Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Carolan Guitar Songs

So, fans of the Carolan Guitar, did you ever wonder about the finished products?

As you all know (of course), one of last year's projects was test driving the Carolan Guitar - I caught it for a week or so, before it travelled to the US, and then on its way to France. These intensive days produced a bunch of recordings, videos and even prompted the resurrection of this blog!

As you may remember, I also started off  writing two songs on that curiously carved semi-acoustic guitar. The first was an unfinished instrumental which ended up with the title Judith. I posted the primary results in the hope that someone would pick it up and finish it. Nobody ever did, so I simply reclaimed it.

To hear the original demo, played, in part, on the Carolan Guitar, go here.

I added more and more overdubs, removed some of the tracks (so much, that in the end *none* of the original ones were used!), added some vocals, wend mad on the drums, and knitted a giant guitar riff together. A very convoluted process, that, surprisingly, ended up sounding very loose and live (played to a virtual audience only). I was basically making up this song on tape.

Have a listen:

Sometime later, when I had a Boss drum-machine running, while fooling around on the piano, I returned to that same song. I stumbled upon a piano-based arrangement, focusing on a left hand bass-riff. Then I added several layers of of trumpets and brass (on synth), bass and electric guitar, more drums and vocals. The results were quite poppy and commercial:

How different from the previous, gritty guitar version!

But these songs were just playing around. The real Carolan Guitar song, written deliberately on that instrument was Shut This Door - a deeply sad lament that goes one or two steps too far. In the finished version (played on my regular Cimar acoustic guitar, I'm afraid), I share vocals with Claire. Chambo plays a Nick Drake-like guitar intermezzo (that pushes the song's protagonist over the edge):

And that's a nice little CD single for the twenty-first century.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Now Ur Back - The return of the fabulous EMF All Stars!

Can you believe it, it's been three years since we've had a release from the EMF All Stars!

I'm sure you have forgotten all about this outrageous band. Just to refresh your mind, the EMF All Stars are a bunch of (mainly) Prince fans that hang out on the internet. ('Do you like 'HitnRun Phase 1?' 'I think it's rubbish!' 'I think it's absolutely great!' 'Ow, shut up already!') Although existing in different parts of the world, they meet in virtual places to create something that some may call music. Even though not all of them are strictly speaking musicians. Some are better described as magicians. They have guitars, basses, drums, keyboards, vocals, computers, which they blend and roll into a ball of otherworldly pop, funk and rock.

You remember now?

After big hits, such as '2 Ways 2 Dance', 'Scratching the Surface (Mrs. Microphone)', 'Still Waiting (4 The Chocolate Invasion', 'Entropy People' and 'Power Lines', they sort of disappeared in 2013. Probably pursuing individual successes in different continents. See whether you can find them! Now, with the threat of the end of the world looming once more, they've come together again, and are working on a whole new album. Let's call it 'The Games' ...

And this is the opening track and first single: 'Now Ur Back'

Maxim: basis and bass
Ymaginatif: guitars and vocals
Maceo: vocals and computer

Thursday, 21 May 2015

'Blackbird' on the Carolan Guitar (ft. Dylan Jones)

Last thing I heard the Carolan Guitar paid a quick visit to Real World Studios in Wiltshire, and is now on its way to France?

Well, here's some fond memories of when the instrument was in my hands, and when I invited my friend Dylan Jones to come over and do some songs. Here is a rough version of the Beatles song 'Blackbird':

Take 47. Or was it 74? :)

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Return of the Dodo - The Aimee Mann tribute album

Some of you might remember ... a year or two ago I recorded my own version of a complete Aimee Mann album: "Bachelor #2 or the Remains Of the Dodo". I started with the first song and enjoyed it so much, I just did all the others too. Some of them came naturally, others were a bit more of a struggle (without the help of Glen Tillbrook, Benmont Tench or Jon Brion). In any case, verything was done in two months, with a little major help from a friend to do the mixing (and some vocals).

Rather ambitiously, this album was then posted in two giant sound files: Side A and Side B. Then we all forgot about it. Ha!

Until a couple of days ago, I listened to it again on a train journey, and I actually quite liked some of the songs - particularly impressed by Maceo's rich and wide-screen mixing sound. So I thought, maybe it's time to give the album another online chance. But this time, more user friendly, as 14 separate songs - for you to pick and chose, love and hate, ignore and cherish.

(only vaguely relevant picture)

So, if you scroll back in time (or go to


you'll find them waiting for you!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Carolan Guitar and its aestheticodes

So, the question was asked yesterday, what would sort of information would you insert into the patterns of this guitar?

Just to clarify, the Carolan Guitar - a unique artefact - has 9 distinctive patterns etched (or laser-cut) into its body. These designs contain codes (they call them 'aestheticodes') that can be scanned with a smartphone, tablet etc. Currently, these codes are already linked to 'experiences' online, but since the project is still in its try-out stages, one of the questions asked by the developers was: what would you link the guitar to.

Well, after a (very) brief week of having this guitar around, it's time to add my thoughts to the debate ... It seems to me that there are, in general, two  ways in which a 'coded' guitar like this could be envisaged:  it is an instrument that either gets sold (or given) to a single person and becomes property of that person, or it exists as a 'social' guitar, one that gets handed around from user to user.

In case of the first option - the individual use - the codes could link to information that is relevant for the single owner, to take with him or her wherever he or she takes the guitar. One design could lead to a personal collection of guitar tabs of all the songs that that guitar player usually plays. Another to the youtube channel with all the videos he or she has uploaded. Another one to their music blog, and another to their online shop. One for their photo collection. Evidently, whenever these get updated online, the guitar 'is aware'. In other words, everything that the Carolan Guitar player was (musically) involved with could be focused in and on this guitar. The guitar would function as a composite tracker of someone's entire musical career.

Another single-user option would be to have guitars like this as ultimate 'deluxe editions' of an album. These are the days when you can buy impressively expanded versions of an album, sometimes for hundreds of pounds --- 'The Dark Side Of The Moon' on 7 discs, including some marbles, a scarf, a piece of the moon and much much more. These things do sell (I, for one, can't resist them). So what if the extremely deluxe edition of, let's say, Prince's The Truth (to name but one totally acoustic album), was a proper guitar - a replica of Prince's guitar - but with the music embedded into the patterns on it? No CDs, no LPs, not even MP3s, but just the guitar. One pattern would lead to the main album, another to the bonus disc with outtakes, yet another to a section with videos, and finally one to a dress-like-Prince game, etc etc. Just a crazy idea? :)

The second option - the social guitar approach - is much more appealing to me. A guitar that would change hands every month or so, that travels from country to country, reaches amateurs as well as famous artists, and, in doing so, would keep track of every single stage. A guitar that would keep its own diary and archive.

As it is now, the guitar already does this to some extent: players can write their blogposts, add information to their own sites, and link (or hope to link) all that to a central website/blog, run by the guitar-creators. But I think it would be much more useful if this was done by the person with the guitar in a centralized way: Having the guitar would also allow you access to that central blog - if, by using one of the patterns on the guitar, you get a special key, to go and add everything you chose to that 'official' blog. The life-blog of the Carolan Guitar that would grow and grow over the years.

Similarly, getting handed the guitar would mean you have to 'log in' to its life-span (and subsequently 'log out' when it leaves you). A perfect time-line of players could be produced in that way (this is the historiographer in me speaking). People could write a short piece about themselves, add pictures if they want. Refer to the their own websites. Everything to make sure that these people aren't anonymous.

A second symbol could take you to a place that lists all the gigs for which this guitar was used. Again, maybe with pictures or even live recordings of that particular gig. It would be great to know that the guitar landing in your hands had had a stint in, let's say, the Royal Albert Hall or the Aberystwyth Arts Centre - once or twice.

A third symbol, and I don't think it really matters which one (discovering what is what would be part of the fun of having this guitar), would take you to a section that chronicles or archives all the songs written on this guitar. These could be finished products, with lyrics, recordings, anything people would like to contribute and share, as well as a section (which I mentioned before) with 'unfinished songs'. This fourth symbol would be a playground for people to go, pick up ideas and/or find long-distance writing-partners. It's certainly possible - I've written songs that way with people, some of them in London, others in the USA.

Symbol five - we have to keep that manual (it worked for me :) ), including the early history and creation of the guitar.

Symbol six - all about the creators of this guitar: who they are and what else they are up to. Related projects.

That would still leave a few symbols. I like the little one, almost hidden on the side and under the neck - it takes you some time to find that one, so maybe that should be a special one. How about accessing that symbol entitles you to an extra week with the guitar? A sort of prize-symbol?

The one underneath the strings I would never use - I always learnt never to take off all the strings at the same time (it's bad for the neck). Maybe that symbol should take you to a place that teaches you how to look properly after the guitar ... :)

In conclusion, being handed the guitar, would also mean being handed its history. And that, I imagine, could be very thrilling and inspiring. That would make this a very special and unique guitar project. So much for my musings. No time to waste now: I better go and work on the song we started on yesterday, as I've only got one day left before the Carolan Guitar is leaving me.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Carolan Guitar in Dutch

I'm not sure whether this has been tried before, but I just had to see whether the Carolan Guitar was versatile enough to play a quiet song in Dutch. Enough amplification for the time being.

Heel wat weken al geleden
Zei je dat je toch zo graag eens bij me langs kwam
Je had een reden ...

Op je groot geworden kinderfiets zag ik je rijden
En je straalde tussen mensen die jou niet zagen
Je slikte goeiedag.

Na al een heel lang leven heb ik eindelijk geleerd zoiets te zien.
Ik tilde heel de wereld op mijn beide hand
En gaf hem aan jou
Maar je zei dat je zoiets niet wou.

Wie wil nu nog spelen in de oude boomgaard
Wie is nog tevreden met zijn kinderhandvol kleine dromen
Die enkel 's nachts tot leven komen.

Kleine mensen worden sneller dan ze willen
Groter voorgesteld dan ze zijn vanbinnen
Laat ze lopen - ze zullen zelf wel vallen.

Na al een heel lang leven heb ik eindelijk geleerd zoiets te zien.
Ik tilde heel de wereld op mijn beide hand
En gaf hem aan jou
Maar je zei dat je zoiets niet wou.

Ancient song by GDW, from his Meander days.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Codes and pre-amps of the Carolan Guitar

So I finally got the tablet out, and entered the interactive world of this guitar ...

Like I said, the Celtic looking patterns on the Carolan Guitar contain (or disguise) code in their designs, which read by a smartphone or tablet take you to different online places. The first one I tried happened to be the little square-ish one on the side of the body. (It decorates a lid which, when you lift it off  gets you access to the pre-amp and battery etc.) I had no idea where this particular symbol would take me, but It made perfect sense for it to activate ... the online user guide.

This user guide has tips from previous players (on how to record this guitar - useful!), but also gives advice on how to change the battery, where to find the volume control etc. The volume control, which had stumped me earlier today, turns out to be a small wheel attached to the inside of the body. Thank you, guitar, for telling me :)

So, once this sorted out, I set up the gear again: guitar in the effects pedal into the amp. Drum machine right next to me. Switch on the camera, and here it goes:

Carolan Song: "Judith" (draft 1)

Trying out some more things with the Carolan Guitar, I thought I'd record a song. The digital eight-track is set up, the computer is equipped for mixing multi-tracks. So that's what I do. And since the Carolan is basically an acoustic guitar, I thought I'd try to make it sound as electric as possible. After all, the guitar is wired up with a pre-amp and has a jack plug!

I don't know what I did wrong, but apart from a loud buzz, I wasn't able to get anything ... Something in the settings? A flat battery? I didn't waste any more time trying to figure this out, and set up a microphone, ran it through the Boss ME-70 pedal, and started recording that way. Some flanger, delay, compression and overdrive thrown in there - just to make it entirely unrecognizable :)

(making the Carolan my own :) )

With a couple of guitar tracks recorded on the digital eight-track (together with a five-year-old talking in the background. Always difficult to avoid that in this house when recording with a microphone ...), I inevitably added two drum-tracks (SparkLE beats and Yamaha electric kit), some piano, and a squeaky synth (Roland). The result, so far, was 'Judith' --- a somewhat wobbly mixture of funk, new wave, folk, grundge and jazz. Or none of the above, of course :)

Now, keeping in mind the whole Carolan Guitar concept, I stopped right there. Normally I would clean this up a bit, add a vocal or two, strip some of the superfluous instruments of, and mix/balance it properly. What if I didn't do that, but what if I 'gave' this draft-version to the guitar? For somebody else, somewhere somehow, to discover it, to play around with it and to finish it?

How would that work? Well, here is the song:

 and here are the multi-tracks for you to download should you be interested:


I'm posting them here on the blog now, but I can now also place them in a link embedded on the body of the Carolan Guitar. That's right! As I mentioned earlier, the patterns all over this guitar contain codes that can be read on smartphones or tablets, and that bring you to online places. What if one of these online places was a playground of unfinished songs?

Imagine someone picking up this guitar and using it as a medium to start a songwriting partnership with someone they never met. Only through this guitar - which gets handed from person to person?

So, if this one reaches you, have a try. If you like the song, add something; if you don't like it, well, make it better then! :)

It would be really great if you could let me know the results - I'd love to hear them. Bring them together. Make them album of the same song that grew into different shapes all over the world ...

 In the meantime, I'm going to have a look around inside this Carolan Guitar, to see whether I might be able to find someone else's unfinished song to play around with!

Carolan Guitar Visit

Time to revive this site! Not that I have any. Time that is. Music there has been plenty, so hopefully you might pick up some of it here in the near future.

Something very new to begin with! This week I'm test-driving a brand new type of guitar - the hand-made "Carolan Guitar", or the 'acoustic guitar that tells its life story'.

This extraordinary guitar forms part of a project run by Steve Benford et al. for the Mixed Reality Laboratory - School of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham.

Let me explain. These people developed a whole new type of guitar-experience - not in the playing, but in the meta-experience: The sharing of ideas, the artistic set-up, the fame and the fortune, all attached to a single instrument.  I'm happy to see that this beauty has been in the hands of quite a few people already - and the fact that you can go and 'ask' the guitar to show some of the little films they made playing it is quite a thrill. So, many thanks to Alan Chamberlain for picking me as the next person in line to try and figure out its many possibilities.

The first eye-catching feature of this guitar is its beautifully designed patterns. And its these patterns that turn this guitar into a marvelous box of possibilities: Every intricate knot contains a code that can be read by your smartphone and lead to some different experience. More on this later.

Actually, my first experiments consisted of just using the guitar as a straightforward instrument - how does it feel to jam on it as an acoustic guitar? The strings are new and still sound a bit brash (I prefer that old-string warmth - or I'm just too lazy to change strings ...), but you can't really blame the guitar for that. The action feels great, and for an acoustic guitar, it's very comfortable to play.

A quick video here (this guitar comes with its own camera -- not attached I have to say, but travelling with it in a small suitcase) of me playing an 'old hit' - just testing whether the guitar can be funky.

"We All Fall For That", played on Carolan Guitar from Geert De Wilde on Vimeo.

Time for some breakfast now :)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The #41 EP

So the DoDo Project didn't set fire to the charts.

Instead I learned to play the drums (didn't really succeed), turned up the volumes on everything and ditched the careful production/arrangement approach. Prince released his 'Screwdriver', and 3rdeyegirl raised the hopes that a rocking little band could be fun. Somehow that leaked into my system.

Since DoDo, 41 songs were recorded, most of them originals this time, with complete freedom as to their sound, structure and arrangement. Maceo listened to most, if not all, of them. And it was he who suggested it was time to release some of these to the wider world.

I thought a full album of Y-originals might be a bit much to ask of anyone's attention, so we agreed on an EP.

1. Better Than Before


2. What Is Going On (Ymaginatif- BrunoVanden Broecke)


3. Snow Storm


4. All These Things Were Burnt


Let me know whether you like them.
PS. Thanks Maceo

Friday, 20 April 2012

The "DoDo Project": The Album!

At last it’s here!!

The ‘DoDo Project’ is a complete performance of Aimee Mann’s 2000 Album Bachelor No. 2 or the Last Remains Of The Dodo, put together by Ymaginatif and Maceo in the first four months of 2012.

Ymaginatif recorded guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and vocals at home (at moments when the baby was asleep), and sent the masters to Maceo who then provided some more vocals and took care of mixing and valuable post-production (also at home and at moments when the baby was asleep).

The result is a wildly varied and out-of-character album (Ymaginatif’s second virtual album), purely for your entertainment and in honour, not only of Aimee Mann’s superb lyrics and song-writing, but also of www.entropymc.com (and its creator) for providing the playground of the people involved.

 (artwork by Maxim)

Side 1:

1. How Am I Different (Brion-Mann)
2. Nothing Is Good Enough
3. Red Vines
4. The Fall Of the World’s Own Optimist (Costello-Mann)
5. Satellite
6. Deathly
7. Ghost World

Side 2:

1. Calling It Quits
2. Susan
3. It Takes All Kinds (Brion-Mann)
4. Save Me
5. You Do
6. Backfire
7. Just Like Anyone

Let us know what you think! :)

Friday, 30 March 2012

The "DoDo Project": Preview Single!

Press Release:

The “DoDo Project” starts here!

I’m sure you all know, but Bachelor No. 2 or the Last Remains Of The Dodo is Aimee Mann’s third studio album, which was originally released in 2000. It is one of the best albums in Pop Music. Says Y.

By mid-March 2012 Y had recorded sixteen tracks for the project. At that point he was contacted by soundman Maceo, who had heard about Y working on something. Before having heard any of the songs, he volunteered to do some post-production on some of the tracks. However, after a few very effective test-mixes, both he and Y agreed that he should have a go at the entire album. His input was essential to opening these songs up to a wider sound-spectrum, whilst cutting out Y’s tendency to overproduction. He even added some vocals here and there. In Maceo’s words: ‘The album sounds better with each listen!’

By the end of the month, the project is now nearing its completion – give them another 2 or 3 weeks for finalizing the mixes and sequencing the whole thing. But we love the album so much that a preview single is called for!

Well, here it is

Backfire (Maceo Mix) b/w Just Like Anyone (Demo)

Side A:

Side B:

Both songs are written by Aimee Mann and performed by Ymaginatif in his (rare) spare time. Backfire has post-production by Maceo!

PS Original artwork by Maxim

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The "DoDo Project": the remix EP

Good news!
Maxim has just agreed to produce an EP of remixes of selected tracks from the "DoDo Project"!

The album itself probably won't be ready before mid April - but I'm think of perhaps previewing a single here by the end of the week!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Update On the "DoDo Project"

16 songs are now recorded for the "DoDo Project" - which is now in its finals stages!

Two people in the world have listened to it, and they loved it ...

But before I put it out here, Maceo has agreed to do some of his post-production and mixing on these tracks! Lovely!