Fuzzy Systems are go!!

Fuzzy Systems are go!!

“Fuzzy Systems” is a new experimental music project featuring contributions from a diverse range of multimedia artists and musicians including Joshue O Connor, Roger Lenoir and Fiona Guiheen.

Three of the artists that make up Fuzzy Systems live in Ireland and Roger is based in Holland. Watch this space for more news on the project and information on future releases.

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Love me, Love my Ipod

I got an Ipod for my birthday. My beautiful lady wife was very kind, and though I had an inkling that she may get me one (due to her inquiring from me in a very discreet fashion, as to exactly what was an MP3 thing)

I was still genuinely surprised and delighted when I received it over dinner. I had been putting off buying one myself for a long time. Though I do keep an eye on new developments and I have a particular interest in audio, I have a tendency to wait for a couple of generations of a new product/device/software to develop before I take the plunge. This is in the hope that teething problems will be ironed out by the time I acquire one. I had some bad experiences with audio equipment when I bought an interface for my recording studio.

I started with the Swiss Sonic which was unbelievable cheap, SUB 1, interface. Didn’t work at all for me. Then I bought the latest firewire interface, as these devices were just starting to appear. I would have loved the MOTU but didn’t really need multiple channels of audio so I got the M-Audio Firewire 410.

I was using 0S9 as that is the platform that I rum Digital Performer and my Kontakt Sampler on. the drivers M Audio produced were just terrible. OS X at the time was not as solid a build as it is now and I was of a mind to stick with OS 9, as I had all the functionality I needed. So I thought I had a future proof set up.

Not so. I had to return the interface as the drivers were so bad and bought the M-Audio Audiophile. Which I like and I use the delta version of Abelton Live that came with it. I can then export individual track to OS9 and run them through my lovely PSP plug-ins and mix final tracks. Its a bit inelegant but it works.

I can now upload my mixes to my nano and check my tunes out on the go. The nano is a very beautiful piece of kit and if you do get one get a a case. It is delicate and needs to be treated well. I hope to get years of mileage out of it and though I wont get much of my collection onto its 4Gig drive. Its enough me. I also don’t like MP3’s at all, so the AAC format, tweaked to import at a slightly higher bit-rate (160 seems fine) gets good results. Though I have noticed some distortion on quieter tracks with solo passages.

Self Help vs Spirituality

I heard a radio show today which was discussing the trend towards new religions and belief systems. Ireland has been a Catholic country for many years but unfortunately our theological worldview has been anything but “Catholic”. We have traditionally been very intolerant of other faiths and we don’t even have to stretch that far to see that even those of the same faith (Judeo-Christian) but on a different branch (ie. Protestant) do not get on like a house on fire (well we do, but each side would like to see the opposing side in that house).

Was this as a result of the Church and it’s divine monopoly (and I don’t mean angels playing board games)?

Now that this power base is fading in Ireland and people realize that they can think for themselves (yea!!) they are bolting from the gates of the Catholic Church. But into the arms of what?

I personally think the Roman Catholic church was less interested in the souls of its flock and more interested in what is in their wallets. This is seen to be true, as historically, the wealthy would buy their place in heaven through “favors” (lots of cash) and continue to behave in an appalling and decadent fashion, safe in the knowledge that’s it OK to do what you want as it’s been squared with the man upstairs.

This also ties in with the ideology of forgiveness. This is the do-what-you-like, for as long as you say you are sorry, it’s cool. But is it really? Can God not see through this charade? By definition being all knowing and all powerful, I doubt that it is beyond his ability to detect a few scams going on in his name. And I wouldn’t say he’s cool with it either.

Most other non-western religions operate on different lines. In the East you find more the “as-you-sow-so-shall-you-reap” philosophy. It’s called Karma, and you can’t cheat it. So take responsibility for yourself.

This process is said to happen over an eternity of going up and down, and some souls endevour to be released from this wheel altogether. The idea being we learn along the way, so it’s not just blind retribution.

Its kinda funny using a western image to understand an eastern theological point but then maybe truth is universal after all? In the west people don’t really believe that (or pay lip service to it). They may say “as-you-sow-so-shall-you-reap” but as long as I say I’m sorry (or give tons of cash to Rome) I’m cool. Oh, and the difference is that all of this is to happen in one life.. if you go the fluffy end of the lolly pop and mess up, you are doomed, along with the heathen pagans. While the lucky few are to get a rapturous welcome in heaven where they can nip round for a quick Big Mac as soon as they get there.

Yeah right.

Ok,so where does the self help book fit into all of this? Is it a new quasi religion in itself? This is the religion of me, me, me.It’s probably disingenuous to call it a religion in the first place and if this kind of thing works for you then fine, but if religion is about service to the divine then the self help book is only a device to help you help yourself.

In the Bhagavad Gita is states that the four principles of religion are Austerity, Cleanliness, Truthfulness and Compassion. If you find these at the core of your religious belief system then maybe you won’t go far wrong, and yes, this compassion extends to animals.

Jesus did say “Thou Shalt not kill” and I don’t think he would fancy Big Mac’s being sold outside the pearly gates.

So where does that leave us? Can people discrimate between what is real and what is not? Can they tell a rope from a snake? Do they see spirituality as only a balm for a headache?

There is certainly an inner revolution going on and in any journey into the unknown, I would suggest guidance is needed. There are a lot of snake oil merchants who will tell you what you want to hear and line their pockets in the meantime. The more incomprehensible the snake oil the better.

Anyway, so not to end on a downer, I feel this exploration is a good thing. There are things that are difficult to understand and bigger than us. That’s not to say that I don’t think we should try but I feel we should get some basic core stuff sorted out.

And we have a lot to work out.

Let’s be excellent to each other and more tolerant, let’s wonder at our human diversity and then we may begin have some appreciation of the divine.

Sufficient Technology

When is enough enough?

We surely live in an age of more, more, more. Contrast this trend with most of the population of this world living with less, less, less. On a planet of limited resources this begs the question. Have we had enough?

Regarding technology – when something works, and works well, does it need to be improved? What is the difference between an improvement and a blatant attempt to resell you the same thing in a different packaging (step up Micro$oft)?

I believe in sufficient technology. If a technology product (software, hardware) works, then fine. If it needs to be improved in order to better facilitate the user, then fine. I don’t like being forced to buy “upgrades” or “improvements” when they are unnecessary. Its worse when they are blatantly profit driven.

All of this is all the more relevant when (especially with hardware) plastics are being produced from petrochemicals which is of course a non-renewable and finite resource. Its different with software and data. When developers push around a few pixels and rearrange binary code – they are not creating scarcity by this action. There is no dearth of binary in the digital world.

If only the same could be said of oil?

Technology & Music

There are things that I love about rapid advances made in technology. For example, I have more audio equipment and digital editing possibilities at my fingertips than the Beatles had! (Though they had better microphones, and lets face it they also had George Harrison, who is my favourite of the Mop Tops) The possibilities that exist and the democritisation of music has blown the whole thing wide open. I run my own record label Technica Curiosa records.
Everyone is a musician now, even non musicians, in fact we seem to live in an age now of “non-music”. We have noise artists, Abelton Live Jockeys who cannot play a note but can produce loop basedd tunes very easily ( I use it myself but feel kinda like I’m allowed as I have been picking guitar for nearly 20 years) others make tunes via the “lego method” (which is rearranging audio chunks around a sequencer page like lego blocks”) and all of this can be very quickly and easily be uploaded and shared with the world. This then begs the question – Where are the audience? If everyone is a potential musician is the audience disappearing?

There is so much music out there I don’t have the time or the patience to sift through all of this mucis and decide what is good or bad, in fact my ability to discriminate is being compromised by the sheer volume of choice!! Unless I grow extra ears then so much will go undiscovered. This is where good on line music magazines like the Milk Factory come into their own as they provide a great window into anything decent thats happening. This is of course highly subjective and not everyone likes the WIRE though its one of the highest quaility music magazines in the world.
I heard an old interview with Jacqueline Dupre last night. She was a fantastic cellist and a passionate musician. A colleague of hers said that when she was sick (she developed Multiple Sclerosis) and she would play she would make many mistakes but the depth of feeling and the intensity that she gave to her music made these mistakes more beautiful, they enhanced the music. he said that a technically excellent professional musician who made the same mistakes would hurt your ears, but from her it coloured the whole performance.
So maybe it is the intent behind music that is important. I often feel, what do I want to say with my music?? If I have nothing to say then I figure I’ll be quiet. Often these days others are clamouring for our attention and when you give it, there is nothing there.