Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Thanks for all the support and reviews fellow scary fanatics!   The Dulcet Jones machine has had a few new parts added that are still in the learning curve phase but a couple of new singles will be appearing in the next month or so featuring some new sounds and composition adventures.  Stay afraid, my friends.    Here's a photo of the new drummer.....

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Holly's Horrorland

"A Collection of Creepy Curiosities" - This is a cool blog that brings you new and interesting aspects of the spooky/horror/creepy world on a regular basis, check it out at Holly's Horrorland

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gravediggers Local 16 Review - Both Dulcet Jones Ablums

If you haven't checked out the Gravediggers Local 16 blog, you should.  Regular entertaining updates of interest to haunters and halloween/horror fans are always showing up, and today the review of both of my albums was posted.  See what they have to say here.  New Review

Monday, September 1, 2014

"More Halloween, I'm Afraid" Review

Dulcet Jones - More Halloween, I'm Afraid, self-released 2014 - 4/5

1. Asylum Wedding, 2. Lobotomy Ward, 3. More Halloween, I'm
Afraid, 4. Night Circus, 5. November First Coming Down, 6. Red
Narasimha, 7. Release The Bats, 8. Steampunk Lullaby

Here's an instrumental album which brings atmospheric tracks with a
horroresque feel. The song writing accents moods rather than
techniques which is a great option when applied to a soundtrack. Jim Graham - the multi-instrumentalist behind Dulcet Jones, did it successfully as
every track here tells a different story.

Asylum Wedding” sounds slow and melancholic but you'd surely expect some scary voices to come in with such guitar and bass arrangements. “Lobotomy Ward” comes out perhaps a little too gentle compared to what the title could suggest, though the entire composition is well done with a haunting, spacey mood and delicate guitar tones. On the contrary, in “More Halloween, I'm Afraid” there's a little dialogue between the bass and high-pitched guitar, all wrapped up in a ghostly 'boooo!' atmosphere. A beautiful Russian ballerina accompanied by red nosed clowns may come up in your mind with “Night Circus”. Next, there's “November First, Coming Down” - a nostalgic acoustic song which is not deprived of darker moments. The piano based “Red Narasimha” may sound as delicate as a feather, but the low tuned synth accompanied by a bit of echoing makes an intriguing contrast and attracts the listeners' attention. “Release the Bats” has an old school gothic feel thanks to a notoriously graded bass and noisy guitars but the composition becomes a bit shallow and experimental at times. Finally, what would you expect to hear in a song entitled “Steampunk Lullaby”? Steam SFX of course. And a bit of an old music box vibe. They are all there but also a spacey, ambient arrangement which finishes the album and in addition, mixes with “Asylum Wedding” very well. If you're tired of simple, rowdy music, make sure you get this album, which will surely fill your imagination with dozens if ideas.

Katarzyna “NINa” Gornisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, August 27 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Steampunk Lullaby Comments

Deacon Fawkes said "Steampunk Lullaby - Anthem to the Mysterious, a post apocalyptic anthem wrapped in retro splendour". Thanks Deacon. And my sister said "OMG THIS IS HORRIFIC LOL. I FEEL LIKE I AM IN AN OLD 40'S INSANE ASYLUM" Thanks, I think....

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sometimes I Scare Myself - "Lobotomy Ward"

Where I grew up there was a very large asylum a few miles away that I had the chance to go into from time to time(as an employee in an unrelated capacity). While I am pretty sure there were no lobotomy patients(victims?) residing there I did see several very lost souls lounging about and often wondered what could be going on inside their heads. Then one day recently while I was experimenting with the effect settings on one of my guitar amplifiers I recorded what was to become the bed track for this song. Then I got out the synth and when I was done this is what I had recorded. As usual I left it for few days thinking I'll want to make some changes when I get back to it but when I listened to it a few days later the hair stood up on the back of my neck and I started to recall my visits to the asylum, so I left it as it was.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Night Circus

What goes on in the late night hours, long after the midway has closed down and the customers have gone home? I don't know either but when I thought about it for a while this song emerged. The entire piano track that carries the whole piece was written on a guitar being played fingerstyle but the piano track sounded more ominous to me. The weird groans and moans section was created by recording an electric guitar playing short slide licks which were then processed into one track with some going backwards and all fading in and out to make an eerie hodge podge. I had to get some "circus organ" in there as well and the songs ends with some harmonized electric guitar.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

November First Coming Down

All the parts of this song were recorded entirely in real time on real instruments. The first guitar you hear is a nylon string classical acoustic, when the strumming starts you hear a steel string acoustic which is joined by 3 electric guitar tracks playing in harmony for the "big ending". I'm playing a solid body electric bass throughout and all the synth parts were played, not programmed. There is no percussion here, I just couldn't here where it needed any. The title alludes to the day after halloween, the excitement is over and the good memories are mixed with anticipation for the next year's festivities. I'm considering working up a solo guitar version of this song, I really like playing the fingerstyle part it starts with and some friends and past musical collaborators are asking me to come out and do a few songs at one of the many open stage nights in my area. I used to frequent them in the past, it's a great way to test out songs and meet new people while reconnecting with old friends.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Red Narasimha

This song was inspired by a picture of an ancient Tibetan mask that has it's roots in early Tibetan mythology. The complete story is complicated, involving many long names and relationships but the gist of it is that "Hiranyakashipu"(Narasimha) had a visitation from "Lord Brahma" after many years of meditation on a mountain top and was informed he could not have immortality but he could choose his own "death wish". He then replied " let not death come to me either by man or beast, nor devil, nor god shall cause my death by day or by night with steel or stone or wood, indoors or outdoors, or earth or in sky. Grant me undisputed lordship over the world. Brahma agreed and Hiranyakashipu got his death wishes granted. Thus he became practically immortal."
Red Narasimha Mask

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Release the Bats"

This is probably the liveliest song I've ever written, a fairly busy bass guitar track drives it from start to finish with various percussion and synth treatments creating the "hectic bats" atmosphere. The outro features an electric guitar played by pushing the side of a pick up and down the strings in an almost bow like fashion while moving up and down the neck. I further altered the sound by mixing the main track with a reversed track. I think that makes three times I've used this technique on this album. For those into the finer points of mixing, I used "side chaining" on the bass guitar and drum tracks to get them to sit together right in the mix. They were fighting each other at first but this solved that, I think.

Monday, May 19, 2014

More Halloween, I'm Afraid - Recording Details

When I recorded this track I initially wrote the bass line and added a drum beat with the intention of writing a second part that would alternate with what I had so far. As happens sometimes when creating music, the plan changed and a "less is more" attitude was adopted. It seems I couldn't tear myself away from the bassline/beat combo and kept adding other instruments and sounds over it that I liked, and every new idea I tried for a second part just didn't fit in. Once I decided to go with this idea I recorded a couple of simple single note synth tracks while working the modulation control slightly at various points, making both of these tracks run for the entire length of the song. Then I mixed these two tracks together and started experimenting, when I reversed one of them and played them both back with one going backwards and one going forward I knew I had something. These are heard as a quiet sort of spooky wailing sound that goes up and down in intensity throughout the song. The brief synth lead at the beginning of the song was an aggressive lead setting I tend to favor and the actual melody is used again at the end of the song with an electric guitar. The so called "middle eight" that many songwriters refer to could be the section in between the synth intro solo and the guitar solo. Here I recorded several short passages of electric guitar played with a slide, in this case a glass bottleneck type. I faded these in and out while adding more eerie moaning sounds from the synth and a muted toy piano lick. There's also some additional percussion hits here. Then the song is taken over with a dark toned guitar solo that brings it to a close with the same lead the synth introduced at the start. This guitar solo was intended to be darker and quieter, I used an Epiphone Les Paul with the neck pick up and the guitars tone control turned completely to the bass end. There is distortion, reverb and digital delay on it but along with the dark bassy sound I kept the volume under control here because I didn't want it to sound too "rock show" and it fit better. To give it an even more mysterious sound I used an exotic Persian scale(1 - flat2 - 3 - 4 - flat5 - flat6 - 7) to break away from playing overworked pentatonic licks. Of course I do use a note here and there that doesn't belong in this scale but that's what makes improvising interesting.

Friday, May 16, 2014

New Video "Steampunk Lullaby"

The new album "More Halloween, I'm Afraid" has just been released on itunes and will be showing up at various subscription services shortly, this is the first video. "Steampunk Lullaby" was created with several industrial sounds, some eerie moaning voices and several traditional instruments causing it to veer from sounding like a can factory to a music box with other distractions along the way. I had a lot of fun capturing the sounds in my head and putting the video together.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Writing/Recording Process

This is an ever changing entity for me but a pattern is starting to develop for some of my music. It involves hearing an idea in my head that I want to capture "on tape"(which really means in digital audio form now) and then picking up a guitar(most of the time) and finding the chord progression or riff I'm hearing and getting a recording of it, usually with just a clean guitar sound. Then I spend a few weeks thinking about it and "imagining" in my mind where it could go and what kind of sounds I want it to have. At this point I almost always hit a wall and just can't move forward with it and it sits on a back burner for a week or so. Then, all of a sudden one day I sit at the recording console, grab either a guitar or synth and start recording what I am convinced will be more rough ideas only to find that I have about half of the song I've been imagining recorded and a very clear idea of what it needs to be complete. At this point it's just a matter of recording the parts and mixing it. One of the things that makes this all more complicated and time consuming is that I strive to create something new and will use as many or as few instruments/sounds as I like, which takes more time for several reasons. Add to that my love of progressive rock that doesn't follow formulas and usually avoids repetition and you've got a complicated task ahead of you. Each song is a challenge that I love to take on.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Bandcamp Page

In preparation for the upcoming release of "More Halloween, I'm Afraid" I have set up a page at Bandcamp. For the moment "Halloween, I'm Afraid" is available there(along with itunes etc...), but one of these days more new tracks will begin to appear. Right now six songs are ready to go and as soon as I have 3 or 4 more done the blitz will begin! See the new page here Dulcet Jones at Bandcamp

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DIY Recording Tips - Latency Issues

Latency is a problem for musicians that want to overdub multiple tracks in a recording program on their computer if their computer does not have all of the specs and capabilities required to overcome latency. This covers a lot of people because a computer that has all the specs, etc. usually costs a lot more than your average home PC or laptop. What actually happens in my case is this: I have some tracks open in Audacity that I put together with MIDI and now I want to add some guitar/bass tracks. I hook up either a mic, or a direct connection with a guitar, set it to record and start playing along with the tracks I've already made and whenever I play a note on my guitar, I hear it a split second or so later than I played it. This is the computer lagging behind because it doesn't have the power and specs required to keep up with the pre-recorded tracks. As you can imagine, it's maddening to try and work with this. I get around it with another piece of equipment known as a "porta-studio", in my case I have a Tascam DP-004. This cost me less than $200.00CAN. If you total the cost of an average computer and one of these it's way less than the above mentioned hi-spec computer, and these are pretty useful in more ways than just beating latency. These are not considered to be a professional alternative as they only record in 16bit, however, this blog series is for the lo-budget, lo-fi musician. Once I have the basic outline of a song in Audacity, I export it as a "guide track" and load it into the porta studio, mine is a four track so I put this guide track on track 4, then I hook up a mic or whatever kind of direct input I want(you can plug an electric guitar straight in if you want). I then set the guitar to record on track 1 and start it up, now I can hear the guide track and my guitar in real time, no latency. Once I have a track down that I'm happy with I upload it from the porta studio to the computer and add it to the tracks in Audacity, which will be perfectly in sync, and I'm ready to mix/alter/whatever. There are several makes and models of porta studios available, some have more features like XLR connecters and more tracks but most of the low budget ones I've looked at are 16bit, like anything in this world, you have to spend more money to get the higher specs, however, I know I'm not the only indie artist out there that is recording and releasing music with this level of equipment, and some of those artists sound pretty good to me. One more tip: If you do buy a porta studio of any kind read the manual thoroughly before you try to use it! They can be a bit complicated at first but once you get used to it they're amazing.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

DIY Recording - Experimental Guitar Tips

This post is about experimenting with different ways to record guitars to get more interesting sounds. The recording included here has two examples I've used, the first is an excerpt from "Silicon Dirge" where I recorded a light strumming passage played on a solid body electric guitar, but instead of plugging it into an amp I recorded it unplugged with a condenser microphone. This produces a slightly metallic, almost brittle sound with some pick noise but it fits the song in my opinion. This is not a new technique, I've read about other artists who have done this, most notably U2 when Brian Eno was producing them. The second example is an excerpt from "Electro Acoustic Lament", here I recorded a basic classical guitar with a built in pick up plugged into an amplifier. Usually a guitar like this would be recorded with a mic if you were going for the best guitar tone, but I wanted to see what else I could do. The amp is a Fender Mustang modeling amp that has many built in effects, here I used a "step filter". A lot of traditional guitarists aren't quite sure what to make of this effect, it adds more notes to any note you actually play and wouldn't fit in to many traditional styles of music, but I'm not playing traditional music here so anything goes. There is also a bit of reverb and digital delay, why stop at one effect? I often record a guitar part numerous times using different set ups until I find something I feel fits the song.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

D I Y Recording Tips, Continued

This is more of a songwriting tip, technically but using PowerTab Editor to write parts for particular instruments is a brilliant piece of technology. I just stumbled upon another one of those "aha" aspects to using this program. You might call it a happy accident but I was composing a track for synthesizer and after I got it scored and added it to the mix it just didn't feel right. I decided to leave it and go to work on a bass track when a sudden flash of inspiration hit me: what if I took the synth track I just created and went back into PowerTab Editor and changed the track sound to Bass guitar? It's extremely easy to change sounds on PowerTab Editor, and fun to experiment with. It was a single note piece already so I gave it a try and added it to the mix. To my amazement the synth track I was trying to make turned out to be a perfect bass guitar track. Now I'm in the process of learning what I wrote so I can play it in real time on my bass guitar. This will be heard in a new song that I might call "The First of November", which has a kind of 'looking back at great memories' feel in reference to being the day after halloween.