August 6, 2013

And The Baby Jesus Wept...

by Chris Randall

Okay, no apologies for the lack of posting. I told you in the last post but one that we had bought a house, and that, coupled with some Big News coming on the Audio Damage front in a short while, is currently demanding about 138% of my waking moments.

So the main reasons for this particular post are two-fold. First, I would like to get that neckbeard in the YouTube video screengrab below the fold, because I'm tired of seeing it. (Mission accomplished.) And second, I need to vent.

My wife has often told me, in our nearly 19 years of marriage, that if something's worth doing it is worth doing right. That has never been more apparent to me than now. While my discovery isn't specifically (or, well, even generally) music-related, the same precepts apply, as it turns out. I have occasionally taken on remix and production projects. It isn't something I terribly enjoy, and usually the benefactors of my tender ministrations don't enjoy it either. The reason for this is that if something is done half-assed or stupidly, I have a knack for letting the person that did it know. Come to find out, people don't really like being called stupid. Go figure.

But this house... it was built in 1967, and was "builder-grade" (which is Real-Estate language for "the bare minimum") for its time. In the 46 years between when it was built and when I acquired it, it had two owners. In that time, both owners did various upgrades and repairs. And in EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE that the opportunity presented itself, they took the path of least resistance. This has built up in four and a half decades to a rather ludicrous collection of half-assed bailing-wire-and-band-aids fixes and upgrades. The most egregious example is the $3000 worth of new granite countertops laid over the original particle board kitchen cabinetry. Today I discovered a pre-hung door frame that was held in place solely by the trim. (I was removing the trim prior to painting the room, and the door and frame literally fell out of the wall.) It goes on and on.

I fully expected this, and was aware of most of the problem "fixes" prior to purchasing the house. We got it for an excellent price, and it is in a good neighborhood; our fixes prior to moving in (which mostly consist of undoing the previous owners' errors and making all the doorknobs match) will increase its value by several tens of thousands of dollars, lubricated almost entirely by sweat. In short, I got what I paid for and will make a lot of money off this house; we wanted a mid-century modern Atomic Ranch that we could bring back to a modernized version of its original state, and build a ton of equity in the process, and for that particular want, we couldn't have done better.

However, let this be a lesson: if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. This house is like the difference between using a pre-made drum loop someone ginned up (no offense, Wade and Huggy; much love!!!), and taking the time to custom record and synthesize your drum sounds, with which you make a well-produced and nicely grooving rhythm part. Sure, the loop will work. But 46 years down the road, don't you wish somebody knew you took the time to do it right?


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Aug.12.2013 @ 3:47 AM
seancostello: "Are they still using timber framing in Europe for new construction?"
In Europe? Really?

I live in finland where the quality of building houses was very good until late 50's/early 60's. Most stuff done after that is not so good including stuff done in 2013, but compared what they have done in UK everything is top notch :D Sure there is really old buildings still standing, those are cold, wet, noisy etc. It is not uncommon to see carpet flooring on bathroom :D

But yes, there is still some new timber framing construction in Finland. It's probably getting more common these days. Quality of timber is not the same anymore tough.

I recently bought timber framed house built in 1924 and it is still in exellent shape except the additions and "renovations" done in later years. Most work we have is to undo the stuff previous owners have done.

Aug.14.2013 @ 5:05 AM
@Vaihe: Well, yeah, UK construction seems to be 'slight' nowadays, wooden frames with a layer of brick work, lucky if the walls don't wobble if you slam a door...

But my contribution to the renovation pissing contest: electrical outlets held in by a strip of silicon sealer (or whatever that white, rubbery crap is). The other sockets they'd managed to secure with 4" screws into the lathes but not this one. Even better when it came away from the wall to reveal bare wires, not even a hint of electrical tape to at least pretend they'd made some effort...

Aug.15.2013 @ 5:58 AM
Steve Case
I agree that each job is worth doing right. Sometimes worth it to hire out, but not often. At our house (we're on number 4 and I needed to rebuild a lot on each one), we just think, "well, I can hire the work out and complain about it, or I can do it myself and complain about it. And doing it myself is way cheaper..." Thanks for your insights! -Steve Case link []

Aug.15.2013 @ 6:51 AM
Chris Randall
The cool thing about this whole process is how much leeway people give you in the "complain about it" category. In actual fact, when I say something wasn't that bad, without complaining about it, the person I'm saying it to rarely believes me. "I've done that, and it totally sucks. Let it out, bro!"


Aug.15.2013 @ 4:04 PM
Hey. I represent that remark!


I use loops all the time in my music. I could make them myself. Really I could. I have the ability, I have the will, I have the talent. I just don't have the time. And I like 'fun'. Yup, 'fun'...

There is something deeply kinky to me about having at hand the left browser of my Ableton window pane ready to serve up requisite loops. I paid for them god damn it, and I am going to get my money's worth. No law enforcement needed here. No sir. All above board.

Who's gonna know? Shit, even I don't know half the time. I have a massive library of my own loops. They are better than most the crud I come across. I like it when that happens.

But yeah, for a lot of people it would be a 'bad' idea. I have taste, so for me it is not. And then again I manipulate the hell out of the loops anyway, so they are pretty much unrecognisable to me, let alone anyone else. But sometimes I like to drop an Amen, or a, you know... And yes, you can hear it is an Amen, that is the whole point. But I drop an Amen like you never heard an Amen before, and I added something to the canon. And that is good enough for me.

Because NO ONE ever hears my music. I am a musical genius. Aided by the tools of those like Audio Damage, and others. It's ok.

I just don't need someone, anyone, in fact, preaching to me, that because I used a stock loop from my Ableton Library Pack, I am somehow less than others.

Judge me on my music.

This reminds me of 'The Appeal' by Kipling:

If I have given you delight
By aught that I have done
Let me lie quiet in that night
Which shall be yours anon.

And for the little little span
The dead are borne in mind
Seek not to questions other than
The books I leave behind

For books, read 'loops'.

Btw, it was quite difficult to get a good 'translation' of that on the 'web'.

About the first half a dozen google results returned pages that read: "IT I have given.."..

They obviously have read from the same page and copied as such.
There in lies a warning. But I'm not sure what it is.
I trust the good reader to use discretion, which was the point of my whole post in the first place.

Yours, anon, a dirty free loading (but paid up) loop user.


Aug.16.2013 @ 10:00 PM
Stadard Beat Company + replicant + filterstation + rough rider ( 1 aux Eos, 1 aux ronin ) = something I feel fine calling my own.

I don't have a drummer, dj or studio musician friends to help me flesh out ideas with cool shit . I do have access to some of the best minds in sampling and recording. Sometimes I'll a chop and screw it; sometimes a Goldbaby drum break cranking out of Geist w/ minimal editing, DSP is all it takes to sell the bridge.

I know. I'm always engaging in this discussion every time it comes up around here. But it is often part of my process so it's interesting to me. Sure, I listen to RT-60 and marvel at the nuance of the beats and know it was built step by step, then marvel more. But I also hear some ninja tune deep cut and know that if I can get phrase samples to transcend their original context that is an art in its own way.

So, yeah, to echo the dude above, in 10 years it won't matter if I built myself or I had a pro carpenter come in and construct the framework and supply the materials. As long as its a quality end result and something that I'm proud of, it's all good.

Anyway, good luck and god speed w/ the domicile.

Aug.23.2013 @ 10:22 AM
Any progress reports on the remodeling?

I've had to spend more energy cleaning up the old rental than focusing on our new house. I did go to Hardwick's Hardware the other day (the best & scariest hardware store in Seattle - scary because of how dead people would be if an earthquake happened while browsing the aisles) and got a tool designed to pry open painted windows. I'm not sure why someone would paint windows shut, but the tool made fast work of opening a few windows that were painted shut in the new house.

Aug.23.2013 @ 4:37 PM
Chris Randall
We've completed one of the three rooms that got... well, I don't know which term to use. I'm gonna go with "upgraded." That room has new sheetrock, new tile, new paint, new baseboards and trim, new recessed LED lighting, all electrical problems tamed, etc.

The second room, called "The Fireplace Room" in the local patois, has all of the above except for tile, baseboards, and trim.

The third room, ditto.

So, we're about 2/3 of the way done with the initial "before we move in" renovations. It will be a continual saga that will take at least a couple years to complete, as this house is getting a major multi-thousands-of-dollars-and-many-hours-of-work update, and I've run out of money. But we'll begin moving around the 1st, and probably be fully translocated by the middle of the month.

Just in time for my scheduled jury duty.


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