Sep 9 2011

The Line 6 Post

Hello folks,

Two blogs in one week?! You are lucky…

My latest album The Knowledge of Things To Come was featured in this month’s newsletter from Line 6. So I thought now would be a good time to say a few things about my effects setup for the solo project. Over the last few months since the album was released, a lot of people have been asking me how I get all the sounds and what effects I used. Let me clear that up for you…

After I finished Mandala, I decided that I wanted to further explore the world of multi-effects. I used my Lexicon MPX-G2 with the Looperlative for all the sounds on Mandala and whilst I loved some of the sparkly sounds and pitch shift effects, I couldn’t quite get the more guitar-orientated tones I was looking for. After much research online and faffing about in various guitar shops I eventually decided to invest in a Line 6 Pod X3 Pro (the rackmounted version). I also bought the FBV foot controller to give me some proper control.

The unit is dead easy to program and some of the presets (I use both bass and guitar presets) are astounding. They are also incredibly easy to tweak. I always found the Lexicon UI massively complicated and unrewarding, but the X3 Pro is very intuitive and sounds great. Each patch I program is like having access to a whole new rig and switching between sounds is fast and reliable, especially with the foot controller.

Line 6 have been very helpful and have been plugging the album since it’s release a few months ago. They asked me to upload some of the key tones from The Knowledge of Things To Come to their Custom Tone site so that other Pod users can download my patches and work with them on their own machines. So I uploaded six of the key tone patches from the album. You can download them all at the following address:

I hope you have fun with some of the patches. The L For Leather patch is particularly fun…

If you haven’t got your copy of the album yet, you can download it from the Music page, where you’ll also find Mandala (CD and download) and the Rejectamenta EP. I’ve still got plenty of CD copies of Mandala left, so if you want a signed copy just let me know when you order.

Here’s a little player so you can have a listen. Until next time…

Apr 12 2011

New Solo EP News & Artwork Preview

Hello folks,

Well the time has come to start releasing new music once more. As you already know I’ve been toiling away on a bunch of new solo bass material here at Little Towers, trying to put together a new album to follow Mandala. As I mentioned in a previous post a couple of weeks ago, the intention was to put out a 10-track album plus a four track EP including the songs that didn’t quite fit on the record.

Well I’ve sorted the track listing for both the album (which is currently going under the title The Knowledge of Things To Come) and the EP and they both work a treat. Today I’ve been speaking to Steve Alexander (of Little Alex), who has agreed to master the EP sometime over the next week so you can expect a release announcement very soon.

This probably won’t mean much at this stage, but here’s the track listing for the Rejectamenta EP:

  • feel for a pulse
  • must get out [more]
  • the rhythmatist
  • lullabye

This will be the first release I’ve put out using my new Line 6/Looperlative setup, so I’m really excited to see what you all think of the new sounds I’m using. The music is quite different from Mandala, and sounds even less like a solo bass record. I’ve included some of the more ‘glitchy’ tracks from the sessions on the EP so you should get a good feel for what the forthcoming album will sound like. I’m going to release it exclusively via Bandcamp as a download only, using the ‘Pay What You Want’ model, ie; you can pay what you feel the music is worth to you as a listener (including for free). This is an experiment on my part really to see how that model works for niche music like mine and I’ll be blogging the results nearer the time of the album release, which should be in a few months time.

So, I shall leave you for now with a little album artwork preview. I put the cover together myself this time using the excellent free Gimp image-manipulation software, which I would heartily recommend to anyone currently engaged in such activities without the aid of a Photoshop-style safety net.

Until next time…


Mar 24 2011

New Solo Record News…

Hello folks,

Thought it was about time I wrote a short post about this new record I’ve been working on over the last couple of months. It’s only fair…

Most of you have heard Mandala by now. Some of you might have the CD. More of you have probably got the download version from here, Amazon, or iTunes. So you know what it is that I do when playing solo. If you don’t, then click the Music tab at the top and have a listen 🙂

I’ve changed my setup quite a lot since Mandala. Both the live rig and the recording setup. I’ve now moved on to Pro Tools and my trusty Mbox 2 Mini; which has finally decided to start working with my LP1. The recorded sound is infinitely cleaner now and having it in Pro Tools will enable me to do so much more in post-production and will also make life a lot easier going to mastering. Just sold the old Toneport UX2 on eBay 🙂

ps. Geek Alert!! Am gonna talk about gear quite a bit here. Sorry to the Duke and TDC fans who’ve unwittingly stumbled upon a bass geek-fest…

I’ve added a Pod X3 Pro and a FBV Shortboard to the live rig which has, to be perfectly frank, revolutionized the whole process for me. I used my Lexicon MPX G2 for the guitar effects on Mandala and got some great sounds. But I could never get the kind of over-processed synth effects I was really after and the UI was an incredible faff to get around; especially during a live performance. I’m still using the Lexicon in the effects loop of the X3. Couldn’t quite live without the great pitch shift effects (which are the mandolin-esque parts on Mandala) and those strange shimmering sparkly noises, but they’re used sparingly…

The Pod X3 is fantastic. The sounds I’m using now are definitely inspiring me to write new material all the time. The presets are all top notch, easily editable and programming new patches from scratch is actually a pleasurable experience rather than a chore. Adding the FBV shortboard to the mix makes it ideal for what I do with live looping; it’s like having a whole bank of complete pedalboards right in front of me. The amp modeling has also opened up the control I now have over the basic sound of the bass as I write new tunes.

So, what’s the new material like? Well, most of the tunes are more organic and less ‘written’ than those on Mandala. I’ve revisited a couple of tunes that didn’t make the last album including Baliset and Go Quietly Now (you can hear the previous ditched incarnations on my Soundcloud page). I wanted this album to be very different sonically to Mandala. I’ve used a lot more ‘guitar’ effects and synth sounds than previously, and I’ve been more precious making any actual ‘bass’ parts sound more punchy and distinct. I’ve also been a lot more experimental with the recording/performance process. I’ve been looping more glitchy sounds, crackling cables and detuned effects to further remove the music from what would obviously be solo bass.

I’ve posted it before on the blog, but here’s one of the early demos again so you have some idea (sorry about the hiss)…

Glitch #1 by simonlittlebass

So far I have ten tracks completed that I’m really happy with. I’m going to continue spending time working on new material until the tunes gel as an album. I might even release the rest of the tracks as an EP around the same time. I’m finding this new looping rig really inspiring and the recording ‘hit rate’ has been much higher than with my previous setup. I’m probably going to release this record just as a download via Bandcamp, maybe adding it to iTunes etc later on. I might be tempted into doing a very short run of limited edition CD copies (100?), but I need to find a way of making it cost effective first.

I’m really excited about this new project. It’s been great working on this alongside the Little Alex material. Having the possibility of using live drums with my looped bass in a separate project has really helped concentrate my solo writing.

Exciting times 🙂