The Haunted House

Friday, February 29, 2008

First Review For Distant Horizon

I have had my first review for Distant Horizon on The reviewer gave the album 4 out of 5 stars. The reviewer is German, so the english translation reads a little funny, but here it is:

A new release for the Haunted House-recording artist CREATURE hailing out of Derby, UK. CREATURE is Stephen Haunts and he continues with this new full-length his path performing a special sort of Dark Ambient/Down-Tempo Electronica. His musically outfit still relies on some dark lead synth sounds complimented with rhythm patterns between ear-catching and commercial-oriented up to experimental and abstract-minded. “Distant Horizons” is like most of its predecessor “Mechanical” a completely instrumental arranged album, but it surprises a bit, that Stephen for this album seemed to have spent some efforts in the creation of the tracks list. After a dark, cold melodic intro tune (“Indigo”), the track “Carbon” rules the scenario and offers easy-minded but powerful and I tend to say catchy synth textures. But the more this album continues, the more it turns into some darker and more ominous sounding spheres. Since all tracks work well and do the best to offer a matured listening experience, I like to point out the slow and dark-melodic track “Helter Skelter” and the DIVE-like “Flutter” as being favorites. Stephen himself extracts a lot of his sounds out of very experimental-minded kind of work. Circuit bending is to be named and this requires some knowledge of a electrician. Would be surely interesting to know more details on this, since this music is a descent trip under a pair of headphones, but also “easy” enough to work in the background while concentrating on different things. Good stuff.


Alan Wilder Article on Sine Line

The Side Line magazine website has posted an interesting article by Alan Wilder, the man behind Recoil and previous member of Depeche Mode. The article is a candid look at the current state of the recording industry touching on the lousness war, and the demise of major labels.

In the article he also discusses Mute's future (his current label) and even the future of his own recording contract. It's an interesting read. You can read the whole article here.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wolfscote Dale and Railway Trail

After a busy few weeks Me and Amanda decided to go out for a walk today. We both needed to get away from it all. Amanda has had to be in Wales a lot for work recently, and I have been working on a nightmare project at work which involved going into work yesterday, so we were looking forward to getting out into the country.

Amanda picked a walk out of the AA book which was near Ashbourne and goes along part of the Tissington Trail. The walk wasn't too challenging, around 7.5 miles and pretty much flat, but our legs were still aching afterwards :-)

About a third of the way around the walk the heavens opened and it pissed it down, hence the lack of photos for this walk. The rain didn't put us off though as we went prepared for bad weather, so was waterproof...


Creature Mentioned on

Just a quick note to mention that my album, Distant Horizon, has been given a mention on This music blog is one of the only websites I check religiously everyday as it has a wealth of useful articles for experimental music producers like my self.

What's also quite cool is that the hit counter for the Haunted House Records site has jumped through the roof over the last couple of days which is awesome :-)

You can read the article here.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Inside Ableton

I came across an interesting video from a germen music magazine where a guy went through the ableton office with a video camera. Always interesting to see the companies behind the software tools you depend on. If you look very very closely you will see a new product they are working on, a Vocoder :-)

You can view the video here.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Amandas Birthday Meal

This weekend was Amandas 30th birthday so we was up at her families for a meal on Saturday night. Amanda booked a large table at the Original Masons pub near by for 7.30pm. Early evening everyone got ready and there was the usual scramble for the bathroom.

At 7pm Angela loaded us all into her land rover and drove us all to the pub. We got there dead on 7.30 and met up with Amandas Brother, Nan and Grandad, Aunt and Cousen. We all got seated and decided what we wanted and ordered drinks.

The service was a little slow as it took over an hour for the starters to turn up, but the food was nice when it arrived. I had pate for starter and a sea food salad for my main course. Amanda had a risotto for starter and salmon for her main.

The delay wasn't to bad though as we all had plenty of drinks :-) For some reason, which I forget, a load of us started trying to balance spoons on our noses. Can't remember why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time ;-)

All in all a good night. A little destructive on the diet, but a few days off wont hurt to much. I thought I would have a hang over in the morning, but I felt amazingly fine which was good as we had to drive back to Derby.

We left around 10.30 in the morning and got back to Belper about 2. Headed to the super market and then went home. Not done a huge lot this afternoon except give the house a quick tidy. Best think about what we are having for dinner soon.

Nothing to fancy or complicated as we want a reasonably early night tonight as Amanda had to drive to south Wales tomorrow morning for work.

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Up North For Amandas Birthday

On Friday it was Amanda's 30th birthday. We both booked the Friday off so we could drive up to Amandas families near NewCastle. On the Friday evening Amanda wanted to cook a dinner for her family.

For dinner we made a pasta and chorizo for the starter, a beef stew for the main course and a pineapple and coconut pavlova for desert. We prepared the main course the evenine before so it would be easier to cook when we got to Amandas Mums.

On Saturday we didn't have anything planned, so in the afternoon Me and Amanda went out for a drive. We decided to goto the coast at Blyth. Good excuse to go out with the camera. The shot above was me being all arty and abstract :-) I call it, "big orange blob obscuring the view".

Whilst there we decided to get some fish and chips. Well we actually had fish cakes and chips. They were nice. Not had chips by the sea in ages.

We didn't stay there for too long as there wasn't really much around so after a short walk we headed back to the car and went back to the house. We just sat around for the rest of the afternoon until we got ready to go out for Amandas birthday meal.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Glitched Audio As An Effect

One of my personal favourite effects to use when writing a Creature record is that of glitching. This is when you get say a drum loop and make it sound broken and well, glitchy. I have 4 main tools in my arsensal for doing this.

First, and most traditionally, I just zoom into a wave form and cut bits out and re-arrange them. This give the most immediate and broken, wonky sound.

Another technique for glitching up a sound is by using Ableton Lives own built in glitch tool called Beat Repeat. This gives some great sound. I tend to use this quite alot on one of the effects sends and then mix it back into the original track on the master bus.

Another favourite plug in is a commercial plugin called Replicant by Audio Damage. This plugin has its own very distinct sound. You can set glitch trigger points on the big circle in the centre of the screen. This plugin is very good value. It only costs $49. So in real money, ie pounds sterling, that is about £25. Hurray for the dollar being so rubbish at the moment. This is availble both on PC and Mac.

The third tool is a freeware plugin called Glitch by dBlue. This plugin is totally Free, and is available on PC only. So hard luck Mac users. Not that this bothers me as I use PC's. This plugin has all sorts of interesting effects you can select over a timeline, including very cheesy tape stops and rewinds which I don't use, as they sound shit. The rest of the plugin is fantastic though.

These are my main glitch tools. Sometimes, to really mess things up, I will use all the techniques at once, but more often than not, I do something a little more subtle. These all work very well on effects sends.

So that's how it is done.


Tristram Cary - UK Electronic Composer

The other day I found an interesting documentary about an electronic music pioneer called Tristram Cary. This guy was creating bizzare ambient electronic music in the 1950's using his own built synthesizers and sophisticated tape splicing techniques. He then went on to be one of the co-founders of the EMS synthesizer company.

Everything is explained in the documentary, and it is well worth watching if you are interested in this sort of thing. You can view each part using the following links.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

At the time of writing Tristram is 81 years old and is still recording. His personal website is here. I might try and get hold of some of his recordings. They sound quite good from the videos.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Circuit Bending Video

The Oregon Public Broadcasting channel in America has put one of their broadcasts on their website. This short program is about Circuit bending and can be watched here.

This video is better than most of the other circuit bending videos out there in that it doesn't look like it was filmed on a mobile phone camera.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ableton Live Version 7

It has bee a few months since Ableton released the latest version of their sequencer, Live. I have put off buying it til the new year as I had already finished an album, so I wasn't starting the next one straight away. Plus I thought I would wait for my company to pay the annual bonuses.

Well the bonuses have been paid and I ordered my Ableton upgrade the other week. I went for the Ableton Suite, which contains a lot of extras over the standard Ableton upgrade. This basically cost me £280 to do, instead of the £700 that is costs to buy the suite from new.

The suite extras include a set of new synths, Analog, Tension and Electric, plus the new EIC instrument pack and 'Session Drums', a multi sampled drum library and 'Drum Machines' a multi sampled library of vintage drum machines.

Live itself has had a significant upgrade in version 7. The mixing engine has been upgraded to 64bits from 32bits, giving a better mix on the master bus. There is a new device called spectrum, which is a real time FFT based spectrum analyzer which you can drop onto any channel and look over your eq'ing.

There is a new and very good compressor which supports side chaining. The most fun new feature is the new Drum Racks system, which is a very fancy drum sampler. This is layed out so you have multiple pads where you can drop your drum samples, like the impulse sampler. The main difference is each drum pad acts like its own effect chain, so you can add different effects vst's to each sample.

Since getting Live 7, I have started roughing out 3 new tracks for the next Creature album, so I have a good grasp on the new features. There is one bug that is serously annoying me, but Ableton assures me there are looking at fixing it.

This is basically caused by the controller keyboard I am using, the Novation Remote 25SL. It causes Live to randomly glitch the audio and the CPU meter jumps up to around 80%. I really hope they fix this. I can live with it for the moment, but the next maintenance upgrade will hopefully resolve this. Apart from that bug, Live 7 is a great upgrade to an already great music package.

I said I wasn't going to start another Creature album until about May time, but that gone out the window as I have already started playing around with track ideas. Although I am in no rush this time. :-)


New Ford Focus Advert

Over here in the UK, the Ford Motor Company has been showing a new TV commercial for their new Ford Focus car. From a musical perspective this advert is really good. Ford hired an experimental music group to make musical instruments out of 2 cars. They litterally shipped 2 brand new Ford Focuses over to LA, where the cars were stripped down and turned into a chamber ensemble.

Peter Kirn over at has interviewed the people who put the advert together. Yes they are real instruments!!! I thought it was quite impressive. You can read the interviews here:

Part 1: Interview: Building a Musical Ensemble Out of Ford Focus Car Parts

Part 2: Yes, Virginia, There Really is a Ford Car Part Musical Ensemble

There are videos aswell including a specially edited 3 minute extended version of the advert. Impressive stuff...


Winter Time At Kerber edge

I have been a bit lazy recently when it comes to updating this blog. There has been no particular reason other than I'm lazy. I'm starting off with a write up of a walk we did the other week.

We went back to Kerber Edge with Neil and Caroline for a reasonably short walk. The walk was 6 miles in length, and relativly flat. We met Neil and Caroline at there for 8.30 and set off. Once we had got ready we started the walk.

Even though it was 6 miles we steam around and was complete within 2.5 hours. Not bad eh? :-) We didn't even stop for our lunch. So once we got back to the car we drove to Baslow and parked up in a carpark and had our sandwiches there.

This is the last walk for a few weeks as we have a lot of stuff planned over the next few weeks. We was going to go and do one today, but seeing as the weather was no nice, I went out and trimmed the hedge around the house. Not my first choice of tasks, but there you go...