Thinking Metal : News

Last updated : 18-Apr-24

18-Apr-24 : Nocturne by Ion

Ion have released another new video, Nocturne, and whilst this one isn't taken from the new album, it does show how their work with AI generated content is progressing.

Like Secrets, Nocturne was generated in the package. The music was also generated by an AI, in this instance,, which was given the job of generating an ambient piano track in the style of Ludovico Einaudi.

"In this instance, we've been experimenting with different rendering methods to create new and interesting lens effects," said David Hughes, who is still at the helm of the Ion project.

"Of all of these so-called AI music generators, I like udio the best because it doesn't just give you a finished piece of music. The interface gives you an opportunity to test different ideas, discard those that don't work or don't match the brief, and you can extend the song as much as you want up to a maximum of around four and a half minutes. We've used udio on a couple of projects, basically to see what the technology is capable of doing right now. We've also used it as a guide to the writing process as we build up towards a new album release."

11-Apr-24 : Secrets by Ion

Here's something interesting...

Ion have released a new video, Secrets, to illutrate the work in progress on their new album, which is as yet, still untitled.

Secrets was generated in the package and we think it looks pretty good.

What do you think?

08-Apr-24 : EMOm @ The Ship Isis, Sunderland

I did a gig. Okay, just a short gig - a fifteen minute slot for the Electronic Music Open Mike event on 4th April 2024 at the Ship Isis in Sunderland. I played three pieces - the trance reworking of Ion's Flying Over Blue Waters, a new piece, Another Grey Day and a reworked version of Waving At Mono by SKinMechanix, which is my go-to track for live performances (because it's actually quite difficult to play).

All in all, it was a success. I had some problems with the volume on the Argon-8 synth but otherwise it sounded fine. Maybe too much on backing, perhaps? Yeah, I think so. I’ll fix that next time around.

Next time around? Really?

Yeah, there will be a next time and that’s because this was probably the first gig in nearly thirty years where I came off stage and immediately wanted to go back on and do another set. Maybe it was because the set was so short and over so quickly? Maybe stage nerves are not the problem they used to be? I don’t know but, right now, I have two more gigs in the pipeline and another confirmed for early November.

The next step is to re-record Thursday’s show and use that to let other promoters know that we’re available. After that, I'll expand on the basic fifteen minute set so that it’s say, twenty minutes and then thirty minutes. After that, let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. Maybe an hour long show is a little optimistic at this stage.

Anyway, I had some fun and the audience seemed to enjoy the set even if it wasn’t quite what they were expecting.

09-Jan-24 : Synchronicity Restoration

Ion's Synchronicity has been restored to its former glory. Lexicon was removed because its original name was the subject of a copyright claim / cease and desist way back in 2022 and, since I've heard nothing more from that camp in two years, I judged it safe to restore the album in full. It's available over on Bandcamp.

I also updated the artwork, correcting a bunch of typos and ensuring that the album reference number was consistent throughout. Give it some love...

07-Jan-24 : Dealing with failure

I released a new video last week, Tesla Squared, and I really was optimistic that it would do well because I genuinely thought it was good. Not brilliant but good. Alas, three days after its release, the video had enjoyed a thoroughly miserable ten views (yes, count 'em) and I think six of those were just me having a look to see how the video was doing.

Puzzled, I wanted to know why it had performed so badly.

Initially, I posted the link to the video on Facebook, just as I usually do. I checked three hours later and I was surprised that nobody in my immediate family had responded. I asked around. None of them had seen the link. Not even Jenny. Together, Jenny and I checked her Facebook notifications and, nope, no sign of it. I also asked a couple of close friends. They hadn't seen it either. So it does look like Facebook squashed the post because their business model is so utterly dependent upon hoarding data that they really don't want punters going outside of their fragile eco-system.

Figures, I guess.

It should come as no surprise therefore that exactly the same pattern happened on Instagram. Even my backup account didn't see the link.

Which leaves YouTube? I'm just not sure what went wrong. Maybe I didn't use the right keywords or I uploaded it at the wrong time or perhaps audiences are more than a bit tired of AI generated art but... It tanked. And that makes me sad because I put a lot of work into it.

That said, I didn't get into this game to become popular. I'm on this path because I want to get back into releasing music and how many views a video enjoys isn't massively important right now. Part of me looks at the miserable viewing figures and says 'So maybe it wasn't that good. Maybe I'm too close to the problem. Maybe I need to step away and figure out what's right and what's wrong with the video.'

Maybe I just need to write better music.

That sounds like a better idea than running off with a sulky face... :)

03-Jan-24 : A staggering discovery

Last month, CD Baby celebrated something of an anniversary - 25 years of helping musicians reach a wider audience.

Hurrah. Wonderful. Good for them.

And, by way of a Thank you for our continued support, they sent us a small payment for a small number of lost licenses that they had discovered in the course of one of their tidying up operations. In other words, someone used our music and CD Baby were not able to collect a royalty payment. I don't know how that happened. I don't know who was responsible. I'm guessing that someone inside YouTube dropped a ball...

I went through the usual statements and... Err... what? How many? CD Baby had miraculously discovered around fifty four thousand unpaid usages. Read that back slowly. Fifty four thousand. Wow. That's a lot of dropped balls, there...

How much did we earn for those fifty four thousand unpaid usages? Just seven dollars. Yeah, seven dollars.

Do you get the impression that there's something wrong with the streaming model?

11-Dec-23 : Electronic Music Open Mike Night at The Ship Isis

I'd been offered at slot at the Electronic Music Open Mike Night at The Ship Isis pub in Sunderland last week but decided against appearing. Nothing wrong with the group or the venue. I just decided that the music I'd planned on playing wasn't ready for a public performance. It wasn't good enough.

Nearly everything I've done for the last eight years has been written in-the-box using softsynths and plug-in effects, and whilst this approach does serve up a huge sonic banquet, a performance featuring just a guy and a laptop isn't (for me, at least) all that exciting. It's a personal thing, I guess. I like to see real musicians playing real instruments delivering a real performance.

Instead, I went along with my camera, took some pictures and just listened.

And there's always next month... But first, I need to work out a set with some proper kit...

10-Dec-23 : Psychosis Series

Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that I've started releasing music again. The Psychosis series are a set of on-going experiments available on Youtube and intended to get my creative juices flowing again after an extended period away from both live performance and actual releases.

Whilst many of these pieces are a bit basic and definitely very minimal, they represent various compositions as Work-in-Progress items. They are NOT the definitive article. That said, I still kinda like them.

Psychosis 1 did well with around 200 plays, probably because it sounds a little like Vangelis on an off-day. Psychosis 2 did less well but Psychosis 3 keeps on growing. I'm optimistic that as the quality of the compositions improve then the audience will grow. My goal at this point isn't a huge audience. I'm just trying to find a new set of tools, a new workflow.

07-Aug-23 : Open Music Night at Independent

Thursday night - I took punt and went along to the Electronic Music Open Night at Independent in Sunderland. Umpteen acts, largely unknowns with one notable exception - Ian Boddy.

This was glorious. No flash. No pomp. No introductions. The whole set-up was anything but polished but... this was fun. This is the way music ought to be. Hear something new. Hear something fresh. Instead of the listening to the same old, same old, take a chance. Maybe something will start the creative clock ticking. Maybe the experience will get you back into the studio. It’s an approach I tried a couple of months ago with Organic in Whitley Bay and that ended up re-igniting the whole Uranium Saints project, which had stalled badly.

I stuck around to the end and, even though the last act was very difficult to get into, I shared his pain when nothing, absolutely nothing, seemed to work in his favour. I did smile when the poor guy just lay down on the floor and waited until his penultimate piece had played out. I've flopped (utterly) on stage a few times in the past so... yeah. I know how it feels to die in front of a crowd. At least this guy didn't go scream at the sound guy.

So, it’s an Open Music Night. Turn up. Set up. Play. Anyone can join in.

Sixty four million dollar question - will I?

Come along and find out.

I won’t be posting any more updates on the subject until after the performance and neither will the set be uploaded later. This will be a once-only performance. All the information you need will be available here. Nowhere else.