Sunday, 16 May 2021

Standard Definition

Standard Definition is a collection of four new songs written and recorded in 2021. 

Two of the songs, Landscape Painting and Terminal Passage, are the first of what will become an occasional series of song videos made in response to material that I captured on miniDV digital video tape in the first decade of the twenty first century. 

The songs describe those videos and extrapolate new narratives from them. 

The miniDV digital video tape format became largely redundant following the development of domestic High Definition (HD) formats, its image resolution became know as Standard Definition to distinguish it from HD.

The original videos have now been reworked with new material appended and performed with the songs which become an integral structuring component. 

Landscape Painting revisits representations of the landscape of my early childhood, Terminal Passage is an imaginary tale of the fate of a ocean liner that sails from Amsterdam in the age of cryptocurrencies and the pandemic (with apologies to S.T. Coleridge).

Of the remaining two songs Click and Catch Switch echoes children’s language development and the Romanian Surrealist poet Ghérasim Luca, in whose writing nouns often become verbs. No Blood, No Soil consists of a series of reflections on statements around the politically vexed notion of connection to place.

Standard Definition videos: standard-definition.info

Thursday, 31 December 2020

HOMECONOMICS

HOMECONOMICS is a compilation of tracks from albums that I have released over the past six years. This is something of a selective survey, a sampler, of the work I’ve produced since starting to write and record songs in earnest. In part it functions to draw a line under things, a pause before I embark on whatever the next six years might bring. Who knows how that might turn out. As ever there are ideas, but as yet no solid plans.

One important intention of this compilation is to draw some attention to two of the labels that have aided and abetted me in my work: Linear Obsessional and TQN-aut. Both are DIY, non-profit, non-commercial operations, run from people's homes, and as such two examples of the plethora of such labels currently operating solidly outside of the mainstream.

These labels are the cottage industries of the digital age, performing labours of love, unfettered by the capitalistic concerns of the entertainment industry, operating economies of micro scale, without aspirations to achieve fame, fortune and whatever it is that goes with them, harbouring few expectations of sales or audiences. They do represent artists who have something to say, with or without words, directly, literally, or obliquely, abstractly, who are mostly unconcerned with the competing hegemonies of critical consensus or the tussle for cultural recognition.

These labels provide thousands of artists like me with a context and the possibility of an outlet, and occasionally a track might receive airplay on a programme on Resonance FM in the UK, WFMU in the US, or perhaps one of a myriad of web-based shows globally, the release may receive a review, on a small online or paper zine, or in a more mainstream publication like The Wire.

These labels do it because they are enthusiasts who value the artists’ work in and of itself, holding to the possibility that a few others might also like it, even if there's only half a dozen or so of them. Through downloads on Bandcamp, complemented by limited run CD and cassette releases, and when possible gigs in parks and the back rooms of pubs, a self-determined ‘scene' of sorts has coalesced around this activity, the "no audience underground", as Rob Hayler wryly terms it.

Of course if you are reading this it's more than likely that none of it is news to you, so think of this perhaps as more of a gentle reminder of what we value, and a suggestion that if you like what you hear in this collection you might be interested in buying the physical albums or the downloads from which they come, and not only mine but also those by the many other artists you will find on these labels, and many others like them.  

The tracks on this compilation are drawn from the following albums.

Some tracks differ from those on the original albums: there are alternative mixes of Cloud of Dreams, Without Movement, and Pattern Accumulating, a live version of Sickness Country, and in the case of subsongs a recent new recording of the song.

subsongs 
CD/download, 2017
linearobsessional.bandcamp.com/album/subsongs

Bastard Island
CD/download, 2019
linearobsessional.bandcamp.com/album/bastard-island

All Living Can Anyone Be Here 
audio cassette/download, 2020
linearobsessional.bandcamp.com/album/all-living-can-anyone-be-here

Abstract Vectoral Landscapes
CD/download, 2019
tqn-aut.bandcamp.com/album/abstract-vectoral-landscapes

Collected Local Songs
download, 2015
stevenball.bandcamp.com/album/collected-local-songs

Surplus
download, 2015
stevenball.bandcamp.com/album/surplus 
 

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Click. And.

image: two small wine glasses bought for £1.50 at The Well charity shop, Creek Road, Deptford on Saturday 24 October 2020.

[Guitar seance. The dictation software renders "guitar sounds" as "guitar seance", what is it trying to tell me?]

Guitar sounds, compression, tremolo, pedal noise, wah-wah attenuation, harmonics, resonance, improvised pick up selector and tone control.

Strum. Twang. Pluck. Thump. Ring.

Onomatopoeic text read over the guitar recording, with room sound. new para.

It starts here in this room, with nothing more added than small sounds, occasional hesitant voice, the beginnings of a set of new songs in progress. Perhaps. This will be edited. Maybe. Micro-selection, looping, repetition, and other processes. The text will grow into a lyric, built upon, forms of syntax, sign systems could arise from this simple list of onomatopoeic sound words which satisfy the mouth, to speak or to sing.

Other songs may follow, perhaps using similarly improvised techniques, perhaps using texts that are written before starting the song, starting with guitar and voice, in the room. There is no particular initial idea or conceptual framing for the songs, except to start with what comes to mind, or the hand, in the first instance, in the moment. Working in and around other projects this may take some time, or no time at all.


Sunday, 13 September 2020

Central Asian Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 26 August 2005


Unedited capture from miniDV tape.

Works shown: 'Pastan - Mirror' by Yerbossyn Meldibekov (Kazakhstan, 2004 - 2005); 'On the Road' by Almagul Menlibayeva (Kazakhstan, 2005); 'Sniper' by Said Atabekov (Kazakhstan, 2005); 'Trans Siberian Amazons' by Muratbek Djoumaliev and Gulnara Kasmalieva (Kyrgyzstan, 2004).

Information sheet with essay by curator Viktor Misiano here: drive.google.com/file/d/1syx1dzYCxNMAL6OT1FekCXnNFHgq_wPC/view?usp=sharing