Album Review: Minutia by Madeleine Bloom

Here is some stuff that been on my playlist for a bit now while I wait for her Deluxe Edition CD in the mail. I have mentioned her on Twitter or Facebook before but I thought that I would like to put down something a little more substantial. I also want to point out that I didn’t find out about this artist through “traditional” media sources but through “New Media”.  Madeleine Bloom came to me via Twitter and then a secondary connection was discovered via the Hobnox Artist collaboration site. 

Disclaimer: I have been following her on twitter and we have had nice little tweets and discussions about her creative process, the industry, her trials and tribulations her good days and not so good days. It has been very cool to watch her do her thing, getting her album out, sweating over the details. From fretting about the neighbors and getting the right sound to scoring a gig as an opener for Imogen Heap’s Berlin show, it’s been way cool to see it happen and be able to chat with her about it. Sure its just little 140 char. messages and an occasional email, but it is person to person contact; one to one and one to many at the same time. She manages it well letting us know what’s up in her life but leaving out stuff that is TMI, (Twittering celebs should take note). Perhaps without realizing it she has become an example of how an artist connects with her fans and builds a relationship. You love the music sure, and you can listen to for free on Soundcloud,  but it is the relationship she has built with her fans that is important. It is such that you want to spend the money and buy the plastic or high quality download (in whatever flavor you like it seems), you truly want her to succeed. Madeleine Bloom has been a good example of how a musician can use all the new  tools available to her to find and keep her audience engaged while getting her music out, and what great music it is.

Madeleine Bloom Minutia:   

What can I say? Madeleine is so cool, ice bows down before her but she is far from cold, she is a refreshing and open person who is inviting you into her musical world. She recently opened up for Imogen Heap in Berlin and is supporting her new Album “Minutia”. This chanteuse from Berlin is a creative whirlwind, producing intricately crafted songs with her panoply of  instrumentation, field recordings, intricate arrangements, not to mention her beautiful voice and quirky lyrics,  all produced in her living room/studio. She is an excellent example of the DIY trend in music today that is setting the new paradigm for how we produce and consume our media. To be honest, that 30 second blurb doesn’t even cover it.

The album is just really cool to listen to. It is aptly named as it is all about the details. Minutia as word often gets a bad rap, generally because of its  relationship with administrivia and bullshit. However Madeleine reminds us that life is made up of minutia, the little things that happen everyday between “The Big Things”. These are the little things that surround us and that give color to our lives . She tells us that beauty is in the details (as well as the devil).

 While it is stereotyping to talk about German precision and craftsmanship there is a reason those stereotypes exist I suppose.  Maddie commands her sonic space with grace and skill. Even if she created something by accident it sounds perfectly in place.  The opening tracks Webs and Euphoria,  draw you in with clockwork grace, “The Tide” changes Mood  with its harpsichord and somber arrangement but then “Zero Tolerance” picks it back up again.  One song that surprised me was the Jazzy “Chaos and Order”. Her percussive use of cue balls*  in the Break creates a tempo shift that changes the whole nature of the song and gives it a real snap and immediacy, it rapidly became a favorite.  All the songs are crafted like that though, with her use of found sounds reinforcing or echoing the song themes, I.E. the sounds of rhythmically torn paper in the “Paperheart”.  I could go on and rave about it but it’s just easier to tell you to click the link to her site so you can check her out yourself.  She has made it easy fo you to enter her world, all you have to do is open the door and step through.

*(Note: Its little stones actually sez Maddie)

Shameless Self Promotion and Order Fulfillment

I’ve noticed  that many of the sites like Bandcamp and Tunecore offer many of the web services I do for myself. I’ve had my own website for years (sorry I didn’t “get” Myspace until it lost its relevance) and managed OK. I’m now using WIX for a flash based site that looks nice but I know I could use a snappy web designer to bring it all together in one spot. I kind of wished I saw bandcamp and stuff BEFORE I did my site. I don’t feel like switching everything over now. Next time when I revamp my Web Presence, I’ll find Pro I can hopefully afford.

As nice as those musician sites are I noticed that while these sites handle the music side (which TBH is the reason you go to one of these places.)  They don’t seem to handle the other merch like this (not that I could tell):

3ReV Water Bottle

Yes, for shits and giggles I setup a CafePress storefront to sell 3ReV Gear. The setup is easy and the variety of products is wide. But the profit margin for me is so slim it is almost not worth having. Now I understand that their prices are due to the fact that I can order 1 or 1000 at the drop of hat because of the  just-in-time sourcing and distribution and supply chains that they setup. I get that. But then I think of my Sister-In-Law who  has a t-shirt business that I would rather use. While they can make shirts and stuff for me cheap they are not a fulfillment center.  which means I have deal with regular old school logistics like; having a minimum order and worry about multiple sizes, colors,returns, keeping stock and taking orders from the website, security on the e-commerce side etc.

  So in light of that, Cafepress gets my business.  I’m going to keep shopping around for a better deal and research the DIY options for non-music related merch. Luckily my wife has decided that she would like to be a digital shopkeeper and will handle the merchandising side of things should people actually decide to buy stuff. She’s actually very good at that. (Look she is a wiz with Girls Scout Cookie sales and THAT my friends, is a hard and near thankless job for a Troop Leader.) At any rate it will be one less thing to have to worry about and it is one more way the love of my life can share in my dream. What with all this Web designing, Social Networking and Business Plan Development, I have not had time to do what it is I’m supposed be doing.. Making music dammit!

Synchronizing your music and projects with Live Mesh

I’m a hardware geek, I always have been. I love my toys no matter what they are and am always plotting to get new things. I used to do this with Synth hardware but as that kind of gear got really expensive it was self limiting. So while I no longer buy hardware synths if I can help it, my software Synthesizer collection has grown. I have my sample libraries, Reason refills, Ableton sets, VST plug-ins and while I do try to enforce a standardized setup I always end up misplacing things. What can I say I am slob in Real life and slob in the virtual one. I use samples from wherever I find them and store things in piles. In my MMORPG Eve Online I have ships and modules strewn across the virtual “galaxy”. My computer desktop and my “real” desktop are eerily similar, (Oh how I pine for an “Arrange stuff by type” button on my real desk).

Ok, so you know  I like stuff, especially computer stuff. I like to build my own PC’s. I have always gotten the most bang per buck doing it that way. This is one of the many reasons I’m not a big MAC guy despite being into Music Production. I like to build them myself. If Apple let me (IE supported me) installing their stuff on my hardware that would be another kettle of fish.  However, I digress. Being a computer hobbyist since the days of the Commodore Vic 20 makes building things kind of easy for me. (I liked it so much it’s how I make my living).

  So I’m looking to rebuild/upgrade my PC and I have have recently acquired a used HP 6930P laptop to replace my aging HP TC 1100 tablet PC.  I want to make sure that when gig time come I have all the needed files to do what I need to do, and from here on in I didn’t want to think about it too much. What I am talking about is Microsoft’s Beta service Live Mesh.  It is a file sharing and Remote Desktop Service that among other things allows you to synchronize files between multiple computers via an internet connection. sharing and replication (how it copies) is handled easily and Computers files and folders can be linked in several ways. It is a beta service so it may not be up 24/7. It is NOT substitute for a proper backup. It is how ever a nice convenience, and a good example of the future of cloud computing and anytime access to your data as it relates to the consumer. (uh oh- Geek out!) 

BTW this is not a MAC Vs PC holy war blog and the tip I’m going to share should work across both both platforms. Sorry Linux I know there are other ways to accomplish this but this is pretty nice even if it is from the Great Evil ones at Mt Doom errr nice folks at Redmond.

Now this is different from say Google docs, because once the client is installed on your machine it will give you the option to synchronize it with the live desktop or other Machines in your “Mesh”.

Now for those of you who use a Windows Server based network in your office or home network this is old hat.  But it was a hassle to setup and who wants to spend the money on an Windows Server license? Another way to do this cheaply and with just regular file sharing turned on is to use the free Microsoft Sync-toy (or Batch file commands) and a Scheduled Task to do file copies between your machines (or a cron job for you LINUX types). So there are already options for you if you need them and know your way around your computer.   But I Ilike to try new stuff and I am lazy, I mean “Real Lazy” but its a  lazy born out being a working father of two pre-tween children whose trying to get a lot of stuff done and have time left over for extras like music and video games. Time is a very expensive commodity in my house, so much to do, so little time. 

So now I have new(ish) laptop and I have set it up with my favorite software Propellerhead’s Reason and Record and Ableton Live and few other things. I loaded some of my libraries from a Portable hard drive I use for backups and realized I could use Mesh to synch the same directories regardless of their locations.

To do this I will use the Ableton directory that gets created in your My Documents folder by the default installation as an example. you could do this with just about any directory.

  • If you have not already done so create a Windows Live ID (hey its another free mailbox and 5 GB of Storage)
  • Login to the Mesh site
  • Select the big Orange “Add Device” Button
  • Download and install the software and follow the prompts.
  • Login.
  • Once it it finished you will see an Icon with your computer name in the Live Mesh Desktop Window. There will be an Icon in your system Tray as well.
  • Navigate to your My Documents directory.
  • Select and right click the Ableton folder.
  • Select Add folder to Mesh
  • Mesh3 
  • You will then see the “Add Folder to Live Mesh” dialog. Select the Show Synchronization Options. Change the “Live Desktop” setting so it does not try to copy up to your Live Desktop Workspace. This is important as you only get 5GB of free storage and sample libraries and projects can well exceed that. 
  • Mesh5
  • Repeat this for the various devices you want to synchronize.
  • Note that after you have setup your initial synch with the first PC. it will setup “Ghost” folders on the Live desktop. Do not delete them, even though they contain nothing they are place holders.
  • Mesh2


Now on the next PC you setup when you right click on a folder to add to the Mesh if the folder already exists, you will see this dialog when attempt to synch. (Using our Ableton example.) Be careful make sure it is a directory you want to synch.


Once you are done, all your machines will begin to synchronize their folders whenever your PC is Idle. To save time and bandwidth you could copy all the files (using sync toy for example) directly to your new machine. That way only the files you have changed will be copied over.

For example; if you were working on something on the Studio machine and then grabbed your laptop to take take somewhere, you could still get to the files. Once you got an internet connection whatever you saved on the studio machine will eventually appear on the laptop as it copies down.   It even has a change log so you know what files were changed or synched. 

Oh did I mention that you can also share your File and Folders with other Live Mesh users? Oh yes, you can invite another producer /DJ/ etc to work on your project and add him as a user on that folder. Now anytime either of you make a change, the other can see it. (Make special sharing folders for this). Just remember not to share to the Live Desktop and you will be OK.

I forgot to mention, one of the extra features in MESH is that it allows you remote control your PC from a browser “For Free”. That’s right the Mesh Client also does its own RDP. So if you absolutely needed something off your machine, you could Remote in and work on it directly.  As I mentioned earlier this is not a Windows only thing. There is limited support for MAC OSX clients so go ahead and give it a try.

Looking to get gigs

So Alex (my brother/guitarist) and I were talking this weekend, and decided that were are going to actively pursue  gigs. Alex is much more connected with local promoters and even though we are not doing the kind of music that they are familiar with, (Hardcore and Punk scene). They really like Alex and are willing to take a chance on our oddball blend of guitar and electronic music.   How serendipitous that this commentary from Kevin English came across my Twitter feeds, The Lower Class Musician and his blog Lots of great info there about treating your music as business and having a plan.

Its good to have plan.  

That said this is not something I plan on making a living with unless I’m very lucky. I’m gainfully employed in job that pays me relatively well and feeds my family. But just because its a hobby (albeit an expensive one) doesn’t mean I take it lightly. If by chance our music gets some traction or whatever I’d like to make sure that at least we have some clue as to what we should do next.  I honestly think now is an exciting time to be performing artist. Never before in the history of man has the ability to reach out and get your work seen and heard been so prevalent. Sure there are  a lot of pitfalls in the DIY category but that’s true in any endeavor you really enjoy. Luckily there is a wealth of advice (Good, bad and WTF?) and real examples of other people like me and my brother doing the same things and learning lessons and of course making cool shit for you to hear see or feel. But for now I’ll be happy playing out live and if there’s money involved even better.