Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My artwork for Gurdonark's latest release on Treetrunk

I was delighted to be asked by Gurdonark to create the artwork for his latest release "weights and measures" on the awesome Treetrunk netlabel.

Bob is such a wonderful guy... so easy to collaborate with and very imaginative... and it was a pleasure to work with him. I'm pleased with the outcome.

I haven't heard his EP yet but am confident it will be up to his usual high standard.


Podcasts I am digging just now...

As you may have read I picked up the universal "podcatching" iOS "Downcast" at the weekend. It was a toss-up between it and "Instacast" but "Downcast" won because it was universal... which means it takes pride of place on both my iPhone and iPad.

It's a fab app that caters for all my podcasting needs. My only criticism of the app is that I wish it had some sort of cloud syncing capability that enabled me to work seamlessly between devices... I guess I'm getting fussing in my old age, huh?

I downloaded a number of podcasts to listen to and I've been like proverbial fat kid in a sweetie shop ever since.

For music related content, I subscribed to the following:

A Strangely Isolated Place
Benjamin Dauer recommended ASIP to me and I am glad he did because the podcast presents wonderful longform mixes of my kind of music... described by the blurb as "ambient, chill, IDM, shoegaze, psychedelic, nugaze, drone and electronica". The quality control is very high and the content I've heard to date has been impressive.

Dark Ambient
This podcast, hosted by Jim Butler, focuses on ambient electronic music and I find it is great to listen to while photoshopping. It has an immersive other-worldly feel to it.

Low Lights
This is another podcast recommended by Ben. It focuses on ambient soundscapes and makes for an engaging and immersive listening experience.

Headphone Commute
There is cutting edge and there is bleeding edge... and then there is "Headphone Commute". The mixes they present vary across genre but have a consistent level of quality. Want to hear something new..? go to Headphone Commute first.

National Public Radio - All Songs Considered and their live concerts
NPR is an American treasure and their "All Songs Considered" an example of first class programming. So far I have enjoyed a Moby concert from the recent Moogfest and have some interesting programming to catch up on.

In addition to the above music-related programming I also downloads the following talk-based shows:

The Something Beautiful Podcast
SBP is the podcast I co-host where we (JD, Travis, Stewart, Johnny & myself) help our interviewees unpack and discuss their faith journeys. We've been going for three + years and it can be tough but it is also fun and a great way to listen and learn from others.

The HP Podcraft
I am a big fan of HPLovecraft and this podcast features a discussion on his various works. It is geeky but I enjoy it and find the observations raised fascinating and enlightening.

Mosaic Audio
I get considerable blessing from the sermons presented at Mosaic in Los Angeles. Erwin McManus is a gifted author and theologian... and his team are all similarly gifted. This podcast is church for me... and I heartily recommend it.

That's what's in my Downcast at the moment. Do you listen to podcasts? If so, what ones? Any you'd recommend?



I forgot This American Life ... a show my friend JD Blundell turned me onto. The show describes itself as follows:

"The radio show and TV show follow the same format. There’s a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme. It’s mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. There’s lots more to the show, but it’s sort of hard to describe."
I love stories of everyday people... its kind of the point of my own podcast and its also why I dig this show.


Loving... "mind over matter" by Earlyguard

I am undeniably biased and subjective when it comes to Earlyguard's longform ambient drones. They click with me and really fit into my listening habits... and "mind over matter" is by no means an exception to this.

"Mind over matter" is released tomorrow and brings to a close Earlyguard's prolific spell of releasing a recording each month in 2011. It is with a touch of sadness that I note his desire to slow his release schedule... but then that's me just being a bit selfish... I guess I, like other ambient fans, have been spoiled by his prolificacy.

"Mind over matter" is a fascinating and immersive longform drone lasting nearly 45 minutes. It is deeply nuanced but still instantly accessible... with the inclusion of more "white noise" than I've heard before from him. This noise adds to the execution of the track and provides extra details within the drone.

The drone has a wonderful sense of movement. I visualise a train journey with the outside world flashing by. I find this thought both intriguing and relaxing.

And it is relaxing that I find the most appropriate word to describe this track. It creates head space and helps to block out the world, both outside AND inside, in a manner that insists for me to stop.

Last night, as I listened for the third time to the track, I tackled my ironing pile (I have too many shirts for work). The combination of the head space from the track and the repetitive action of ironing became deeply meditative... with both elements working together to enhance the other. It was a strange but profoundly fascinating and enjoyable experience... one I hope to repeat to the delight of my wife.

"Mind over matter" is released tomorrow for free on bandcamp. Please take time to check it out and do what you can to support and encourage independent music.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Some new iOS apps that I've been digging

I haven't posted about new iOS apps for a while but with my dad getting an iPod Touch and my wife picking up an iPhone 4S... I thought I'd share some apps that have interested me of late. Oh and I got an iTunes Store voucher as a special recognition award at work recently... that has help fuel my 'spree'.


First up is an app called "do this next" which is a very simple and minimal to do app where you write down what you plan to do next... no deadlines or reminders... just a simple entry all super-sweet in helvetica. It may seem pointless to GTD'ers but I like it... because its my 'special place' for what I need to do... oh and I use it in conjunction with "Things" AND "Wunderlist" (both recommended too).

£0.69 / $0.99


Next up we have "Trickle for Facebook"... a passive app that displays current Facebook stati in a similar manner to "Trickle for Twitter". It's nice to put it on whilst doing something else... for a wee bit of ambient intimacy. The app also allows you to 'like' a status... if you feel so inclined.

£0.69 / $0.99


Continuing my interest in the font Helvetica comes a wee clock app called "It's a Clock". According to the developer it "humanises the measurement of time to provide us with a scale more suited to the realities of life". I like it. I keep it on when my phone is charging.

£0.69 / $0.99


"Helvetimer" is currently a free timer app... that uses (you guessed it) Helvetica for its font-of-choice. I find it very easy to use... especially when I am trying the Pomodoro Technique for task focus (although I realise it should be 25 minutes instead of 30 as shown in the picture).

Free (for now)


Next up we have "Downcast"... which downloads and manages my podcast content. I have gotten out of the way of listening to podcasts... apart from my own... and this app will, I hope, help me get back into the fab content out there. I'll post about some of the delights I have found and been recommended at a later point... but if you are partial to podcasted content the "Downcast" is tremendous... and its universal.

£1.49 / $1.99


"Fathm" is a free time management app that allows you to graphically record time spent on the tasks you've undertaken. Haven't really used it yet... but do intend to. I can see real benefit in using it at work or when I'm designing at home.



"Synchronize" is another fab free app that allows you to work out the time difference between places. I use it for the times JD texts me in my 'middle of the night' to work out exactly what the time is with him.



Enjoy... but please be warned... new apps = playing with your iOS device = decreased battery life.

Let me know if you download them... and give me the heads-up if you have any apps that you'd recommend.


Loving... "Mute Words" by Leonardo Rosado

Next level. This is the only phrase that does justice to the new recording from one of my favourite ambient musicians.

"Mute Words" is quite simply next level in terms of structure and approach. The tracks demonstrate a tangible progression and evolution in Rosado as a musician and they way he is approaching their physical distribution through Heart and Soul (the sister label to FeedbackLoop which specialises in handmade objects) demonstrates a real growth as an independent artist.

The tracks are richly detailed and immersive... inviting in their initial presentation and engaging in the manner that they keep a listener's attention with multiple layers of complexity.

As the final notes from "out of pure kindness" drift off into memory I feel both fed and hungry. It is this paradox of the initially accessible and the deeply rewarding that I find fascinating... a fascination that has kept me content with what I have whilst being thirsty for more.

Rosado has truly developed as an artist. The layers of drones he uses are complemented by wonderful found-sounds, field recordings and a piano to build a real richness of sound... to which he adds, in just the right places, three very unique and individual vocal contributions to create the most glorious of ambient soundscapes.

Is it ambient because he has utilised the talents of two singers and a spoke-word poet..? Absolutely. For me ambient is not really about the absence of words but more about the presentation of feeling, mood and expression... for me it is the ambience that counts.

Take the poetry of Michelle Seaman to accompaniment of Rosado's drones, clicks and percussive field recordings on the track "the study of doubt". Whilst her style reminds me in part of the nu-soul poet Dana Bryant... her vocals also remind me of something futuristic... almost robotic. I can't imagine any better execution or collaboration than what is presented to me here. It just sounds so right & complementary... the soundscapes created and the feeling expressed both verbally and sonically is just breathtaking.

I get a similar feeling when I listen to Barbara de Dominicis ("how inbetween became to be") and Alicia Merz ("out of pure kindness") both uniquely individualistic but complementary when you listen to the album as a whole.

I would love to hear more from all three vocalist. I know Rosado has collaborated with Merz on Birds of Passage. I remember lapping up the track they submitted to the "Sequence1" album. It was an exemplary track in an already extremely high quality compilation.

I won't go into detail about each track because I don't think that's fair for you... potential listeners... but I will say this: Rosado is a leading figure in ambient music & this album cements his status. It is truly magnificent and will, without doubt, top some lists for best album of 2011.

I am grateful to Leonardo Rosado for giving me a preview copy of the album. It drops in early December with a limited number of physical copies being produced. I have embedded the bandcamp player to let you hear it. Please do what you can to support independent music.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Loving... "Babysteps" by the Rhys Anslow Project

When my friends on Twitter tell me they have released an album I will check it out. I am in an enviable place where I have lots of musician friends and am regularly given early notice of new material.

Rhys Anslow aka @rhysbass is someone in whom I've struck up an unlikely friendship based around our mutual love of music... a friendship I am grateful for.

I was delighted when he gave me a copy of his latest album: "babysteps" earlier this week. He plays bass and is a looper... and this album is just him, his bass and his ingenuity... along with a few fiddly effects.

To put this in context... think of your favourite record that has some form of bass solo - maybe some slap & pop funk or some super-melodic solo - that you love and look forward to when listening to the song. That's what you can expect. That will help to shape your understanding of this recording. That said... try not to think of the incidental music in Seinfeld... that's what this isn't.

Rhys builds layers using just his bass and various effects. The closest I've come to this is Matt Stevens' brand of guitar playing. The layers are deep and immersive... forming a strong foundation for the melody and/or rhythm sections.

"Behind closed doors" is a wonderful example of this... with a leading melody expertly executed with such grace and poise... in a way that made me think of the "Regarding Henry" soundtrack. It's this bass-as-lead that I really love... so warm, sensual and atmospheric.

Whilst I am more in favour of these gracious melodies and less inclined to the jarring dissonance of slap & pop... I do love what Rhys has created on this recording. Through multiple listens I am impressed with the sounds Rhys can and does get from his bass.

There is nothing quite like a melodious bass solo and Rhys' ability to get this just right is a tremendous achievement. As such I would heartily recommend this album. Not just because he's my friend but because he's nailed it, musically speaking.

I have embedded the player from Bandcamp... please take time to listen to the album and do what you can to support an independent musician.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Urban, a short film by Vladimir Teneslav

I really love this video by Vladimir Teneslav... there is a wonderful realism about it... especially with the parkour being more "down to earth" than usual.

I found out about it through Joe Hogan whose track "wanted back" features as the soundtrack.

All in... very strong indeed.


Seven questions... with Jeff Scott Townsend

During my correspondence with Jeff Scott Townsend... the musician I featured yesterday... I asked him to complete my wee interview. I'm glad he did.


1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jeff Scott Townsend and I do music. I have released an ep and an lp of folk music tinged with trip-hop, and also an ep and lp of modern classical which is currently consuming all of my artistic output.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am wrapping up another modern classical full length entitled "The Republic of Dreams" which I hope to have out by the end of the year. I am also working on a score for an independent film due out next year.

3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
The films of Guy Maddin have been a major influence on my work. I really try to capture the feel and aesthetics in my music.

- Name place that has inspired you.
The town I grew up in, as cliche as that may sound. A former city of industry that lies on the banks of Lake Michigan. I love the juxtaposition of abandoned factories with nature.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.

4) What drives you to do what you do?
When I hear a song that shakes me to my soul, whose beauty is just paralysing and resonates with me completely. I want to make songs that will do that for others.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I'm really not sure what values I hope to express. Repentance, I guess, and longing, but also hope.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
I'm fortunate enough that two of my best friends are a film maker and an artist. They have both been invaluable, not only in a collaborative sense, but also for support and inspiration.

7) What is next for what you do?
I just want to keep improving as a musician. My main focus right now is to experiment more without sacrificing melodic elements. I'm a sucker for melody.

If you haven't already checked out Townsend's music then please do... I recommend it.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Loving... Joe Hogan's soundtrack for "Roanoke: The Lost Colony"

I am in a classical / soundtrack mood at the moment... and an album I was given the heads-up to by the artist himself, "Roanoke: The Lost Colony", has really kept my attention.

Whilst I haven't seen the film that the soundtrack backs... I really like it... it holds real sense of atmosphere... both serene and dramatic... and really makes the most of the time it has.

If classical soundscapes are your thing then I would recommend you check this album out. As always I've embedded a player to let you hear the album... please check it out and do what you can to support independent music.


Loving the work of Jeff Scott Townsend

Every so often I come across an artist whose music blows me away. This weekend I stumbled upon the music of Jeff Scott Townsend whilst browsing under the "neo classical" tag in Bandcamp.

I was initially introduced to delightful and airy piano-based soundscapes of "notes from the underground" - it is a piece of effortless neo-classicism that really fitted the bill perfectly for what I was looking for.

It sounds like the score for a film I haven't seen... recorded live at the first showing of said film. There is a deliciously airy ambience contained with the tracks that adds an additional yet indescribable quality to the pieces - like the light in Venice or the water in NYC - something magical exists that isn't quite quantifiable. It feels timeless... something of now but not just of now, if that makes sense?

Through this album... I was introduced to his other work on Bandcamp. The content of "she was beautiful" (above) is along similar lines to "notes from the underground"... reminiscent of an old favourite, cherished filmscore... whereas "all night forever" (below) is different... less classical and more folky... but still delightful, engaging and entertaining. All three releases work well together and expand Townsend's sound.

I would recommend the work of Jeff Scott Townsend. His soundscapes are fantastic and my one hope, if I am allowed to dream, would be to hear Townsend's music scoring an actual film... something worthy of his care and attention.

Have a wee listen to his music below... and support independent music by buying his soundscapes.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Top 30 Artists on my Last FM

From February 2006 to present... these are my overall top 30 artists as recorded by Last.FM. I think it makes for interesting reading.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Black Ocean / Ecosystem & Incubation" by Zelig Sound: Composition & Sound

"We were asked to create some excellent intricate sound design and score for this very beautiful visual journey through Black Ocean's ecosystem. We used some very interesting and unique sound tools when creating this piece. The result is very detailed, subtle and reserved."
Zelig Sound: Composition & Sound

Wow... truly beautiful with an amazing soundtrack!



Loving... "A History of the Sky" by Ken Murphy

"This is a year-long time-lapse study of the sky. A camera installed on the roof of the Exploratorium museum in San Francisco captured an image of the sky every 10 seconds. From these images, I created a mosaic of time-lapse movies, each showing a single day. The days are arranged in chronological order. My intent was to reveal the patterns of light and weather over the course of a year."
Ken Murphy

Wow... Vimeo is on fire tonight!


Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS

"Time lapse sequences of photographs taken by the crew of expeditions 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station from August to October, 2011, who to my knowledge shot these pictures at an altitude of around 350 km."


Monday, November 14, 2011

Loving... Dunes by 4th Alternative

One of the highlights of working with some of my favourite ambient musicians is that I usually get a preview of the album... long before its 'out there'. Dunes by Rob Davies aka 4th Alternative  is an album I loved from the first moment I heard it.

I've been a fan of 4th Alternative since I heard New Dawn on the Earth Monkey Productions netlabel. I liked his form of ambient electronica back then... and it still works for me today.

The nine tracks that for Dunes are wonderfully idiosyncratic yet come together to make a tangible whole... they are concise and articulate... saying what needs to be said, figuratively speaking, before moving on... they don't labour the point. I like that.

The music featured on the album is predominately expressive synth based ambience... deeply immersive with an other-worldly quality to it. Tracks like 'murmurs' or 'mirage' have an almost visual element to them... which is fascinating for me.

All in... I would recommend this album if ambient is your thing.

£7 from Bandcamp


PS... the observant among you will have noticed where the cover came from... its a crop from my first painting... from back in July 2009. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out.

Rob's remit was for some sort of desert sand dune. Now... I don't know about you... but sand dunes aren't very common in Motherwell. On my first attempt, I tried something concrete and abstract... which didn't work. So this was my second attempt... and I was delighted when Rob got it. He loved it and that was that.

I hope to work with Rob again... and start painting again.

Loving... Sleeping At Last

Olly's been at it again... this time she reminded me of a band I had come across a wee while back called Sleeping At Last... a deliciously delicate indie folk act whose music is truly beautiful and serene like the calm of early morning.

I couldn't find any other 'official' videos on YouTube... but found this fab live recording which goes some way towards distilling their sound.


Thank again Olly!


Loving... Angus and Julia Stone

I love it when my wife turns me onto a new band. Her latest find are brother and sister duo Angus and Julia Stone. They have a wonderfully effortless sound... something delicate yet durable. I am impressed. Check out the videos embedded here for more.

Thanks Olly!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tonight... at Sherbrooke St Gilberts Church

I've created the visuals for this concert... nothing fancy... just minimalist informative slides and a display of some of my pictures at the interval.

Looking forward to it.


Friday, November 11, 2011

My artwork on bandcamp :: Dunes + New Underground Volume One

I was delighted to see two albums released yesterday/today that I've had the pleasure to provide the artwork for.

'Dunes' by Rob Davies aka 4th Alternative (above) features one of my paintings... whereas 'New Underground Volume One' (below) features a photograph taken at the big museum in Edinburgh.

I will feature these albums in their own right in due course... I just wanted to mark the moment where two more of my album covers were 'live' and 'out there'.

Delighted for the opportunity and my thanks goes to Rob and Wolfgang respectively for their willingness to collaborate.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Machines for the New Dawn... an interview with Adam Greenhead pt2

Yesterday I posted the first part of my interview with Adam Greenhead aka Coloured Lines where we talked about his new album "Machines for the New Dawn". Here is the concluding part of the interview.



TM) I love the beats in this album ... nice and chunky. They compliment the melodies played on the piano. What/who are your influences for the soundscapes and atmospheres on this album?

AG) I'm glad you liked them. A lot of the songs are fairly slow so I wanted to compensate this with thick chunky drums. There are a lot of influences in this album spanning many different genres. I also have an influence of Reich and Glass in my works but with this album I wanted to extend beyond that. One new but very prominent influence on this album has to be that of Four Tet. I came across his album 'There Is Love In You' on Spotify and instantly fell in love with his production and his brilliant song writing. There is also a big influence from Radiohead, particularly from their album 'The King of Limbs'. I loved the fact that the drums on that album are over dubbed various times and mixed with samples and other percussion. I like the idea of two drummers playing in a band using counter rhythms and counterpoint to the songs and loved 'Live At The Basement' sessions when Radiohead did this.


TM) You have recorded music with your band "sawsound", with violinist Chrissie Caulfield and collaboratively under the banner of "the ambient league" ... how have these experiences shaped this recording?

A5) Working with other musicians is simply fantastic and is the reason I became a musician. You can meet someone you know nothing about, play music together and in an instant have a connection with them. Other musicians will always open up new doors to your creativity and your musical tastes and for me it is important to have that to develop and grow. When I first started playing and jamming with Chrissie Caulfield I was immediately intimidated by how fantastic a musician she was. I didn't think I would be able to connect with her musically as I was afraid I didn't know enough but she was very patient and made me feel relaxed. All of a sudden we started playing this music and it was so liberating to have no boundaries and to express what my fingers wanted to hear. It's important to realise that you don't have to write music to please people in a specific way. If you're comfortable with your approach to the way you write then the rest will fall into place and you find that people do actually like what you're doing too. I also take on board what other musicians teach me and I think that reflects in this album as it is a lot more mature than my first attempt 'Fear Builds Walls'.


TM) With the high notes of "photophobia" you must wear very tight underpants ... your choice of falsetto is a brave one ... it can go wrong but thankfully in this recording it hasn't ... in fact its simply beautiful ... please explain why you chose this range? Is it by choice or is it your natural range?

AG) When I was a young boy I was a treble and enjoyed singing a lot. As a young man I lost that ability quite a lot and stopped singing for a long time. I discovered a band called Wild Beasts in 2007 and fell in love with their leader singer Hayden Thorpe and his falsetto voice. I was trying to build my voice back up again and make it stronger and knew I was afraid to really show others that this is how I enjoyed to sing. It is not really a strong point of mine anymore but decided to take a big risk and use it on the album. I think it hasn't come back to bite me yet but I'm not sure I would use it again. However, since then I have heard more and more male singers use it and I think it sounds great e.g. Temper Trap, Thom Yorke and Wild Beasts to name a few.


TM) I love the album art. Describe, for me please, the concept and talk about the execution... who is the picture by?

AG) All the pictures on the album are by Holly Henry, a young lady from Texas, USA. She very kindly offered to let me use her artwork and I was blown away by it when I first saw it. I like to relate images back to my music as I believe that an album is not just about the music but an artistic creation as a whole. By that what I means is when I look at an album I always check the cover to see how it relates to the music. For instance, I have always been a big fan of Storm Thorgerson and feel his artwork matches the mood of Pink Floyd's music to perfection. The album as you know is political and I wanted to choose pictures that shocked the listener. These pictures contain a lot of fear and anger in them and there is a lot of fear and anger in the people around us at the moment and at each other. This is almost a self reflection on this and shows we need to change our attitudes towards one another.


TM) What's next for Adam and Coloured Lines? Will you repeat the process? Have you considered a remix album utilising all the talent we know within our shared twitter community?

AG) What's next? That is a difficult one. I am intending to begin my Masters in Digital Music in September if I can afford to and develop my knowledge further. As far as Coloured Lines is concerned I am not sure. I am still writing and playing with Sawsound currently and am also in a band called In Between Echoes which is a funk band based in Leeds. We have signed a manager and are seeing how things are going from there at the moment. We're not that well know yet so we're working on that by gigging around Yorkshire and further a field and have had some positive feedback so far. I also have an idea for an opera in mind which I am aching to begin. It may sound crazy but I am looking for funding to be able to make this a possibility and the ultimate goal would be to get its premier at the Proms! I'm not sure if that is too ambitious or not at this stage but what I can say is this is a mix between opera, electronic music and a live band so I'm not sure how easy it will be. I do have some plans to write a new EP or album but I am going to release a remix EP with a new song on too. I have one remix already by the fantastic Ambienteer but I need more. So if anyone does want to do a remix I would feel very honoured.


Thanks Adam! I can't wait to hear the Opera!

Now c'mon folks... if you want to remix a track from Machines for the New Dawn give Adam a shout or leave a comment on here... I would love to hear where other ambient and electronic musicians could take Adam's wonderful music.

Machines for the New Dawn is available now from Bandcamp. The album can be downloaded for free or  a physical copy on CD can be purchased for £4. A Limited Edition USB with .wav files and CD Digipack is also available for £12.

Have a listen below:

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Machines for the New Dawn... an interview with Adam Greenhead pt1

My friend Adam Greenhead aka Coloured Lines has released a fantastic album entitled "Machines for the New Dawn" which is a wonderful mix of vocal samples, chunky beats, strong melodies and some great vocals.

It's not my usual style... it isn't ambient nor is it post-rock... it has a impressive sample-driven new wave vibe about it that I just love... and with Adam's melancholic falsetto... it makes for a wonderfully deep and entertaining experience.

Rather than just post a review... I thought I'd take some time out with Adam and ask him about the album. ... and was impressed with the answers he responded with. I've cut the interview in two... with the second post coming tomorrow evening.




TM) "machines for the new dawn" opens with an attractive "field recording" ... this is something that I found deeply attractive about the album ... please explain your rationale for field recordings and describe your creative process ... how you record, what you decide to record, what you record with etc.

AG) The field recording used in the opening of the album is actually a sample that I found and decided to use. Unfortunately, I was not able to make a field recording myself due to equipment restrictions so decided to use a sample. The particular sample I used is from New York City and I feel adds a sense of space and ambience to the song that otherwise wouldn't be there. I got the idea from a few different sources. As most people know I'm a big fan of minimalism and the idea I think subconsciously came from Reich's 'City Life'. During the course of my degree I had quite a few lecturers who were into avant garde music such as electro-acoustic music where they often used field recordings. I took some ideas from them, but not being a massive fan of electro-acoustic music I decided to do my own thing with the sample.


TM) on "love lost light part 1" there is a sample that talks of " Dave" ... my assumption is that this is David Cameron, our current PM ... how has our current political environment shaped this album?

AG) Ha ha you are indeed correct. I came across this sample on the internet of Samantha Cameron talking about her husband. It made me laugh to find that she actually called him 'Dave' and so I decided to use it as it shows there is a different perspective of him from someone else's view. During the second year of my degree we had our general election and I began to get quite involved with it, watching the debates on TV when one day my then local MP, Greg Mulholland, knocked on our front door. I spoke with him about student fees and he said he was opposed to fees etc. After that election it is well known that the promises made by the Liberal Democrats were broken and having voted for them I felt stabbed in the back. As time went on various global political movements took place, such as those in Tunisia and Egypt and I was writing this album thinking wow, this is so relevant to how the world is responding to all the different troubles that are happening. Domestically, I have been furious with the current governments cuts to the arts and everything else they can lay their hands on. People who control our government have no clue how ordinary people like you and I live, or how we try our best to get by as prices rise and bankers risk our money for fun. I realised that I was becoming a very angry person with society so I channeled that through this album.


TM) Furthermore... you demonstrate an adeptness in picking really great vocal samples. Throughout the album we have some wondrous vocal samples from Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, the current US President, Barack Obama, and even Charlton Heston. How do you decide on what makes a great sample?

AG) I came across the Margaret Thatcher sample first in the very early stages of the title song, which happened to be the first song on the album I wrote. I was listening to an old party conference of the Conservatives when I heard Thatcher say 'we believe everyone has the right to be unequal'. The speech carries on after she said this but I managed to extract that sample and in the context of what she was saying, change the meaning. My Dad is a big Thatcher era hater and as a child would often go on about his dislike of her. The society we live in is also very unequal, no matter how hard we try to hide it and something clicked and made me think it would be a great sample to use - mainly because she was such an iconic figure for good or bad. Deciding on samples is hard and took a long time to find the right ones and then to see if they will fit to the song you're writing. I spent hours looking for and manipulating them to the point of bordem almost. I'd say a sample depends on what you're trying to create with the material - for instance I like using odd titles for my songs and often start with the title and then build the context around that. For this album I did that by using samples.


TM) You took a gamble and asked your fans (myself included) to prepay for the album ... what are your thoughts on this gamble and would you recommend this path for other upcoming musicians? When will I get my CD and, more importantly, where are the socks I was promised?

AG) Making the pre-order was a huge gamble, not only for my fans but also for myself financially. I have always wanted to put my own album in production and have something physical in my hand at the end of the long recording process (I'm a big lover of CDS!) I couldn't afford to do this to begin with so I decided that I'd try the pre-order on Bandcamp and see what response I got. It has been really positive and with the help of my fans I've managed to make those CDs, there was a demand there and I'm thrilled I've been able to accomplish making my own CD! If other upcoming musicians think they have a fan base big enough to cater for physical releases then I would encourage them to do so. It is very motivating knowing that your fans have faith in you by order a pre-order before they know the final outcome of your work. I am waiting on my suppliers to deliver the CDs this week (there were a few production hiccups) which means everyone should receive their copy by next week, maybe even earlier. I am also offering a FREE BONUS CD with the album orders so it's worth fans getting a hard copy of the album. Also someone asked for some dirty underwear with their CD so I've catered for that too! ;)


Machines for the New Dawn is available now from Bandcamp. The album can be downloaded for free or  a physical copy on CD can be purchased for £4. A Limited Edition USB with .wav files and CD Digipack is also available for £12.

Have a listen below... and come back tomorrow for the second part of this interview.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Airdrie x Bellshill ... a joint concert between two Salvation Army Bands

Airdrie x Bellshill Festival _ 32

Last night I went to see/hear a joint concert from the Bellshill Salvation Army Band and the Airdrie Salvation Army Band. It was good fun at times... with Bandmaster Ian Dickie being his usual absurdist self (pictured above for a euphonium quartet based on "the Grandfather Clock").

Airdrie x Bellshill Festival _ 30

Airdrie's Band under the leadership of Bobby Weir (pictured) sounded fab... and their choice of pieces was inspired.

All in... it was a good night... even with the fireworks which Ian roped me into helping him with. Believe it or not, that was the first time I had lit fireworks in my 37 years on this planet.

The rest of my photos are available here :: link to Flickr.

Airdrie x Bellshill Festival _ 52

Airdrie x Bellshill Festival _ 6

Airdrie x Bellshill Festival _ 3

NaNoDrawMo 5 + 6

061111_ black and yellow hats (05/50 + 06/50 #nanodrawmo)

I am working through Edward de Bono's "Six Thinking Hats" and continue to be inspired by his writing.

The pics are poor... so I am going to crank up my Canon scanner tomorrow and scan them in.

Oh and hairspray does fix pencil drawings.

NaNoDrawMo is a challenge... as is reading more. I think that's not only a good thing but the point of the individual activities.


Friday, November 04, 2011

Challenge 2 + NaNoDrawMo 2011 2 - 4

021111_ read more (02/50 #nanodrawmo)

Challenge #2... Read More!

I am currently reading short stories from Philip K. Dick and also from H. P. Lovecraft... as well as "The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas, "The Gift" by Lewis Hyde and "The Six Thinking Hats" by Edward de Bono... from which the following illustrations are taken:

031111_ the white hat (03/50 #nanodrawmo)

031111_ the red hat (04/50 #nanodrawmo)

I think I may rescan these images... as the iPhone and Instagram are really doing them justice.

Enjoying both challenges so far...


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Wilderthorn's cover of "The One I Love"

I am so stoked... Jon Bilbrough aka Wilderthorn and James Underwood from Iskra String Quartet have recorded a version of R.E.M.'s "The One I Love"... for me... and, well, everyone else on the interwebs.

It's a great version... haunting and uniquely theirs. I love it. Well done guys!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Two new challenges + NaNoDrawMo2011 no1

011111_ black tea, no sugar (01/50 #nanodrawmore)

Challenge #1 for November
JD has challenged me to participate in NaNoDrawMo2011... aka... draw-fifty-or-more-pictures-in-November.

According to the Flickr group...

Inspired by National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), NaNoDrawMo is a personal challenge to push would-be artists beyond the bounds of comfortable "when I have time" practice for one month and see what happens.

Loosely defined goals are for each participant to produce 50 individual works/drawings between Nov 1 and Nov 30. You can always do more than 50 if you've got it in you! That's just the minimum everyone should be shooting for.
I'm not an artist... in the sense of someone who draws / illustrates... I'm a photographer. But I am willing to give it a go... and I have a purpose for the Moleskine Cahier Olly printed for me.

I have been inspired by data visualisation and the emerging field of graphic facilitation (read this for more).. and want to improve on what basic skills I have.

I also want to document my second challenge...

Challenge #2 for November
Inspired by the idea that change happens one step at a time... I am going to try to change my behaviour one step at a time. I'm going to document each change in a NaNoDrawMo2011 picture.

Change #1... I'm going to stop drinking milk in my tea (I never took sugar in my tea).


November 2011's calendar/wallpaper

November 2011's calendar :: iPhone4

Don't panic... this month's wallpaper *is* a bunch of pink roses.

I want to reclaim pink roses from the Shmaltz family... and just enjoy them for the awesome things they are. I love the intricacy of a rose in bloom... and think November is a month that could do with more colour. I hope you agree?

Usual flavours included... along with a PSP version which I thought I'd bring back after getting back into playing it thanks to Dayna and Lego Star Wars.



iPhone with calendar
980x800 (no calendar) for my pal Andrew


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