amazing what you can do with £0.00
Am playing a free all-day gig in London – Smile Acoustic @ RichMix, E1 – this Monday (25th). On 4pm-ish, I think. There’s loads of musicians involved – here’s the event page. Looks fun.
Also, been recording another full-length effort lately… Self-produced, micro-budget, with assists here and there from talented friends. It already sounds exciting, might even end up as the best thing I’ve done so far.
Anyway, come to the gig and hear some of the songs that’ll be on it.
It’s been a while, but then this time of year’s rarely very dramatic.
Lately, the focus is on improvising, found sounds and field recordings – for instance, a spoken word piece I just did with a sound artist named Jamie Sturrock.
He’d produced a very eerie soundscape called water ghosts, based on noises obtained by dangling a mic into an underground cavern in Scotland. I wrote a response after sitting in the dark with it, then recorded this with him. The results, when finished, may be released at some point – but that’s out of my hands, and part of a larger ongoing project. More news on this if/when I have it.
Anyway, it’s very exciting so far; Jamie’s website (with water ghosts toward the bottom of the page) can be found here.
2012 was bipolar – but I’d do it all again
Well, that was a… colourful year. And who could ask for more? Rather that than the alternative, which is a dreary thought. Death!
So what happened? (I’m still asking myself that, so this summary is as much for my benefit as anything else.)
1) Released 2nd album. Got more, and better, reviews than #1 – which was kind of the idea.
2) Did a brief and eventful tour after release – pretty much broke even: another first. Played a fair few other gigs, mostly solo, some with…
3) A band, which orbited around the songs for roughly 8-9 months and then exploded. With hindsight, it was never going to last, but during that time we played…
4) Live on BBC Introducing: The South (and the single got a little air-time too). This was exciting.
…Besides these bare bullet-points, I’ve just kept on doing it, “it” being more songs. Met some potential collaborators in the last couple of months, had a few tantalising overtures; again, I’m not going into detail yet for fear of The Jinx; in this game, so many promising set-ups tend to evaporate without warning.
But it’s promising just the same. And it’s been a blast – on a gross venal level, the trickle of royalties makes filling in an income tax Self Assessment form such a thrill.
Joking aside, I’m still fuelling off the highs and regret none of the lows – hope you (whoever you are) likewise. Happy New Year.
The 13th August update of Unpeeled has very positive things to say about Glow in the Dark – “once in a blue one, you come across something of genuine interest”, for a start – and I’ve taken the liberty of quoting the entire review on the Press page. Go to the site, though, it’s all good writing (and they clearly have excellent taste, eh? Eh?!?).
Wish me luck – or a gloriously messy death. x
GLOW IN THE DARK – album #2 – is now available from Bandcamp, Amazon, Spotify & iTunes. And the rest. My advice is get it from Bandcamp, where it comes with extras.
It’s been reviewed by Whiteboard Project, here. (Scroll down, it’s the second or third item.) It “will infuriate some and delight others […] Highly recommended”. Amen to that.
On top of this, I’m part of a brief tour from 15th – 19th August.
Two more reviews for Glow in the Dark, first from Stu Huggett in Brighton Source magazine:
…And second from Ringmaster Reviews, here. An ambivalent one, this – “at times not easy to get a handle on”, but “to ignore it would be a mistake”… and “a sinister caress with less than healthy intentions which leaves one rattled but needing to feel its shadows again”(!). Still, it’s in-depth, which is aces with me. And uncertainty isn’t a bad thing… I’ve evoked some colourful images in the writer’s head: my work is done.
Okay, the live session on BBC Introducing: South is going out this Sunday, from 7 – 9 pm. We’re playing 4 songs and doing an interview. EDIT: 1st song goes out at 7:05.
Link to their webpage here. Info:
BBC Introducing: The South, 7-9pm Sunday evenings
BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey & BBC Radio Solent
Listen in Brighton on 95.3 FM
Listen in Sussex & Surrey 104-104.8 FM
Listen in Solent & Hampshire on 96.1 FM
Listen in Dorset on 103.8 FM L
Text during the show on 81333 your normal rates apply, but you must start your text with the word ‘radio’
…I can promise the unpredictable, the colourful, the atom-smashing. Give us a listen, do!
Here’s a nice write-up for the upcoming album at indiebandsblog.com …
And here’s one at withguitars.com
Appreciated, as ever. Live, the gigs are gradually pencilling in, circling like inky tenebrous corner-of-the eye spectres, hazing toward actuality, an’ shit… Also, just been offered a BBC radio session quite soon, so more news on that swiftly.
Here’s a review of forthcoming single Hard Science on God Is In The TV’s site.
It’s a good one: “If these two avant-pop tracks are anything to go by then the album should be, at the least, intriguing.”
Read the article, listen to the tracks when they’re released at the end of this very month, and see if you agree. (In fact, Hard Science can be heard on the Bandcamp player at the top of this page. If you like, you can watch the video, too.)
praise Jeezuz and pass the ammo
The video to my next single, Hard Science (released on Light Crude 28 May) can be viewed above. It was a lot of fun, albeit very fragmented, to make – not the least difficult was finding a vicar’s collar that fit comfortably and didn’t slip out to the side like a hideously broken collarbone. Anyway, now I know how those evangelicals feel: drunk and throbbing with THE POWER OF THE LORD. (God help us all.)
A positive write-up for This Mucky Age from well-regarded individualist journo Indie Dad. It’s on the superb [sic] Magazine site here.
(Seem to recall he quite liked Episodes when it was first released in 2008, too – did I mention it’s just been re-issued by any chance…?)
A review’s always appreciated – even more so when it’s favourable. So far, I’ve been very lucky.
2008 debut EP re-released
Episodes is on sale again from tomorrow, via Bandcamp and – shortly afterwards – iTunes, Amazon & all that bunch.
Not only does it include Kafka Song and the hidden spoken-word track from the original CD, but also 3 extra tunes (one of them exclusive to Bandcamp). It’s been unavailable for a long time due to problems with the original distributors which I won’t go into here – suffice to say a repeat appearance is long overdue. Check it out.
This Mucky Age gets an interesting write-up from Peter Kemp’s music blog here:
It’s pretty shrewd; but then it’s a great review so I would say that, wouldn’t I? (He’s bang-on about the imaginary scenario of Degenerate Son, which seems to have puzzled some people.)
There’s one or two more reviews of the album to come – in fact I’ve already seen one of em and it’s another positive write-up; will link to it as and when posted, obviously.
Anyway, check out Peter’s blog – I’m in very good company.
rare, and getting rarer
The last few CD copies of This Mucky Age and both singles are now available through Bandcamp (click here).
Each sleeve is individually stamped and hits a nice balance between hand-made and mass-produced. Also, they’re not just pleasing objects – they come with free download versions. These include videos for the singles, and – for the album – a bonus track and alternative cover artwork.
There aren’t many left, so do check em out.
SOPA won’t wash – hur hur hur
By and large, as a musician I expect to get ripped off occasionally; it’s an age-old occupational hazard. This is why I’m not too bothered about torrent sites or other internet-based free music distributors beyond my control. While I might find the principle behind them bogus and annoying, it’s just about possible to accept in return for the (theoretical) publicity it can generate. And let’s face it, other options are limited.
Just before This Mucky Age was released, a ton of pirate downloads appeared on the net; one of the promo copies was ripped by a journalist and spread like a rash. The only objection I could think of was that it messed up search results for this site; otherwise it was vaguely flattering, in a creepy sort of way… but begs the question, Why?!? Somebody even went to the trouble of photographing the packaging. It’s a decent pic, too; so ironically enough, I’m going to steal it.
While checking this out, I found bands begging to be pirated (the arse-kissing clowns) – either from wanting the extra exposure that these sites supposedly offer, or perhaps to be seen as inside the great big wonderful inclusive internet tent, instead of having a surly wank out in the rain. And to an extent, there’s something in the righteous notions the… bootleggers? Musketeers? Cyber-scamps?… bandy about, of Opening Up Music’s Furthest Horizons Without Hindrance or Limit For Everybody, of sticking it to The Man, etc etc etc (when they bother to make excuses – usually making a bid for the moral high ground).
Still, it would’ve been nice to be asked. At one point there were 80-odd leaked versions out there; not many in the scheme of things, but enough to say Okay, now you’re just taking the piss. It can be remedied with a little effort, though: get a DMCA takedown notice issued, and the dark grapes of villainy wither on the vine. Eventually.
This is why the US House of Representatives’ proposed Stop Online Piracy Act & Protect Intellectual Property Act are disproportionate and inappropriate. The main argument against is that these pieces of legislation are so vague and potentially all-inclusive that they could hobble the internet in the name of copyright protection – a concept that, as the proposals stand, can be extended to mean censorship (by blocking) of pretty much anything. All this in the hands of a closed group of private interests. But so what?
…After all, it sometimes feels like the www could do with a good witch-hunt purge; times when it seems to consist almost entirely of 2nd-hand crud – endlessly-circulated photos of dogs in fancy dress, people who can’t spell screeding out massive reviews of long-forgotten 80’s horror films, regurg’d gossip and contention, whatever. Arguably it also devalues musical product – artistically, not just commercially – by reducing it to a bunch of files. Burn the internet!
Yeah (that’s quite enough devil’s advocacy thanks), then what? What’s left, other than scorched earth and Adele? A slippery slope indeed.
“Ghostly shit skittering”? What the hell’s that supposed to mean? Well, it was in my production notes, must’ve made sense at the time…
Anyway, last night’s recording session involved miking up a rattling bowl of pebbles, working like a lunatic to get the guitars slightly out of tune in just the right kind of way, and stuff like trying to capture a bass with a “hydraulic whoosh“, “ghostly shit skittering” and “mouldy ice block synths“. Oh, and that particularly tinny, lumpen kind of British bass guitar sound from 70’s glam rock – but that’s only on one track, don’t worry.
So, work on album #2’s still going very well – it’s got a tracklist, a title and cover art too, but it’s a little early to go into all that (it’s not appearing till next July, after all).
funny how things can take the most unexpected tangent
At one point, I had a feeling This Mucky Age was going to turn into some smirking 80’s rip-off. You know the kind of thing, no doubt; a winkingly crap pastiche artefact, a Weimar signifier, plastic ties and charity shop sunglasses in a Hoxton shebeen and snorting vegan whizz off a spunk-streaked 7″ of Hot Gossip’s (I Lost My Heart To A) Starship Trooper… which technically was late 70’s, but like the vast avid Toad of Depression, all bad things announce themselves by squatting on the horizon with a premonitory chill… Like that, then.
It was mainly that the guitar on one track made me think of 1980’s roller discos, Van Allen Belt-stripping hairspray and its uglifying effect on women’s features through the medium of ungainly, paralysed hair, and Fright Night. You’ll have to listen to the album if you want to figure out which one. Just something in the sound, just a suggestion, faint as icy winter memories in a distanced and dyspeptic summer. (I was tempted to do this in a William S Burroughs kinda style, but thought better of it; train whistles down a dusty St Louis avenue… twinge of nostalgia in the junk-sick morning as he probes for a vein… sepia photo nostalgia descends as he shoots smack into his balls. Nahh.)
So yeah, the 2nd album was all set to be quiet and introspective and statement-tastic and shit, the kind of thing that says, Remember Dylan? Leonard Cohen, even? No, of course you don’t, you attention-deficit chimps. (And actually, you’re not missing much.) Well I’m the new guy. Listen to my Serious Serenades in your Bedsit of Romantic Dejection, and weep!
…Thankfully, I got off that trip; think I might’ve had a mild head injury or something. Anyway, it was a quiet album; then I got this weird idea that one of the guitar riffs should sound like an angry, black-haired woman with imperiously flashing eyes, saying “make love to me, you fool,” in a driven whisper; and then it all went a bit retro. The riff in question won’t make the cut because it doesn’t quite work – from my unremittingly male viewpoint, it’s more like a quite plain girl who occasionally looks beautiful at odd moments, peevishly telling you your breath smells of meat and death – but I think it points the way. Already, one reflective folky number’s turned into a hellstorm of cloddish beats, camp electro noise and squealingly macho guitar. It’s Tim Curry’s worst amyl nitrate flashback nightmare.
This, by the way, is an entirely good thing. I love music, and its endless surprises.
Nothing like positive coverage to make an egomaniac’s day worthwhile
There’s a good write-up for the album in this month’s BN1 Magazine. It’s not online yet, but can be found in print around Brighton. I’m a pirate and a rascal, apparently – also a devil may care rebel. Naturally, this is very gratifying. Favourable comments on the music, too.
A few more reviews (that I’m aware of) should appear soon, but this’ll do nicely for now.
[EDIT – the review can now be read on the Press page. All copyright BN1 Magazine, all effrontery mine.]
This Mucky Age is now on sale, and is available all over the internet (Amazon, iTunes etc), or from Bandcamp.
The Bandcamp version features lyrics, 4 different versions of the cover art, and a bonus hidden track.
Well. This coming Monday the album’s on sale – Bandcamp, Amazon, you name it. CD copies can be had at gigs.
Been working toward this for so long, it’s kind of hard to take in; I’m very happy with the album, but it’s the creation of an earlier self enduring some difficult times (and mining them for music). In fact, I’ve already made significant progress on the follow-up.
Still, it’s quite a piece of work. Judge for yourself, as of Monday 25th July.
Good to hear it on the airwaves, too: in the run-up to release, did an interview yesterday on Radio Reverb here in Brighton with Jeff Hemmings. It went smoothly well, had a couple of tracks played, talked nonsense, did my best not to laugh like a loon. (It was fun, I was buzzed with adrenaline and due-ness of album – what the hell.)
So what’s next? Gigs. As many as I can get. O yes.