Drum & Bass Events Past, Present and Future

As the year winds down, there are going to be some kickin’ Drum & Bass concerts come our way here in the UK.  It’s been a wonderful year of sound, perhaps my favourite of all, so I wanted to make sure all are aware of the concerts yet to come in case you have not gotten to catch any of the previous ones.

Keith Ray of AWOL is going to be jamming on October 25th at Building Six in London and the Jungle Mania- the True Pioneers of Jungle will be there right along with them.  These two heavyweights in techno electric are sure to knock our socks off.

Did you get to experience Sven Väthand Cocoon perform at Building Six with earlier this month?  It was quite a wicked treat that reminded me of some classic D&B concerts of the past.  Don’t miss the 15-23rd November Cocoon concert in Brussels, whatever you do.  It promises to be as nasty as it gets.

On Halloween night at the O2 Academy in Brixton,  the legendary Andy C will be live with his broken beats both jungle and heavy and his second to none FX and lighting.  You know you can’t miss that and neither can I!

Early on in D&B, the pioneer groups shook up the houses and rocked the outdoors like Grooverider and LTJ Bukem in the Cream Courtyard in Liverpool which was one of the best ever events in my book.  Festivals and events were springing up in the UK in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  It was an exciting time that gave way to the electro beats we know today.

Being at one of the early festivals was to a Rock and Roller like being at Woodstock.  The music was fresh and new, heavy and hard, and there was excitement in the air and the feeling of being a bit naughty and rebellious as well.

Aphrodite at Pirate Station in 2009, was the largest D&B festival ever.  It was Pirate Station that got many of us going on the electronic techno-beat.  Held in Russia, Pirate Station, of course, happens every year and has been since 2003 when “Goldie”, “Technical Itch” and “Aphrodite” took the stage.  It seems odd that the biggest event was in Russia when the UK is so wild about R&B but that’s the way it went down.

Creamfields, the Edinburgh Festival, Lovebox and many other great D&B events celebrate the sounds that we hardcore fans find irresistible.  There’s nothing like experiencing it with thousands that feel the same and are committed to that techno electric beat just as we are.

If you are looking for a great way to bring in the New Year, keep your eyes peeled.  There are some big events that will be announced soon and I am watching and waiting for the release of the information that is sure to come shortly as the line-up begins.  I can’t think of any better way to bring in the New Year of 2015 than spending it listening to some great D&B, no matter where I end up doing it at or who I end up doing it with.

Drum & Bass: Tune in and Turn On

Drum

To some, myself included, it sometimes seems like the techno sound of Drum & Bass (or D&B as we know it) has been around forever.  That’s really not the case.  The electronic vibes we love didn’t debut until around the late 80’s and early 90’s but the process had been in the making for decades so in a way, D&B has been with us for some time.

Reggae is characteristic of bass that picks up the off-beat.  It’s a unique mix of jazz and rhythm and blues from America and mento music and calypso from Jamaica.  Although Reggae began in the 1960’s in Jamaica, Reggae roots began long before that.

Caribbean music, or Reggae, made its way to the United Kingdom not long after World War II.  That was widely due to the fact that Jamaicans were migrating to the UK by the groves and, of course, their music came along with the package.  When Jamaica won independence in the early 60’s, groups and producers let loose and a new era in music was born.  Bob Marley was one of the hot Reggae artists of the time.

Hip-Hop showed up on the scene in the 1970’s.  Disco, soul and funk merged together to form the genre we know as Hip-Hop.  Drum and Bass MC’s today still generally produce that sounds that came from that era.

Rave came around in the 1980’s.  “The Police”, “The Go-Go’s”, “The Talking Heads”, “Joe Jackson” and “Devo” were some of the groups that headed the New Wave Movement.  The synthesized sounds hypnotized fans and Rave became even more defined, sprouting huge and often dangerous Rave parties.  When society put the hammer down on Rave based parties, the fad began to fade away somewhat but Jungle soon took its spot.

Jungle is defined as minimal and has a hard, fast drum beat to it.  Popular Jungle groups are Q-Project, Deep Blue and Foul Play.  Although Jungle and D&B have differences for sure, Jungle is more similar to D&B than any other form of music.

Roni Size and Adam F had much to do with the transformation of Drum & Bass for they were wanting to take out the ghetto reputation and add a more jazzy tone.  Goldie came out with the album “Timeless” and R&B was well on the way to popularity.

Today we enjoy the product of many years of music formation in the making.  The dark and danceable, hard beat is the genre of choice for many of us.  The tech step sounds get us moving and are much more sophisticated that the noise of the past.  There is substance to R&B and it is downright addicting.  We who are fans can’t get enough.

We fans have a much better reputation from the Ravers of days gone by or even of the fans of Hip-Hop and gang associated music.  Many social diversities listen to R&B, that’s for sure.  We are a calmer, more musical appreciative group, in my opinion and have made our music what it is, or, perhaps it has made us what we are.

Sell or Scrap My Car

Haven’t you ever had a favorite old car that was a bit of a junker? Ok, maybe it didn’t have a sound system and the radio didn’t work anymore, but it was built well before Drum & Bass, at a time when the top 40 were enough on the radio. You didn’t expect much from it. If it was a classic, then you had something special: maybe an MG, or an Aston Martin Roadster. By golly, a stodgy old Bentley could have been yours. That’s a beautiful piece of metal! But if it was just an American, French, or Italian import without much distinction, then it was a modest form of transportation by comparison. And you loved it.

After beating it to death, however, did you find that it was ready to send your car for scrap metal recycling? As hard as that thought was, did you try to squeeze one more pound out of it? Of course, you had spent much to start with and if you amortize the expense over years and years (it was no doubt a hand-me-down from big brother or dad), it was a tiny sum indeed. But why not get even a few additional pence for your troubles in an ingenious way that few have seriously considered.

Did you ever visit that old local car boneyard and marvel at the colorful metal mounds—all that silver, black, red, white, and blue? There might have been a touch of cab yellow or British racing green. Did you wish you hadn’t seen it and never had envisioned your own precious auto in these parts? But you found yourself succumbing, did you not, to the temptation of some ready cash. (Actually I am told you have to accept a check these days, but if taxes aren’t an issues, who cares?)

Ok, you took the old heap for its last run. You spun around the countryside that one final time, purring through neighboring villages and towns. Then you got to its final resting place and bade the car a fond farewell. Time to sell the car for scrap, RIP. Can’t you see yourself in these shoes? I mean you couldn’t sell the darn thing even if the mileage was respectable for its age. You did think about it of course. It’s the easy way, but you couldn’t trust it for even one more kilometer on the road. Does this sound familiar? It certainly does to me. I was the one doing the mourning over my loss and the pouting about having to fork over big sums for a “new” used car, or worse yet monthly payments with interest.

I always go the used route, keeping alive the spirit of ecology and all that. I take care of my autos, but I think I will be a little more advanced in my choice this time and get something semi modern. That means of this century. That could mean fifteen years old already. But surely I can play my music with a bit more ease. I won’t get anything without a working player, mark my words.

USB is Everywhere

By now people know I am a high tech advocate, in music and in life. We could be talking kitchen appliances, shaving, or sewing machines. It doesn’t matter. The new versions hook you into an amazing digital realm of options that makes everyday chores simpler and faster. You can achieve superior results if you go high tech.

Such is my advice. Take the humble sewing machine. Grandma’s basic model did everything she could hope for in making tablecloths, clothing, a sofa cover, or a pillow. She could whip something up and decorate it after by hand. Not anymore! Now she can plug the darn thing into a USB port and get the computer to do all the work. She would have literally hundreds of patterns and stitches at hand in a second. You can make a factory production out of one device. There are heaps of computerized sewing machines, even computerized sewing machine reviews online.

You can sync your cell phone, your tablet, your laptop, and even your bathroom scale to your laptop—so why not a sewing machine. USB is everywhere. That’s my new motto. It is your portal to progress and productivity. In any case, you expect a lot out of this centuries old fabricator. Fabrics are different these days, and knits and stretchy stuff needs special treatment. Kids want fancy applique and smocking, mom wants monogram towels. Dad’s jeans need double top-stitched seams. Some garments need a quick needle change and tighter stitching intervals.

We are all budget minded and the more we can repair things at home the better. Tailors charge an arm and a leg. Sometimes you can’t avoid them, but if you learn advanced techniques like buttonhole making and zipper installation, you are well ahead of most people. You feel like a pro. Okay, this is mostly a woman’s world, but not as much as you think. Male designers are on the rise and they use the sewing machine with ease. Kids are jumping on board as they like manual tasks. Stay-at-home and/or fathers have learned the art well.

Since this blog is really about technology, it will make the point today using a practical example. Something you didn’t expect to be so high tech. It is a way to honor the digital revolution and how much it has impacted everyday life. Even if you don’t sew as yet, you can appreciate how modern the experience is; and you certainly avail yourself of its handiwork in so many ways.

The moral is that most appliances go toe to toe with the computer to operate at the highest level. Things are so much more professional as a result. It is the same with cooking and the latest gadgetry associated with that old realm. Both arts of homemaking have been updated significantly. It is a fact of modern life: you either wallow in obsolescence or you excel with technology.

So trade in that old sewing machine and start learning the new world of crafts and wares. It is a do-it-yourself era in a whole new guise. Join me in my adoration of this mechanical wizard that puts the finer things in life at your fingertips—literally!

Tech versus Tough: Electric or Razor Shaving – Which is Best?

To be or not to be, to shave or not to shave, to use electric or blades—these are the big questions in life. I have thought long and hard on the first one, not so much on the others. But there comes a time when you ask yourself if you should still be using that old safety razor. Yeah, it’s functional and does the job. No, it does not always give the best shave. It’s like music: you can go with the oldies or swing with the techno dance stuff. It’s your choice, but sometimes better decisions can be made in accordance with the times. Out of date means what it says. You are off kilter and out of sync.

I began to ponder the mysteries of shaving when my skin started to turn red and blotchy. The last time I thought much about it I was maybe sixteen. Probably the instigator is my new shaving cream. I began to be sensitive to it, but who knows! It could be the aftershave. I checked my razor blades and they were sharp, maybe too sharp. (You can’t really adjust this. You can buy different brands, of course, and spend a lot of time and money at it.) I asked around, read up on the subject, and took a look at the marvels of electric shavers. You can program them to suit your skin. You can adjust them for a smooth, clean shave without expectation of irritation. Wow. No toxic shaving cream!

Here is an innovation that has been around practically as long as shaving itself. Well, not quite, but close. It’s high time I went high tech. After all, I do that with my music. So how about a comparison: tech versus touch. You can do a little experiment. A few days with each device and an empirical analysis of the data—what does your skin feel like? If you can’t tell the difference, then go with practicality. You can use both. Some people alter their selection for travel. If you can see a real significant difference, you have succeeded in conducting a successful mini test case all by yourself.

If you aren’t scientific in orientation, just use both for a few alternating days and see if that incipient redness remains or abates. This is a visual approach that anyone can do. When talking about precision, guys tout both types of shavers. As for safety from cuts and nicks, the electric wins hands down. Size and storage are other issues to consider. Now it’s getting complicated.

I have to conclude that both are good options for particularly individuals. There are heaps of electric shaver reviews online; I found good ones at shaverbargains.com. There just isn’t a hard and fast rule. It’s more than a matter of taste or expense as it is reflected in your appearance. Don’t assume the worst about either mode of shaving without having tried the newest versions. You may be surprised if you haven’t gone high tech as yet. That’s the only sure thing I advocate—for now.

Outdoor Festival Power

We have a lot of music festivals in jolly old England. In many cases, this is where the music started. We can rival the US any day in quantity and quality. Legions attend and are known to travel far and wide to get to the best events. Some go on for hours, others for days. It is a social whirlwind and panoply of choices. I wouldn‘t miss it for the world. If you haven’t attended as yet, you are missing something special. Get a calendar and get with it.

Some of us like our creature comforts when we go, especially in the winter. The days are shorter and the nights get cold. We lug blankets and coats galore, not to mention heaters and electric stoves. The hearty souls tote generators for lighting. I will now admit that I have a small portable job for my sources of music—to keep them up and running. I found a pretty good portable generator review here and bought it online. It emits just enough power for my special needs. As for the rest, I can rough it with the best of them under a down quilt.

The music can warm your soul enough so that you don’t notice the elements. You forget to eat and when you do, it can be cold fare. You are there for a single purpose. This is not a camping outing for kids. You do meet people and share facilities and learn how to mingle and mix. You are usually on the same music wave length and feel even superior when you can convert a newbie to your favorite style.

So, all in all, generators are a boon to the festival experience. Your electronic devices eventually die and there are no plugs around to revive them. The festival operators have the big ones for major stage lightening and for amps, microphones, and the like. They are not going to share. So set your eyes on some reasonable models for outdoor use and avoid the problem altogether. You will attract some strays, but you may like what you get!

I would avoid something too heavy and powerful. You don’t need it or you shouldn’t be out there. There are only so many trips to the car you can stand to make. Food and other accoutrements are more important. But music is something you can’t live without. During festival breaks and downtime, you have it to remind yourself why you are present—what you came to do. Just a cell phone and an ear device will cut it in most cases; but if you are with friends, get out the mini speakers and thrive. It’s party time for any group. Who wants to be a loner at a music festival!

Make a list of things you want to take before you go. This is my personal advice as I have forgotten some essentials all too often. You then have to beg, borrow, and steal. You will need plenty of water, snacks, fuel for the generator, maps to get there, etc. You can’t be too practical!

Host Your Own Internet Website

So you have a great idea for a website and you’re ready to jump on the world wide band wagon.  Maybe you are going to be promoting yourself as an emerging artist or simply promoting a cause dear to your heart. A blog or website like ours is a great way to reach your audience.

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to host your own website anymore.  In fact, you don’t even have to be technically savvy, at all.  For those who don’t expect a huge wave of traffic to the site, there are some great free options available that are well worth the minimal effort you will need to put into them.

What you do need to be is cautious.  Not just every web hosting site is safe and not all are legit either.  Do your homework and look for authentic reviews.  Check more than one location for reviews as sites can conjure up their own false testimonials.

Some of the best free third-party hosting sites are Google, Weebly and WordPress.  You will be able to access instructions and sometimes support as well.  You can usually acquire a domain name through these types of hosting sites and many make it very simple to design and build the site.

There are also low-cost hosting sites that you may want to consider if you do not want restrictions or ads that oftentimes accompany free sites.  Go-Daddy is one such provider.  Many free third-party hosting sites offer an upgrade to this kind of service.

Free PHP MySQL is available too.  It is a web page hosting service that provides PHP scripting and also free database support.  JustHost, iPage and HostGator are examples of free PHP.  The object of the game is to make something very complicated very simple instead, making it a breeze for everyday people to have a personal home page, be it for business or pleasure.

You can also host your own domain without a third party at all.  That’s when it gets tricky but it is not impossible and may not be as difficult as you think.  The advantages to doing this is that you have more control and less limitations but it can get costly and if your internet or computer go down, you lose your site.  You will also need to register you own domain name whereas if you are going through a hosting site, that is generally done for you.

You can actually host your own site but do so under the umbrella of a program such as Linux.  The upside to doing it that way is that it is more secure as a rule.  You will also be able to access assistance when needed.

The options are out there.  Now you need not be a technical genius to host your own website.  That brainstorm you have for a website can easily come to life now, all you need to do is decide which way you want to go.  Do you want to put out a bit of cash in return for ease?  Do you want to put up with some minimal ads to save some bucks?  Or, do you want to go the road less traveled and put in a little more brain power and time and host your own site totally independently?  The choice is yours and that is the best thing of all.  Now, the choice is…truly your own.

IT in the Kitchen

I like my music techo, and I like my kitchen as high tech. No old appliances that work only half the time for me. No frayed cords, peeling paint, rusty metal, missing parts, or chipped glass. It’s all about state-of-the-art in what you listen to and what you use to feed and nourish yourself. Good ones, that you can find reviews on sites like appliancesreviewed.com. These are the basics. I like to keep them both on a modern plane. I like it all new.

Are there high tech hand mixers, bread makers, slicers and choppers, and blenders? You bet! Are there stoves and refrigerators that are computerized and digitalized? You bet! Do you have to second guess your appliances and pray for them to work? It is an emphatic “no!” Now you can program your coffeemaker to go on just before you wake up and your faucet to run at just the right temperature in the kitchen and the bath. You can make perfectly sliced bread and mince perfect nuts in a flash.

Some people say to me, “Who cares?” I answer, “Why live in another century?” The 21st is here. If you own anything from a bygone era, toss it now and don’t look back. You are a product of your time and place. Even retro stuff, while it may look old-fashioned, is made in the modern way. Take your bathroom scale. You can wirelessly align it with your laptop and keep a log of your weight. You can load it with info so it will send you messages when you approach the point of no return. It can even go on high alert.

I particularly enjoy the wonderful coffee systems on the market. Some are suitable for an office and some for just one person at home. They roast up your favorite flavors with a little cartridge, but it seems like brew from a fresh pot. Your refrigerator is now a wonder to behold with all the different compartments regulated to different temperatures. Never any soft ice cream! As for the stove, it is digital magic. We are talking efficiency and time-savings; but more than this, we are talking about living in a better world of novel inventions.

As music progresses utilizing the latest technology, so do kitchen appliances — those staples of our everyday lives. We cannot be untouched by the electronic revolution. It exists in the entertainment sphere and the practical realm of existence. Why not embrace when and where you can? I don’t understand the intimidation some people have about it. Ideas that are decades old still have not taken root in the larger population. Let me be an advocate for change and the bellwether of trends. Where do you find yourself: in the mainstream or on the edge? Tell the truth.

So let go of fears and barriers. Rejecting the new reflects a personality disorder and the desire to stay comfortably in the status quo. It’s like staying under the covers of your bed as the world passes you by. So turn on the techno and tune in to technology, in your kitchen—and in your life!

Underwater IT

I am pretty careful about my work space as a rule. I try to keep it clean and neat so I can find things in a flash when I need them. I don’t spill coffee on my papers, and I don’t create piles of stuff where documents get lost in oblivion. I don’t neglect caring and maintenance of computers and tablets, and I keep track of my emails and iTunes. Mr. Orderly is my name. So, imagine my surprise and dismay when the office went into panic mode and a flurry of activity was inaugurated one fine day to save the IT infrastructure.

Was it an earthquake? A terrorist invasion? An act of God? No, it was just a leaky office kitchen faucet that got out of control. A cheap nasty faucet, they should have jumped online and checked out some kitchen faucet reviews. No one wanted to fix it; and after a few weeks, it broke in a deluge of water that ran throughout the building floor, drowning every low-lying object in sight. After considerable mopping and baling, you could finally walk on the soaked carpet. Agh. We knew how much it was going to smell. Each employee was responsible for their own equipment and personal belongings, but someone had to address the computers in the IT department. No one lifted a finger.

Lest we all had to go for a moment without our internal connections, we looked to the nearest flunky to help out with the dirty work. He had to move everything and restore order. He made an inventory and assessed conditions. What did we do while we sat around waiting? I, for one, went for a moment of techno Drum & Bass. Say what you will, it calmed me down and quelled my impatience. It was just what the doctor ordered for frayed nerves.

Fortunately, some observant soul turned off the faucet and called the plumber who arrived within the hour (at considerable expense). The IT situation, however, remained dire for a couple more. Water and electronics don’t mix well. The damage was uncertain and we expected to see some major expense in the IT area shortly. That’s what you get for using cheap fixtures, Mr. Manger. Supervisors never consider the condition of the environment. No special perks like updated faucets! But now they had to face the consequences of their useless penny pinching. As dutiful staff, we pooled our money and presented an envelope with a pictured stapled to the front of a quality and pricy state-of-the-art device with an adjustable neck, low conservation-oriented water flow, spray choices, and a hot water tap. This was long overdue. We made a few hints about painting the kitchen as well.

Meanwhile, everything soaked was drying out nicely although a visit from the professional carpet cleaners was in order. We lost some things; we saved some things. It was a memorable day with a lesson to be learned. To avoid what we had to face, be sure to check your own home or work faucets asap. You never know when they will rebel and explode.

D & B in the Shower

Do you know what I think is a really cool indulgence? Having a speaker in the shower! There some really cool ones I found here at agreatshower.com. Then I don’t have to miss a minute of my favorite Drum & Bass tunes. I can mentally dance to the techno magic as I prime myself for the day ahead. If you are like me and enjoy long sessions under the spray, this is also for you.

There are dozens of speakers on the market that are easy to install and are waterproof. You don’t have to go crazy. Then again, if you are particular, you can get a whole system to spec. As for the rest of us, try some of the colorful options available online that suit every taste and price point.

Under twenty bucks you can get a Bluetooth water resistant wireless model and for a bit more you can tap into your iPhone or Android. ThermaSol makes speakers for just over a hundred dollars while Logitec ups the ante a little higher. You get what you pay for; and if sound is important, not just noise, go for the better product. Boom and Brookstone are in the mid-range if you are balking at the expense. Try a few out or ask around so you don’t have to regret your purchase.

They are all hands free, of course, and come in finishes to match your décor or just your personal shower taste. They may look like simple gadgets, but the music they bring to your watery enclave is divine. Taking a shower is more than selecting the right head or adjustments. It can put you in the zone!

Some people see these morning ablutions as rituals. Or maybe you are a night owl. No matter. Water washes away all the sins of the species and cleanses the soul. Doing it to music makes it that much more sacred. Some people like to achieve peace and a hint of Nirvana; others like to rev up and energize. What a great invention the shower head was! I don’t care if you are just rinsing sand off at the beach outside in a crude stall or you are in a two-person cavern with adjacent state-of-the-art fixtures.

Listening to music in the shower is my idea of enjoying the best of techno Drum & Bass in a kind of everyday echo chamber. Whether at full volume or through an earpiece, the beat goes on. It is piped into the body note by note, bar by bar. Lower the spray level or ramp it up, change the head direction and the flow. Man, you are in control!

There may be better ways to listen to your favorite tunes, but I wanted to share one novel one you may not have tried as yet. Yeah, we have our laptops and cell phones loaded and ready. We have a car radio or other automobile device for our CDs of choice. We have plug in and portable devices galore. So add the shower to your list right now.

How to Get Started in Drum & Bass: A Beginner’s Guide to Greatness

Did you know that Drum & Bass (or D&B as it is commonly known) originated in the UK?  That’s just one reason it is near and dear to my heart but there are a thousand other reasons as well that it is my favourite genre.

If you are interested in learning the techniques of D&B, it will help to know the basics and a little history as well.  Drum & Bass originated in the form of Wave music way back in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  Then it progressed into Jungle, Jamaican and so on.  The development of D&B as we know it has been an interesting one that has made way for all the sub genres we enjoy today.

To really excel in D&B, you need an ear for rhythm, of course.  The mixing of the bass lines and drum lines, the tones and the volume of each requires a keen ear and, in my opinion, some talent as well.  I believe, when it comes to putting out D&B, you either have it or you don’t.  That’s not to say you cannot acquire the skill but to a certain extent, it comes fairly naturally to those who are great at it.

What equipment do you need to get started?  Electronic music is pretty easy and inexpensive to get into compared to many other forms of music.  A great program is the simplest way.  I recommend trying one like Reason, Synapse Audio’s Orion, Spinwarp and Sound on Sound.  You will be able to mix and record with a myriad of features at your fingertips like loop players, machines for drums, guitar sounds, vocals, loops, synths and so on.  You can basically be a pro without paying pro prices.

Of course the more you put in, financially and otherwise, the more you will get out.  A program like Reason that calls for a little more in the brain and talent department can take you to the top of your game if you are wanting to master R&B rather than just play around with it.

You can learn D&B on your own or by way of a program.  If you do, it is a good idea to follow some forums and blogs so that you glean from the knowledge and experience of others.  You can avoid some common mistakes and get a head start.

Lessons are another option.  There are individual classes as well as group classes that can be found on the web or in at a physical location.  Of course there are tremendous obvious advantages to taking a course.

You can start with little or no equipment but…it will show.  You will want to upgrade as you can.  You’ll want an audio interface, a microphone of good quality and eventually, a pro-program will need to be in the picture as the free or cheap one that serves a beginner’s purpose doesn’t live up to the needs of a pro.

What’s great about learning R&B is that you can start on the ground floor and work your way up.  You will get good experience by doing so.  Along the way you will discover if R&B is really where you want to go and if you have what it takes to do so and if you find that the answer to both of those is “yes”, God speed to you.