Saturday 18 November 2023

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I have released very little music lately, in fact the most recent and only release this year was back in February, the download single In The Dark

I have been writing new material, however have only recorded the songs in 'demo' form. Demos are very much a conventional format intended to 'demonstrate' new songs before a final studio recording is made for public release. This has been irrelevant for my practice in the past where the final recorded version is usually simply the latest iteration of a process of experimentation, writing, and recording. However, for the songs that I've been working on this year, my intention is to make new recordings, perhaps using a 'professional' recording studio, when the writing process is complete; the aim is to make a consistent and coherent recording of the songs as a kind of 'suite'. As a 'non-musician' the writing process necessarily entails making recordings of the work in progress, so in that sense the material I've recorded this year is in the form of 'demos', not intended for public release. 

An imperative for this process is to write songs that I can perform 'live', previously the priority has been to make recorded works. The first three of these I played in July at the Contemporary Music Proms, partly as a way to 'road test' them before a live audience. 

The songs are broadly concerned with landscape, something that I've approached in much of my work,x both in song and moving image. These current songs more determinedly so, exploring how the relationship with dwelling in landscape might be worked through in song form, how the language and structure of the song might embody a relationship with site and environment. As work in progress it is too early to know what the nature of the final work will be overall, part of the approach is as ever to use the process of writing as a way of thinking through, singing through, the ideas towards developing a conceptual framing.

So far the songs are falling fairly naturally into groups following periods of intense activity. The first three songs alluded to above are the result of the first part of the process, mostly concerned with mapping conceptual concerns. One of these evolved from a video performance I made exploring the phenomenological experience of wind as a force in the landscape of Mersea Island in Essex.

This followed from work I have been doing on Mersea Island with the Sensingsite artist collective. In this way I am starting to bring together my song work with visual moving image work, something that I have previously largely eschewed as the practices lacked common conceptual structural methodological concerns.

The second tranche of songs is now underway and these are developing from a visit to South Uist in the Outer Hebrides this summer with a more specific brief as a starting point. While in the Western Isles I was concerned with making a direct connection between landscape experience and song. My interest in this location has been prompted by the work of Margaret Fay Shaw who recorded folklore and folk songs in South Uist in the middle of the twentieth century, and which seems to me to describe a material social and phenomenological connection between the specificity of site and song (of which I may write more in the future). 

The current songs started life as improvisations recorded in the field, making up songs on the hoof, while walking, or dwelling in specific sites and locations. In the realisation of these songs, both the originating field recordings of emplaced improvisation and the songs that develop from that activity may form part of the finished recordings; the final works may therefore embody the trace of their own genesis.

In parallel to this I have made a series of photographs which use various technical strategies to frustrate the tendency of photographic landscape to reproduce the contentions of pictorial visualisation, a project I'm informally calling How To Photograph Landscape, and so again my song and other visual art practices begin to converge.

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Convoys Wharf - initial arrangement

Made for the Fields of View screening to celebrate A.L. Rees's posthumous book.
This is a composite view of Convoys Wharf in Deptford, constructed from a number of sequences captured at various focal lengths and angles of view on 29 July 2021 between 11.17 and 11.44am. The camera was positioned on the opposite side of the River Thames, 355 metres due northwest of Convoys Wharf, on the furthest extent of the Thames path, from Maritime Quay, 322 metres from Masthouse Terrace Pier. The weather was sunny, with occasional cloud and wind from the west at 25 kph, the temperature was 22 degrees Celsius.

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:

Thursday 31 December 2020


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.

CD/download, 2017

Bastard Island
CD/download, 2019

All Living Can Anyone Be Here 
audio cassette/download, 2020

Abstract Vectoral Landscapes
CD/download, 2019

Collected Local Songs
download, 2015

download, 2015