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Concrète Mixer

An internet radio station dedicated to shredded field recording ambience

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Updates to site and sounds

There’s been a few updates lately.

New site theme

I’ve upgraded the Jekyll theme on this site to something less literally concretey, and less bloggy. There is still a blog, of course, it’s just a bit more in the background, with the audio stream controls more to the fore.

The new theme is more mobile-friendly too, for those who like their musique concrète on the go…

Concrète Mixer changes

Additionally, I’ve made some changes to the audio out of Concrète Mixer…

Upped gain on field recordings

I’ve bumped the gain on the audio files so they’re a bit louder, which hopefully will mean less volume cranking on your audio device, but also no speaker blowouts. Be careful!

Aesthetic side note: I’ve found that when you are randomly mixing field recordings managing the gain on any particular recording isn’t an exact science; in fact to be honest it’s a pretty Quixotic endeavour. One recording can sound quiet against some recordings and too loud against others.

Regardless of RMS or peak volume I’ve found that as a rule, recordings with continuous sound through a wide range of frequencies need to have their gain lowered, so that quieter recordings punctuated by occasional narrow frequency loudness can be discerned. You can imagine everything gets a bit muddy when two noisy recordings are played together. Oh well.

Some sounds have been removed

I’ve retired some sounds from the Concrète Mixer collection: recordings that have been superseded by recordings contributed by others, and sounds that aren’t really field recordings. Examples of the latter include: a recording of my old synthesiser burbling away; a bit of jew’s harp I took from a John Berger documentary; and a very pretty song from Mothra vs Godzilla.

These obviously aren’t field recordings, so you might wonder how they fit in to Concrète Mixer’s brief. Well they don’t, much, but as a huge fan of collage ambient in the vein of the KLF and the Orb, I thought they worked well. I’m a bit sorry to see these eccentric oddments going, to be honest, but focusing on a central theme of field recordings for this endeavour seems to be a more sobre and sensible (if boring) approach.

Changes to the effects chain

The effects chain has been pared back: - Now centre mono rather than two (one delayed) channel. - The chains themselves have been reduced from 26 to 20, with fewer distortion effects applied.

I decided to do this work because there are now third party contributors and I don’t want effects clouding their recordings over-excessively. It’s one thing to mangle my own sounds, another to mangle other people’s. That said, I can’t quite face the thought of removing the effects all together because they’re the most interesting bit of Concrète Mixer for me. They’re just a bit more respectful now.

As well as taking effects away, I’ve added a new effect which I call SpeedDelay. This works on a similar principle of the Chugen ReverseDelay by writing signal to an array, and reading them back later, but parts company by reading the array by skipping or reading samples multiple times, with the effect that the original signal is multiplied in frequecy.

The available playback speeds speeds are 0.5x, 1x (ie. normal), 2x, 3x, 4x and 0.5x. To make things a bit weirder the delay is randomly changed in pitch for one array’s length of samples, meaning that if the delay speed is 2x, you’ll hear the sped up sample twice (since it takes two iterations to play back an array length if you’re skipping one sample in two). The result sounds a bit like a demented parrot squawking in the background. It would be nice to interpolate the speeds in sub-sample resolution, but I think that would require math. Anyway, see what you think.

The future

There’s always more room for more contributions and more refinements to the sound. How things progress will depend on time and energy on my part.

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