Welcome (back) to Crow Caw Music Works

last modified 16 may 2013


This is the place for all things related to and about the musical productions and writings of tim p scott, producer of electronic post-rock instrumental compositions since before there was post-rock.

First let me say thanks for your patience as I work through this new site design. Obviously this is on WordPress and the basic underling design is called “Sandbox 1.6.2”. My intention is to spruce it up a bit using CSS–basically this means the site may look a little broken and weird till I get it sorted out.

If this is your first visit, glad you’re here. This is the permanent landing page. Up above there are the main (“What”, “Who”, etc.) menus. You can go to the page “Listen” for samples of tps music, “Who?” for some biographical material, “What?” for general information about this site, and “Where?” for contact information. “How” discusses various aspects of what used to be called “DTMP” (Desktop Media Production).

If you’re returning, welcome back. We’ll try to keep current information about both tps musical projects and the state of this site in the posts below.

Finally; while we try to be realistic and flexible about copyright law (who wants to spend all their money on lawyers and lawsuits [besides certain churches]?), we sincerely hope you’ll at least have the grace to give credit to tim p scott and/or Crow Caw Music Works if you use anything from this site. So please try to do the Right Thing, as they say in the Islands:

“It No Kill You”

OK – back to music

After clearing up the “studio housekeeping” problems I am back working on songs. I have a few things currently in the works, early versions of which I hope to offer here soon.

I’m interested in extreme and death metal lately, which means guitar playing. I have been wrestling with my cheap electric solid body for a long time: with mediumweight strings and all 5 springs installed on the tremolo I still have too high strings. So finally a huge light bulb went off; I detuned all strings by a whole step and I get perfect action and a nice fatter sound.

I have been agonizing over guitar amp sims too, trying every demo in sight. The problem is that I’ll dial in a sound that seems perfect, then come back in the morning at hate it. Currently my strategy is to layer the fabulous free Dirthead 0.80 and Voxengo BoogeX as a group in live, tweak each plugin for a different part of the sound and then mix them. I also find myself returning to the built-in guitar processors in the humble but might Zoom R8 recorder. So maybe I won’t plunk down money for a software guitar sim for the moment….

Meanwhile let me recommend the interview with Oneohtrix Point Never in the latest (December 2015) issue of Electronic Musician. His process is intriguing and I note with satisfaction that he is also an Ableton Live exclusivist.

It all makes sense … ultimately

OK! After attacking all the bad smelling stains in my studio I have reassembled it and moved back in. It’s a much more pleasant space to work in now.

In order to avoid actually working on music, I spent a week experimenting with overclocking my PC. I can’t afford new computers right now. Cats are too expensive.

I got my home built PC with a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad CPU overclocked and running stably at 3.2 GHz. That’s like buying a newer computer for free.

The next step is for me to clean up this site. The design that I thought was so nice 5 years ago is badly out of date now, and needs to be streamlined. But maybe even more important than that, I want to at least make sure that the sample tracks on other pages at least play correctly.

It’s all on the schedule to be done before I die! Stay tuned…


Studio temporarily out of commission! Now what?!

So as mentioned in another post…for reasons mostly beyond my control the studio is temporarily a toxic danger zone. So music withdrawal time.

Everything I need to make noise

Everything I need to make noise

What you see here is my desperation equipment. Amazingly, I am actually nearly as productive in just hammering out riffs and ideas with this minimal gear.

  1. Charvel 6 string with EMG active pickups
  2. Zoom R8. I’ve raved about this elsewhere. Built in rhythms and loops, minimal drum machine, and 2 built in decent microphones.
  3. Kaoscillator.
  4. Sennheiser HD280.

Note that this is all actually usable on battery power! Although generally I use a power supply so as not to worry about using up batteries,

“My Pet Peed!” pet stain remover experiences…

You may wonder: why a page on removing cat urine from carpet on a music site? Well, it’s because my studio finally became unusable due to the noxious buildup of urine from several cats. I tried half-heartedly to clean it up but in the warm weather last month I finally got fed up.

(Note the following is strictly my experience and I do not wish to misrepresent My Pet Peed’s product or company. They are very friendly and professional to deal with. If I have made mistakes below and they correct me I will fix this page as practicable!)

As you’ll read below, after much research I decided to try “My Pet Peed”. The name obviously wasn’t what clinched it!

The quick summary of what I learned was:

  1. Regular cleaning solutions do not work on pet urine stains in wall to wall carpet. They mask/appear to work for a while but the smell comes back, always as bad and sometimes worse that before. I have seen where this could take a week or two. I can envision someone hiring a professional carpet cleaner, thinking they had the problem solved, but when the smell came back blaming the animals for staining in the previous places. That wouldn’t necessarily be the case.
  2. You need a special cleaner that attacks the complex chemistry of animal urine. There’s a good website that explains that in detail.
  3. The upshot is: most people recommend the so-called “enzyme” type cleaners. Whatever the formula is, it’s understandably not published since after all it is the company’s intellectual property. I only tried two, and they worked only on the lightest stains.
  4. Heavy stains may need multiple treatments as is explained in the video and information on My Pet Peed’s site. Long established odors may actually embed into carpet in layers that have to be dissolved over several treatments.
  5. My Pet Peed’s formula is also secret, but from the way it foams up on stained areas it looks exactly like the way Hydrogen peroxide foams up on blood. It may be some kind of oxidizing agent but it’s not H2O2 since it doesn’t seem to bleach and it leaves almost no smell. The clincher also is that it has NO FRAGRANCES ADDED (!!) and none if its own. (It also leaves almost no residue but I am considering running a carpet shampooer over it with water only since it seems logical that there must be some kind of residue left after treating extremely stained areas.)
  6. I’ve used two different UV lights to try to find the worst stains. It may be the lights I have but they show the floor covered with stains, some of which have no smell at all. So unfortunately I actually needed to get on my hands and knees to really identify the extent of the stains. I show a photo that makes the carpet look like a complete loss but in this photo only one area had an odor.
  7. My Pet Peed knocked out 90% of the stains the other cleaners struggled and / or failed on. There was one spot that was much worse than others (I have a theory that the urine soaked under something heavy that was on the floor there. It took direct application…actually tking the lid off the spray bottle wetting the area with the solution several times to finally get rid of the problem.

The final analysis is that this stuff works; I have used it as well on fresh hairball, animal diarrhea and cat vomit and it cleans it up like a whistle.

2015 03 03 Update 2

I finally got the shipment and went to my last problem area. In order to find the extent I had to treat, I used a measuring cup with a lip and poured a thin stream on the carpet along parallel 2 foot long lines. The MPP solution foamed up where the problem was as you can see in the photo below. I then took a simple bathroom scrub brush (also shown) and “mashed” the solution down into the carpet, without scrubbing back and forth. My logic was to try to get the solution as deeply into the carpet and pad as possible.

The simple scrub brush I used, with relatively stiff polyester bristles

The simple scrub brush I used, with relatively stiff polyester bristles

I ran four parallel 2 foot streams of MPP; this shows the area that is reacting

I ran four parallel 2 foot lines of MPP; this shows the area that is reacting

Here's what I see under UV:  only the area in the top center smells even though the carpet looks like a disaster

Here’s the same areas as above under UV light: only the area in the top center has an odor even though the carpet looks like a disaster

2015 03 03 Update 1

I actually ordered an entire gallon of MPP from the manufacturer. It took quite a bit of treatment but now I’m down to one spot on the carpet that still has a acidic/ammonia smell, but it’s improving. Oddly, this was a place that had a metal power extension box sitting directly on the carpet. I have a completely unscientific theory that the cat urine reacted with the metal and caused some kind of horrible combination that is proving difficult to remove.

I still recommend MPP 100%. The areas I’ve already treated smell brand new, but with absolutely zero scents or fragrance.

I had a couple fresh “accidents” (hairballs) to clean up in the past few weeks, MPP worked perfectly on both; one on concrete and one on carpet.

2015 02 20 Original post

Quick comments…I had to clean up a large carpeted room with old cat urine stains that were badly set and smelled terrible. Regular cleaners either did nothing or appeared to work for a while until they dried up…then the smell returned sometimes worse than ever.

I have used many cleaners including the supposed high power enzyme cleaners for animal urine and poop stains, but this works totally different than they do and appears very promising…more details when I get time to add them. But before I go I have to point out that the fluffy white stuff is foam like you see when you mix baking soda and vinegar, but in this case it’s the MPP solution when poured directly on the stain (rather than using the spray bottle as is recommended for normal stains.)

ZAR recovery program, and reading the orphan .bkf format on Windows 7…

Updated 2015-04-12

  •  ZAR Recovery Program

When I trashed the directory structure of my music computer, I knew I was in big trouble. Fortunately I had another hard drive I could use for the boot drive so I was able to CAREFULLY try some public domain and even Linux software to attempt to recover my precious system. I could probably have reassembled it from a huge collection of DVD backups but I had the feeling only the file system structure was damaged; not the data itself…

Since none of this was urgent, I had the luxury to try some various approaches. I have to say that the Linux tools approach did not work for me, although that doesn’t mean it won’t for you.

I ended up actually paying the nominal cost for the “ZAR” recovery software. I must say that it definitely worked like a charm. It took many, many hours to recover the gigabytes of data, and some sectors did show up as lost but by and large I am hugely satisfied with it.

  • BKF format – good news update

Updating this in April 2015; some ingenious person discovered that you could indeed read .bkf files through a very simple process. Basically you get the ntbackup.exe file and two other .dlls from an XP system and just put them in folder on your windows 7 system, and launch the .exe. This brings up the old faithful backup/restore application and I proved that it works fine. Unfortunately I don’t have the names handy of the .dlls but will put them here next time I get on the other system.

Microsoft claims to have a solution which is in one of their knowledgebase articles Windows NT Backup Restore Utility for Windows 7 and for Windows Server 2008 R2 (“http://support.microsoft.com/kb/974674”) but it did not work for me. I downloaded the fix files that were supposed to allow manipulation of bkf files but they didn’t work. The application appeared but as soon as you tried to execute any function it crashed.

Here’s my original comments on this issue:

Another problem with Windows 7 is the infamous .bkf format problem. From everything I read, basically there is no support anymore for reading files created by the old Backup tools. Again I have many GB of files in that format. Once again the third party vendors have created programs that unscrew that format, and Microsoft has no help for your whatever. I wish ZAR had a program in that category since I would love to give them additional business. So far I have decided that since I have recovered my old HD largely successfully, I don’t have an urgent need to decode the old .bkfs.

Page#21/last modified 20150412

Zoom R8 recorder – review after using a year

Updated late 2014…

…(awesome) briefcase-sized 8 track recorder…!

See the excellent review and photos by Rich Menga. I’m going to add a few of my own impressions here.

For various reasons I wanted something very small and portable I could use as a songwriting/scratch pad. I looked at several from Boss and Tascam but settled on this unit. It can be actually battery powered with AA batteries; and even supports rechargeable AAs (! which is an extreme rarity.) It runs several hours on fresh 4 AA alkaline batteries.

The recording medium is an SDHC card. It ships with a 2 GB card containing a lot of excellent drum loops, but you can install up to a 32GB card. I copied the loops to the larger card and there is tons on room now for projects and takes. If somehow you fill up a card just put in a new one…they’re not expensive now.

Two mics are built right into the device.

The audio effects and processing options are very good. In particular, the guitar effects are great. With an electric or acoustic guitar, or a piano and your voice you can create really good tracks.

I cannot recommend this too highly! One of the things I’m finding out is that I’m more likely to record a passing idea when I can boot this up in 20 seconds, plug in my guitar or sing (or even take a voice note!) into it. You don’t even need to set up mics, but can play an acoustic instrument or sing right into the built in mics!Later on when the whole studio is booted I can easily transfer the audio files to Reaper or Live.

The included loops and rhythm patterns are surprisingly good. Not only that, but if you have a collection of your favorite loops, you can use your computer to copy them to the R8 and use them just as you can with the supplied ones! Of course they have to be 44.1k WAVs, but plenty of those fit on a 32 GB SD card.

Real guitar players have dissed the R8’s built in guitar effects, but for my money I never use my Pod or Korg Pandora. I never play live so for my needs the built-in effects are outstanding. Not to mention the bass, clean channel, mic channel and mastering effects.

The display is bright enough to actually see!

Yes, it can be cumbersome to operate (e.g. trim audio files) but for its size you just can’t beat it. I was looking at the R16 but I really have no need for 8 track simultaneous recording. The R16 uses 6 batteries too, and doesn’t have the rhythm unit that the R8 and R16 does.

Maybe it’s just my own personal taste, but I demoted my Line6 PodXT off my desktop (and onto ebay, sayonara) and only use the Zoom to record guitar tracks into my computer.

Last modified 20 Dec 2014

Mr Blue Sky: genius of Jeff Lynne in great documentary

Yes, there is probably some element of marketing in this, with Lynne about to release new albums, but if anyone deserves to be exposed to music fans it’s Mr. ELO. This guy, besides his stellar career in ELO, has produced Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and the re-formed Beatles (you have to see the documentary for explanation). This is a short (60 min) production but packed with meat including drool worthy shots of (apparently) his home (walls covered with gold and platinum records) with expensive condenser mics and instruments in every room. Yet Lynne comes off (to me) as a modest, hardworking journeyman who just happens to be one of the five best producers in pop/rock music. See it if you can (I caught it on Palladia).

Last modified 2012/10/13

Lost gems: Sami Takieddin tracks from 2000-2001

In the early 2000s there was a site called mp3.com. An artist whose work I discovered there named Sami Takieddin released two albums of really great new-agey tracks. Digging around a bit I did find a third one “Stories” on last.fm. Outside of that I don’t know what happened to him.

I would like to make a couple of tracks available for you to hear, but I don’t own them. I’ll try to track the artist down and see if I can talk him into this…they say the internet never forgets but I am not sure that’s really 100% true…

Updated 4 Jan 2014

What the hell am I doing? Nothing??

update 2012/05/11

Well, as the grave draws ever nearer I am stuck in an obsessive-compulsive loop working on a couple of new pieces. Besides Life As Usual, the main thing delaying progress on these works is my attempts to play parts that are way beyond my musical abilities. But the good thing is that I believe I have SOME perspective on my own work. My best technique is to put aside a piece for one or preferably two weeks. When I return to them, I strip out whole chunks of them or even abandon them.

update 2012/02/18
I did buy a beautiful 25 inch LCD monitor from Fry’s Electronics in San Diego. Of course, within a week or two there were 27 inch models for less money. But I guess I can’t chase technology around forever.

I really like this monitor. Now I can see more stuff in my DAWs with less eyestrain.

update 2011/10/22
The good news is that I have a full time job = income again. The bad news for finishing songs is that it’s a full time job. I am not looking the gift horse in the mouth. For one thing I finally was able to afford upsizing my monitor again. As I get older I need larger and larger screens!

I’m in too-many-choice-hell again with Ableton Live. I have been working on a piece for about a year, it has 50 killer riffs and leads in it, and I just can’t seem to prevent myself from adding new or better ones. At least I’ve got it mostly arranged. But I think the years of 1 album per year are not to happen now unless I win the lottery or retire…

update 2011/10/22
Since finishing Pangur Ban I revisited some older tunes. And I’m wrapped around the axle on those as well, partly because I am obsessed with not throwing anything out. I got the bright idea of not working on anything for a week or so, hopefully when I get back to work I will hear pieces with new ears.

The other thing that I do that’s a huge time waster is spending a hour on a snare drum sound, or half a day of a 2 bar rhythm groove. I think it’s pretty obvious at this juncture I would not really be capable of writing anything to deadline…

update 2011/09/12
No one ever accused me of updating this blog too often. Since March 2011 I have actually had a full time job. Really more than that as I am averaging 10 hour days. Not so easy for someone of my advanced years. But it’s nice being able to pay my bills without draining my meager savings. At last I have finished my piece called “Pangur Ban”. For more info and a link to a player for it, see this page. And here’s the background on what Pangur Ban is from Wikipedia..

I’m content enough with it. I gave it its own page since I think it has some interesting production aspects. Briefly, it started with a sample from the OLPC that I thought was interesting. When I slowed it down like 75% it revealed an interesting melody — sort of reminiscent of something you’d hear out of the Buddha Machine. So I arranged, orchestrated, looped and generally mangled it into the new piece. I’ll try to get it loaded on SoundCloud soon with a link to it here. update 2010 11 30Yeah, even though I have time I have urped out nothing new in too long a time. Well, I’m trying to finish this piece:

46-channel Ableton Live set

Well, that and buying some new toys for my studio… update 25 Dec 2010 OK, I finally finished “Haborthelem” (what does that mean? I have no idea but I probably should.)

update 11 jan 2011 The good news is I have more time to work on music. The bad news is that I don’t have any more income for the time being…

update 17 feb 2011 Yesterday I attended a lecture on Pd. This is the Open Source software reminiscent on Opcode’s venerable Max audio programming system. It’s sure come a long way since I last looked at it five years ago or so. At that time it was only partly ready for prime time, but the current version appears much more stable and functional. I’m going to update my comments about it on the “Free or cheap music software” page.

Long overdue review of 19 A.D.D. “Dead River”

19 A.D.D. “Dead River” cover

19add review (odt format)

19 A.D.D. “Dead River” (2010, 36 Records)

Is your favorite music the likes of, for instance, Lady Gaga, The White Stripes, MGMT, or Arcade Fire? Then stop reading now since you are definitely in the wrong place. However, if bands like King Crimson, Tool and Mahavishnu Orchestra get you excited, then you are in for a huge treat.

19 A.D.D. is a trio from Colorado mainly playing electric guitar, bass and drums. With that seemingly conventional instrumentation they have hammered out a monstrous, fire breathing set, one of the very best I’ve heard from a long time.

To try to get a point of reference, I suppose you could characterize it as “instrumental progressive/experimental jazz/metal.” Besides the bands named above, in my opinion it contains elements of Dysrhythmia, Liquid Tension Experiment, Black Light Syndrome and Attention Deficit, but is not by any means imitative or derivative of them. The songs are primarily complex, joyously loud and brutal, and leavened with odd little sound sculptures and breaks just to add interest and variety to the mix.

The 45 minute release consists of 15 tracks. 6 of them are short sound collage or experimental pieces (one sounds like a 50s Ken Nordine riff) , mixed in with 9 somewhat more conventional pieces. Conventional is probably not the operative word, as the band manages to throw in countless tempo, key and time signature changes into their tunes, still managing to keep the flow and power moving.

Musically I give them a 9 out of 10—I feel like they’re still going to get better.

If I had to carp about anything, I guess it would be the hypercompressed mastering. For their style of high power music, I know it’s common and does make sense, but I can’t help but wonder what their material would have sounded like with the limiters backed off a tad. The CD release not surprisingly sounds better than the MP3 versions, but both have plenty of beef. Obviously…you must have this. On top of that, the CD artwork is beautiful. Don’t just rip or get the MP3 of this, actually go out and buy the CD.

(As of late 2011 their second record GAIA has been completed. More about the band etc is at www.19add.com)

Track list

1 0:57 Siddhapur

2 3:46 Diadem

3 3:45 Spoim

4 0:40 Patan

5 3:48 First World Paine

6 4:33 Sailing Blinde

7 8:37 Slomosexual

8 0:56 Umari

9 3:45 Tendre Crotch Play

10 1:08 Danta

11 3:24 Carnivalium

12 0:53 Jamhuri

13 1:21 Khapan

15 2:52 Bikarni

You should get this and Gaia! Highly recommended.

Updated 4 Jan 2014