Sunday, September 30, 2012

October 2012's calendar / wallpaper

October 2012's wallpaper :: 1280x800

This month's calendar / wallpaper was taken last week with my iPhone5 whilst in Possilpark, Glasgow. The sun was low in the sky and I was able to get a quite interesting shot (imho) with the sun behind the structure.

Not all the usual flavours are included below... Andrew Berry will be getting an iPhone soon and the Kindle3 is getting a bit old now. I hope you enjoy it and thanks for everyones' willingness to have my photography on their devices... it is appreciated by me.



iPhone with Calendar + iPhone without Calendar

What I listened to in September 2012

Excludes CDs in the car and on the hi-fi in the lounge... but pretty much covers my iPhone & iPod listening habits over the last month.


How I designed an album cover for Wolfgang Merx's upcoming release on weareallghosts

I just posted the front cover to Wolfgang Merx's upcoming release on my netlabel - weareallghosts - over on the netlabel's blog. Entitled "Chrome Dreams (waag_rel010)" it contains a series of progressive synth-orientated improvisations that are wonderfully imaginative and expressive... and I was tasked with providing artwork that was equally expressive.

This is the original photo... taken on my iPhone5 using the native Camera App... of the roof of the Mecca Bingo Hall in Possilpark, Glasgow. I cropped it using 'Photoforge' into a 1:1 square.

I then rotated the pic 90 degrees in 'Photoforge' and saved it. I did this twice more:

At some point the photo developed an annoying black border... not sure where that came from.

I then used the 'Blender' app on my iPhone5 to blend the opposite images together as so:

I then blended these images together:

I then used the 'Camera+' app and, in particular, the 'Clarity' setting to bring the picture out a bit and give it more texture:

I submitted this to Wolfgang but it was 'too blue' for him... so I created a black and white version:

I thought this was too dull... so I blended the two images to create what became the final image (less the annoying black border):

At this point I left my iPhone5 and moved to Photoshop on my MBP to finish the image... using Gil Sans for the title and Courier for the waag 'mark'. I'm delighted with how it has turned out.

I use Gil Sans for Wolfgang's lettering because I love the Gil Sans 'G' and think it really makes Wolfgang's name jump out.

This wasn't my first album cover to use a photo taken with my iPhone... and it certainly won't be my last. I am delighted with the quality of the camera and the processing power of the 5 and will be using it more often from now on.


I posted the wrong images but have subsequently fixed them. Sorry for any confusion.

Another poster for "The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey"

My broadband connection has been iffy over the last few days... yes, I have iffy wiffy... so this has been the first time I've been able to post the latest poster for "The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey".

I can't express how excited I am about this film... and can't wait to get my hands on some of the merchandise which, by the way, goes on sale tomorrow I believe.


Monday, September 24, 2012

'Stigma (waag_rel006)' by Earlyguard... the sixth release on my netlabel

My wee netlabel released it's sixth album today... 'Stigma (waag_rel006)' by Earlyguard is a single 45 minute ambient drone... that I, for one, absolutely adore.

What's more... Earlyguard has kindly allowed me to keep any profits I make from the 'pay what you want' aspect in Bandcamp... to put towards a Soundcloud account for the label. I am in his debt.

For more... go here.

I have embedded the Bandcamp player below to let you have a wee listen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Smells Like Teen Spirit

I can never tire of this song... and the video is simply wonderful. Just showed it to Miriam. It's crazy to think the song is 10 years older than her.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Poster for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the first publication of  "The Hobbit"... and today is both Bilbo and Frodo's birthday... so I thought it fitting to share this new poster for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" that I spotted on The Hobbit UK Facebook page.

I really like it... both the image and the typography used in the title really speak to me. I can't wait for more posters.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A couple of additions to my Tolkien collection

080912_ charityshop purchase no2

080912_ charityshop purchase no3

The Andersons

180812_ Struan_ 001

180812_ Struan_ 002

180812_ Eilidh_ 001

180812_ Eilidh_ 003

180812_ Mark

180812_ Aileen_ 001

A month ago... my family spent the afternoon with our friends Mark and Aileen with their two kids Eilidh and Struan.

I took my camera along because Mark is a good shot and I thought we could swap tips... I also took it because Eilidh is an absolute sweetheart and I knew she'd pose for me. What I didn't expect was how awesome her little brother would be for the camera.

It was a fab day. My belated thanks to Mark and Aileen for their company.


180812_ Struan_ 005

The Hobbit trailer

I really can't tell you how excited I was to see the trailer for The Hobbit tonight... but I'll give you a clue: it was more than super. Enjoy.


Thanks to Lesley-Anne for the heads-up.

Artwork from weareallghosts featuring the cover for Gurdonark's release

Apologies if this seems terribly self-congratulatory but I was looking at the artwork for the releases on my netlabel and I really liked them. I haven't shown them all off in one place... other than on Bandcamp... and wanted to take time out and share them.

The picture for waag_rel006 was taken by Earlyguard ... and the painting for waag_rel008 was done by Ade Hodges. All other images were taken by me on various film and digital cameras.

...and introducing the cover for "Open Spaces (waag_rel009)" by Gurdonark:


Saturday, September 15, 2012

the iPhone 5 and the need for decent debate

Last Wednesday saw the launch of the latest iPhone. It is a phone I have waited for since I went out of contract and it is a phone I *think* I'll get. I say I *think* because I’m not entirely convinced about the change in dock connector. That aside... it looks like a good phone and Internet device. I am an Apple fan and am somewhat tied into their ecosystem... so the iPhone makes sense to me.

This, however, is not the point of this post. The point is to comment on all the hate that I’ve witnessed upon the phone’s release. You don't need to go far to see it... a wee trip to the BBC’s news site will be enough.

Apple fans vs non-Apple fans... fighting it out to convince themselves and others that they are right and the other is wrong. Scary.

It scares me for three reasons:

Firstly, we have lost the art of a decent debate. There is no such thing as politeness, decency or graciousness in these arguments. It's all “i’m right and you are wrong... and here’s why”. I genuinely wish I had the self-belief of some folks but I don't... certainly not when it comes to phones. I mean... the iPhone is a good phone... it does a number of things well but it doesn't do everything that everyone wants. It works for me and all the other “sheeple” that buy it... but compared to *this* phone with *that* feature... it's not the best. I can and do acknowledge both the flaws in what I like and the better features of the other ’thing’ but most don't and this is worrying. Everything is black and white.
The way the ’other’ is abstracted is also worrying in these arguments... I've already used one term thrown at Apple fans. The minute we depersonalise the ’other’ we have lost our humanity... our compassion... our reasonableness. Android fans are not the devil incarnate... they are normal folks who have a different preference. If I can't or don't want to see this then I have failed.
I know this full well after referring to folks who watch “Hollyoaks” as morons. A couple of people who I love and trust called me out on this... because they were watchers of Hollyoaks and were most definitely NOT morons.

Secondly, I see an overwhelming need for people to prove, through argument, that they are right and the other is wrong - it's like their whole being is made up of being *against* something. This worries me because I have never conceded anything by being shouted at. I concede points through conversation and decent debate but never through such vitriolic hate. I see it in our politics, and it is commonplace in the expressions I hear of faith and non-faith within the public domain.
Atheism is perceived as being all about standing *against* the notion of deity... and being *against* the tyranny of organised religion... and whilst it is *for* many things - science and human endeavour, for example - it is known primarily as being anti-religion.
Conservative Christians seem to define themselves by what they stand *against* (abortion, evolution and gay marriage being three key areas) instead of what they stand *for*.
Why can't we be known for what we stand for rather than what we stand against? Why is such an emphasis placed on what we do NOT stand for?

Lastly, I am not defined by any *thing*... I am defined by who I am. This is key to this whole post. I may be an Apple fan but it doesn’t define me. What defines me is the relationships I have and the art I create. This will be my legacy. I want on my gravestone that I was a loved husband, father, son, and friend... who made the world a better place through what he brought into it. That's what I want. I don't want to be remember for being an Apple fan... certainly not as the main thing folks remember.
I love my Apple tools. I love my Moleskine and Rhodia notebooks. I love my Bic pens and my Manhattan Portage bags. But these things are tools... a means to an end... a means to creation and the sustaining of relationships. Nothing more. Let’s get this straight: I am not the sum total of all my tools but the sum total of all my experiences. We all are. It's time we realised this.


PS I see the irony in me going on about folks who think they are right and the ’other’ is wrong... and then closing this post in the manner I have. If you think I am wrong then please engage me in a decent debate. I may be wrong. It happens more often than I would like to acknowledge. Speak to my wife... she knows this. This is what I think. Don't take as being gospel... think it through for yourself... challenge the ideas if you need to but don't accept it as anything other than my opinion.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

'No Hassle' by Cousin Silas

Every-so-often Cousin Silas blows me away. His track 'No Hassle' is simply stunning... so good in fact, I've asked him if it could be included on the forthcoming "Endless Summer EP" to be released on weareallghosts around the end of October.

He agreed.



Budapest Timelapse by Peter Dancso featuring the music of Tangram

I love Tangram's music... and to hear it back this wonderful timelapse view of Budapest by Peter Dancso is something special indeed.



PS... Tangram's music is available here ::

Sunday, September 09, 2012

"Songs" by Sima Kim is an utter delight

"Songs" by Sima Kim is an utter delight.

I could probably finish my review there… because, let's face it, I can't say anymore than that. I will, however, because that's what I do.

I have a love for Twice Removed Records. Their output is top notch. When they release something new… I listen. When Gavin Catling, the founder of Twice Removed Records, speaks of being particularly proud of a release… I listen intently.

The release he spoke so highly of is the one I consider an utter delight - "Songs" by Sima Kim.

"Songs" consists of 4 tracks - two long form pieces by Kim himself… and two remixes from the awesome Bengalfuel and Darren Harper.

The two original tracks are simply divine. "I" is a languid, guitar-orientated drone that features repetitive female vocals that swirl hypnotically over and around the music. These vocals are not quite recognisable… which adds to the mystery… like a divine, Angelic language that my profane secular ears can't quite grasp to understand. The track builds to a delightful crescendo… complemented with some nicely distorted percussion which join the track and finish it off… like a bowl of ice-cream after a lavish meal.

"II" is similarly heavenly… with a catchy melody played on a what I think is a glockenspiel. This melody alone demonstrates Kim's musical prowess. The glock is underpinned by an atmospheric drone and some swirling sounds that dance in the imagination before being joined by some meaty post-rock percussion. I can't express how much I love this track. It is simply divine. It is the kind of ambient post-rock expression that I fell in love with all those years ago… especially when the female vocals enter the fray near the end. Vocals that are, this time, recognisable… but somehow still feel sacred and special.

Darren Harper's remix of "I" is a delicate reworking. The track starts off with the hum of a field recording and some chatter. He then brings a subtle drone to the fore… one that carries the track through to it's completion. It builds languidly… taking it's time… until more distorted drones join to complement the original, subtler drone. It builds and immerses the listener… bringing the guitar-orientated melody that makes the original track so distinct… so memorable.

Whereas Bengalfuel's 'cake fix' of "II" begins with a bombastic percussive rhythm… a banging, hypnotic, relentless rhythm that distances the remix from the original. Synths build upon this percussive motif… whipping the track into a Dervish-like whirling frenzy of sound, motion and feeling. An utter delight and a fitting end to what was an excellent release.

Sima Kim and Twice Removed Records should be very proud of this release… and I thank them for the opportunity to review it. I also greatly appreciate Catling's kindness in sending me a physical copy. The physicality of this artefact add something intangible (ironically) to this release… make it more precious, if that's possible?

All in… I would heartily recommend this release and hope it gets the recognition it deserves. I've embedded the Bandcamp player below to let you hear it... take time to listen and support great independent music.


Saturday, September 08, 2012

My wee netlabel - weareallghosts - is StillStream's featured label for September

Just posted over on weareallghosts in recognition of the honour of being StillStream's 'featured label of the month' for September. I am amazed, to be honest, considering this wee label was only a idea six months ago.

StillStream is an ambient, non-commercial, zero-revenue independent net radio station based in the United States... who have been broadcasting since 2005 and hope to keep broadcasting for many years to come. Their mission is to make ambient artists successful and their support, especially to Cousin Silas, has been greatly appreciated by me.

I love the music they play and regularly listen via the 'radio' option on iTunes (iTunes > Radio > Ambient > StillStream). I would heartily recommend them.


Friday, September 07, 2012

Some additions to my Tolkien collection

Four new copies of The Hobbit have come my way: the top one is an American edition I found on eBay... the second one came from Miriam in exchange for Minecraft on her iPhone... the third was from Olly for my birthday is an Unwin 1972 edition... and the fourth one was a gift from my parents for my birthday and is from 2011.

"Journeys of Frodo: An Atlas of JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings" by Barbara Strachey is a wonderful artefact that Olly and the we'ans gave me for my birthday.

It features 51 maps that chart the journey that Frodo takes in The Lord of the Rings... hand drawn by Strachey who isn't a trained cartographer but does a fantastic job. It really is a beautiful artefact.

Another wonderful artefact and gift from Olly and the we'ans is David Day's "The Hobbit Companion"... with utterly delightful illustrations from Linda Postma. It's a wee, pocket book that is best described by the blurb on Amazon:

"Tolkien's famous fantastical world was born from a single word "Hobbit" written on a blank sheet of paper on a summer afternoon in 1930. This book is an exploration of the inspirational power of language. It proposes that the entire body of Tolkien's writing dealing with Hobbits was essentially the product of a list of associations with the word Hobbit. Thus, the invention of the word Hobbit resulted in the creation of the character, race and world of the Hobbit, whose popularity has endured, indeed continues to increase, throughout the world since its humble beginnings. Exploring the brilliant web of verbal hocus-pocus that J.R.R. Tolkien delightedly spun in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, master Hobbit investigator David Day reveals the myriad crafty puns and riddles, hidden meanings and mythical associations beneath the saga's thrilling surface. Intruiging to the uninitiated, enchanting to the Tolkien enthusiast, The Hobbit Companion can only enhance our enjoyment of this dark, mysterious world. Featuring Lidia Postma's beautiful illustrations, The Hobbit Companion delves into the Hobbit world, looking in depth at the tales' main individual characters, such as Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and Gandalf the Wizard, other folk who share their lands from Goblins and Dwarves to Trolls and Giants, and the lands themselves, including Tookland, Buckland, the town of Hobbiton and the Shire."
I am grateful!


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Loving... "Lost & Found" by Lianne La Havas

Every-so-often a song from a genre I wouldn't normally listen to makes it's sneaky wee way into my consciousness... and blows me away. "Lost & Found" by Lianne La Havas is one such track. Simple yet powerful. Makes me want more from this lass... and such a great video too. Strikingly powerful.


Received in the post... "Songs" by Sima Kim

My sincere thanks to Gavin over at Twice Removed for sending me a promo copy of Sima Kim's utterly delightful album "Songs".

It really is a great artefact... very fitting for an album that I can easily describe as heavenly. I will post my thoughts on it very soon... but I can tell it's up there with my faves of 2012.



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