live at leedsI’m a looping guitarist living in Sheffield, England. I have been performing for 45 years in a variety of professional bands and latterly, as a solo artist / collaborator.

Repetition and Intuition are the key factors behind my music, which places dynamics & timbre high up the list. The guitar is an organic sound source that uses looping technology and treatment to build soundscapes. My pieces are born, evolve and die away.

Forthcoming gigs:
June 23rd 3 Cranes Robinson Archer Dinsdale – Das RAD
June 24th Bishops House Robinson Archer Dinsdale – Das RAD


Haze are Sheffield legends, forming in the late 70’s they have somehow managed to survive to the present day. I saw them last night & they were excellent. I’ve seen them at countless gigs over the years and their song-writing & musicality have always been so strong. They could have been contenders, but for the usual quirks of fate.

I first played with their bassist/keyboardist/bass-pedallist/bazouki-ist and singer Chris in 1988 as sessionj players for an an album called Love For All Seasons (available in all good charity shops) then supported their alter-egos World Turtle on several dates & played acoustic for them. I contributed guitar to various of Chris’ side-projects and we got on really well. In an extraordinary act of generosity, they asked me to contribute an entire track to the Wilderness of Eden CD. I put together some of my live looping and sure enough, it ended up on the album. Royalties have been sparse!

I last played with the McMahon brothers as World Turtle back in 1998 at the Boardwalk, along with Freddy Satsuma, another local leg end. I formed a wacky covers band with Chris and Freddie (called Satsuma, naturally) who blazed a trail of rock-fuelled ABBA covers around the district. We had the unique distinction of playing at the opening of the (doomed!) Sheffield Rock & Pop Museum – after our first set, they paid us off saying the crown wanted the disco instead! There’s some lost footage somewhere. We took a selfie at the gig last night 😉

Curiously enough, Paul’s son Daniel plays drums for Haze, but they’ve asked my son (Nick Jnr.) to fill in for an upcoming gig. Below is a photo of the recording sessions for Wilderness of Eden, with my son in orange. Who’d have thought?


DAS RAS debut gig

We really enjoyed our debut gig at Bishops’ House –  a small but incredibly responsive audience made the evening flow like a dream. Thanks to Jan T and Jan G for the photos. Video coming soon(ish)…

Controlling Ableton amp modelling

amp_chain2I’ve recently ditched my zoom floor pedal, which was creating the basic guitar tones I want. The generous gift of a new laptop from my children has given me enough CPU power to look at modelling withing Ableton. The internal amp plugin has a variety of basic amps, with the usual controls.

Figuring out a foot pedal method of simultaneously switching one preset on as another goes off another looked tricky. At first, I mapped the basic” amp type” choice to a slider, which allowed me to jump through the 7 amp types. To quote from the Live website

Clean is based on the “Brilliant” channel of a classic amp from the ’60s. This amp was widely used by guitarists of the British Invasion.
Boost is based on the “Tremolo” channel of the same amp, and is great for edgy rock riffs.
Blues is based on a ’70s-era guitar amp with a bright character. This classic amp is popular with country, rock and blues guitarists.
Rock is modeled after a classic 45 watt amp from the ’60s. Perhaps the best known rock amp of all time.
Lead is based on the “Modern” channel of a high-gain amp popular with metal guitarists.
Heavy is based on the “Vintage” channel of the same amp and is also ideal for metal and grunge sounds.
Bass is modeled after a rare PA from the ’70s which has become popular with bass players due to its strong low end and “fuzz” at high volumes.
Cabinet is a separate effect that provides a selection of classic guitar cabs with optimized mics.

But, I only wanted to use certain amps so I need to find another way around the selection issue. The solution I’m using is to create an audio effect rack with the required amps added. Next, you create chain controls, divide the selector bars equally (a right click option), then map the chain slider (circled in green) to a slider. Apparently, when working this way, only 1 amp is ever using CPU power at a time, so you can add as many as you want. Since each amp is in a different chain, you can add other FX as required, such as a touch of compression on the clean chain.


Each amp is then tweaked for tone, then I mapped the same fader to cover both volume and gain. I inverted the range (see below)  so that as the gain rises, the volume falls. In the map area, you can also quickly adjust min/max for each amp, since each amp model treats the relationship differently differently. Essentially, I want the tone to change as the gain increases, but not the volume.

You set the minimum volume to your basic guitar level, so you can’t fade the volume all the way out (I did this at a recent gig, it took me 5 mins to realise what I’d done and restore the sound!) Here’s the mapping for the chain controller and you repeat for each amp in the rack.


No doubt this will evolve, I’ll keep you up to speed…..

Lost Garden growing again ;)

Due to Andy’s commitments elsewhere, he has had to withdraw from the band, but his place has been filled by Jan Gilhooley (A Collection Of Notes) and they are working on new material.

Here’s a video of Nick & Jan along with Peter Challoner, jamming at Bishops’ House


archerthrioGot a couple of exciting events with DAS RAD – featuring myself along with

Martin Archer
Following an early career with 1980s jazz punk pell mellers Bass Tone Trap, followed by the fondly remembered and widely gigged Hornweb Sax Quartet, Martin disappeared into the recording studio for 15 years in 1994, from where he produced a series of highly acclaimed albums for his own Discus imprint. In recent years, as well as forging a several album creative partnership with veteran vocalist Julie Tippetts, Martin currently works with avant rock groups Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere and Combat Astronomy, 35 voice experimental music choir Juxtavoices,and most recently ten piece jazz group Engine Room Favourites, in which Martin revisits his AACM roots.

Steve Dinsdale
Steve Dinsdale plays keyboards and drums in the leading British electronic trio Radio Massacre International, who have released a plethora of albums over the last 20 years and played concerts in both Europe and America. He is also a member of Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere and Engine Room Favourites, and has several solo albums to his name.

June 23rd 3 Cranes Robinson Archer Dinsdale – Das RAD
June 24th Bishops House Robinson Archer Dinsdale – Das RAD

Novation forum closes

Unbelievably, Novation have closed their forum. They say:

“As the Novation community has developed over the years, it has naturally found the bulk of it’s voice on Social Media. To ensure we can be there to discuss and support you as best we can, we’ve decided to close the forum.”

WTF? Forums are by far the most useful source of information and easiest way to get help on specific products. Novation hardware is awesome and almost unrivalled. yet the lack of a forum is inexcusable and their approach to editor software is abysmal – no launchcontrol updates in over 3 years, as far as I can tell. There are so many ways it could be improved, here are a few I sent them…

As a guitarist, holding down two keys requires serious contortion. you could make the user/factory buttons latching until a template is selected, so you can change templates with one hand / two presses.

since most poeple will adapt user templates, why not have a “long press” (or press both pads) option to quickly select a template?

add more clip options as with the smaller LC so there is a template that allows left/right up/down movement and a pad to trigger the selected sample

allow the user to “swap” template with other function keys to their taste

allow factory templates to be copied into a user template so (for example) the pan control can be easily assigned to a user template
offer incremental bulk filling of selected controls in user mode, so (for example, a series of consecutive CC or midi note values could be quickly created
preset all pads with CC instead of note – I doubt most people will play tunes with it
that said, you could offer preset musical scales across the pads?
offer LED brightness (or flashing?) to indicate which template you are currently using – I use 4 templates and forget which is currently active
allow editing of factory templates with a “restore to default” option – otherwise factory templates 7-8 are of little use
allow colour select by clicking on the graphical LED for a drop down list
offer colour options for ALL pads
set default “save to” folder
allow naming of templates
bug – “It looks like you’re using Windows 8” appears every time, the “don’t show again” box doesn’t seem to function?