Black Swan

by Jim Mortimore

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Rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno.

A "Black Swan Event" is an emergent event; highly significant but utterly unpredictible; a catastrophic state change which afterwards is extensively rationalised by those who survive it.


released April 17, 2013

Written around 2009, recorded on ACID ( the program, not the drug). Vocals by me. The only time I can ever recall having a super-clear vision of what I wanted them to sound like - and then actually being able to achieve it! Orchestral sounds are from the Miroslav Philharmonik VST, and the rythms were written in Fruity Loops 3, using on-board FX.

Written around 1993 or 94, using the trusty Tascam 244. Guitar noodles by me. (Hadn't met Simon yet). This is another slowed down track, much like "On the Shores of Tethys." All the synth sounds are analogue - the chords were written on the Prophet 600 using its on board realtime sequencer, then slowed down to some ridiculously low BPM before being further slowed down by tape-pitching before the guitar lines were added. Oh the fun we had!

Written around 2011 and recorded in Reaper, this track began as a bubbly VST rythm which Simon then laid some guitar over. I massively effected the guitar and handpicked the bits that worked, shuffling them around until they fit the composition. The burbly synth rythm is also used on "The Dance of the Tiny Medusae," which appears on "Moonrise in Arboria." Talk about squeezing every last drop of use out of a good sound!

Written around 1993, recorded using my luvverly Tascam 244 portastudio, before it's darling drive belts melted down in their dotage. I slowed the entire track down to half speed while recording some lines... then left it that slow cos I just liked the way it sounded! Proper tape pitching... still a sound you can't recreate by digital timestretching. And quite right too, in my opinion. The opening and closing cymbals came from my mate Martin's Sequential Circuits Drumtracks drum machine. All the other sounds were from the usual suspects.

Written in July 2007, recorded on ACID. This was a deliberate attempt to emulate analogue techniques. I set the project tempo high, then recorded a a few minutes of random notes as fast as I could play them. Then I turned the tempo right down, and started looking for the right sounds, which in this case came from The Land of Cockaigne's Satyr, Quantum 64 & Phibes VST plugins. Echo and reverb were added prior to mixdown. Cockaigne's website seems to have disappeared which is a shame because their synths are awesome.

Written around 2004 (again on ACID using almost all VSTs) in answer to a request from a friend who wanted some music to match with specific sound samples used on a video to heighten pollution awareness. The vocal version is a free bonus track. The title is a nod to Patrick Woodroffe & Dave Greenslade's LP "The Pentateuch," a frustrating listen at first because the catchy single "Overture" is not actually on the album!

Written in 2001 on ACID, again on the Tascam 244. If I remember rightly this was another guitar experiment, ingeniously using tons and tons of FX to not quite conceal the fact that I can’t play for the life of me.

Written in 2006 as an accompaniment to Bethan Jennings’ Dock Crane Performance, which debuted at the Bristol Regatta… under a huge full moon. Harriet Staig-Graham is one of the featured vocalists. The other is shamelessly sampled from somewhere or other. Everything else is composed by yours truly. So many people turned up at Bristol Docks I couldn’t see the performance, which included Bethan hanging her husband Jim dressed in a 40ft long dress and beehive hairdo together with several other performers dressed as fish from one of the dock cranes out across the harbour. All I could hear was this music wafting across the industrial lanscape under that Scooby-Doo moon…

Written in 2004 on ACID, this track utilises some strange sounds, including animal noises. Excerpts were used in my Big Finish Dr Who audio play “The Natural History of Fear.”

Written around 1993-4 using a Roland W30 workstation (brilliant bit of kit - 30 seconds sampling time tops) plus hardware including the Pro 600, the Moog Rogue and Roland SH101. FX included delay and chorus rack units and a BOSS multi-FX unit. The W30 has since sadly died (can’t seem to replace the disk drives) and since there currently exists no software to translate W30 samples to WAVs I binned all my floppies, and indeed the busted-ass workstation. I wish I hadn’t cos there were some remarkably neat-o sounds on those tiny plastic platens. Ah to be a bridge-burner…

Tracks 9, 10 & 11 are free to download



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Jim Mortimore UK

I've been writing music since I was very young, having abandoned piano lessons for a Casio VL Tone and two reel2reel tape recorders. I'm inspired by early Tangerine Dream and bleepy radiophonica, such as may be found enhancing 1960s Dr Who. I've written music for BBC Dr Who audio plays and live local performances. Delia Derbyshire, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Jerry Goldsmith are among my muses. ... more

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