david bowie

David Bowie: “Where Are We Now?”

Where were we then? David Bowie’s first solo single in more than nine years dropped out of nowhere on his 66th birthday—January 8th 2013. (Also Elvis Presley’s 78th birthday, of course.)

I woke up that morning to find social media (I still used social media quite extensively, if not enthusiastically, back then) buzzing with it. Still groggy and sipping a coffee, I tried to absorb the song and its video, while dutifully sharing my own reaction amidst the digital cacophony.

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Compression & Brickwalling Examples

Following the previous entry.

Before I move onto other things—although music mastering & quality is something I might like to return to periodically—here’s a few more musical waveforms for comparison, with comments.

KATE BUSH—RUNNING UP THAT HILL (1985)

The top image is the original 1985 mastering. It has a dynamic range of 11dB. Below it is the 1997 remastering (not by Kate herself)—the dynamic range (DR) is 7dB.

Kate Bush Running 1985

Kate Bush Running 1997

You’ll note on the top one, Kate herself does make use of the full soundscape and sometimes clips the very peaks of the sound for effect (which is perfectly fine & valid!). On the ’97, there is lot of peak-clipping (the tops of the waveforms being cut off) and compression, which results in a loss of 4dB of DR. Kate’s own 2018 remaster of Hounds of Love, which I’ve yet to hear, has the same dynamic range as the 1985 release.

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Brickwalling Music

As mentioned in the previous post… I thought I’d talk a bit more about the dreaded Loudness Wars™ and the brickwalling of a lot of modern music. I’m not a full-on audiophile and not a sound engineer, or any kind of expert, but I do know what I like and I have a reasonable grasp on this stuff…

The dynamic range of a piece of music (or any audio) is the difference in dBs (decibels) between the quietest sound and the loudest. It hardly need be said that a wider range of difference creates a more dynamic soundscape. Whether or not this is desirable depends on the intent. For a classical symphony, for instance, you’d definitely want a big contrast between the quieter sections and the parts that boom out dramatically… whereas with heavy metal, a big fat wall of noise is pretty much the goal. (Even then, maybe it’s possible to go too far; more on that in a bit.) But with most music, I think most people would agree that something in-between would generally work quite well.

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David Bowie’s Toy Finally Gets A Release

You might remember I was discussing Bowie’s Toy a while back—my speculative cover design for his unreleased 2001 album.

And now it’s finally getting an official release! Both as part of the newest big Bowie boxset in November (which I couldn’t possibly justify buying even if it was affordable!), and more sensibly as a standalone Toy:Box (snigger, very witty) in January 2022, the month of DB’s 75th birthday.

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David Bowie’s Toy

As it was the fifth anniversary of DB’s death last month (according to the Nu-Time of the sim we’re now in, at any rate), I was moved to fiddle with an old design idea for his unreleased 2001 album Toy. You can read some background detail on the project here.

I did a version of this cover concept back in 2005, actually six years before the full Toy bootleg leaked… we already had several of the tracks via 2002’s Heathen and its various B-sides. My earlier effort (which I can’t locate offhand) actually used the same source photo I’ve used here (taken by legendary photog Mick Rock circa 2001), but it was very amateurish. So I had a 2021 go at it.

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April 2016 Update

Apologies for radio silence! Lots of stuff is coming—not least because I’ve been doing some new artwork and will be reviving my Webcomics activities shortly… important info about that soon.

There will also be another episode of Ghostwords TV—technical problems and being busy with other things has caused delays, but reaction to ep1 has been very positive. Stay tuned.

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Live Till Your Rebirth

So hold on to nothing, and he won’t let you down; oh by jingo…

The dust’s settled a bit. I guess it’s long enough now to be sure that Bowie is, in fact, actually, really dead—at least in this particular timeline (we’re part of a Multiverse)—ignoring the conspiracy theories, obviously. (Oh, don’t ask, and please, don’t squander your precious time Googling. I have warned you.)

I can’t say I’m cool with this strange new world that doesn’t contain David Bowie as a living, breathing entity. I’ve been here before, with the deaths of other heroes and beloved family members, and it’s never less than shit. But you can accept something without liking it. That’s roughly where I am. Once more.

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Avoiding Cliché

Somehow, I can’t help reading vast amounts of the staggering mountain of words being churned out about Mr Bowie. I dodge some of it, but otherwise, it’s that proverbial road accident.

Besides, some of it’s genuinely informative. And some of it’s genuinely moving. The stuff that doesn’t lapse into those hopelessly tired, moth-eaten platitudes that I’ve lived long enough to find irredeemably tiresome. (“We’ll never see his/her like again” is one of my faves.)

Well, I know if I spewed enough of my own words without holding myself in check, I’d excrete my share of duds. It goes with the territory. Which is exactly why I’ve held myself in check. That, and just feeling a bit shit.

David Bowie Sept 2015

This is Bowie last September. He looks pretty good. Better than in a lot of the other recent promotional materials, actually. That’s something.

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Birthday Down, Two Months To Go

I was indeed harumph years old on October 30th. which always signals the impending close of yet another year, this time 2015, which with all the best will possible has been something of a fleeting and not particularly polished turd amongst many others.

Birthday wise, the Good was…

The Third Man BD

Yay! The new 4K restoration of one of my all-time fave films, on Blu-ray. Thanks, Nigel. 🙂 Steve got me some Phibes Blu goodness, too. Double Yay!

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Soul Love Fantasy Cover

Amongst Jack Kirby‘s unrealised early 1970s concepts for DC Comics was the romance magazine True-Life Divorce. One of the stories therein was entitled “The Model” and featured black characters (surprisingly, not so common back in 1971). Although the mag was canned, Kirby figured an all-black romance book might be the way to go and developed a title called Soul Love.

(Oddly enough, David Bowie was working on a song with the same title around this time, for his seminal Ziggy Stardust LP; there’s no connection whatsoever.)

This project was likewise put on ice; and neither have even been published in full. Too bad.

Anyhow… looking at Jack’s original, black and white cover concept the other day, I thought it might be fun to mock-up a complete, full-colour fantasy cover. And the result is below, alongside Kirby’s conceptual layout.

Soul Love

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Happy 2014

Well, I’ve left the blog unattended for aeons again. Just wanted to sneak in before this year is over and done with.

Hasn’t been a very good year, apart from the Bowie stuff. Chaotic, frustrating, lacking in any of the progress or affirmation I’m looking for.

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