Hello everyone and hope you've all had a great week. Not much to report on this post so I'll keep it short this time, but it's always nice to share what I've been up to so I'll tell you what I can.
The main highlight for this week has been recording more lead guitars for the new World Beyond album coming at the end of the year, which has been intense and challenging but also a whole lot of fun. Despite spending most of every day playing guitar for that this week, I also took some time out to work on some new techniques by studying the great guitarist John 5. It's always great to explore some of the more "alien" styles of music to me (such as country/bluegrass), and although my right hand fingers are sore as heck from chickin' pickin', it's been a blast learning all these new licks and techniques which I hope to bring to my own music and session playing at some point!
On an unrelated note, Avicii's new EP was very enjoyable. I gotta get back to making some electronic Jabun music again soon!
And that's about it for this week. As mentioned in the last blog post, things are pretty hectic at the moment on my end, so I'm not sure whether I'll be making blog posts over the next few weeks. As it currently stands, I'm up to date with the recording for the World Beyond album, but I know there'll be up to 5 more guitar and bass parts coming my way soon which I'll get to soon. I don't think that'll be for a week or two though, so I'm not sure what next week will have in store. Possibly some Better Than The Book writing or working on the website again, but we shall see. Anyways, thanks as usual for stopping by and supporting JabunAudio, hope you have a great week or few until the next blog post, and I'll be back to it as soon as I can. Take care!
Hello all! It's been a fairly hectic week for reasons out my control and is looking to be that way for the foreseeable future (more on that at the end of the post), but there's still some cool things to report this week so let's focus on that! In terms of audio stuff, I've been busy again recording more guitars for the new World Beyond album which is really shaping up well, and I finally got some time to work on writing the new Better Than The Book album too! So far there's 4 lyric sheets finished and six left with 4 complete(ish) demos, another 3 almost there, and various other partial demos/lyrics too. Hoping to get back on track with it more soon and get these tracks fully written while I record for World Beyond. I'll keep you updated on the situation. Meanwhile another thing happened this week which I was super pleased with and wanted to share with you. It's not audio related at all but I hope you enjoy the story. Let's go!
So as many of you may be aware I quite enjoy playing video games, and I'm also fairly competitive (those may be understatements). One of my favorite games to play at the moment, and it has been for some time, is the mobile version of Sonic The Hedgehog (1), which is available on both Android and iOS and is a great load of fun. Additionally to the original Sega console versions, you can play as other favorite characters Tails and Knuckles, Sonic can use the spin dash technique introduced in later games, you can save your progress and revisit levels, and there's a fun time attack mode where you can keep track of your fastest times for completing levels as well as place yourself on the global leader-board if you're fast enough (iOS only). That last feature has been one of the most fun and at the same time frustrating aspects of the game, as seeing how I compare among the 1000s of other Sonic players out there I can't help but take it as a challenge and see how fast I can go.
I've had the game for a few years now and as such have been making my mark on the leader-boards for quite some time now playing the game in my spare time and being in the top 10 fastest players for various levels including 2nd fastest in the world for one of them. Well, a few weeks ago I started working on it again specifically on a level I knew I wasn't very good at Scrap Brain Zone Act 2. I really just wanted to get into the top 25 if I could, which after a long while of trying was just about doable. Having got to know the level though, I noticed better and faster routes than those I'd been using and grinding as you do when you want to get better at something, I slowly formulated and optimized a path which felt to me like it would be the fastest. Pretty soon I was in the top 10 players, then the top 5, and yet I didn't feel like I'd reached my limit at all so I kept pushing on. At that point I figured that the world record might actually be reachable, it wasn't a matter of how anymore, it was just a matter of having a good run and good luck and not messing up this method I'd been working hard on. But it wasn't easy by a long shot, and while I could see the goal, I was painfully just out of reach.
Well, after a lot of practice, a lot of swearing under my breathe, and some achy fingers, on September 11th 2017 I finally broke the Scrap Brain Act 2 mobile speed world record, with a time of 40.76 seconds!
I was so pleased with the achievement. After all that hard work, it had finally payed off and I'd made my mark on the top of the Sonic leader-boards, beating the previous record of 41.43 seconds which had remained untouched since February 19th 2014.
But the thing is, I knew I could go faster. The run had been good yes, good enough to beat the world record, but I make a ton of mistakes which cost valuable time. Although I'd beaten the world record, I still wasn't satisfied...
So I kept playing. I knew I could go faster and world record beaten or not, I wouldn't be happy until I knew I'd given it my all to achieve the fastest time (or at the very least beat the 40 seconds barrier).
The next day. I had a fantastic run. Pretty much everything that could go right did, I timed the jumps right, let go of the spin dashes at the right time, I couldn't have asked for a better run. And I smashed my previous record. By a whole 2 seconds!
That was truly a time I could be proud of. On September 12th 2017 I set the new world record at 38.75 seconds. Super pleased with that.
The strange thing is though, whether or not I can go faster, and I'm not sure I can, I still haven't reached my saturation with playing that level. My personal top 3 times are separated by 2 seconds each (as opposed to one of the other levels where my top time is 0.02 seconds faster than the 2nd fastest time which is exactly the same as the 3rd fastest), so I'd like to keep playing and keep trying to get faster until I'm absolutely sure I can't go any faster. I'm hoping my record stays there for a while, but having been pushed down from 3rd to 4th place on a different level as a new world record was made for that one last month, I'm not sure how long it'll be until I'm surpassed on this one. If anything, the fact that the record has been broken means that more people will be temped to outdo it as the invisible barrier of the previous world record has been smashed open. Whether it's a few days, months or even years though, I'm truly happy to have been able to make my own little mark on the Sonic The Hedgehog gaming community.
Just a little background on this world record, I have to specify that this is the iOS Christian Whitehead Sonic The Hedgehog world record for this level. The actual world record for this level across all consoles sits at ~30 seconds, but there are differences in the game mechanics for the iOS and console versions which must be addressed as so they're incompatible for comparison. The original console versions don't feature Sonic's spin dash move which can be used to gain speed, but there is also no time attack mode for speed runs and so the the record time is measured by the game's level clock which only measures to the nearest second. The world record run for this level too exploits a clipping/wrap glitch to skip a large portion of the level which cuts out a great deal of time compared to running the level in the intended way. The iOS version on the other hand as well as having the spin dash move and the clock to the nearest hundredth of a second, has amended these glitches in the game mechanics and so they are no longer exploitable for speed runs. The world record here plays the level without glitches in the way originally intended by the game developer. Just a little bit of interesting history about the world record if you're interested.
And I think the take home message from this blog post is that you can do anything if you try hard enough and that I play waaaay too much video games (amongst other things)!
That's about it for this week, and I hope you enjoyed the look into some of my other hobbies outside of music/audio. Back to the topic I mentioned in the introduction, due to circumstances in my personal life, things have been turbulent as of late, and as a result there may be short to extended periods of time where I'll be unable to attend to JabunAudio for the foreseeable future. I don't feel it my place to disclose the details, but please bear with me over the next month or so and thank you in advance for your patience. Please feel free to send in your requests as usual, but unfortunately there may be delays in my being able to help, though I'll do my best to help as usual. Additionally, there may be weeks where there is no blog post. Apologies for any inconvenience caused and I hope to be back to normal as soon as possible.
What's the plan for next week? Well while I'm currently all up to date with recording for World Beyond, there should be more guitars and bass to record soon so I've no doubt I'll be working on that. I'd also like to do some more Better Than The Book writing if I can too. We shall see. Anyways, I hope you've all had great weeks (I usually start with that, don't I?), I hope you all have a great week to come, and thanks as always for supporting JabunAudio and my other creative endeavors. See you all in the next post and take care!
Back from Climbing Mt Snowdon (and more), more guitar recording for World Beyond and Subu Nomo, a secret Reface CP Piano(?!) + sharing a track from Oakwood I mastered last month!
Hello everyone and hope you've all had a great 2 weeks since the last blog post! Things have been fairly hectic over here for a number of reasons, but there's still a lot to tell and share this week, so let's get straight to it:
Firstly, and although this isn't really about JabunAudio at all, I had a lovely time in Wales on Holiday last week. I was hoping to do a big post about it like with the Norway trip last year, but I haven't had time to sort out photos, so I'll just do a quick(ish) post about it. Those who know me personally will be able to find pictures on my personal Facebook, but they're other people's posts so I shan't share them here.
Onto the holiday: The first big challenge was climbing Mt. Snowdon which was a great day out. The weather couldn't have been better; sunny but cool, and the walk itself was challenging but no way near as difficult as climbing Galdhøpiggen last year. The lack of snow definitely helped, and that it was much less to climb. Having said that, it was no walk in the park either. There was a fair amount of climbing over rocks as well as the well trodden path, and even a small slip had the potential for disastrous consequences. To illustrate this clearly, we passed 2 people needing to be airlifted off the mountain during our descent and there was even reports of someone killed a few weeks back on the mountain. Definitely something not to underestimate and I was glad we prepared well for it (and remembered to bring sun tan lotion!). Like Galdhøpiggen, there were a couple of different routes to the summit, 3 of which actually started at our chosen base camp so we ended up taking the "Pyg Track" up which was mostly rocky and up the mountain but gave some fantastic views, and the "Miner's Track" down which was very steep down to begin with, but then mostly flat following a number of mountain lakes leading back to the base camp (definitely glad we did it that way around). Our team this time consisted of everyone from the Norway trip apart from my aunt's sister, though unlike last time, we all reached the summit on this trip. The view from there was simply spectacular! You could see so far that you can actually make out a HUGE amount of the outline of the Wales coastline in the distance. Simply incredible! Legs were a bit achy from the ~7 hour walk afterwards, but no way near as much as the 15 hour ordeal of last time (no sun burn either). Overall no one was particularly mentally scarred either which is always a plus! I'd definitely recommend climbing Mt. Snowdon if you're up for a nice but not over-ambitious challenge, though remember to make sure you're fit, get the right footwear, pack plenty of fluids and the right kind of snacks, do your research and you should be fine. The mountain rescue team was fantastic too and will surely have your back if anything goes amiss, so grab your boots and enjoy the day!
That I suppose was the main highlight of the Holiday (apart from being reunited with my parents, twin brother and aunt and uncle for a week), though we had a great time on the other days taking the mountain steam train from Porthmadog to Caernarfon, visiting an old slate mine (some crazy eye opening stuff there), visiting and exploring Harlech Castle (not recommended for people with a fear of heights... you'll prefer the mountain I guarantee it) which was really cool, and walking along the Harlech beaches where I saw some of the biggest jellyfish I've seen in my life (I didn't even know we had jellyfish here!). The Aberdunant hotel was fantastic too, especially the food! My recommendation would be the rib-eye steak, medium-rare with pepper sauce, chips, onion rings, mushrooms and tomato: simply mouthwatering! Overall a wonderful trip and I'm already looking forward to the next one. I wonder what will be next to climb? Ben Nevis perhaps? We shall have to see, but I imagine I've reached my mountain (and steak) quota for the rest of this year. 2018 here I come!
And now back to normality and the usual JabunAudio news! What's been happening this week? Well pretty much as soon as I got back I was busting out guitar solos for the oldschool metal collaboration with Subu Nomo, which is progressing well. I think that's actually the last of the recording I need to do for it, so now it's in Subu's hands to make it sound awesome. Looking forward to hearing how it all goes. And while we're on the topic of guitars, the last few days have also been spent recording more guitar for World Beyond's upcoming album. There's still more to do next week so I'll be keeping busy with that too. Not sure how much is left, but the whole album's certainly coming together and sounding awesome! Looking forward to sharing these with you as and when. Feels like it's been a while since I was working on the new Better Than The Book album (and I'm also craving more Jabun music too), so I should find some time to get back to those when I can. Hoping to finish the BTTB writing by the end of the year, so I've gotta crack on if I want to get this album out in good time. We shall see.
Next, and this was a major highlight of my week, I found out an amazing secret about one of my instruments! I've had my Yamaha Reface CP electric piano for just under a year and a half and I must say, on top of it being my first portable keyboard instrument (ie: not a piano, organ or midi controller) it's one of my favorite instruments to mess around with. The Reface CP was one of the key elements in the Jabun Daydream album's soundscape and is known for it's great emulations of the Rhodes Mark I & II, Wurlitzer and Yamaha CP electric pianos as well as the Clavinet and Toy piano and it's great and hands-on effects section. 6 amazing pianos and studio's worth of effects in one neat portable package right? Wrong! There's a secret 7th piano! Many users while loving the Reface CPs great EP emulations were a bit disappointed that there wasn't an acoustic piano setting to play with. In fact, I spent a long while experimenting with various effects to get a more acoustic sound from the CP setting (you can hear the results of my efforts in Anxiety and Palindrome on the Daydream album). Well while you can't see it on a surface, there's a secret acoustic piano setting hiding in your Reface! Unfortunately it's only available when you switch on the instrument, so if you want it again after using the other emulations, you'll have to quickly power off and power on the instrument to get it again. I discovered this in a YouTube video comments sections while looking up about the Rhodes Piano Bass (I've been in a very Rhodes mood lately. Lots of interesting history I've learnt this week too. Feel free to look it up!), and while I was skeptical about it at first, a quick try of the method had me speechless:
And the amazing thing is it's not a "meh" piano, it's very dynamic and sounds great! Not a grand piano type sound, more the brighter type of piano you'd expect to play in a band to cut through the mix, but nothing a little reverb and EQ/compression could help with if you want to further tailor it to your needs. You can still use all the effects too (apart from drive which makes sense as the acoustic piano would be miced rather than amped or D.I.ed) and amazingly, this piano is stereo too with a realistic 3D soundscape. Yamaha haven't released an official statement on it, and there are a few theories to why the piano is there and/or why it wasn't made part of the main instrument settings, but whatever the case, my mind is blown and I'm thinking, why the heck didn't I know about this sooner! If you have a Reface CP go ahead and try this thing out! It's awesome and it'll give you yet another piano to play with on your Reface. Bonus tip: Try running the Rhodes Mark I setting clean though a clean Marshall amp with spring reverb; Loooovely! Enjoy!
Finally this week, I just wanted to share the electro house track I mastered for Oakwood last month. It's not often I get to work on this genre of music and it was a heck of a lot of fun! Warning, colourful language and banging bass ahead, but I hope you enjoy it! If you're in need of any music mastering in any genre, please don't hesitate to give me a buzz and I'll see what I can do!
And that about wraps things up for this week. Things are a little hectic at the moment, but I imagine I'll be doing some more guitar recording for the World Beyond album at some point next week amongst other things. Hope you enjoyed this rather long blog post, hope you have a great week until next time, and as always, thanks for supporting JabunAudio and my collaborative projects. All the best and see you in the next blog post!
Nick Standing; Better Than The Book; Jabun!
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