Some Pono-related rambling

Over the past week or so, it seems that the internet (or, at least, audiophiles-and-heavy-listener-types) has been going positively nuts over the idea and concept of the Pono. Much has been said about how it will supposedly bring forth a new wave of high-quality digital music in the face of low-quality MP3s and other lossy digital formats. It supports up to 192khz audio files – I mean, more is better, right? Go go, audiophile power!

As you may have gathered from the tone of that first paragraph, I’m not entirely convinced.

Pono

In theory, I should love this thing

In my reasonably humble opinion, distribution formats and their upper-limit specifications have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of modern music masters. Zip. Nothing. For starters (and I apologise to anyone who has a passing interest in this sort of thing for posting a link you have probably seen a zillion times already),  24-bit/192khz files are pointless from a listener’s point of view. Of course, from a music production point of view, there is very much a place for 24-bit audio files and higher sample rates. But from a listener’s point of view? Nope. Needless to say, if you’re expecting me to ever release my music in a sample rate over 48khz then you’re going to be in for a bloody long wait!

So, no, big numbers do not a great music player make. But at least Neil Young’s doing something about the ridiculous proliferation of MP3s, while trying to bring a sense of artistry back to proceedings, right? Well, actually, I take serious issue with some of the stuff being churned out by Mr Young. Here’s a snippet extracted from an article here.

“This vibrant, creative culture started to go away,” Young explained, describing an entire class of musicians, studio employees, clerical workers, even deliverymen whose careers were impacted. “And it was because of the MP3, and the cheapening of the quality to a point where it was practically unrecognizable.”

This is such an absurd point of view to hold, and it’s views like this which, in my opinion, give lovers of music a bad reputation. I love listening to music – after all, I find that to be kind of important if you’re writing and producing music for a living… but there are so many things that I take issue with here.

Firstly – while I tend to listen to most of my music in my studio as 44khz/16-bit FLACs, you know what? I find it genuinely tricky to tell the difference between that and a 320kbps MP3. Heavens above! Shoot me! Before you get your pitchforks ready, I’d like to point out that this is especially true if I’m listening to a 320kbps MP3 in a medium in which it’s best suited – i.e., a situation in which storage may be at more of a premium, and where I might not be listening to my music in the most ideal setting. How about, say, every time I’m not in my studio, or not at a dedicated live venue. Listening to music in a lossy format takes nothing away from my enjoyment when I’m out of the studio, and I would argue that you are doing both yourself and the music you’re listening to a massive dis-service if you’re focussing on nothing but the numbers.

Secondly – and I’m returning to my earlier point here – I believe that the upper limit specifications of digital audio formats are not the real issue here. Curiously, I feel that it’s an issue which the Pono would do well to alleviate were they to focus on this particular issue rather than playing the numbers game. The issue is the continuing state of the loudness war, and the continued pushing of overly loud, overly compressed, not particularly dynamic masters. This is not a fault of the medium, it is a fault in the manner in which the medium is being used. I’ll come back to this in a second, but I can’t overstate the fact that this has very little to do with the current state of available digital audio formats to listeners.

Thirdly – the widespread proliferation of MP3s and other lossy digital formats has very little to do with this “vibrant, creative” culture supposedly going the way of the dodo. This is hyperbole at its most obnoxious. Again, I would argue that this has more to do with music making tools becoming more affordable and much more widespread than anything else. As for whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing – that’s a discussion for another time, and has nothing to do with digital music distribution and listening. And labelling the old guard as a “vibrant, creative” culture? Well, that only serves to further the snobbish divide between musicians who choose to work using more limited means. If they’re “vibrant” and “creative”, where does that leave saps like me? Are we lacking in vibrance and creativity? I would argue not, but I guess that’s not really my call to make. (On a totally unrelated note, if you fancy watching a film that does a much better job of highlighting the state of big-budget music making, I’d highly recommend Sound City. I thoroughly enjoyed it)

Finally – this device is doing nothing new. Musicians already have the means with which to get their music directly to their fans in whatever format they choose. Listeners already have plenty of choice regarding what format to purchase their favourite music in, digital or otherwise. You like FLACs? Buy FLACs. You’re ok with MP3s? Buy MP3s. Still prefer physical media? Buy CDs or vinyl. Similarly, listeners already have plenty of choice regarding what environment they choose to listen to their music in. Want to listen to music in a dedicated listening space? Go for it. Want to listen to music on the train? Sure. Want to listen to music in your car? Why not. This is nothing new, and I’m not even going to get started on the weird Toblerone-esque design of the thing.

Going back to another earlier point – if musicians and labels wanted to genuinely release music in a more dynamic, less heavily compressed/limited/clipped (i.e., more listener conscious) manner, they can already do that. There is nothing stopping them besides commercial and competitive concerns. If the Pono can encourage more musicians and labels to do that, then in my view that would be a fantastic outcome. In my mind, a return to more dynamic masters would be of greater benefit to listeners than bumping up the sample rate and bit depth, especially if you’re going to verbally slap genuine music lovers in the face while doing so. I’d also like to point out that while I’d appreciate more choice with regards to released digital masters, I’m definitely not saying that music “used to be better”… because that would be absurd.

As such – until they lay off the hyperbole and stop playing the numbers game, you can count me out.

Happy New Year, I guess?

So, we’re well into 2014 now… I probably should have updated this earlier but, either way, Happy New Year all!

Anyway – I figured I should probably post an update, and to let you know that, as they say, “no news is good news”… I have been pretty busy as of late! So far I’ve had an incredibly productive 2014, and I’ve been working on something that I’m particularly excited about that I fully intend to share with you all later in the year. I don’t want to say too much at this stage other than “watch this space”.

Apologies for the tease, but I’ll be posting updates as and when I have something more tangible to share.

 

“Are You With Me” – free single, out now!

“Are You With Me” is the latest single release from Adam Fielding. Featuring two very different takes on the same material, “Are You With Me” showcases two distinct sides of Fielding’s compositional style.

The original mix fuses Fielding’s signature atmospherics with a dark groove, which – together with some huge vocals and a warm melodic flourish – provide a unique exploration into an evocative progressive house style.

The soundtrack edit strips back the original mix in a style reminiscent of Fielding’s previous work on the album “And All Is As It Should Be”. Rebuilding the track from the ground up with a strong organic focus, the soundtrack edit is a showcase for Fielding’s affinity toward deeply emotive ambient music and soundscapes.

Rounding off the single is an instrumental version of the original mix, shifting the focus away from the vocals and back to the intricate attention to detail found in the electronic instrumentation & production throughout the original mix.

I am pleased to announce the release of my free single, Are You With Me, which is now available to download for free via my Bandcamp page. I have also made stems available to anyone interested in putting a remix together, which you can download either directly, via Soundcloud, or as a .torrent courtesy of Mininova.

The single is also available via most popular digital distribution services, including iTunes, Spotify, Amazon et al. You can listen to the single in full via the player below.

Merry Christmas!

Post Civil Protection tour shenanigans, album plans, and all that fun stuff

It dawned on me recently that I probably should have updated this page when the Civil Protection album was actually released, or after we finished touring it… but I guess I’m just not that smart. In any case, both of those things happened, and you can listen to the Civil Protection album in its entirety using this handy little music player doofer. Hooray! I’m afraid you’ll have to forgive the gaps between tracks, but you can get around those by buying the album.

So. Anyway. The tour. Well, that was an interesting experience – full of fun! Full of laughter! Full of Sylvester Stallone impersonations that totally didn’t get old at all, I don’t care what you say. And full of glorious, glorious noise!

We ended up performing the bulk of our gigs up North, with a couple of gigs a little further south (namely in Nottingham & Islington). Unfortunately, a lot of the planning was a bit of a last-minute affair, so there were a couple of gigs where maybe things didn’t go as smoothly as I would have hoped. Having said that, those moments were overshadowed by the moments where things went more-or-less exactly as planned, and it’s always fantastic to play to a crowd who really gets what we’re trying to do. We’ve all learned a lot from the experience, and I’d just like to say a huge thanks to everyone who came along to our noise-making sessions!

As an aside: if I ever see a lead vocalist yawn on-stage again during a set (seriously, this actually happened) then I will genuinely lose my shit.

So, right now I’m currently knee-deep in another patch design project which I imagine will keep me occupied for a good chunk of this month. However, that hasn’t stopped me from working on some new material in the past couple of months. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but I have a few ideas in place regarding my next album, and what I want to do with it. One thing I am quite keen to do is to release it independently – it’s early days at the moment, but I’ve had a few interesting ideas regarding distribution since my last independent release – which would be 2010′s Lightfields album, which has since been re-released – and I’m not entirely sure whether I’d be able to do what I want to do any other way.

Anyway… I do believe I am getting ahead of myself here, and it’s going to be a very long time before I’m ready to release another album. In the meantime, you can have a sneaky listen to what I’ve been up to lately via this second handy little music player doofer.

(18/03/14: sorry, I’m being all sneaky and hiding my stuff and that)

Civil Protection album “Stolen Fire”, out 7th October

As some of you may or may not know, I play guitar & perform vocals in a band called Civil Protection alongside my solo work.

Earlier in the year we were signed to indie label Bunnysnot Records, and started working on our debut album – which was also mixed & produced by yours truly.

Titled Stolen Fire, the album’s a bit of a departure from our earlier work, and is a mostly instrumental post-rock affair. Working on the album was quite the learning experience, especially given that it’s the first project I’ve properly worked on featuring entirely live instrumentation & manipulated audio based on live recordings (outside of a drum-machine & synth based track intro).

We’ve had a couple of glowing reviews come in, which you can check out here, here, and here.

I’m really excited about this, and we’ll be following up the album release with a short UK tour from October 11-20th. In the meantime, you can listen to one of the tracks from the album (Alaska) on our Bandcamp page, which we will also be using to take pre-orders in the near future.

Here’s a bit of information regarding the release:

Post-rock outfit Civil Protection are gearing up to release their highly anticipated debut album ‘Stolen Fire’.

The Yorkshire band – formed of members Adam Fielding, Nathan Bradley, Josh Clark, Philip Birch and Kenny Skey – came together back in 2010. Sharing a love for bands such as The American Dollar and Mogwai, it was a natural progression for the band to edge towards the post-rock, highly atmospheric sound they quickly developed.

Their experimental approach, which favours mood and texture, transmits immediately into the arresting soundscapes the band creates. Motivated by their support slots with like-minded acts such as Scottish math-rock band Vasa and The Indelicates, the band released a handful of early demos showcasing their sound. Continuing to gig and pen material, the band caught the eye of independent label Bunnysnot Records and are now looking towards their debut LP.

Composing the record between their guitarists’ own studio and Active Audio in Harrogate, the skeleton of ‘Stolen Fire’, which had been floating around for years, soon took form. From the mysterious opening guitar drones to the final crescendo, ‘Stolen Fire’ is a truly arresting listen. Evoking elements from Mogwai’s own record Come On Die Young, as well as sharing similarities with groups such as Caspian and This Will Destroy You, the album wrestles the listener between beautifully ambient sections through to heavier moments.

The band’s talents are quite clear throughout, – whether it be in the epic guitar tremolo riffs found in ‘My Memories Will Be Part Of The Sky’, or chugging bassline in ‘Many Moons Ago’ – and their refined sound is apparent for all to hear. Inducing moments of melancholy and euphoria in equal parts, ‘Stolen Fire’ is a stunning debut release from this Yorkshire group.

You can also check out Alaska via the Soundcloud player below.

Stolen Fire will be released in physical & digital formats on the 7th October. You can find Civil Protection on Facebook and Twitter. Drop by and say hello!

Propellerhead Reason artist feature

As you may or may not know already, I tend to use Reason an awful lot in my own music – whether it’s solo works or production music, Reason pretty much forms the backbone for everything I do these days. In this video I talk a little bit about my background, my Reason use, some of the sounds I use, and I also dissect one of my production tunes, quickly detailing my process when it comes to quickly getting ideas down and fleshed out.

Huge thanks to Ryan and the folks over at Propellerhead Software for putting this together!

There’s a little bit of amusing history behind this video, as well – I’d originally been interviewed by Ryan in late 2010 for an artist feature in 2011 but, unfortunately, this fell through as a result of Record & Reason being merged into one product line. During my original interview I’d made constant references to using Record & Reason together, so my interview was more or less obsolete within a couple of months of me doing it. Whoops! Thankfully, we did a new interview in late 2012, and I made sure to avoid mentioning anything besides Reason… though the temptation to jokingly mention that I’d switched over to Rebirth was pretty tempting.

You can check out the music featured in the video (including a free download of The Steady Climb) via the Soundcloud player below.

A new collaborative song and some general updates

It’s been an incredibly busy past few months, which was all rounded off nicely with a week-long holiday in Rhodes last week. I got back on the 10th, and I’ve been a busy bee since getting back. I’ll be working on some patch design projects starting from the beginning of next week, so I figured I’d spend some time working on something I’ve wanted to do for a little while now.

Below is a collaborative song entitled Take My Hand, written & produced by both myself and the ever fantastic Tom Pritchard, featuring the excellent vocal stylings of Holly Nelson (aka A Million Tiny Architects).

The song itself is a free download, with an MP3 link included on the Soundcloud page itself if you’d rather download an MP3 over a more hefty WAV file. I’m thrilled to have been a part of this song, and I can’t thank Tom & Holly enough for bringing me on board with this. I’m hoping that, along with our previous collaboration Contrails, there will be plenty more collaborations like this in the future.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing since I got back from Rhodes. Since my last update around the release of Icarus I have been incredibly busy with a couple of other projects – one of which is currently available.

Following in the footsteps of my FiXT production album Chase The LightI once again had the pleasure of working with FiXT on a follow-up entitled Chase The Light Vol. 2. Volume 2 features a slightly harder sound to it over Volume 1 in my opinion, but here’s what FiXT had to say about the album itself.

UK composer Adam Fielding has been crafting evocative albums of downtempo breaks and ambient soundscapes since 2008, with the well-known UK breaks label Distinctive Records having just released his third full-length, Icarus. While not working on those albums, Fielding produces instrumental soundscapes for Film/TV/Video Games, and FiXT is proud to present this second volume of Fielding’s Chase The Light series. Picking up where Vol. 01 left off, Vol. 02 contains eleven cuts of iridescent Electronic Rock/ Breakbeat that incorporate hints of dubstep, ambient, and more.

On top of that (did I mention that I’d been busy?), I also spent a good chunk of the last two months producing & mixing my band Civil Protection‘s debut album, Stolen Fire. It features a much more organic sound over our debut EP, and is focussed much more on atmosphere & mood (as evidenced by a clearly reduced dependence on vocals) with a much more post-rock feel to it. I’m very excited about this one, and I can’t wait to share it with you later in the year when I’ll also be touring with the Civil Protection chaps. For a taste of the album, there are some demo versions of a few album tracks on the Civil Protection Soundcloud page.

I’ve got a few more musical projects in the pipeline outside of those mentioned, and later on this week I’ll have something very cool to share with all of you. Until then, I hope you enjoy my recent offerings, and I’d like to extend a huge “thank you” from the bottom of my heart for everyone who has supported Icarus following it’s release. So… thank you! See you later in the week :]

Icarus: out now

Icarus is out now!

Following on from Lightfields (2010), and his collection of ambient works ‘And All Is As It Should Be’(2012), British electronic producer Adam Fielding’s is set to return to Distinctive with a new album titled ‘Icarus’. As ever, Fielding’s productions are rich with drama, space and intention. His work always carries a distinctly cinematic narrative; a trait that’s picked up by the film production houses that regularly champion his work.

Opening the album is the title track and first single off the album. It’s a vocal opus charged with breathy pads, smart string arrangements and snappy beats. ‘Fireworks’ is a powerful follow-on, with an undulating synth bass line and expansive tonal work.

For ‘Are Lights Approaching’, he takes a thumping 4×4 beat and envelops it in his signature textures, topping it off with an edgy vocal delivery that gives a raw, low-slung feel. Next up, ‘All We Ever Wanted’ introduces some acoustic guitar tones and yearning lyrics to the mix to create a haunting ballad.

‘Somewhere Out There’ is an ambient piece, just vocals and ethereal pads on this one that builds to a cathartic end. ‘Hiding From January’ is purely instrumental, showcasing Fielding’s intricate beat programming skills. Next, we have ‘Out of Reach’. It’s a propulsive stomper with a darker, industrial space-age feel. Fielding’s effected vocals adding to the crystalline finish.

‘High Rise Downfall’ uses a forceful broken beat pattern to punctuate beautiful synthetic atmospheres before some warm piano and guitar chords kick in to switch the vibe. ‘Break Me Down’ carries on the piano themes,this time paired with dynamic ‘rock-esque’ beats and chord progressions to make one of the album’s proper epics.

‘A Fire In The Sky’ is a moody and contemplative, acting as the level-setting precursor to one of the more accomplished vocal tracks on the album, ‘Ashes By Dawn’. Fielding’s vocal takes centre stage here, and it’s nothing short of breathtaking. As a final reprise, he delivers a short yet stunning string arrangement using the movements of the opening ‘Icarus.’ A fitting end to a record.

Icarus is my third full-length album of original works, written between 2010-2013 and released through Distinctive Records. The album features the incredible talents of The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. You can find it via DistinctiveiTunes, Amazon and pretty much any other major online music retailer you can think of.

You can find out more information and listen to previews via the music page on this site, or you can check out the clips from the album below.

Having spent three years working on this album, it’s quite surreal to see it finally making it’s way out into the big wide world. I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone I’ve been pestering over the past few years with constant revisions, ideas and general nonsense, and of course thank you to everyone who has ever supported me and my music throughout the years. Without you this album would simply not have been possible.

You can read a bit more about the background and creation of Icarus via the music page. You can also find full album lyrics via the lyrics section of this site.

I’d absolutely love to know what you think of this album, as I mentioned – I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out, and as a piece of work I think it perfectly highlights more or less entirely what I’m about as a musician.

Thanks!

AMA: ask me anything on the 1st May!

Just a quick update to let you know that, yes, the full-length Icarus release is now only six days away, and also that I’ll be doing an AMA over on Reddit on the 1st May at 1600 EDT (that’s 9pm UK time, I believe). That gives you a good couple of days to check out Icarus, and ask me all kinds of awkward questions related to it. Or not! That’s why it’s called “ask me anything“, after all.

So… if you’ve ever had a burning desire to ask me a question, music related or not, there’s your chance! Looking forward to seeing you there.

Icarus (single feat. remixes) is out now! Album to follow on the 29th

Adam Fielding is back with us once again at Distinctive, this time with his latest single ‘Icarus’. Delivering nothing short of beauty, Mr Fielding brings what he does best to the table and we know you’re going to love it. Icarus opens with an instant wave of atmophere that straps you into position for the ride the is about to unfold infront of you. Lighthearted break beat carries through and is joined by elegant keys and strings that build and retreat into majestic peaks and breakdowns, the descriptive vocal floats through the track with a masterfully balanced contrast of ambience, dark bass lines and synth work – a light vs dark element and a great example to the mind of Fielding.

The 06R remix comes at the track with a larger lease on atmosphere, keeping the break beat vibe but going towards a more progressive almost Hybrid esque twist, the remix has more of a dancefloor edge and less outerspace flavour around it. Utilising those powerful strings and entrancing vocal it proves to be a meaty remix!

Blanka is up next and the duo of Adam White & Adam Dowling (Lost Language veterans)do what they do best and have created a big trance remix, fast flowing melodies derived from those awesome strings roll against the darker bass lines you hear in the original mix but with more of a focus point on that underlying thump from the bass line.

OhmFat relaxes the fringe with his remix, creating a very laid back; downtempo mix that has got sunshine groover written all over it. A new melodic bass line becomes the prominent factor whilst OhmFat takes little snippets and elements of the big room atmosphere and weaves them through the background of the mix. Definitely one for an Ibiza beach.

Chevy One tears up the rule book with his remix, the hour of ambience is gone and now comes the day of punchy progressive electro. The no fuss mix pumps out a dirty electro bass line that becomes very entrancing through its repetition. A great and unique take on the single.

The eponymous single from my upcoming album, Icarus, is out now! With a heavy breaks-inspired flavour, the original mix sets the stage for the rest of the album with a delicate mix of organic and electronic instrumentation, featuring strings performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

You can find it via the Distinctive page, iTunes, Amazon, Beatport, Audiojelly, OneRPM and Trackitdown (among others). You can also listen to the single in it’s entirety via Spotify.

The full-length album Icarus will be released on the 29th.