September is upon us and this year is rapidly slipping by. I’m not sure how it is for you, but it’s been increasingly challenging to measure time, the days of the week for example. Ordinarily I’d be sharing stories of live performances, travels, all kinds of adventures, but of course, life for many of us continues to be very different indeed.
August was certainly a month of challenges. A quick glance at this video on the BBC website will clearly demonstrate why one day stood out more than others. Now, imagine this rain water flooding into your house, creating a temporary swimming pool in your basement. Yes, that was Scanner World HQ last month. Thankfully nothing of value was lost, but even as I type the rains continue to pour down, and I’ve swiftly become a new kind of superhero, Mr Silicone Gun, who hurries around the building repairing any leaks!
I was delighted to take part in Modular Meets in August, which would ordinarily take place in Leeds where up to 500 people would gather, listen to music, socialise and talk about music and modular synths. Unfortunately, due to COVID19 restrictions, the entire event had to move online, but in a good way, since you can now watch back the seven-hour (yes, really that long) stream, and pick and choose as you wish. If you are impatient you can scroll directly here and listen to my live set in full.
This was completely improvised using the tools at hand. As often is the way for my live shows, I had absolutely no idea where to imagine this would go next. So even the ‘accidental techno’ it develops into was completely unexpected, as I set the wrong clock speed, so everything was significantly faster than I might have really anticipated! Fast forward to the end if you want to listen to the conversation when I joined the hosts to talk about how I make music live and more.
To be honest, I wasn’t happy with the first set on listening back, so then decided to immediately record a new one. The only aspect I knew I wanted to try and repeat was the opening and then to improvise the rest. As such, it’s interesting to compare the two alternative directions these live sets take. And, of course, remaining true to my commitment, I shared the first one as it felt authentic and representative of that moment in time. I hope you will enjoy this one too. Watch it in full here.
I also launched my first ever Podcast which I’m absolutely thrilled about. I tell the story of how a fascination with tape recorders, and the work of composers John Cage and David Tudor, led to a studio filled with exotically named instruments and creating music without a screen today. I illustrate this with many archival recordings, such as my introducing Spiderman off TV when I was 10 years old, and watching football with my brother in about 1975. Thanks to Sound On Sound for this opportunity too. Listen here. In fact, it’s proven such a success that I’m now considering continuing this in a new podcast series, exploring my own ideas and works, as well as interviewing other artists and offering stories to inspire. Stay tuned for this very soon.
And how about a brand new FREE album for you to have? Point your browser here and download Warp & Weft. In these current strange times, I realised that creativity can be a great distraction to offer personal solace. In light of this I recently saw that my musical friend, Jogging House, from Germany, had released a free collection of sample sounds, which he encouraged people to “explore the pieces and make them your own.” And, so I did just that.
What you hear here are sounds from this pack played through various machines, performed and recorded entirely live, with no sequencing, no editing, and no plugins. I hope you enjoy this little look into the window of my studio for a moment, and why not download the original samples from Jogging House here for your own creative fun!
An Ascent continues to be received exceptionally well. Indeed, if you were intending on picking up the CD directly from the label DiN there are less than 40 copies left now. I find it interesting to recognise how many people seem to think my new album title is connected to Brian Eno’s beautiful An Ending (Ascent) track, but actually it’s a reference to Larisa Shepitko’s extraordinary film The Ascent (1977), which if you ever have the chance to see, is an unforgettably bleak but powerful work of art.
To support the album, my good friend Anna Katharina Scheidegger created a very unique video for one of the tracks. Anna is a Swiss artist who creates powerful photographic projects marked by conceptual focus, technical precision, and an undeniable sense of humanity. For Daylit Daylight she worked with her photographs and mapped the image to the sound, as it builds layer by layer. Both the music and photographs are analogue, and for this film Anna has kept the photographic grain, moving from analogue to digital within the image, introducing colour and graphic patterns as the piece develops.
And if you’ve still not seen the video created by Ursula Berlot for An Ascent, it’s a warm and sensual exploration in a very different vision too. Watch it here.
Bandcamp Friday was a massive success again last month, so thanks to everyone who shopped with me on that day. The next one takes place on Friday 4 September and once again on this one day all proceeds go to the artists, as Bandcamp waive their fees. You can find my Bandcamp Page here. Once again, I shall be selling the last physical copies of a few more releases. Last month these all sold out in less than an hour, so this time I’m going to spread out the releases over the day, so people in the USA and elsewhere also have an opportunity to buy things that sell out immediately.
And in more exciting news I’m currently scheduling a series of very special releases. There will be a limited-edition vinyl picture disc of my studio album for Touched Music, The Signal of a Signal of a Signal. This originally sold out on CD within 10 minutes so it’ll be good to have it available a little longer!
And then there will also be a vinyl edition of my most recent album, An Ascent, due to popular demand. This will feature three tracks taken from the release, plus unreleased material recorded at the same time. Stay tuned for this. I’m also looking at a special run of tapes that will feature exclusive albums, also available digitally if you don’t own a tape deck, don’t worry! I’m not that mean! Next year plans are in place to release 6 picture disc LPs, one every two months, that can be kept in a unique binder at the end. Each will be only be available directly from the Bandcamp store, so sign up and Follow me there if you want to ensure you don’t miss out too.
It’s never too late to join up to the Scanner Fan Club either. For just £5.00 a month you get an absolute massive load of back catalogue and every single new release as they come out included too. Last weekend fans got exclusive access to a wild jazz oriented release with Serbian pianist Bojan Z, and since March have shared 16 exclusive releases, unavailable elsewhere, PLUS about 20 other albums. I mean, if that’s not a bargain I don’t know what is!
Now, I might have spoken too soon, but I think I might have actually just finished importing and digitising the last of the archival materials of my work, from cassette, CDr, DAT, MiniDisc, VHS and external hard drives. It’s absurd to consider that there is at least a minimum of an hour of new music from every single month, every year, and to be honest most months are significantly more. Now, to begin listening in detail to what’s there and consider what to do with it! And that’s not counting over 600 videos of interviews, live concerts and more.
So, until next month
::: listen :::