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cubest 022 by the cube orchestraAnother lull in my workload and another opportunity to hit my folder of Cubest possibilities, this time trying to concentrate on an adventurous sound, where specific players take the limelight. Sometimes a piece of ours hinges on one particular player, instrument, or perhaps just a hook line.

The instrumentation on these tracks is not our usual wall of sound, with up to twenty musicians on the stage at once. With fewer players the arrangements take on a different structure and focus, be it Jean-Michel's guitar on track 1, or the drums and vocals on track 4, or indeed my knob tweaking on track 6 (and tracks 1, 2 and 4!)

In presenting the six tracks, I've tried to give it the feel of a complete session, from walking onstage and setting up at the begining to a sense of parting in its dying breath

There's a brazen approach to the tracks on Cubest 022 and I hope it's a strategy that pays off ...

Jump to Download link ... Back to Cubest series ...

The Recombobulation Area

2017 06 21 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Vocals, Percussion, Effects; Jean-Michel Maheu: Guitar; Steve Radford: Drums;

I prefer when only a handful of musicians turn up to our sessions as there's more space and scope for inventiveness. At this session there were just four of us, increasing the need for inventiveness. This track was the first thing that happened. Steve and I are still trying to decide how to set up the drums and I'm leaning towards a minimal kit. Marcus isn't on the stage at this point, so it's left to Jean-Michel to serenade us with some improvised guitar playing. After a minute or so I wander over to the mixing desk and start tweaking the guitar sound, Steve finds an interesting beat on the drums and Marcus is adding some bass on keyboards. It's quite a dark track and pretty out there, with an expansive sound for four people. Near the end, Jean-Michel drops back a bit and the focus moves to Marcus, whose fat bass line jumps around to Steve's beat. Good ending. Don't ask me how I came across the word 'Recombobulation' ...

Challenge The Leadership

2017 05 24 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Percussion, Effects; Jean-Michel Maheu: Guitar, Vocals; Martin Urmson: Bass; Steve Radford: Alto Sax; Miranda Mowbray: Clarinet; Matthew Richards: Percussion; Megan Smith: Drums; Tim Robertson: Percussion; Rebecca D Andrea: Vocals;

My iPad app was on a very strange setting, making Jean-Michel's voice sound crazy. He's providing the main focus for the track, rapping "non-sequential cut-ups from media/news sentences as my mind regurgitated them following oversaturation with Brexit everywhere" (J-M). He's helpfully provided a synopsis of the lyrics:

'Brexit, brexit, brexit [...] Make a statement, make a Brexit strong [...] Make Britain strong, strong, make, make, brexit[...] Best, place, never[...] Make, Britain May, Strong, strong [...] Lifetime, lifetime, [...] Dept, dept, Leadership, leadership,[...] Challenge, challenge, last time, Brexit fine[...] Challenging [...] families, [...] Woes... woes...'

Megan's on the drums with her distinctive playing, accompanied by someone on the djembe and Tim playing his Indian sticks. There are two basslines on the go, one on guitar, the other on keyboard and I like that. There's a good, rough funk edge to the sound. It ends funny. I'm a fan of funny endings ...

Incredible Inedibles

2016 12 07 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Melodica, Effects; Jon Shepherd: Bass; Ramon Sanchez: Drums; Ghoufran Warlow: Piano, Percussion; Alberto Sciusco: Guitar; Martin Parkinson: Trombone, Whistle; Miranda Mowbray: Clarinet; Joanna Butler: Present;

Alberto has been attending orchestra sessions for ages and has steadily emerged from the shadows to take a more prominent role in the sound. This track showcases his acoustic guitar playing very well. There's a lovely section where what's forming changes into some sweet new chords, warm and soulful. Then Ramon kicks it into action with a steady drum beat interspersed with hand clapping and my melodica stabs. As well as the fine guitar playing, you can hear some nice piano work. Then Martin pipes up with a delicious trombone solo. As we find a place to lower the mood you can hear Jon's bassline coming through. There's a peep of clarinet occasionally, as well as the trombone, but the star of the show is always Alberto's guitar. Another nice ending ...

Mr Bayes's Troops

2017 05 24 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Melodica, Effects; Jean-Michel Maheu: Guitar, Percussion; Martin Urmson: Bass; Steve Radford: Alto Sax; Miranda Mowbray: Clarinet; Matthew Richards: Drums; Megan Smith: Sax; Tim Robertson: Percussion; Rebecca D Andrea: Vocals;

This was a contender for the last track, as it was the last thing we did in that particular session, but I felt the vocals were better placed here. Miranda, Megan and Steve are playing along throughout, while I opt for stabs on melodica. Really though it's a tour de force from Matt on drums, providing the main backing to Rebecca's vocals. He's accompanied by some interesting rhythmical percussion. I like the way Rebecca slips into Italian. I tweak the effects on and off her voice, which I love doing, though I'm very aware of my interfering. The ending is good, with the beat slowing down, till all that's left are the parps of the saxes ...

Spine Tattoos

2017 01 18 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Melodica, Effects; Jon Shepherd: Bass; Jean-Michel Maheu: Guitar; Ramon Sanchez: Trumpet; Alberto Sciusco: Acoustic Guitar; Steve Radford: Alto Sax; David Insua-Cao: Chime Bar Set; Spudd Connor: Drums; Martin Urmson: Bass; Helen Farrell: Percussion; Bel Bel: Vocals; Rafael Mitchell: Violin;

David's always bringing in interesting instruments and toys to play on, some of his own invention. This time however he's found a chime bar set that Spudd brought in, playing a lovely, tingly line around which to hang the rest of the tune. Spudd is doing a fine job on the drums, plus I can hear the djembe too, though I'm not sure who's playing it at this moment. Bel teases out odd vocal lines, Jean-Michel provides restrained guitar, in fact it's all very laid back, rather than the wall of sound we often resort to. Some of our pieces sound like pieces, but occasionally, like in this instance, it sounds like a real song! Another good ending. I like the bell. That was Spudd's find too ...

Serious Mass

2017 11 08 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Effects; Martin Urmson: Guitar; Alberto Sciusco: Guitar; Bessie Spencer Vellacott: Violin; Chryselle Pathmanathan: Piano; Jon Shepherd: Bass; Just Mike: Ears;

I had to save this till the end. Some pieces write themselves without much in the way of input from us and it's this track's simplicity that makes it. No drums, Mike had taken a seat in the auditorium and was simply enjoying our playing. The sound is mainly Marcus, who's found a good setting on his keyboard. Bessie finds a part to play very quickly, reinforcing the main line, while Martin provides some lovely acoustic guitar. Chryselle is painfully difficult to hear, but what I do hear I like. That might be because of my over-zealous effects-tweaking. I'm pumping Martin through a long echo and running it around my pad. When Bessie solos more I turn my attention to her sound too. The ending is particularly well done, with no annoying bangs or toots during the sensitive fade. My penchant for effects is one thing, but I did more interfering in post-production, something I would never dream of normally. Jon played bass constantly throughout this piece, but I felt his contribution never really worked and so managed to EQ it from the sound. I feel a bit bad, but I think the result is better and, after all, the Cubest series represents my edited interpretation of Cube Orchestra tracks. Cubest is not a democracy ...

Cubest 022 is part concept album, the concept not being a theme but an approach to the sound ...
- keef chemistry

Download the zip file here (6 tracks @ 320kbps = 87mb):
(The files need to be zipped before download. This may take a while, so please be patient ...)

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Last edited November 9, 2023 4:38 pm by Keefchemistry (diff)