‘Planet V – Drum & Bass Vol. 3’ listening notes

In which I review the 54 track compilation for 13 tracks then get a bit drunk.

  1. A vocal liquid track. Plenty of space. Male vocal sounds familiar. Build ups are tasteful. Electro vibes with some predominant trancey pads. Lyrical themes are positive. No big drop to speak of; a subtle arrangement. You’d like this to take home with you or play in the car after.
  2. Tribal feeling on the intro. More prominent drop this time. Wobbly bass line. More attack on the drums. Has the kind of atmosphere you’d expect from a trip to the rainforest, lush and cool, but with slightly neuro elements. A bouncy track.
  3. Old school horror vibes on the intro. Gets darker with the bass line. Jungle drums in places and neuro elements again. Suddenly a liquid kind of drop. Female vocal. You’d want to include this in a harder liquid mix. The track slips itself right down the middle between heaviness and vibes. Vocals are both emotive and distant with a hint of remorse.
  4. Industrial effects. Time stretching galore. Trippy vocal sampling repeats on a short loop. Experimental feel but reminiscent of old school intelligence. V proving with all tracks so far that they don’t like pigeonholes. Track continues on a relentless path into darkness that would be less obvious if you’d just entered the room half way through.
  5. Horns and sirens. Splashy jungle drums. Classic jungle vibes here. Lots of reverb, especially in the bass, gives a bit of space but the track is mostly tight and hot. Police sirens throughout. Don’t play this in the car. You’ll be checking your mirrors. First track on the compilation that fits directly into one genre. Drum breaks are technical when they happen. Good one to zone out too.
  6. Immediately sounds like trouble. Bass is wobbly and heavily distorted. Full on brockout tune. Tonnes of fun if you like things simple. Would be fun to juggle with another track as straight forward is this. Might need it actually as it’s quite one dimensional.
  7. Serum. Intro is stripped down so good for a mix. Serum tracks, and other rollers, go together like Lego on the decks. Bass sounds like a giant on the horizon. Like most Serum tracks, there’s little building of atmosphere; just an interesting bass note that gets a bit more complex as the track progresses.
  8. As with the previous track, heavy use of martial arts movie samples. Sounds like just another roller but there’s a metallic feel to the bass and synths that makes it stand out as having at least a theme. Doesn’t progress at all. It’s up to the DJ to make this one more than a bass demo.
  9. More darkness. Interesting snare. Is that a cowbell too? Another roller. I used to look for this stuff.
  10. Something a bit more danceable. Sounds like an original MC too. Brightness on the drums. Bass bounces along under the radar. Arrangement comes together nicely on the second drop, after a bit of teasing. Shuffle vibes.
  11. Drums mean business in this one. Tension builds up quickly. Big drop expected. When it does, you get a few different layers to listen to. Pick n mix. Could be a big tune. Tricky though. NFM isn’t one for convention.
  12. Classic drums, sparkly sounds, nice and rich. Indian chanting sampled. Trumpets. Smooth synths and almost invisible bass. This is nice. Everything gels except maybe that Indian chanting sample. Wonder how it would sound without that. Blissfully uplifting track. Sounds like a celebration of life. Doesn’t need progression.
  13. Back and forth arrangement is a foundation for some smooth female vocals. Bass is warm and buzzy. Another uplifting tune. Has a chorus. You could easily sing along to it. This one goes somewhere if only for a moment.
  14. Too fresh. Had to skip this one for later listening.
  15. Smile at your mates to this one.
  16. A bit trippy I guess but essentially just recycled Drum and Bass. Sorry, I think the lager has kicked in. Let’s skip.
  17. Skip.
  18. Male vocals are a weakness of mine. Bass has teeth. Breakdown is dramatic. The vocal may be repetitive but it’s used well. Stays interesting.
  19. Not a fan of strings and this has them all.
  20. Novelty track.
  21. Doesn’t go anywhere.
  22. I’ve got a mate who loves the song this one covers.
  23. Love it. Danger around every corner at first then boom, you’re home safe. Second drop reveals one of the best melodies. A firm favourite.
  24. This is a hard one. Dark and driven. Bass on the mid and sub ranges. Laid back in neuro terms but in the arrangement of this compilation, it stands out as a tough nut. Ok enough. It’s not going anywhere. Next.
  25. Skip.
  26. Skip.
  27. Serum.
  28. Skip.
  29. Skip.
  30. Oh, dub vibes! Turns a bit dry. Hold on. Let’s see what it’s got. Psychedelic sounds. Nice bass but I’m gonna have to bookmark this for later. It’s a keeper but it needs to be heard when my ears are less tired.
  31. I’ve played this one out. It slaps. Bad boy!
  32. Skip!
  33. Right, from now on I’m just putting a dot instead of typing skip every time.
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  38. Who can resist a song about love? You can’t skip that! And you’ll be glad to listen to this one. The bass line is organic and funky. There’s more than one sampled vocalist. Trumpets. Really good trumpets. Ok, maybe just a chorus filter on one trumpet. I actually smiled while listening to this one so fair play.
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  43. Had to wait for the drop on this one. But that’s all I heard of it.
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  48. I’ve heard this one too many times.
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  54. Oh dear I think I lost count somewhere.

And there you have it. A comprehensive review of how just one pint of lager can absolutely ruin your patience.

Invisible friends

It does feel a bit like I’m invisible now I’ve deleted Facebook. The constant stream of this friend’s doing that, that friend’s doing this felt like home for the 12 years I used the site. Now I have to ping friends to get what they’re up to. It feels a bit houndy. A bit like I’m pestering people. Like attention seeking.

It is; but not for any special reason. I’m just used to getting bits of information or other content from you.

Funnily, the people I chat with most, one to one, are the ones who never really posted much on Facebook. Maybe I’m tired of the people who did. No, just used to being satisfied enough by their posting to not need to contact them directly for a little bit of their life.

So maybe habits haven’t changed since leaving Facebook. Maybe I’m just getting withdrawal from the manipulations of the newsfeed algorithm. I’m no longer, except for in Apple News, doom scrolling. I get enough intellectual stimulation from my collection of RSS feeds, like I always did. There was something about the Facebook newsfeed that felt present and alive. As close to artificial intelligence as you could hope, if the intelligence were to be a personal mingling guide at a party. Except the party is full of businessmen.

It’s the likes I miss. I have to admit it. The feedback you get, even if it’s a so and so like your post notification minutes after you posted. I guess I’ll get some feedback through this blog once it finds its audience. Google is a slow feeding source of attention. You play the long game. Post about something obscure and someone will find it later. Maybe, after a hundred people have found it, someone will comment. I’m into that. It feels more genuine or intellectually honest to get feedback on content people are looking for, rather than what they were shown by Facebook’s algorithm.

We should all congregate on Signal

Friends! I’ve deleted Facebook. I’m using Signal instead or, at least, I wish I was.

I need you to join; for, err, research purposes. No not really, it’s privacy. I left Facebook because it was bothering me how much data was potentially being leaked into advertisers’ hands through the company. Also, Facebook moderators have a hard time. So much so that Facebook have a PTSD treatment department for their staff. I don’t want to be one that helps such an operation exist.

Signal is different. You moderate it yourself. You just block the bad actors. Not that I’ve had any attack me. People need your number to contact you. There’s a screener like on Messenger too, which stops attackers just entering your inbox.

Plus, Signal has:

  • Groups
  • Contacts
  • Chats
  • Stickers
  • GIFs
  • File sharing
  • Contact sharing
  • Location sharing
  • Optional read receipts
  • Optional typing status

It’s properly private and isn’t run by the evil Facecorp.

If you have my number join me on there.

Install it now.

If we were Facebook friends and you don’t have my number, email [email protected]

Fave of the grave

Burning Witch is my new favourite doom band. From the theatrically accurate cacklings of Sea Hag to the spatial climbs of History of Hell, they entertain. Expect drawn out fuzz riffs, long tracks and occasionally entertaining extremes of disparaging vocals that’ll make you laugh if you let them.

Get a taste on TIDAL

My most convenient iOS 14 shortcut

Open Settings then Accessibility then Touch then Back Tap. Set Double Tap to Spotlight.

From Spotlight, you can search both your phone and the web. The setting you just set lets you tap the back of the phone twice to open Spotlight from anywhere. Much like you can type cmd-space in your Mac.

A cycle of bicycles

I’ve cycled since I was in primary school. I owned a Raleigh Activator 2 dual suspension mountain bike; over which I cried when given, and when I lost it to thieves. My second bike was a Dawes rigid mountain bike, which I swapped for another, prettier rigid that I also let get stolen. I went for five years after that, with no bike. Not until I got a job and saved for my first road bike.

My Dawes Audax Sport 2008 with original parts, prior to sale.

I bought it with my own money. I used it to commute the eight miles from my home in Hay to work in Talgarth for a time. Otherwise, it was just good fun for exploring the roads. The steel frame wasn’t the lightest but gave a smooth and sustainable ride. The wheels stayed true right up until I sold it in 2018, ten years later. It had become my spare bike after buying a hardtail mountain bike.

My almost-completely customised Orange G3 2011 hardtail mountain bike.

I customised this more than I rode it. It eventually proved too small for me, which is why I think I rode it so little. Pictured, it has a custom suspension fork; wheels, brakes and drivetrain. It came with a Deore 3*9 drivetrain which I changed to an SLX 1*11. The suspension fork also proved to be a miscalculation: It had 1 cm more travel than the bike was rated to handle. It looked nice but was frightening to ride. Upon realising I’d bought a small bike, I proceeded to have the parts transferred as much as possible, to a better frame.

My Cotic BFe 2016 with most the parts from the Orange. The only new part being the seat post.

So I hopped on the Pinkbike web site’s marketplace and scoured around for the frame I’d determined to be ideal for an upgrade; one I could swap as many parts of my Orange onto – it needed to have the same component fittings as the Orange but just be bigger, so as to fit me better. I found one within a few days.

Happy with the bike’s fit but not with the flexy wheels and fork, I did a few upgrades after the transfer.

My Cotic today.

I bought some better wheels from a friend and found a great fork online that was going for a third of its original price simply because it was old. It was unused, kept in a shed. Both upgrades stiffened the bike to the point where I felt comfortable tackling some rough terrain. I felt it time to add a dropper post. Pull a few stickers off here, change some colours there and you have what I currently ride. But not my only bike.

A wild Trek 1000SL appears!

I missed my Dawes though. This Trek popped up on Facebook so I bought it. I’ve managed to get it to do 36 mph so far, on a short hill I should say, and climbing roads around here is a little easier as it’s very light. Unfortunately, I failed to notice the dent in the down tube when I bought it. An experienced friend says it’s fine to ride but the next crash could break it. I’m thinking of selling it to make space but I’m in two minds. It’s much more efficient on roads than the Cotic, and I don’t like wasting the Cotic’s tyres on tarmac. I’m happy with what I have. I may upgrade to some wider rims on the Cotic but that can wait until it’s time to go out riding with pals again.

The only sound system is a sound system

I spend oh, maybe 90% of my waking life listening to music. I spend a lot of my sleeping life doing so too.

I don’t own a sub woofer for fear of really upsetting the neighbours. Bedsit life dictates that one must carry an amount of respect for others. But I do have a nice sound system.

My current setup – one that I’ve been slowly accumulating for the last five years – is rather nice I must say. I have a love for analogue amps and paper speakers. I don’t like having a wire trailing out of my primary control device, my phone. This means a requirement of either Bluetooth or some other AirPlay system. That’s what I’m rocking right now:

  1. I’m in a trial membership of TIDAL HiFi, which not only gives you CD quality sound without having to first download your songs; but also goes to higher realms of fidelity with its Masters feature, which streams original studio quality audio. The difference is noticeable.
  2. The iPhone on which this membership is logged in, streams the audio signal via Bluetooth to an iFi iOne Nano. It’s an unassuming little piece of kit that boasts near perfect audio reproduction over Bluetooth. Ever heard audio via Bluetooth on a cheap system? It loses its liveliness and fidelity and sounds crap. The iOne does a few tricks to preserve the audio quality of Bluetooth streams and that, again, is noticeable. The TIDAL HiFi streaming sounds fuller and more alive than the relatively muffled sounds of your average YouTube stream. This judgement is made while listening through the iOne. The quality preservation is accurate enough to tell the difference.
  3. A thick RCA stereo cable plugged into the back of the iOne pushes an analogue signal to my analogue amp, a Technics SU-V550 from the early ‘90s. I inherited this from my father, and grew up with it as the main family stereo. I’ve tried this amp with a few different speakers. It currently feeds into my favourites.
  4. The ‘80s Castle Durham speakers, despite their reputed harshness at high volumes, are actually very smooth at low to moderate levels of sound. They’re 2-way but you’d be forgiven to think they had a dedicated mid range cone behind the grill. The bass is honest. It’s driven by small but well housed woofers made of paper. You have to turn up the volume or push the Loudness button on the amp, to really feel the bass. Without volume nor Loudness, however, the bass is still present and entertaining; and a bit more conforming to bedsit life.

The TV goes through the iOne too, except third time via optical cable rather than Bluetooth. To switch between the two I just flip a lever on the iOne. Both feed into the amplifier through the same RCA cable. The amp is too old to take optical.

I’m really pleased with this setup for its beautiful sound and handy convenience. I can demand pretty much any song I like at CD quality through TIDAL; right from the comfort of my chosen slouching place.

I had to google just one thing when setting up the TV: To avoid terrible screeching from the system when using the TV, a Sony Bravia, as the source, I had to open the main app, go to Settings, Sound then choose PCM for the Digital Audio Out setting, rather than Auto.

I’ve tried the Technics amp with two other sets of speakers. The Mission MX1s were great until I tried the Durhams. The MX1s sound closed and boxy in comparison. The Technics speakers, which originally came with the amplifier, sound wooden and thin in comparison. Those hearings were both before gaining the iOne. I’m curious to try them again with this new setup.