Improvizone

28th gig: Wednesday 03 March 2010 at The Plough E17

Andrew Booker 2010-02-24 23:23:12

Back at the Plough for three Spring 2010 gigs, the first of which features the usual core Plough lineup.

I'll be using the acoustic drums for the second time, bringing a couple fewer cymbals probably, and squishing into a bit less space, possibly deploying my narrow sawn-in-half bass drum for the first time. Nick has declared his intention to bring the fretless bass, signalling all sorts of wiry bendy fun. Os will be nurturing our krautrock credentials with his Juno analogue synth in addition to his 21st century electronic wind instrument. And I will make sure the crane is available to lift Mike's lead-lined Rivera amp out of the car and into position, whereupon he will devote most of the evening to not sounding like a guitar, using his choice of effects pedals for that evening, arranged in a crescent at his feet.

I've been keeping up my regular acoustic drum practice, but have totally fallen behind keeping my practice log up to date. This is more because I am useless than because I have lost interest, preferring as I do to listen to the sweet contributions from everyone else as I mix new Improvizone downloads than to my own wonky pot-bashing. Anyway I'm hoping to feel a little more comfortable behind the acoustics this time. And I probably will not bother with quite so many different kinds of sticks. Ironically, the more sticks, it seems the less time I spend actually playing.

It is nine months since we last set up shop in the Plough, and I've missed the place. Even though we've only played once since our last Plough gig, Improvizone is never far away from what I'm doing. Since December I've been mixing and uploading tracks to the list at the rate of about one a week. I've been working backwards through the gigs making sure they are all well represented in their downloads, and finding plenty of really nice stuff along the way. My favourite download is always the next to come, if not the the current one. Right now I have one or two more from the 10 June 2009 gig with guest Ben Lubin on guitar. I remember this as a rock-out gig much of the time, but I'm finding it had plenty of sweet pastoral sections too.

Another thing I've been finding plenty of is video material for our next round of projections. Having not played at the Plough since last July I have had no reason to organise them all, but six months of carrying a reasonable mp4 video camera around and I have many and various goodies to sift through. No timelapse skies or car journeys for now though, unless I include the entire Antwerp round trip with Darkroom last year. Which I might, as it includes the stunning Atomium.

I've just been getting round to making videos in the last day or so, and my process for constructing these, which I've been using for over a year and a half now, is creaking. The immediate problem is that my half terabyte hard disk is nearly full, and the bulk of the space is filled with individual uncompressed frames. When I'm doing timelapse videos using the webcam, those are shot in 800 x 600 bitmaps, so a pile-up of those would be expected. But none of my recent videos are timelapse. They are all phone mp4s, which first I convert to compressed AVI, then extract individual frames to disk, then reconstruct a compressed AVI. This origin of this approach is that the first ever videos I made were from hourly weather satellite images. When I started using video material as the source, I kept the process of splitting them into frames so that I could chop stuff out, decide the loop start and end points, and take example frames for inverting, rotating or other simple modifications.

But now it just seems daft. For one thing, the quality of the mp4s is not that special. It would be no sacrifice to save to high quality JPEGs instead of a bitmaps when the source itself is compressed. Secondly, I should be able to do all my AVI manipulation in memory without saving frames to disk, because most of the videos require virtually no editing. Maybe if I get completely fed up over the next few days I'll work on this.

Also I have turned into a complete sucker for inverting images. It's fun the first few times, and can transform utterly mundane images into something unidentifiable and otherwordly. But all negative images start to look like the same formula one after another, and it all seems like a one trick purple horse. I have enough regular video pieces in the library to intersperse, such as the highly photogenic M11/North Circular junction I live near to, but maybe I need some new ideas here. Having said that, I will never get properly into creating video graphics, being as I am some two or three decades and behind Hollywood and one squillionth of the manpower. At least I am happy to base all my graphics, still or video, off real images that I have almost always photographed myself.

Notice I start talking about a gig, but several scrolls later have described absolutely nothing about the music we will be playing. I can't, of course, because we're Improvizone and we haven't played it yet. But our growing catalogue of downloads has a definite overall style to it. So don't listen to me telling you nothing about us. Let your ears do their investigations here.

Spring 2010 gigs and yet another drum practice tangent << | >> Please replace the lamp