I’m so very proud to be part of an amazing, inclusive, online community of electronic musicians who put together projects like this.
A few months ago Mark Durham from the Lines Community suggested we put together a compilation of “Longform Ambient”, tracks longer than your normal pop track, for release early this year. When he suggested it I immediately offered a track, as I’ve wanted to record one of my “Ambient//Modular” sessions at Swansea Uni for quite some time now.
This really caught people’s imaginations; usually such compilations end up with around a dozen or so tracks, but Mark has collated these 55 (!) tracks.
That’s 3.5GB… as MP3!
Start listening to this album on Monday morning and you’ll have to wait until your Tuesday mid-morning coffee-break to hear my 35-minute track. You might have just gotten to bed on Tuesday by the time the album finishes.
Sure, it’s long. And I guess that’s some kind of achievement, but more than that it’s consistent.
The album, or as much as I’ve been able to listen to so far, sounds like a community all drawing inspiration from each other, all swimming in the auditory output of each other’s music projects.
This is going to take me all week to get through listening, and I hope it provides a soundtrack of rest and reflection for me and others.
My track, just below, features four, quarter-inch tape loops from my upright piano, fed through the modular along with sounds from the modular itself and my Yamaha CS and Arturia Microbrute synths.
I’d love for you to have a listen.
Today something happened.
I took a photo and was excited to see how it turned out. This is that photo:
Okay, okay, it’s not a “Good Photo”. It’s not sharp. It’s not composed that well. And to MY horror, it wasn’t shot to film. But I had such a buzz when I pushed the shutter.
And it should be something that happens all the time, but these days, it’s less frequent than I’d like.
I was looking down at my phone, trying to find my way to Nottingham’s Cat Café, trying to work out which I the blue dot on the screen was pointing and I looked up. The overpass, the the people facing me, the lights, the person in a hurry not seeing the traffic… it all came together and almost by instinct I grabbed the small digital camera that was hanging around my wrist and - CLICK.
It was a great feeling.
Not the greatest photo, but a great feeling.
Here’s what I’m going to make sure I get these feelings more often:
Keep travelling. These days there aren’t many places in my home town that surprise me. I love my home town but I’ve lived here since 2002, and know it so well. The familiarity is great and makes for some great photos where I know the framing I want, I know the subject I want and I just have to wait for the moment. But rarely does this experience make me feel… anything.
Shoot on a great camera. Digital is great, and the images are arguably “better”, but I don’t LOVE the experience. But my Leica IIIa… Oh yes. I love holding it. I love the smell of it. I love the mechanisms. I love the cold metal. I love the sound of it. And that’s even before I see a photo!
Keep moving. Today, I was on foot. I could have caught the tram through Nottingham, but I walked, and shot pictures and felt emotions I rarely feel these days.
Anyhow here are some more photos, that excited me less, but may actually be better.
palindrome pal·in·drome | \ˈpa-lən-ˌdrōm \ : a word, verse, or sentence (such as "Able was I ere I saw Elba") or a number (such as 1881) that reads the same backward or forward
As more time passes, I’m less and less sure if effort, or hard work makes a difference at all to productivity. I mean we all know, deep down, that hard work doesn’t equate to higher earnings, otherwise nurses would be millionaires. But does greater effort lead to greater… anything really?
Here’s a track that came out a few days ago that I produced with Eleanor, in an afternoon. Sure, we could have done things a lot differently if we’d had longer, we could have spent longer on the mix and post production, but what this captures is something very special; raw creativity (mostly hers!), done and dusted.
We could have spent a month on this track, we could have used better gear, found a better space to record, but we didn’t. And not only did we express something in a creative and energised way, people seem to be enjoying it.
The same with my little side-project Carry The Martyr, which has been composed mainly on headphones on my laptop in lunch-breaks, on trains, and outside my kids evening swimming classes. Just add 10 parts inspiration to every 1 part effort. There’s now 5 tracks of the thing in just a few weeks, and sure I’m enjoying it so much that when I have a more significant body of work I’ll mix everything down paying a lot more attention to the process and master everything to make it flow a bit (a lot) better.
One of my favourite artists is Salventius, who creates amazing one line drawings in seconds. This kind of reminds me that he’s standing on a mountain of practice, experience and work to get to the place where he can create these beautiful images in a few seconds, but at the same time the product doesn’t match the speed or effort he puts in at all!
And, because I’m naturally pretty pessimist this eventually leads me to think of all the times I’ve sweat blood and tears over projects and they’ve turned out… okay. Today marks 5 years since Bex and my last single as Kinetic Monkey. The whole album took ages, took a lot of headwork, we promoted hard, and… yeah. it’s okay. It’s a decent job, but it’s not by a long stretch the kind of music I’d hope would come from 100% effort.
And I’m not knocking effort. If something’s worth doing it’s worth doing well. Passion and dedication are important to us as humans, but this myth of “hard work pays off” needs to die. Who is it that said “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good.”?