Friday, November 30, 2012
I wanted to bring a little Advent / Winter joy to screens everywhere ... so I dug this pic out from my archives. Who doesn't love to see a wee Robin ... especially in December.
I hope you enjoy it and once again let me thank you for your willingness to have my photography on your device(s)... I do appreciate it.
iPhone with Calendar + iPhone without Calendar
Thursday, November 29, 2012
I love it when someone presents an idea in a manner that makes me laugh AND think at the same time ... and this video from Moleskine did both. Yes, it is an advert for their collab with Evernote ... but it is well shot and thoughtful ... and wanted to share it.
For me its definitely both ... but that's me. I'm not ready to ditch my paper just yet.
Thanks Aaron for sharing.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Another fascinating video ... this time the birth of a hardback book.
It's wonderful to see the care and effort that goes into making an artefact like a hardback book. Whilst I love my Kindle ... it would pain me greatly if we were to lose these skills.
Well done Glen Milner.
I thought this was fascinating when I read about it on PSFK.com ... a modified Moleskine notebook that works as an analog app for the iPhone ... utilising a mirror and a slot for an iPhone.
For more info on the ABRACADABRAPP ... go to their 'Rock the Post' page.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Saturday, November 24, 2012
"... there's an increasing desire, almost a panic, for something new. Yesterday was a million years ago, and tomorrow is already here. The rush for new continues to increase, and it is now surpassing our ability to satisfy it."Seth Godin :: The decline of fascination and the rise in ennui
One of my favourite micro-labels at the moment is Twice Removed Records from Australia. I have featured their music on here before but feel it appropriate to mention a number of their recent releases ... because these releases have grabbed my attention and really kept it tight. Over the next wee while I’ll feature these releases on here.
First up, we have “Delays” by Fontaine ... an album of two halves - first half is 5 original tracks and the second half is 5 remixes of 4 of the original tracks.
The five original tracks are utterly delightful ... the kind of languid electronic ambience that I adore.
The opener and title track - “Delays” - is a pleasure. It envelopes the listener like a warm embrace from someone very familiar ... there are no sudden surprises or twists making the track a very engaging experience, especially when the percussive elements become apparent.
The second track - “Faded” - drifts in and out of my conscious, it's ebb and flow lulling me into another place ... a space for dreams. Whereas the third track - “Brothers” - brings an intensity and an element of white noise into the equation ... whilst retaining the overall sense of languidity.
“Shearwater” - the fourth track - retains the coherent sense of the album whilst bringing more melody to the fore ... the synths on this track are so delicious ... the track takes its own time and builds as it wants. I like that ... albeit it does leave me wanting more. It is a track that almost begs to be remixed ... with a dub-techno beat taking the track into a new direction.
The fifth track - “Atomised” - retains the ebb and flow of earlier tracks but has an almost soundtrack appeal to it. The synths that present the melody in an almost melancholic manner are really catchy, in their own way ... grabbing the attention of the listener and really shaping their experience. This track reminded me of Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtrack to Twin Peaks ... although I'm not entirely sure why. This track is the most atmospheric of the 5 and a real stand out for me.
We now come to the remixes and I'll be honest ... I have a bit of a love/hate thing with remixes ... when they build something new that compliments and adds to the original then I am in favour of them but when they somehow lessen the original then I'm not so keen.
First up, we have Begalfuel’s Risky Chicken remix of "Atomised". This track has grown on me. I would find the repetitive polyrhythms unquestionably objectionable if it weren’t for the synth drones that underpin these beats ... these drones are wonderful and really rescue the track for me ... keeping me interested and engaged ... which I am grateful for because around the 3mins 30 mark the beats change and become really, really head-noddingly, Aphex-Twin inspired deranged ... and, at this point, I am smiling like a loon ... my patience rewarded with something truly beautiful. Well done Bengalfuel.
Next up we have Ben Moon’s remix #4 of “Atomised” ... a remix that really builds upon the original and compliments the material in a respectful manner ... extending it out and accentuating the strong elements like the swirling synths and melancholic air. The melody is presented in a distorted, almost ethereal manner which I really enjoy. What’s more ... the introduction of a subtle delayed beat around the 4mins mark really adds to the atmosphere ... bringing something new to the table. I loved this mix and hope to feature this track on my next CircumAmbient set.
The Sun Remix of “Shearwater” really emphasises the droning ebb and flow of the track ... it is an all-encompassing delight ... one that envelopes the listener whilst presenting a new melody that effectively utilises delays to build momentum and hook the listener in.
The penultimate track on this release is the L_Coma remix “Brothers”. It is another delightful remix... one that takes the languid nature of the original and somehow adds a more ominous atmosphere to it ... bringing repetitive glitches and a heavier ebb and flow to play. Not that this is a bad thing ... far from it. It takes the track in a new and worthwhile direction. One that I heartily welcome.
Lastly, we have the very glitchy ’he can jog’ remix of “Delays”. A remix that has broken the original down by an apparent musical form of functional decomposition and rebuilt it from the constituent parts. It makes for an interesting listen ... one that I initially found objectionable but I warmed to, like Bengalfuel’s earlier mix. The remix is interesting ... one where the sounds presented skitter in the listener’s conscious like heavy raindrops hitting a tin roof ... before forming a drone in the last minute or so of the track.
All in ... this is a first class release and is highly recommended for folks with a predisposition towards the more experimental edges of electronic music. Have a listen below ... and if it floats your boat, go out and buy ... and, in doing so, support truly independent music.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
My friend Travis Mamone has released another eBook ... entitled "O Come Emmanuel - Advent Meditations" ... and I was honoured to design the cover for him. Albeit when I say design ... I kind of just put text over one of my photos ... but I think it works.
It is available to buy here.
In my ongoing, semi-regular look at classic albums ... I come to the letter ’E’ and there is one album that starts with an ’E’ that stands head-and-shoulders above its peers ... “Endtroducing.....” by DJ Shadow.
This album was a game-changer when I bought it on the day it was released. It took the beats and attitude of hip hop and took it to a whole other level ... and in doing so DJ Shadow lived up to the promise he had shown prior to the release.
Instrumental hip hop has never been better ... some folks have come close, in my opinion, but no one ... not even Shadow himself ... has surpassed this album for me.
The variety and sonic density of the music presented beggars belief ... he really did take instrumental hip hop and, dare I say, dance music in general, to another level.
Shadow’s use of polyrhythms and obscure sounds blows my mind. What shouldn’t work ... in his hands does. The ethereal sound of the harp juxtaposed against thrash metal drums ... wonky synths ... off kilter vocal samples ... female vocals ... chunky drones and super-chunky, high fat beats ... soulful samples ... hip hop dialogue ... all work to make this album one in a million.
If you don't have this release in your collection then get it ... now!
The only thing that disappoints me about it ... if i am honest ... is the lack of the full version of “midnight in a perfect world” ... which is one of the best tracks on the release and, thankfully, featured on a separate single release. Well worth finding if you haven’t heard it ... the spoken word poetry is truly inspiring.
Monday, November 19, 2012
My friend Travis Mamone recently launched an eBook entitled "In Praise of Doubting Thomas - How to doubt without losing your faith" ... and I was honoured to design the cover.
Thanks for the opportunity Travis!
Sunday, November 18, 2012
The ninth release on my netlabel - weareallghosts - is now live.
"Open Spaces (waag_rel009)" is a short collection of ambient electronic lullabies in the key of now from a dear friend and inspiration Gurdonark.
Go here for more information ... or have a wee listen below.
"I guess that’s the genius of this album… it contains six tracks that eloquently soundtrack the very best life has to offer. They have an upbeat, almost euphoric quality about them… they serve to lift the mood and feed the soul with their genuine, deep and timeless beauty. There isn’t anything superficial about these tracks… no gimmicks or repeated ’crowd-pleasing’ compromises… they are deeply engrained expressions of the best in this life."http://www.thefuturelements.com/reviews/even-though-we-sleep/
"From the stunning opening chords of “cold front” it is apparent that Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson have created something truly magical. The ambience they create coupled with their signature post-rock stylings really makes for an euphoric and unashamedly triumphant listening experience. They create the most gracious and elegant beauty with their guitars, strings, keys and synths."http://www.thefuturelements.com/reviews/departure-songs-hammock-masterpiece/
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Tundra Vole is not a household name but I think he should be. He creates wonderfully effervescent electronic music that always seems to lift my spirits.
He recently released an EP entitled “Mint and Marigold” that is an utter delight to listen to. Upbeat and jaunty ... the five tracks only last 20 minutes but in those 20 minutes they convey so much: so much joy for life ... so much alertness and appreciation for now. They are a triumphant soundtrack to being alive ... an euphoric testimony to overcoming the adversity of everyday ... a celebration to the little things that come together to make our day.
I love Tundra Vole’s particular style of guitar-infused electronic music. I have to resist dancing like a loon whenever my iPhone is on shuffle and one of his tracks comes on. His music is so dense and varied ... so many layers come together to make the track ... which I find fascinating. Guitars ... synths ... complex polyrhythms ... all come together to make this EP very special indeed.
I would heartily recommend it ... especially since Tundra Vole has kindly released “Mint and Marigold” for ’pay what you want’ on Bandcamp. I’ve embedded the player below to let you hear it ... if you like what you hear please don't hesitate to support him. We need more music like this and we need more musicians like Tundra Vole.
I love Plum's music ... and I was delighted to receive an email telling me about her latest single.
Receiving emails like that always make me smile ... but I was smiling like a loon when I realised that her single was 'smile' ... one of my fave tracks off her album 'the seed' ... which is, by the way, in my top 10 albums of 2012.
'Smile' is such a beautiful track. The backing is so strong ... chunky beats and supersonic synths ... with the addition of Plum's vocals ... it is simply wonderful. It also holds fab memories of seeing her perform it live. It was a real hit with the crowd that night.
The b-side ... 'Rainbow' ... is a collaborative effort between Plum and producer TeKlo ... the result of late nights in a secret countryside hide out.
It's a wonderful dense track ... with a dubstep flavour ... underpinned a noisy Aphex Twin vibe and some seriously bleepy sounds. I love it ... and really welcome it. I will need to look out for TeKlo ... he has talent.
I've embedded the tracks below for your listening pleasure. I hope you enjoy them as much I as do. If you like what you hear, please support Plum.
Friday, November 16, 2012
The fifth instalment of Futuresequence's Sequence series dropped today ... bringing new delights from Olan Mill, Darren Harper, Bengalfuel, and Neil Milton amongst others to listen to.
I don't envy the curator's task ... choosing 42 tracks from 200 submitted.
Unfortunately both Cousin Silas and Apta ... both chaps feature on my netlabel ... did not make the final cut. However, I intend to release my own compilation with their tracks and others in December ... so watch out for that.
I've embedded the Bandcamp player below ... have a wee listen and if you like what you hear download the compilation for free from there ... be warned - its over 500mb in size.
The Fox Is Black's latest 'Re-Covered Books' comp has me wishing I had more skills and could compete. I am just a photographer who adds type to his pictures.
That said ... I am really looking forward to what is created. The strength of submissions for previous competitions has been first class ... and Solomon's taste is truly impeccable ... his winners are always something special.
I will watch this competition closely.
PS Thanks to Brad over at Free Floating for the heads-up!
Sunday, November 11, 2012
I help out with the Salvation Army's West Scotland Divisional Youth Band. I'm not sure what my 'official' role is but I do the slides, take photos and make posters. I'm also chauffeur for Dayna - my eldest daughter - who plays horn in the band.
I was out last night in Glasgow at Ibrox Parish Church. The band were performing along with the Glasgow Phoenix Choir ... and I had the privilege to be able to take some photos.
Above and immediately below are my faves ... to catch Chris in action is always a pleasure ... and I love the photo of the choir because of the lass second in who is looking right at me.
Anyway ... here are a few more that I liked:
All in ... it was a great night. The rest of my photos are available here.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Is it Angry Birds Star Wars ... or ... Star Wars Angry Birds?
Now that's a question ... because I recently downloaded the latest instalment of the Angry Birds series ... and I'm not sure which is more prevalent.
The scenes are definitely Star Wars ... but they have an Angry Birds spin to them. The main characters are there but have been recreated in the form of Angry Birds.
The game play is definitely Angry Birds ... with a bit of "Angry Birds Space" thrown in to confound fair-weather gamers like me ... but it has a Star Wars spin to it. Look at the first scene on Tatooine. Instead of Pigs we have Tusken Raiders ... and we have the two suns over the Lars Homestead in the background. I really like their attention to detail.
Gameplay is fab ... with some characters such as R2D2 having powers reminiscent of his powers in the films ...
... and others, like C3PO, having new powers.
You can buy other levels ... like Hoth ... which is an interesting way of getting extra cash from a player. That said ... I can't wait to see the merchandise that will spin-off from this game.
All in ... it's well worth 69p or 99c to buy for the iPhone ... with an iPad version available too.
However, I still can't decide if it is Angry Birds Star Wars ... or ... Star Wars Angry Birds?
i guess it does demonstrate how powerfully iconic the Star Wars legacy is ... when an already established and dare I say classic game can be remade in its image and somehow the output feels like Star Wars.
Friday, November 09, 2012
"... What he or she wants is a clean, quiet, comfortable, air-conditioned space, to work, meet friends or linger for hours, no questions asked. Such hangouts are scarce in India, and with the urban chaos outside, boy, do we need them. India’s women, desperately short of safe public spaces, want to sit by themselves without being leered at, as they might be in dhabas. India has an estimated 200 million people between 18 and 25. The young, who usually live with extended families in cramped houses, want to chat, date and escape their prying parents. The growing number of entrepreneurs who work from home are looking for venues to network and meet clients. And everyone – absolutely everyone – will be looking for that scarcest of commodities in India: a clean toilet. It’s not about the coffee. It’s about the coffee house."
"Why India's yuppies want Starbucks (it's not about the coffee)" by Kavitha Rao from The Guardian
I read this article recently and it has stuck with me. I love Starbucks ... but my love, like the young Indians mentioned above, is not about the coffee ... or at least not just about the coffee. Its about the coffee house and, in particular, my coffee house.
First off, let me say ... my favourite bean is an aged Sumatran. "Old Brown Java" as some providers refer to it. This is a bean that Starbucks uses regularly ... and it's something that makes me happy.
But it's not used in Pike Place ... their 'signature blend' and the only one they offer nowadays.
I like Pike ... but I don't love it. What I did love was the when they used to brew a variety of blends AND Pike. I used to love seeing what they had on offer and getting spoiled with cafetieres with the latest blend to try.
I don't get this any more ... but I still go to Starbucks. Why?
One reason is because of the coffee house itself ... it's the most convenient place for me to hang out at lunch time or after work. The upper floor at the 'Bucks in Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow; has a really relaxed atmosphere ... even when suits hog seats ... and students think they own the place. I've had some great conversations in there ... and got a lot of stuff done. It's my third place ... or, at least, one of them.
I am a big fan of Beanscene and would go there *everyday* if I could ... I particularly like the one across from the Kelvingrove Museum. It is something special. Ironically, I drink 'London Fogs' when I go there rather than coffee ... but it is still a favoured coffee house for similar reasons.
Lastly ... Starbucks have embraced mobile payments and 'passbook' on the iPhone. Making payment convenient and zero hassle. I like this a lot ... mainly because I hate carrying money on me.
So I guess when I talk about my love of coffee ... I need probably expand that to ... I love coffee houses too and have my particular favourites.
Hopefully this is food for thought for all the coffee connoisseurs out there ... you may have the best coffee blends in world (hopefully one that includes age Sumatran beans) but if your coffee house isn't warm, relaxed and friendly ... and your staff are similarly engaging ... then you'll miss out.
People like me want great coffee ... but they need a place to relax and hang out ... and the difference between need and want is why I still go to Starbucks.
I'm not passing comment on this film because I haven't read the book yet ... but I do LOVE seeing Glasgow in the first minute. Look for George Square in particular ... its truly fascinating.
I will go see it ... when it comes out next summer.
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
I discovered today's classic album - "Dark side of the moon" by Pink Floyd - a few years back ... I was convalescing after the removal of my gallbladder and I had rented a few bits and pieces from my local Library. These bits and pieces included the album and the film '2001 a space odyssey'. I had time on my hands and I wanted to explore content I had previously ignored.
I was blown away ... on both counts.
The things I love most about "Dark side of the moon" are the variety of sound and the experimentation on offer ... each listen brings something new to me. The use of synths fascinates me ... along with all the added sounds like footsteps, ticking clocks and cash registers. The use of spoken word also excites me.
I also love the continuous nature of the recording ... the way each track blends seamlessly into the next.
What's more ... I really like the cover and think Storm Thorgerson created a simply yet eye-catching masterpiece.
All in ... I love this album and would highly recommend it ... albeit listening to it whilst simultaneously watching 'The Wizard of Oz' is up to you.
Monday, November 05, 2012
If you are in or around Glasgow this Saturday ... and fancy something completely different ... then the West of Scotland Divisional Youth Band are hosting a concert with the Glasgow Phoenix Choir.
£7 on the door ... with the chance to meet me thrown in for free ... lol.
PS ... I designed the poster for the event.
There is something other-worldly about fireworks night. Tonight I had the opportunity to witness the Strathclyde Park firework display from our usual vantage point near our house ... with Miriam, Dayna, Jane, Ross, Nathan & Lachlan.
I got some interesting shots with my Nikon ... shots I am finally proud of. I've never really got good fireworks before ... but I am pleased with these shots.
For the rest of my photos ... go here.
Saturday, November 03, 2012
On Wednesday night I had the opportunity to attend the 'Stabbing A Dead Horse' tour's Glasgow leg ... and boy was I impressed.
I'll be upfront and say ... I was there for 'The Fierce And The Dead' and they rocked my socks off ... but the other two bands that I was able to catch - local band 'We Are The Physics' and 'Trojan Horse' were impressive too. Unfortunately I had to leave before 'Knifeworld' came on.
First up were local band 'We Are The Physics'. It was hard for me to define their sound ... other than to make comparison to Devo ... a loud, frenetic, Math Rock-inspired Hardcore-loving alternate-universe Devo.
Their quirky on-stage antics were definitely a crowd-pleaser and I had a rather large smile on my face for most of their set. Their 1 second songs and their ode to Goran Ivanisevic were entertaining ... and whilst they claimed not to be 'prog' ... they set up the night very nicely indeed.
I will do my best to see them again ... and I would heartily recommend them to my local friends ... they are well worth seeing.
Next up were the band I was here to see - 'The Fierce And The Dead' ... otherwise know as the instrumental prog rock band that the awesome Matt Stevens plays guitar in.
Simply put ... they were brilliant.
Led by Kevin Feazy on bass ... backed by Stuart Marshall on drums with Matt and Steve Cleaton on guitar ... they blew me away.
Each player played their part ... creating the most beautifully vibrant instrumental rock. Music that I love to listen to on my iPhone, iPod or hi-fi ... but music that is intended to be freed ... to be let loose in the wild. I was privileged to witness their chemistry in action.
Stevens was on fire ... but then so were all the other members ... each contributing to the whole. Feazy's bass playing was exemplary ... the kind of playing young children with bass-playing aspirations could only dream about. Cleaton was a suitable yin to Stevens' yang ... they really sharpened each other ... playing off and really complimenting each other in an utterly delightful manner.
However ... the chap who stole it for me was Marshall ... he was simply off-the-hook. His drumming was frenetic and vibrant ... fast paced yet wonderfully rhythmic. He gave his all. If drumming in a rock band was an Olympic sport ... he would be a shoe-in for a gold. He was that good and it was a pleasure to meet him afterwards. He is a really nice chap ... as is Stevens who towered over me and whose smile is larger than he is tall ... and if you've ever met him in the flesh you'll know how big that is.
'The Fierce And The Dead' were brilliant ... and I really hope to see them live again. They deserve to be huge. Britain has talent ... and they are it!
After 'The Fierce And The Dead' ... we welcomed to the floor 'Trojan Horse' ... whose sound was in keeping with the frenetic, progressive rock of 'The Fierce And The Dead' and their moves in keeping with 'We Are The Physics'.
In fact, it was a night for bass players busting moves on the floor ... with their mustachioed bass player performing some form of advanced double-jointed yoga whilst contributing to some seriously meaty tracks.
I worried that they would suffer from not being 'The Fierce And The Dead' ... and whilst I would have preferred them to be on before 'The Fierce And The Dead' ... they certainly held their own and really rocked out.
I struggle with the term 'prog'. It has terribly negative connotations to it that ... well ... were not on display this evening. 'Trojan Horse' were wonderfully versatile with tremendous timing and a preference for melody. They weren't overblown. They were tight and interesting ... a delight to experience ... and one more band that I need to see again.
Unfortunately I couldn't stay to see 'Knifeworld'. It was a school-night and I'm getting to *that age* where I need my sleep. I would have loved to see them ... witness their number trying to squeeze into the intimate space within the 13th Note ... but it wasn't to be.
I thoroughly enjoyed the gig and still can't believe I saw 3 great bands for £5. I would have happily paid more ... and ensured 'The Fierce And The Dead' were commemorated with a tee ... which was ridiculously priced at £8. I mean ... a gig and a tee for £13. Unbelievable.
Congratulations to everyone who made the 'Stabbing A Dead Horse' tour the success it was. I look forward eagerly for more.
Friday, November 02, 2012
We held a dress up day at work in aid of the charity we support (my employer matches any funds raised) ... so today I was Papa Smurf.
My friend and colleague, Phil, was Mr Bean ... and
My other friend, Emma, was Wednesday Adams.
Other notable dresser-uppers included members of the Analisti Brutti - Steven and Joan - who came as a Jedi Knight and an iPhone respectively.
It was a great day and a whole heap of money was raised for charity.