Archive for September, 2009

Ira Glass on the Creative Process

Posted by Alex

Ira Glass describes the importance of producing a lot of work to endeavor through the frustrating early stages of a creative career. The first two minutes of this video should be required viewing for anyone and everyone getting into a creative field. In his case, he’s talking about video production, but his points are easily applied to any other realm. Definitely one of the most inspiring (or illuminating) pieces of advice I’ve come across.

The first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good — it’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase and a lot of people at that point quit.

And the thing I would just like say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. We knew that it didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have and the thing to do is — everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase or if you’re just starting off and you’re entering into that phase, you’ve got to know it’s totally normal and the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work.

ISO50 Music Exclusive: FREE MP3 EP PART II

Posted by Jakub

Cover Art by Alex Cornell

Cover Art by Alex Cornell

Since the success of the first exclusive FREE EP that we did on ISO50 I asked for some musicians for more tracks of covers and edits.

Synth Pop guru D. Gookin takes our middle school favorite teen classic single 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins to a raw fantasy land of where Dan Deacon, Luke Vibert and Tortoise collaborate to do our bidding.

The Worst Friends duo take the gentler side of M83 and nudge it just enough to open up the track a tiny bit more, kind of like a bright break in the clouds to the originals cloudy day.

Everyone knows Snap, if you haven’t then go to a gym or club and give it about an hour during peak time and it will come on the speakers, I promise. Mux Mool switches gears and takes this roller skating rink classic and runs it thru the arcade and struts down the street with it while saying hi to all the ladies, a definite head nodder for the underground collectors.

Jerome Covington is new to the blog, a musician that I met at a bar while I was djing over a year ago, he did this cover for us at Moodgadget and its still a favorite to put on because it might be one of my favorite songs from when I was a little. The tempo of the original will always feel a bit too fast after you hear this, he added that touch that makes you want sway while you drive down the ocean coast.

If you brought your attention span today then this cover might be one of the more relaxing and rewarding ones, A Setting Sun aka Guardian does a number on Air’s Le Soleil Est Pres de Moi. The dusty howl gradually disperses while the recognizable sounds slowly creep in, it would make any Air fan smile.


Smashing Pumpkins – 1979 (D. Gookin cover)


M83 – You Appearing (Worst Friends edit)


Snap – Rhythm Is A Dancer (Mux Mool edit)


Paul Simon – Can’t Run But (Jerome Covington remix)


Air – Le Soleil Est Pres de Moi (A Setting Sun cover)


1971 Entertainment Center

Posted by Jakub

Wonderwall 1971 - Screen
Wonderwall 1971 - Items
I had to scan this Home Entertainment Center out of a vintage magazine for you all, imagine just having that control panel to drool over and look at or it just being part of your interior architecture of your home. I love that there is soo much space used with beige panels, buttons, reels, and wall design, thats what makes a ton of the design in the past more admirable to me sometimes.

Lettering Art In Modern Use

Posted by Scott

Sébastien Hayez’s Designers Books blog has a great post on Lettering Art In Modern Use and various other design-related books. I love that last one; I was at the printers the other day looking at some samples and they showed me a letter-pressed wedding invitation with that same script style. It was embossed into the paper with inlaid gold leaf, so nice.

Via Surfstation

Dubstep Essential Mix by Guardian Part II

Posted by Jakub

Cover Art by Alex Cornell

Cover Art by Alex Cornell

Continuing our Dubstep Essential Series which has been exclusively for the blog we have part 2 from Guardian coming in at just over 54 minutes and about 37 tracks which keeps the flow of the mix really fresh.

I love the tempo of Dubstep even if I play it for a friend that doesn’t like electronic at all they always react in a positive/surprised way towards the tracks as something completely new, I mean who doesn’t like good heavy low end and dark spacey sounds that you’ve never heard before every once in a while.

Tomorrow a few friends and I are going for the first time to see BBC Radio 1’s Mary Ann Hobbs DJ some Dubstep at Dub Wars which should be killer. A little about Guardian, he is one of the best Dubstep producers I know, he’s from Detroit but lives now in Brooklyn, he is one of the best Dubstep DJ’s i’ve heard out too because of his range and he peaks out into rowdy tracks at perfect times but doesn’t rely on it and its more about track selection for him, hope to see him play around the US/UK this year.

A Setting SunEn el Mes de Agosto (Moodgadget)
The OthersHear Dis Style (Boka)
James BlakeAir & Lack Thereof (Hemlock)
RamadanmanBlimey (Hessle Audio)
Ike ReleaseJenova (Infrasonics)
Spatial90121 (Infrasonics)
Millie & AndreaBlack Hammer (Daphne)
CyrusBounty (Tectonic)
LoefahIt’s Yours (White Label)
PinchGangstaz (Tectonic)
HeadhunterPrototypes (Tempa)
SkreamChest Boxing (Tempa)
The Bug Jah War (Loefah Remix) (Ninja Tune)
The BugJah War (Ninja Tune)
PressureMoney Honey (Hyperdub)
MRK1Revolution 909 (Earwax)
GuardianCharm Dub (unreleased)
JokerUntitled_rsn (Tectonic)
MartynVancouver (2562 Puur Natuur Dub) (3024)
TRGHarajuku (Tempa)
RamadanmanHumber (Apple Pips)
Spatial81012 (Infrasonics)
SullyDuke St Dub (Mata-Syn)
RamadanmanCarla (Soul Jazz)
MartynEverything About You (Tempa)
PinchMotion Sickness (Tempa)
MartynVelvet (~scape)
UntoldI Can’t Stop This Feeling (Hessle Audio)
RamadanmanRevenue (2nd Drop)
RamadanmanRevenue (Untold Remix) (2nd Drop)
2562Love In Outer Space (Tectonic)
MRK1Borderline (Contagious)
DJ MujavaTownship Funk (Skream Remix) (White Label)
PinchPunisher (Skream Remix) (Planet Mu)
PinchPunisher (Planet Mu)
PinchPunisher (V.I.P.) (Planet Mu)
ShigetoBeat It Up (forthcoming Moodgadget)


Guardian – Guardian Wins The World Cup



Posted by Jakub

The Police - Ghost In The Machine
I never know if the newer generations of music fans like The Police as something other than a drinking game song band. They’re my favorite band of all time, I even kind of have a small little shrine in my room involving Synchronicity vinyl, Sting shirts, DVDs/VHS’s, and 7 inch vinyl, I have no shame. The 1:09 intro in Secret Journey always grabbed me especially when it hit the 0:40 sec mark and I knew the guitar loop was coming.

Little Dragon’s song Feather has be this year’s most dark magic/fantasy sounding indie pop song of 2009, the girls voice has this early 90’s grungy girl voice that has points where she just sounds like she doesn’t care at all about anyone and it comes off almost cold then other times it sounds like she has David Bowie arm on her shoulder and she’s singing to make it on the Labyrinth 2 soundtrack which would be amazing!

Without ever hearing J Dilla or Dabrye things like Taken By Trees song structure would never make sense to me but now I love this kind of Jacob’s Ladder unraveling sound, if you need another visual then try this its like watching some vintage cartoon with a car driven by a hippo with a tiny hat with the X band-aid on the tire rolling over each rock on a bumpy road.

I’m not sure if the “dance mix” will ever go away in the indie world or if its even frowned upon yet, it definitely helps if you want to play a song that you like to a group of friends that want to go out but don’t want them to be bumped out by your good yet sad music.

The Police – Secret Journey


Little Dragon – Feather


Taken By Trees – My Boys (Animal Collective Cover)


The xx – Shelter (Them Jeans Drum Edit)


SSD Upgrade Phase 2

Posted by Scott

Three 120GB OCZ Vertex SSD's bundled up

Three 120GB OCZ Vertex SSD's bundled up

After last month’s foray into the wonderful world of SSD’s via my newly super-powered Macbook Pro, I decided it was time to take my main tower PC to the next level. It wasn’t an easy decision at first, but it soon became a lot easier when two of the four drives in my RAID0 Photoshop swap array went down (for more on RAID, see my earlier post on the subject). I also had a very large format project beginning the next day and was dreading slogging through it with plain old HDDs. So I had two choices:

1. Go the (much) cheaper route — around $300 — and replace the drives in the array with two new ones of the same, ye olden tymes HDD variety.

2. Take the plunge and buy SSD’s at around $400 a pop.

I’ve made the mistake in the past of skimping and then regretting it later and I am finally starting to learn my lesson on that one. After all, computers are the central element in my professional life and how I make my living. With that in mind it’s easier to justify the large expenditure, as long as the performance gain is substantial enough. And was it ever. I’ve fallen for performance gimmicks and hype here and there in the past and have been disappointed time and again. This wasn’t one of those times.

When I built this particular machine I decided to go big with the processor and got what was at the time a the state-of-the-art Intel Q9650 Core 2 Duo Extreme. I didn’t really skimp on the rest of the components either, it’s definitely a solid rig. Still, I always felt it wasn’t living up to it’s full potential, especially considering the coin I dropped on it originally. Lately, when things are moving slow or just not acting right, I’ve caught myself considering building a new machine. Considering how recently I built the thing and how much it cost, this is just ridiculous. This was supposed to last me a while and be — to a certain degree — future-proof (which, in the computer world, means about 3-4 years). So it sort of came down to spending the $2500 to build a new tower or spending $1200 to make the existing one faster. In light of my experiences with the SSD and my Macbook Pro, I came to the conclusion that the best course of action was to replace the old HDD’s with SSD’s.

I ended up settling on a three drive configuration: One dedicated drive for the OS (Windows 7 RTM 7600 — which has been working out amazingly well) and two drives for the RAID0 array. The Windows drive is clocking in at around 245MB/s (over six times as fast as the average I/O on my old HDD) with a .1ms seek time (which is off the charts fast). The RAID array with just two drives is running around 480MB/s which is significantly faster than the four HDDs I had in there before.

All the numbers are great but there’s a lot more to the story than just raw I/O performance. The drives have removed the one big bottleneck that was left in my system, allowing all of the other components to reach their full potential. The performance increases I’ve seen go far beyond what you might expect from just a faster disk drive. It’s like a whole new computing experience, I feel more able to experiment and a lot more confident about overall stability. I almost feel like the computer used to choke on big data read/writes and would just finally crash. With the new drives it just rips through anything and never really hits that tipping point where things lock up. This new found stability could also be due to the fact that I installed the final RTM version of Windows 7 when I put in the new drives. I had been using the beta, which although very stable in it’s own right, didn’t quite compare to what I am experiencing now.

The bottom line is that SSDs are the real deal. Yes, they’re still expensive, but if you work with computers and very large files, you owe it to yourself and your workflow to look into what they have to offer. If your rig is feeling sluggish, getting a SSD to perk it up might actually turn out be a bargain when compared to the price of a new machine. Of course, a more pragmatic person might wait another year or so until the numbers come down, but I didn’t really have that luxury this time around. I’ll be posting the detailed data next week once I get a chance to do some more tests. The next step is to split that Windows drive and install OS X. If only they made Sonar for Mac I’d make the switch.