit it, you’re curious) here’s a taster in the form of  a track called “Air I Breathe”.

Love from Taiwan!


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Groovesizer: coming soon…

I’ve been beavering away on this project for the last week or two. I’ve taken the open source Auduino synthesizer for the Arduino development platform, and have hacked on a 16-step sequencer. I’m very pleased with the way it’s shaping up!
I’ll post a video soon, but here are the details for now. I’ve added 8 LEDs and 5 buttons to the original design. The first 4 pots are tone controls, but when the buttons are pressed they also allow you to dial in the pitch for each of the 16 steps. The fifth pot and button have control functions. You can choose the sequence lenghth from 1 to 16 steps, control the tempo, swing and note length. I’m adding features as I think of them, but already it’s a sweet instrument to play. I like the fact that there’s no display and that you’re forced to rely on your ears.

I have some ATMEGA 328 chips on order from Hong Kong and the next step will be to replace the Arduino with a Hackduino and to move it along with the rest of the components off the breadboard and into the enclosure. I definitely want to add midi-out before I’m done, but when I’m far enough along I’ll post the Arduino source code and a schematic.

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Building a Shruthi-1, 4-Pole Mission

I’m enjoying the little Shruthi-1 synth so much, that I’ve decided to build a second unit. The new one has the 4-Pole Mission filter board and I’m looking forward to hearing how it differs from my current Shruthi-1. This time I opted to buy just the pcb’s (sexy in white!) and to source the components myself online – actually I had quite a bit of help, since I could grab the BOMs here. I’m just about finished with the build, but I’m waiting for this (PDF) to arrive so that I can program the chip. Fun times, if you’re into this kind of geekery. If you want a Shruthi-1, but don’t want to build one yourself, drop me a line – I’m sure we can work something out ;^) I’ll do a demo with the 4PM Shruthi-1 once I have it up and running. In the meantime, here are some pics from the build…

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