Smokin’ in the Smokies!

Yes, it’s been a long time no blog, but here we are again, with a report from the Asheville Electro-Music Festival 2015, where Spiral was one of a plethora of performers to delight their audience with some seriously smokin’ electronic music goodness.

Fade to Blue - Live

Fade to Blue – Live

The Asheville electro-music festival brings some of the world’s finest electronic and experimental musicians together to offer a series of concerts, workshops, demonstrations and collaborations in addition to the live music and live video art. The intention is to offer a multi-media experience. I think it’s safe to say that the organizers reached their goal – if only from the delighted Facebook comments that were being sent during the performances!

Fade to Red - Live

Fade to Red – Live

Spiral offered two pieces for the audience’s delectation, and they were very favorably received. Fade to Blue and Fade to Red are just two in a collection of colorways that Spiral is producing – watch this space for more details as and when they are available. Both of these are interesting tracks as Fade to Blue was done entirely on an iPhone as Spiral stood before the audience, and Fade to Red was done entirely on one iPad.

For now, though, you can enjoy these two tracks live – courtesy of the videos produced by EMAVL Steve Mokris. Just click the links, sit back and enjoy!

Fade to Blue:

Fade to Red:

«Gypsy Witch«


Concrete Mixer Live – it’s all in the mix!

Concrete Mixer PosterAre you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Musique concrète, according to our friendly Wikipedia: “can feature sounds derived from recordings of musical instruments, voice, and the natural environment as well as those created using synthesizers and computer-based digital signal processing.” In other words, it is music formed from processed sound, rather than a sound made directly from an instrument you’re seeing right in front of you. Sounds are recorded and messed with, then spat out again for your listening pleasure. Why do you need to know this? Simple – so that you can be prepared for a singularly unique experience when Spiral plays musique concrète at Concrete Mixer IV on Friday 30th January 2015 at 8pm Pacific, 9pm Mountain, 10pm Central etc.

Whether you are close enough to Denver to attend at the Walnut Room, whether you want to just listen via Radio Spiral, or whether you would like to join me in Second Life to listen, there’s a way for you to be there and a way for you to connect to others attending. Be prepared for loud, improvised and very unusual music from a collaboration of some great names in ambient and synthesised sound.

I hope you’ll join us whichever way you can, and enjoy the unique experience of Concrete Mixer. Spiral’s chat room (in the sidebar) will be open for business, to, so I’ll see you there!

«Gypsy Witch«

An Evening Of EEK!

On Saturday night, December 27, I relaunched the Eklektik Elektrik Kolektiv, or EEK!, in a “flash festival” at the amazing La Vita Bella coffee house in Longmont, Colorado.

EEK! got its start some years ago, when my good friend Tony Gerber (Cypress Rosewood in Second Life) asked me to sit in on an Earthdance Festival in SL, the day before I was scheduled to drive to Arizona for a Different Skies event with my friends Nick Rothwell, Otso Pakarinen, and David Herpich.

We threw together a collaborative improv set and wowed the audience (although I’m not clear if it was actually, “Wow… THAT was different”), and since then, EEK! has been a vehicle for gangs of crazed musicians taking over a stage with no preparation and making noises at an equally unprepared audience.

EEK! live - Wes Milholen of ANTIDATA demonstrates his modular for fellow musicians and a growing audience at La Vita Bella

EEK! live – Wes Milholen of ANTIDATA demonstrates his modular for fellow musicians and a growing audience at La Vita Bella

This time, EEK! came about when I quite suddenly got a slot to play a Saturday night at LVB, a fantastic venue for music. A few days later, I mentioned it at a meeting of the Boulder Synthesizer Meetup (“A drinking group with a synthesizer problem”, as founder Mark Mosher calls it), and impulsively threw the roster open to anyone who wanted to join in. Within 15 minutes, I had a slate of eight musicians on board including myself; Mark Mosher had to back out due to family commitments, but a few weeks later I was piling onto the tiny stage with six other people, a couple of whom I’d never met before they signed up for the show.

We had Dino JA Deane on his little rig of looping groovebox and iPad Samplr, Wes Milholen (ANTIDATA) on modular synthesizer, Rick Reid on Moog Theremini and assorted effects boxes, Allen Goodman (Desert Mystic) on guitar and virtual instruments, Chris Frain (Lenn Cicada) on Moog Slim Phatty and dueling iPads, and me at the end… because I was jockeying the house mix and running the streams to Second Life and Radio Spiral (my very own stream for events like this) as I went, the only equipment I had room for to actually make music with was an iPad and an iPhone.

In addition to the six players, Don Hume of NIIO Analog had a rig with an Eventide reverb and his own mix-modulation-EQ device for messing with it, which which he processed signals from the other musicians… only occasionally screwing up the entire mix by accident. (Sorry, Don, my bad for not having thought through the routings before showtime!)

Gypsy Witch's beautiful virtual concert hall, with Spiral Sands playing keyboards

Gypsy Witch’s beautiful virtual concert hall, with Spiral Sands playing keyboards

I provided a live mix of the musicians which was fed to Second Life via my own streaming station, Radio Spiral. Naturally, my trusty SL factotum Gypsy Witch (Diana Smethurst in the UK) was on hand with me in Second Life, having constructed a beautiful virtual stage for my avatar Spiral Sands to use, performing to an appreciative online audience.

Each performer had a 15 to 20 minute set, followed by a break and then a few collaborations. Because these folks hadn’t played together before, there were only a few such interactions during the evening, but the people who took part had a lot of fun, and the audience (the biggest we’ve ever had at LVB, a packed house) seemed to really enjoy everything.

End result? The proprietor of LVB wants us back! So… later this spring, look for more EEK!age coming your way….

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EEK! Mr Spiral and friends play live… don’t miss it!

You’ve got less than two days to clear your calendar! With the holiday season on us, there are plenty of offerings for your seasonal entertainment. If you wanted to go to a club and listen to the latest winner of The X Factor, you’d not even be reading this blog, so chances are, you’d like something a little different. Well EEK!

EEK! It's music, but not as we know it...

EEK! It’s music, but not as we know it…

EEK! for your information, is The Eklektik Elektrik Kolektiv – a group of some of the great and good of the electronic music community in the Boulder area of Colorado. Along with our very own Spiral Sands aka Mike Metlay (whose evil genius masterminded the event) the Kolektiv will be playing live at La Vita Bella in Longmont. Home of some of the wickedest desserts to ever tantalize your tastebuds, La Vita Bella will be hosting the Kolektiv for most of Saturday 27th December 2014 at 6pm SLT/ PDT, 7pm Mountain Time (local time), 9pm Eastern… and you’re invited!

“But Gypsy, I’m not in Colorado!” I hear you cry…

Never fear, you can join us in Second Life and hear it all streamed live there, as well as get a taste of the new set I’ve been slaving away at building (more on that later).

“But GYPSY! I’m not on Second Life and you can’t make me go and I don’t want to… but I want to hear EEK!” I hear you say (you did, right? Please keep up!)…

Well, yet again, never fear. You can now listen to the live, improvised performance via the computer you’re using to read this, and don’t you dare tell me you haven’t got one of those, ‘cos I know you have! Yes, you can listen right here on this page, just click the “Radio Spiral” widget in the sidebar when the show is due to start and off you go!

The Mystery Skybox

So, having assured you that you are not excluded and encouraging you to listen, let me tease those of you in Second Life that are planning to come. If you know Spiral’s HQ, you’ll know it’s a building with a small stage, comfy chairs, free mugs and lots of light and space with a decent view to the sea. Well, that’s where the show is normally streamed from and where you might be expecting to hear this show. You’d be wrong.


The Mystery Rings

Up in the skies over Spiral’s HQ is the mystery skybox you’ll see in the picture. What’s in the skybox? Well, right now, it’s what you can see in the picture below, complete with a grid, what looks like a fried egg, and me. Not impressed? Not even by the mystery rings in the picture to the right that’s there simply to make the page a bit more interesting?  Well, I think you might enjoy what’s in the skybox even more now you’ve been teased… so you’ll have to come along to find out! As a sweetener, if you think you like the look of the EEK! shirt I’m wearing, then you can pick one up free just for attending! In case you’ve forgotten, here’s the SLURL, although you can click the button on the widgety sidebar for speed, too.

Mystery Grid

The Miss in a box

So, to summarize: this is a performance not to be missed, a Second Life set that’s worth the trip (not to mention the very coolest free shirts for those that make it) and a rare chance to hear this talented group of musicians. So what are you waiting for! EEK! on the 27th!

«Gypsy Witch«

More Ambient with your coffee, sir?

Hot Chocolate CheesecakeLive music is always special. It has an energy all its own and it’s not an option for the faint-hearted. Performing solo to an audience that is there simply because they wanted some refreshment is not an easy thing to do. Anyone who has the nerve and the skill to pull off a good set deserves kudos. Certainly, this evening at La Vita Bella, Longmont, Spiral wowed his Stillstream audience (and his audience on site) with an outstanding set of skillfully evolving, exciting and exceptional music and kudos must be given. Apparently one of the ways it arrived (other than claps and cheers in the chatroom) was via a very nice slice of Hot Chocolate Cheesecake (pictured) – surely better tasting than a Grammy?

Although we are all a lot more used to the wonders of modern technology and take a lot of it for granted, the idea that someone could be playing live to a coffee house and also be broadcasting live on radio doesn’t always register. Spiral had some fun explaining to some of his audience why he was talking to what appeared to be thin air, but it seems the show went down extremely well. It may have been amusing to explain to them that the show was being simulcast in Second Life, too, where there was an audience in the Atomic City HQ at Fellin Hill. Maybe that was taking the explanations an unnecessary step too far, though.

Rig Setup for La Vita BellaGear for this gig was carefully set up, you can see a picture here – interesting for the layman to look at and enough to offer Spiral the opportunity to actually adapt music on the fly to please a Stillstream audience member.

Merch StandAs well as the music, Spiral was offering some “Merch”. You can see the high tech set up in the picture and marvel at the level of marketing (hey, it’s a coffee house!).

It’s never easy to win over an audience whose tastes are unknown, especially if said audience popped in as part of their explorations of the Longmont Artwalk, so sales are especially appreciated in these circumstances. The fact that there were sales shows the quality of Spiral’s music. If you are in the Longmont area of CO, then make sure you look out for notices of forthcoming gigs, or make your life easy and check out this blog, and Mr Spiral’s website. Great food, great beverages and great music – what’s not to like?

From myself and all the Stillstream audience, Spiral, very well done!

«Gypsy Witch«

A Thousand Words (plus a bit) about metlay! live at La Vita Bella – September 20 2014


I will be streaming live on StillStream right after that day’s scheduled programming; if you tune in, you’ll hear Rebekkah Hilgraves wrapping up her show, At Water’s Edge, and we’ll then hand off to the live show, possibly already in progress. It’d be great to see you at the show, but if you can’t make it in person, you can always listen in and chat along in the chat room!


Oh dear indeed!

Look at all the beautiful shiny jolly candylike BUTTONS!

Look at all the beautiful shiny jolly candylike BUTTONS!

And so my dream has come to fruition…! Here’s the rig I’ll be using for the gig at La Vita Bella on September 20, or near enough; what you see here is no fewer than six different controllers all running the same Ableton Live session. One Ableton, two Novation, and three Akai, with lots and lots of shiny blinky buttons to press and cause all manner of sonic mayhem.

Details will follow soon—enjoy the blinky shininess in the meantime, and keep the afternoon and evening of September 20 open, even if you can’t be there in person!