So I’ve finally picked up a safety razor after years of using a Mach 3. It’s nothing too special; a Parker 96R butterfly double edge. For a long time I’ve been curious about trying a safety razor but the sheer amount of products out there was pretty daunting. Unlike the way I typically buy anything, I basically just didn’t research it much, and just went with whatever looked good in the first two pages of Amazon search results. I’ve used it 4 times so far and only cut myself once. Using it in the shower makes a big difference, moreso than with a Mach 3. I like the weight of it and the knurled handle, it gives a good grip. No more overpriced blades for this guy!
So maybe a year ago my mom bought an old King brand cornet at a farm auction. I recently got it serviced at last and resolved some odd tuning issue it had. And I gotta say, this thing is hot. Maybe it’s just been a long time since I’ve played on any new instrument especially at length but man, this horn is really a breath of fresh air. One with an awesome high range too.
So onward and literally upward with the Pacific Coast Extension model railroad project. I’ve begun work on the upper level which will have two very large steel viaducts, a model of Union Station in Seattle with long platforms, some kind of industry switching (although I have not decided exactly what yet), and oodles of cool mountain scenery. That’s what I see when I look at it. For now it’s all plywood sheet and pine boards. My benchwork is improvised as I go along rather than pre-planned, which results in some interesting choices, as you can see below. I don’t mind the added challenge though, since it helps me improve my woodworking skills. I thought I ought to take some shots of the layout before the upper layer is mounted, because once that happens it’s probably never coming off again. Here is a view which is taken from the same perspective as the image in the previous post, which shows the upper layer benchwork that’s new. Also visible is a wide variety of trains… notably the SD40-2 #156 with the red white n blue Bicentennial paint scheme right in the foreground. Immediately behind him is a Broadway Limited SW2 which I’ve loaded up with an old Kato NW2 shell that’s actually superior to the brand new Broadway shell despite its age. Behind that are two observation cars which both have lighted drumheads although–oops–the layout was off when I took this photo so they’re not lighted. The Northern Pacific North Coast Limited is seen in green, alongside the Heavyweight Columbian observation car.
And here is a view from above:
Visible there is the ascending track which will slowly build in elevation until it unites with the upper level. Lastly, the same view with the beginnings of the top layer added. The piece that covers the access hatch from the lower level will be a hinged-section which will swing outward toward the camera, allowing top-level access to the track closest to the wall on top. Since this photo was taken I have already changed the upper two tracks in the background which will be the station platform tracks, so what’s seen here is still subject to adjustment. Although you can’t really tell it from these photos, the upper level is just below eye level for a six foot tall person, so the layout is actually quite tall. These shots were actually taken holding the camera above my head to show everything. The upper level is 20″ above the lower.
Here’s a tune I’ve been listening to a lot lately: “C130″ by the band Brownout.
Seems these guys were trying to make something that sounds as big as a C-130 Hercules aircraft, shown here fighting forest fires. And I’d say they succeeded, in a genre you could justifiably call Cinematic Funk. It’s pretty huge.
So I’m in a band and it’s called “100% Juice” and I think it’s preaaatty cool. If you like improvised, funky music or electrified horns, I think this is worth your listening time. I will post more as we create more.
So far there are 5 tracks up on our Soundcloud although we’ve been playing for over a year now. We’re selective like that? The track “Freeze Pop” was recorded using a multi-track interface, the Tascam US-2000. I’m quite jazzed about the prospects of using this thing to make progressively better and better recordings of the music we’ve been making.
I will also mention here that if you REALLY like it, there is a continuously rotating directory which hosts our latest and greatest jams in long form, unabridged format, accessible as zip files. These are also the high-fidelity, sonically-best way of listening to us. You will hear a clear difference versus the streaming version. These can be found here:
I made this video so I may as well post it here… it’s a video tutorial on using the Propellerhead Rack Extension “Synchronous” in Reason 7.1 to make glitch percussion. If you know what some or most of that sentence means, definitely check this out:
I also made a shorter version, since this video was created for a contest, and (naturally) AFTER I made the above one, I figured out there was a 5 minute time restriction. The short version is here.
“At this point we’re just making shit up. I don’t even know what song we were playing there,” jokes Simon Allen from behind the drums as they wrap up an impromptu reggae detour lasting a couple minutes or so. Midway through Simon had broken into what I’d describe as a dancehall or Caribbean type beat which is something I’ve never heard them do. Having seen this band enough times to lose count, it was one of the more interesting moments in the show for me. Rushing out the door to get there, I had debated bringing along my Zoom H4 audio recorder to tape the show but decided not to at the last second since I was pressed for time and wasn’t sure where the windscreen was. Maybe about 3 tunes in I came to regret that decision; despite my familiarity with their catalog, the brits had again managed to step outside my expectations and bust out some new tricks.
International Fest in Houston was this weekend and as Eddie noted toward the end of their performance, the first time that The New Mastersounds had visited “H-Town” as an audience member instructed them to call it. They took a certain pleasure intoning this moniker in the most deliberately anglicized accent they could muster. Eddie was sporting an off-white suit and Pete (who was announced in a nasal-sounding voice as “Peter” at all times during the show) wore a Brooklyn Bowl shirt, which I thought was pretty cool. Weather was humid and what you’d call “pretty warm” here in Texas. Thrice the band saw fit to comment on how hot they thought it was even though as their introducing stage manger explained, “this isn’t even the real heat yet.”
It was a smooth Mastersounds. Very much a groovy, jazz-in-the-park style performance, which I enjoyed. There were two things of particular interest in the set: one, where a solo Eddie Roberts on guitar began their tune “Thermal Bad” stretching in a delicate, bare setting all the way until the B section arrived. Typically this is a super rocking number, so it was intriguing to hear them give a wholly different take on it. And sure, they took it there eventually. But this show wasn’t about the meltdown, it was far more focused on the slow builds and the clear, thoughtful solo, delivered to an audience who had recently finished up a casual afternoon brunch and drank that Saturday coffee as I had.
Joe Tatton on the keys took it into dreamy, full-on Mister-Rogers-Feeds-The-Fish Mode on the rhodes, drifting our minds off into the sky with those delays and open spaces in his phrasing. There were some bursts of that dexterity he likes to keep hidden in reserve, and some eyebrow-tilting jaunts into the ‘out’ keys, but for the most part, he kept the dial locked on Spacey. Which is perfectly fine by me since he doubtlessly excels in that realm. Similarly, Eddie Roberts showed us in a few brief flourishes that “yeah, I could burn it down if I really wanted to, but hey it’s just our first date here, Houston, and I wanna take it nice and easy you know? Make it special?”
The second point of interest was a very gentle and chilled version of “Summercamp.” The original tune is already laid back as-is, but this live version subtracted the driving percussion during the melody, instead seeing Simon mirroring its rhythm with light taps on the cymbals. For me this was the coolest part of the show since Summercamp is one of my favorite joints off their most recent two albums and two, it’s always neat to see musicians taking a familiar song and going new directions with it. Hopefully they return to Houston sooner than later…