So, Spring is certainly in the air here, certainly at the time of writing, with sunlight happily beaming its light into the studio.
I’m playing my first full live concert online this month as a debut on Bandcamp Live. I realise that I’ve not actually performed in front of a live audience since 2019, the longest break in my entire 29+ year career. And my last full live performance was in March 2020 online.
So, I’m going to present a multi-camera production, performed entirely live on 14th March. The show itself will remain online for 24 hours afterwards so that means you can watch it back again if you wish. AND if you live in a timeline which isn’t suited to the live broadcast, then you can still watch the performance, which won’t be available anywhere else otherwise. Buy your ticket here.
So, in preparation, I’ve spent an inordinate number of hours researching cameras, lights and much more in the last weeks, brushing up tech knowledge and most certainly learning a lot!
March also sees the release of a rare release under my own name. Staging Silence is a double LP and digital album of soundtracks for the extraordinary films of Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck. I’ve been friends with Hans for many years and have scored two out of the three of his Staging Silence series of films.
In each of them two pairs of anonymous hands construct and deconstruct fictional interiors and landscapes from everyday household objects, taking us on a visual journey through depopulated, enigmatic, often melancholic, but nonetheless playful, small-scaled places. The works are witty, dark and playful and I composed soundtracks to the images that humanise and reflect the character and dreamy nature of the films. This LP set will be available in all good record shops, online, and limited vinyl at my own Bandcamp site. Buy Staging Silence here.
My Trawl album came out last month, and the CD sold out very quickly. Digital is available directly from me, and CD copies are still available from the label at the moment, as there were only 300 copies pressed so don’t delay otherwise. To offer a little more context about the release I wrote a blog post here offering more stories and details, including the origin of the name. Read it here.
I also created a special mixtape to share some of the music I was listening to back in 1996 that informed the making of my Trawl album. Tune in to Mixcloud to listen to Coil, God, Nurse with Wound, Basic Channel, Scorn, Meat Beat Manifesto, Brian Eno, Portishead, Unkle, The Orb and plenty more!
Brexit continues to wreak havoc on the arts and elsewhere, and this last month has indeed been a very strange one for me with regards to that. I was invited to perform in Spain at the end of 2021, when the world might potentially be opening up again. But, sadly as a British citizen, it’s not as simple anymore. For me to perform a single show there will cost an additional £800 for visas, carnet for equipment and so on. And if I were invited to play a series of dates this would be multiplied in costs and administration for every single EU country. It’s truly a nightmare.
So, I wrote a blog post about this and suddenly it went viral. Over 2500 views a day, with countless responses, Tweets, messages, phonecalls, and so on. It was absurd. The post was even brought up in Parliament the following day, and my thoughts were included beside those of Radiohead and Elton John on the BBC news. Remember that the UK fishing industry is annually worth £0.9 billion (with £220m of that from EU subsidies), whilst the UK music industry alone is annually worth £5.2 billion. However, sadly pre-Brexit all the news ever reported were negotiations regarding the fishing industry.
According to the official government website, the UK’s Creative Industries contributes almost £13 million to the UK economy every hour. New government figures show the country’s successful creative industries contributed £111.7 billion to the UK in 2018, equivalent to £306 million every day. So, let’s remain positive that post Covid that we’ll all return to some sense of normality. Read the full post here.
When Henry Miller wrote that ‘whatever there be of progress in life comes not through adaptation but through daring’ he could have been thinking about the often-audacious explorations in composition in the last century. For anyone who has studied music, or even just glanced at a musical score, a graphic score offers a very different world indeed. So, I decided to write a little feature about my introduction to graphic scores, and how my chance encounter on a London Tube led to the discovery of the work of German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen when I was a teenager. Read all about it here.
And whilst I’m writing about my website, you will notice it’s been completely redesigned, configured and polished up to make reading it a more joyful experience. Many thanks to the talents of Dr Eric Scott of Day for Night in California for all his help to make it more readable and accessible to everyone.
Free music is always appealing I know, so point your browser towards Room Variations, the result of a sound art project with contributions by sound designers / artists / engineers worldwide, myself including It is inspired by Alvin Lucier’s legendary work I Am Sitting In A Room, and was created during the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns.
What you hear are the resonance sounds of studios and rooms all over the globe as the same piece is played back into them. As the curator of the project writes: “Where Alvin Lucier was exploring the acoustic properties of his singular space or even mainly ‘smoothing out’ his speech as he says, this work is about creating a sum of all our solitary spaces, whatever the outcome might be. The interest in these spaces comes from twenty years of working in theatre, where being part of a live audience is just as much a part of the experience as what is happening on stage. While we can substitute, but never replace, the happenings on stage with an audiovisual stream, a substitute for being part of an audience is less obvious.”
Lockdown has at least continued to offer me time in the studio to have fun. The arrival of Beads, a new Eurorack module from esteemed French company Mutable Instruments, encouraged me to make an entire series of short films. I played the guitar, I played percussion, I let the electronics take control and I stepped back in time with a tribute to the musique concrete style of composition. There’s even a beautiful essay on Disquiet in response to this last film.
I hope to see some of you on 14 March. I’ll remain in the chatroom for an hour afterwards to talk to you all as well. Buy your ticket here. I’d love to see some of you there!
Wishing you a great month ahead.
::: listen :::
Langham Research Centre: Tape Works Vol.2 (Nonclassical)
Stereolab: Electrically Possessed [Switched On Vol. 4] (Duophonic)
Ulrich Krieger: Wall of Sound (Sub Rosa)
Stephen Vitiello: Soundtracks for Lynne Sachs Vol. 2 (Room40)
::: read :::
Beyond the Wall. Art and Artifacts from the GDR (Taschen)
Brian Dillon: Suppose a Sentence (Fitzcarraldo)
Cabaret Voltaire: Interviews
Deborah Eisenberg: Collected Stories (Picador)
::: watch :::
Inferno: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Redoubtable: Michel Hazanavicius
The Silence: Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Under the Tree: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson