So, this is Christmas, as the song goes. Well, perhaps it does, but for so many of us it’s almost just another day. It’s been the strangest year. In the last 9 months, I have travelled just three times, and each time an identical journey to Guy’s Hospital in London and back home again. I would ordinarily have performed in and explored so many other places around the globe, and made so many new friends, but in other ways I’ve had time to think and create, and consider new ways forward too. Let’s all remain positive here.
I even managed to give a talk in Lund, Sweden last month, then run workshops with students at VCU in Virginia, all from the relative comfort of my desk seat. So, that was lovely to actually engage with other people again finally!
Newly available on my Bandcamp is a deluxe digital edition of Lauwarm Instrumentals (1999). This features an additional 40+ minutes of unreleased material, with demos and alternative takes and unheard music. Plus original photos of the artwork, never before seen. It includes Passage de Recherche used in countless TV shows and broadcasts, and the 14-minute drum and bass gem Lithia Water.
Then the original debut release on my Sulphur label from 2000, Diary. This album was released to accompany a UK tour and features music recorded at live appearances in Montreal, Brussels, Utrecht, New York and Paris at various times between 1996 and 2000. In addition, there are 3 unreleased tracks here, recorded live on the Diary tour. The music is a mix of ambient works and cut up rhythms and beats, largely improvised at the time.
Into the Blue was a special sound installation with 7000 latex balloons and audio at The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University Belfast, Ireland in October 2002. The soundtrack has never been released since, so now you can pick up a copy with the original score, plus an alternative choral mix of the soundtrack made at the time, but never heard outside of the studio.
Out on 4th December will be PublicPhono (2000). I was commissioned to create a live concert using the public speaker system on the sea front of Rimini, which was broadcast over 20 km of beach to anyone within reach of the sea. The event was curated by Roberto Paci Dalo. This album is the complete concert that was heard on 18 September 2000.
And no thanks to Covid for delaying the delivery of The Signal of a Signal of a Signal from the manufacturers. Thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered copies of this rather handsome picture disc, but the October delivery was delayed to November, and now seemingly to December. It’s completely beyond my control. I promise you the wait will be worth it. The limited edition is available for pre-order here.
Remember too, that if you join up as a Fan Club Supporter, you also get every new release included on digital download, and exclusive items. And to date that essentially means around 40+ albums!! Last month supporters received The Signal of a Signal, several back-catalogue items, and FBi Radio, a very special mix made for an independent radio station in Sydney Australia in 2011, featuring all unreleased material.
I managed to work on my website this last month too and added new features and articles. I wrote about how I discovered the father of electronic music, Edgard Varèse. And did you know that he also acted in Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (1921). And for a real test, can you spot the Sonic Youth record sleeve reference in there too? Read more on this here.
I also added an expansive feature on the British electronic group Coil, whose work touched on themes of alchemy, the occult and sexuality, and were founded in 1982 in London. It was initially envisioned as a solo project by musician and artist John Balance (née Geff Rushton 1962-2004), but evolved into a full-time project with the addition of his partner Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson (1955-2010), formerly of classic industrial music group Throbbing Gristle and later Psychic TV. Over the years they were joined by a host of other players and writers, including Stephen Thrower, Danny Hyde, Drew McDowall, William Breeze, Thighpaulsandra, and Ossian Brown. I first met them before through a very special cassette release I put together with Keiko Yoshida, called Peyrere (1986), and remained friends until their deaths.
Noise is all around us, though even with this current situation the world might seem quieter, it’s never absolutely silent of course. So, I wrote a piece exploring noise and how it’s inspired artists, myself included. A river of noise flows through our lives and I think it’s invaluable at times to simply sit on the virtual riverbank and marvel at the current, the tide of our lives. Read it in full here.
This rather lovely looking double CD set, Found Sound 2, came out last week on Touched Music. I contributed a different mix of a rather popular old tune of mine called Jat Scheelan, alongside music from Humanoid, Karsten Pflum, Michael Fakesch (with Boards of Canada), Seefeel, 808 State, Luke Vibert, Plaid and just so many more artists. All proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Support, so it’s a good cause to support too. Touched Music is the same label that I’m releasing my Signal of a Signal of a Signal LP with too.
And I have another track on a very limited vinyl edition alongside Spacetime Continuum, Ross 154, and Leo Anibaldi. It’s out on the esteemed De:tuned label and is the 7th in their 10 Years De:Tuned series. It’s a rather uplifting EP, connecting the past and the present, but don’t delay as it’s sold out in many places already. You can still order it from Norman Records, Red Eye, Intense and other online stores.
The arrival of a new musical toy in the studio always lends a new way of working and with it a sense of discovery. Last month this very unusual looking wooden box arrived that features a Benjolin, reverb and mixer. The Benjolin’s circuitry is based on Rob Hordijk’s well-known Blippoo Box, an unique instrument, a chaotic sound generator. For this piece, I simply improvised live against a loop playing back in the DAW, creating this open ended sketch.
I nicknamed the box The Vainio Machine because it reminded me of the kind of machine that the late Mika Vainio might really have loved to use, and the fellow who built it is called Vainio and lives in Finland.
On another rather grey and rainy Saturday morning recently I set up something fun and simple on my desktop. I used the Sensel Morph – a tablet-sized pressure sensor – with Madrona Labs Aalto software. The Morph offers such a playful and sensitive way of approaching performance, where every little twist and turn of your fingers can affect the sound, very much like a traditional instrument like the piano. So, this took all of 30 seconds to set up and play. Happy listening.
And let me close on a positive note. At a point of huge stress with the pandemic and election frenzy in the USA at the beginning of November, I sat down and recorded this little piano version of the beautiful Bill Withers tune ‘Lovely Day,’ which he originally released in 1977. Interestingly the original song features the second longest note in chart history when he holds a note for 18 seconds! The winner for anyone interested is actually Morten Harket of A-ha’s 20-second note in “Summer Moved On” (2000).
I’ve always loved this song, with its warmth and stately soulful character, and even on the gloomiest of days it offers a sense of positivity. Download it for free here. On a personal level, I always try and remain positive. For those of you who wrote last month regarding my health I want to thank you so much! I’m rapidly improving each and every day and on the fast route to recovery!
I wish you a safe entry into this new year, and let’s all hope for a better 2021!
::: listen :::
Akio Suzuki: Zeitstudie (Room40)
Brian Eno: Film Music 1976-2020 (UMC)
Gesellschaft Zur Emanzipation Des Samples: Anthology of American Pop Music (fait)
Terry Riley: Live in Paris 1975 (Dbqp)
::: read :::
Kim Bjorn: Patch & Tweak with Moog (Bjooks)
Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer (Barbican)
Graeme Thomson: Small Hours – The Long Night of John Martyn (Omnibus)
William S Burroughs: Dead Fingers Talk (Calder)
::: watch :::
The Anderson Tapes: Sidney Lumet
Godard & Gorin: Five Films 1968-1971
Sorcerer: William Friedkin
Devs: Alex Garland