MUMMAAzone

You Can Take the Man Out of the City…..

But you can’t take the cycling-addiction out of the man.

So, on a recent trip to the Highlands of Scotland, MUMMAAzone was curious how the bikers at this end of the world got their kicks, and when the opportunity to be shown round one of the most popular mountain bike tracks in the UK by the experienced rider Johnny Maitland, this writer couldn’t say no.

After getting a short briefing about the mountain bikes that we were riding, we headed into the woods at Aonach Mor, which contains a huge network of bike trails that are all sign-posted and graded for the experience required. Naturally, we start at the easiest one, “the Bubble route”… Awwwww. Sounds cute; but dodging patches of ice, rocks, and making a steep first climb, the indication was this isn’t a sport for little Barbie dolls.

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[Wild West Biker Johnny Maitland - Photograph by George Maitland]

After the climb, the path gets narrower and we joined onto the Puggy Line route, where Johnny explained some techniques that he had learnt in his four years of biking up here. “You need to keep the bike flowing like a burn” was an important nugget of truth about maintaining a constant speed through the course, thus helping to control the flow of the bike over any wobbles and bumps. And there were plenty of those!

Not only that, the steep descents were terrifying, and seemingly impossible at first. But after a chat about body positioning, feathering the brakes, and hovering over the saddle, these soon became an absolute thrill to negotiate.

With it’s fast-paced action, fresh-air, and beautiful scenery, it’s easy to see why many people are getting into cross country mountain biking. And with every ride, there is the reward & satisfaction of learning more and more about the technicalities of this type of biking. So if you’re tired of threading the needle amongst stinky buses, and yearn for the days when more gears = cool (not the other way around), a wee jaunt up to Aonach Mor or some other forest might just be for you….


With so many trendy electro-pop bands out at the moment, it’s not often that one can capture attention with just one arrpegiated introduction to a song. Glaswegians CVRCHES seem to have managed this with “Science and Vision”, and this is only the start. After a tension filled verse delivered by Lauren Mayberry, the chorus, bought straight from the Pet Shop, hits and repeats over the following verse to increase the excitement and rush, as Martin increases the cut-off controls on the synthesizer for that fizzy/ euphoric feel. CVRCHES defy the trend and add emotional weight to the synth pop genre, recently defined by posturing electro-ponces. Give them, erm, praise.


Taken from the ‘Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery EP” touchtronic video game for the iPad and also the album of the game, this track is a highlight in both. Kicking off with a bass line signalling things to come, with a pensive and rhythmic shudder; it gives way to squelches, percussion and eventually a melody that could awaken the sprites of any forest into a firefly-lit jive on a mushroom easily. If only every computer game had music this good. 


Lets Talk About Space

Lets Talk About Space are two men on a mission to teach kids [and adults] about space, equipped with synthesizers, cellos, and whatever else comes to hand, crafting pop songs so catchy & entertaining you’d wish they were your physics teacher. Instead of a sarcastic, flappy mouthed, mean old man. I’d have paid more attention anyway.

They have released one EP so far, with a track documenting the first ever voyage into space - by a dog. An emotional song, focusing on the fact this was definitely a “one way ticket” for our poor furry explorer friend. Using rising, buzzing synth arps and a giant choral chorus, it’s a track will push the “sob” buttons of any animal lover out there.

Lunar Oscillations is another of the bands songs, featuring the legendary Silver Apples, who were famous for being early incorporators of electronics into their rock music, circa 1967. This track has more of a synth funk to it, and develops into a dreamy ballad about the wonders of the universe.

If they keep on like this, teachers around the world will be watching their backs!

http://www.facebook.com/LetsTalkAboutSpace

http://www.letstalkaboutspace.com/

https://twitter.com/letstalkspace

[Photograph from the Lets Talk About Space Facebook page]


More Sounds, Less Pounds 4 - The Theremin

The legendary Bob Moog used to make and sell these spooky little instruments way before inventing the Mini-Moog synthesizer and causing a revolution in music. Still one of the most famous and successful synth companies in the universe, it’s plausible Moog may never have bothered if it wasn’t for a certain handsome, be-spectacled, Russian gentleman: Leon Theremin.

This soviet inventor patented the Theremin in 1928, basically inventing electronic music at the same time. And it is still one of the few instruments you play without actually touching it. So if we said you could pick up one for €50-€100, you’d jump on the chance, right?

Well, if you’re not convinced yet, just think of that melody in “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys. Or remember live videos of Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page during their more shambolic jams, seemingly creating an ethereal howl just by moving his guitar neck backwards and forwards. He was playing a Theremin, with the neck of his guitar. Wow. This is not the conventional technique of course, and  if you want to hear how beautiful a Theremin can be, you need to see videos of the original Theremin virtuoso, Clara Rockmore, who actually helped Leon Theremin perfect the device.

The one we have here at MUMMAA Zone was actually a gift last Christmas, developed by a small eBay company in England, and does the job perfectly. There is no Theremin volume control on it, but this is sorted by the use of a dial instead. With clear instructions on how to tune, and a battery that seems to last an age, it’s great. And just remember, putting a little bit of echo on these guys makes them sound even better.

So go on, get one of these to spook out the neighbours, delight at parties, or even give your tracks that summery vibe.

NEW - here is a track MUMMAA just recording featuring the mighty Theremin

http://soundcloud.com/mummaa/clara-rockmore

Clara Rockmore - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSzTPGlNa5U

Check out eBay for the best Theremin deals.


The Yawns

I wish I was in Scotland on a [rare] sunny day, in a car with mates, driving at high speed through the Highlands, to a West coast beach like Sandeag or Morar. Because that’s one of the few situations where I think The Yawns self-titled debut album could sound even better. But that’s only a compliment. Even on this hypothermia-inducing, Baltic November’s day, it is brightening up the MUMMAA HQ with it’s warm sounds.

Kicking off with a rolling bass riff and a sunny guitar line, track one, “Summer’s Wasted” is an ethereal start to the album, with the rest of the record following in a similar vein. There is also the smooth melancholy of “Butterfleyes”, with it’s muffled vocals and strummed, indie-inspired guitar. “Take Me To The Moon Please” is an upbeat song with some ramshackle drumming and a super catchy chorus.

Utterly re-listenable, un-boring, inventive indie that should be championed in the days where most popular guitar bands are rehashing things that have been done a million times before. Excellent stuff.

Get the Album here -

http://theyawnsband.bandcamp.com/album/the-yawns

Like here -

http://www.facebook.com/itstheyawns

[Photograph from The Yawns Facebook page]


Mord Fustang - Nouveau Casino, Paris

 

Clubbing in Paris isn’t cheap: there are nae £1 drinks and discounted student entries here. Or at least, I hadn’t found them. So, here at MUMMAA, we’re all glad to have discovered Nouveau Casino in Paris. Free before 1AM? Yes please. Then I can afford to pay extortionate amounts of money on my shoe-box sized apartment, and go out to see Estonia’s finest electronic producer, Mord Fustang.

Now, when I think Estonia, I think gorgeous forests, more snow than The Cairngorm’s mountain range, and lots of brilliant grizzly bears. Electronic music artists aren’t the first thing that spring to my mind to be honest. But, I guess the dangers of hypothermia or being a bear’s lunch are all good reasons to stay inside at your laptop’s glow and synthesizer’s buttons all day, creating beats and riffs until your heart’s content. And that is what Mord Fustang is clearly an expert at.

With an extremely abrasive live sound, combined with pounding kick drums, he creates a set that is the electronic equivalent to a heavy metal concert. There are the sounds of old KORG MS-20 synthesizers being pushed to their distorted limits, and the more modern digital swathes of chords you might expect from trance music producers.

But it is always the heavy side to his music that prevails, creating an exciting, sometimes exhausting, and rock filled set. Check him out here.

http://soundcloud.com/mordfustang

http://mordfustang.tumblr.com/

http://www.facebook.com/mordfustang

[Photograph from Mord Fustang’s Facebook page.]


Got the Munchie’s? - East Side Burgers, Paris

 

Located on 60 Boulevard Voltaire, this Vegetarian/ Vegan restaurant takes a slightly different approach to satisfying the appetites of hungry veggies [and non-veggies] in a city dominated by ravenous meat eaters and terrible kebab shops. Rather than opting for the usual restaurant style establishment, this place is a Vegetarian fast food joint. Aye, a veggie fast food place. 

So, how can this work I hear you cry? Well, by providing the finest tofu burgers, topped with fresh ingredients, wrapped up in some of the most delicious buns you can get in Paris, East Side Burgers prove right from the start this concept can work. The ‘Oriental’ is a tasty burger, flavoured well, and topped with fried aubergines and onions. And the Halloween special with pumpkins was an absolute treat without any nasty tricks. But don’t worry if you missed that one off special: besides the Oriental, they sell three other styles of burger on various days of the week.

They also serve an interesting side called ‘nuggests aux fromage’, or cheese nuggets to you and I, fries, and a range of Vegan deserts like the Vegan cookies. So if you’re famished in one of the funnest neighbourhoods in the city, get yourselves there. Or if you just love something new, do the same, as this is the first ever 100% Veggie fast food place in Paris!

Just one criticism, and I guess it is more of a complement: please open later in the evening more often!!!

More - http://www.eastsideburgers.fr/en/

Like - http://www.facebook.com/pages/East-Side-Burgers/230060853766290

And they have a limited amount of free badges


MUMMAA’s new single - free download!

To celebrate the launch of the MUMMAA facebook page, here is the link to a free download of MUMMAA’s latest track, ‘Prepare for the Future’ - a song inspired by Neptunes like production, the ambient sections found in the middle of Pink Floyd albums, and cycling every single day.

Enjoy!

http://soundcloud.com/mummaa/prepare-for-the-future - click the arrow in the soundcloud player for the download.

http://www.facebook.com/mummaamusic

[Photograph by Ellen Armstrong]


Artist Profile - The Psychedelic Singh

Imagine you were dancing the night away in your favourite club, then, just when that bland moment when everyone has reached their peak of intoxication and are about to get kicked out onto the cold harsh streets of your post industrial city, this happens: the entire place warps to a parallel universe where everything that is good and colourful about India fuses itself to the music and stuff stays awesome.

That’s kind of what The Psychedelic Singh’s music is like. Melding club beats onto vocal snippets of traditional Indian singing, and throwing in a few rock guitar samples, he is basically sorting out Bollywood the way Rick Rubin sorted out the Beastie Boys. Oh wait, NO, The Psychedelic Singh has sorted out the Beastie Boys. Check out his remix of “Intergalactic” at the bottom of the page.

So if winter is getting you down and you want to add some spice and colour to your bleak days and cold nights, this guy is the man for you…..

http://soundcloud.com/the-psychedelic-singh/beastie-boys-intergalactic-mix


The Quest for the Lost Acid-Prog-Rock Group…

So I’m fifteen years old, and I’m relishing in the sonic joy that is a new Genesis tape I found in my Granny Katie’s loft after a hard day of making - and eating - tablet. After giving my ears a good  demolishing with their epic “Los Endos”, I flip the tape over, fully expecting some more live bootlegged Peter Gabriel-era Genesis action, but am shocked when I hear an unknown prog band, that are, well, exceptional to my fifteen year old ears. After weeks scouring the record fairs and buying Classic Rock Magazine’s “Progtastic” special issue, I was still unsure who this group were. Could they be Gong, I thought? It was as close as I could guess. Or maybe my Dad and Uncles were truly secret prog-rock geniuses. I never found out…

…So skip eleven years on (oh my merde!) and I see Gong are playing in a venue near me in Paris, I got too curious. We get there a little late, but in time to see the group launching through a number with the lyrics “break through the clock/ to the other side of midnight”, and also featuring the leader in a velvet red top hat, playing his guitar with a mathematical compass. Add on to this a woman wailing on and on, calling down Shalid, the Moon, and then firing into a pre T-Rex stomp, this is getting very proggy. Bingo me thinks!

Now, I had done some research on this before going to the venue, looking at photos and what not. And the main feeling at the intermission is “Man, I just want to see a guy dressed as a prawn play a tiny guitar”. Because from the photos online, this seems to be Gong’s thing. Enough of the space whisperer woman thinking she is an eagle flying the Cosmic jet stream! And without fail, out he comes, the angel prawn from another solar system, shredding that tiny guitar with all his elderly might. After that the whole concert becomes a kaildescope of Indian drumming, ripping sax solos, and hypnotic beats from the bands tight rhythm section. Astounding gig, despite the overworking of some songs. But hey! That’s prog!

And were Gong the missing link in my deep, nerdy teenage knowledge of prog bands? I’m still not sure, but seeing prawn man lived up to expectations.

The Angel-Prawn of Rock Decends….[Photo by Ellen Armstrong]

Gong played New Morning, Paris, on the 15/10/11


More Sounds, Less Pounds 3 - The MicroKORG

Celebrate 10 years of making all your electric dreams come true, joining Human Leagues, or, erm,  just sitting in your room making ambient drum and bass, because this year it is the 10th birthday of the powerful, yet small, MicroKORG synthesizer. Proving size isn’t everything.

This excellent performance and studio synth grabbed the flame of the original miniMOOG, because like that 1970’s synth, the MicroKORG also brought powerful synthesis to people with a smaller budget. It uses powerful DSP analog modelling, and basically all that means is you can set up this beast in the manner of an old and warm sounding analog synth, and have all the crafty benefits that digital-ness brings; like saving your sounds, or creating a harsh metallic racket. If you like. 

So, although the MicroKORG comes with a mind warping 128 pre-set sounds that you can sit for hours playing with - wowing siblings, parents, family dogs - the premier moment is when you realise you have the power to create your own sounds. So, if you remember high school physics telling you sound is made up of volume, timbre and frequency, you’ll get how the MicroKORG gives you the tools to mess around these things. If, like me,  you’ve forgotten everything from high school, imagine  God messing around with noise to create the sound to a waterfall back in the cosmic egg mists of time. Similar. 

So grab one of these extremely popular synths second hand - they are so easy to come by as everyone uses them - get the manual online, and go create new sounds like a drum and bass Buddha or a sexy synth pop shaman. It’ll be your new best friend.

- Here is the user manual

[This guy is a great tutorial and introduction to synthesizers] -

http://www.korg.com/uploads/Support/microKORG_Manual_633652918397600000.pdf

- Here is a track MUMMAA has created, and all the vocoding and main lead synths are using the MicroKORG.

http://soundcloud.com/mummaa/mummaa-intro-be-my-friend