Saturday, December 31, 2011

inni... a film by Sigur Ros

I was very grateful to receive "inni" by Sigur Ros on both CD and DVD for a Christmas present. The recording is amazing... it reminds me of when I saw them live in Glasgow a few years back.

What's more... the way the film has been shot... in very grainy black and white... is very much in keeping with my current photographic aesthetic. It's simply a wonder to behold.

Recommended... especially if you are a Sigur Ros fan.


January 2012's calendar / wallpaper

January 2012's Calendar :: 1920x1080 (left)

January 2012's calendar / wallpaper is of snow melting... a fitting reminder that as the seasons change so do our hardships... this is not Narnia under the rule of White Witch... Christmas has come and gone... and so too winter, darkness and any troubles we may have.

I've stripped back the flavours slightly... if you are looking for 1024x768 then go for 1600x1200 and if you are looking for 1280x800 then go for 1920x1200.

Enjoy and thanks for everyones willingness to have my photography on their devices... it is appreciated by me.


iPhone with calendar + iPhone without calendar
980x800 for Andrew Berry's mobile device

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My top ten 'established' albums / artists in 2011

10. Fleet Foxes > Helplessness Blues

09. Little Dragon > Ritual Union

08. DJ Shadow > The less you know, the better

07. Explosions in the Sky > Take care, take care, take care

06. Coldplay > Mylo Xyloto

05. Moby > Destroyed

04. M83 > Hurry up, we're dreaming

03. Mogwai > Hardcore will never die but you will

02. Radiohead > The King of Limbs + Supercollider / The Butcher + The Daily Mail / Staircase + RMX1234567

01. Tycho > Dive


2011 was not boring... music-wise. I found over 100 great albums / artists (predominately in the independent space) that inspired and excited me in some way or another. I have mentioned the independent albums / artists and thought it only appropriate to mention the 'established' artists.

When I say 'established'... these artists tend to have record labels or have been on a record label (as in Radiohead's case) and are not in the DIY space that the folks I listed as 'independent' are.

Per my previous list... please don't argue my list but compile your own instead. I know, for instance, that Coldplay aren't hip in certain circles and Radiohead's "The King of Limbs" wasn't appreciated by critics and fans alike. However, I loved their respective recordings. That said, TKOL is only really completed by the two singles and the remix album, in my opinion.

Each of the albums on this list touched me in some way... from the gentle folk of the Fleet Foxes to the energetic post-rock of Mogwai... the imaginative soundscapes of M83 to the bleeding edge vocal-orientated electronica of Little Dragon.

2011 saw DJ Shadow's return to form (thank goodness he's gone back to a more instrumental sound... the rappers did my head in), a beautifully melodic album from Moby and some truly powerful soundscapes from Explosions in the Sky.

The real highlight for me was discovering the music of Scott Hansen aka designer ISO50 aka musician Tycho. His music reminded me of the very best of Ulrich Schnauss and Boards of Canada... something warm with an analogue feel, wonderfully melodic, immersive and engaging. "Dive" was a real upbeat mood-lifter... a ray of synth sunshine to brighten an otherwise dull day. It also reminded me how powerful great quality electronica can and should be. It restored my faith in the genre... if truth be told.

I guess the folks who consider 2011 to be a dull and boring year for music never heard the albums on this list.

I will list the albums / artists that caught my attention but didn't make this list later on... for now, please take the time to check out some brilliant music and yes, that includes Coldplay, IMHO.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone who reads the ol' nanolog a very merry, happy and light-filled Christmas. I hope your dreams come true and you experience a sense of true joy in the company of those most dear to you.

Christmas, for me, is a time to celebrate... for the dark has been defeated by the light.

This is the time when I reflect on the coming of God to earth as a baby boy... and the light He brought into this dark world.

My sincere thanks to all the musicians, artists, designers, writers, theologians, thinkers, bloggers, philosophers, gamer-makers and cooks who have brought light and joy into my world in 2011.

I count it a privilege to walk along side you.

Merry Christmas


PS... as a wee present... folks with iPhones and iPod Touches can download the above image here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Top Ten independent albums/artists for 2011

2011 was a tremendous year for the kind of independent music I love: ambient... electronic... post-rock... alt-folk... neo-classical... etc.

In a previous post I highlighted all the wonderful albums and artists that I had listened to. Each and everyone of them... including the ones that I had missed but have subsequently enjoyed... were worthy of note. Most I had covered in some way on this blog or through twitter etc because they deserve to be heard... they deserve to be recognised for the talent and ideas expressed.

The following list represents my personal favourites... in many ways it is a truly subjective list because it represents the music that has really set my soul on fire. I don't like hierarchy or order... every artist on this list is a winner for me... they each exemplify their chosen form of expression... and I am proud to support them in their endeavours.

Please remember... this is my list. Go and write your own. Don't argue over my choices because they are simply that... my choices. Make your own.

Whatever you do, however... please support independent music... please do all you can to grow the grassroots. We don't need more reality TV musicians... we need more real musicians!



Phil Wilkerson's 'Ten to Eleven' is an awesome slice of ambient electronica... breathlessly beautiful and delicate. Simply stunning.


Heatherlyn's 'Storydwelling' is simply an ice-cold glass of water for a thirsty soul. Her expression of rootsy, soulful blues is just wonderful. She's my 'go to' album for when I feel down. She picks me up.


The Echelon Effect's three 'Seasons' EPs were a real treat this year... and I eagerly await the fourth on Hogmanay. His music sits perfectly in the intersection between ambient and post-rock... and any release is welcomed by me.


Matt Steven's band - The Fierce and the Dead - brought a deliciously varied and powerful progressively electronica-tinged post-rock album to the world in 2011. There was nothing quite like it... and that made all the more precious.


A highlight of 2011 was getting to know a wee bit better Noor from The Eternal Twilight... their album 'Everything Resembles You' was a real treat and their EP 'Another Quiet Day' (which was released today) was a pleasure to listen to in bed this morning. Their music sits at that wonderful intersection between ambient and post-rock... and I look forward to hearing more from them.


The music of Andy Othling aka Lowercase Noises is a personal favourite of mine and the two EPs he released in 2011 - 'Migratory Patterns' and 'Vivian' - were first class! He has a unique guitar style that I simply adore and any new release from him is welcomed by me... with open arms!


Another highlight of 2011 was discovering the music of Earlyguard and striking up a fab friendship. Earlyguard was very prolific in 2011 and his ambient soundscapes soundtracked key moments in the year... usually at work when I needed to concentrate. What's more... he released all his content for free... which I felt was awesome and a wonderful gift to the ambient music community.

I can only feature a handful of his recordings here... please check the rest out at his bandcamp page.


Matt Stevens is a talented British treasure who just gets better with experience. 'Relic' is a noticeable progression from his earlier work and an emotional rollercoaster of sound.


Leonardo Rosado was another prolific artist in 2011... with two albums (including the breathtaking 'Mute Words') and a two EPs to his name... and a further album in collaboration with Birds of Passage entitled 'Dear and Unfamiliar' (which, to my shame, I haven't picked up yet). His brand of ambient soundscapes are simply beautiful... they present the listener with a deep, emotive, rich and immersive experience... that I, for one, found very rewarding.


Topping this list comes a sorely under-rated sophomore release from Abraham the Poor. 'After the flood, into the wild' is a collection of rootsy swamp-bluesy songs that I just can't get enough off. Powerfully poetic with some marvellous guitar playing... I bought it on CD and its been on my hi-fi and in the car consistently throughout the year. This album, like all the others on this list, needs to be heard.


So yeah... that's me. I know the year isn't quite over yet and I will track any releases from now for consideration next year.

2011 was another top year for independent music. Please do all you can to support.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Video for The Eternal Twilight's Another Quiet Afternoon

On Tuesday I featured the video to The Eternal Twilight's Another Quiet Morning... and I'm proud to feature their video for Another Quiet Afternoon... again filmed by Will Faulkner and taken from their upcoming EP called "Another Quiet Day".

I love it... and am so eager to hear the EP. Well done Noor and Abbas!


Working towards my Top Ten Albums of 2011

I am currently working on my Top Ten for 2011... and have compiled the following list of all the music that has captured my attention and, in some way, enhanced my life during this year.

I have deliberately avoided 'mainstream' artists and have sought to focus on independent musicians who distribute their music through direct channels like netlabels or Bandcamp. This is not to say that 'mainstream' artists haven't enhanced my life... far from it. I will consider them separately so as to not outshine the folks listed below.

There are some artists listed below who have been wonderfully prolific but for fairness and to ensure equal consideration, they have only been counted once.

The artists and compilations that I am currently considering are listed in alphabetical order by artist:
  1. 4th Alternative - Dunes 
  2. Abraham the Poor - After the flood, into the wild 
  3. Across Waters - More Light Is Never Ending 
  4. Adamnage - Fragile & After The Rain 
  5. Airspace Falling - Written in the Waters 
  6. Ambienteer - Diumenge, Frequencies & More 
  7. And the giraffe - Something for Someone 
  8. Arboretus - Soundscape de nostalgia 
  9. Artificial Sun Project - 62204 
  10. Benjamin Dauer - Saturation Event 
  11. BGUNDA - Attended only by birds 
  12. Circadian Eyes - Who we were 
  13. Claro de Luna - Lo que ha sido y lo que sera 
  14. Coloured Lines - Atmospheres & Machines for the New Dawn 
  15. Damn Robot! - Huang Skrimsli 
  16. Dustmotes - Equilibria 
  17. Earlyguard - Amaya (featuring Entertainment for the Braindead), A Distant Proximity, The Gaia Theory, Introspection, Haiku, Lost in Time, Melatonin, Mind over Matter, Selective Perception, Solitary Moon, Towards Transcendence, Urban Legends & Zen 
  18. Emphemetry - A lullaby hum for the tired 
  19. Eomac - mnk 
  20. EUS - Tras el Horizonte 
  21. Fields of Ypres - For every hour 
  22. Glorie - Glorie 
  23. Good Weather for an Airstrike - Jigsaws, A summer & A Winter 
  24. Gurdonark - Weights and measures 
  25. Gurusoul - Burn My Star 
  26. Heatherlynn - Storydwelling 
  27. Hope and Social - Sleep sound 
  28. In Violet - City of Nomads 
  29. Janes Scenic Drive - Beautiful Reminders, Color of Heaven & Now to Then
  30. Jeff Scott Townsend - Notes from the underground 
  31. Ketsa - Ketsonica 
  32. Leonardo Rosado - Opaque Glitter, Mute Words & Touching from the distance 
  33. Lowercase Noises - Vivian & Migratory Patterns 
  34. Maps & Diagrams - Snowglobe EP (Sutemos030) 
  35. Matt Stevens - Relic 
  36. Musica Universalis - Lux et Tenebræ (MU I.I) 
  37. My Brother Daniel - Ponky 
  38. Nemean Lion - Cast of the moon 
  39. Neue - The Planets 
  40. Northcape - Alluvial 
  41. Obviously Lawrence - Obviously Lawrence 
  42. Philip Wilkerson - Ten to Eleven
  43. Pinklogik - Inverse 
  44. Radio for the Daydreamers - Praying for the Be(a)st 
  45. Rhian Sheehan - Seven tales of the North Wind 
  46. Salwa Azar - For America EP1
  47. Saravan - Observations 
  48. Sky Flying By - Do they still make lighthouses 
  49. Snowmine - LAMINATE PET ANIMAL 
  50. Sun Thief - Winds 
  51. Swaying Smoke - Beneath a tree 
  52. The Echelon Effect - Seasons 1 - 3 
  53. The End of the Ocean - Pacific Atlantic 
  54. The Eternal Twilight - Everything Resembles You 
  55. The Fierce and the Dead - If it carries on like this we are moving to Morecambe 
  56. The Harddrive - Before the storm 
  57. The Northern Hemisphere - The Future Beyond Our Eyes 
  58. The Rhys Anslow Project - Baby Steps 
  59. The Sound of Rescue - Sketches 
  60. Twincities - Twincities 
  61. Umber - Morning Pass & Earth Feet, Lifted 
  62. Uniform Motion - One frame per second 
  63. V/A - Album In A Day volume 2 - 19 March 2011 from BFW Recordings 
  64. V/A - Conception from Free Floating Music 
  65. V/A - Hawkmoon Records volume II
  66. V/A - Hope for Japan 
  67. V/A - Sequence1 & Sequence2 from Futuresequence 
  68. V/A - Only Light To Clear Away from Distance Records 
  69. Years of rice and salt - Nothing of cities 
  70. You Are My Symphonic - I Found Your Faces Of Montreal

I knew I'd miss someone... I'll keep this open in case I've missed anyone else.
  1. Rainer Straschill - Reflexiv Hören
  2. Adam A Williams - Another Day The Same

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The official video for "October, Hills & You" by The Eternal Twilight (video by Will Faulkner)

The Eternal Twilight - Another Quiet Morning : October, Hills & You (Official Music Video) from Noor Kadiwala on Vimeo.

I love this video... it is so fitting for the music of The Eternal Twilight. Serene. Graceful. Beautiful. Will Faulkner has done a cracking job! I am now eager for the EP to drop... especially after reading this on the YouTube page:

Will produced two music videos for the EP and even album art. Each track also has its unique corresponding image/art which is included in download. Musically, "Another Quiet Day" features multiple range of soundscapes mixed with field recordings, from complex delayed and echoed Guitar Textures Loops to Resonating and Hypnotic atmospherics with samples of Acoustic Guitar Bowed to Guitar Swells to Ethereal Wall of Sound. The sound on this EP is somewhat departure from their debut and here, they put more focus on carefully crafted complex floating and droning ambient textures. The influences are very obvious ranging from likes of Hammock, Rhian Sheehan, Riceboy Sleeps, Umber and so forth. While other non musical influence include, otherworldly beauty of the mighty Himalayas, Nature and lot more.
What's more... I see Tom from Good Weather for an Airstrike has remixed one of the bonus tracks on the EP. I can't wait.


Collecting "stuff"

I had one of those late night epiphanies in the wee small hours of this morning about stuff... and in particular, the stuff I consider to be precious. It was a crazy thought that somehow substantiated itself the more I considered it:

I can recall the origin of everything or mostly everything I hold dear.

Now when I say "origin" I mean the where & the who... I don't always remember the when... and the how & the why are irrelevant, in my opinion. My focus is on the where... where I obtained an item... and/or the who (if appropriate)... who gave me an item.

The Levi's I am wearing came from a Shelter Charityshop in Hamilton.
The blue Vans slip-ons were purchased in the reduced-to-clear section of TKMaxx at the Fort in Glasgow.
My flannel shirt was bought half-price in ASDA in Hamilton with Olly there to help me choose.
My stripy socks were a gift from Olly.
My Paul Frank vinyl wallet was purchased whilst on holiday with my family in Lido di Jesolo, Northern Italy;
My iPad was another gift from Olly with a case purchased with an award from my work.
The iPhone 3GS I am writing this post on was originally owned by Olly who gave it to me when she upgraded.
The Griffin case that protects it was purchased reduced-to-clear in Tesco in Bellshill.

You get the gist.

The point of this post is not for me to show off... either my stuff or my nerdism... but to say that the way to combat rampant and blatantly mindless materialism is to attribute meaning to what we have & take time to remember what that meaning is... to contemplate the significance that has been allocated to the item... the value placed on the "thing" I hold dear.

It's a form of awareness... a sense of being in the moment... and it is far from mindless.

I don't need more because I have what I have now. That's not to say I won't collect more but collecting is different from consuming... collecting is about appreciation... it's about the thing... its about stewardship... whereas consumption is about the act of consuming... it's not about the 'thing' but the act of getting... of obtaining. These are two different acts.

As long as I can remember the origin story for each item I treasure then I, in my opinion, remain a collector & not a consumer.


Monday, December 12, 2011

DJ Shadow's "Scale It Back" by Ewan Jones Morris

DJ Shadow "Scale It Back" from Ewan Jones Morris on Vimeo.

I found this video fascinating when I watched it earlier. It presents a great song from DJ Shadow's new album.



(Thanks to the fox is black for the heads-up)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas music (part 2 of 2)

In my ongoing quest to find awesome Christmas music... I thought I'd share with you these albums, all of which help to make my Advent a joyous time.


I consider the five EPs that Sufjan Stevens wrote as "songs for Christmas" to be very precious indeed... they really make for a folky, homely and low-key Christmas where participation is more important that what you bring. I like that ideal, expressed through the songs, and recommend this collection to anyone who hasn't already got it.

$12 from Bandcamp


Jethro Tull are a pretty new discovery for me... and their Christmas album is a wonderful addition to my collection. It is a vibrant and joyously merry affair with plenty of prog-tastic flutes and folky instrumentation. It makes me happy and fills me with cheer.


"Silent Night" by Timbre is another recent discovery for me. Her vocals and minimal harp playing is simply breathtaking. There is a haunting, ethereal quality to this recording that brings to mind a sense of the timeless magic and wonder of Christmas.

Pay what you want from Bandcamp


"A very She & Him Christmas" is a wonderfully kitschy collection of popular Christmas songs. Zooey Deschanel's vocals and M.Ward's instrumentation just work perfectly with these songs... to create something really festive and fun. They are my Rat Pack crooners this year.


Blackmore's Night are a folky / prog rock duo - Ritchie Blackmore on guitar and Candice Night on vocals and instrumentation - whose album "Winder Carols" is truly are great find. They sing carols with gusto... and bring a traditional element to their presentation. This is one of my essential albums during Advent... especially their version of "O Come Emmanuel".


Caleb and the Carolling Caravan have two Christmas albums out on Bandcamp which I recently discovered and have soaked up ever since. Their sound is very similar to Sufjan Stevens... very folky and low-key... and it is, as such, a welcome addition to my collection. Their version of "as the deer", for example, is so heartfelt and meaningful and takes a simple hymn and makes it fit for Christmas. I like that.

Pay what you want from Bandcamp


Continuing in a progressive rock theme comes the trilogy of Christmas albums from Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Whilst not to everyone's taste... I find their rock-operas fascinating and comical in almost equal measure. They fill me with cheer and that's a good thing.


There is something about Christmas that brings out the kitsch in me... and "Christmas Harmonies" by the Beach Boys fits that bill nicely. Their presentation of very 'pop' Christmas songs is first class... and simply pure festive fun. Recommended if carols aren't your thing and your sick of the Rat Pack.


"Christmas Praise" by Olly's band - the Bellshill Salvation Army Band - is a lovely, heartwarming collection of carols and festive music with a wee vocal solo from Olly herself thrown in for good measure. Well recommended if brass music is either your passion or you want something completely different.

£10 + £2 p&p direct from the Band


"Advent Songs" by Sojourn is a powerful collection of carols and songs for Advent in an alt-rock setting. The instrumentation really brings some familiar songs into a new light... and I love this album for that. Well recommended.

$10 from Bandcamp


That's me for another year... I haven't had a chance to check out the recommendations that were sent through when I posted the first part of this brief series. I will.

Anyway... please check out the artists above and support great music where you can (especially the independent artists).



081211_ Tunnock's Caramel Log

111210_ Tunnock's Milk Chocolate Wafer Cream

051211_ awesomeness from Uddingston :: Tunnock's Coconut Meringue

010211_ Tunnock's

081211_ every tea break needs something Tunnock's

I think I am obsessed with the goodies that come from Uddingston bearing the name of Thomas Tunnock... but then I am not the only one.

081211_ Pippin loves a Tunnock's Caramel Log

Both Pippin and I would be happy to endorse Tunnock's confectionary... and yes, I know this is meant to be an "ad-free blog".

Tunnock's is a local, family-run business who do a tremendous amount for their local community... and they make awesomeness and wrap it in shiny wrappers.

I am happy to "advertise" them for that. Tx


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