Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Loving... 'Vivian' by Lowercase Noises

I've spent most of today listening and relistening to the latest release from Andy Othling aka Lowercase Noises. I have been anticipating this release for a wee while now... I am a big fan of Andy's and consider any release of his essential listening.

I was probably too eager to hear this recording... suggesting a one point that Andy's wife try hot sauce to bring on labour. For that I'm sorry, Andy.

'Vivian' was released yesterday to coincide with birth of the Othlings' daughter Vivian. Andy did the same thing when his son Marshall was born. Words can't express how awesome that is... to create and have such a fitting tribute to the birth of your child.

'Vivian' contains five truly beautiful tracks that are simply majestic in their  sonic splendour.

There is an apparent simplicity to the recordings... electric guitar with loops & delays throughout with an acoustic guitar and a cello in various places... nothing rushed or frantic is heard... just a measured gracefulness in the presentation.

I acknowledge the effort required to present such simplicity. I see Andy as a master craftsman who has created something of real worth... that has come about through long days of hard graft... something that will last the test of time and outlive the vagaries of fashion. There is nothing to prove in this music... no gimmick or hook to ensnare the listener... other than the quality of the workmanship.

I would safely hazard a guess as to this being why I love the music of Lowercase Noises and why I readily welcome 'Vivian' to my consciousness.

I have ordered the double disc that Andy has prepared that features both 'Vivian' and 'Marshall'. I can't wait to listen to both albums on my hi-fi at home. It will sit, in pride of place, beside Andy's other albums on my shelf.

I won't go into detail with any of the tracks other than to say 'nearer my God to me' is simply wondrous and up there, for me, with 'how deep the father's love'.

Please buy this album and support independent talent. Have a wee listen below to hear why...


Monday, August 29, 2011

Seven questions with... Leonardo Rosado

Leonardo Rosado is a real inspiration to me. He's an awesome ambient musician in his own right - I've covered 'for r' and 'opaque glitter' previously - and I have been mightily impressed by some of the releases he has overseen for his netlabel 'Feedback Loop' including 'saturation event' by Benjamin Dauer. He is a power for good in the netlabel world and someone I am glad to know. He recently responded to my seven questions with the following...



1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Leonardo Rosado and I am an artist exploring the intersection between everyday life and poetic moments, mostly these days using sounds to express my points of view.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I finished a collaboration album with Alicia Merz aka Birds of Passage (she does all the vocals) that will be released later in the year. I also finished my following album codenamed Studies on Solitude, which will include some invited vocalists.

3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you. 
When it comes to composing my music I generally don’t feel a direct inspiration from any artist, but if you think of Laurie Anderson, Ian Curtis, Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen there you will find the great references for my body of work, philosophically speaking.

- Name place that has inspired you. 
In general urban places inspire me, but also natural ones, the details you can find on them, their intrinsic beauty, mostly hidden in details, a fallen leave, a crack in the asphalt.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you. 
Poetry has always been the main inspiration to my work, and not only music, but photographs, painting and writing.

4) What drives you to do what you do? 
I have always been passionate by several art forms, and in some way, I wanted to be part of it. To express my feelings in an abstract way that can hopefully be meaningful to others, so they can appropriate them and use them as they see fit.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express? 
Nowadays, time is unstoppable, what today is novelty, tomorrow will be forgotten. To counteract that, we need anchors in our lives that draw us into pausing and thinking about what we do, about what surrounds us. Music is a perfect medium for that, because it can be so abstract that you can delve in it and be focusing on your self.

6) What role does community play in what you do? 
Sharing my thoughts and emotions through music and poetry is always an important aspect of my interests as well as being flooded by others points of view. Fortunately, through social networking I have been accomplishing this, finding kindred spirits and discussing, interpreting and pushing forward my music, either by receiving feedback from others, but also by listening and knowing other musicians, that in a way share the same love for music.

7) What is next for what you do? 
For now, and since I am finishing my PhD I’ll be putting on hold several music projects, but later in the year I’ll get back to composing new pieces. My work as curator of FeedbackLoop Label will continue its normal route, so expect soon some amazing releases and hopefully 2 physical editions this year.


Thanks Leonardo!

Please take the time to listen to Leonardo's work... and do what you can to support independent artists.


Loving... Contre Jour

This morning I picked up a game for my iPhone and iPad entitled "Contre Jour". It's from the Chillingo stable and is a truly beautiful game... visually arresting with immersive game play... that is reminiscent of "World of Goo". It is an intriguing puzzler that I look forward to spending time with.

One thing that has really captured my attention is the soundtrack. The backing comprises of wonderfully elegant piano-driven pieces from David Ari Leon. It really enhances the game and makes me want to follow their instructions and listen with headphones.

Watch this trailer to get the gist of what I mean... well worth the £0.69 / £1.99 for the iPhone (iPod) / iPad versions.


Some thoughts on Radiohead's 'King of Limbs'

Watching Radiohead perform whilst lazing in a bubblebath is either a new high or new low for me... depending on your opinion... but personally I loved it this morning. It was one of the best ways to enjoy an empty house on a Bank Holiday that my wife and we'ans don't get.

Anyway... I have deliberately not posted my thoughts on Radiohead's most recent album :: 'King of Limbs' :: because it is a rather divisive recording. It's like Marmite... some folks love it and some folks hate it. I was on the side of love... and after watching the 'from the basement' show where they perform the whole album... I am firmly on the side of love.

I could easily tell you what 'King of Limbs' isn't... but I don't think that's always productive. I won't tell you what I think it is either... because, truthfully, I don't really know.

The closest I can come to describing how I feel about it is to compare it to Miles Davis' seminal record 'Bitches Brew'.

'Bitches Brew' isn't an easy listen at first... it demands your time and your respect... it forces you to reconsider and makes you think. But when you get beyond this... its an awesome album that is rich, deep, diverse and ultimately very rewarding. It is a recording that has stood the test of time.

I can't begin to imagine the reaction to this album when it was released... albeit I am glad for Wikipedia's summary (link). I personally think "outside" is a great complement... and is one I would give to 'King of Limbs'... because it is 'outside' Radiohead's previously established norm and certainly some distance from my fave album of their's 'In Rainbows'.

But that's the point. If I want to listen to artists who always remain 'inside' whatever it is that constrains them then I will... but I don't listen to Radiohead to hear a new 'creep' or 'high and dry' or 'street spirit (fade out)'. I listen to Radiohead because their original versions are fab and when it comes to new music... I just don't know what I'll get. I like that.

We should encourage experimentation... empower people to take it outside... whatever their 'it' is.

Watching the 'from the basement' show helped me 'see' the music and the effort expended in creating it. This really helped me shape my opinion. This is why live music is so important... I imagine if I saw Miles et al in concert circa 'Bitches Brew' it may not have taken me as long to 'get it'.

I would love to link to the 'from the basement' video... but it has been pulled. It is out there if you want to find it... but I'm not linking to it. It's well worth the hunt though.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Some photos from the last few days

250811_Welcome to the new DCs #7

250811_Welcome to the new DCs #6

250811_Welcome to the new DCs #19

On Thursday I witnessed the installation of Russell and Catherine Wyles as the new leaders of the Salvation Army in the West of Scotland.

260811_Noah #3

On Friday, I had the privilege of meeting up with David, Naomi and 12 week old Noah Wynd. Noah has to be the cutest we'an I've ever seen... and I hope he never loses his Rolling Stones hairstyle.

260811_Roses #2

Afterwards, I met up with one of my longest-running friends... Robert Dailey. We walked and talked around Edinburgh... with our cameras in our hands. The museum on Chambers Street is particularly strong and well worth the visit.


260811_Buddha Amida #1

260811_Buddha Amida's hands

Good times!


'a summer' by Good Weather for an Airstrike

Yesterday I spoke of how 'tras el horizonte' by EUS straddled the fuzzy line between the great genres of post-rock and ambient to create a series of soundscapes that have the expansiveness of post-rock & the immersiveness of ambient.

After I had posted these thoughts... my mind kept coming back to 'a summer' by Good Weather for an Airstrike (released on Sonic Reverie Records)... an album I've had on my iPhone / iPod since it was released just before I went away to Jesolo.

I feel remiss for not posting sooner on this great album which exists in the fuzzy no-mans-land between post-rock and ambient... but the words never came to me until now.

Tom Honey's masterful use of feedback drones, synths, acoustic guitar, electronics, field recordings and percussion to create the soundscapes on this album is truly inspired... and very welcome.

There is a tangible undercurrent of grey melancholy that really colours the recording and helps to define it. I guess this is why it is so apt, in places, for a Glaswegian summer... especially the one we've just had.

The drone of 'The Sun Sets Over Us, And We Are Happy' for example is substantive with a minimal elegance... stripped back and on par with the best ambient out there.

Whereas 'The Beginning Of The Rest Of Our Lives (Reprise with Inachus)' is a truly exemplary track and a real highlight for me... muted drums, drones and the faint sound of a two-way radio build the foundation for synths and a persistent bass rhythm before a further skitter of snare enters the mix. Wondrous in it's immersive eloquence.

I would heartily recommend this album... have a wee listen below to see why.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Loving... "tras el horizonte" by EUS

 I love post-rock and ambient soundscapes for similar reasons: they are genres that draw the listener into the music.

 When I make mixes I tend to bring both genres into the mix (along with other forms) because they are highly complementary albeit post-rock tends to emphasis expansive soft/loud slow/fast poles of sound (usually with guitars) whereas ambient tends to focus on the immersive nuances of light/dark within the moment (usual with synths).

"tras el horizonte" by EUS is a wonderful album because it straddles the fuzzy line between these two great genres to create a series of ambient soundscapes that have the expansiveness of post-rock and the immersiveness of ambient.

 It's like they've taken the deliciously "softer" and "slower" elements of post-rock and developed them into fully fledged and wonderfully immersive soundscapes in their own right... not part of something else... not a trough after a grandiose and powerful peak... but something beautiful in and of themselves.

This is why I love this album and would heartily recommend it... especially for a lazy Saturday morning. It is deeply engaging and very satisfying... providing the soundtrack to rest but capable of feeding the soul and inspiring creative thought.

Recommended. Free download.

Tx "tras el horizonte" by EUS

Thursday, August 25, 2011

'hope' ... a compilation from the Ricco record label

When I was researching yesterday's post on 'fleursy music' by Takahiro Kido, I came across a compilation with tracks from artists on the 'Ricco' record label... entitled 'hope' (direct download).

It was their response to the recent tragic events in Japan... the compilation is free to download & is intended to help with the uneasiness experienced in the aftermath.

It doesn't have a cover... or at least it doesn't come with one in the ID3 tags. So I made my own from a suitable reworking of the Japanese flag that I found online. Hope & Love go hand-in-hand afterall.

The compilation is a collection of more subtle ambient, new-classical & post-rock soundscapes that gel nicely together to create a very relaxing atmosphere. Traditional Japanese instrumentation is featured within certain tracks... in a manner that both compliments & highlights more traditional 'classical' sounds featured like the piano or organ... to make a holistic haunting ancient-future vibe that transfixes me as the listener.

There is the feeling of craftsmanship on display. This is music created by people who aren't concerned with the vagaries of fashion but are driven to create something of meaning that will stand the test of time.

According to the label...

We've started Free Download for people who feel uneasiness due to the earthquake in Japan. Please download the album titled "HOPE" and listen to gentle tunes of Anoice, RiLF, Takahiro Kido, Yuki Murata, mokyow, cru and United Seed. You can also listen to new two tracks that are Yuki Murata's "The Star" that is the tune to which she offered up a fervent prayer and Takahiro Kido's "Summer" he made imaging summer. We hope everything will be OK.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Loving... 'fleursy music' by Takahiro Kido

I think I overuse words like 'awesome' and 'wondrous' when seeking to describe music I hear... because when presented with 'fleursy music' by Takahiro Kido for the first time... I wanted to use 'awesome' and 'wondrous' but then shied away because I feel they weren't judicious enough words to use.

Simply put... 'fleursy music' by Takahiro Kido is breathtaking.

It exists in an exquisite place that isn't vastly populated... a space that is formed at the intersection of post-rock, new-classical & folk soundscapes.

These soundscapes are truly beautiful... filled with classical instrumentation such as the acoustic guitar, piano, accordion & violin... and complemented, in places, with field recordings, subtle ambient drones, distant percussion, a smattering of electronics and a layer of grandiose post-rock guitar.

I cannot fight the feeling that this album is the soundtrack to an amazing film... a film I haven't seen but would change my life if I did.

It's not but it sure feels that way. I guess it comes through the melodious use of piano to underpin & enhance the hope-filled yet slightly melancholic violin. Tracks that hint at purpose & intention. Tracks that are individualistic in nature but come together as a cohesive whole when the album is listened to in a oner.

I can't rave about this album enough. My only worry is that I will listen to it too much & sicken myself of it's exquisite quality & craftsmanship.

For this is an album that has all the markings of being created by a master craftsman. Someone who is in the satisfying position of not needing to prove themselves and can instead focus on making something truly beautiful.



'fleursy music' by Takahiro Kido

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Loving... Heatherlyn's 'Storydwelling'

I tend to listen to a lot of leftfield music: ambient soundscapes and droning post-classical... epic post-rock and delicate alt-folk... luscious downtempo electronica and head-nodding beats... you know what I mean.

That said... I have a soft spot for soulful, bluesy and grounded gospel sounds... and every-so-often an album that fits this bill comes at me from nowhere and knocks me off me my feet.

Last year it was Tom Jones' wondrous Praise and Blame... and so far this year we've had the awesome Abraham the Poor's After the Flood, Into the Wild.

I can now add Heatherlyn's Storydwelling to this list.

I found out about Heatherlyn when she appeared on the podcast I co-host... the Something Beautiful Podcast. I got a chance to listen to her upcoming album and was, as I said, blown away. She has a really grounded and earthy sound... bluesy... soulful... meaningful. Her style and approach is lyrically strong and she expresses herself with the kind of eloquent poetry that only comes from authentic experience.

Her version of 'Wayfaring Stranger' is up there with the best of them... evocative and emotionally powerful... yet truly her own in tapping-the-feet catchy kind of way. When I heard it for the first time I was like... 'yeah, that's the way it should sound' as if Eva Cassidy or, dare I say, Johnny Cash himself had covered her version.

I believe music feeds the soul... and I have found great nourishment from Storydwelling. It has enriched my life in the short time I have had it on my iPhone. Tracks like 'home with you continues' have built me up in the way only soulful, bluesy gospel songs can - made me smile and helped me face the wonderful gift of life that I have been given.

To this end... I would heartily recommend Storydwelling and wish Heatherlyn all the very best in her career... a career I will be following with interest. Have a wee listen below to get what I mean.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Loving... 'Urban Legends' by Earlyguard

My friend, the prolific Earlyguard has done it again... releasing one of the most suspense-filled and deeply atmospheric ambient drones that I've heard in a while.

'Urban Legends' is simply marvellous. A journey into the unknown that begins with subtle drones and a regular motif that makes me think of heavy breathing... the result of being anxious and 'on edge'... drawing the listener into a dark and mysterious realm... before, some 20 or so minutes in, introducing resplendent light into the sound... a glorious and radiant relief.

I won't spoil the soundscapes presented for you... other than to say this is, once again, something very special to experience.


Urban Legends

I will be talking iPhoneography at Glasgow's Apple Store in September

On Thursday, 15th September 2011 I will be participating in a panel discussion on 'iPhoneography' at the Apple Store on Buchanan Street in Glasgow.

I can't say much more than that for now... other than its about iPhone photography, it starts at 1800hrs and is free.

If you can support me then please do by coming along.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

What's on my iPhone... w/c 21st August 2011

180411_ home is where my headphones are

Carrying on where I left off last week... here are the albums, EPs and even radio plays on my iPhone.

Please Note: I've added another column to track the number of Sundays an artist's work has been on my iPhone... its my way of highlighting what I am digging the most ... in that staying power = diggability!


Artist Album Wks Source
Abraham The Poor After The Flood, Into The Wild 2 B
jared Another Year 2 B
Hope and Social April 2 B
Lowercase Noises Carry Us All Away 2 B
She Makes War Disarm 2 B
Earlyguard A Distant Proximity 2 B
You Are My Symphonic I Found Your Faces Of Montreal 2 B
The Fierce & The Dead If It Carries On Like This We Are Moving To Morecambe 2 B
Claro de Luna Lo Que Ha Sido y Lo Que Será 2 B
The Lower Lights The Lower Lights - A Hymn Revival 2 B
Emphemetry A Lullaby Hum For Tired Streets 2 B
umber Morning's Pass EP 2 B
Over the Ocean Paper House 2 B
Venona Pers The Past is a Foreign Country N B
The Echelon Effect Seasons Part 1 2 B
The Echelon Effect Seasons Part 2 2 B
Hope and Social Sleep Sound 2 B
Lattice Songs in the Key of Glass 2 B
Good Weather For An Airstrike A Summer 2 B
EUS Tras El Horizonte 2 B
Circadian Eyes Who We Were 2 B
Airspace Falling Written in the Waters 2 B
Sunol Lay in the light 2 D
Sunol Ohlone 2 D
Various Artists Under The Mountain compilation [ISO50 Exclusive] 2 D
Tinariwen Amassakoul N M
Björk Björk's Greatest Hits 2 M
Killing Joke Brighter Than A Thousand Suns 2 M
The Antlers Burst Apart N M
Abigail Washburn City Of Refuge 2 M
Moby Destroyed 2 M
Various Artists Erased Tapes Collection III 2 M
Gang Gang Dance Eye Contact N M
Future Of Forestry A Film & TV Collection 2 M
Takahiro Kido Fleursy Music 2 M
Battles Gloss Drop 2 M
Various Artists Headz N M
Holy Ghost! Holy Ghost! 2 M
Radiohead In Rainbows 2 M
Amon Tobin ISAM 2 M
Radiohead The King Of Limbs 2 M
Roxy Music Roxy Music 2 M
Heatherlyn Storydwelling 2 M
Radiohead Supercollider/The Butcher 2 M
Explosions In The Sky Take Care, Take Care, Take Care N M
Beach House Teen Dream 2 M
Fugazi 13 Songs 2 M
Flying Lotus Brainfeeder » Podcasts 2 Mx
Various Artists Conception 2 NL
Cousin Silas Fresh Landscapes 2 NL
Swaying Smoke From Ruin to Bliss 2 NL
Various Artists Number Stations part II 2 NL
The Apache Relay American Nomad 2 NT
William Gibson Pattern Recognition (read on BBC Radio 4 Extra) N R
54 albums
B = Bandcamp 41%
D = Download 6%
M = Mainstream 41%
Mx = DJ Mix 2%
NL = Net Label 7%
NT = Noisetrade 2%
R = Radio 2%

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Loving the music of Sunol

I found out about Sunol when I did a bit of digging on 'beach house' on 'the fox is black'... Bobby Solomon spoke highly of them so I went looking for them.

What I found was, in essence, two minimal pages with a beautiful retro photograph on each, some blurb and a free download of each album: 'ohlone' and 'lay in the light'.

I can't recommend either of these albums highly enough. They both feature tracks with a wondrous rich and timeless quality to them. Their sound is a heady and expansive mix of vocal harmonies (reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel, Beach Boys (circa. Pet Sounds) and Fleet Foxes), layers of percussion (a marimba is in there, I think), lo-fi electronics and even a light layering of banjo or acoustic guitar. A sound that could be considered future-Americana, if a term was needed.

What makes the tracks sound rich, timeless and expansive is the vocal harmonies underpinned by the wall-of-sound from the hypnotic rhythms and instrumentation... it is a cracking combination... and something that feels so right in a post-Simon and Garfunkel / present-Fleet Foxes musical environment.

I would recommend these albums... and would urge you to have a wee listen below. I wonder why they are not on Bandcamp... but am grateful that I can download them for free from their website.


Lay in the light by Sunol

Monday, August 15, 2011

This is fascinating... 'Video explains the world's most important 6-sec drum loop'

Ways to improve focus pt3... kill all distractions

I am easily distracted. I think this fact has been with me since it was first ’reported’ by my Primary School teachers. I’m like the dogs in ’Up’... and, as such, for me to be productive I need to remove all the ’squirrels’ in my immediate location.

Twitter is a squirrel... as are Facebook, Yammer and Google+... to name a few of the apps that distract me. In fact, my iPhone is the biggest squirrel of them all. Whilst I have removed the notifications from these apps... the wee button still shows how many ’unread’ messages I have.

Email is a squirrel too... and one I have an ongoing fight with like Brendan Fraser in ’Furry Vengeance’ (an awful film but good in a so-bad-its-good way). As is Instant Messaging which is a wonderful tool but one that can be misused.

The Internet is also squirrel... a very tempting squirrel that calls to me like the Child-catcher in ’Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ trying to distract me with all his tasty treats.

Music can be a squirrel, if I let it... but I have think I have this one beat. See previous post.

Similarly, I can't and don't have a TV on when I'm trying to focus. Simply put... I can't watch TV and work... so I don't or I move to where I can't see the screen.

People too can be squirrels but they are, if anything, the most worthwhile squirrels of the lot... and I'm not talking about an attractive girl who walks by (unless she’s my wife), I mean the meaningful interactions.

How do I cope? I have a number of ideas that work in combination... but I do stress... this is an ongoing battle and one I haven't won and doubt I ever will.

First off, my iPhone. I have 2 iPhones. An iPhone4 and an original iPhone (2g). During work or times of ’digital fast’ I forward my calls to the 2g one. I don't have a data contract for the 2g iPhone so I can’t access twitter etc. My wife has my number of this phone if she needs to text me. I then lock my iPhone4 in a box on my desk. It's locked with a key so I must intentionally open the box to retrieve the phone. I can’t accidentally access it through habit... I must intend to. It is, in essence, this intention that I am seeking to break.

I also need to condition myself to what is truly ’urgent’. Twitter, Facebook, Yammer, Google+ etc are not ’urgent’... they are all ’nice to have’ and will keep until I can get to them. This is no reflection on the folks in my various timelines... I love the interactions I have... but when I need to focus, I must temporarily stop these interactions. I also don’t expect an immediate response from them... so if I wanted my wife, for example, I'd call or text her... not message her via Facebook (she's unfortunately not on twitter).

Next up is email and I cope with email in a couple of ways...

Firstly, I use as many filters as I can to keep the regular ’for information’ emails (such as newsletters) out of my in-box. I don't aim for ’in-box zero’ but I try to keep only those emails I am working on in there... with everything else filed away or deleted.

I also switch my email off for periods of time during the working day. If it's urgent, the person can phone me... I never let my phone got to voice-mail, if I can help it. Again, it's coming back to what's really urgent and what’s not. I’m trying to condition myself to see the truly urgent and react accordingly.

We then have the Internet... which is a timesink of Herculean proportions. I don't ’need’ to read my RSS feeds or catch up with the BBC News or read ’’ or following links to the latest this or that. These are things I want to do. I must, therefore, condition myself to what I need to do in moments of focus and leave ’catching up’ to when I have spare time... like at home or commuting or in a queue for this or that.

Unfortunately, as I support Sharepoint at my work, I need to have the Internet... because I'd do without it, if I could.

Whilst I am working on a graphic at home, I switch off Chrome on my MBP. I also tend to write on my iPad now... without connecting it to the Internet, especially in Starbucks. That's the benefit of a wi-fi only model - it isn't connected when away from home unless I want it to be! No connection = no distraction.

I use iA Writer... which is a fantastic app that works like an old word-processor and removes all unnecessary formatting bells-and-whistles. I can get this app for my MBP but not sure I see the point... my iPad does what I need it to do in this space now.

Lastly, people are squirrels but they are the most rewarding of the lot. I'm not adverse to a distraction from a flesh-and-blood person... in person, via IM or the telephone (I tend to use SKYPE intentionally so it's never an interruption)... because these interruptions tend to be the most important.

Yes, it could be my dad on for a blether but having a blether with my dad is worthy of interrupting what I am doing... and our relationship is strong enough to say ’can I call you back?’ if I need to.

Similarly with IM but, to be honest, I only use IM at my work and it's an internal, closed system. I treat IM like a phonecall... albeit I do set my status to ’busy’ or ’do not disturb’ most of the time... to screen out all but the most important.

I don't use IM at home and I loathe Facebook Messenger... because I’m not in control of when I can respond.

Response is key, in my opinion - face-to-face, phone and IM demand an instant response... whereas email, twitter, Facebook etc don’t or shouldn’t. Texts tend to be in the middle (unless they are from my Olly). This is how I work and how I prioritise.

I also seek to condition my intentions... and minimise any habitual checking of things... you know the kind I mean, the ones that come from a figital lifestyle.

I also reward myself with surfing, twitter etc after periods of focus. They are distractions when I need to focus but compelling attractions when I don't.

I hope this makes sense? How do you battle distraction?


Sunday, August 14, 2011

What's on my iPhone... w/c 14th August 2011

my first gen iPhone (245/365)

I love lists... and I thought I'd compile a list of the albums on my iPhone (highlighting the type of release because I'm a nerd).


Number of albums = 53

Artist Album Source
Abraham The Poor After The Flood, Into The Wild B
Airspace Falling Written in the Waters B
Circadian Eyes Who We Were B
Claro de Luna Lo Que Ha Sido y Lo Que Será B
Earlyguard A Distant Proximity B
Emphemetry A Lullaby Hum For Tired Streets B
EUS Tras El Horizonte B
Good Weather For An Airstrike A Summer B
Hope and Social April B
Hope and Social Sleep Sound B
jared Another Year B
Lattice Songs in the Key of Glass B
Lowercase Noises Carry Us All Away B
Over the Ocean Paper House B
She Makes War Disarm B
The Echelon Effect Seasons Part 1 B
The Echelon Effect Seasons Part 2 B
The Fierce & The Dead If It Carries On Like This We Are Moving To Morecambe B
The Lower Lights The Lower Lights - A Hymn Revival B
umber Morning's Pass EP B
Various Artists Hawk Moon Records: Volume I B
Various Artists Hawk Moon Records: Volume II B
Various Artists Hope For Japan B
Various Artists Singularity 1 B
Xelar Mayu B
You Are My Symphonic I Found Your Faces Of Montreal B
Sunol Lay in the light D
Sunol Ohlone D
Various Artists Under The Mountain compilation [ISO50 Exclusive] D
Abigail Washburn City Of Refuge M
Amon Tobin ISAM M
Battles Gloss Drop M
Beach House Teen Dream M
Björk Björk's Greatest Hits M
Fugazi 13 Songs M
Future Of Forestry A Film & TV Collection M
Heatherlyn Storydwelling M
Holy Ghost! Holy Ghost! M
Information Society Hack M
Killing Joke Brighter Than A Thousand Suns M
Moby Destroyed M
Radiohead In Rainbows M
Radiohead The King Of Limbs M
Radiohead Supercollider/The Butcher M
Roxy Music Roxy Music M
Takahiro Kido Fleursy Music M
Various Artists Erased Tapes Collection III M
Flying Lotus Brainfeeder » Podcasts Mx
Cousin Silas Fresh Landscapes NL
Swaying Smoke From Ruin to Bliss NL
Various Artists Conception NL
Various Artists Number Stations part II NL
The Apache Relay American Nomad NT
B = Bandcamp 49%
D = Download 6%
M = Mainstream 34%
Mx = DJ Mix 2%
NL = Net Label 8%
NT = Noisetrade 2%

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Michael's box

060811_ end-of-week festival #78

Apparently the 'box' my friend Michael is thumping in the picture above is a real instrument... called a 'cajón'. It is, according to Wikipedia, a 'box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru, played by slapping the front face (generally thin plywood) with the hands'.

You learn something everyday.


Some videos from the Bella Union roster

I have too much music... and its really hard for Olly and the we'ans to buy me a CD for my birthday or Christmas.

So today, whilst at the Fort, I picked up a couple of CDs from the independent record label Bella Union (wiki) :: Teen Dream by Beach House and Take Care, Take Care, Take Care by Explosions in the Sky.

I haven't heard either album and have been banned from listening to them until next Friday... but I did do a wee lookup of the Bella Union site and found some videos to share. I have to say their roster is awesome... I didn't realise they were the UK label for so many great bands. I've included some of my favourites here.



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eat... Learn... Move... by Rick Mereki

"3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage... all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ....into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films.... = a trip of a lifetime."
Truly awesome.

I really love these videos from Levis. I need to get me a pair of those Commuter jeans... sometime. Tx

Loving... PublicSpaces Lab netabel

I am a huge fan of netlabels. I find the general ethos of sharing almost as inspiring as the content I find on them. So much so... I'd love to start a netlabel... but don't have any music to go on it.

When I talk about music... I usually get onto the subject of netlabels and rhyme off my faves: Sutemos (active), Earth Monkey Productions (gone but archived), Aerotone (gone but promising to return), BFW Recordings (active) and Rec72 (active) ... to name but a few.

 I am now delighted to add PublicSpaces Lab to this list... a netlabel based in Barcelona, Spain; that, according to the release pages, prides itself in releasing high quality electronica from all corners of the globe... and some alien music as well.

I found the label when searching for content from abstract instrumental hip hop producer Dustmotes ... we'd been friends for a while on Twitter and I felt it amiss that I hadn't taken time to check out his music. I found two of his albums on PublicSpaces Lab ... and so much more!

I also found a number of releases by another Twitter friend of mine... ambient soundscape architect Swaying Smoke ... as well as a wonderful compilation of music entitled 'number stations part II'.

I have been happily engaged for the last week in the careful consumption of this music... but wanted to draw your attention to the label, the content they share and their inspired approach to what they do (read this article about taking 'free' out of the discussion on netlabelism and replacing it with 'sharing').

I probably go on too much about bandcamp... to the detriment of other distribution options... but when netlabels are as consistent as PublicSpaces Lab... parity may well return.

Makes me want to start one myself.


PublicSpaces Lab

Swaying Smoke on PublicSpaces Lab

Dustmotes on PublicSpaces Lab

Monday, August 08, 2011

Seven questions... with Vishal Kassie aka 'You Are My Symphonic'

Discovering You Are My Symphonic was a real highlight for me... I really, really love his music. I think he has real potential.

I wanted to know more about his creative process so I caught up with him via email and asked him my seven questions... this is what he replied:


1) Who are you and what do you do? 
My name is Vishal Kassie and I write and perform folk/electronic/ambient/neo-classical music as You Are My Symphonic. I have a small home studio in my Montreal, Canada apartment with windows covered in green vines where I like to continually add and tweak layers. I really enjoy writing and producing the same song under different seasons and passing weather to fuse a piece those changing feelings to the music. Some of my best days are when I spend the entire day and evening in that sanctuary.

 I spend my working hours as an aeronautical engineer in a large team currently developing a portion of a new commercial airplane. In my younger years, my uncle would take me to the top of multi-level parking lot that was near the runway of Toronto airport. Since then, everything that flew brought excitement. Aviation has a deeply romantic history mixed with adventure & exploration and I'm ecstatic to be a part of it. I volunteer with the local Red Cross supporting people that have been displaced due to a fire or other emergency. When I can help, it's truly gratifying and full of true human moments.

Most of my time is spent laughing with my girlfriend Mar.

2) What are you working on at the moment? I just put out my latest album "I Found Your Faces of Montreal" which was a true journey for me. It was written, then stolen, then re-written over 3 years. It turned out to be my personal diary of moving to Montreal and all the romantic thoughts I had of the city growing up and how all the aspects of my life converged. I put together my first live set at the CD release party which was held in an old church with high ceilings. It was a beautiful set of moments. Now with that momentum, I've been promoting the album and thinking of new ways to enhance my live show.

3) Who inspires you? 
- Name an artist who has inspired you. 
It's been a long life-long journey of various styles of music which, I hope, all made their way into You Are My Symphonic's style. Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Ninja Tune Records, Silver Mt. Zion, Ulrich Schnauss, Spiritualized, Nico Muhly and the ton of artists from independant labels or collectives doing truly interesting and engaging projects.

- Name place that has inspired you.
I think you have two categories of places that can touch you in different ways. "Romantic and Adventurous" is that dreamy place where you see yourself feeling whole. Montreal is the flagship for me, especially the island where Expo '67 happened. The diversity of the world is vast and Europe, South America & the South Pacific are all pulling me in. "Familiar and Nostalgic" are the houses you've lived in and moved from that are always reminders and points of exploration of who you are. I was born in Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean and we later moved to Canada where I spent most of my life. Many houses and viewpoints of my character and the life-long lesson in family.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you. 
The "World Press Photo" exhibit that travels around every fall is a very strong event. It showcases photojournalists from around the world, all capturing different themes and contrasts. Lots of human emotion here and its a clear window to the different forms of life who are all very similar in many ways.

The seasons here in Canada are pretty polarized. Extremely cold and snowy winters, hot and hazy summers. In between, there are the spring and autumn. Much like our lives and the varied emotions and moments, the seasons keep me on track and force me to change. Autumn is my master though - rich in beautiful textures, colours and abrupt goodbyes.

4) What drives you to do what you do? 
The pursuit of filling your entire soul. Making those dreams a reality and fostering the dreams of your friends and families. Sometimes I step back and ask myself: "what are you waiting for?" which is always a pleasant reminder. I'm convinced we are all going somewhere, so let's do it together.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I hope the feelings of nostalgia, romantic yearning and self exploration of my music will come across to the people listening. In the end, my biggest hope and satisfaction will be if someone takes it, makes it their own and looks back on the album as a marker or diary album for some nostalgia they'll feel in the future.

6) What role does community play in what you do? 
We are all connected in many ways. We flow through the people and places we live, and here in Montreal, I feel that all the time. Daily interactions at the cafe or meeting artists at a show all contribute to creating a home and inspiration.

7) What is next for what you do? 
I'm going to step away from the studio for a while to stretch my legs and promote "I Found Your Faces of Montreal". I truly enjoyed re-learning the songs and bringing them to life on stage. I want to do more of that and who knows, maybe I'll be able to see the world through playing at some small indie music festivals. Romantic and Adventurous...


Thank you Vishal... if you haven't checked out his music, please go here :: or here ::


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Spencer Park Music Album Sampler

I really love the music Matt Steven creates by himself or in collaboration with others. His label 'Spencer Park Music' has kindly released a free sampler containing tracks from Matt and all his other projects: The Fierce and The Dead and Yonks as well as a bonus track from Datapuddle. Have a wee listen below... and if you like it goto Matt Steven's bandcamp page and grab the sampler for free. If you like what you hear on the sampler then please buy Matt's music... and support truly innovative independent music.


Photos from East and West Scotland Salvation Army's Summer School's Final Festival thingamebob

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This evening I had the privilege of attending the East and West Scotland Salvation Army's Summer School's final festival thingamebob in Falkirk Town Hall... and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I have posted the rest of pics on Flickr (including my 18,000th upload to the site). Please check them out.


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"I have PSD" by Hyperakt with music by Lullatone

I love this video because it features a jaunty wee number by Lullatone... and some fab visuals.



Friday, August 05, 2011

Ways to improve focus... pt2 :: forgiveness

I know ’forgiveness’ may sound like an odd suggestion for a way to improve your focus, but I find it works. Let me explain.

When we are wronged, our natural reaction seems to centre around righting this wrong... of ensuring parity, pursuing vindication and, in some occasions, seeking revenge. This is only natural.

However, the time spent brooding over the issue could and should be better spent... and the thought of being wronged quickly exorcised before bitterness sets in.

Bitterness is an unnecessary and unhealthy distraction. It takes away the ’now’ with a constant replaying of ’then’. It holds us back and doesn't allow us to move forward... inhibiting collaboration and our own personal freedom.

Brooding and plotting revenge is thinking time that is better spent. It is never creative or productive. It is about short-term gain... about making us ’feel better’.

There is something better than bitter... and it is forgiveness.

This isn't some namby-pamby ideal but considered thinking - acceptance of the failings of others... the failings of the person or people who have wronged you... allows us to move on and to jettison unproductive bitterness that would otherwise try to consume us.

It doesn't remove the hurt or the pain of being wronged... but allows us to focus on the creative and constructive steps that we need to take to heal.

To that end, you could argue that forgiveness is self-centred because it keeps the focus on you. Bitterness is all about ’the other’ and not about you, in this regard.

I have no answer for how to heal other than to take comfort in what faith you have and the friends that surround you... but I do strongly believe that the extra capacity available in your heart and head from dumping the bitterness will help you on your way to restoration.

So, in closing, forgiveness after a wrong has occurred and subsequently ’moving on’ will help you to focus on now... and ensure you do not waste your time, effort and personal state of peace on someone or something that doesn’t deserve it.

I should know... I recently forgave someone who I held a considerable amount of bitterness towards. The feeling and sense of release was tremendous. I should have done it at the time... but didn't. I’m glad I have now.

We don't have the luxury of time to waste wallowing in bitterness... so don't!


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Photos from the East and West of Scotland Salvation Army Summer School's midweek festival

030811_ midweek #15

Last night I attended the East and West of Scotland Salvation Army Summer School's midweek festival with Olly, Miriam and Janey. This was the first festival in which our Dayna was taking part... and she made us proud with her wee thought and enthusiastic participation with the Girls Chorus.

All in... it was a great night. It seemed particularly focussed which was a pleasure to witness... everything seemed to work and work together.

It was great to see Dayna... we all miss her lots. It was also great to meet up with old friends like Leanne and Dan... as well as meet new friends like Russel. It was also a great relief to make the peace with someone with whom I've carried an unhealthy grudge against for way too long.

As usual... I brought my cameras and took a few shots during the evening. I have embedded a few here to let you see. The remainder of the set are available to view >> here on Flickr



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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

'Urban Exploration Glidetrack Video' by 3B Media

While checking out the video from Hope and Social's 'come dine with us' event (see previous post)... I spotted this urban exploration video from 3B Media. I really liked it and its got me all excited about doing some more urban exploration with my photogeeks soon.


The music of 'Hope & Social... like finding a working Leica in a charityshop

Yesterday... in a moment of inspired serendipity... I discovered the music of Hope and Social and the only words I can use to express this 'find' is to compare it to finding a working Leica camera in a charityshop... something very special indeed.

I find both their music and their approach to their music very refreshing... and very 'now'. I've downloaded two of their albums - 'april' and 'sleep sound' - from bandcamp and intend to buy the CDs on payday (or maybe get someone to get them for my birthday???)

april is a wonderfully upbeat collection of folk-infused rock songs... with varied and imaginative instrumentation that reminds me at times of The Beatles and Arcade Fire... and similarly inspired vocals that remind me at times of Elbow and Scott Walker... although don't hold me to that, they sound uniquely them... especially the Scott Walker reference because I have no idea where that came from but yet it seems apt.

Take, for example, 'caught in the wake' which has an anthemic of-the-people-for-the-people sound which builds in intensity until you can not help but dance around the room like a total nutjob in child-like abandon... or the rocky wall-of-sound vibe of 'James' which is just so wonderfully emotive.

This is music that reminds me that I am alive. I would thoroughly recommend it. (have a wee listen below)

I would also recommend sleep sound... for similar reasons. 'Sleep sound' builds upon their folk-infused rock sound and takes it further. There is a sense of purpose to this album... a ferocity of sound that is truly welcome... but with a degree of subtlety... like the drumbreak in 'them rolling boys' or the deliciously melancholic guitar solo in 'cotton wool'.

Their wall-of-sound is just so inspiring... I can see myself singing along to these songs in the not-so-distant future. They are sing-a-long good! (have a wee listen below)

I love music to surprise me almost as much as I want it to comfort me. The music of Hope and Social does both... it excites me with its newness and yet embraces me like an old friend.

Watch these videos below to see what I mean... the first one is a 'behind the scenes' video for the band's 'come dine with us' event during which the track 'eurospin' (from 'April') was recorded. The second video focuses on the recording of 'eurospin'. I have to say... I would have loved to have been in the crypt that evening.

Please check out the music of Hope and Social and support truly awesome independent music.


oh and the type geek in me loves the ampersand in their logo!!!

Ways to improve focus... pt1 :: the right music

230310_ wearing mdr-cd280 headphones (camerabag'd)

I wanted to share some ideas that have helped me on my journey towards greater focus. Over the next wee while I will post some ideas that I have found to work for me - they might not work for you but I have found them helpful.

First off in this irregular series is music... I listen to music that let's me think of other things and this music acts as a catalyst for thought.

If I were to boil down what I look for from music to help me concentrate, I tend to look for the following characteristics...

  1. It must be instrumental... preferably without field-recordings too. I can't listening to music with singing when I am trying to concentrate because, try as I might, I tend to tune into the words. I could never listen to ’the sound of silence’ for example... the words are too good.
  2. It must be repetitive... or at least not prone to dramatic change. I tend to choose music to soundtrack my work that has a degree of repetition or is lacking in dramatic change: in theme, motif or percussion; because I find it easier to ’lose myself’ in the sound. Change brings my head back into the song and when I am concentrating, that's not a good thing. This is why I can't listen to most post-rock... too many ups and downs. 
  3. It must be longer in duration... shorter tracks, if not mixed together, leave gaps and these short periods of silence distract me and bring me back. 30 minutes or more of uninterrupted sound really helps my focus.

With these characteristics in mind, I tend to listen to three specific genres of music when I am seeking to drown out distraction and focus: classical, ambient electronic, and dub techno.

With regards classical, I look for the more pastoral, ambient orchestrated soundscapes... and not the virtuoso-led pieces.

My current favourite is Bruckner’s 9 symphonies... I have them all on one of my iPod Shuffles... and find them truly beautiful whilst allowing me to let go. I know some of the symphonies contain vocals but I don't find these vocals too intrusive for thought.

I also like Gorecki's third symphony but do find the vocals, at times, distracting. I also struggle to dis-associate from the sadness and melancholy of the piece... it's too hard because it is such an awesome piece of music.

I used to listen to some orchestrated soundtracks and found the soundscapes helpful because they are intentionally designed to be in the ’background’... but I found the majority tracks tended towards being too short thus presenting gaps of silence.

With regards ambient electronic, I look for the longer form soundscapes... pieces that soothe the soul and give my head time to think. Pieces that give me space and room to breathe but aren't to ’out there’ or overly dramatic.

The some of the more minimal Earlyguard soundscapes are prime examples of this... his ’Zen’ album, for example, is almost 3 hours long with 4 tracks of approximately 45 mins each. Again, a truly beautiful piece... but one that, when I want it to, it doesn’t hold me too tightly.

Whereas ’Rubycon’ by Tangerine Dream has a sense of movement and variety of sound that intrusively demands my attention. It is an amazing piece of music but not one I can benefit from when I am seeking focus.

Lastly, with regards ’dub techno’ I am talking about a style of electronic music that is sparse, minimal and repetitive but infused with dubby styling and otherworldliness.

I look for long-form (1 hour or more) mixes... and I particularly love the mixes on I gravitate towards the work of Tom Larsson... his mixes really bring out the best in dub techno. I find real depth in what he presents and can easily lose myself within these soundscapes. His 'Klänge der Nacht’ series is particularly strong and whilst the music maybe sparse and repetitive, his skill in presenting tunes to ensure his mix remains lively and interesting is truly evident.

At the end of the day, the music described above helps me to remove distraction and create a oasis in the busy-ness of today (especially in work) for me to think and focus.

I hope this makes sense? Try it for yourself. Find what works for you and build up a library of tracks that can help you remove distraction. Oh and please leave a comment with what you find that works.



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