The Smith's Journal - February 2007

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Five years online

I hope my website forgives me for forgetting its fifth birthday last month. It was originally conceived in January 2002 after a BT fault killed my phone+dialup internet access for a week, so I decided to build my own website to kill time with!

Five years of internet time is an age - roughly equivalent to five decades of human time. And this is all without adverts or sponsorship too - we do it for love! I've marked the occasion by shutting down my old Demon website which became obsolete when I migrated to this new URL last summer. The once fine folks of Demon Internet lose points *badly* for not allowing .htaccess files to redirect traffic to the new website, thus breaking web-wide links and Google searches :-( So that knocks one company out of the running if I ever get round to getting a Boredband connection. Luckily now there are proper companies to work with like Mythic Beasts.

Prior to hosting this website, I'd been browsing the Web since 1991 on college computers (Mac Classic days!), but one friend of mine has been online since the late 1980s! That's positively prehistoric - he must be like two-hundred years old by now - you need to do alchemy to extend life that far.

[UPDATE: The website boldly continued for another two five more years, and counting... :-]


[ CLM Dynamics DB8000s mic-pre ]CLM Dynamics DB8000s mic-pre/limiter

I just wanted to share my joy that I now am the proud owner of a CLM Dynamics DB8000s 8-channel microphone pre-amplifier with limiters and digital ADAT card.

Sontronics Helios microphone

From the same people I also got a Sontronics Helios variable pattern valve microphone with (dangerous!) power supply, a very cosmic thing: see the caption below the last picture at the bottom of this page :-)

Sontronics Helios mic in front of records (=diffusors) ]So I can safely say that WE HAVE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, SANTA! These are coincidentally my first studio gadgets with blue LEDs, both to signify when the tube in the mic has warmed up and when the limiters kick in on the CLM (tempting one to overdrive the levels :-) . In fact the mic's Tube Ready light is so bright that it casts an eerie glow over a darkened room...

I'd also recently bought a Sontronics Sigma active ribbon figure-of-8 microphone, and so shall experiment with using them in conjunction as an M&S pair.

I spent an hour testing that everything worked, and the studio attained a levitational altitude of 3m for a short test flight, although most of my equipment is all still in bits, unconnected and awaiting new studio furniture to be designed and built. For this I shall be taking inspiration from some of the masters of funky junk to finish the cockpit of my UFO and get Wardrobe Dept operational. Then we can party! Cue music :-)

Goodnight, Earthlings.


Gambian dilemma

Quandary: I've been invited on an expenses-paid trip to The Gambia to perform with an English sabar group (I'd need to learn first!) at the Kartong Festival. Flight and tuition would be paid for (if the funding works out), I'd just need to cover accomodation and food for the time (plus DATs, film, drums, etc.). What could be better?

The crazy thing is: I don't know if I really want to go, or if I have time. (?!?) If I don't focus all my time+money+efforts onto getting my studio working, it'll all be obsolete and I'll probably go insane with all this unrecorded/unreleased music hanging round my head. I've still not processed the audio and pictures from last year's Africa trip, so the concept of another one is a kind of nightmare. My head is full.

I am going to have to massively cut down on all Unnecessary Things from my life, which disturbingly is going to include drumming and holidays to places other than my front room (which, by the way, is paradise, even in its unfinished state). Either that or quit my job and be unable to pay rent. The latter option has suddenly loomed back into view very nicely today, and so I am now thinking again of part time work to supplement teaching drumming. I want to not have a car for environmental reasons (I seem to spend so much time driving, alone) and get everyone to come to me, but although cheap, that is impractical as I'd miss rehearsals/gigs/corporate events (I did one recently with Justine).

So how can I survive and find 1000pcm to live on? I could and will sell some records and CDs, but that is not going to last long. My savings are needed for new studio monitors and computer.

I want to be a real musician who (*cough*) actually releases recordings instead of just teaching and performing sometimes. If I go out to Africa I need to be able to record the dudes out there, produce CDs of their music, and then sell them online and start websites for these great guys to make them an income. (And my own music too!)

And yet dreams continue roughly monthly of meeting up with Craig in Africa, although they are becoming more disturbed by an unseen presence causing chaos...


[UPDATE: In the end I didn't go, but spent the time semi-productively at home.]


I often get tempted (only when depressed) to quit drumming altogether (!) in order to focus on my other musics, but I always realise later that such negative thoughts are non-Real, and that drumming is indeed necessary for the soul. Don't give up! As one of the Master Drummers of Africa said, in a concert introducing Thebe Lipere:

"He left music to go and become a film star, but the drums called him back...!"

I know that would happen to me too, as rhythm flows continually through my fingers. So instead of rashly giving up everything I'll just have to reduce the time spent on each project (albeit reluctantly), to allow new growth elsewhere which still lies dormant. (*cough*) And spend less time writing here about procrastinating... Although this website is also helpful for my sanity, both as a portal linking my mind to the outer world and as an autobiographical document for future historians.

A good friend opened a mental door recently, saying "You are free to do what you want." I'd forgotten this. Recently I've become a slave to what others expect of me. I do things because it will please folk. Trouble is, I rarely get round to doing my own thing (and rarely finish things ;-). Moving here and having to reorganise everything has reminded me that I have so much to do:

Nobody else will do it. Nobody else would do it quite like I will...

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Licence © The right to copy is left with the user copyleft Malcolm Smith 2007-02-04 - last updated 2011-05-14