Saturday, August 02, 2008


So, from now on, things are happening here, with probably equally inefficient irregularity:

God bless you, and all who sail in you.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


No more mystery. It's official. The angel tech working method: ANALYSED. CATEGORISED. FILED.

[Click to enlarge. You'll need to, unless you're some sort of multi-eyed insect. In which case: how's it going? Been eaten by any mammals/birds recently? Good for you. Incidentally, do you realise you're currently hanging around on someone's brand new TFT monitor? Yeah, I know. It's the bright lights. The changing colours. So pretty. So hypnotic. Well, I'd buzz off quick before someone gets annoyed at you and ---- oops. Too late. Eeeesh. There goes, like, your entire thorax. Oooof. That's gonna sting come the morning.]

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Ok, OK, sorry, I’ve no time. No time. I’m gonna be late. Sorry. Really. Rushing! Um. Angel tech LP? YES! Yes. Almost ready. Out early June. Deadlines! You know, deadlines. So I’ve got to go. But. Um… tell you what, I’ve got this… form… here. I’ve filled it in. Well… I’ve filled most of it in. Hope it gives you the picture. It’s a standard form. Sorry. Impersonal, I know. But… um… anyway, sorry. Here it is. Bye!



Hello [recipient]. With regards to *[It should look like an accident, an irregular journal concerning the creation of a new angel tech LP] many apologies for not posting any [delete as appropriate amusing / informative / sexy] entries for over [17 million years] now. I imagine that in the time I’ve neglected this blog, you’ve probably [had children and died]. I hope all is well with you, your friends and loved ones.

I am [fine] thankyou.

My excuses for not posting are [delete as appropriate personal / related to time restrictions / due to boredom / mediocre and suspect / shifty and evasive / a whole long story, seriously, I just can’t tell you]. I have spent most of the last [17 million years] engaged in the activity of *[editing a really big waveform]. Rest assured, I’ve been spending my time [delete as appropriate wisely / industriously / sexily]! Pretty soon I’ll be posting up all sorts of [crap] for my [6] regular readers!

Anyway, I’m sure [delete as appropriate no-one reads this stuff anyway / you’ve found a younger, prettier blog / you don’t fucking care and were only visiting this page to check whether or not you were definitely going to remove me from your bookmarks, you faithless, fish-faced fuck / you’ll understand and bear with me].

Seeing as this is a *[semi-regular] blog all about the world of *[the new angel tech LP], I actually have an amusing *[the new angel tech LP] related anecdote for you today. Here it is:

*[Category – Observational minutiae. I’ve said before that one of the reasons why I think angel tech works so well – and also takes so long about it – is that at various points all 3 of us get different bees in our bonnet. A different species of bee, if you will. One of us will suddenly be concerned about something the others really weren’t at all focussed upon and that person will then hammer away, forcing the issue, until it’s sorted to their ears. Well… there comes a stage when the deadline’s looming and you’ve got a matter of hours left until the LP has to be finished (at time of writing it literally is a matter of hours) and you have to decide what bites the bullet. What’s the most important thing? What can you let ride? Because with angel tech, perfectionists that we are, there will always be something not totally right. Something you’ll have to ‘live with’. A sibilant here, a precise pan there. Let’s put it another way: if this album was to be made in the style of daytime TV programme Ready, Steady, Cook with its 20-minute time limit and restricted ingredients, angel tech’s team would start off making a soufflé, and then change its mind five minutes before the bell and suddenly construct a Cornish pastie. With 20 seconds to spare we would then have to decide whether or not it mattered that the pastie had an egg glaze, and that’s when the shit would really hit the fan. Emails and text messages would be exchanged. Research would have to be done into the best type of egg. We’d have to decide upon the thickness of the brush used. Tim would walk to the back of the studio and hit his head repeatedly against the scenery. Neil would threaten Doug with a fork he'd just heated on a blowtorch. Each of us would make 38 pasties in 13 different sizes (with and without glaze) and then decide that we liked an impossible combination of doug 3 (glazed) and neil 21 (unglazed.) But ultimately you’d always have to bear one thing in mind, above everything else: namely, that you’re making a pastie, and that sooner or later, someone’s going to have to eat it. Where was I? Oh, shit, look at the time -]

What I think this says about *[the new angel tech LP] is something very [delete as appropriate important / interesting / stupid / horny]. What it says is: *[I’m hungry]. And I’m sure you’ll agree.

Well, I’ll be sure to keep you up to date with anything else I have to say regarding *[food] in the near future. Just watch this space! [ ]

Your faithful blogspote

*[T X Atack]

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


I've had a request from M. Anonymous of Anonymoville, Nonameland, Planet Namenverlassen in the Galaxy Sans Moniker. It goes like this:

Anonymous said...
Dear Sir,please could you be so kind as to provide a potted history of the band 'angel tech'?Thank you.

So of course I'm only too keen to oblige.

The second in a series so incredibly dull, you'll find yourself wanting to shove an anglepoise lamp up your own urinary tract just to relieve the brain-battering tedium of it all. Seriously. I mean it. Skip this whole post if you don't fancy ending up in A&E, explaining to the bewildered consultant why there's bits of lightbulb and retractable spring wodged up into your gall bladder.

Doug Bott and Tim Atack first met whilst composing the music to a cycle of medieval mystery plays. They spent some time searching for a sackbut but ended up with bupkiss. On their travels they met Neil Johnson busking Billy Bragg songs, "Her husband was one of those blokes / The type that laughs at his own jokes." They formed a band, what with being interested in odd pop music like Seefeel, Stina, Bjork, The Cure and that. Tim's ex-girlfriend insulted his newly designed keyboard noises, and in a string of slurred vitriol he vaguely heard the words "angel... tech..." obviously meant to berate what she perceived as some sort of hippy shit. Years later the group discovered that there is in fact a book called "angel tech" and, yes, it's full of some serious San Francisco-school hippy shit and no, we do not endorse it in any way.

Revision Notes: Section One

angel tech were invited to Freiburg, Germany, in order to be composers in residence at an environmental conference. They met a mad German called Wangler (later Melchior) and returned to Freiburg to record songs on the railway track outside his studio, and be stung by wasps. They went into the black forest to collect mushrooms and found a high wooden chair in a clearing with no apparent function. Tim thought he could maybe climb to the top in order to make some sort of Faustian pact, but he waited for twenty minutes and nothing happened. Back in Bristol, angel tech did shows where they borrowed TVs from EVERYONE THEY KNEW and plugged them in to each other using signal splitters so that the images slowly degraded across the length of the stage, nothing but static on some of the screens. It looked like an Eastern European branch of Tandy's up on that motherfucker.

Revision Notes: Section Two

angel tech began to develop a taste for unusual production methods and the deliberate pushing to extremes of any technology they could get their grubby mitts on. This led to a work ethic best described as "protracted," and Doug, on several occasions, wondering about SHAVING HIS FUCKING HEAD AND GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT IN THE FUCKING ANDES. A soundtrack was composed to a silent film (Metropolis.) A manager was employed with a moustache like the kaiser (but no matching helmet, despite our best efforts.) A recording contract was signed. In a fit of excitement, Doug broke his arm skateboarding, at which point he officially became TOO OLD TO SKATE TM. National and international tours were undertaken. Gigs were played to an audience of two men and a dog... but that's normal and OK... in those sorts of situations you're only really in trouble if the dog walks out. In the famous Realworld recording studio angel tech met some famous people whilst recording an album which is not yet at all famous in the slightest bit. Whilst discussing vegetarianism Kylie Minogue put her hand on Neil's thigh and kept it there for some considerable time. As a result of this, you can quite happily run Neil through with a scimitar (or similar) any time you like, he will die a happy man.

Revision Notes: Section Three

People often wonder what happened to us after our recording contract ended. Truth of the matter is, we went to the moon. It's typical of angel tech to go to the moon in order to make a minidisc recording of the "atmosphere," only to find that the moon doesn't have one. Picture the scene...

Neil: Oh. Shit.
Tim: We came all this way, and never thought to check whether sound travels in a vacuum?
Doug: Sound doesn't travel in a vacuum.
Tim: That's what I'm saying.
Neil: Well, we know that now.
Doug: That's what I'm trying to say. Sound doesn't travel in a vacuum.
Doug: Look, switch the minidisc onto record anyway. We've come all this way. We might as well just switch it on and see if we can get something.
Tim: Seriously, all we're going to be able to record is the inside of this... fucking... pod.
Neil: Oh SHIT.
Doug: What?
Neil: Nothing. Nothing.
Doug: No. Tell us. What?
Neil: I've run out of rizlas.

Revision Notes: Section Four

angel tech composed and performed theatre soundtracks, doing a show which involved running across a room one hundred times and sweating a lot. Whilst touring in Singapore, Neil vomited his entire body out of every available hole in his body and was taken to a hospital where everyone was impressed with his circular vomiting technique. Doug and his wife looked under a cabbage in the cabbage patch and found Milo (current age 2.5) Tim tried to teach Milo to say "Vagabond" every time Neil walked into the room. Neil tried to teach Milo to say "Weirdo" every time Tim walked into the room. But enough of this, what did we, as adults, learn? Well... we learned how to drag sounds through a computer backwards. Films were made using our music. I started this Blog just over a year ago. For further information go to the first post on this Blog, and work your way... up.

Revision Notes: Section 5
Dodgy Mushroom Sandwich Esplanade Mall 26/10/03
Cabbage Patch
Logic Pro
Ableton Live
Reason 2.5
Boring Boring Blog

And as for the future? Well, as I'm sure you'll have picked up from this journal, what we're doing right now is building up strength in our pectoral fins so that we can eventually haul ourselves out of the water and onto the rich, dark mud of the primordial swamp. We intend to be crawling on land by March 2006, and by September we hope to be breathing oxygen.

The End.


We sent the raw sound files for one of our songs, Molotov, to a friend by the name of Dirk Melchior, to see what the crazy German might make of it in terms of a mix. Molotov as it stands is the collated results of about seven different recording sessions over the last seven years, piano, bass, guitars, drums (both live and sampled) woodwind samples, re-routed guitar doodles, 40 vocal takes etc etc etc... All of this winged its way to Freiburg, Germany via the magic of t'internet. And a few days later, I received this email, with some ideas as to how an extremely frustrated Mr Melchior might deal with such a huge steaming spewforth of noise:

Dear Mr. Molotov, sorry ich muss das jetzt fragen: Ihr meint das ernst, oder ?!

ok, kein Scherz, ERNST!

ok, ok ich hab es auch ernsthaft versucht, aber... schwierig-

Mischen impossible

1. Strategie:

Open up as many Plug-ins as you can, make sure they look serious and important.
Cover the whole screen with their windows and hope nobody is able to find the play-button. Shit! Keycommands! Ah- Keycomandeditor!!!
Change all the Keycomands, f.e. press apple/q to start. No! song will start if they gonna close Logic, witch will happen very soon. Better delete all Keycomands.

2. Strategie:

Send them a attached virus called Molotov 22. Shit! No virus on Macs! Create a Virus!

3. Strategie

Declare war on Britannia! Arrgh, don't mention the war, i am German!

4. Strategie:

Find as many drum-machines as there are at lagerhouse, sync them to Logicsong Molotov21, make them play Acidtrancedrum'n'basshouselambadaspeedmetaldub.
Press play. Mute one drum-pattern after the other. That makes the song much clearer after a while. Not clear enough.
De-mute drum-patterns and open as many Quicktimeplayers with as many kinds of rhythmic sound-fills as you can. Open the real live window for real live noise. Arrrgh Live! forget the Drumachines . Open every sound-file on the computer in Live Pitch and sync it to Molotov in Rewire Mode. Make Michele scream at you. Press stop to make song much clearer, and to listen what Michele wants. Can't understand Michele 'cause of the noise in my Ears. Tinitus? No, Helicopter flying to the airfield beside the Lagerhouse.

5. Strategie

Take iBook, Headphones, hire Helicopter. Mix during Flight.
After you stop feeling sick... Ask Helicopterpilot to fly round your studio. Enjoy Bass-response never heard in studio before. Start thinking of song-lyrics...

6. Strategie
Asking Songwriter about Strategy
"Songwriter, do you have
a) an idea about the song molotov
b) an idea how to get the song molotov out of my head by doing a really good mix (clear you say)
c)A camera- so we could meet @ web and talk about the song molotov, drink beer and be quiet?" *

Liebe, Grüße


It's easy to forget that hidden in the layers upon layers of ideas that constitute each song on the LP there is a chain of agreements between myself, Neil and Doug; the majority of them unspoken, and indecipherable from listening to the recordings alone. Every now and then over the course of our 6 years making this record we've sat down, had a drink, and talked about some song or other (just as Dirk suggests we should do at the end of his email) in order to decide where that song might travel next. These conversations have led to mixes and arrangements that have, in turn, morphed into different things as our interests have altered... And so - in my opinion - one of our problems is that we've spent a lot of the last 6 years making the LP we were interested in at the time, according to the whims of our current listenings and technical interests, only to see it shape-shift as those interests and favourite records have changed. (We're all magpies in angel tech. We swoop for whatever shiny thing presents itself.)

Two months ago -when Dirk sent the email above - the LP was overpowered by its electronica. It was definitely a sample-driven record with a large element of "look at me!" in its programming. Upon Neil's insistence we took the songs into the rehearsal studio with live instrumentation, and systematically went through each track, finding a satisfying way of performing them. Whilst it hasn't changed the fundamental nature of the songs, it has definitely given the LP a more focussed feel, and at the moment it has the sense of record played by a band. Which is something it didn't always have before.

Molotov is a good example of this shift. It used to begin with a cacophony of furious beats, three versions of the same rough-cut sample of me drumming, detuned and filtered in different ways, frequencies battering against each other. In theory, on paper, this sounds fantastic... and it was a great start to the song in some ways. But in others, it was self-concious, flashy... and this was not a good thing for the song. An artist friend of mine called Alex Bradley listened to a rough mix having never heard Molotov before, and within seconds of it starting said "Ah. Right. So you've re-mixed your own song." Ultimately, we stripped most of the beats from the track altogether, only giving them a look-in towards the end of the song, where suddenly they take over and the entire shebang collapses under its own weight. But in the version we now play live, for a good 75% of Molotov it's just me singing over some woodwind samples. You worry about this sort of thing when you perform in front of an audience... you worry that it won't seem honest somehow, or that it will look like a horrible sort of wanky karaoke. But here's the rub: it is honest. We've spent 6 years wrangling this fucking thing, slapping all sorts of crap onto it, and this is the conclusion we've come to. There's no other way of doing it.

On December the 13th last year we performed our first plugged-in gig (outside our theatrical work) since January 2000. It was a small sort of affair for a friend's birthday party, unadvertised, in the back of noodle bar in central Bristol. The sound man walked out during one of the earlier bands ("I find this musically offensive" is apparently what he said. For fuck's sake. You're a sound engineer. You expect to go through life and never operate a desk for a band you don't like?) but luckily there were people in the audience capable of running the show, who weren't offended by certain unexpected frequencies. The monitoring proved a bit of a puzzle, and throughout the evening it seemed to be intent on ripping Doug's head off with sheer volume. But all this considered, the gig went extremely well. There were cheers when we name-checked favourite albums or songs in The Jukebox Will Tear Us Apart, some folks sang along to songs they'd only heard before as acoustic versions, the faces in the audience were those of people either getting swept up in the music, or people intrigued by what this odd-looking set up was doing with its Voyager Space Probe drumkit, violins, coffin-shaped stomp boxes and skittering laptop. All in all? I felt we'd got back on track.

(With many thanks to Dirk for letting me reprint his email, and for all his head-scratching over our reprobate mixing skills. Happy New Year.)

* In answer to Dirk's questions:

a) Yes, I do have an idea about the song. I read a book recently about the riots which happened in St Pauls, an area of Bristol, in the 1980s. One of the people interviewed in the book (a Doctor, who is currently my GP, strangely enough) said that one of the most remarkable things about walking around St Pauls during these riots was that certain streets were fantastically calm and quiet. You would never have known acts of extreme violence, pitched battles between rioters and police, were taking place only a couple of streets away. Molotov is the quiet streets during a riot, and it's knowing that just around the corner, people are smashing windows and burning cars.

b) Do a good mix of Molotov by taking everything out, and only putting back in the stuff that you like. Scrap the rest.

c) Webcams/webchats. Now, we've done this. We know that what happens is that we pull stupid faces into the camera for half an hour, then say goodnight. Shall we do it again sometime?

Monday, December 05, 2005


At last, we have a current ETA on the angel tech LP! It's an intractable deadline, and here's why: If we haven't got the album finished by 31st January 2006, we're going to invent a time machine, go back in time, and kill our past selves - the feckless, procrastinating bastards - in order to ensure that we get the album finished in time for the 31st of January 2006. We will do this AS OFTEN AS IT TAKES.


Thursday, September 22, 2005


You realise I’ve been lying throughout this entire blog, don’t you? Lies, lies, lies. Nothing but lies. The truth is as follows: The angel tech album was actually recorded in 2 days, using only 4 chords, a banjo, and a tambourine.

No, that is not true. I’m a liar once more. The very worst type of liar. In fact, the angel tech LP was recorded using telekinesis, rendered as grooves in a huge flat bed of polished stone, amplified by the three of us manually running a giant silver needle over its surface. The needle was wired up, illegally, to the PA at Birmingham New Street train station. We were arrested, and subsequently skipped bail. I’m writing this from a cheap hotel room in Guatemala, riding the wireless connection emitted by the German embassy up the road.

Bollocks. Claptrap. Why do you trust me? I only lie. I only ever lie. In fact, angel tech is not really a band at all, we’re go-getting prospectors in the corduroy business. We’ve sunk our life savings into a struggling trouser factory (the factory is struggling, you understand, not the trouser.) We’re also thinking of making corduroy waistcoats. Our arguments are not about “guitars” and “EQ,” “drum” breaks and “string” arrangements. No, we only ever argue about one thing: The THICKNESS OF THE CORDUROY. It occupies all our available time, a constant low-level bickering which defines our professional relationship. Neil thinks the corduroy should be thick. Doug thinks the corduroy should be very thick. Whilst I think the corduroy should be quite thick.

It’s a fucking stalemate. It’s driving me mad.

It’s also completely untrue.

OK, you want the truth? You think you can handle it? Very well then. Truth thus: Last night Mary cooked the angel tech boys some lovely food. Noodles with vegetables, hoi sin and plum sauce. Doug opined that Sharwood’s hoi sin and plum sauce was their finest sauce, and possibly their only genuinely good sauce. Mary felt that the combination of sauce and crinkly Kale made the Kale taste like liquorice. I agreed, and thought it was a serendipitous culinary discovery. Mary wasn’t best pleased, though, as she doesn’t like Liquorice. She didn’t eat her Kale, which was a sad moment for everyone. To cheer things up a bit Doug then did an impression of the Hermit of St Werburghs, a mad old man who hangs out at the local off-licence and tells angel tech we’re “ALL WINNERS. EVERY ONE OF YOU. WINNERS! LOVELY LADS!” each time we pass. He also shows us his very shiny black trainers, and explains that he cleans his shoes regularly so that “they’ll let me into heaven.” Later on Neil did a fart in the studio, a fart of such terrifying viciousness that in 12,000 years time archaeologists will be able to dig it up and carbon-date it. Later still, I hit the studio ceiling in a spasm of excitement. I was excited because the angel tech LP made me so. That is the truth.

Compression is still the name of the game at the moment*. It works a bit like this: you’ve got a swathe of spasmodic, clattering, insane electronica that invades one particular song and takes it over (I’m talking about YOU, My Part In Your Downfall. Yes I am.) You love it when the madness is dipped in and out of, but playing the whole song, it doesn’t quite gel. There’s too much of it. Too much silly buggery. Too much bucking bronco. So how come you like it when heard for a few moments out of context, so much so that it gets you drumming along with a shit-eating grin on your face? The theory we have at the moment is that there might be 10 seconds, 15 seconds here and there that could be cut from certain tracks. Tiny snips. A haircut, not a decapitation. Certain tracks seem to be wearing their length well: Molotov wouldn’t sound right unless it took its time. But others make you feel as if, in Doug’s words, “They’re trying too hard.” A bit like the Hermit of St Werburghs, they go “Look at me, I’m mad. I’ve got one tooth! I’m in your face! I’m fuckin’ crazy!” and something about his demeanour means that you’re not sure how much he really means it… what that big front might be hiding.

Heh heh. Almost had you going for a second there, didn’t I? Bullshit, of course. The LP is actually going to be 53 minutes of sporadic duck noises and sudden explosions. We’re gonna call it “Quack Quack Boom.” See you in the album charts!

*Imagine a board game called “Compression” in which contestants were forced into unfeasibly small spaces. The winner would be the person who didn’t die from lack of oxygen. It could have a catchphrase: “I’m gonna haf to compress yo ass.” Possibly said in a voice resembling Mr T. Think about it, Mattel toy company. Come onnnnnn. Think about it...

Sunday, September 04, 2005


I don't know if your computer screen is as dirty as mine. Mine is filthy. It's a G4 powerbook, and I need to get something to put between the keys and the screen whilst I carry it around. It's causing indentations.

(To the tune of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Pie Jesu)

Enough of this gay banter. How's the LP going, you ask? Neil says that every time someone asks him that selfsame question he's responding with the phrase "Well, we appear to have had another breakthrough." 'Tis true. God knows how many breakthroughs we need until the damn thing births in a gush of amniotic fluid and baby screams... but we're certainly having 'breakthroughs' at the rate of one every 2.6 hours. The Jukebox Will Tear Us Apart finally gave way a couple of weeks ago, with a late night cut-and-paste session that ended with me playing the laptop like a keyboard. Skewered finally sounds like the snarling, beautiful wreck it ought to be, with an ending that turns a whole bunch of disparate elements into a massive, see-sawing pad of sound.

We all have jobs to do: Lists have been drawn up, tasks assigned. Essential surgery is being performed on select tracks, but a good 50% are pretty much being left alone, awaiting the final addition of properly recorded vocals. This will hopefully be the final element which unifies the album (if not sonically, then at least in our heads, an action that seals the process.) We'll be paying cash money for time in a fully equipped studio, with a big ol' room for vocals, a big ol' window through to the control room... we'll essentially be shelling out dosh for a professional vibe, a sense of urgency. We won't neccessarily use all the results; whilst the vocals so far have been recorded merely as guides (using hand-held mics with little care for clipping or popping or background noise in living rooms and bedrooms all over the country,) some of these rough takes have a vulnerable quality that we might want to keep. All the same, we'll be re-recording every vocal for every song, which means lots of strain on the voice and various essential prevantative measures: getting the lemon and ginger tea in, for one. And humming. Lots of humming, all morning, to warm the throat up. People tend to look at you funny in the street or in the shops, but the alternative is little nodes all over your vocal cords for weeks. Who wants nodes? Nodes are bad. No nodes for me, thanks.

We're also addressing the thorny issue of how to translate the fruits of four years studio knob-twiddling into something that is playable live. Doug recently recounted the story of seeing the wonderful My Bloody Valentine in his late teens. He remembers the entire gig as sounding "like the inside of a seashell" with no discernable connection between the band playing on stage and the sound coming out of the PA. Sure, those guitars were being strummed. Sure, the drumkit was being battered somewhere at the back of the stage. Sure, some people were standing behind microphones and maybe, just maybe, their lips were moving. But did any of it connect with the overall noise the audience could hear? Did it buggery.

Our problem is not so much that you can't connect between what happens physically on stage and the sound we produce: it's simply that in its recorded form, most of our material is the result of so much manipulation and digital warping that it has become impossible to play on conventional instruments... and we don't necessarily want to be three blokes standing behind laptops throughout the entirety of our gigs.

Qualifier: there's nothing wrong per se with three blokes standing behind laptops. Or even four blokes standing behind laptops. Hell, even five blokes, a rhesus monkey and a bag of salt behind laptops is fine. Or two women behind three laptops. Or just a kid with a calculator. It's all good. I'm not getting fascist on the asses of laptop groups, 'K? It's just... that I'm not sure we're that sort of band. One likes to hit stuff. One likes to chuck oneself around. One likes to sweat one's arse off. I don't, however, want to spray streams of sticky sweat all over my powerbook. The fucker's dirty enough as it is, you know?