Monday, October 12, 2015

Clean / Dance / Raw / Swamp by Dirty Primitives

Dirty Primitives don't play by the rules - that's true for their music, that's also the case when they share it. So they just released 4 free EPs on their Bandcamp - how cool is that? 

This project not only gives us our share of brutal sweaty blues with plenty of spontaneous raw fuzz explosions and sticky riffs, but uncovers new sides of their talent that didn't appear yet in the studio albums or on stage, ranging from subtle soundscapes with samples and aerial guitars to anthemic dance rock...

Maybe you don't know Dirty Primitives yet, the noisy blues duet from my hometown in northern France? Well, on top on the EPs, here is their last live video, check by yourselves!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

more sketches

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen, the Epsilon!

I didn't post about it for a while but my first real guitar project the Epsilon is finished and it's a great player as much as a real beauty. The idea was to make a guitar both ergonomic and looking wild - one I would want to play on stage -, and if I believe the feedback I've had so far it's not a complete failure. 

The body is made of ash, the neck is maple (neck-through-body construction) and the fretboard is plum (all woods come from Europe). Pickups are handwound The Creamery Custom Double Track Humbuckers (they sound just wonderful!), wraparound bridge and locking tuners are Schaller, knobs and switch are Duesenberg, pickguard is laser cut polished aluminium. 

It was a long and sometimes difficult process (I'll make another post later about the whole story) but I'm delighted with the result. Some of you have been following this blog for years and witnessed my many attempts at designing then making guitars, now I know why I've dedicated so much time and effort: the Epsilon is not only a great achievement for me, but I hope also the first step of a great journey!



Of course you don't have to believe me when I say it's a great guitar, so I asked Argentinian guitarist extraordinaire Diego Munè to test the Epsilon, and it's like they were made for each other - Diego's music is right for the guitar and he really loves it...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

first track from Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna's RKH sessions

Last year, me and my pals from Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna had a recording residence at RadioKulturHaus - the Austrian public radio -, and since we've been working on issuing an album... It's a long process and we're still working on it but it's progressing little by little.

To help you wait for the album, here is one track we decided to share.

Friday, August 14, 2015

more sketches

Monday, August 3, 2015

more sketches

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

more sketches

Friday, July 17, 2015

Custom 77 loaded pickguards

A few months ago I posted about the fall of French guitar company Custom 77,  who decided to end their business when they realised that they couldn't manage their own success without the support of any bank... As I hoped, they keep making guitars under a new form with a successful crowd funding, but they still have to sell-off their old gear stock as they move from their shop. 

So I acquired two loaded pickguards at the fifth of their values, with custom P-90s, and just received them. I didn't make a new guitar since I moved to Vienna and lost my atelier in Berlin (and I didn't keep you posted about the last project, will do that soon) but I start to have new ideas about how to build guitars without a dedicated work place and machines...

Monday, July 6, 2015

pedal board and canned peaches

This is another version of the pedal board I use for one of my current projects - with just guitar and voice. I'm quite happy with the strange synth sounds I get by combining the auto-wah and the reverse delay (as you can hear in the video down there), or the Blue Box and the Carbon Copy... I still have to get my Sovtek Big Muff fixed, or acquire a new fuzz - hopefully a Devi Ever FX Soda Meiser, until then I'm good with the Boss... 

In that case I don't use the looper for music but I always include it to make the sound check - when I play in a café or a small theatre I can just loop a few notes and go into the room to listen then adjust my amp - it makes my life much easier... 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

more sketches

Sorry I haven't been posting lately - heavier  schedule, spring flu, a little lack of inspiration…
My music of the week has been all I could find on YouTube by Mamani Keïta - an amazing singer from Mali who's been working with many kind of musicians - from jazz to rock, electro and African pop… I like her music so much that I started to practice west-African scales on guitar!

Friday, April 3, 2015

more sketches

Music of the week: lately I've been listening to everything I  could find online by Antonio Carlos Jobim - preferably with Elis Regina but not only. All my life bossa nova has been cheering me up - it's the soundtrack of my childhood (Brazilian music was really big in France in the 1970s) and it came back at different moments of my life to create emotional memories. Now I just have to hear the first notes of Aguas de Março to open a window to an happy carefree summer...

Friday, March 27, 2015

concert/reading in Vienna

My current music projects include a new collaboration with writer Ines Birkhan for a series of concerts/readings - and we premiere a new one, called Dosenpfirsich (Canned Peach - it's in German but we plan to make an english version at some point), tomorrow. 

It's more than a reading over a music background, as text and music were conceived together, and I'm very happy with the result - it's not singing, it's not theatre, it's not exactly spoken words, it's a new attempt at creating a strongly evocative art work with minimalist means. The result is promising, we will keep developing this in the coming times for stage and video...

For this quiet solo project I need a more subtle sound than with my very noisy bands - so no accumulation of dirt pedals! My favorite pedal of the moment is the Boss OC-3 octaver, I never practice without it for weeks, and it makes me play some unusual funk lines - both bass and guitar! 

And since I'm playing at low level I start using the overdriven channel of my Fender Champion 100 - something I never thought I'd do (I bought it in emergency last year as I needed a new concert amp and couldn't afford a tube one - and used only the clean channel since), and it has very nice warm sounds that I can't get out of any of my pedals, and I couldn't have at this level with a tube amp I guess…

Monday, March 23, 2015

in mixing studio

Instead of enjoying the beautiful Viennese spring in parks and cafés like normal people, I've spent the last days in a studio with Martin Siewert (a.o. from acclaimed Austrian band Radian) and members of the Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna - we've been mixing eight songs picked from what we recorded in RadioKulturHaus last September. The plan is to look for a label and release a vinyl album soon - it's optimistic but we've been lucky so far with the residence and the recording, so why shouldn't it go on? And frankly, what we do is rather unique, so our music has to be heard! 

It was great to work with Martin, it's not obvious to find such a good sound guy that is also an experimental musician and has an immediate understanding of what people like us may ask, however bizarre or noisy the music. His studio combines digital and analogue machines (so far I only worked in 100% computer studios) and is cramped with diverse racks, old boxes and pedals (not to mentions plenty of amps, synthesizers and guitars, including extremely cool vintage european ones). I observed his work and tried to learn more about mixing, because sooner or later I'll have to go back to it if I want to go on with my new projects...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

more sketches

music of the week: lately I've been listening a lot again to what we recorded last fall with my band Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna, as we start mixing our first album today (actually right now I'm in the studio, having a break while some file are uploading). 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Daevid Allen has reunited with the Great Cosmic Mother

Today is a sad day, one of my music heroes, Mr Daevid Allen, just passed away. I've been listening to Gong all my life, and Angel's Egg was one of the first LPs I ever bought as a young teen - when it was badly out of fashion. I was always playing his music to my friends, even when everybody (including me) was only listening to punk, post-punk, industrial music and later techno or noise - and they always ended up loving it against all the odds. Now I play Gong to my child (whose name is the title of a Gong song - post-Allen Gong so he's not called Pothead Pixie nor Zero the Hero) and we dance to it… And lately - since I got me a wah pedal effect - when I play guitar with the Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna, I have reminiscences of Steve Hillage and try to just let go… (BTW Soft Machine was another band created by Daevid Allen).

Gong probably heavily influenced my later eclectic tastes in music, mixing rock, jazz, electronic music, trance, asian traditional music, sonic experimentations... - I also listened a lot to Daevid Allen's solo work with sounds cut-ups including William S. Burroughs' voice, and one of his sentences is haunting me since: 'you never existed at all'.  Few people are ever able to not take serious their own genius the way Daevid Allen did. You can easily overlook the poet and the composer and just remember him as a silly hippie clown, but maybe it's not bad this way… Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to see him on stage, even if I was living in Amsterdam on and off at the time of the Gong Unconvention. But I met him in his music and I'll meet him again and again, and spread his blessing.

Daevid Allen was one of the persons I wanted to thank for making my life better...

Dirty Primitives new EP

I just received Dirty Primitives' new EP and I'm not disappointed at all - their energy and creativity keep up to the standards they set in their first album (reviewed here), and they even go a step further -  their music sounds deeper and more focused to me. 

Here again Dirty Primitives manage to create a coherent sound while proposing very different songs - from the lengthy techno-blues Run Run Run with its abrasive minimal guitar riff supporting big vocals harmonies and dissonant solo guitar exploration, to the illbientesque Hold me and its combination of voice samples and acoustic noises on a slow tempo. These two songs like the others make this EP a manifesto stating that distorted guitar can be much more that just brutal - though they can do that too - but a perfect and sophisticated tool to dig into our emotions.

Because they respect nothing, Dirty Primitives also brilliantly cover Led Zeppelin's Dazed and Confused in a stripped down post-punk way - no more big voice and epic guitar effects and soloing, mostly just droning fuzz and spoken words - until the song shrinks to just one note and one beat - but the right note and the right beat! Much more fitting to my taste than the original to be honest, but hey, it's just me! And you'll also find No Pop Music, their 2013 exuberant tribute to David Bowie's Berlin phase, that was not released on CD so far. 

 You can listen to Dirty Primitives' EP - and buy it - here. And because you need to hear them live, you can contact them through their website to propose concerts - these guys must tour!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

more sketches

music of the week: I've been listening avidly to Africa Express's version of Terry Riley's In C performed in Bamako by malian musicians - with some prestigious guests like Damon Albarn and Brian Eno… Absolutely beautiful! I wish I could buy this music on CD because I still don't want to buy just an audio file - I'm a collector...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

the end of Custom 77...

I was very sorry to learn a few days ago that French guitar company Custom 77  - one of the best new guitar companies in Europe to me - suddenly decided to stop their activities. Though in the last years they developed very interesting original models, reached little by little a worldwide distribution network and caught the attention of musicians (including Lee Ranaldo) and guitar lovers, they just can't manage to go on as no bank seems to find that an European electric guitar company is a sustainable business worth supporting. So they chose to call it quits rather than risking bankruptcy - we can just hope that this means that the two guys behind Custom 77 plan to create a new company someday, something they couldn't do if they had to pay debts for the rest of their lives… 

Custom 77 Roxy Raw Power
Those who followed my posts on the Guitar Blog may remember what I wrote about Custom 77's Roxy when it was released in 2011 - I really fell in love with the sexy minimal design of this guitar. I really didn't need a new guitar a the time, but in the last weeks I was hesitating between buying a G&L telecaster and a Roxy Raw Power - the solid body single P90 version of the Roxy (I need a single coil guitar for my new project). Well it seems that I hesitated too long, and I will never have it (they sell their stock for cheaper price right now but you have to go to their shop in Lyon, they won't send it to Austria)…

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

more sketches

I know, I forgot to draw the tuning system on B - I planed to make it headless and changed my mind. I still like the body shape, I regularly make variations on it, and I know that one day I'll have it built! Would be cool with a Flyte-style  triangle headstock, of a Flying V to be shorter.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna will play in Fluc, Vienna

I'm playing in two days in Fluc with the Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna - that's where our band made its first concert one year ago… We've been playing several shows since, in Vienna and around, and recorded an album (mixing starts next March)… It's not easy to find concerts for a 10 + members guitar-based very noisy improvisation orchestra, it's expensive to transport so many people and so many amps, but we are looking for more shows, in Austria and abroad, and hope we will play some festivals this summer - if you're interested to program us please contact me... 

This short trailer was actually shot last december in Einbaumöbel, a small underground club in Vienna ; the stage was too small for us but we found a strange disposition on 3 levels, like in a 1960s British TV show - we should do that each time!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

more sketches

music of the week: I recently discovered a great album, The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp by Giles, Giles and Fripp - you may never have heard of this band but they would later rename themselves King Crimson after a slight personal change. This album released in  1968 had very little audience, probably too bizarre, but it's a real gem, I strongly recommend it.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

more sketches

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

concert pictures

with Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna in Interpenetration Festival, Stadtpark Forum, Graz.
Solo in das Werk, Vienna.
with Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna in Einmöbelbau, Vienna.

gUitarREN's facebook

gUitarREN on Facebook