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Never Toss a Johnny

I've completed track 2 of my mathis album, Never Toss a Johnny. At this rate, the album should be finished in 5 years' time.

You can listen to it on here:

Mind your ears, though - it's a bit peaky. I used this oscillator thing towards the end, and while a nice effect, it does veer towards damaging your ears at times. And there's some loud clanging in the middle which might wake a baby or dozing pet.

(For background, this track uses only samples of music by Johnny Mathis, plus lots of effects. You might hear a fragment of Fly Me to the Moon if you're lucky.)

If you want a download, I've put some higher-quality mp3s onto S3 (including some of my other tracks), as follows:

  1. Never Toss a Johnny by mathis
  2. Neighbour Forgotten Like a Silent Ray by mathis
  3. Close To You (Unfinished) by Spill Twins - a cover of the Carpenter's song, written from memory, i.e. I didn't look at the sheet music while writing it; I also didn't finish it
  4. Nipple Soup by Spill Twins
  5. SplashFlap by Spill Twins
  6. Bread Sounds (Batch and Tin) by Spill Twins
  7. Breeding in Your Sponge by Spill Twins
  8. Ant Mansion by Spill Twins

mathis - now on

I'm going to put the mathis album up on as I complete the tracks. All will be downloadable for free from here:

mathis - track one - neighbour forgotten like a silent ray

I've completed the first track from my mathis project; the track is entitled neighbour forgotten like a silent ray. I may still do some more remixing (it sounds a bit muddy in places), but I'm generally pleased with the result.

Download it here

For this track, the sound sources were squashed versions of every track on my Johnny Mathis album. Basically, I compressed each of the 18 tracks down to half a second (without changing its pitch), and reversed it. I then used these samples, along with a variety of effects, to put together the piece.

I'm releasing these pieces under an Attribution-Share Alike CreativeCommons licence (same as the rest of the content on this site).

mathis - first listen through

I've had my first listen through Johnny Mathis - The Collection (that link includes previews of the songs on the album). First thoughts:

  1. It's an odd collection dating largely from the 1950s, moving from light exotica, through to jazz standards, some very peculiar time signatures, and some horrendously overblown crooning from JM. He really uses his voice like a blunt instrument. None of the songs you might know as his "classics" (like this or this).
  2. It has a downright bizarre, mournful, slow tempo version of Fly Me To The Moon. I'd always considered that quite an upbeat song, but JM proves otherwise.
  3. There's a Cuban song called Babalu covered. This is interesting, as I've got an obscure Warp single by a band called DSR, with a track called Babaloo. I'm pretty sure the samples in DSR's track are from a version of Babalu (though not JM's).
  4. There's a version of Caravan, which I have two or three other versions of. However, this is the only version where I've actually heard it with lyrics.
  5. I'd forgotten that he has a slight speech impediment (can't pronounce R). Unfortunately, and I don't like myself for saying this, I find this defuses the emotion of some of the songs.
  6. I have to admit I actually quite liked listening to it. The aforementioned Fly Me To The Moon is a highlight for me; and there are plenty of nice beats, extended falsetto notes, string fragments etc. to make the mathis album interesting.

By the way, JM has a terribly old-fashioned website. Dig those slanting silver fonts (I think FrontPage and clipart are probably to blame).

mathis - the world's first concept album based on the life of Johnny Mathis

As you can see from my last blog entry, the song titles, by sheer fluke, form a rough approximation to the life of Johnny Mathis, as a corollary with the life of Jesus, as he sung about in When a Child is Born.

The story starts with JM's parents trying to conceive and throwing away their contraceptives. It continues with JM's quest to find his father, searching a range of locations not unlike those encountered by Michael Moorcock's Corum when facing the Chaos Lords (in the Sword Rulers series of novels): the Rosy High Seas, the Silent Tiny Winds. Then finally reaching solid ground, where tears form from the earth, nourishing yellow trees. And finally JM is reborn from the trees, flickering into existence before himself, perhaps even replacing the original JM who started the quest. Or maybe at that point the quest becomes cyclical, and JM is locked into a Sisyphean loop, seeking his origins, embarking on an epic quest, only to generate himself at the end of the quest, which then starts all over again.

Just thinking out loud. I think definitely an ambient wash for track one, that's for sure.

mathis - song titles revealed

Using this poem generator, and the words of When a Child is Born, Johnny Mathis' most famous hit (but not in fact included on the CD I'm going to be using as my sample source [see my previous blog entry for an explanation], which turns out to be a "collection" of standards recorded by JM [as I will be styling him from now on] in the 1950s, rather than his famous 70s hits), I've come up with these song titles for the mathis album:

  • neighbour forgotten like a silent ray
  • never toss a johnny
  • peace is a yellow land
  • rosy high seas
  • silent tiny winds
  • the solid ground whispers tears
  • yellow trees flicker a solid high child

If you have any objections or suggestions for the style of each song, please raise them in comments. If you are a talented artist, please provide artwork for the LP cover. If you are a rubbish artist, please do not. Thank you for your continued acquiescence.


I recently dug out some music software (unfortunately, the Windows-based Computer Muzys Studio, as I've yet to find a decent midi-sequencer for Linux which supports VST instruments) and started writing music (in the loosest sense) again. Mainly I've been remixing my old tracks and getting them to play (CM is OK, but terrible if you move your projects between machines); but I've also made one new piece, Splashflap. I'll post some of it up here eventually, no doubt.

Anyway, I was lacking focus and inspiration, but found myself fired up by Jono's music project. I decided, like Jono, that I needed a concept to work from. Browsing Woolworths today, I came up with one. I decided I would buy the cheapest CD I could find in the sale and write an entire album based on samples solely from that CD. (I did this a few years back with my brother, writing a sequence of tracks based on Elvis samples.)

The CD turned out to be a £1 Johnny Mathis Greatest Hits album. Hence the name of the project/album/band, mathis. Look forward to some new music soon, sourced entirely from Johnny Mathis samples, more than likely released under a Creative Commons licence. I bet you can hardly wait.

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