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planetdamage: this was 2016

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It’s time to wrap up 2016 and launch it as the renegade torpedo it was. Most of the yearly summaries I came across called 2k16 a horrible, woe-ridden suckery and most of it actually was – even when I wasn’t really touched by those dozens of celebrities passing away. Still, most of this year was what Roman Catholics and muchly debateable esoteric and proto-occult writers call the dark night of the soul which is a very subtle way of calling something fucking miserable – thankfully, music (and almost as often, music making) was there to keep me sane, so, thank you, amazing music making software that looks like Excel on mescaline. Now, scroll on to the loud, musicky bits.

THE LOUD MUSIC BITS

You know that curse when you can’t finish the projects you started? Managed to middle-finger that curse into the ground a few times last year. Released my first EP Snapshots of a Surveillance Manifesto a few days before my birthday – and I’m not just happy because I managed to launch it after months of working on it but also because I had the luck the work with the best people on it.

And what’s even better, I got an official fan video from Soundmirror66 for the track that seems to be everyone’s favourite off this release.

Jump forward in time – Martin Bowes signed me to his label Two Gods Records. My second EP ANGST hit the internets during the end-of-the-year holiday season – and I’m super glad I could work with Emke of Black Nail Cabaret on that one.

I also lost my music video virginity – here’s the proof.

And some photos that I’ve saved for this post. Look grateful. (Emke needs no introduction, I believe – as for the fourth picture, from left to right: meet Zoltan Kovary, director of our Angst music video, Ninth, currently promoter at the Budapest venues Blue Hell and KVLT where we shot the whole thing and a mildly uncaffeinated me.)

emke_planetdamage_mirror

emke_kz

planetdamage

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And although this is not a studio, welcome to the section of my freemasonic lodge where I make music. So people would actually call it a studio. I wouldn’t. I call it where my coffeemug family lives.

planetdamage_2016_gear

And you can’t have a year passing by without a remix made for Clayfeet! Well, it’s actually the second remix this year, but hey! this is already a pretty tightly established pattern!

THE OTHER  PROFESSIONAL BITS

I really don’t remember much apart from making music and hearing everyone ask me why I make music in Excel (which is a pretty standard way of Ableton or Logic users reacting to Renoise after seeing it for the first time and then, whenever). I know, though, that I wrote a lot of futuristic weirdness and I ended up a speaker at events like Brain Bar Budapest, called one of 2016’s biggest futuretech shindigs @ this side of Europe.

planetdamage_bbb

VR was pretty much on top of my list in both trying out different gears and writing about them – mostly in Hungarian, though. I pretty much went the devil’s advocate way about it, focused on the health issues and the interface and UX problems and I also managed not to puke under any of the HMDs which I consider quite a fucking big feat.(Although VR pukes now have their own niche sub-subgenre on Pornhub, which is apparently a thing right after clown molestation fantasies and quick-cut rush hypnosis videos. When all the news outlets started posting about Santa’s naughty little helpers as one of the more oft-used search term for the Xmas holidays, that was a hard-shelled bitchplease right there.) I also wrote a book (remember me promising you a new book for 2016?) which didn’t get published, because I was still trying to get a coffeetable hardcover edition out, which is not an easy or necessarily smart thing in the Budapest of 2016. Also, there was a Hungarian podcast named 20 perccel a jövőbe (Twenty minutes into the future) I was involved with for a few long months, mixing futuretech and bad, like, really really bad puns.

planetdamage_suzy

And there was an LD50 revival party last year, quite the weirdest class reunion ever. Lots of stories to tell.

THE LAST.FM BITS

Posting summaries of social media platforms is still something I am looking forward to when writing these end-of-year things. Still, Facebook doesn’t give you proper summaries and I don’t mess around with its APIs, I am practically off Foursquare and Twitter, Instagram still requires third-party sites for things like #bestnine2016, so I’m sticking with Last.fm as I do when I have to cling on to one solid site. (Well, here’s my #bestnine2016, just in case.)

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I used Scroblr for gathering all listening data from my AIMP3 (that I use instead of Winamp), Bandcamp, Google Music and YouTube but as it turns out, during the past few months Scroblr started ditching my inputs. Also, I ruined a lot of my stats by listening to my music drafts in MP3s, because my most listened-to artist is me, my most liked is the Snapshots EP…. yeah, will listen to all my stuff from my DAW from now on. That’s also the reason why you can’t see the first places in the ranking screenshots below.

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Artists scrobbled:

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Albums scrobbled:

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And this is my most scrobbled song in 2016:

And here’s my favourite mix from 2016 that I played a lot:

THE ENTERTAINMENT BITS

As expected, the whole boardgaming thing fell into a torpor, I didn’t have enough time and most of the game mechanisms our crew came across, well, we really didn’t hit it off with those. After Eldritch Horror became our household go-to thing, nothing’s good enough anymore. (BTW I’m still selling a lot of my stuff, so if you live in Budapest and want to buy something from my Boardgamegeek list, just send me an email or contact me on Facebook and let me know. Might be willing to sell a few things from the items not marked “For trade”, too.)

As for PC gaming, apart from the fact that I really ended up in the pit of loot-gathering hack’n’slashes (and Borderlands 2 is the king, no fucking doubt about that), there’s been quite a load of cyberpunk games! The new Deus Ex was a total letdown for me (although the 12-min video that served as an introduction, posted above, presenting both the story of DE:HR and the gap between that and the new game was one of the most exhilarating experiences and I really felt at times that this is the Western hemisphere’s Ghost in the Shell), but games like Orwell, Superhot, System Crash, the Mr. Robot app and Distance finally showed that there still is hope. God bless indie developers.

And don’t even start me on the series.. was a strong year with the Person of Interest series finale and the ongoing episodes of Mr. Robot, Westworld, Dream Corp LLC, Berlin Station, Designated Survivor, The Man in the High Castle, Incorporated, 3 Percent, Humans, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency… way, way too much stuff. Go collect’em all.

KTHXBAI

So that’s all you get about 2k16 if you haven’t been keeping an extra eye, drone or tentacle out. No forecasts either – I’d rather deliver now instead of talking about it. Keep an alert on all the regular channels – there will be huge sine waves of silence drops, then peaks of loud, glorious motion. I suggest you do the same this year. Stay safe and vigilant and if you can rock it, GO FUCKING ROCK IT.

Always,

damage_a

planetdamage.LIFESIGN (July 2016)

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Hello from The Lodge.

This is goths-under-the-stones season here, AC’s raging and I dip my cornea in coffee on an hourly basis to stay awake in a torrent of bad stuff happening with the worst timing. If you’re not new here, you’ve already realized nothing’s really changed here. Woes aside, join me for another round of WTF!

THE HEARY THINGS

planetdamage lodge studio
This is how the more musically-inclined corner of The Lodge looks like at the moment. Even at night (so either my eyes have gone totally light-sensitive or there’s an industrial lightbolt thrower installed outside my windows). The most important piece of gear right there is the coffeemug, everything else is of secondary importance. There’s a new release already in the making (I haven’t even started properly promoing Snapshots of a Surveillance Manifesto, but still) and two new tracks are in pretty good shape already. Been thinking a lot about taking the whole thing live, I guess the new gear really reflects that – it’s a Roland SPD-SX perc/sample pad (back on Gearslutz everyone was raving about how good its predecessor was) and a Novation Ultranova with a titload of arps and live filters.

Reviews for Snapshots.. are scarce but good – surprisingly enough there was even a review featured in Hungary’s biggest science-fiction mag Galaktika.

I’ve also uploaded the audio commentary for Snapshots to Mixcloud, so you can now listen to my very first podcasty -listeny thing about how I conjured up the EP. Might be fun for, so give it a go below!

THE LOOKY-TALKY THINGS

The summer heatwave (fuck you, summer heatwave) drove a wedge into a string of presentations and talks and stuff that I did when I was not struggling with self-imposed caffeine deficiency – and it was all watermarked with Major Kusanagi. There was a longer roundtable (or more like bar stool) discussion at an ELTE movie club for psychology majors…

Photo creds: Cortex Film Klub
Photo creds: Cortex Film Klub

..and a shorter presentation took place at Brain Bar Budapest 2016, an event that was heralded as this year’s biggest European event about future tech (all intelligence officers and freemasons chuckle here, hopefully), watermarked by both Google and Wired.

Photo creds: Brain Bar Budapest
Photo creds: Brain Bar Budapest
Photo creds: Brain Bar Budapest
Photo creds: Brain Bar Budapest

There’s an official YouTube cast about that, I’ll post it below with a heavy heart – I never watched it and I never will. Reason: I’m wired to do quality checks after releases and always from the wrong perspective and that’s never helpful, especially that I remember waking up that day and I had the worst sickness in a thousand years raging around in my body and self-control and tai chi aside, I think it shows. My buddies think it doesn’t, but maybe they are just super kind. So there. Me talking for 18 minutes, being not in black.

Putting that aside, expect news not too soon – the new release is taking up a lot of time with experimenting with sounds and patching everything together here is madness (bad and mad technical reasons) and I plan to have a lot of collaborations on that, which will take a lot of time. Also, there’s two new book ideas, one is actually finished, the other could be finished in two months to my estimates, but financing it is quite problematic. And also, life (goddamnit). If you want quick updates about stuff, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (I go there once every month, sorry guys, so maybe don’t follow me there) or just drop me an email and send me something super inspiring, motivational or.. you know. Anything good that lights my sensors up. (Also: cover image is by Balázs Kassai on top of the page, can’t pimp his work enough!)

Always,
damage_a

Planetdamage featured on The Cage 23!

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Just one week after releasing “Snapshots of a Surveillance Manifesto“, FIREWALLS (my most synthwaveish track ever written) was featured on Martin Bowes’ compilation Cage 23. If you’re not really aware of Martin’s endeavours (apart from him being the driving force behind Attrition and Engram), he’s running the label TWO GODS and he has a studio aptly named The Cage where he produces, mixes, masters, engineers or devilishly concocts bands (check out his client list, it is INSANE).

Every year he releases a track selection from all the music he produced, remixed or mastered at The Cage Studios: and the 2015-2016 selection entails (brace yourselves!) Amys Arms, Attrition, Colossloth, Eric Random, Factice Factory, Honeymoon Cowboys, Jet Noir, Khost, Mad Masks, Michael X Christian with Gitane Demone, Nanochrist, Poetry of Thorns, Prole Position, Rachel Haywire, Red Fetish, Spatial Relation, This Cold Night, Ultra Arcanum, Vagonovozgatye, Venus Fly Trap, Warriors Of The Dystotheque, ZE:RO and myself.

Snapshots of a Surveillance Manifesto

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You might have stumbled into it in the header area, but if you haven’t: my first EP is out.Snapshots of a Surveillance Manifesto” has been in the making for something like one and a half years – definitely wasn’t one of my fast-moving projects but hey, it is now officially out, freely streamable and/or downloadable, packed with lots of goodies.. and I might have some additional points of interest to share (to further hammer my SEO flags into uncharted territories in the net, vast and infinite). Enjoy!

BEHIND-THE-SCENES: You might read a few things here about the EP you didn’t know but there’s a whole damn repository of BTS intel packed with the EP. As I’ve always loved wading knee-deep in Angelspit’s blipverts or the audio commentaries Blue Stahli packed with his releases and as I’ve had LOADS of different MP3 drafts from different stages of writing a song, I thought it would be a great thing to actually make a production diary for each and every song. This way you can hear how the first core loops sounded like, what the idea is behind each title or how Lensjammer, for example, was originally a jingle for a European Space Agency music competition. If you haven’t grabbed the prod diary yet, now is the time – enter your email address here and grab a hefty download!

COLLABORATION: I am really humbled to say this but it was one of my favourite musicians, Martin Bowes of Attrition (and Engram) who worked on the EP in terms of mixing and mastering (and additional production). He’s a great guy, definitely knows his trade and I’ve surely learned a lot during our time working on the EP tracks – we actually agreed at some point that the premix tracks could have easily been called industrial dub as I’ve suffocated them with a more than fair amount of reverb and decay. And it wasn’t just him to remix these tracks – I could also feature long-time industrial favourite The Mercy Cage on the EP with a buddy of mine from the London days, Lhasa Mencur (whose sound pack I also reviewed here earlier), Hungarian industrial veteran First Aid 4 Souls and the solidly-rocking Black Nail Cabaret. And the artist photos were shot by Balázs Kassai, as always – he’s not just a good friend (since high school, actually) but he’s also the guy who makes the best photos of my weirdly changing, coffee-deprived face. Period.

Damage. Photo: Balázs Kassai
Damage. Photo: Balázs Kassai

COVER: The front/back cover, the inlay and the logo (with additional pieces of artwork) was created by a long-time buddy of mine, Péter Sántha – the Hungarian readers might know him from LD50 and our collaboration on Carbonbonbons, a goth T-shirt brand. Peter had a great idea for creating an EP moodboard: he told me to pick a huge handful (25-50, maybe?) of industrial album covers that I like and find patterns in them when I feel I’ve selected enough. Weirdly enough, all of them feature screaming faces with protective eyegear. It turned out that his buddy Jeremy Falconer has a statue that would be just the thing for the album cover – and from that moment on we were pretty much set!

CRYPTO: As you might have guessed from the title, there’s an overarcing idea about today’s surveillance society in the EP. There was even a long phase of production during which I thought adding a crypto game to the EP would really boost everything, from downloads through SEO and exposure to national security flags. I really wanted to encode a long list of references and messages into the artwork, the music, the lyrics, basically everything – but as I don’t have the proper brain for crypto and I had noone to help me out, I just left the idea sunbathing somewhere far away. Still, the first idea that I came up with is still embedded, quite audibly, in Lensjammer and I’ve already gotten the first proper solution from it from an eager listener who’d like to remain nameless. Congratz!

DAW: I’m actually proud to say that the original tracks were done with Renoise. When I was making music in the mid-nineties (I’ve compiled the best tracks of that period under the title Track Record), I was working with FastTracker, a music-making software with a vertical workflow, looking much like Excel. Apparently that’s the workflow I can work with, as I do have trouble finding an easy way into horizontal. (And Ableton is a no-go, I was flirting out with BitWig Studio for a time, but Renoise is simply, simply the best.) And the lovely Renoise team even pimped the EP through their social channels, which is a nice touch, thanks guys!

And yeah, there’s more in the pipeline where this came from. Until the new release, stream the older ones from Soundcloud or Bandcamp or just download the full pack (there’s some nice endorsements there from Leaether Strip and Angelspit!) and spread the virus to your friends and neigbours! ROCK!

Cinematic Series Vol. 2: Hacked Society Sample Pack REVIEW

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There’s a fair amount of sample packs conveying tough-ass industrial pounding or subtle microglitches trickling down your spine, but this one pack definitely stands out from the crowd that has CYBERPUNK written all over it. Lhasa Mencur‘s pack aptly named Cinematic Series Vol 2.:Hacked Society is in the smack middle of a fight between Deus Ex and Mr. Robot – and thankfully, neither of those are winning. (Or both. This is the grim future. I don’t actually know which scenario’s better.)

The pack is under half a gig (available formats are Ableton Live!, Acid Loops, Apple Loops/Aiff, MIDI, WAV), containing digi one-shots (perfect for setting the mood with sweepy bleeps and hi-freq sequences), effects (mostly those that you would hear in a hacker den, without the coffee machine sounds, the pizza cutters and anything porn-related, I love the typing sounds to bits) and vocal phrases – these are the samples that people more often than not mistake for speech samples from the otherwise brilliant cyberpunk series Mr. Robot. (I’m actually using one of these samples on my track ‘The Mark’ on my new EP that’s dropping tomorrow, but what you need to check out is a remix done by Lhasa himself that features more of his brilliant samples – I’ll update this review as the link goes public.)

Another surprising bit is a set of 8 construction kits, all of which scream “I should be on the new Deus Ex soundtrack!” And they should be. The demos made out of all these bits do have one major flaw, though: I want to buy Lhasa‘s album made for an imaginary cyberpunk game and he still hasn’t done it and these demos are the worst best teasers ever. Until he finally comes to his senses and makes an urban cyberpunk glitch-ambient album with an Asian influence, grab this baby and try to make the best of it. Because, even if the sounds do not connect with your project, it will definitely motivate you into making something better.

Overall, both the effects and the vocals reflect just a fair amount of urban grit, just enough dirt to get you knee-deep in Kowloon but all the construction kit elements give you just enough shine through the windowpanes to forget about all that urban decay. In any case, this is a solid library.

RATING: 4,5 out of 5 (LHASA, WHERE IS THE SOUNDTRACK ALBUM. NO 5 STARS UNTIL YOU MAKE ONE.)

Cinematic Series Vol 2.: Hacked Society is AVAILABLE here.

planetdamage.LIFESIGN (April 2016)

in Headline/music/personal by

It’s time to remove the stealth implant, otherwise I’ll forget I can switch it off and I’ll drown in the realm of Lost in Time and Space. (That’s a Lovecraftian board gaming reference right there.) It’s been four months(ish) that I last cared about having a blog and the reasons for the radio silence are endless – so, without excusing myself further (that never seems to work, at all, ever), here’s an Opening Hand of Awesome (which could as well be the name for my new post-rock cover band).

MUSIC

One of my worst decisions in life was to stop making music. One of the best ones was to take it up again. The result of that is my first EP entitled Snapshots of a Surveillance Manifesto that’s scheduled to be released early May – think oldschool industrial with some twists and tweaks. Here’s a front cover – designed by a friend, Peter Santha. Back in the days of LD50 we’ve been working on the goth brand Carbonbonbons (think Garbage Pail Kids, only in monochrome) and now we’re collaborating again. The cover (and the logo and everything that comes afterwards from his Photoshop of Foul Magick) is filled with oblique references, good luck finding them all. That head on the cover and the trailer images comes from a sculpture, done by Jez Falconer.

Mixing and mastering and additional production is by Martin Bowes of Attrition – which is an exhilarating thing, as his LP The Hidden Agenda is amongst my top 10 favourite albums, so it’s damn humbling to work with him on this. There are four original tracks on the EP with a few remixes to accompany them – I’ve already received wave files from Attrition, Black Nail Cabaret, First Aid 4 Souls and Lhasa Mencur and there are some more underway!

The EP will be free and apart from finding it on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, you’ll be able to download a bigger package from this site, complete with a production diary, demos, ringtones and whatnot. You can find 15-sec teasers on Instagram, such as this one below (find the others for The Mark and Firewalls here).

WORK

Been covering virtual reality, indie gaming and everything in between for 24.hu since December. My experiences with VR are quite ambivalent and I’ll share these with you in a later post.

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There’s also a fun podcast I’m involved with entitled 20 Minutes Into The Future – for all you English-speaking fellas there, I’m sad to say it’s all in Hungarian so you’ll have to make do with liking all our casts on Soundcloud and iTunes – they’re chock full of bad word jokes and post-6pm remarks apart from reactions to major and minor tech news from the globe. I still have a few projects under wraps I’d really love to talk about but I still can’t. Yes, books and scripts are among them and music seems to gain a bigger priority than making infographics. Thankfully.

GAMES

Have I told you guys about my budding board game infection? No? Well, I did now. I have it. Fermenting with friends over a table looking at a half-destroyed planet (Eldritch Horror) or a coed flatshare of goth models (Chez Geek/Chez Goth) or just Petri dishes full of virii (Pandemic) is a great way to pass the time (and also, my fifth childhood phase). These are the nine biggest favourites, by the way.

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SITE

After having used Arthemia for a loooong time, I’ve decided to switch to another WordPress theme that greatly helps with giving a new life to this blog. The Fox keeps it more densejournalish (yes, this is a word now) and doesn’t feel like it’s breathing down my neck, urging me to write two more posts every day. I have more things to say now so prepare to have it in your face, in one way or another. Heh heh. Heh. Hhhhrh. The header and the logo were also handmade by Peter Santha, so show him some love. And now, let us set sail to Sanctuary!

Always,
Damage

planetdamage: this was 2015 (in pictures, data and lists)

in Headline/music/personal/think by

Hello, cyberpunks, rivetheads, industrial-and-experimental-lovers and weird-people. This blog was more or less a wasteland in 2k15 – content was posted on Facebook or Instagram with a lot of time idly spent in front of a keyboard trying to warp up THAT BEST BASSLINE. Until I conjure up the skills of Bill Leeb (because with basslines that man is GOD), here’s a summary of what happened this year.

planetdamage_2015_001_jan

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NEW MUSIC: a remix for Clayfeet

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Blog-fast ends now! I’m quite happy to announce that I’m nearing completion of several projects I’ve been working on for the past few months. One of them, one completely finished, is a remix I did for a Hungarian alternative/new wave/dark pop group named CLAYFEET: we met through my long-time partner-in-absurd Dawe_, started talking about DAWs and VSTis and, fast-forwarding the story by a few weeks, this is where we ended up. (Or this is where we actually begin.)

clayfeet
Photo: Zoltán Miklóska

My weapon of choice was Renoise, as always, taking the vocal stems and the chords and ditching everything else, basically turning the original synthpoppy bash into something a lot bouncier. Working on this was a lot of fun, learned a lot about 1) EQing 2) giving pop song ideas a structure 3) layering everything with literally everything and then 4) learning how to delete at least 30% of my original tracks because it’s just way too thick and overstacked.

By the way, you definitely have to check out Clayfeet’s Bandcamp as it has a motherload of great tracks to listen to: and here’s the Severance single my remix is featured on. Play it until you’re sore! (And, oh, here’s a whole gallery on how they’re working on their tracks, hehe.)

More remixes and tracks are on the way: until they see the daylight, show some pimpage and love for these tracks!

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