Archive for September, 2010

Listening Habits: Sept 23 onwards

September 30, 2010

I have a backlog of things I wanted to have completed by now, in preparation for my ‘One Year Anniversary’ doing this blog (we’re also approaching the 2000 visits mark which is equally exciting), but I have been knocked for six by a boringly routine operation on my foot. This is mainly down to painkillers that have rendered higher brain function impossible, so the last week has involved listening to some new albums, some old ones, playing Mass Effect and reading up on Classical Theory in preparation for teaching my first class on October 19th*. As such, posts previously promised on Northumberland, Horses and Wales will probably all turn up at some stage during November, when I am properly settled in to the new term. Also, having finished The Provinces Project, I am taking a rest from making music until the New Year, with the exception of a track made for Christmas, as I often do. 2011 will see the recommencing of my white boy hip hop project with Thos, which I have neglected for far too long. Any way…my top seven in the last week have been:

Solar Bears
7. Solar Bears – She Was Coloured In

Oval O
6. Oval – O

Abe Vigoda
5. Abe Vigoda – Crush

4. Blonde Redhead – Penny Sparkle

3. Arp – The Soft Wave

2. Robert Plant – Band of Joy

Zola Jesus
1. Zola Jesus – Stridulum II

These aren’t strictly in order by the way…just stuff I’ve liked in the past week or so; the reverse countdown was perhaps a little deceiving and has resulted in disappointment for all. Abe Vigoda was probably best.


* I realise this invalidates my comment about higher brain function. On an unrelated note, following a large spike in visitors following my Ballard article being linked to someone else’s discussion of Brutalism, I got another spike this week when someone who has a blog about Glee (the programme, not the feeling) linked to my blog for what is still an indiscernible reason


Heroines of the U.S.S.R – Orpheus and Eurydice

September 19, 2010

I have been away for the past week, latterly in Northumberland but prior to that at the wedding of my friends Lee and Alison, now Mr and Mrs Broughall. As a wedding gift, I decided to try and compose a piece of music based on the vague concept of heroic (or unheroic depending on your take) love, picking the doomed romance of Orpheus and Eurydice as my overall frame of reference . I did think that perhaps the legend was somewhat inappropriate considering the occasion, but my ultimate goal was not to have the piece acting as symbolic of the legend, but rather a backdrop to allow the four sections to join in some sort of unified way; it was more about creating something I was happy with that would convey my congratulations and happiness at the marriage. I also had some excellent contributions from Liam and Chris, whose input I asked for as, between the three of us, we have worked together musically with Lee for a good many years and in various formats. I eventually put the CD together in a nice little case I hand made and such, which was remarkably skilful for me I think; I didn’t cut myself or anything.

The piece comprises four parts;

  • Dance of the Naiads
  • Argonautica
  • Descent
  • Orpheus and Eurydice

As Barry said to Chris at the reception – “In my day, it’s what we’d have called a ‘concept album'”. Hopefully it wasn’t too over the top. Liam contributed melodica and banjo to the second part, and Chris contributed vocals and guitar to the fourth part. For the sake of posterity, the piece was made in Ableton and Cubase using 5 second fragments of found sound, my own vocals, xylophone, water draining through a series of different pipes, miniature bells that hang in my garden, the birdsong in my garden at dusk (around July time) and a variety of effects made in Max for Live. The final running time is 24 minutes exactly.

The final section of Orpheus and Eurydice can be downloaded here, by right clicking and selecting ‘Save As’. It would be roughly in line with the point when Orpheus loses Eurydice forever.

Silk and Dogs – Tibet

September 6, 2010

September 2010
Tibet (Right Click and Save As to Download)

Much has been said of Tibet, and its relationship with China. I am not sure that I am in any way qualified to add my own voice to that maelstrom, to tread on the toes of others whose work is much more visionary, and exciting and powerful:

Free Tibet Campaign Archives
Dalai Lama’s Official Web Presence
Rangzen Alliance
Tibet Online
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy

A few years ago I wrote a piece of fiction, which may or may not find its way in to a larger piece of fiction I am currently constructing, about Tibet. It was composed of reflections and descriptions from an old book on pre-invasion Tibetan customs. The piece can be found here

Tibet marks the end of the year long Provinces project, which sought to highlight specific news or historical issues in a variety of Chinese provinces. A complete archive package of the 12 tracks, along with associated material and links will be available to download as a zip folder from the Silk and Dogs website in mid October.

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