Friday, 20 September 2013

Ringing ears

before I start this blog, i'd like to apologise for the amount of the times I use the word 'gig', but it can't be helped..

This monday, I went to a gig in Brighton with my dad. I know, it's not a common thing going to a gig with your parents but I was perfectly happy to do so. This wasn't only because my dad was driving me there from college, but also because we both were interested in the music that we were going to see.
In fact, I actually discovered the music we were going to see from my dad, as one of his friends had shown it to him in the past and he took an interest in it. I then saw the announcement of a tour, and thought it would be interesting to see what they would be like live.

After I finished college, my dad picked me up from college and then we drove to Brighton. My dad was suggesting going to get some fish and chips to eat before the gig, but while we wandered around, we found a nice looking thai restaurant and stopped there. I was worried about being late, and felt that having a full meal would be a very bad idea before a gig, but in the end, the gig started later than I expected, and there was a perfect amount of food, not too much, not too little. This was a little unexpected, as  I thought we would quickly pick up a take away or a sandwich, so it was a pleasant surprise having a decent meal!
From the restaurant, we then went on down to the gig..

It was an ambient electronic music gig, the genre would be hard to define, but I think the music can be roughly described as 'drone'. To attempt to describe it, the music is very bass driven as you would expect, but also reliant on dynamics to make it interesting.
In all honesty I think when it comes down to describing what it's like, it's easier just to actually hear for yourself..

This was a first for me, as I have never been to a gig to hear electronic music. All I have ever seen live is either rock or metal. While there are various types of electronic music I enjoy listening to (such as house, drum and bass, ambient and trance) I would usually prioritise seeing a metal or rock band over electronic music. When it comes down to it, I can be quite picky when it comes to electronic music, much more so than any 'traditional music' (rock, folk, metal etc. )
So, I wasn't really knowing what to expect from this, but I was optimistic. It turns out I was right to think that way.
I took a few pictures and attempted to get a few videos during the night. Surprisingly, given the levels of noise present, one or two of the videos sound alright and could be used as a representation of what the gig was like sonically.

The artists that I saw were 'Fuck Buttons' and 'The Haxan Cloak'. Each were different in their styles of music, but they complimented each other well.

The Haxan Cloak is a solo artist, producing music by himself. His music is very atmospheric, with the music being based on opposing dynamics. It can be very soft at times, but then also incorporate either very low bass frequencies in or samples such as voices or acoustic noises. The other side of the music is a driven distorted bass, unlike anything I have heard live before because it sounded so dark, yet clean. He generally uses a mix of these two styles of production, which makes it sound very powerful. I find the juxtaposition of these two styles so great, as it makes the music very interesting and also gives you a varied listening experience.

Here are some pictures and videos of The Haxan Cloak:

Fuck Buttons are a group comprised of two individuals, who perform together. Their music is different to The Haxan Cloak's, with less clarity and dynamics, but is more relentless and has a much harsher sound. They are also more structured than The Haxan Cloak, which allows them to be more melodic. Their bass and distortion was less clean as well, which suited their more relentless style of music. However I still would say tone wise I preferred The Haxan Cloak.
I personally feel that even though Fuck Buttons were headlining, The Haxan Cloak stole the day and were that slight bit better.

Here are a few pictures and videos of Fuck Buttons:


In terms of the crowd, it was a very tame gig compared to what i've been before. People there were mostly just nodding their heads to it. This doesn't mean it wasn't any less packed the time Fuck Buttons were playing, there was barely any room to move.

Over all it was an awesome gig, I would definitely see them both again live, despite the fact I know it will destroy my ears (they were ringing for two days after the gig..). I should mention that the videos I posted are not great, but I just find they are an okay representation of what the gig was like. I'll post a link to a album song or two here. Sadly, there are very few videos on youtube of The Haxan Cloak's work.


I'd also like to thank my dad for this great evening. Now this is our sort of father-son trip!

Fuck Buttons setlist:
Brainfreeze/Surf Solar/Colours Move/Olympians/Sentients/The Red Wing/Hidden XS

To briefly discuss future matters, upcoming things are my 18th birthday soon, which i'm pretty excited about! Also, There are a few gigs coming up in the next four or so months. I'll probably do another blog post and write about them there.

Friday, 13 September 2013

New start (part 2)

So ends the first week of college.

Many people that I know that are starting their second years are complaining already and saying that they don't want to be back at college. For all I know, I may be saying exactly the same as them this time next year, but for the moment, i'm actually really glad!
I feel i'm fitting in quite well there, much more so than I did at my last 6th form. For all I know I may have

In terms of the subjects i'm studying, it's been interesting so far, with no complaints yet other than electronics.
It has been okay so far, and the course looks like it will be interesting, but for the first week, lessons have been quite boring. This because at the moment, we are looking at the basics, which is mostly physics type stuff. It's not too hard, but just we've spent a little long looking at it for my liking. Either way, on monday we will be doing some practical work, which should be interesting. I reckon in time it will become more interesting anyway.

Creative writing is looking really good at the moment, the teacher we have at the moment is great, and i'm pretty happy with the layout of the course. I expect when I produce finished pieces of work, I will post them on this blog or another blog. Of course, this is once i've edited them quite a lot and finished them adequately.

Like creative writing, music BTEC is looking like a great course so far. The first comment I can pass is that from the looks of it, there will be a lot of work to do.
I'm liking the layout of this course a lot, it has many aspects of it that I find are not entirely necessary for what I am aiming to do at university, but considering music as a hobby, it still is great.
As hard as I expect it will be to learn, I am looking forward to learning music theory, mainly because I know it is something that I must do at some point, and it's good to get it out of the way now.
Considering that I am looking to do music technology at university, the music technology side of the course is obviously of interest to me, but the other side that I am really pleased about is the performance aspect, which will be rather new to me. I've never played too much with other musicians so it will be a great opportunity for me.

Now, to discuss the social side of college. While the purpose of going to college is obviously to get an education, the social aspect of it is still important, and it's one of the reasons I decided to move to college.
So far, it's been great. I wasn't so sure what to expect, whether it'd be much different to the 6th form. It is unbelievably different.
So far this week, I would say I have started to get to know a fair few people and started to become part of a group of friends, who are second year students. This is really down to knowing a couple of people in that group, who introduced me to them.
I should mention that i'm very grateful for this, it has helped greatly starting up, and also it's a second time that knowing them has been almost the basis for becoming integrated into a group of friends.

As for the future, it's what I make it really. Socially, I can only see it getting better with time, however I wouldn't be surprised if the workload will become tiresome once the courses start to pick up pace. But, for a start, of course it will be hard, that's to be expected. However it should also be interesting, considering one of the courses is studying a hobby of mine, one is writing, which you would expect to be something I find interesting, given this is my 42nd blog post. Electronics might not turn out as interesting as the other two subjects, but it will be a useful thing to study as general knowledge. Apparently it isn't as hard as other A levels too, so that's definitely a bonus!

Friday, 6 September 2013

New start (part 1)

At the moment, I have free periods till the bus home and was looking for something to do, so I decided to write a short blog post.

This is my third day at college so far. The organisation of timetables and such things has been quite disorganised, but it's to be expected with the influx of  1000s of students. What I found a little irritating is that when I looked at my timetable, it was wrong, with chemistry on it and BTEC music was nowhere to be found. I sorted this out, however after the first lesson, I talked to the teacher and they said that I was on the waiting list for the course. This would be fine, but I had no clue of this until now. Either way, i'm on the course now so it's fine.

So far i've found college is pretty good, people i've met so far seem nice and I seem to starting to get to know people on my courses, aside from creative writing, which I haven't  had any lessons in yet. I must admit though, that remembernig names is a little tricky at the moment, but like everything, there is always time for that.

The one thing I majorly dislike about college is travel. The bus journey takes an hour, which doesn't bother me, however the time it leaves does. It leaves the bus station around 7.45, which means that I have to get up from 6-6.30 in order to have get ready and cycle to the bus station at 7.20.
All I can say, is I hope I get used to waking up this early, and make sure I change my daily sleeping patterns!

After a while I will do a second post and write in detail, but I will leave it for now.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

AS results and subsequent plans

As promised, I will write about my AS level results all things around that area of discussion.
I think I should start the post of by saying I did quite badly.
Talking here in over all grades;

In ICT I got a D,
In chemistry I got an E,
In English literature I got an E,
I failed maths.

So there you have it, not great results at all, but at least they count for some UCAS points. You may be wondering why I did so badly; well I myself don't really know, I can only speculate.
I'm not going to say I wasn't lazy, because I was; you can always do more work. However I don't I feel I was too lazy, I put the effort in where it was needed and studied fairly hard, but obviously not hard enough.
Now, i'm not going to go around saying that if you put the work in, you'll definitely do as well as you'd like; when it comes down to it, A levels are hard.

To start talking about individual subject, i'll start with the worse; maths. I was a little taken aback when I saw the breakdown of my results, I got a U (a fail) in all three exams. I knew there was no chance I would have passed, but still this surprised me. I wasn't too phased by failing it, as I expected a fail, and I also was planning on dropping it in the next year anyway.

English was an odd subject, I was quite disappointed with the breakdown of marks, as I had potential to do alright, but I did very badly in the exam. I got a B in my coursework, which I was pretty pleased about, but then at the opposite end of the mark spectrum, I got a U in the exam. This was rather gutting, because I knew that I had messed up in the exam, but I didn't expect to that extent. I've never been great at english in exam situations if i'm being honest. The worst part about doing so badly in english is that a retake is not an option, because it would mean studying another four texts, by that time I may as well just retake the whole AS.

My mark in ICT was surprising, but not too much of a bother. I chose to study it as a filler subject really, because I had no clue what else to do as a fourth subject, and also because the grades were rescuable by doing a retake of an exam. This wouldn't be too much of a stretch, as it's a fairly easy subject. I think that I slipped up on the essay writing side of it, which in a sense links into doing badly in the english exam.

I wasn't too sure what to expect in chemistry. I didn't think that I would fail, but I wasn't sure how high my grade would be. I thought I might manage between a D and a C, but achieved an E. Looking at my mark breakdown, it seems that I had the potential do fairly well, with a B in practical skills and a D in the exam I retook, but then got a U in the other exam, which was very surprising.

When I got these results, I started to frantically think about where I would go from there. In my mind, I had three options:
1) Go back to my 6th form and continue with A2 exams, meanwhile do retake two exams to up my grades
2) Go to a college and study a BTEC in music
3) Go to a college and mix retaking exams with restarting one or two AS's

I spent a good two weeks considering the options, each had their pros and cons. I didn't have too much time to decide which path to choose.

In terms of going back to 6th form, I wasn't too sure as I don't feel that I fit in so well there. Also It'd be quite a lot of work doing that many retakes along side studying for my A2 exams, which would be fine, but I feel that it wasn't entirely reasonable, given that none of the subjects I was taking related specifically to my plans for university of studying music/sound technology.

I felt that doing a BTEC in music would be good as it focused on what I was planning on doing in the future, however it was also a little too specific. It would not be enough of a general education, so this put me off quite a bit.

I was leaning most towards the third option of restarting some AS's at college and doing some A2s and starting some new ASs, partially because it allowed me to change my subjects to being more relevant to my university plans and also I think that I may get on better there. I decided on this option in the end.
I went to the college this friday to enroll and got in. However, I will not studying what I had first planned to do. In my interview, I discussed the possibility of starting music technology AS, but it seemed that it wouldn't be possible to study it, as I don't have the right skills - specifically, the ability to read music. They suggested that I could do a music BTEC, where I would study things relevant to music  technology and also learn to read and about other things relating to music theory. In addition I could also take music theory grades there while i'm at it, which would also be important. In addition to the BTEC, I could study two AS's, so I thought that I would also study electronics and creative writing along side.
The other option I had was to only do A levels, and study things required to do music technology AS in the next year. This would be good for diversity of subjects, however, it would also be a risky option. My results confirms that i'm not the best at doing exams and my strengths are in coursework.

I finally decided on doing the BTEC, along side AS creative writing and AS electronics. I start on the upcoming wednesday, so I got it all sorted out just in time.
I'm not sure what it'll be like, socially and academically, but I shall wait and see. I know a fair few people going there already which is reassuring.
When it comes to the work load, there is no questioning that it'll be hard, as I will be starting electronics from scratch, having never touched the subject before, with having to write quite a lot for creative writing, and just having to learn a lot over all musically, but hopefully it should be interesting and enjoyable learning, especially in the case of music and writing.

I should probably mention about quitting 6th form here for anyone from there reading my blog, I enjoyed it there and met some nice people, but felt I never fully connected socially I hoped I would. But the fact that my subjects were heading in the wrong direction was the main reason for leaving.

To sum up, exciting times up ahead!