To DD, or SPD? That was the question

I’m still working on my novel…But I’m not in the mood to talk more about that yet. Needless to say though I’m climbing on and I’m seeing more of the peak.

This post is to say that I’ve finally (stress) begun working on a music demo. Technically I should’ve started late May but I have a wonderfully boring story about order delays for equipment and then wrestling with familiarity.
Today though I feel (or maybe yesterday to be precise) is the day that songs brewing since sometime in 2007 are finally hitting the canvas.

I’ve begun laying down a drum track using a Roland SPD-20, which to those in the know is deemed as V-Drums in a box (i.e. a compact electronic kit of high calibre) .
I’ve found step recording by MIDI helpful in maintaining a human feel yet allowing me to edit my performance in a less painful way than pure audio. Plus given the odd trigger issues with electronic kits (or, read as an excuse for not hitting properly), this is the sane way to record with these units.

Until last year I had a long-serving acoustic drum kit, but I sold it.
I don’t own a car for travelling to be easy, it was hard to record without buying an expensive mic set and frankly it was consuming too much space and annoyed my old neighbours even when purchasing muffle pads.
In 2004 I purchased a cheap Yamaha DD-55 electronic drum set which due to it’s size I was able to take to a friend’s house and play thrash metal covers. Eventually we thought about writing songs, just for fun. I had been in bands with this person before in my teens but they never flew; in fact I semi-retired in 2001 in my early twenties.
The DD-55 isn’t a patch on my SPD-20 (in fact there’s a large price difference alone, including all accessories) but it sounds good enough and is responsive enough for indoor play, so I essentially thank that for pursuing any form of music. I had dabbled with software drum machines (ReBirth, and Orion) and still do, but I still like playing live most.

Earlier this year we accumulated 11 songs (writing very slowly), so I thought, okay, this is getting a bit proper, I’ll buy something a little more advanced to record with and here I am – nailing track 1 of a 4/5 track demo. We have a band name, have a demo name and of course song titles. But I feel very self-conscious about saying anything more until we have some product to give, I’m very aware this could all go wrong and this all becomes just talk.
Essentially we’re taking this one step at a time. I’m not looking for a label ( is anyone now?) and haven’t even thought about playing live; we’ll consider those questions as they unfold. For now I just want to record what we made, and if it flies that’s good. But first and foremost this is for ourselves – and I think that’s healthy. I’m not at the age (though not that old) to really care much about rock star aspirations or whatever.  Also, a current book I’m reading is hammering home the fact that happiness is found more easily in what you already have and what’s more realistically attainable given your situation.

Now I’m losing sight of what I’m trying to say…But yes, there is something brewing. Not much ingredients in the pan yet, but the gas is on. Watch this space. We may share some stuff as it’s being cooked.

Terminator Salvation, opinion

I’m back…So is The Terminator, somewhat.

I headed to the local cinema early this evening (I’d never been to the Electric down ‘bello in all my years of living so far) with my biggie me – that is, my father – and checked out number four in the Terminator series which was released in the UK two days ago.

I hold quite an affection for the Terminator series, I literally grew up with it.
I saw the first film on VHS before I’d reached double digits, one of the first few 18 cert (now reclassified 15) films I’d caught in my childhood (thanks again, Dad), fell in love with it and saw the second on VHS as I was still young to see it at the cinema on release.

Fast forward ten years (or rewind about six years back) and Terminator 3 came in to resurrect the genre. Sequels are usually very bad (T2 wasn’t), but a third instalment let alone further ones seem like Hollywood necrophilia.

When I first saw T3 I was appalled as it was big on stunts, thin on story (yet another Terminator sent back in time – how unsure was Skynet of it’s assassins?) and basically a panto re-run for one beefy future American governor. It did however do a not bad job of re-opening the closed wound of T2 and providing a dark ending to allow further films.

But the progressive loss of original writer/producer James Cameron, original heroine Sarah Connor and finally the big Governator himself didn’t bode well. It seemed like Queen feat. Paul Rogers and that ended like a wet fart.

But I will say that Terminator Salvation isn’t that bad. I can honestly say it’s not a patch on the first two bonafide classics, but it’s better than T3 as it’s not another ‘killer-and-hero-go-back-in-time-in-order-to-kill-or-save-future-hero’. With T4 the war is on, this is it. And Edward Furlong of T2 has grown into Christian Bale.

Where T4 is bad is that it is quite thin on plot. It’s there but it’s undoubtedly padded by stunts and eye candy, while the first Terminator had very little and was electrifying. I thought the character of Marcus Wright was a nice new twist to progress the story and compensate for Arnie, but couldn’t help thinking, as Bale once hinted, that Sam Worthington (Marcus) and Bale should’ve swapped their given roles. Also given the more interesting conflict for Marcus, I’m surprised Worthington’s face wasn’t featured more prominently in advertising for it.

Undoubtedly there will be a T5, but I think that should be the end of it. Mugs like me go because they’re interested out of respect for the first two, and some of that is satisfied in a cliché way (I.e. “I’ll be back.” is used, as is a likeness of Arnie in a cameo and a few other things for Terminator fans to spot).

The star of the show is young Kyle Reese (Anton Yelcin). To me he looks nothing like Michael Biehn but he marvellously captures the mannerisms of the original character and you are sold that this is Reese as a teen, and it’s satisfyingly perverse when Connor meets his much younger father.

Other losses though is the complete loss of humour from the first three and perhaps a strong female character (first two films and somewhat in the third). The one strong female is merely a cutout.
Helena Bonham Carter has an interesting token role in the film though.

It’s a ‘fun’ brainless film and being a nut I will likely buy the DVD, but I don’t think T3, T4, or indeed a T5 will be up there with the originals. This is just about money now, but it could’ve been much worse.