Monday, 25 November 2019

Sickness Country video

From the album Abstract Vectoral Landscapes TQN-aut 7
video captured on East Alligator River (Erre), Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia.

scramble up from the track
in the breath of the heat on the wind
past the smoke of the fire
scrubby grass and the river is dry
butterflies, blackened tree
plateau, savannah, falls, and floodplain
pandanus spiralis
stones underfoot, the walk to the ridge

and there Myormu
waiting for me
sickness country
and in rock escarpment
in the deep past

and the camera phone
brow trickles waterfall sweat to the ground
from the mountain below
Google Earth, or a video drone 
as the ground is above
captures fatal painting photograph
the rainbow came through
tail lights and explosions below

and this sickness country
all that you can see
is what you’re told 
you can see [to see]
peripheral night 
soon after twilight 
flashes of light

when the sickness takes hold
nausea, vomiting, appetite loss
dehydration, confusion
cells degraded by autophagy
bone marrow syndrome
cutaneous blisters ulcers
sweat glands atrophy
DNA clustered damage takes hold


[...over the rainbow]

Friday, 4 October 2019

Abstract Vectoral Landscapes

Deep dreaming landscapes abstracted through song vectors. Animal, vegetable, and mineral. Above, on, and below the ground. In the past, present, and future. All at once in and out of place.

When Andy Wood from TQ zine tweeted a call asking whether anyone would be interested in releasing a CD/download on TQN-aut, I responded almost immediately. I had been an avid reader of the zine from the first issue, and had recorded a track for the Tone Quanta compilation album, so the idea was instantly appealing. At that time I was about to continue work on the larger project of which Bastard Island is the first manifestation, but this would entail embarking on a fairly lengthy reading, writing, recording process. As I knew that this was going to take a long time to come to any kind of fruition, I decided to postpone and work on something that could be quickly realised for TQN-aut and began to try out a few ideas. 

I started by constructing fairly rhythmic sequences in Ableton Live, with which I would then improvise along to with guitar and voice, record live to hard drive, build further layers of voice, guitar and drone tracks, until things started to take some kind of shape. Many of these tracks wouldn’t make it to the final mix, which means that there are orphaned vocal melodies, improvised lyrics, and guitar lines buried somewhere on the hard drive, and while they have been rejected, they still played a crucial role in forming the shape of the songs.

When it came to the point of working on lyrics, I returned to some notes I’d been making around imaginative figurations of landscape, following a trip that I had made to Australia earlier in the year. These responded to time spent in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, and my encounters with what is, in spite of the injustices of colonialism that both haunt the place historically and continue to be enacted, a profoundly present indigenous culture. More than many other places in Australia this place is managed partly in accordance with the traditional owners’ practices, and the presence of Aboriginal culture, both in contemporary forms and dating back hundreds of thousands of years, the latter particularly in the form of rock art, is everywhere evident; here the local Aboriginal communities maintain a strong connection to their country. So I was interested to try to evoke and meditate around some of the philosophical principles of that, influenced by and working through conceptual notions of the human as being as much an integral part of the landscape, part of the place, as any other flora or fauna, coming out of it, going back into it, in particular with the songs Grounded and Abstracted Vectoral Landscape. This was also worked through in the cover image, which came out of experimenting with applying ‘deep dream’ image processing to photographs taken in Kakadu, which seemed to me to suggest that every form in the landscape becomes mutable, animal forms emerge from flora, vegetation acquires animal or mineral properties, and so on. It is as though the entire landscape is under the influence of a powerful hallucinogenic which utterly reconfigures it as an assemblage, not simply as an image of a place, but also in how every part of that place might see every part of itself, become a vector for itself. Perhaps as a result the song recordings start to get a little psychedelic, maybe also reflecting the spatio-temporal dislocation of jet lag.

Sickness Country takes a more measured minimal musical approach, consisting entirely of guitar loops and voice. The title is the term used by the indigenous locals for the land that was mined for uranium, it is not only the effect of uranium poisoning on the human population that is described, it is also that the very country itself suffers illness. A great injustice is being done to country that is mined for such a toxic substance for profit.

The album starts on a long-haul airplane flight as Suspension speculates about where one might be in temporal and spatial relationship with the ground, while Polylingual is something of an Arthur Russell inspired jam with layered voices formed from pre-lingual utterances.

The album was made over two months, June and July 2019, from the first recording to the final mastering.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Sickness Country

Recorded at Strange Umbrellas, Café Oto, 18 August 2019. A live version of a song from the album 'Abstract Vectoral Landscapes', forthcoming on TQN-aut.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019


Recorded at Strange Umbrellas, Café Oto, 18 August 2019. A live version of a song from the album 'Abstract Vectoral Landscapes', forthcoming on TQN-aut.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Sketches for a Decaying Island (mixtape)

This is a mixtape of instrumental and song sketches which were recorded during 2018 as part of the process of writing the Bastard Island album (Linear Obsessional 2019).

Some of the songs from Bastard Island appear here in early rough, sketchy, often improvised forms, other songs didn't make it onto the finished album. Electric Yellow Metal was originally written and recorded in Australia in 1991, it was a kind of initial imaginative reference for Bastard Island and was going to be included, but I decided against it at the last minute. The song is included here both in its 2018 version and the original recorded live to Portastudio cassette from 1991.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Bastard Island Album Launch

3pm Sunday 10 February 2019
Linear Obsessional Live
The ArtsCafe
Manor Park
Hither Green
London SE13 5QZ
(directions here)
admission £5 donation

Songs from Bastard Island will be played.

Also performing will be:
Found Drowned (James O'Sullivan, Peter Marsh and Paul May)
Liz Helman
Paul Khimasia Morgan and Daniel Spicer 
Portia Winters

Bastard Island
Steven Ball

CD and download long player album
Linear Obsessional 2019 LOR120
available at:

Friday, 11 January 2019

Bastard Island

the weather is routinely 
no reliable reports 
set up the microphone 
time enough to prepare...

Bastard Island arrives as a collection of speculative fiction dispatches from spatio-temporally ambiguous elsewheres and elsewhens. These descriptive songs are fragmented and episodic crypto-narrative participant observations. They evoke disrupted temporal, meteorological, geographical, and seasonal conditions, and local and global social inertia. The songs inhabit ambient soundbeds redolent with spatial diffraction, signal refraction, small sounds, and distance communication.

A picnoleptic production in the English Asteroid series, written and recorded by Steven Ball, Summer 2018.

Linear Obsessional 2019 LOR120

CD and download long player album available from:

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Pure Shit online Australian independent cinema

A fascinating compilation of 100 Australian online independent cinema works has just been published on the Pure Shit Australian cinema site run by Bill Mousoulis. In the 1990s section is a link to my 1991 super 8 film Harmonic Three Three. By coincidence, courtesy of nanolab, I now have a 4K resolution scan of the film which will be uploaded soon, the current online version was captured from a VHS copy of a lo-band Umatic telecine of the film, and is therefore nothing much more than a distant approximation of the film.