Friday, May 24, 2013
My friend, Simon Douglas, tweeted a link to this site (screen grab above) ... which features a press release for a 'Micropub' in his local area.
Whilst I am tea-total the concept behind the 'Micropub' really got me thinking. They have, in many ways, turn their constraints into unique selling points.
It reminded me of this article on PSFK.com :: http://www.psfk.com/2012/04/donut-shop-closes-early.html :: about a donut shop in Chicago that opens at 8:30 AM Tuesdays through Fridays and 9:30 AM on Saturdays and then closes after their last donut is sold ... usually 1 or 2 hours later.
Now ... I am not one to frequent pubs too often but I do go to coffeeshops regularly. I mainly go for two things - coffee and conversation - usually with friends from work or with my family.
As Starbucks have stopped celebrating all their various blends and other providers (aka Tinderbox and Beanscene) only offer one blend of filter ... I go mainly for the conversation these days ... but I can relate to the Micropub's assertion that they are about 'just good ale and conversation'. I get this. I get the need for space(s) set aside for conversation. In fact, I think it is vital.
I do find this 'Micropub' a strangely compelling proposition considering how it would seek to completely limit my choice ... UNLESS ... I am there for 'good ale and conversation' and 'good ale and conversation' only.
It's like the food and drink equivalent of a Kindle or an iPod Classic ... it does one thing and it does this one thing really well. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles ... no TV or music or hot food ... and focusses on ale and cider predominately.
For a small group of people, this would be heaven on earth ... a peaceful oasis from the noise of everyday life. For others, however, this would be seriously dull.
But that's the point ... they are working to please their niche ... working to appeal to and attract the small minority of folks for whom a pint and a blether in a peaceful atmosphere is ALL they are after. They don't care if you think it is dull ... they don't care because it's not your thing. All they care about is pleasing their niche.
I like that.
I like their boldness.
I like niches.
I am a niche.
I personally think we need more niche products. I think we need more things that do less ... things that don't do too much but focus on doing what they do really, really well.
I wonder what other things would benefit from this kind of 'less is more' approach? Instead of trying to be all things to all men ... maybe we should focus on the niche and serve a smaller group more attentively?
Not to exclude anyone, though. Just a thing that says 'this is what I am ... take it or leave it' ... that then lets the consumer make the choice.
I think this would be refreshing ... and would be real choice.
After all that's said and done, however ... I do think the 'Micropub' would be better with music ... preferably music from weareallghosts and other ambient netlabels ... but then that's just me.
New releases on weareallghosts includes a delightful EP from Adam Greenhead aka Coloured Lines ... "Silence in the House of God" features 4 tracks of deliciously upbeat electronic music:
The EP features four wonderfully crafted tracks which are unashamedly electronic in nature, vibrantly coherent in expression, and delightfully downtempo in their presentation.
We also have the 6th dronescape from Cousin Silas:
His ability to engage the listener in a fully immersive sonic environment truly amazes me. I have all his dronescapes on my iPhone and have been known to move from one to another when I am in need of extended periods concentration and/or escape.
I love Boards of Canada and have loved them since I heard "Music Has The Right To Children" back in '96. They are one of my favourite electronic duos ... and the fact they are Scottish adds a small modicum of pride too.
That said ... I've tried to avoid the media frenzy of the last wee while: the 12" found on Record Store Day 2013 ... and the announcement that they have a new album coming out in June ... as well as the release of "Reach for the Dead" (above).
Please don't misinterpret what I am saying ... I am trying to avoid the hype so I can come to their music on my terms - I am not trying to avoid BOC.
I listened to "Reach for the Dead" for the first time this morning. I missed it on Zane Lowe's show on Radio1 last night and wanted to hear it before it came on Lauren Levern's show on 6Music this morning.
I love this song. It really sets me up for the album.
I also love that people are really excited for this kind of music ... quirky, off-kilter, glitchy, ambient electronic music ... and I can only hope it will turn folks onto the myriad of musicians that play this kind of music and the labels that support them. It would be a shame if you consider yourself a music fan and *only* have BOC to represent this vibrant and utterly engaging genre (or genres).
What's more ... I really like the video too. It has more lens flare than a J. J. Abrams film ... and looks stunning. It's the kind of video I'd love to make. It has seriously inspired me.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
In recent days I've picked up some compilations that I consider to be worthy of note ... let me tell you about them:
First up (pictured above) we have the sixth instalment of the sequence series from futuresequence. If you are familiar with the previous compilations in the sequence series then you'll know this album will play host to bleeding-edge ambient and neo-classical music.
At nearly 4 hours long (236 mins) it is a hefty investment ... but it is a worthy investment. The music presented on here is truly sublime.
Stand out tracks include "Ascension" by Tiny Leaves, "We Never Left" by Stray Theories, and "High Altar" by Fontaine.
Next up we have elements/02 from thefuturelements.
thefuturelements.com is a site I have written for previously. I was a big, big fan of elements/01 ... a compilation released in April 2012. It has only taken them 14 months to release the second album in the series ... but it is truly worth the wait.
elements/02 is filled to the brim with 20 ambient, neo-classical and post-rock inspired tracks from some serious players. Stand out tracks include another from Stray Theories entitled "Promises" alongside tracks from Vitaly Beskrovny ("Winter Story") and orbit over luna ("朝日 asahi (morning sun)"). I am also very partial to "Not everything has to be a struggle" by Sky Flying By ... very partial indeed.
This compilation is well worth checking out and is also free to download.
"Celestial Matter" from new netlabel Subterranean Tide is delightfully experimental in nature ... exploring profound topics through ambient music.
As the liner notes say...
Celestial Matter, the fragments of objects of any form that orbit, fly or remain still in the vast darkness of our universe, a wondrous thing when thought about, and even more amazing when you stare up at a night sky and see these objects in their luminosity. But have you heard celestial matter?You will if you listen to this compilation. Stand out tracks include "Oort Cloud" by Savaran, "Breathing Through Me" by Gimu, and "Dusty Measures" by my friend Thomas Park aka Mystified.
Well worth checking out ... and as it is also a free download ... there is nothing stopping you.
"Butterfly Effects - James Johnson Recycled" from the Relaxed Machinery Community is an album that comprises remixes of material from several of James Johnson's albums.
According to the liner notes:
30 artists from around the world - all members of the Relaxed Machinery Ning Online Community - expressed an interest in taking part. James provided them with 25 clips culled from eight albums, which included synths, piano, voices and generative tracks. Submitted pieces often included source material from more than one album.This is a cracking album that has made my commute to and from Glasgow very pleasant indeed. I intend on writing a full review ASAP but, for now, please check this out. Stand out tracks include those mentioned in the notes as well as my all-time favourite: "Mandala" by Northcape ... which is simple divine.
James selected nine pieces for this collection, including work by Disturbed Earth, Altus, Chris Russell and more.
These are all “purist” remixes, using only source materials provided by James.
"Variations of Chopin" from the Glaswegian label too many fireworks is a celebration of the genius of Chopin.
According to Neil Milton, the man behind too many fireworks ...
When too many fireworks moved from Glasgow to Warsaw, Poland in 2010, it did so in the bicentenary year of Fryderyk Chopin's birth. As the celebrations carried on around us, we decided an album of contemporary interpretations of the composer's music would be an interesting idea.I, for one, can't wait to hear what's next. This is a cracking album that does challenge in places but does also delight.
We invited musicians of many different genres to take a piece from the composer and either put their contemporary spin on it or take a theme and use it as the basis of a new composition.
The idea was sadly put on hold but finally in 2013 the Chopin album was completed and it in turn gave rise to the 'variations' series, a collection of compilation albums interpreting an array of classical and contemporary composers.
Stand out tracks include "Fryderyk Chopin's Concerto for Piano & Orchestra no. 1 in E minor op. 11: Romance" by Good Weather for an Airstrike & Inachus ... "Tristesse (Fryderyk Chopin's 12 Études op. 10: no. 3 in E major)" by Antonymes ... and "Fryderyk Chopin's 24 Preludes op. 28: no. 7 in A major" by Clem Leek.
What's more ... if you buy a CD (£5 or more) ... all profits from the sale of the CDs will be donated to our record label's good friend, ex-laeto drummer, Robbie Cooper who is currently battling a rare form of Cancer.
£3 / £5 or more.
"Prehistoric Tar Pit Music" from Jack Hertz' Aural Films label is another utter delight. It features some truly gifted ambient musicians like my boy Cousin Silas, Jeff Duke, William Spivey, Hertz himself, Michael Bruckner and Toaster.
According to the liner notes...
During the Pleistocene period 40,000 years ago, giant mammalian creatures roamed North America. Tar pits that formed when crude oil seeped to the surface through fissures in the Earth's crust. Would trap mastodons and other creatures in their molten grip. When predators came to feed, they were consumed as well.
Prehistoric Tar Pit Music is a two and half hour compilation of sonic adventures into places that time has forgotten. Listen to the sounds of primordial landscapes, bubbling tar pits, and the echoes of life emerging from the deep earth.
The idea for this compilation began in the Intelligent Ambient Music (IAM) group on Facebook. The result is the group effort that you can hear now. We hope that these compositions will entertain your imagination with a sonic documentary of what these prehistoric places may have been like.It's my kind of awesome ... especially since Cousin Silas' track "Inland Lagoon" is featured.
Recommended. Pay What You Want.
Last but by no means least is "The Human Condition - Dedications to Phillp K. Dick" from Sound For Good records ... a 44 track compilation of wondrous ambient music celebrating the writings of one of my favourite writers - Philip K. Dick.
All profits from this release will go to Hospice Foundation of America ... a charity that conducts programs of professional development, public education and information, research, publications and health policy issues.
Their programs for health care professionals assist those who cope either personally or professionally with terminal illness, death, and the process of grief, and are offered on a national or regional basis.
In addition, their programs for the public assist individual consumers of health care who are coping with issues of caregiving, terminal illness, and grief.
A worthy cause and a tremendous download to boot. Stand out tracks for me include "The Transmigration Of Timothy Archer" by Clutter, "Adjusted Here and There" by Phillip Wilkerson, and ... of course ... "The Bradbury Apartments" from my boy Cousin Silas.
Recommended. Pay What You Want ... please give generously.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
"Oblique Strategies (subtitled Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas) is a deck of 7 by 9 centimetres (2.8 in × 3.5 in) printed cards in a black container box, created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt and first published in 1975. Each card offers an aphorism intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblique_Strategies
Oblique Strategies is now online. Instead of picking a card ... you open the page >> http://www.joshharrison.net/oblique-strategies/
I have added a few that I received at random today. I love the concept and will need to pick up a physical pack of the cards at some point. However, until I do that, I'll refer to this website.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I recently uploaded the 6th instalment of my Circumambient series on Mixcloud and also on circumambient.co.uk.
In this instalment we feature a number of tracks from Cousin Silas (it was uploaded on his birthday) alongside music from Sima Kim, The Gateless Gate, Creation VI & Exit to Exist, Frore, Umber featuring Good Weather for an Airstrike, Brother Saturn, Crows Labyrinth and 3+.
For a tracklisting and an offline copy ... please visit circumambient.co.uk.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Dan Brown's books are a guilty pleasure of mine. I'm a big fan of his easy-to-read, escapist nonsense ... and his latest book "Inferno" has all the hallmarks of a belter.
It stars Tom Hanks ... no, wait ... Robert Langdon and the beautiful city of Firenze aka Florence (a city I visited briefly on my honeymoon).
I know it isn't high brow literature ... and that Stephanie Meyer has more respect in the cultured cabals that seek to shape our reading than Brown does ... but I don't care. I can't wait to escape into Langdon's world and hope you won't mind in my posts are a wee bit sparse on here while I do.
I love it when gifted folks use their gifts to help bring about change. One such change-maker is Benjamin Dauer ... whose project "Save the Pollinators" has captured my attention.
Dauer is an exceptional ambient musician whose music is a particular favourite of mine. His 2013 release on Twice Removed entitled "The Pace of Which" is simply stunning and will no do be well represented in my end-of-year poll.
With "Save the Pollinators" Dauer has taken his musical talent ... his art ... and sought to use it to highlight the plight of the humble bumble bee and the brown bat.
In the following audioclip, Dauer explains his idea and asks for help:
He wants your help. If you can ... take time to visit his site - http://savethepollinators.org/ - and record a wee message.
His goal is explained on the site:
My goal is to compose an original sound score to accompany your submissions. This collection could stand as a force emphasizing the global impact that these creatures have on our lives. So I would love to hear from you! Please consider contributing your voice, field recordings of bats or bees, interviews with bee keepers or bat experts - the creative possibilities are endless!Please take the time to lend your voice or your musical talent to this project.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
"Second Nature" A Documentary Film About Janne Saario from ELEMENT SKATEBOARDS on Vimeo.
I found this video utterly fascinating and very inspiring when I saw it on thefoxisblack (thank you Alex Dent) and wanted to share it on here.
According to the Element Skateboards Vimeo page...
Second Nature is a 20-minute documentary on Element team rider and budding landscape architect, Janne Saario of Finland.
The short film allows a glimpse of Saario’s thoughts and dreams, which float between design, art and skateboarding. Though it also reveals the important concurrence of post-industrial areas, sustainable concepts and natural environments, and unfolds the demanding obligation, towards today’s generation and those to come, to create positive and inspiring, local communities.
Over the past two years, filmer Yves Marchon’s keen eye reels in the various aspects and angles of Janne’s life and creates the perfect portrayal of what Element is most proud of and strives to constantly stand for through their products, artists and team riders: to bring progress to skateboarding in the most honest and ethical way.Enjoy.