Sunday, 4 March 2012

Effects

Modtone Deep Dive

Since I know more about how these things SOUND than the technical processes, I'll just quote the specs from the website:

The ModTone Deep Dive Octave Plus is a true bypass boutique style pedal that delivers cool sub harmonic effects that are best utilized in single note or lead guitar applications.

Using High Filter, Bass Filter and Sub Level together can create just a touch of “octave below” or when maxed out can cross over into some truly insane frequencies! Flip the Modulate switch for the added bonus of a ring modulator style effect and listen to your lead lines take on an almost synth like quality.
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Modtone Lemon Squeeze

The transparency of the Lemon Squeeze is what makes this compressor so popular. 

Consistent volume level whether you're clean or dirty. When used on solos with the sustain knob increased it will give your single notes and lead lines more muscle.

The Lemon Squeeze adds just the right amount of compression without diluting your original tone. Modtone also has some great videos of these boxes in action.

My Amps

VOX AMPLUG

This is my headphone amp. You plug it into the bass, and then attach headphones to the jack on the unit.

It also has an input for your mp3 player so you can play along with your fave songs. This one is great for apartment dwellers. You don't disturb the neighbours, which helps to keep the lease in a state of good-standing, and you can move from place to place without worrying about cables or being leashed to a floor amp.
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FENDER RUMBLE 75

This is my floor amp. At only 75 watts, it wouldn't get me very far on stage, but in an apartment, it's more than enough. If I feel like playing loudly, it has a headphone jack, but once in awhile, I'll turn her up and take my chances.

Mostly, I do my loud playing in the early hours. Anything after supper is pushing it.

Also, I play with it in the kickback position. It puts the sound up into the air and keeps it from pounding through the floor.
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CRESCENT AMP

This little 10 watt baby came with the Crescent bass. There's really nothing special about it. It's about a foot high and does the job when I want to play quietly or in a place where a bigger amp isn't practical.

It can't handle a lot of volume and tends to start buzzing and distorting if you try to put the boots to it, but it's a step up from the Amplug in that it puts the sound out in the air. There's always a difference between the sound through headphones and the sound on the open air.





My Bass Babies

Crescent

This is a student bass. In other words, if you were to sign up for lessons in your community, you might be given a Crescent bass to practice with.

Nicknamed "The Beast", she's a big, P-Bass styled 24-fretter, heavy and a bit uncomfortable to play. The Beast stands a good four feet tall from stem to stern.

I've done quite a bit of work on The Beast, smoothing down high frets, filing the rough edges of the frets, etc. This is the bass I do a lot of repair-practice on.

When I want to learn how to do something, The Beast generously sacrifices herself for the task. >:

I play this bass when I want a very heavy, grouchy sound.

The Beast is usually strung with D'Addario Chromes - Flatwound.
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Ibanez Soundgear

Nicknamed "Patches", because of a slight flaw in the paint job between the pickup and the base of the neck, this is a great little bass. I like her more than The Beast because of the lightweight, compact size. Also, she only has 22 frets, and because the bridge is lower to the bottom of the bass, she's a good four inches shorter.

Because she wasn't very expensive, there were (as with The Beast) rough edges on the frets and some high spots on the fingerboard, but after I corrected them, this is a great axe. The cons are the crappy screws on the bridge and headstock, but the sound is good enough to make those secondary issues.

She has a deep, rich sound from the single pickup, and though only equipped with a tone and volume knob, the sound can vary quite a bit depending on where along the strings you play.

Space is everything with this bass.

Patches is strung with DR neon yellow strings.
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Ibanez Jet King

My newest acquisition, she's been given the nickname, "Thunder Cloud." No adjustments have been necessary (so far), except to adjust the action a little more to my liking and to add the thumb rest.

Three J-style pups give Thunder Cloud a tremendous range of tonal possibilities.

Though also a 22-fretter, she's bigger and heavier than Patches, with the bridge a little higher on the body. All in all, approximately two inches taller than her Ibanez sibling.

Retro to the teeth. What a great axe! My only complaint - the very small upper horn means the strap fits too snugly against my neck. Minor issue, since I mostly play sitting down. If the strap gets too uncomfortable, I take it off.

Thunder Cloud is strung with DR neon strings - orange or green.





Thursday, 1 March 2012

Something Different from Alberto Rigoni



Album Review
Alberto Rigoni - Something Different
Genre: Progressive

When last we spoke of Alberto Rigoni's music, we were delving into his second solo album, Rebirth. I had confessed to being unaware of his music prior to Rebirth and chose it since it was hot off the presses. Needless to say I ended up being duly impressed.


I thought I'd finish up my look at his solo works by going back to the beginning.Something Different (2008) represents Rigoni's first foray into a solo bass album.

If Rebirth represented one man's inward look at the changes in his life, Something Different feels more outwardly focused. Though his heart's footprint is still all over the tracks, Something Different seems to be more about how "Rigoni Faces The World" rather than Rebirth, which was how "Rigoni Faces Rigoni." Both angles work, however, and give the listener a good close-up look at how this musician uses the bass guitar to tell his stories.

The ten songs run the gauntlet of technique and style.

The Factory - It's a rising, definitive bass melody, speedy and rapid-fire. You get the idea you're entering a new, unseen world. With the bass as lead, the guitar, drums, and synthesizers find their way into the mix around what it does. Toward the end, the bass retires, and the synth has its way with our ears. The song features studio sweeps and pans and - listened through headphones - is a wild treat for the inside of your head. Picture yourself standing in a cold, stark room - overlit and empty but for you. The synth ending of The Factory is how that would sound to your brain.

Trying To Forget - Dropping off the edgy, experimental tension of The Factory, Trying To Forget is down low and very pensive. Blended with rich tapping harmonies, it's one of the most moving bass solos I've ever heard. Rigoni never fails to deliver the goods on beautiful melodies. He understands his instrument and knows how to let it speak. Beautiful piece.


Glory Of Life - This is a bold, expressive declaration of music and the world through its eyes. Here, the bass shares the spotlight with the rest of the instruments. Everybody should enjoy the glory of life, yes? Great, raunchy guitar! Fabulous little synth goodbye on the end!

SMS - A modern, techno-like popper, with a bouncing bass foundation and strong, overlapping melodies. Though not as intense as some of the other songs on the album, this is one of those tunes whose infectious sound can get stuck in your head. After hearing this one, I found myself humming the melody as I tended to other things. Infectious always works.

BASSex - To most bass players, the ax itself is a very sexy thing. This song leaves you feeling (among other things) that this is 100% true. One thing I noticed here is that the progressions start high and then lower down to the bottom. Pink Floyd used to do that all the time. Everything in their progressions was descending. It's the same here, except that Rigoni's descent is not into a Floydian dungeon of internal torment, but rather into full "getting down" mode (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Irene Ermolli provides the vocals and Rigoni - well - provides the fingers. Is he hot for the girl, or is the bass itself the girl in his life? Intense song, for sure!


One Moment Before - I can't help but wonder if this smooth little bass interlude is simply the relaxation after our hot-tempered foray that was BASSex. Hmm. At any rate, at about 90 seconds, One Moment Before relaxes the listener and cleanses the palate for what's about to happen.

Roller Coaster - This song absolutely blew me away. It's an industrial piece, with Daniele "Kenny" Conte on vocals (all distorted and electronically processed, of course). Rigoni's bass carries you to the top of the coaster and then boots you off the other side. As aggressive as the song itself!

Desert Break - Rigoni in the lab, experimenting with some great bass licks, set to a clickety-clack of drums. All about feeling and style.

Jammin On Vocal Drums - Slick, bouncy bass number with a tasty guitar to boot!! Enrico Buttol does the vocal drum sounds. Lotsa style in this one. Very playful.

Sweet Tears - The album closes with another gorgeous and melodic bass expression, accompanied by a sweet keyboard. The depth of this song's gentle melody can take you a bit by surprise the first time you hear it, and the sweet tears you shed while listening can be for anything you want: the birth of a baby, the relaxed death of a beloved pet while cradled in your arms, the majesty of a sunrise. Just let it happen and take in the awesome possibilities of the bass.

On the album, Alberto comments, “I wanted to compose a solo-oriented album, without following any scheme, rule or trend, but I kept myself open to various musical genres and I invited some musicians friends of mine to collaborate in this project. Although I am in a progressive rock band, in my album I tried to reach a freer and more poetic musical expression that matched to my melodic sensitivity. I therefore think that the album is accessible and can be appreciated by every kind of listener and not just by bass players”.

I heard that. Alberto Rigoni uses the bass for emotion. When he plays, he finds a way to give those emotions a voice through his songs. From the urgent message of BASSεx, through the breathtaking wonder of Glory Of Life, all the way to Sweet Tears, Something Different is exactly that...almost without genre or stereotype. It's just good music.

Alberto's two solo albums, Rebirth, and Something Different are available through his website and from online stores, both as digital downloads and CDs.

© 2012 CL Seamus for Thunder Row
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Something Different

All songs written and composed by Alberto Rigoni, except for tracks 3, 7 & 10 composed by Alberto Rigoni & Lorenzo Nizzolini
Producer: Alberto Rigoni
Co-producers: Enrico Buttol & Lorenzo Nizzolini
Mixed and mastered by Marino De Angeli at Majestic Studio (Scorzè, TV - Italy)
Alberto Rigoni's pics: Alessandro Eusebi
"Abstract Smoke" pic: Jamie Duke
"Smoke Female Figure" pic: Akhilesh Sharma
"PsychoBabble" pic: Shawn Cope
Photo editing: Davide Guidoni
Graphic design: Nicolò Luppino

Musicians

Alberto Rigoni: bass
Lorenzo Nizzolini: keyboards on tracks 1, 3, 6, 7 & 10
Enrico Buttol: drums on tracks 3 & 5, e-drums on tracks 4 & 7, vocal drums on track 9
Marco Torchia: e-drums on track 1
Tommy Ermolli: guitar on tracks 1, 3 & 7
Daniele Gottardo: guitar on track 9
Irene Ermolli: vocals on track 5
Daniele "Kenny" Conte: vocals on track 7