Let’s try and begin positively this year. In very practical and rational ways 2021 is only a number, following another number. It only marks the measure of time. However, psychologically for so many of us, it’s also offers a kind of big red restart button.
2020 was especially cruel and challenging here. It began with the suicide of a close friend, which was a brutal and startling beginning, but was closely followed by the pandemic, and the cancellation of every live show, every commission, installation and collaboration, and with that my entire income, and no support from anywhere else. Add to that getting flooded at home with 1000 litres of rain water, going into hospital in the midst of everything else to have tumorous material removed from my head, and just this last weekend getting flooded again in the studio. It’s as if the Gods in control are really rather bored up there.
I’ve made the best of the last 12 months though, and produced a phenomenal amount of work, and rather scraped a living together through every possible means. I’ve not resorted to a sex tape yet, you will be quite relieved to learn though.
So briefly back to 2020. There was my solo album An Ascent on DiN, The Signal of a Signal of a Signal on vinyl picture disc, a free ambient album, a collaboration with Paine Cuadrelli using only sound design, a song EP with Michel Banabila, a tribute of songs to my mum, an LP with French industrialists GN, and countless deluxe digital editions of my early catalogue from Scanner 1 (1992), Scanner 2 (1993) through to Spore (1995), Sulphur (1995), and Delivery (1997). And that’s not including the Fan Club that I set up at Bandcamp, that offers supporters every single new release, plus exclusive recordings, unavailable elsewhere. At the time of writing that means 20 releases otherwise never heard. And especially thanks to those of you who have joined up and offered your support! Please sign up here!
I gave away a special festive album in December so pick up a copy. It features everything from a cover of a Wham! classic festive tune to variations on traditional festive carols. It’s yours to keep here.
I was delighted to be a guest on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb in December. I joined some truly inspirational guests, including Baroness Floella Benjamin, poetry legend John Cooper Clarke, the poet Caroline Bergvall and the lexicographer Susie Dent exploring the vocabulary of light. I read excerpts from my diary aged 12 years old, and presented a new work based around the poet Edwin Morgan’s ‘The Computer’s First Christmas Card.’ Download the full Podcast of the show here and enjoy the extra alternative mix included at the end, which wasn’t broadcast in the original show.
I was sad to read of the death of legendary pianist Harold Budd (1936-2020) last month. Budd was an American avant-garde composer and poet, best known for his minimalist works and collaborations with Brian Eno and Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie. His restrained and often majestic piano music has accompanied me through the years. If you aren’t familiar with his work then listen to his truly sublime Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror (1980), and The Pearl (1984), nebulous drifting works that move between sleep and waking.
In 2018, I was invited to perform with him in London for a show, but unfortunately it never came to be. Instead I recorded this little tribute for him, which feels ever more resonant today in the wake of his death. Farewell Harold! Listen to this ambient bliss here.
At the end of 2020 I remixed Hexane/3’s Atonement which was originally released in 2010, and topped the Beatport charts and other places with its positive energy and warm techno energy. I loved the track and offered to rework it for the guys for its 10th anniversary. I created two mixes, one nodding towards Kraftwerk in an electro fashion and this much more emotive and reduced mix, where I took the essence of the song and stripped it bare. I hope you will enjoy its simple raw emotion. I made this promotional video for the ambient mix. You can hear the remaining mixes online at Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and Beatport.
And a little ambient playtime in the studio, pre-flooding, can be experienced here, when I explored the possibilities within this tiny handheld instrument, the Ellitone E Synthesiser.
There is no Bandcamp Friday in January but it returns in early February, so stay tuned for special editions and deals then. Last month I added my live album, PublicPhono (2000) recorded on the sea front in Rimini Italy, a meditative ambient album with the enigmatic 48 Cameras (2013), and Stopstarting (1999), the results of a residency in Liverpool.
I also had fun making some stop animation films at Christmas. Here’s one very light and playful example for you to enjoy. Watch it here.
So, here we are in 2021. I’m thrilled to release my Trawl recordings on a beautiful limited edition of 300 copies in a 4-panel soft touch laminated digipak, out on the Russian label Aquarellist. It was originally released in 1996 on the Chreode label, run by John Everall of Sentrax/Tactile. John and I were great friends for many years and his energy and good nature ensured that releases like this came together through a desire to share good things with the world. This release features four unreleased mixes (30+ mins of music), plus additional remixes from Mick Harris (Scorn/Napalm Death) and Bill Laswell (Material/legendary music producer). Copies of this will be on sale at my Bandcamp site at this link when it goes live. At the time of writing I’m still awaiting copies in the post, so check back in soon!
And what’s to follow in 2021? So far, I have confirmed a double LP of film scores to be released, an LP collaboration with an extraordinary Polish composer, an album with the legendary Australian singer songwriter Dave Graney, and a tape edition of some of my earliest recordings from the 1980s. And, let’s hope, a few live shows in front of real people in real spaces. Now wouldn’t that be something!
Have a great start to this new year.
::: listen :::
Gentle Fire: Explorations (1970 – 1973) (Paradigm)
Leila: Like Weather (Modern Love)
Anthony Moore: Out (Drag City)
King Crimson: The Complete 1969 Sessions (Panegyric)
::: read :::
Alexandra Johnson: A Brief History of Diaries (Hesperus Press)
V Vale: Burroughs and Friends Lost Interviews (Re/Search)
Not Without My Ghosts (Hayward Gallery)
Brian Dillon: Essayism (Fitzcarraldo)
::: watch :::
Music, Money, Madness: Jimi Hendrix In Maui: John McDermott
Pottersville: Seth Henrikson
Cold Meridian: Peter Strickland
One Way to Denmark: Adrian Shergold