FREE SAMPLE PACK: Tubular Bells

Download free from Bandcamp (no email address needed)

This was a fun opportunity. Sampling tubular bells! The sustain on these things was fairly insane! I tapped each bell with roughly the same amount of force (chime hammer).

The 18 bells go from C1 to F2.
They were recorded in Mono using a Shure SM57 with a FETHEAD Pre-amp. Recorded at 24-bit, 48kHz.
A small amount of post-production was done to remove any background or electrical noise.
A short fadeout has been applied.
All recordings were normalised to -3dB without limiting or compression added.

Samples captured by Cask J. Thomson and released free via my website CASK.Zone (https://cask.zone)

Released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

You can use these royalty-free for any releases: free or commercial. All I ask is that you don’t sell them or redistribute them without asking first. Crediting me or thanking me in any of your release notes is very much appreciated, but not required. I’d love to hear what you come up with!

FREE: Linn LM-1 Drum Computer Samples (with bonus cassette tape capture)

I plan to release a range of presets, impulse responses, synth, and drum samples as well as field recordings and various other assets for your music making journey.

You can use these royalty-free for any releases: free or commercial. All I ask is that you don’t sell them or redistribute them without asking first. Crediting me or thanking me in any of your release notes is very much appreciated, but not required. I’d love to hear what you come up with!

My first sample pack contains the high-quality digital recordings from the iconic Linn LM-1 drum computer.

The audio was captured by yours truly. These are available as 24-bit 48kHz wav files. Another folder, titled ‘tape’, features the samples as digitised from a cassette tape in which the drum machine was recorded to via the legendary Tascam Portastudio 244. The tape was an unbranded generic, so don’t expect much 😊

There is a tonne of free and paid Linn samples available, but I figured I’d share my own recordings from the unit. This is the unit used and sampled in the debut HELIXIRx album Authenticity.

Here’s what’s included:

  • Bass
  • Cabasa
  • Clap
  • Closed Hat
  • Conga
  • Conga 2
  • Cowbell
  • Cowbell 2
  • Crash
  • Crash 2
  • Open Hat
  • Ride
  • Ride 2
  • Sidestick
  • Snare
  • Snare 2
  • Tambourine
  • Tom 1
  • Tom 2
  • Tom 3
  • Tom 4
  • Tom 5 

TECHNICAL INFORMATION:

Prior to recording, the LM-1 was cleaned with contact cleaner. DeoxIT Contact Cleaner & Rejuvenator ‘paint’ has been applied to the output jacks. The recordings were captured at 24-bit 48000Hz. The original unit samples at around 28kHz with 8-bit resolution. Some of the EPROMs installed on the LM-1 may be non-original components. There are no distinguishable markings or labels on the chips. As it’s a second-hand borrowed machine with little known history, I am unable to confirm what’s what. To me, they all sound good!

The unit used is a 110v model from Japan, so a good quality 240V-100V 50W Isolated Step-Down Transformer with an Australian plug was used.

The cassette tape was digitised using a freshly serviced Yamaha Natural Sound deck. This was captured at 24-bit 48kHz via a portable Zoom H8 recorder. No noise reduction was used or applied after recording. Each sample on the cassette was recorded with a tail of a few seconds (to capture all frequencies and silence I assume).

DOWNLOAD:

Available free (or a kind donation) at the CaskZone Bandcamp (no email address needed)

Introduction to my Organisation & Workflow Series

I’m very OCD about my composing, tracking and mixing sessions. I’ve decided to document my workflow and how I get things done. There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to making music and my ideal environment is likely extreme for others, but I hope some of my ideas will inspire your own methods and maybe you’ll improve mine with your suggestions.

Throughout this series of articles, I’ll detail my track naming, colour schemes, composing and mixing aids and organisation aids such as the search software I use on my computer and the formula and folder structures I use to keep everything neat. I’ll also dive into the hardware I use to help me along the way such as the Elgato Stream Deck and Macro keyboards available on the market.

Stick around. I’ll update this post with a table of contents for each part of the series once they’re written and published 🙂

HELIXIRx coming to TIDAL Masters and Other Updates!

Authenticity, the debut offering from my retro synth-pop project HELIXIRx will be rolling out to TIDAL Masters as part of their MQA program. This ensures that the 24-bit 96KHz source for the digital release is available as part of TIDAL’s high resolution platform.

You can grab the full resolution master at Bandcamp, or if you’re looking for the highest possible quality version, the tape transfer is available exclusively through NativeDSD. Information about the recording and mastering process for this version is available at the NativeDSD website.

So, if streaming is your preference, then be sure to listen to the album on TIDAL and see how it sounds.

 TIDAL has partnered with MQA to deliver something substantially better: an authenticated and unbroken version (typically 96 kHz / 24 bit) with the highest possible resolution—as flawless as it sounded in the mastering suite. And exactly as the artist intended it to sound.

TIDAL Masters page

As always though, if it sounds good to you then that’s what is important. When the album was mixed and mastered, I gave specific instructions to the wonderfully talented SAFFARI of whom did a great job at capturing the dynamics I had in mind — and that’s “how the artist intended it to sound” so don’t get caught up in the different versions of the album if the version you’ve got sounds good in your ears.

I’m already well into tracking the follow-up album and we will be releasing an EP of instrumentals soon I suspect.

Thanks everyone for the support!

Moving Forward…

Nobody expected the 2020 we would all have. I am realistically suspicious that 2021 won’t be much better in terms of political drama, pandemics, and the cost of living for many of us.

When I wrote Surviving on Borrowed Time which released at the end of 2019, my aim was to compose a dystopian adventure that focused on the little things such as being followed, running out of supplies and being on the move constantly. There’s nothing I hate more than moving to a new house and I was producing SOBT during a time where I’d finally settled and yet wasn’t sure how long I’d be settled for (having moved to a new country, town, and city over 10 times in 10 years thanks to the rental property market and various life goals).

To put it into a few lines from Cataclysm in Winter:

No one paid attention to the warnings broadcast on the television...We just sat there waiting in our own personal detention.

Despite it being a generic concept, the album released worldwide at the beginning of 2020 and did not exactly age well. Empty supermarket shelves, people failing to take heed of warnings having lost trust in politicians, medical professionals, and authority. It is a cliche story that has been told endlessly in every media available – so I’m not claiming it to be a prediction of the year that would follow its release. The follow up album In Our Final Moments was completed with several tracks mixed and mastered before I decided to delay the project and start work on the wholesome and overall opposite of my Cask music, HELIXIRx.

Much of the album could easily be described as my heaviest and rawest effort, but I felt discouraged by the concept album idea – – with the albums set to be a trilogy – – and now it seems that I won’t be the only one to write about isolation and the way humanity responds to a pandemic such as Covid-19. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, I’m sure other progressive artists will capture things on a grander scale with more listeners but having the experiences I had in 2019; I decided it best to look at producing and developing my skills in other projects for a little while.

In October 2019, I was involved in a car accident that involved me losing control of my beloved classic Saab 900, rolling down a mountain and landing upside down underwater. To this day I don’t know how I managed to escape, but the life-changing events took place in the months that followed. I refused to milk the story or tell the world how close I may have come to death, but it’s extraordinary how many people would be blissfully unaware had you died. I guess in the world of social media it’s not uncommon to expect that you have far fewer friends than you thought. I often wonder how long it would take for me to disappear from the internet and my phone number until people start asking questions.

At the end of the day, 2020 taught me that I am more excited and enthusiastic about projects outside of the Cask albums and as a result, I’ve decided to leave everything on the backburner and continue my adventures elsewhere. Some of my best tracks feature on In Our Final Moments (in my opinion) and although it seems a shame to leave the mixed and completed tracks in the same pile as  partially mixed, I feel uninspired when I open the session files and begin listening. The tracks are likely best suited for a better voice and who knows what the future holds, working with HELIXIRx and keeping my vocals in the background has been a great experience, so maybe these albums will float on with a different singer. I have too many musical and non-musical projects to think about right now! The best thing I can do is continue doing what I enjoy.

So, what is the point of this blog post? Well, I have received a few emails from people asking when they can expect the second part of Surviving on Borrowed Time; and rather than say “the time isn’t right” or drag it out, I’d prefer to clarify that I’ve shelved my solo ventures for now as I feel that there’s little point in making music if it doesn’t satisfy the musician.

To carry on the cringe of quoting one’s own lyrics. I’ll end the post with the lyrics from Hourglass:

You’ve always wanted to leave your mark
But I can’t let you rewind
When you’ve finally achieved something
You’ve run out of time
I was always wasted by you
I’m no longer on your side

Presenting HELIXIRx – sounds of the 80s with a modern twist!

A change of pace as I take a little bit of time out of doing the usual progressive rock stuff. I’ve been composing some synthwave/synthpop under the artist HELIXIRx and have also had the role of the retro art and various collaborations. The debut album Authenticity is due October 2020 and features 14 catchy tracks. The album will be released via streaming services and as a CD. The analog version of the album will be given a ‘retro’ tape master and will be transferred to Direct Stream Digital and released later this year.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Trevor Horn. In my opinion, The Buggles were a very underrated act whose brilliance was overshadowed by their hit Video Killed the Radio-Star. The album Age of Plastic is in-fact one of my desert island discs. Growing up and loving 80s music and the culture and visuals that surrounds the decade; I found that everything Horn, and Geoffrey Downs touched was pleasure to my ears. As a huge fan of prog-rockers YES, my journey into synthesiser-based pop was always inevitable, but I never found a true outlet despite my long-lasting love for retro synthesisers and analog equipment.

As a result, it was only natural I’d enjoy anything that resembles, clones or pays tribute to that era.

With Covid19 giving me endless boredom as a bit of a joke I started doing some retro music with cheesy effects. Eventually it led to me becoming a bit more serious about making everything glue together perfectly. There are at least 40 tracks I scrapped in the process. Countless hours wasted until I decided I wanted to pursue the ‘good’ tracks further and the result is Authenticity.

Pre-order Authenticity and grab the first set of tracks instantly!

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