Design for People

This mysterious package arrived to my POBox
I wasn’t expecting anything, I track all the predictable things…

Ripping open the package I found this exquisitely wrapped object


And carefully opening it, found this


and these


That PAY ATTENTION sticker is so going on the back of my car!

But the main course is delicious


And just look at that spine!


Such beautiful inspired & inspiring work!




May my inbox always be so lucky






Why I wont critique your XYZ

Please excuse this form letter post.

Every so often, I receive emails asking me to provide feedback on someones show reel or short film or something or other…. In such cases the quick polite meaningless answer would be ‘sorry, too busy – ask someone else…‘ But for me that is disatisifying. I do have a lengthy philosophical rant gestating, about seeking feedback from others, which I will post when it makes sense… but that is a different issue to this.

In this case I would rather the person asking understands why I will not critique their work. And the short answer is my opinion does not matter. At all. So here is my generic answer.
Which all such future emails will be forwarded to…




Do you like
green eggs and ham?

Sorry but I do not critiqute other peoples work.

The main reason is that I am busy pursuing & constantly evolving my own work
and I do that work based on my own experience, taste, aesthetics & instincts.

So to be asked to provide input on someone elses work
puts me in a weird position of having to justify
why i do, or do not like green eggs & ham.

First I must justify it to myself and then to you.
Sorry but I am not interested in doing either.

My opinion does not matter
Only the opinion of the director of the specific project matters.

So if your show reel is comprised of the best & most interesting work
that you have done for the director/s you have worked with,
and they were happy, then you have achieved a great result.
Be proud that your ideas, taste & aesthetics have gained traction.

I am not the director of the projects you have worked on,
so my opinion is worth nothing.

I might think something is fantastic & the director dislikes it.
I might think something is dreadful, a cliche, painful to my sensibilities but the director loves it.
My opinion is worth nothing in both cases.

It is relatively easy to LIKE something,
but the reverse is far more difficult to express.
It takes a concerted effort to express & explain dislike…
When I have worked as a supervising sound editor I had a policy of never expressing dislike.
I would be far more inclined to ask questions.
“OK thats interesting, but have you considered this aspect? or that?
Why have you done this? or that? What does it mean? What does it express?
Could you try an alternate approach, maybe try exploring this aspect….”
All of the best directors have done this to me,
they have encouraged me towards the ideas they like
rather than discourage me.
I follow their example.

And if your show reel does not involve collaborating with the director of each clip
then it tells me nothing about your ability to creatively & successfully express a directors intent.

You can practice putting sound and/or music to picture of anything you like
but that is only practicing HOW.
IMHO you must get past how and focus on WHY.
Because the discussion of WHY must involve the directors intent.
That is why the project exists.

Similarly the sounds or score I create for projects are worth nothing
if they do not express the directors intent.
They will literally hit the cutting room floor.
As will yours.

Sorry I cannot help you with this.

Whether I like
green eggs & ham,
does not matter
to anyone, except
the green eggs
the ham.
& me



I missed out on the first batch of this delay module when it launched late 2015, so have been on a waiting list ever since & happy for it to have just arrived!


Love the kawaii design by PaperNoisetheir tumblr is a fascinating read


Funny how things/people turn out… the drummer in the band I played bass in way back in the late 1980s was always a proto-punk kind of guy, but in more recent days has become rugby referee!
So I updated an old photo someone saved from a newspaper for a gig we played…


Never was there a more appropriately named band!!
And why exactly Ian was holding a shovel like it was Yoricks skull I do not know….

New addition


A new addition to the microphone collection: a lovely Neumann TLM170, my first large diaphram microphone!


I was out in Lower Hutt yesterday, picking up some props and came across these robots!







Such great work!

respect to Dan Mills and Sam Broad

my love/hate relationship with temp mixes

As a sound editor I have always loathed temp mixes – I always think of them as akin to having someone prepare to run a marathon, and a few days beforehand suddenly asking them to sprint it!
I.e. it doesn’t matter if you don’t achieve your ‘ideal’ goal/s, we just need you to run as fast as you fckng can, in the limited time available… And btw sorry, the actual goal posts are still at the end of the marathon…
but no one expects you to achieve them… It isn’t possible… but still… ready set GO!


Maybe its because I’ve spent 20+ years as a sound editor/designer (& have more of a handle on the parameters) than this, being only my third film score, but with music it feels so much more subjective.
You could pursue an idea, put your heart & soul into it, only to have it shot down in flames within ten seconds of the director hearing it, if it doesn’t help their cause…

So a temp mix, for a composer sucks!
If you do not contribute your draft cues, they will likely fill the film score with inappropriate/unachievable music from the last 100 years of film making… Which then start to establish themselves as some kind of reference! When all you really want to do is slowly investigate the heart of the film & express it through your own musical magnifying glass.

So how do you solve this impossible quandry?

You cant, you won’t and you don’t.

But to quote Yoda, try you must.

Sprinting a marathon – its my best metaphor for such suffering of the musical soul.
Whats yours?

ps the plus side:
– its a chance to try different approaches & see what sticks
– its a chance to hear the director express their intentions
– its a chance to hear what the dialogue & sound dept intend
– its a chance to hear what the rerecording mixers might expect
– its a chance to experience the context of the final mix, months before it occurs

If you’ve never experienced the cycle of the creation of a feature film soundtrack, then this will all be abstract/academic….. But when you do, you will….

Tomorrow never knows

Rest in peace Sir George Martin, 90 is a excellent innings especially when you consider your incredible contribution to music.

This particular track stands out for me as something I heard at a young age, and which even way back then my young mind began to wonder about how it came to be, how was it written, recorded and produced. Thank you for enriching our lives & especially our imaginations.

If you had to choose one song involving Sir George, for its unique production values, what would it be?

DIY Modular – build 01

Late 2015 I ordered a bunch of kitset eurorack modules from Thonk in the UK with the grand intention of building them over the Christmas holidays… So here I am at the start of March having actually built the first one: the Music Thing Modular Radio Music Module which arrived as a full kit with all parts included.
Just add some patience, a soldering iron and a few spare hours….


Ready set go!

The Radio Music Module is basically a sample playback module – 16bit 44.1kHz mono raw files are put on a microSD card, each of 16 folders representing a radio station, with the sound files in each folder able to be triggered with a user selectable start point in the triggered sound file. There is CV control for triggering the sound, and changing the ‘station’ which means there is some very interesting potential to use the modular synth to process raw sounds.

Following the build instructions I started work


First step, installing the resistors to the first board… followed by other hardware; diodes, capacitors, pots, microSD card holder, sockets etc


By the time I’d listened to these two Herbie Hancock LPs I was pretty much done* on the front panel & first board



Next was filling the second PCB, and adding the pins & sockets to mount the third PCB – the teensy cpu thingy


The Teensy requires loading the Radio Music firmware via USB, which caused a little confusion for me until I realised I was loading the firmware for an older version of the teensy and once I had actually selected the test firmware for the teensy 3.1, and verified it was loading & working correctly, I then loaded the RadioMusic firmware and got ready to test my hard work.

After plugging in my new module and powering up my modular…. nothing! Oh sh+t!
One thing I do appreciate with the TipTop power system in my modular is that if it detects a fault it shuts down, thereby hopefully avoiding damage. So I quickly powered off and removed my new module and started checking the power section of the second PCB. Sure enough some idiot (me) had installed one of the power diodes the wrong way around. After a bit of cursing, desoldering and reinstalling, the module booted up and appeared to be working… apart from the lack of sound!

OK, doubting my sanity I started checking what exactly else I had messed up. Comparing my build with the photos it suddenly became obvious I had missed a pin between the Teensy board and the second PCB. The vacant hole where the pin should live even had ‘Audio Out’ written beside it…
Sheesh, my powers of idiocy know no bounds!


I hadn’t noticed that extra pin, and had only soldered pins along the two longer sides of the board.

With my second error fixed, the module booted up & behaved as it should with the test audio loaded on the microSD card. And it made me smile to hear birds chirping from my modular (one of the provided test files)

Now to load it up with some of my own audio and FSU!

When I bought this kit I actually bought two of them, so my next build is to repeat this process, without the two mistakes!

Apart from the moments of frustration at my errors I really enjoyed building this module, and highly reccomend the kits from Thonk. Everything was labelled very clearly, and those labels meant I did not even have to decode resistor values. But as with many things, god is in the details.

Since building this I’ve been thoroughly enjoying messing with it, especially while loaded up with Pygmy samples – almost had a flash back to Altered States and Until the end of the World!

Music too

Produced by Hudson Mohawke and and Oneohtrix Point Never, from upcoming album


Holly Herndon – Chorus (thank Christine!)



Richard Eigner – When The Days All Tip From Nests And Fly Down Roads, new release on Cronica


new EP coming 25th March from Kyoka – inspired by her residencies at stockholm‘s EMS studios….