I’m Deranged

It has got under my skin (again)

I am thinking of trying to do a version myself and am posting the attempts here of a few others who have already tried (for reference) it so I can avoid mistakes or emulate successes



Imaginary CD: RPM Challenge 2015

Here is the track list for my 2015 RPM Challenge

The album is called ‘Imaginary CD’

What you see below may or may not be true

1. Looking For Comets


She told me that we could go out looking for comets, but when we did, all we saw was a fuzzy green smudge

Steinway ‘Model D’ Grand piano recorded at the San Carlos hotel in Phoenix, Arizona – played by Sylvia Frost

Synthesizers and comet ambiance – particledots

Initial recording at the San Carlos Hotel, Phoenix AZ on February 1st.

Overdubs and further recording, final mix at particledots studio, February 19th-22nd

2. Katherine’s Kristmas Tree

Photo Feb 22, 7 07 56 PM

She said she could put all of tuxedomoon on a 32 gb flash drive – so I got one shaped like a christmas tree

Elka synthex, Roland Jupiter 6, digital audio manipulation and a still empty 32gb USB flash drive – particledots

Recorded and Mixed at particledots studio, Phoenix AZ February 2nd

3. The Queen of Jupiter


She has no face, she can be who she wants to be. She inspires and impresses me – I gave her a voice

Star sounds and twinkle elements – particledots
Drummer parameters in Logic X – MUNGO

Recorded and  on February 3rd at particledots studio, Phoenix AZ

Final mix February 19th-22nd

4. The Notes of Sorrow


The notes are written down and I can hear the sadness as I read them

Crumar Spirit – recorded in Bristol UK by LightspeedFutureLullaby
Moog Theremin – Katherine Layden
Korg mini pops drum machine and twang guitar – Brent Miles
prophet 5 synthesizer, EMS VCS1 (for guitar treatments) – particledots

Recorded and  on February 9th  at particledots studio, Phoenix AZ

Mixed at particledots studio, Phoenix AZ February 19th-22nd

5. Love


We need to see and hear more of it, it’s important

Mysterious piano and lost and found love message – O.T.  (I still don’t know who s/he is.)

Recorded by particledots at Hansa Tonstudio, Berlin on February 14 2014

Final mix at particledots studio, Phoenix AZ February 19th-22nd

6. Ballet of the Planets


Sometimes all we need to do is look up to see the dance

Phoenix Subterranean Choir – Erica Weems, Dorian Michelle Vrenden, Winston Smith, particledots, Mona Nigholson and Shawna Franks – singing with our heads held high
Baldwin electric piano, Crumar Orchestrator, Mellotron – particledots

Choir recorded at the Ice House, Phoenix AZ – February 13th

Mixed at particledots studio, Phoenix AZ February 19th-22nd

7. Environment 2


Its where we visit

Yamaha DX7, treatments, oblique strategies – Brian Eno
wind chimes – particledots
home made propane tank hang drum – Neil Gearns

Recorded by particledots at Hansa Tonstudio, Berlin on February 15 2014

Mixed at particledots studio, Phoenix AZ February 19th-22nd

8. Environment 1


Is where we live

Yamaha DX7, natural soundscape modifiers and filters – Brian Eno
tape loops and yamaha CS 1 and wem copycat echo – Keith Rogers

Initial recording at Hansa Tonstudio, Berlin on February 15 2014

Mixed at particledots studio, Phoenix AZ February 19th-22nd

9. Armadillo


Bob Dorsey was having some problems with his giant Armadillo. Trent Reznor got to hear about it and decided to donate an unused backing track for inspiration and motivation

Initial music idea – Bob Dorsey.
Trent Reznor – drums, bass, keyboards, loops
Bianca explaining what she does

Initial recording at Hansa Tonstudio, Berlin on february 15 2014

Mixed at particledots studio, Phoenix AZ February 19th-22nd

10. Six Foot Seven


They told me that they are both in the ‘6foottallplus club’. i told them that i would try not to tower over them at 6’7’’.
I lied….

Casio Keyboard – Julian Marquesen – recorded in Los Angeles, California – early February
Guest appearances from APOD (particledots, Michael 2, kevin ‘bud’ jones – and special APOD guests Eric Van Ausdal and Bob Dorsey and Marc Goemans) – creating that motorik vibe

Mixed at particledots studio, Phoenix AZ – February 19th-22nd

10. Exactly the same


If its not exactly the same, its very similar …or maybe its just different

Casio Keyboard – Julian Marquesen – recorded in Los Angeles, California, Toy box wind up noises – Henry Dupuis

Mixed at particledots studio, Phoenix AZ February 19th-22nd

Sylvia Frost – Piano
Erica Weems – Vocals
Dorian Michelle Vreeden – Vocals
Dave Griffiths – Synths
MUNGO – drum parameters
Katherine Laydon – theremin
Keith Rogers – Synths and tape loops
Bob Dorsey – synthesizers and armadillo
Brian Eno – Synthesizers
Trent Reznor – loops, keyboards and bass
Neil Gearns – propane hang drum
Henry Dupuis – toy box
Brent Miles – guitar
Kevin Bud Jones – Electronics
Michael Marquesen -various digital effects and manipulations
Eric Van Ausdal – keyboards
Marc Goemans – undefinable electronic strangeness

Overseeing all activities at all times, everywhere – the thin(k) blank human

Recorded at various locations in Berlin, West Germany, Phoenix Arizona, Bristol and Coseley UK

Songs compiled and arranged on Logic 9, and Logic X

Produced by particledots

Night of the Long Drone

I recently created a slowly evolving drone track that is 8 hrs long

I was inspired by a performance called ‘Otoacoustic Emissions‘ which was hosted by Jacob Adler at St Augustine’s Episcopal Parish on Halloween night.  In preparation for the event, the following instructions were given “Memorize the harmonic series: C-G-E-Bb-D-F#-G#-B.

The performance consisted of an continuous drone that was almost imperceptibly quiet to begin with but increased in volume as the performers layered more and more notes on top of each other until at one point it felt like the walls of the church were shaking.

Then it slowly faded out…except for the original drone.

The whole thing lasted for almost 90 minutes.

Rewinding to a couple of days prior to the Otoacoustic Emissions performance, I attempted to construct my own piece using the information about the harmonic sequence. However, I misinterpreted the instructions and actually created a piece which was just under 5 minutes long where the notes played in sequential order. After seeing the performance I revisited this piece and decided to time stretch it.

I ended up with a piece of music that was 8 hours long – an eerie sounding, continually evolving drone

I had the idea of taking the first 2.5 hours of the track, chopping it up into 20 minute segments and offering each piece to a musician to improvise over with the intention of recompiling the the whole thing back together along with the new additions

I outlined some basic parameters and instructions for potential participants

1) There are 8 x20 minute drone pieces – pick a number from 1 to 8 and I will send you a drone track to improvise over and record to

2) Each musician will work in isolation from each other…we will only know what the ‘whole’ sounds like when I recompile all of the pieces.

3) Work quickly – do whatever you like, vocals/spoken word, percussion, guitar, any combination of any instruments or sounds, create your own additional drones over the top of my drone – but don’t spend too long on it and get it back to me as quickly as you can

4) I will need 2 tracks back from you – a ‘mix’ with your playing along to the drone, and a stereo mix of your accompaniment without the drone

Eventually I had 8 volunteers who were willing to play with this idea

This is what they came up with

Drone 1: Victor Eijkhout:

I played Kueng bass and (briefly) tenor recorders.  After listening to the drone I saw that it had shifting tonal centers, so I decided to just improvise against it, using the drone note as both something to consonate with and to dissonate against.  The first 2/3 of my track are fairly melodic; in the end I went on a more microtonal bend, using slides and variations in breath pressure to explore the inside of intervals. The only effect is a little reverb.

Drone 2: Ed Hannifin

Note from me:  Ed’s track is rather brilliant and deserves to be a piece in its own right but in the context of this piece I felt we needed a bit more space to let the drone breath.

So, I asked Ed to send me the Logic file to allow me to tinker, and tinker I did.  I extracted the DNA of Ed’s original piece and kept many of the elements but used them in a radically altered way, processing with logic audio’s flex time.

All of the playing is Ed Hannifin.

All of the ‘jiggery-pokery’ is me.

Drone 3: Michael Marquesen

I used samples from the NASA sound cloud page that were chopped up and run through a bit crusher and Logics tape delay.
Kontakt piano with Valhalla Shimmer reverb on a send
Synth Magic 8 OBLIQUE S synth

Drone 4: Andy Wigze

I used a Cannonball Tenor Sax on this.

A few years ago Harold Luper had invited me to a friend’s ranch near Glen Rose, Texas. The next morning he was leaning against a fence near his truck plunking out a song on a really beat up parlor guitar. His is the voice you hear.

Harold never knew that I recorded him that day.

The eerie varying pitch sound is wind blowing through a glass atrium door. At work, I am around a lot of large crowds and open mics, so I record a bit of that whenever it sounds interesting. Also, there are grandson sounds and the singing at the end is a gentleman that has been playing music for 60 years, Pastor Groff.

Drone 5: Kevin Bud Jones

I played “The Rig” in a straight through one take recording after listening to the drone once.
It consists of an Arturia Microbrute synth that I run through a series of guitar pedals – Mooer pitch shifter, T.C. Electronics Flashback delay, Behringer Super Fuzz, Boss CE2 chorus, Moogerfooger ring mod and Electroharmonics Holy Grail Nano reverb.

Then I also used an Akai MPX8 Sample Trigger through an Alesis AirFX then a Boss D6 delay to a Ditto Looper. My iPad Mini was running iDensity granular app through a Boss DM2 delay into a Digitech Jam Man looper. The three “instruments” are run through a Mackie 4 channel mixer with the output into a Boomerang Phrase Sampler – then out to record.

Drone 6: Brent Miles

Fender Stratocaster with an E-Bow on the A string, which was capoed on the first fret because I wanted the drone in Bb. The guitar was hooked to a chain of pedals: Behringer Reverb Machine -> Boss OC-3 -> Boss RC-20 Loop Station -> Line 6 Echo Park -> Line 6 Pocket POD Express. Then it went into a Zoom H2N digital recorder, which I used to record the whole 20-minute drone live, in its entirety, to a stereo wav file.

Drone 7: Matthew Mosher

I used an Akai LPD8 for knobs and Max/MSP. It’s a double sine wave one octave apart run through a dual harmonic frequency modulation patch. I think I started in D and shifted to G 1/3 of the way in. It’s very low frequency. I’d just gotten back from otoacoustic emissions so I did a similar slow fade in to overwhelming roar with a quick fade out over the 20min.

Drone 8: Bill Grundmann

I used all Garage Band synths,

In the order they first appear…

Voice Generator: Classical Ensemble. long attack and release, no effects. pencil tooled.
Radio Sounds. Spectral Blurring 88.8%. and compressor on one of them. pencil tooled.
Tuned Percussion: African Kalimba. 3 tracks, tape echo. pencil tooled.
Analog Mono. AUMatrixReverb. 2 tracks with slightly different Glide rates. improvised on keyboard.
Woodwind: Indian Shehnai Oboe. AUMatrixReverb. 2 copies, one slightly delayed. improvised on keyboard. manual pitch bend.
Church Organ. AUMatrixReverb plus Master Reverb. very low gain. as a subliminal drone. pencil tooled.

This evening, I reassembled all the components

I realize that this is a piece of music that no one will ever listen to from start to finish, but here in all of its glory is the 3:15 version of our experiment with a long drone.

Don’t Drone Alone

Feel free to tune in and tune out of the piece at any point but if you can at least make an attempt to listen to it all in one go when you have 3.5 hours to spare

I am considering trying to organize a one off ‘listening event’ somewhere locally, a small venue or the top of South Mountain or a remote desert location where the piece will begin to play in the daylight hours and finish just over 3hrs later when it is dark

RPM 2013. Thoughts from the mid-point

Yesterday i sequenced some of the tracks I have made with Haley’s voice and violin together in a dummy run for what might become the finished CD

I have been saving all the works in progress to a dropbox folder that i titled ‘Inside Haley’s Head’  Without an alternative title for the CD at this point I have suggested to Haley that this is what we might call it.  Not sure if she will agree

Out of all the tracks i have constructed, i selected 12.  This may not be the final 12 and there may end up being more or less tracks than this.  I decided earlier this week that i wont spend too much time fretting about mixing and producing this material, mainly because a heavy load at work is making me mentally exhausted most nights and the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer analyzing stuff (like mixes) when i get back home.  

That being said, i am pleasantly surprised with the coherence of the project as a whole when i listen to it in this format.  I am glad that i decided to incorporate and build many of the pieces around Haley’s violin playing which i recorded on feb 1st.  Of course, her story telling about the experiences of epilepsy and brain surgery are key to the glue and the consistency of the piece as well and listen to as whole the CD has a very haunting quality.


Some of the tracks veer from atonal drone like soundscapes, to stuff that Tuxedomoon may have made back in the early 80s, to penguin cafe orchestra-like vignettes and there is even one piece that is somewhat reminiscent of a fragment from the smile (or maybe smiley smile) sessions.

I should also add that I have been listening to the progress of a couple of other RPMers..kevin Bud Jones and Bill Flynn, both of whom i have collaborated with in varying degrees in the past.  Bill has kindly shared a couple of his Logic Audio files with me as he has been working.  I was also very interested by one of his ‘work in progress’ pieces which is just played on electric piano.  I suggested that he reverse the whole thing and play the file at half speed.  He did this on my suggestion and sent me the file saying he didnt like the result very much.  I did!! So i took his file, cut it into tiny pieces and reassembled it at random and then built a whole new piece around it.  This is now called ‘The Brain Remembers How to have Seizures’ on our CD and it is one of my favorites.  Kevin has been encouraging people to collaborate with him on a ‘duet’ project.  He is only allowed to use his pro-one analog synth and his collaborator can only use one instrument or their voice themselves.  I have adapted the piece i did with Kevin and have used it on our CD also…so many thanks to both of you.

My next steps are to think about some additional audio clips from Haley’s ‘interviews’ on some of the pieces.  I will also probably to do some rudimentary tidying up of the mixes/arrangements tomorrow, as well as think of titles for some of the untitled pieces.  I will not deviate from the ‘kindergarten’ approach to production and mixing i have adopted for this project.  I also need to be thinking of some liner notes and cover art.  I might make some photos with Haley if she is available but i might also just use some random pictures from my rapidly growing collection of photo experiments of my own

I wish I wasnt feeling so exhausted most days from my real job, this might sound and feel very different if that aspect of my life was different at the moment

Lets see what the next week brings…

RPM Challenge 2013 (Woman in the red dress with a violin)

For RPM 2013 I came up with the strange notion of doing something with a young lady I met during some of my activities in the downtown phoenix art scene. Through the miracle of social media, it became known to me that she has epilepsy, has had brain surgery and that she plays the violin

I made an initial approach to Haley at the end of January with the proposition – how would you like to get involved with an extremely intense creative process during the whole month of feb that is ‘something’ to do with how epilipsy has shaped your perceptions and creativity

She seemed very keen to do it from the get go and so I set about figuring out a modus operandi but truly had no real game plan as I drove to her house to begin initial recording at 5pm on Feb 1st

I arrived armed only with a zoom H2…my basic idea was to record her reflections and thoughts about epilepsy and then create some kind of soundscape around it, possibly even some song sketches…In some way it seemed like it would be pretty easy/painless procedure however, Haley indicated she actually wanted to play and be involved with the music to some degree

This was not as easy as one might imagine. When starting with a completely blank canvas and working with someone creatively for the very first time, not to mention using equipment I am not as familiar with as I thought (the Zoom H2) has made it difficult for me. I ended up with loads of recordings of violin improvisations, all basically around the note of G. And lots of discussion/reflections on epilepsy and the way it effects Haley on a day to day basis

Some of this stuff is good and very usable – specially when i start manipulating the recordings…some wasn’t

So now i find myself in the position of trying to incorporate Haley’s violin into almost every track I decided that this would be my challenge and to some extent, my limiting parameter which would help shape the sound

So far what I have produced has got a very lo-fi indie film soundtrack-like quality to it which to my ears is very reminiscent of tuxedo moon and/or the residents. Haley’s violin has been manipulated beyond recognition on some pieces, sounding more like baritone sax, cello or bagpipes. I have also augmented some of Haley’s playing (which has been judiciously spliced and rearranged already) with some synth tones using mainly Omnisphere and Absynth synthesizers

As per usual with the initial RPM challenge burst of activity, it is a case of throwing as much as possible at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Its becoming clear to me as things progress that this will become a kind of sound track to a non existent film – Haley has conveyed some compelling stories which will be the thematic links for all of the pieces

Initial drafts can be heard on sound cloud


On a side note…I have contributed a couple of tracks to Kevin Jones which he may use in his ‘duets’ project. I also tried playing along with a mungo track called bad connection the other night too….that was a tricky time signature and i think i basically created a pile of crap over his track