Friday, December 31, 2010

alight here vol 0006





alight here vol.0006

In preparation for a new year... I give you the sixth instalment in the alight here mixcast series. 2010 was a great year for music and, as such, it is my intention to highlight some new material that has really captured my attention as well as more familiar tracks that have sustained my interest and really grown on me.

All the artists featured are independent musicians... please support them by checking out their music, buying where appropriate, and spreading the word.

Oh and this mixcast is brought to you in conjunction with the something beautiful podcast - we have a "musical interlude" every-so-often and it was my turn... so it made sense to bring the two together.

Enjoy... and please support the artists featured.

Happy New Year

Tx

01) The Breaker Anointing by Shekinah taken from The Wind Lost Its Breath And The Sea Became As Smooth As Glass
02) Angle Of Incidence by The Echelon Effect taken from Fracture And Fragments
03) Like A Firefly (Love) by Lowercase Noises taken from Carry Us All Away
04) Summit by Emmalee Crane taken from Formantine
05) Light Of Those Whose Dreary Dwelling by The Opiate Mass taken from Volume 2: Albatross (direct download)
06) Golden Contrails by Cousin Silas taken from Complex Silence 9 - Fresh Landscapes (netlabel release)
07) Meeting at the utility pole by edPorth taken from Saying vamos and thinking let's go
08) Big Sky by Matt Stevens taken from Ghost
09) Count Your Blessings by The Lower Lights taken from The Lower Lights - A Hymn Revival
10) Redemption Today by United Harvest Workers Union taken from their self-titled release
11) Falling Off Trees by Uniform Motion taken from Pictures (netlabel release)
12) I Will be Silent by Over the Ocean taken from Paper House

(all tracks from bandcamp releases unless otherwise highlighted)


Thursday, December 30, 2010

January 2011's Calendar

January 2011's Calendar :: 1280 x 800 (left)

Some people may not want to be reminded of the snow... but that's exactly how I like it... as a memory.

As an aside, the image for January's Calendar was taken with a Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim 35mm film point-and-click... at the level crossing near my house in Motherwell. Its a bit grainy... but that, for me, adds to the charm. I like the irony of having an image taken with analogue technology adorning our digital technology.

* 1920x1080 (left)
* 1680x1050 (left)
* 1280x800 (left)
* 1024x768 (left)
* iPhone4
* iPad
* PSP

I wish you all a safe and prosperous New Year!

Stay curious.

Tx

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Top 10 Albums of 2010



2010 was another great year for music. There are many highlights that I will share in due course but the main one was my discovery of Bandcamp through which I found 5 out of the 10 albums here.

Counting down from 10 to 1 (they are all winners in my opinion)... here are my favourite albums on twenty ten:



(10) Johnny Cash's American VI - Ain't No Grave is truly a wonder to me. It contains some of the most heartfelt and passionate songs on my iPod... and it has the ability to pick me up when I am down. Cash was at the end of his life and you can hear that... there is an urgency to the album and yet a peace... which sounds like a contradiction and it is, in many ways, but it is also kind of typical of Cash... and that's why I love it.



(9) Tom Jones' Praise and Blame came out of nowhere... and now its essential listening. I'm not a Tom Jones fan per se... I don't get the whole Vegas Rat Pack glamour thing. This is different. Its raw and heartfelt bluesy Gospel music... from an era before "the worship leader as rockstar". I believe Jones had to really fight to get this album out... which adds to its value. There is a rebellion about it... and I like that.



(8) A Chorus of Storytellers by The Album Leaf is a wonderfully complete collection of post-rock songs... recorded by a full band rather than by Jimmy LaValle himself. Its more rounded, in my opinion, as a result... fuller... a progression from previous work... with an undercurrent of melancholic melody and hopeful consideration. It has grown on me and really captured my attention since I picked it up.



(7) A hymn revival by The Lower Lights was and is a Godsend... it takes overlooked and overly familiar hymns and breathes new life into them... not so much bringing them up-to-date but more a shinning up with Brasso to see the beauty that was there all along. Hymns don't normally get me dancing... but their rendition of "count your blessings" is just phenomenal... and justifies their inclusion in my top ten.



(6) Formatine by Emmalee Crane is a modern day classic... ironically in the modern-classical genre. Her understanding of ambient drones and creation of said drones using a combination of traditional orchestration and electronic manipulation is testimony to what can be done. Her creativity is first class and it show in this complete and polished collection of ambient soundscapes. Truly wonderful.



(5) Go by Jonsi is full-to-the-brim happy and upbeat... a bouncy and now wall of sound... that puts a smile on my face and a skip in my step whenever I put it on my iPhone or iPod. The immersive, inclusive soundscapes on this album are so sumptuous... so expertly crafted... they just feel right... like home. Jonsi is without peer... and this album is proof of this fact. Go is so ahead and yet so now... it is truly a pleasure to listen to.



(4) Ghost by Matt Stevens is another immersive album... chocked to the brim with deep layers of sound. His guitar playing just gets better and better... and his use of loops and electronic manipulation is inspired. His music creates a wonderful soundtrack to day-to-day life: car journeys... nights in... commuting... coding... all improve when he is on. Getting to know his music... and the man himself through twitter... was (is) a highlight of 2010.



(3) Another musical inspiration on twitter is Andy Othling aka Lowercase Noises whose album Carry Us All Away was the first hardcopy CD that I bought from Bandcamp. It is truly a work of art... 60 minutes of the most graceful and beauty-filled guitar-orientated post-rock that I have ever heard. It is a real progression from his earlier work... a fuller sound with drums, additional instrumentation and even vocals. Hauntingly beautiful and so imaginative.



The first of the two albums that have tied for my attention as my favourite album of 2010 will come as no surprise :: Complex Silence no9 - Fresh Landscapes by Cousin Silas :: because it was another of the highlights of 2010 for me. Featuring some of the best ambient electronic soundscapes from Cousin Silas and some of my best photos in the release... it was a true pleasure to work with one of my musical heroes. Am I biased, yes... but so would you be if you got to hear the work and let it soak into your very bones prior to release. It is, in short, 72 minutes of the best soundscapes Cousin Silas has to offer... and considering the other albums he released in 2010... thats a mighty feat indeed.



The second of the two tied albums is Paper House by Over the Ocean for the very fact it has connected with me in the deepest of levels. I came across them by chance... whilst browsing the post-rock section of Bandcamp... and gave them a listen. I was blown away by their sound... and the profound lyrics that are just so right for where I am just now spiritually. Raw and uncompromising... passionate and powerful... and yet gracious with real feeling and meaning... I just love this album.

So that's me... I will post on the albums that got my attention in 2010 but didn't make it into this list.

What were your favourites in 2010?

Tx

Merry Christmas 2010



Wishing everyone in the ol' Nanolog Community a very merry Christmas. Thanks for your company on this journey.

Tx

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Three exceptional albums from Bandcamp

Normally I post about music I've found on Bandcamp in "fives" but thought I'd take time to highlight three albums that I consider to be exceptional...



First up we have Carry Us All Away by Lowercase Noises. This is the first CD I have ever bought on Bandcamp... and, if Andy Othling's attention to detail and customer care are the norm on this channel, then it certainly won't be my last.

The album itself is remarkable. I didn't think he could have bettered Marshall but he has... and the progression is evident. His guitar playing just gets better and better... and the introduction of drums is just so right... but, in addition, he has added to the mix some ethereal female vocals on the opening track and some heartfelt male vocals on the penultimate track... as well as some cello and oboe at various points in the hour long tour-de-grace that is Carry Us All Away.

Grace is such an apt word to describe this album. It is a hauntingly graceful soundscape that just oozes beauty. Consider the vocals to I want to live again ::
Frozen limbs I hold, hanging cliff my home, Winter claims my coat, shed to sea below.
Pieces dwindle down, the frozen ocean sends them to the moon-tide shore, my year-long friends.

Carried on the waves, embrace what needs to mend.
Troubles drift away, I want to live again.

When we reach the shore, mangled, broken, sore, a bundled young boy gathers what none would want.
Ugly, wet and cold, lifted where we lay, like sheep into the fold, he carries us away.

Carried in those arms, embrace what needs to mend.
Troubles do no harm, we want to live again.
Rest on ocean waves, find the pieces lost,
Death can have no sting, and as we leave we sing.

Carry us all away.
Whilst the album is pay what you want, I would recommend owning the CD - Terri Othling's artwork is a pleasure is view up close... and the stickers are a nice wee touch too.



There is something wondrous and evocative about the timeless soundscapes on Formantine by Emmalee Crane. This is ambient music at its very best... with such harmonious resonance and a just-right synergy between traditional instrumentation such as the piano, oboe, clarinet and English or French Horns; and electronic "manipulation".

I can only dream that this is the future of "classical" music. I know its not because this album wouldn't be deemed safe and marketable... but, if I were to dream, I would see a world of future-thinking imagination and creative expression... one that isn't afraid to take risks and look for beauty and grace in some unlikely places... one that places emphasis on collaboration and experimentation... one that doesn't seek repeat the safe of the past.

This album gives me hope for the future.

$9 for the download or $12 for the CD and the download (I kind of regret I don't have the actual CD)



Worship is an important part of being a Follower of Jesus... but, for me, most worship / gospel music leaves me cold and uninspired. I believe it should not be about us, the messenger, but the message, the good news. I guess this is why the majority of music in the worship / gospel genres leaves me so cold and why A Hymn Revival by The Lower Lights takes me to another place... a joyous place... and revives my soul.

The music of The Lower Lights is truly a celebration and this is seen through their selection of such a wonderful collection of celebratory hymms... sung with feeling and enthusiasm. Theirs is a raw and organic form of gospel-inspired folk music... that is more passionate than perfect... which reminds me (just as Johnny Cash's American albums did) that it is in our humble human-ness and imperfection that the true beauty of the gospel can and should be expressed... and accessed.

$10.99 for the download or $11.99 (plus postage) for the download and the CD.  I plumped for the download and CD.

Please support independent music.

Tx

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The West of Scotland Salvation Army's Christmas Carol Service 2010

111210_ Sarah Grace #9

It was a real honour and pleasure to be the "official" photographer at the West of Scotland Salvation Army's Christmas Carol Service 2010.

The highlights of the evening, for me, were Sarah Grace's monologues (see above), Andrew Laird's clarinet solo in "O Holy Night" (middle) and the West of Scotland Youth Band's "Yule Dance" which had some low, droney moments which I adored (bottom).

111210_ Massed Choir with Andrew Laird #3

111210_ West of Scotland Youth Band #4

The light was pretty low and my flash wasn't reaching... so I shot at 800 and 1600 ISO. I think the pics turned out alright and not-too-grainy.

The full set is available here.

My thanks to Martyn Bellshaw and the West of Scotland Salvation Army leadership for this opportunity.

Tx

*U*P*D*A*T*E*


I received this comment on my Facebook page...
"I was up in the balcony so it (was) not so clear and you have made me see..."
This is why I share my pics.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

This is cool :: "Le Migre 2" by Small Radio



I've totally slept on this... and my apologies go out to Scott and Colin for my ineptitude.

Scott Buchanan, 50% of Small Radio and 100% of Radio Scotvoid, gave me a pre-release of their latest ep :: Le Migre 2 :: and told me to keep it to myself... so that's what I did, literally, when in fact I should have been shouting at the top of my voice as to how good it was.

I then missed the official release... which would have been the sensible point to post this. Better late than never, I suppose (he says cap definately in hand)...

Le Migre 2 is a wonderful genre-defying slice of electronic music that is bursting at the seams with ideas - found sounds, piano, distorted guitar, weird hyper-Scottish vocal samples, glitchy drums sequences, luscious synths - the EP is alive with sound in such a varied manner that it keeps you on your toes... like someone sleeping in the jungle for the first time, jumping at the each and every new sound.

This modern day "wall of sound" is a delightful addition to the albums on my iPhone and one that I would heartily recommend. I just hope the creativity on display is infectious... because I want some!

The only thing that disappoints is the length... 19 minutes just isn't enough... I don't feel satisfied... I want more.

Tx



Tuesday, December 07, 2010

My photos are on eat-a-cd



My friend Innes (aka @inrojo) along with his wife, Caroline, and brother, Gregor, have been running an independent online media distribution channel for a wee while now and through it have brought to the market some fab music and teaching materials.

About 6 months or so, Innes asked if I would like to feature some of my photos on the site. He was eager to expand into imagery and wanted to test the water. I agreed... enthusiastically... and, long story short, I set aside some of my best pics taken on my trip to France in June/July for the site.

Today the pics went live. On sale are various sizes including iPad and iPhone versions for $1.99 and $0.99 respectively. Please go to eat-a-cd for more.

It is my intention is to donate all monies from this to the Bellshill Salvation Army's building and renovation fund for the expansion of their community work... so please check out my pics, dress up your iPad or iPhone with some exclusive wallpaper, and help out a worthy venture.

Tx

Two little birdies and why I take photos

051210_ little tit #2

051210_ little tit #3

Two little birdies came to the birdfeeder next to my window on Sunday afternoon. The pics are grainy because I shot at 800 ISO (flash would scare them off and it was getting dark out) but otherwise pretty pleased with them.

They got me thinking about the reason why I take photographs. I want to record my surroundings... to document the everyday and the special in my life. As a result, I'm not after the best shot or seeking perfection... but I'm all about the moment.

If I get the best shot or that elusive perfect shot when documenting the moment then that's great... but the moment is what I am after.

I believe excellence is habitual... that if we do something enough we become (or have the potential to become) excellent at it. As such, I see my obsession with the moment having an additional benefit... as I seek out life, I will get better as a photographer. Think about it. The more moments I capture, if I have the humility to learn, the better I will get.

Every photographer I know has a different reasoning for what they do. I'm not saying my rationale is the right rationale... its just right for me... but I do believe each one of us should ask ourselves why we do what we do.

Tx


Thursday, December 02, 2010

alight here vol.0005 ...in celebration of cousin silas





alight here #0005 - 1hr47mins - 147mb - 192kbps

To celebrate the release of Cousin Silas' latest album :: Complex Silence vol.9 - Fresh Landscapes :: I have dedicated the whole of an extended alight here #0005 to his wonderful ambient electronic soundscapes.

My intention with this mix was twofold:
1) To showcase the music of Cousin Silas... who is an independent musician, and
2) Bring together my most favourite tracks into one continuous mix.

But... to up the coolness... when I ran this idea passed Cousin Silas, he offered me some previously unreleased tracks to include within the mix... which is beyond-belief awesome.

So what you'll hear (and hopefully keep returning to) is a continuous mix of unreleased tracks and my fave soundscapes.

I really hope you like it. Please download it and tell your friends. The more people who know about Cousin Silas the better, in my book.

Tx

  1. Warlock Hill (original version) *
  2. Engines Of Solitude *
  3. Abandoned Paddy Fields from Ballard Landscapes
  4. newscape5 from the snow imposed silence
  5. The Forest of Evil Cacti from Abominations of Yondo
  6. Moss from The Resting Bench Remix Project - Volume 1
  7. Burning Wreckage by Ballard Landscapes 2
  8. Olympus Mons from Portraits and Peelings
  9. Arriving Home from Canaveral Dreams
  10. M. R. James (The Ghost Of) *
  11. Three chimneys with ladder from Uncertainty
  12. Fresh Landscapes from Fresh Landscapes
  13. Humber Sea Fort from Geographics
  14. Golden Contrails from Fresh Landscapes
  15. Lizard Point from The Melting Static
  16. Soggy Toast from Relic Once Lost
  17. Sunrise Behind Strange Hills *
  18. Strathclyde Park Loch from Uncertainty
  19. Crane at Train Station from Canaveral Dreams
  20. Nightside *
  21. Cara Paints no3 *
  22. Room 50 Hotel Ereso from 50:50 An Earth Monkey Productions Compilation
* Exclusive Track
All tracks by Cousin Silas except "The Forest of Evil Cacti" by Abominations of Yondo


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Snowed in

011210_ Pippin #1

011210_ Pippin in the snow #3

The we'ans' school didn't open today... so I worked from home and kept an eye on them. I am so grateful to have an employer that celebrates diversity and encourages family-friendly flexible working. My boss sent an email round yesterday instructing his team to take their laptops home "just in case". I'm glad he did and I'm glad I did.

Inbetween bouts of endeavour, I was able to snap a few pics of the snow... and more specifically birds and Pippin in the snow.

I worked with my dad's Canon EOS 350D and the 70-300mm zoom. I think I did OK... albeit I did redo the pic below because the original version was rather flat and washed out.

The rest of my pics are available here.

Tx

120110_ Robin #2 (2nd attempt)

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