Monday, March 31, 2008

Religious Knives

After liking their release on Archive, I ordered up two more CDs from Religious Knives, both on No Fun Productions. Each album compiles tracks released on limited CD-Rs, splits, tapes and records along with a few unreleased tracks. Both CDs come in thick cardboard mini gatefold sleeves. I've read that their material has changed a bit since their earlier releases so I'm curious as to what they sound like on these albums.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

DIY Effects Pedal

I ordered the Big Muff Pi clone kit from General Guitar Gadgets after reading some great comments about it. The kit from GGG allows you build six different versions of the class BMP distortion pedal from Electro-Harmonix. I went with GGG Tuned Version and spent four hours soldier and assembling the pedal. Getting the larger enclosure upgrade was a smart decision and made routing easier. I took my time and it worked the first time I fired it up.

I sold my Double Muff pedal after not being thrilled with it so this pedal is going to fill that spot. Compared to the Double Muff, this version of the BMP is of a much higher quality and is very versatile in comparison. With bass it keeps more of the low end in the signal and can still get nasty some nasty tone.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the enclosure. It's still unpainted so perhaps I'll add a sticker to it as paint tends to chip off of molded aluminum. Probably not the best first kit for those who are new to soldiering together electronics, but I'd recommend it for someone who's looking to do an easy DIY project.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Three New Ones From Archive

Arriving yesterday were the latest three new releases from Archive CD.

After releasing the collaboration with Keiji Haino, Sitaar Tah! now have their own Archive release and it's a monster of a track. 40+ minutes of subtle variation with lots of textures from percussion and sitar orchestra. There's even some throat singing added to the mix.

Religious Knives is a name I've been seeing in my search for new music but I never did check them out. So when I heard Archive was doing a live release from them I decided to wait for it to be my introduction to them. Sounded good to me first listen so I'll have to track down more material by them. It's been awhile since I've listened to Double Leopards but I this seems to be a much different project for the duo.

Nadja have (I believe) put out their first live album that features a pair of lengthy tracks from two of their albums from last year. Since it was performed as a duo live, it has a bit more of a stripped-down feel to it.

For distro items I picked up the latest double album from Suishou No Fune and the first pressed CD (to my knowledge) from Silvester Anfang.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bardo Pond's Batholith

Three Lobed Recordings has unleashed a beast of a new album from Bardo Pond. The material itself is not new but a new batch of recordings that never properly got released. Coming in a beautiful gatefold sleeve on heavy duty 180gram vinyl and a pressed CD, it's another impressive package from TLR. Pre-ordering it also got me a bonus disc with a 13 minute exclusive track.

Since it's more dated material, the tracks on here are a bit shorter and more "song-based" which is a welcome after all the jamming they've done in all their side projects recently (not that I'm complaining). I need some more listens for this one to sink in but after a spin the album flows nice as a whole and there's a good variety. It's been a good month for Three Lobed with this and part 1 of the Oscillation III series.

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Gear

A couple of new effects pedals and a combo amp have been added to my collection. Although I was only going into Guitar Center to buy some strings I wanted to test out the Jim Kelley Amplifiers' Furr Pedal prototype on some of the amps there. On the rack of small combo amps, I saw something that I didn't know existed, a combo amp from Acoustic called the B20 (it's 2oW amp with a 12" speaker). Some of the forums I'm on have bassists raving about the old Acoustic Control Corp. amps from the lates 60s, early 70s. Jaco Pastorius used an Acoustic 370 back in the day and I've been on the lookout for one if it was a good deal.

I like my big rig but I don't always want to play at that volume so I've had in the back of my mind to get a small combo practice amp. I played the Acoustic, Peavy and Fender combos around the same wattage and price range. But I kept coming back to the Acoustic with it's classic lowercase logo and powder blue piping. I ended leaving with just strings but when I got home to research the combo I found it was $30 cheaper online. So I just had to make an order. I don't know how much the new Acoustic company has to do with the old one, but I hope they start making a reissue of the old Acoustic amps. While being a really cheap amp, I'm surprised by the quality of sound it produces. A real simple, "plug and play" design that works.

For effects I bought a pair of Electro-Harmonix pedals, The Clone Theory Stereo Chorus/Vibrato and the Small Stone Nano (it's a small version of their famous phase shifter). On their own the produce some neat sounds but when working together in series they can produce some really trippy effects. I can't wait to experiment with them in stereo mode and use them on some new recordings.

My Double Muff just isn't working for me so I plan on selling it and getting a new distortion/fuzz pedal or perhaps building one myself. A clone of the Big Muff Pi might an easy project to do.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Important Records

A monster package from Important Records has finally arrived. Coil's The Ape Of Naples has finally received a release on vinyl thanks to a 4LP box set. The original album takes up three one-sided LPs with the fourth LP featuring unreleased songs on both sides. Credit to Important Records for using plenty of packaging to protect the set and shipping the records outside of the sleeves - everything arrived in immaculate shape. This set is HEAVY. The vinyl is on thick red vinyl with the four records housed in a thick box with nice graphic work. In the end it was worth the steep price tag for such a great album.

As coming in the box is the latest(?) from Birchville Cat Motel. It's always hard to keep up with all of Campbell Kneales releases. Also is a double disc live set from Rameses III who put out an excellent EP on ImpRec last year. The first disc features some remixes from live material and the second disc appears to be a suite.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Bass Upgrade

The first bass I got when I started out playing was a Squire Precision Bass. Definitely a good starter bass but it has some cheap hardware on it. The wood is solid enough though to keep it around and use a backup to my Carvin IC5WP.

I decided to upgrade it and ordered some new parts. Although it was probably overkill in terms of quality, I replaced the stock bridge with a Leo Quan Badass II bridge, replaced the stock pickups with Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound pickups and replaced the stock nut with a brass nut. While they claimed to be direct replacements for a Fender p-bass, it was a bit tight for the pickups and the nut was too long. After some grinding and filing of the nut, it now blends well with the neck. The wiring of the pickups to the potentiometers left a lot to be desired so maybe I'll eventually get around to re-wiring them. A new jack might also be a good idea.

While the action is still high, the sustain has really improved. The pickups definitely have give the bass a better (and wider) tone. So while it's not perfectly setup, I'm happy with the results so far.

I have some new effects pedals and a small combo on the way so I'm looking forward to uses both basses with them now.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Oscillation III, Part 1

The first part of the CD subscription series from Three Lobed Recordings, Oscillation III, has arrived. The first batch includes 6 albums and a silk-screened slipcase to hold all the CDs. The albums length range from long EPs to short LPs. The previous series, Modern Containment, had what appeared to be a decent lineup but after going through the series I found it to be excellent with some of my favorite releases of the year coming from it. Oscillation III has an even better lineup so I'm hoping for it to surpass Modern Containment in quality.

The first batch features albums from GHQ, Jack Rose, Howlin Rain, The Bark Haze, Tom Carter and Vanishing Voice. It's almost too much good stuff at one time. I can't wait to dig into the series in the next few weeks.

Looking forward to part 2 in eight weeks!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New Release Tuesday

I hit up Lou's Records yesterday for some new albums that came out in the past month. The newest of the bunch is the latest from Flogging Molly. Been awhile since they've put out a new full-length album so I'm hoping it's as good as their past material.

Last week's new release was a live EP from Porcupine Tree. The live set is actually just Steven Wilson on acoustic and electric guitar and John Wesley helping out on guitar and backing vocals. It's great to hear short versions/stripped down versions of some old PT songs. Definitely an essential release for fans of the band.

The older new releases include softmore albums from Black Mountain and Danava, another solo album from The Mars Volta's Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and a long in the making full-length from the instrumental duo 5ive.