The Haunted House

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Electronic Critters Now Available

Well, after months of work my Sample DVD, Electronic Critters is all finished. I had the first manufactured batch of DVD's turn up today, so I have spent time this evening packing jiffy bags so the people who pre-ordered the disc wont have to wait too much longer.

There is nothing quite as satisfying as building something from nothing, and then having people liking your work enough to pay for it. Great feeling :-) Anyway, things will be quiet in the land of Creature for a little while. This doesn't mean I am slacking off, I am just going to be busy getting my next projects completed.

I won't keep you all in the dark though, here is what you can expect from Creature over the next 6 months:

- I am re-releasing my ep's Daisy Cutter, and Twilight as one album, including 5 new tracks. There are 2 reasons for this. Firstly, knowing what I know now, I can do a much better job of the mixes on those tracks and I want to present them in their final format. The 2nd reason is that I think the accompanying artwork sucked. So I will release it all as a better package.

- I am re-releasing the Nightmares and Dreamscapes ep, for pretty much the same reasons as above. The main criticism from people who bought the ep was that for dark ambient tracks, they were too short. So as well as the original tracks, I am going to provide some extended edits of the tracks, plus a selection of new dark ambient tracks. I want to continue with a new album in the Nightmares and Dreamscapes series, but first I feel this ep needs to be released in a better format.

- As well as the above releases I will naturally be starting on a brand new Creature album. I have already started planning this album and done a few experiments, but I expect this to be completed early next year.

- Finally, I am working on a new sample DVD project, but you'll have to wait for information on that one :-)


Monday, March 24, 2008

Distant Horizon Review in Regen Magazine.

I have had another album review, this time in Regen Magazine. The album got 3 out of 5, so not too bad, as this magazine is notoriously harsh sometimes :-) All in all I got some pretty good constructive feedback. He makes some interesting points, and asks whether my desire to use experimental sound sources, yet keeping the album reasonably commercial sounding was deliberate or not. Well, in fact it was deliberate. I really like experimental music, but sometimes I find it drones on far too much to keep my interest. That is why I have tried to strike up a balance between the two. The complete review text is below.

Atmospheric, melodically driven industrial using experimental sound sources.

UK-based electronic musician Steve Haunts uses an array of sounds including those of circuit bent instruments to create atmospheric EBM with the end result being that you wouldn't necessarily think these were experimental instruments. Creature does a great job of making odd sounds become warm almost commercial sounding to the point that you can't tell if it's some obscure bent instrument or if it's really a Roland keyboard patch. Much of the music on Distant Horizon recalls more instrumental works of X-Marks the Pedwalk's later works like MeshworkDrawback. Cinematic pads and strings introduced the tracks with various industrial/EBM styled drum patterns and elements carrying the song.

The real focus on Distant Horizon is the melodies that act as the main characters of each song from synth piano choruses to sinister synthesizer arpeggios. One of the highlights to hear on Distant Horizon is "Tenge Misuser," which sounds like an updated version of Giorgio Morodor's Cat People soundtrack, complete with dark synth sweeps and analog sounding synthesizer leads. While the album makes a great score for some type of sci-fi film or even a first person shooter game, the only criticism is that parts of Distant Horizon sound like soundtrack wallpaper and Mr. Haunts could focus on being a bit more experimental instead of sounding so mechanical and precise. Whether it is intentional or not is up to the creative mind of Creature.

However, if he would just let go a little bit and put in some more abstract elements, it would greatly complement his sound and style and give it a more unique feel. The strength that this album shows is that it will appeal to fans of both industrial and techno as this record really blurs the lines between dark electronics and sophisticated techno grooves, with the end result sounding part Gary Numan and part Future Sound of London.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Listening Post Art Exhibit.

Whilst visiting the Science Museum in London for Amanda's birthday trip we went to see an audio visual art installation at the museum called the Listening Post. The display consisted of lots of small LCD screens set up in a dark room in a grid. The installation basically listened to thousands of Internet chat rooms and forums. This text would then be converted into synthesised, and vocoded speech.

The display must have used some kind of search algorithm to decide what to play, but you essentially heard computer speech in surround sound played over what sounded like a generative ambient sound score. It sounded really impressive, I certainly recommend going to see it if you are in London. The science Museum is FREE to visit and is near South Kensington tube station.

The listening post is running from Feb 19th 2008 too Feb 19th 2009.

Here is some blurb from the site:

Listening Post is a ‘dynamic portrait’ of online communication, displaying uncensored fragments of text, sampled in real-time, from public internet chatrooms and bulletin boards. Artists Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin have divided their work into seven separate ‘scenes’ akin to movements in a symphony. Each scene has its own ‘internal logic’, sifting, filtering and ordering the text fragments in different ways.

By pulling text quotes from thousands of unwitting contributors' postings, Listening Post allows you to experience an extraordinary snapshot of the internet and gain a great sense of the humanity behind the data. The artwork is world renowned as a masterpiece of electronic and contemporary art and a monument to the ways we find to connect with each other and express our identities online.


Dirty Dancing On Stage

After visiting the science museum and checking in at our hotel we headed off on the tube to Holborn to find where the theatre was. Once there we quickly nipped in to pick up our tickets and then headed off to find somewhere for dinner. We didn't have any fixed diner plans, so we went on the hunt.

After a while we found a Pizza Express, so we went in there. This is probably our favourite pizza chain, we have never had a bad meal at a pizza express. Once we had finished we headed off back to the Aldwych theater for the show.

We had really good seats. We were in the stalls about a third of the way back from the front, so the view was excellent. I wasn't quite sure what the show would be like as I'm not a huge fan of the film, but I must say, the performance was excellent, and Amanda absolutely loved it. I really do like going to musicals, they are really good fun. I find normal plays a bit boring, but these are very lively. The only other big theatre musical I have been too was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang a few years ago, and that was excellent also.

Amanda was in her element. She is a HUGE fan of the film and has been since she was a kid. I must say the dancers in the show pulled off some amazing moves. They must be really fit to do that every day.

The whole show was about 2.5 hours in length and we were knackered afterwards to headed back to the hotel. This morning we had a lie in at the hotel and then headed back to my parents house. There was no point going to the shops as they were probably closed due to it being Easter Sunday.

When we got to my parents, my Dad cooked Sunday lunch and we headed back about 5ish. All in all a really good weekend..


The London Science Museum

We have just got back from a weekend away in London. Ages ago we booked tickets to go and see the west end musical, Dirty Dancing. This trip was for Amanda's birthday. Her birthday was actually in February, but this weekend was the only time we could get tickets.

On Friday we drove down to my parents and spent the evening there. I also took the time to help my Dad with a book he was writing. On Saturday my Sister gave us a lift to the station and we headed off into London. We thought it would be good to visit the Science Museum during the day, so we got the train to South Kensington.

There was lots of interesting exhibitions at the museum, including lots of stuff about the history of medicine. There was also a good aeroplane displace, space exhibit, and information on the history of computing. The photo below shows the rebuilt difference engine created by Charles Babbage.

The main highlight of the museum visit for me was an audio art exhibit which featured text from 1000's of real time chat room, synthesised into speech. More on this in another post though.

Once we had finished at the museum we got the train to Kings Cross where our hotel was. The hotel wasn't anything fancy, but not bad for £26 for the night. Once there we got ready and headed out on the train Holborn where the theatre was. We got dinner and then went to the show.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sloe Gin Finally Ready

Last october we picked a load of sloe berries to make our own sloe gin. They have been sitting in a large jar infusing since then. Today we decanted the gin back into some bottles and gave it a try. The result was good, it tasted nice and smooth as well as sweet. Well you would expect it to be sweet with the amount of sugar in there.

My next drink to make will be some cherry brandy. I might do this over the next month or so. :-)


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Walk Around Manifold Valley

Me and Amanda went for another walk today. Like the last 2 weeks we had a lie in and set off at 10am. This week the walk was too Manifold Valley. This is in the same area as Wolfescot Dale, it's just up the A515 from Ashbourne.

The weather was quite good when we started the walk, but it started to turn a little nasty for about an hour when it rained. But after that it was ok. Todays walk was quite scenic. Especially when high up on a hill.

The whole route was about 6.5 miles and took 4 hours to complete. It wasn't to challenging, it did get steep in parts though, especially near the end when you can take a short detour up a hill to a cave, which naturally we had to check out :-).

This walk was also out of the PathFinder book, and again the instructions were very clear. Map reading duty was left to Amanda again though as she is quite good at it.

We stopped for lunch about half way through. We found a nice little area near the back of a dis-used barn which was sheltered from the wind.

I would definitely do this walk again. I think it would be good during the summer with some decent blue skies, although the clouds looked really interesting in the photos I think.

We were both tired after the walk, but not as tired as usual for some reason. When we got home I started dinner pretty much straight away and we just flaked out in front of the TV.

At 9 we watched Lost, and as usual the plot veered off in all sorts of directions. We will be going for another walk next week. I think we are doing this one with Neil and Caroline. The walk next week will be the last we do for a couple of weeks.

I think we was lucky with the weather for this walk as the whole country has been forecast for some storms. Hopefully the bad weather will be out of the way by next weekend.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Distant Horizon Review in Side Line Magazine

I have had another review for Distant Horizon this week. This time Belgium EBM and synth pop magazine Side Line has reviewed the album, and this is what they had to say:

"The debut-album “Mechanical” of this British artist sounded quite promising. “Distant Horizon” goes on a similar way, merging pure ambient soundscapes with some low tempo rhythmic. The electronic arrangements are quite well done and the global feeling of the listening remains pretty enjoyable. Creature tries to inject some extra variation on a track like “Rise”. This is for sure one of the high lights for the darker sphere and a kind of dramatic expression. This is a pure soundtrack-like release, not bad at all."


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Return Of Wolfscote Dale

Last Sunday Me and Amanda went out for another walk. I was already quite knackered from the past week as I had been to the Gym on Thursday, Friday, and for 2 hours Saturday morning whilst Amanda took the car to the garage. I was determined to go out for another walk though.

We decided to do another walk near Wolfescote Dale near Buxton. This is the same area we went to last week, but a different route. Only about half a mile of this route was shared with last weeks walk. We set off around 10 after a well deserved lie in.

When we started the walk it was a little chili and windy. Not as windy as the previous night though where it was blowing a gale. After about 30 minutes of walking though we soon warmed up.

This walk wasn' t that difficult. There was only one section of a hill to climb and the rest was fairly flat. It was quite muddy though. The entire route was around 7.5 miles. We picked the route out of the pathfinder book. This book was actually quite good. The instructions seem much better than the AA book. Another thing we like about this book is it has the route drawn out on top of the relevant section of the OS map. So if you do get a little lost, which we did on one occasion, you can get a GPS reading and check it in the book easily enough. Saves on having to use the full OS map.

All in all the walk took about 4 hours. I was knackered afterwards though due to going to the gym so much the previous week. To make things worse, I also had a Kick Boxing class Monday lunch time. Today though I didn't go to the gym. I just stuck around work and didn't do very much. :-)


Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I - IV

The mighty Nine Inch Nails, probably the only band I have followed continuously since 1990, has just released a new album of instrumental tracks. What makes this album special is it is their first album to be released without the support of a major record label. Trent Reznor is releasing the album himself with a similar model to Radiohead's pay what you want model. Here is the pricing structure:

FREE - You can download the first 9 tracks of this 36 track opus for free.

$5 - You can purchase the entire album digitally as either 360kbs mp3 or FLAC including PDF booklet.

$10 - You get a double cd in a 6 panel digi pak. I'm definitely going to get this one.

$75 - You get a hardcover fabric slipcase containing: 2 audio CDs, 1 data DVD with all 36 tracks in multi-track format, and a Blu-ray disc with Ghosts I-IV in high-definition 96/24 stereo and accompanying slideshow.

$300 - All the above and some nicely pressed and presented vinyl versions of the album. But this is limited to 2500 copies and has sold out already.

How does this album sound then. Well, in a nutshell, excellent. It is certainly more experimental than previous NIN album and is all instrumental, which suits me down to the ground as I much prefer music without someone squawking over the top of it. There is over 2 hours of music here yet you can very easily listen to the whole thing all the way through without tiring.

I was lucky at work today in that I just had loads of documents to read, and I managed to do this for most of the day, so I listened to this album twice on my MP3 player :-)

I think the pricing and release strategy for this album is pretty much spot on, I hope Trent Reznor releases the figures for this like he did with the Niggy Tardust album Saul Williams. Naturally NIN will sell about 1000 times more, but it would still be interesting to see how the release goes.

Of course this is all academic. NIN has been a platinum selling alternative band since the late 80's so he could easily sell bucket loads of records. The lesser known independent artist still has to struggle to get heard so this release mechanism isn't much use.

Anyway, stop reading this crap and go and download the first 9 tracks free and check it out.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Free Drum Samples For Download

Because I am such a generous and giving person I have put up a load of drum kits samples I created for my last album, Distant Horizon, for free on the Haunted House Records website.

First up there are 22 kits from an old Korg Electribe ER-1. Then there is a kit sampled from a Yamaha DD-10 kids drum machine. I have not circuit bent this device yet, so it is a clean kit. Lastly there is a drum kit an old Yamaha PSS-80 keyboard.

You can download the samples from here.

Have fun using them. I used a lot of these samples on the album, and when you combine them with some effects processing you can get some quite interesting sounds out of them.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Electronic Critters Sample CD

Way back at the beginning of last year when I was planning the Distant Horizon album I started a marathon circuit bending spree over 4 months. The intention was to use a lot of the sound samples from this in the making of the album.

After I had made lots of circuit bent recordings, I chopped up all the sounds and started processing them with weird and wonderful effects. This created some really quite bizarre and alien noises which featured heavily on the album.

That whole process was so much fun, I carried on making circuit bent samples and also carried on with the processing of them. I then decided that these would be interesting to release as a sample CD for other electronic musicians.

Well, I am nearly at the end of the project. All the samples are finished, I just have to compile the final DVD image. The disc will contain over 700 raw circuit bent samples and over 250 processed alien sounding textures and atmospheres. All samples will be provided in both 16bit and 24bit wav file formats.

Also on the disc will be a free creature promotional album. I have registered the domain name for the sample cd. This is I just need to build the site. Once this is done I will put the sample pack up for pre-order. The prices are not set in stone yet, but I am looking at around £20 for the pre-order special offer, and £25 for the final disc once it is released.

More information plus some example sounds will be posted soon.

The new website I am going to put together to support this disc will also hopefully bloom into a more in-depth resource for circuit benders.