Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Presenting ... "The Sound of Silas (waag_CDr001)" by Cousin Silas



Over on weareallghosts.co.uk I've shared some details on the first physical release on my wee netlabel:

The first weareallghosts physical release features photography by Oleg Tishkovets in a beautiful fold out digipack created by Brin Coleman (aka Bing Satellites) for scramsons.co.uk
The music on this double CD was mastered by Tim Jones
The first CD contains remastered 'classics' along with a brand new mini dronescape whereas the second CD contains approximately 70 minutes of brand new music. 
On the inside Kevin Lyons waxes lyrical for the liner notes, giving us food for thought on his pal Silas. 
The physical copy will contain a weareallghosts badge and a postcard with a download code to a remix album with tracks revisioned by Jack Hertz, Kevin Lyons, Bing Satellites, Shane Morris and Ade Hodges. This remix album is only available via this CD. 
This is the first time we have released a CD so please, please be patient. We aim to get the CDs in the post as near to release date as possible. 

When you pre-order the CD, you get 5 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it's released on the 29th September 2014.

Packages will ship on or just after the 29th September too.

There will only be 100 made ... and I'm pleased to say we have pre-orders for 54 so far. The CDs are £10 + Postage & Packing (which varies depending on where you live).

Here's a wee sneak peek at the CD:







More details, including some more photos of the CD packaging, are available over on weareallghosts.co.uk



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Seven Questions with ... Ryan Vanden Heuvel aka Canopy



Its been a pretty crazy week over in Scotland with the Independence Referendum taking up everyone's time and energy ... to add to that I have been working on the first CD release on my netlabel, weareallghosts.

As such, it came as a welcome surprise to receive an email from Ryan Vanden Heuvel, the chap behind "Canopy". Whilst I am new to his music, I can honestly say his music arrived exactly when I needed it to arrive ... more on that later.

I asked Ryan if he'd answer a few questions ... I am delighted to say he agreed:

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1) Who are you and what do you do: 
My name is Ryan Vanden Heuvel. I'm a 22 year old multi-instrumenatlist obsessed with music, and that is not an understatement. Not a day goes by without music on my mind in some form or fashion. I write and release my material under the project name of "Canopy" which I started doing close to about a year ago now. Over the past year I have written two full length albums, one of which was released today and I am already wanting to write another...


2) What are you working on at the moment? 
Well I just released my second album, "The Healing Seasons" literally today so technically nothing at the moment, but if I could be working on something, it would be my third album. That is going to have to wait as I am still in the process of promoting my second release!


3) Who inspires you? 
That's a good question but not a hard one at all. Many people inspire me but to narrow it down a little I would say first and foremost my friends, family and immensely supportive girlfriend. I would not have been able to find the strength needed to deal with the many tribulations of being and independent musician if it weren't for all of them. For that I consider myself both blessed and humbled!

- Name an artist who has inspired you. 
Again there many who inspire me from various corners of the music universe but I have two in mind that have pushed me to continue writing music even if it isn't good. Andy Othling is top of the list. Andy is the brains behind the one man ambient instrumental project, "Lowercase Noises" and he did it all by himself... I found Lowercase Noises last year and was instantly blown away mostly because he started the same way myself and many other independent musicians do, with no one and nothing. Looking at his self driven success has inspired me to work hard and be open to learning something new every day.  My second biggest motivator is Tycho. If you don't know who Tycho is, look him up, right now. That is all I have to say. I am particularly a fan of how he writes and produces his music, it is enchanting, beautiful and crisp all at the same time. I don't think he could ever make a record I would find to be bland or distasteful.

- Name place that has inspired you. 
I used to travel a lot with my family growing up so there are a number of places that come to mind. However the west coast stands out among the rest as the biggest influence. The western culture is one that I value, not to mention the vast amount of site seeing available. If I could choose a place to go to right now, some where along the grand canyon would work just fine! The world is a beautiful place if you look at it just right, we are very lucky.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you. 
Life. Plain and simple, we only get one. There is beauty everywhere  and in everything but not everyone will get the chance to see it, sadly. My vision of beauty lies within music and I don't ever take that for granted. Everybody dies but not everybody lives.


4) What drives you to do what you do? 
The ability and need to create. Like my grandfather who I have dedicated this release to, I always need to be busy doing something. Creating, working on a project, perfecting something...It never ends but I love it. Creation serves as an outlet for me and a good one at that seeing as anything goes really.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express? 
Absolute and total freedom to say and do what I want. There is no right or wrong way to make something, art is art is art I like to think. The best part about it is that literally anyone can do it! I encourage anyone with a creative spark to go out and make something, it feels wonderful!


6) What role does community play in what you do? 
Community plays a huge role. Without ears to listen to my music, who would know about it? I write music for myself but also to connect with others who may enjoy it too.
My end goal is to write music that I know how to write and share it with as many people as I can just because my heart for music is so big. I put little effort in caring for sales and money, ego boosting feedback or popularity. It really is, all about the music.    


7) What is next for what you do? 
Looking forward, in time I hope to start work on a visual album. Like I said before, art is art is art. Music, film, painting etc. are all kind of smudged together in my eyes and I would love to bring another dynamic to my music. Maybe I'll travel and film the world, who knows I just take things as they go.

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Thanks Ryan ... I'm a big fan of both Lowercase Noises and Tycho ... and can definitely hear their influence in your work. Thank you for sharing!



Vibrant and head-noddingly engaging ... I found "The Healing Seasons" to be welcome relief from a tough week. Canopy's sound is a wonderfully now version of electronica-inspired instrumental post-rock ... a unique version filled with electronic textures and expression ... so now, in fact, I could have easily been persuaded that this was the latest act from Ghostly International. It's not, unfortunately, but it could have been ... very easily.

Taking cues from Tycho on the more upbeat pieces ... such as the closing track - "Later on" - with its pounding beat, synths and delayed guitar ... or "1988" with its upbeat electro vibe ... the music presented here is a ray of sunshine on a grey day.

Canopy can play the guitar. This is evidenced on "Daybreak" with a guitar run that simply overtook me and had me air-guitaring in rather awkward places. He also knows his way around synths too and knows how to incorporate field recordings and vocal samples in a way that adds to the overall feel of the track ... the third track - "tray" - with its ocean waves and 'scientific lecture' vocal sample is a prime example of this.

I was very impressed with "The Healing Seasons" by Canopy and would highly recommend it, especially for folks who love upbeat, engaging electronica-influenced post-rock.

Please check Canopy's music and support him as best you can ... check out his music and a couple of videos he's created to back his release:







Saturday, September 13, 2014

Seven Questions with ... Chris Corrado aka The Atlas Amp



It's been a hard week ... but I'm getting back into things again. I'm seeing the light again in all these unexpected places.

One such place is in the music of Chris Corrado aka The Atlas Amp ... he gave me his latest EP - "Oscillator" - recently and I've found tremendous solace in it. I am very impressed with it and found it both vibrant and engaging. It reminds me of all the reasons I fell in love with the post-rock genre ... and why I love artists like Lowercase Noises, Orbit Over Luna, and The Echelon Effect. Corrado is up there with these tremendous musicians ... and I would highly recommend you check it out.

Anyway ... I asked Corrado to complete my wee blog interview. I'm glad he agreed ... this is what he had to say:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Chris Corrado and I´m a guitarist, composer and producer. My main instrument is the guitar but i also try to explore the spirit of every other instruments that crosses my way. My main project is the Ambient / Post-Rock project The Atlas Amp. From time to time i write songs and am on the road with 2 other indie-rock bands. Further I love taking pictures with old analog cameras and I also love to do field-recordings, which i often use in my songs.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
i am writing new songs for a (full length) record which i will release next year in spring. another bigger project is to build up my new homestudio. i have moved to another city 2 months ago and it takes some time to get all the stuff sorted… further i have plans to record new ambient-guitar live videos for my youtube channel.


3) Who inspires you? 
Name an artist who has inspired you: 
...the norwegian band Motorpsycho is still one of my biggest influences. it´s not only the music but also the „band of friends“ thing and their strong and passionated believe in music. really friendly and humble guys. to me they are the epitome of the today overused term „independent“.
another musician who inspires me ever since is Vangelis. I love his ability to create huge compositions around simple melodies.  

...and some bands and musicians who inspired me lately: Bibio, Do Make Say Think, Jon Hopkins, This Will Destroy You, Instrument, Neu!, Boards of Canada, the early The Appleseed Cast … i could name more here but that would go beyond the scope of this format. but i can say for sure it´s always the same thing for me: if an artist has depth and a vision, he immediately got my attention.

Name a place that has inspired you: 
Always the coast… but in particular: The south of England and the Algarve. i love the mind-clearing atmosphere of wind, rocks & waves and the clear horizon line.

but also studios and rehearsal rooms inspire me to get creative. i love the feeling to be surrounded by instruments.

Name some "thing" that has inspired you: 
going to live concerts!!!


4) What drives you to do what you do? 
There are many moments in life that automatically create melodies or sonic atmospheres in my head. especially when i´m in nature and my mind calms down from the distortion of the everyday life. it was like that ever since i can think. to me music is somehow aligned to pictures and emotions. my aim is to transform these emotions into music, to tell a story. in the past i often did this with lyrics in the songs, today i do it more the instrumental / ambient / post-rock kind of way… i want the listeners to get lost in my music.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
it´s hard to bring my music in association with values when i think about it. sometimes it´s just fun to i.e. test a new instrument or a new technique that leads to a new song idea. most of the time i don´t put a specific value into the songs. each song lives it´s own live… but if i should name a value that let´s me do what i do i´d say: passion.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
no community, no interchange… i love how todays communication platforms have radically changed the way i can stay in touch with all the people. as i started The Atlas Amp i immediately had an audience. with my other band projects in the past the radius of communication was fairly small… email here, telephone there from time to time... i love how the community feeling „exploded“ with twitter and other communication platforms. "we can learn to grow together“, thats it for me!


7) What is next for what you do?
in some days I´m going to Corsica for one month. just nature and the coast. After that i´ll start recording the first songs for the new record.

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As I said above, I found Corrado's EP to be both vibrant and engaging ... it helped me forget myself for a while and gave me an escape from my day-to-day. From the opening ambience of "Sonora" to the closing bars of "Time & Time" it is deeply immersive with a wide variety of sounds and samples creating the most delightful of soundscapes.

For me the highlight of the EP was the track - "Readyready Irdial" - with the number stations sample and delightfully melodic guitar work. It really grows in intensity ... I found it uplifting, especially when the bass and drums come in to complement the guitar. It is a thing of utter, unashamed beauty.

But then the rest of the EP is too:

"Sonora" with its delightful melody and moments of sparse acoustic guitar ... or "Vega" with the field recordings of flowing water underpinned by acoustic guitar, irregular piano and distant percussion; that grows into a powerful wall-of-sound that delights the heart.

"Dandelion" with more field recordings, a delightful wall of ambience and a slow, melodic guitar that simply melts the heart ... before the tracks broadens out with bass, drums & some shoegaze guitars ... or the final track - "Time & Time" - that opens with the sound of a lonesome ambient guitar and then is quickly accompanied with an acoustic guitar. The layers of sound on this track is amazing ... there is a real sense of warmth and craft about it.

All in, I would highly recommend this EP. Take a listen below to hear why:



Sunday, September 07, 2014

Pippin ... gone but not forgotten



Pippin, my loving Cairn Terrier, died on the morning of Wednesday, 5th September; she was only 10. She died in Olly's arms after midnight as we tried in vain to get her to the emergency Vet in Charing Cross, Glasgow; She was diabetic and we believe she died as a result of her long-term illness, an illness we were regimented against and did everything in our power to fight. As such, her passing came as a great shock and has hit our family hard.

One thing we've been able to take comfort in (other than our friends as the REM song goes) is the photos we have of her. I want to share some photos of her, including the last photo of her to be published (directly below).

Cherish your loved ones. We really don't know how long we have with them. Make sure they know they are loved and don't take them for granted. And take lots of photos ... lots and lots and lots!

Tx





















Wednesday, September 03, 2014

New vinyl



In addition to consuming copious amounts of second-hand vinyl, I have started buying new vinyl ... spurred on by my recent 'significant' birthday.



I'll openly admit to being a bit of a Blade Runner nut. I have a particular fondness for Vangelis' soundtrack and now own the OST on vinyl ... RED vinyl!

I have this album on 2 different CDs (single CD and as part of the 3xCD 25th Anniversary box set) and have 2 bootlegs that contain further music and ambience (The Esper Edition is well worth seeking out) ... the vinyl is a worthy addition to the set. It is a beautiful artefact that sounds gorgeous when played.



Insofar that I am a Blade Runner nut, I am also a 'Pet Sounds' nut. I love this album.



I love it so much that I *literally* got the tee-shirt!

I can't get sick of this album and have it on 2 CDs (original and remastered) as well as The Pet Sounds Sessions on mp3. I am even reading about it ...



I picked up "I just wasn't made for these times" by Charles L. Granata for 1p on Amazon ... and it was in my bag on Saturday past when the vinyl was delivered.

"Pet Sounds" is an amazing album that sounds fantastic whether on vinyl, CD or mp3. Brian Wilson really made something magic, an album that has lasted 40 years.



I was given "Ghost Stories" by my sister Jane and Ross for my birthday. I had the album on mp3 ... I got it on the day it was released after being taken with the singles (well the first two ... "A sky full of stars" has grown on me).

A lot of people hate on Coldplay and I cannot, with all seriousness, see why. I view their music as being vibrant, interesting and, dare I say, progressive. Yes, they are 'popular' but that shouldn't be a bad thing. They are anything but the insipid and bland band folks like to call them.

Part of my love for this album is that my whole family love it ... which is a rare occurrence these days. We played it extensively when we were down in Manchester (along with The Carpenters - don't ask) and it holds fond memories. Owning it on vinyl adds to the richness of the album.



I was given the Soul Jazz compilation "Tropicália - a Brazilian revolution in sound" a few months back for Father's Day. I love vibrant music and it really doesn't get much more vibrant than this ... these songs have heart AND soul.

The wiki page on the movement defines Tropicália, also known as Tropicalismo, as:
"... a Brazilian artistic movement that arose in the late 1960s. It encompassed art forms such as theatre, poetry, and music. The movement was characterized by a combination of the popular and the avant-garde, as well as a fusion of traditional Brazilian culture with foreign influences. / 
A dominant principle of Tropicália was antropofagia, a type of cultural cannibalism that encouraged the conflation of disparate influences, out of which could be created something unique. /"
This compilation showcases some wonderfully unique and visionary songs ... and I am glad I have it in my collection.



I am also glad to finally have "In Rainbows" by Radiohead on vinyl. I downloaded it on the day it was released (when they tried out the 'pay what you want' idea) and have it on CD ... but wanted it on vinyl to have and to hold. The cover really is a work of art and the music doesn't get old. This is my fave Radiohead album and a worthy addition to my collection.



Pick a Piper is the debut full-length from the Caribou drummer, Brad Weber. I reviewed it for echoesanddust.com where I said:
"I've had Pick A Piper on my iPhone for a wee while now and cherish it's warmth and inclusive nature. I love the way the music presented gently overwhelms me when I put it on, it provides an alternate reality to the grey of a mild and wet winter in the central belt of Scotland, an alternative psychedelic otherworldliness that I heartily welcome."
It really is fab ... and to find it for £8 in Fopp was a real bonus. It is warm, inviting and otherworldly ... and highly recommended.



Another album that I reviewed for echoesanddust.com was Steve Strong's "Three Hands Tall" ... an album that had me thinking:
"Was it instrumental math rock? Yes, but then there are vocals. Was it progressive in The Mars Volta school of progressive? Yes, but then there are moments of downtempo elegance and refinement. It challenged me ... it wasn't my usual thing and didn't initially grab me ... but I kept on at it, believing it was music that was worth the effort. I am glad I did."
I picked the album up in Manchester's Vinyl Exchange for £5 and am glad I did ... it has become my 'play it loud' album for when I need to busy myself about the house (silly, I know).

That's me for now ... Tx

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

September 2014's Calendar / Wallpaper



September's calendar / wallpaper features a rainbow-coloured kite that Olly and I spotted while out for a stroll in Gourock. Battery Park is a fantastic space, right on the waterfront, and well worth a visit.

Usual flavours are available below.

Tx

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iPhone with Calendar + iPhone without Calendar
iPad

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Some LPs from Cousin Silas' personal collection no2



| David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars |

I'm still working my way through the pile of records Cousin Silas gave me ... and thought I'd show off some of the albums I've been listening to (following on from this post).



| Miles Davis - The Birth of Cool |



| Tangerine Dream - Electronic Meditation |



| Leonard Cohen - Songs of Love and Hate |



| Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon |



| Jean Michel Jarre - Magnetic Fields |



| Miles Davis - "Electric" from The CBS Years 1955 - 1985 |

I am very grateful to Cousin Silas for his gift ... a gift that keeps on giving.

Tx

Monday, September 01, 2014

What I listened to in August, 2014 ...


The top three are all soundtracks - "Guardians of the Galaxy", "The Lord of the Rings (complete)", and "Blade Runner".

From there we have "O" ... an amazing album I am reviewing for This Is Not A Scene ... and Adrian Lane's latest on Twice Removed.  I am loving the new album from polymath Tommy Guerrero and the East German 'Krautrock' of Kosmicher Läufer too.

The only thing that surprises me is why Cousin Silas has only 3 plays ... I have been playing the tracks from his upcoming CD on my netlabel - The Sound of Silas - like crazy. I guess those tracks didn't get scrobbled.

Ah well.

Tx

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Circumambient 022 ... a guest post by STATIONARY TRAVELS ... is up now



The latest instalment of circumambient is up on Mixcloud ... it features a mix curated by Brian Housman, the man behind Stationary Travels.

Have a listen here ...



... then head over to circumambient.co.uk to grab the download or follow the link to iTunes.

Dive deep!

Tx

Monday, August 25, 2014

Loving ... "Fall, Rise" by Richard Ginns on Twice Removed



I have become very fond of the minimal musical expressionism of Richard Ginns through his album - "Fall, Rise" - released through the fantastic Twice Removed Records microlabel.

On the face of it, "Fall, Rise" isn't that interesting a proposition: extensive field recordings used underpin gentle meandering neoclassical music ... but then when you get beyond the surface, when you dive deep & let Ginns’ work it's magic then his proposition not only makes sense but becomes remarkably compelling.

This is a true minimalist expression, a less-is-more approach that utilises all available elements: subtle synths, strings, guitar and glockenspiel provide layers of sound that interplay with the field recordings and glitchy surface ambience to create a marvellous wall-of-sound.

I know field recordings aren't for everyone but here Ginns has used them superbly well, creating soundscapes that work. He weaves his sound effortlessly with these found sounds and, in doing so, really highlights the poetry of sound that encompasses us in our day-to-day lives. In fact, if you reduce the volume of the album during playback, you can incorporate the sounds that surround you ... it adds an extra dimension to the music presented.

According to the notes on the Bandcamp page, "Fall, Rise" is inspired by a snowstorm/whiteout that Ginns experienced while on a winter trip to the Alps in France:

Ginns was caught alone by a snowstorm ... it completely took over and reduced his visibility to next to zero. He was far from home, cold, tired and in fear of his surroundings, the reality of where he was really hit him. A voice in the distance, to which direction it was coming from Ginns couldn't tell, helped him, however ... he followed the sound and began to trek back knowing his ears would guide him ... the voice brought him back home and to safety.

I'm glad Ginns was able to turn this lemon of an experience to the lemonade of "Fall, Rise". I, for one, am glad for this 'lemonade' ... I found this release utterly compelling and would recommend it to folks who like minimal ambient soundscapes.

Tx


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