Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Had a lovely day in Venice

We had a lovely day in and around San Marco, Rialto & Car d'oro. We did what we love to do in Venice... get lost and walk for hours in all the wonderfully intriguing alleyways. We even found the *only* McDonalds in the city... for Miriam.

Venice is an amazing city... one that is truly beautiful, warm & welcoming... with her own soul.

Will be back... soon.


Posted via email from headphonaught's posterous

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Heading to Venice & Lido di Jesolo


On Saturday morning... my family and I head down to Manchester. We are staying over night at the airport before flying out early on Sunday to Venice in Northern Italy.

On the beach

We are staying in Lido di Jesolo again... although this time we have hotel accommodation in the centre of town.

The plan is two weeks of sun, sand and awesome Italian food... with a few trips to Venice (both in the day and in the evening). I will have my Nikon with me and I intend to get some awesome shots of what is my joint-favourite city (along with Paris).


We want to see more than just Piazza San Marco... and intend to visit other areas of Venice.


I don't know what access I will have to the interwebs and haven't organised data roaming for my iPhone. To be honest... I need a break and the connectivity "fast" will do me the world of good. As such I am calling a Email amnesty and won't be on Twitter or Facebook... I will try to be "off the grid" as best I can.

I intend to read William Gibson and Philip K. Dick on my Kindle... listen to music on my iPhone... watch some films and play some games on my iPad and take loads of photos with my Nikon d60. I also hope to find new ideas and inspiration... and channel this into writing. I have a few albums I want to review while I am away.

Most of all... I want to hold my wife's hand whilst walking through Jesolo at night. I also want to watch my daughters as they play on the beach. I am looking forward to some sun, if truth be told, as I am in fear of developing trenchfoot in Glasgow.

So... if you are looking for something to read while I am away... check out the seven question interviews... or find something new to listen to on bandcamp.

I'll be back before you know it.


July 2011's Calendar

July 2011's Calendar :: 1280x800

July will soon be upon us... and I thought I'd get in early before I fly off to Venice (more on that later).

As before... the usual flavours are included below.




I still haven't worked out how to do a Kindle 3 version.

Seven questions... with Joshua Gaines aka Abraham the Poor

I love a wide variety of music... and I really love swampy folky rocky blues. One album that has really stood out in 2011 is "after the flood, into the wild" by Abraham the Poor. It is my kind of brilliant... vibrant, catchy, rootsy... I love it.

Abraham the Poor is the superhero identity of Josh Gaines who was mentioned in Andy Othling's interview. He is a wonderful story-telling bluesman who has, on more than one occasion, had me singing out loud in the shower. I really love how he crafts his songs... making them infectious but with depth.

One day I hope to catch both Josh and Andy Othling in concert together... I think that would be a truly fantastic billing. For now I will have to make do with catchy up with Josh over email. I did... and this is what he had to say in response to my seven questions:



1) Who are you and what do you do?
I write, record and perform under the name Abraham the Poor (though live under the name Josh Gaines) and I work full time for a lighting distributor in Albuquerque, NM.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
I just (literally just) finished up a stopmotion music video (also my first music video period) for the
song 'Future Homes,' from my first EP. That was posted on Tuesday, 06/21/11, so it's viewable on my YouTube channel now (see below). I'm also in the editing process of a live-action music video for the song 'Quelle Horreur! from the new album (which will be HD, beautiful awesomeness). They'll be released in thatorder.

3) Who inspires you?

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco) has probably been my biggest inspiration of late. I really appreciate his ability to write very down-home, twangy, tasty rock or acoustic songs, but then he can turn around and write very strange things as well. And his lyrics are just fantastic, clever and interesting. I've also really been intrigued with David Bazan's work lately.

- Name place that has inspired you.
As far as an inspiring place, I would have to say the ocean in general is very inspiring to me. Any coast. Just the vast, bigness of it is incredible, and the fact that it is constantly in motion, and is just simply bigger than man. No man can conquer the ocean, so it's a beautiful and terrifying thing, and I think a lovely expression of God's presence and power on the earth. And now Lowercase Noises is going to be mad at me because his answer is probably similar.

4) What drives you to do what you do?
I suppose it is primarily a desire to mean something to someone. To anyone. Even to one single person. It's somewhat hard not to be at least a little bothered by the fact that with the music industry the way it is lately, my chances of ever getting 'big' doing music are pretty much nonexistent. But in that vein, even if I am never even close to famous, I know firsthand (because people have written emails or come up and told me) that the songs that I've written and the ideas I've spoken through lyrics have affected people in a positive way, even pointed them to God in some instances. That definitely makes it worth doing, to know that the Lord has gifted me to do this and that He is capable of using it in other people's lives in ways I never could have known.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
As odd or obscure as it may sound, I actually hope to express searching. Or for people to use their heads and evaluate and test and question things and seek to understand what they believe and why they believe it. That sounds pretty spiritual (and in the case of my songs, it pretty much is), but I don't think it's limited to that. There's definitely some cynicism and struggle in my songs, though I try to always also acknowledge that I'm not losing my faith; I'm just wrestling with it. I hope that the ideas conveyed inspire people to do the same in their own lives.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
It's not as big of a thing at the moment, mainly because I'm just not playing that many local shows lately. But in the past I've noticed that having a local 'fan-base,' or even a group of good friends who you can count on to attend even the smallest, crummiest shows can be really encouraging and helpful. Albuquerque is unique (I think) in the sense that there is a small community of local bands who truly want to see each other succeed, and who are honestly excited and supportive of another group's release or tour or whatever. That's extremely encouraging to know there are other people who are excited about my art, yet are also doing a great job making their own, which I can be excited about, and it just makes for a really healthy system. It's not like other bands in town are competition. Well... most of them.

7) What is next for what you do?
Well, when these music videos are finished up and put out and when they go mega-viral on YouTube and make me a Beiber-status superstar (*cough*), I'd really like to record another stripped-down acoustic EP. Just some simple songs to chill out to. This last full-length album really wore me the heck out. Producing a full-band record with your own gear in your own space on your own steam is a heck of a lot of work, so doing something more simple next is appealing. Though it doesn't mean there won't be more of the fuller, more rocky stuff down the road sometime.


Awesome, mate... thank you! Here's the video Josh mentions: :: future-homes by abraham the poor

and here is "the muse"... recorded at home.

Abraham the Poor on Bandcamp

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jack's Dedication

190611_ Bobby & Jack
Jack with Bobby Weir

I had the privilege to take some photos at the dedication of Jack Midwinter... son of dear friends Ian and Sharon Midwinter. Shot mostly with my 55-200mm lens on my Nikon and my 24-80 + 70-300mm lens on my Canon. The light was pretty crappy, to be honest, but I did the best I could with what I had.

Both Jack and Ruaidhri (Scott & Susan Dunn's son) stole the show for me... both so wonderfully & vibrantly alive. I wish I was a photogeek when my we'ans were that age.

Anyway... I've posted to Flickr the shots from my Nikon d60 (here). The shots from my Canon EOS 350d will come tomorrow... when, hopefully, I've recovered from this blinding headache. I guess staring at a screen doesn't help... but I wanted to get these photos out there. I hope you like them.


190611_ Leanne & Jack
Jack with Leanne Laird

190611_ Scott & Ruaidhri #2
Scott with his son Ruaidhri

190611_ Emma
Emma Laird

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Loving... "The Gaia Theory" by Earlyguard (@earlyguard)

Two things to note when I listen to music... predominantly ambient music... is that I see things in the music and I try not to read the titles on first listen.

When I say I see things in the music, I unfortunately do not have synaesthesia. Instead I interpret the sounds presented as a sort of narrative "picture". I visualise spaces and places as a result of the soundscapes. This is why I avoid titles because I don't want their suggestion.

Anyway, with that in mind, when I was given the opportunity to preview "the Gaia theory" by Earlyguard... I was eager to hear what he had in store for me. I was not disappointed.

The Gaia Theory is a journey in truly beautiful sound... that, as a whole, makes me think of geodesic domes filled with flora and fauna... kind of like that Bruce Dern film "Silent Running".

The opening track "into biosphere" is very much about entrance. It is a wonderfully bright soundscape that brings the sense of an entrance... and through this entrance begins the journey.

The journey continues with "homeostasis" which has a elegantly melodic theme running through it that is underpinned by organic sounds that remind me of footsteps, birdsong and snippets of conversation and singing. At 25 minutes, this is the most immersive of the tracks on the album... one that really does symbolise, to me, a journey and retains the sense of size, space and openness of being in a vividly natural environment.

At times the refrain is replaced by the repetition of a sequencer... with a wave of sound... going up and down like chest of someone breathing. But by the 10min mark, the bright melody is back... infusing the track with light.

Around 12:30mins mark, a heavier synth refrain appears... along with the brief sounds of drips and more snippets of conversation. This change is welcomed... as if a change of scenery is upon the traveller as they journey through the space.

However, by 15:30mins the sequencer and the more melodic theme has returned... bring a wonderfully deliberate sense of continuity to the soundscape.

That said... by 18:30mins the sequencer has been stripped away again and you are left with a subtle synth refrain, a sound like the exhalation of air and the whispers and echoes of voices in the nearby locale.

All in, this is a hauntingly beautiful track... filled with intention and variety... which could have been easily split into separate tracks but gains synergy in being the length it is.

Next up we have "surrounded by life" which commences with a very upbeat and bright synth refrain combined with the sparkle and glimmer of a descending rhythmic sequence. Truly beautiful with a "heavenly" euphoric spirituality about it.

The album then closes with the wonderfully expansive "equilibrium". It sounds so bright and open... with a sense of awesomeness... like standing on an open field at night and looking out into the blackness of night and seeing all the stars above your head. There is also the sound of wind chimes clanging and crickets chirping. These sounds underpin waves of melody... that ebb and flow... and build the track up before fading off into the ether.

"The Gaia Theory" by Earlyguard is a truly beautiful piece of music... a vivid and evokative sound picture for me... and one that I would thoroughly recommend when it is released on the 1st July.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Seven questions... with Andy Othling aka Lowercase Noises

Andy Othling aka Lowercase Noises is a musical inspiration to me. Just over a year ago... I posted on his album :: Marshall ...
I found this album to be particularly moving... especially the last track - "how deep the father's love" - which is a favourite hymn of mine... and is wonderfully yet faithfully reimagined. To come at the end is so climatic ... it had me in tears... and then had me playing it on repeat.
Nothing has changed... other than I now have four albums and an EP to cherish. In fact, his fourth album :: Carry Us All Away :: was the first physical copy of an album I bought on bandcamp... it marks a real, fundamental change in the way I purchase music.

I can't express how his music moves me... I connect to it on a really deep and emotional level... and I am very grateful to him for making it.

Anyway... I caught up with Andy and asked him my wee mini interview. This is what he replied...



1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Andy Othling and I am the guy behind Lowercase Noises. I play guitar and pretend to play a few other instruments.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m in the beginning phases of writing and recording an album for my daughter Vivian, who is due to be born on September 1. Which is coming up really fast. Also I’m doing a little collaboration with Josh of Abraham The Poor. We’re hoping to come up with a few good songs and put out an EP at some point.

3) Who inspires you?

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
Dredg was the first band that really started to steer me toward the sound that I’m going for now. Particularly the guitar tone… it was so huge and I was/am completely addicted to it. There was also a depth and meaning to the music that I’d not previously experienced. Hammock has also been a huge influence for me in terms of style and sound.

- Name place that has inspired you.
The northern coast of California… and all of Highway 1 really. It’s the only place I get cravings for. I have to go back every summer.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
For some reason water in it’s various forms has always inspired me. I love showers. I love how beautiful and completely horrifying the ocean is. I love rain, and I love rivers. When I was little one of the only things my parents could do to get me to calm down was to set me in the bathroom with the shower running. I guess it’s pretty ironic that I live in the desert.

4) What drives you to do what you do?
I honestly don’t have a great answer to this question. I have to express myself creatively or I start to feel all bottled up or broken or something. I don’t know quite what it is, but not making music is just not an option for me. Sometimes I wish I could turn that drive off, because it’s so hard to create, and so draining and frustrating at times. But of course it’s wonderful.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I guess there are a couple of aspects to this. I am the type of person who gets drained by being around people and by being in social situations. I get my energy by being alone. So I think a lot of what I try to express through my music is related to that. I want to give people the opportunity to slow down. I want to give people a little bit of space and silence. Because I need those things, and that’s just kind of what comes out when I write. Also, as a Christian I really have a general desire to create music that is thoughtful, quality, and creative as a response to the way the vast majority of “Christian” music has abandoned those values.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
This is kind of a hard question, because I could say that it almost plays no part. Lowercase Noises is mostly a one-man thing (with the exception of a few guest musicians here and there) and it’s what I do as sort of a retreat or escape. But that’s not really true because every artist wants to see their work affect other people in one way or another. So in that sense it makes up a huge part. Knowing that what you do affects even one person is that last thing that happens to make an artist’s work complete. I’ve had people take the time to email me just to say that my music has helped them through some really hard times, and that’s amazing. That’s when I feel the most satisfied about this whole thing. I’m also blown away by the general response from everyone on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I never thought people would be as interested in this as they seem to be.

7) What is next for what you do?
Well like I mentioned before, I’ve really got to get working on these new songs for Vivian. But other than that I’m working on a few things to try to get my name out there and branch out in terms of musical opportunities. I really do want to do music full time in some capacity, and I just want to put myself out there and see what happens.


Thanks Andy! If you don't have some Lowercase Noises in your collection then, in my opinion, you are missing out. You really can't go wrong with his sound.

Please support independent music like Andy's.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Loving... "saturation event" by Benjamin Dauer

I was grateful to Leonardo over at the awesome netlabel Feedback Loop for giving me the opportunity to preview his latest release :: Saturation Event :: and, in doing so, introducing me to Benjamin Dauer and his art.

I love ambient music and I think Benjamin Dauer's is truly wonderful. Let me explain why...

Saturation Event opens with the ominous and imposing darkness of "borderland of sleep" ... which is a real aural treat with ambient drones that come in and out of perception like waves on the sea... coming closer and closer then fading away... only to repeat this pattern in a truly delightful yet unsettling manner.

We then have "falling apart i" which initially carries on the deeply ominous feel... but brings in an engaging and immersive layer of sound that has a brighter and more hopeful countenance.

The third track "alistrati" is a truly wonderful and impressive sound picture where glitchy percussive elements are added to the droning soundscape. These elements provide a sense of organic randomness that allow me, as the listener, to feel like I am in a tunnel or cavern... getting wet with drips of water.

We then are presented with "crown of sparks" which opens with luscious post-classical drones that build to create an immersive wall-of-sound before fading away in an ebb before flowing back almost immediately. This track stands out as more melodic and engaging that those that came before... yet it fits beautifully into the 'whole' of the album.

Continuing this post-classical theme is "orbits in conversation" which has a brightness and airiness to it. I picture a return to the surface after a period below ground... there is a freshness about this track that suggests the deep filling of the lungs with clean air.

The penultimate track "falling apart ii" regains some of the mystery of the earlier tracks... there is a sense of looking back to where the listener has been but without the overwhelming feeling of ominousness. There is movement and a sense of larger-than-life spaciousness here... an openness of sound and texture that brings relief and awe in equal measure.

The last track "transient pool" concludes the album eloquently with further waves of sound before brighter themes are introduced... an immersive sense of sparkling and shining as it attracts the eye... all the while the soft, lilting waves gently ebb and flow... eventually bringing the track and the album to a natural close.

This is a deeply impressive album that showcases the power and majesty of post-classical ambient electronic music. It is a delight to feature it on this blog and to have it in my collection.

It is also a delight to welcome into my awareness Benjamin Dauer... I look forward to following his career and hearing more awesome soundscapes like Saturation Event which is available for free on Feedback Loop.


Some pics taken with my 55-200mm lens

110611_ lazy #2

150611_ in Olly's garden #2

150611_ in Olly's garden #1

Its great to have my lens back... I particularly love taking pics with a shallow depth of field. I can't wait to take it to Venezia!


120611_ loving

150611_ a bee in Olly's garden

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Seven questions... with Graham Phillips aka "Fields of Ypres"

When a trusted friend asks me to check something or someone out... I do it. Sometimes it works... sometimes it doesn't. In the case of Graham Phillips aka "Fields of Ypres" it worked (thanks Dave!).

I have only heard the three tracks on his website... and, as such, I'm only just getting to grips with Graham's music... but from what I've heard... I get a real sense of potential. His folky-tinged acoustic soundscapes have a real depth to them... which is accentuated by his eloquent vocals and a real focus of craft.

I caught up with Graham and asked him my wee mini interview... this is what he had to say:



1) Who are you and what do you do?
I am Graham Phillips. I’m a singer/songwriter and I perform under the pseudonym of Fields of Ypres.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve actually just finished a new video for my Youtube channel. In the wider sense though, I’m tying up all the loose ends with regards to my debut release as Fields of Ypres. I’ve recorded a four track EP called “For Every Hour”, mixed and mastered by Mike Odmark (Aaron Roche, The Winston Jazz Routine) which is due for release in September through local label, Comercially Inviable.

3) Who inspires you?

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
Aaron Roche

- Name place that has inspired you.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
My iMac!

4) What drives you to do what you do?

People are like cups, whatever we consume we overflow with. I love listening to music, finding new artists and absorbing their work until I know every intricate detail. Therefore, writing music is just a natural overflow of who I am, I don’t feel necessarily driven to do it, I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t do it.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?

My outlook on life has changed considerably over the past few years. Understanding the grace of God has been central to this, forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption are values that are central to me. So many people live out their lives from a position of feeling unloved, I want to give them a sonic hug.

6) What role does community play in what you do?

It informs my work. Because of our engagement with online social networks we’re players in several communities, each of which will have a slightly different dynamic. I love my city, my relationship with the people that live here shape what I choose to write about.

7) What is next for what you do?

Honing my live show is pretty high on the agenda, I’m looking forward to getting out and doing some more live shows. I’d also like to record a full length album, something that listens like one full piece rather than 11 or 12 tracks put together.


Thank you Graham... I look forward to your debut album. If you live in the Wolverhampton area and get the chance to hear Graham live... do it. Support independent music.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Loving... "Alluvial EP" by Northcape (@northcape)

I've said it before and I'll say it again... I follow some really creative people on Twitter. Tonight's case in point is @northcape whose four track EP Alluvial on elpa music is a collection of the most wonderful downtempo electronica.

It has been on repeat almost non-stop since I downloaded it over the weekend because it reminds me of the very best of boards of canada... with its warm retro synths sounds and emphasis on melody.

I particularly like the waves of synths that provide an organic and natural feel to the tracks. I also like the sparse use of beats and percussion... that add to the soundscape sparingly and don't overpower the melody.

Alluvial is my kind of electronica... warm, melodic and inviting with a sense of openness... the kind of music that is deliberate and unhurried without any sense of pretence or fashion. I might go as far as saying timeless like the subject matter that inspired it.

Recommended. Free to download via


This is cool... "Space Shuttle Endeavour Final Launch" by Northern Lights

Recently I posted the film of the cameras from the Endeavour Space Shuttle launch. Just found this video that has synced up the disparate footage to create this fab panorama... which makes revisiting the launch well worth doing... especially when the boosters are ejected.

Recommend you watch it in full screen mode.

Good job Northern Lights!


My blogging policy

030611_ self-portrait

After reading this article by Bobby Solomon over on the awesome The Fox Is Black I wanted to add my tuppence worth and set out my blogging "policy".

I've been blogging for a number of years now... and I have always been about "the whole of me". This hasn't changed... albeit I now post more of my theological posts/rants over on the Something Beautiful Podcast website. I do this because I don't want to alienate friends who do not share my beliefs.

Over the last wee while my remit and focus, without sounding full of myself, has been to advocate for awesomeness... primarily within the field of independent music. Everything I feature on this blog has one tough obstacle to overcome... one big thick gate to pass through... and that's me. If I love it, then I will post it... if I don't, I won't. Its as simple as that.

I find most things through word-of-mouth, from the awesome folks who make up my Twitter timeline, from other blogs or from taking a donder around the Interwebs. However, recently I have received content to check out... which I am extremely grateful for.

The thing is... if you want your music, art or whatever featured on here... then give me a shout... and I will check it out. If I like it... I will post about it. If I don't... well, it just doesn't work for me... its not a criticism, its just me. I'd rather not feature something than disparage it with low ratings or anything... in fact, I don't rate anything on here because I don't think its fair... but I will tell you why something speaks to me.

Oh and I will tell you if I have been given it to check out. I don't see any point in lying to you. I don't make any money from this blog. I make my money as a Business Analyst. I'm not a journalist nor am I professional reviewer... I am just someone who loves things like independent music (especially ambient electronica and post-rock) and wants to give back to all the folks out there who create for the love of it. This is my fun... this is my golf... this is my WoW... and as such I want to keep it that way.

I hope this makes sense?


Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Rolling Thunder" by The Hard Drive featuring my photo

My friend Wolfgang Merx in collaboration with another of my twitter friends Tom Emmons has created an awesome ambient soundscape... and the track features one of my pictures as the album art.

Its always a pleasure to work with Wolfgang... he gives me a loose remit and let's me interpret it as I like. For this release it was...
"I want to release the 29-minute-long track "Rolling Thunder" as a single. It's got a rather dark sound (hence the title)."
I looked back through my archives and suggested this photo :: 280111_ Near the Tron :: which was taken whilst on photosafari to the Barras in Glasgow... along with a few others. Wolfgang chose it... and the rest is history.

I'm delighted with its use... I feel its my way of giving back to the independent music scene I am part of.

Anyway... check out the track... if you like long-form Berlin school ambient electronic soundscapes then you will love Rolling Thunder.


Two new EPs from Ambienteer

James Fahy aka Ambienteer has released two new EPs that are both well worth adding to your collection... if you dig ambient electronic soundscapes.

Diumenge (top) is the shorter of the two... with three tracks that mix post-classical drones with field recordings... to create deep soundscapes with an almost spiritual quality about them.

Frequencies (bottom) is more focussed on drones... with each track creating a unique and individualistic ambience. My particular favourite on this EP is the last track... fracture... which is based on the waves of sound that come from playing chimes... it is a simple concept yet the execution is wonderfully sumptuous and engaging.

I find James' work to be very powerful... and I strongly recommend adding both EPs to your collections.


Lack of choice with the Pulse app

My three favourite iPad apps are, without doubt... Pulse Reader, Instapaper and Yahtzee.

If you have an iPhone or iPad (and I realise not everyone has an iPhone or iPad) then you really need these apps. Pulse Reader is a really sweet and visual RSS reader and Instapaper is app where I can send wordy long-form articles to for "off-line" reading.  I love these apps and use them daily.

However, there is a problem with Pulse Reader that is impacting on Instapaper... which is the result of Pulse's latest update. Part of the appeal of Pulse is that I can send things to my "Pulsememe" Posterous blog from my iPad (for some reason it has never been a feature of the iPhone app). I use this Posterous blog as a visual scrapbook of awesome things I have found while surfing the blogs within my Pulse. Its a great reference tool and something I can share with anyone interested... something I have curated.

Perviously, sending to the Pulsememe account was a separate option than sending to Instapaper... and this was something I liked. I tend to send visual posts to my Pulsememe and wordly articles to my Instapaper.

I don't send visual posts to my Instapaper... nor do I send wordy articles to my Pulsememe. Now I have to. The developers have set it so that all the "posting to" options are together (except to email, twitter or facebook). Therefore, if I want to post to Pulsememe or Instapaper I have no choice but put them together... or post to one then log out of that option and log into the other option and post again.

It doesn't work.

I would like to see posting to Pulsememe, Instapaper and Evernote (another fab app I love for my iPhone, iPad and Mac) as separate options... on a par with posting to email, twitter and facebook. In fact, I'd happily swap posting to email and facebook with posting to Pulsememe and Instapaper.

I'm not sure what went wrong... but without separate options, Pulse is losing its appeal.


In Olly's garden

100611_ decaying poppies #4

I picked up my 55-200mm lens for my Nikon today. It was wonderfully repaired by A.J.Johnstone... back to its glory. I was so eager to use it... that I rushed out into Olly's garden and snapped some of the flowers & birds out there. Here are a few of the best pics.



100611_ decaying poppies #2

100611_ pink broom

100611_ a great tit #1

Friday, June 10, 2011

This is cool... "Let Us Be Kind" by Gurdonark

I love this video from my dear friend Gurdonark... it displays so much imagination and feeling. Fantastic!



Seven questions... with Matt & Kev from The Fierce And The Dead

Now then... Mr Matt Stevens is a cheeky monkey because he's sneaked in a second interview... but because its under the guise of his band :: The Fierce And The Dead :: I'll let him off.

In all seriousness... their debut album :: "If It Carries On Like This We Are Moving To Morecambe" :: is one of my fave albums so far this year with its wonderful mix of progressive instrumental post-rock. I was very fortunate to get a preview listen (review here) and was blown away. I really want them to succeed and with over 1,000 albums sold to date, they are on their way.

I caught up with Matt (right) and Kev (left... whose bass playing seriously impresses me) over email and asked them my seven questions... this is what they said:



1) Who are you and what do you do?

Kev: I'm Kevin Feazey. I play bass in The Fierce And The Dead and i'm an audio engineer and producer. I also play bass for The Murder Barn and Ten Times The Man You'll Ever Be.

Matt: I'm Matt Stevens and I play guitar and make funny noises in The Fierce and The Dead. I also play in Yonks which is more esoteric and do solo stuff. And I run the Spencer Park Music label thing. And other stuff.

2) What are you working on at the moment?

K: I am working on recordings for a band called Silvery and writing new material for TFATD.

M: I'm finishing my 3rd solo record, doing solo gigs and there is more Yonks stuff on the way. I wrote a new TFATD song today. We're doing some The Fierce And The Dead gigs soon as well. And I'm spending too much time on Twitter, need to stop that

3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.

K: Black Flag. Their dedication to the music makes most other bands look like hobbyists.

M: My old guitar teacher Richard Beaumont was a big influence on me. He was a very unusual musician and he taught me a lot of the jazzy harmony parts that I use in the music, as well as the odd timings and all that. Lovely fella as well. The Track HR on the Fierce And The Dead record with the ascending chords and inversions has a feel influenced by him.

- Name place that has inspired you.

K: The Oakley Arms in my hometown. It's where my ambitions first became focused.

M: Home. My house with my wife! Seriously having her support allows me to do what i do with the music.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.

K: Guitars.

M: Twitter and the friendships I've made online are inspiring. When I was making music a few years ago there was no feedback, it was like shouting into space. Now you can put music out and get feedback and all that, you don't have to listen to it if you don't want to! Its a great to have that audience.

4) What drives you to do what you do?

K: I'm not driven, i just don't know how to stop.

M: I just want to get stuff finished, to produce good work. I've always wanted to do music thats different and individual, to hear new sounds, to try new things. Thats all you can do. I'm really proud of the Fierce And The Dead album, I think its a progression from the EP and different to the other things I've worked on. Kev and Stu are are great musicians, we have a very intuitive musical relationship where we play stuff and no one is trying to show off, I'm proud of that. I'll feel a lot happier when the my third solo album is out as well and all the backlog of music from the last year is clear.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?

M: Honesty really. All you can do is be honest, if you try and be cool or try and do music people will like you've had it. Be totally honest in what you do, the audience can see through it if you don't. If you don't have integrity you have nothing. I do it because I love music.

K: I would hate for the music I play to preach values. If anything I want our music to encourage people to develop their own values independently.

6) What role does community play in what you do?

M: The online community have supported us financially and by spreading the word and allowed us to do this so its absolutely crucial. Without them the album wouldn't exist. The reaction to the album has been really motivational to keep the project going.

K: My family is my base and my friends are my family.

7) What is next for what you do?

M: A new vinyl EP next year and lots and lots of gigs. We'll see how far we can take the Fierce and The Dead, I'm not stopping the solo stuff at this stage and there are various other projects but I'd really like people to hear the FATD stuff. I'm so happy with the reaction we've had so far, its a small audience but they are really into it. Thats all you can ask for really. We're very lucky and I'm totally aware of that. People buying the music allows us to keep doing this and record at decent studios and all that.

K: We are lucky enough to be able to play our music without having to pander to outside influences. I want to keep doing that for as long as we can.


Thanks guys... very insightful. I look forward to more from you both.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

This is cool :: Memory Tapes "Yes I Know" :: video by Najork

Don't know how Najork did it... but wow!

Seven questions... with Adam Howie aka @kimded

I have two stickers on my moleskine notebook... one by lowercase noises and one from Adam Howie. I love Adam's work and really wish I could support him more than I do... because I believe his art is wonderful... as can be seen at the bottom of this post. He has a vivid sense of vision and an expressiveness that I totally get. I really would love to see him to create the artwork for the music I listen to... as he did with The Northern Exposure's "Quiet Songs for a Loud Generation".

I caught up with him over email where I asked him my seven questions... this is what he said:



1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Adam Howie, although I also go by the online nick of “Lurch Kimded”, and I am an artist… that sounds the confession at the beginning of a “Creatives Anonymous” meeting.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
Couple of things, but biggest current project is an illustrated version of “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe that I hope to turn into a book.

3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.

Ouch, hard one, not just because of the sheer number of artists who have inspired me but also with my memory remembering their names is nigh on impossible. If I had to choose one I would say JMW Turner, ever since I first saw his work as a teenager doing art history in high school there was something about his work that just drew me in. It was atmospheric, powerful, and so beautiful. I also loved the fact that to get the inspiration for a piece about a storm he attached himself to the mast of a boat during one so he could fully experience it. It probably never happened but it does give a glimpse at the kind of artist he was.

- Name place that has inspired you.
I could be obtuse and say the Internet, but I would say that Scotland has impacted me greatly, quite apart from being my homeland, I spent a good chunk of my life growing up in dramatic vistas of the highlands and islands. Japan, however, has had a massive impact of my life and inspired me greatly, not just from my love of the place, the people, and the cultures, but also the very real impact it had on my life which resulted in me being able to try and make a living from being an artist.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Probably the biggest thing to inspire me is music, I almost always create with a wide varity of music on in the background, and a few of my pieces have been directly inspired by lyrics.

4) What drives you to do what you do?
Besides the obvious need to make a living :), I would say that I just cant help it, its an impulse I have had since I was a kid. I have always drawn, never really thought I could make a living out of it, but even at uni while studying computer science I still doodled through lectures. It is quite literally a part of me I cannot ignore, I have to create or I deny a very real part of who I am. I also believe that in some way this drive is enhanced from God, who is a creative being to me, and there is a desire to see creation and its experiences explored through art.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I try and not force my work to have “values” but rather have emotion, and meaning, although I suppose that is a value. I want my work to show that we need to examine everything, to look at things from different perspectives, to see the world as other see it to hopefully get a better understanding of them. I would also say that I want my some of my work at least to confront people with emotions, ideas, and the like, that they may not necessarily want to confront.

My Christian beliefs and values will be reflected either obviously, such as in my religious works, or subtly, in some of works focusing on pain and emption. However I would love it that even those who aren’t Christian, or would have nothing to do with any faith, can still take something from my work.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
There is of course the wonderfully supportive community of my family and friends (both physical and virtual) who continually support me and uplift me, even when I am at my most negative, and I am always grateful for it. But there is also the role of feedback from the online communities that I upload my work to, although I still hope to be able to one day make my way into the local art community by showing at galleries and the like.

7) What is next for what you do?
I would say that the biggest thing is the development of my style and exploring new ways to expand the reach of my work.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Seven questions... with Stoo Nicol from @crosstheborder

I believe there are only two types of music: good and bad. To this end... I love a wide variety of music and I absolutely adore vibrant folk music... the kind that tells the stories of the common man (or woman) AND gets you dancing. This defines the folk music of Cross the Border... a band I really look forward to hearing live in McSorley's sometime soon.

Anyway... I caught up with Stoo Nicol from the band... and asked him my wee mini interview. Here's what he said...



1) Who are you and what do you do?
I am Stoo Nicol, singer and front-man of the Celtic Folk band Cross the Border. What we do is create Celtic Folk inspired music (without rigidly sticking to one style) that we enjoy and that doesn't necessarily adhere to traditional folk guidelines and standards.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
We are currently working on bringing our new line-up up to speed with the established set list from our first album and previous live shows. The new guys we have brought in are all very exciting and dynamic musicians from various backgrounds and I don't think that process will take very long at all. After that we have begun gathering songs for a "Traditional Album" which we hope to have recorded before the end of the year. The idea is to approach traditional songs in the same manner we have approached our own material thus far, to play each song in our own fashion so that we remain true to the music we love and I guess therein lies the challenge of keeping the songs recognisable but approaching them in a fresh and exciting way.

3) Who inspires you?

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
As a band we have so many different inspirations from so many different backgrounds, some of our musicians come from rock backgrounds, funk, folk, and grunge etc... So tying it down to one artist is difficult. So I will sidestep the more "famous" of our inspirations and go with someone who has inspired me while on the road. I am immensely proud to be friends with an artist called Steph MacLeod who we have played with in various locations in the UK. Steph is a recovering alcoholic, Christian and truly talented musician who writes songs about addiction, his faith and basically every facet of the world he comes into contact with. Despite not being a church going Christian myself, Steph's musicianship, lyrics and his story in general is so energising when you listen to him that you can't help but fall in love with the music. The story of a man with talent falling into hard times, becoming an alcoholic, becoming homeless, finding faith, cleaning himself up and producing great music about his story is hard to top.

- Name place that has inspired you.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
I guess brotherhood is a huge inspiration in my own and subsequently the bands writing. Most of our first album centres around the bond of brotherhood be it between a nation or just a group of people.

4) What drives you to do what you do?
Music in general can be a great friend and confidant when you are feeling low, a guide when you are feeling lost and a great way to express your thoughts when other forms of communication fail. I guess most of the band just has a need to create and express themselves. In some cases music is the one thing you hold on to when everything else around you is in disarray.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Staying true to ourselves is one of the strong values in the band; we don't want to be dictated to by the changing face of music, trends or constrictions of genre. We want to always just create whatever music we feel is right at the time.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
It plays a huge role in what we do, we have been very lucky through social media to make some great connections from our manager/soundman, to our friends, to our fans in as far afield as Germany, America, Japan etc, radio dj's in foreign countries... It's quite unbelievable when you look at it in this way. In fact the band itself just could not exist without community, without social media the band would not have been formed as I met my fellow founding member Gary Painting on that most prehistoric of social media sites MySpace. Similarly our percussionist Lewis and Zouk player Duffy, who I met on MySpace also, Richi our bassist, Alistair our guitarist, Yuuka our fiddle player and Paddy our drummer/percussionist I met also on social media. We have found it really humbling to watch our community grow in places like Germany without us having even set foot on German soil yet. Hearing from people enjoying your music and sharing your music in a country you’ve yet to land on has been quite an emotional experience for us and we are blessed to be able to share in that sort of community.

7) What is next for what you do?
Next is getting our "Traditional Album" recorded after which we will be looking to writing our second album of original material early next year. In between times we need to find time to travel and gig including a monthly residency in Glasgow venue McSorley's which we are all really excited about.


Thank you for sharing Stoo... please check out their music (here) and, if you get a chance, go see them live in McSorley's.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Seven questions... with Mike Lemmon aka Neue

Mike Lemmon aka Neue really caught my attention with his album The Planets... and I was really curious about what he did. So I asked him my wee mini interview.

Here's what he said...



1) Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Mike Lemmon, and I'm a designer and electronic musician living in Portland, Oregon in the US. By day, I design products and software at a very fun and challenging design firm here in Portland. When I can, I like playing with synthesizers.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
My design job takes up a lot of creative energy, so outside work I've been continuing on music projects and experimentation, and my own design and entrepreneurial projects, which helps to keep fulfilled creatively. On the music front, I've received a lot of really positive feedback on my album The Planets that I released earlier this year for my project Neue, which has been incredibly inspiring and humbling.

3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
I've always been drawn to composers of film scores, or other musicians with what I would describe as a cinematic style that creates a sense of place. Impossible to pin down to one, so I'll mention some recent favorites. Brian McBride of Stars of the Lid, Clint Mansell, and John Murphy come to mind.

- Name place that has inspired you.
The San Juan and Gulf Islands in Northwestern Washington State/British Columbia. This is a place of immense and serene beauty.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
One thing was the first "real" keyboard synth I got as a teenager, a Yamaha CS1X. Finally having real knobs to play with was so freeing. So many geek-out jamming sessions on that keyboard. There's been a lot of interests that I've had in my life, but electronic music has always been an undercurrent.

4) What drives you to do what you do?
I love solving problems, which speaks to my designer roots. My degree is in Industrial Design, which is about half engineering and half art classes. I actually found it hard in a lot of these art classes that were about pure expression, it was sort of like, what's the point? A friend of mine described the difference between art and design well: that it's ok for art to spiral forever, but design has a destination. I absolutely love art and am envious of people who can seem to freely and expressively create, but this has helped me realize how much I love constraints and how constraint drives creativity. So when I create, it's really about understanding the constraints and embracing them. Or even inventing constraints if I have to!

When it comes to how this translates to my approach to music, it's easy for my music sessions to be about "learning and experimentation". This is an easy way to kill hours of evenings and weekends. Again with constraints, I'll frequently try to envision a set of scenes which the sound can represent and almost tell a story about through sound about the scene. This is basically how I created my album The Planets. In that case I had these real places as context around which to focus. Other constraints I use are of instrumentation or time. I'll just say that I need to create something in an hour, with this set of instruments, and see what comes together. This might form the basis of something new and unexpected.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Creating a sense of beauty and elegance, but with many layers of interest and intricacy to uncover over time.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
I've been drawn to the online community for connection and inspiration. There's so many people empowered to create today, it's a constant source of inspiration.

7) What is next for what you do?
At some point there will be another album, and probably will share some new tracks later this year. And some day I'd love to work on a score for a game or a film, so we'll see.


Thanks Mike! When my friend @myopicaardvark buys your music then that is a big honour (imho)... he is a soundtrack buff and knows his stuff.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Seven questions... with James Underwood from @iskrastrings

I find the answers I get from the creatives in my timeline totally fascinating... and after featuring the work of Iskra Strings I asked James Underwood if he would be up for answering my wee mini interview... and he jumped at the chance.

Enjoy... oh and check out the extra couple of tracks from their Soundcloud. Awesome.



1. Who are you and what do you do?
I’m James and I am a violinist with a collaborative group of string players called Iskra. We mainly perform as a string quartet but occasionally the name is used as an umbrella for different musical incarnations.

2. What are you working on at the moment?
At this very moment, Iskra are having a short hiatus whilst my family prepare for baby no.2 (due yesterday!). However, we have shows coming up with Ólafur Arnalds and Jóhann Jóhannsson that will need some preparation.

3. Who inspires you?

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
We worked with Sufjan Stevens whilst he was promoting his Illinoise album. It’s always amazing to work with one of your favorite artists. He has such a strong musical vision and has so many ideas but he works with genuine humility and generosity. He was very encouraging of everyone else’s creativity in the band and quietly nurtured a strong sense of community. It was a special time.

- Name a place that has inspired you.
London. We live on a housing estate in South West London and sometimes I have a fantasy about moving to the countryside, especially after nights like last night when our neighbours had a drunken fight which ended with them smashing up their windows and the police arriving on the scene. However, that aside, there is an artistic buzz and multiculturalism in the city that is really inspiring and we have worked hard to foster a sense of community where we live.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
I’m nervous about getting too attached to ‘things’ but I’m pretty obsessive about my 200 year-old violin.

4. What drives you to do what you do?
I love music and love playing my violin. I do what I do because of the sheer joy of music making and connecting with other musicians. It’s also always really special if that music connects with an audience however large or small.

5. What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Iskra’s creativity is mostly about interpreting the work of others whilst also managing to express our own voice in a way that serves the music rather than distracts. I hope that we work with generosity, enthusiasm and a sense of adventure.

6. What role does community play in what you do?
Living in London and working as a musician can be a very isolated experience. It’s been important for me to draw together fellow musicians who inspire and encourage one another. It’s also been really important to Iskra (although not always possible) that there is a sense of relationship with the artists we work with.

7) What is next for what you do?
We have contributed strings to forthcoming debut albums from David’s Lyre, Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Marcus Foster. In particular the David’s Lyre (the artist is actually called Paul) album has been a special project as I used to teach him the violin from when he was at primary school. He is now 21 years old, signed to a major record label and doesn’t play the violin anymore.

We are also talking to a composer about performing a new work (it hasn’t actually been written yet) which is for string quartet and a sequencer that will have audio samples taken from the recordings of Donald Crowhurst on his boat during his tragic single handed sailing effort to circumnavigate the globe in 1969.

Lastly, there is talk about the quartet recording an album of library music with another composer friend of ours. It sounds like fun. Watch this space!


Thanks James! Go here for more.

David's Lyre - In Arms (Iskra String Quartet Version) by Iskra String Quartet

Jóhann Jóhannsson - Odi Et Amo featuring Iskra String Quartet (Brussels, April 2009) by Iskra String Quartet

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Looking forward to this... "Another Realm" by IONA

I am a huge fan of Iona and am really excited to hear their new album... "another realm". There is something truly magical about their sound.

I am also hoping to catch them at King Tut's next Sunday too. Give me a shout if you are going.


New Views of Endeavour's Launch from Booster Cameras

A camera mounted on each of space shuttle Endeavour's solid rocket boosters capture the launch of the orbiter on STS-134 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on May 16, and documents the SRBs' separation and subsequent landing in the Atlantic Ocean.
I found this video fascinating... because I always wondered what happened to the booster rockets on the Space Shuttle. The sounds as the rockets reenter the atmosphere are interesting too.



via Lowercase Noises with thanks

Photos from Wednesday's "music from a summer's evening"

010611_ music for a summer's evening #27

On Wednesday evening... Bellshill Salvation Army's Band held a concert of familiar classical music and I was grateful for the opportunity to photograph the event.

The full set is posted on Flickr.



010611_ music for a summer's evening #3

010611_ music for a summer's evening #24

010611_ music for a summer's evening #17

a wee photosafari to the Clyde

030611_ blue and green together

Friday was a glorious day... and I got the opportunity to head out with a couple of work chums for a wee photosafari to the Clyde.

I have included some of my faves... and posted the remainder as a set on Flickr.



030611_ green shutter

030611_ graffiti

030611_ the clyde #1


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