Thursday, February 28, 2013

Photos from a wee trip to Chatelherault

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A few weeks ago, my family and I took a wee trip to Chatelherault Country Park in Hamilton. It was a gloriously dry and sunny (albeit cold and muddy) day ... and we all enjoyed the fresh air.

I took my Nikon out with the nifty-fifty and bagged a few shots. In fact, it became a study of green. You've already seen one of the photos from the walk ... but I thought I'd share some more.

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The rest of the photos are available on Flickr.


What I listened to in February 2013 ...

There are a couple of anomalies in this list ... which I will let you find yourself. Otherwise, February was a fab month for great music with music from Fluttery Records really coming to the fore ... that and a definite man-crush on Sufjan Stevens.


March 2013's Calendar / Wallpaper

March 2013's Calendar / Wallpaper is a celebration of green. The photo was taken recently while walking around Chatelherault Country Park. I'm not sure why but that afternoon the greens on display looked wonderfully vibrant and lush. They gave me hope that the grey, dull days of Winter were ... are ... nearly over.

Usual flavours are below.


iPhone with Calendar + iPhone without Calendar

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seven questions with ... David Mantel aka Naal

I don't normally do this. I don't normally post a wee interview with someone until I've described their art and how I have enjoyed it ... but David Mantel aka Naal is different.

First off ... his album "Wilderlands" has really, really captured my attention but I don't, as yet, have the words to fully describe why it has. It's not enough for me to say it has ... I want to explain why. I will.

Secondly ... when I contacted Dave to ask if he'd undertake the interview, his response was not only very detailed but it was almost instantaneous. I love that kind of enthusiasm ... so I just had to feature him as soon as I could.

He's a cool guy who makes cool music ... and this is what he had to say:


1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Dave. My "stage name" is Naal. I make music, and also write blogs and make videos sometimes.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished my debut record, Wilderlands. I learned that a first release is really tough- establishing a web presence, finding people besides my mom who will listen to my music, and then of course the entire recording process. I learned a ton, though!

I'm currently in the process of moving and finding another job, but on top of that, I'm conceptualizing a few projects, and I'm going to see which of them wants to be born first. I'm really excited by the concepts that I'm working with, and I hope that as I continue to work on growing a fan base, those listeners will also be excited with me!

3) Who inspires you? 
Inspiration comes in a lot of forms for me. As far as the music I am making currently, within the genre there are my friends Andy, Karl, and Michel, from lowercasenoises, Karl Verkade, and Arafura, respectively. Their creativity and work ethics are totally motivational to me. I look a lot to people outside my genre, too. People like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Gotye, Nero, Samamidon, Cloudkicker… I mean, there's a ton. My musical taste is all over the place. I like to draw from everywhere.

I draw a lot from other mediums, too. Visual art and literature are both things that are very close to my heart. I didn't have a TV growing up, so I read indecently. I think my imagination developed pretty intensely from that, and even as an adult, I find myself becoming more attached than maybe I should to paintings or literary characters or poems because my imagination makes them more than what they are to the average person. My debut album, Wilderlands,  is actually a concept album based on an adventure book that is quite popular right now... So, even there, my creativity is drawn from people like Poe and Longfellow, Banksy and Warhol… You know.

4) What drives you to do what you do? 
I've been writing music since I was an early teenager. Not that it was ever very good. But I remember my first show in high school playing drums for this emo-core band I helped start… We probably sucked. Actually, no, we did suck. But I remember the feeling of playing that first show and engaging the people and what it felt like to share something I had helped create. I knew then that I needed to do that. It took a long time- 8 years- but I finally settled into a place where I felt comfortable with the art I was making, even though I knew it would be pretty niche and not everyone would understand it. I felt comfortable with it, and I knew that this would become a long-term creative identity. I had found something inside myself, a voice, that I knew I could share with people and bring them along on the journey I'm on myself.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I like making instrumental music in this kind of- I don't know, post-rock, drone, something something- vein because I feel like it lets the listener create their own journey and meaning to what I create- even if it's something completely different than what I intended. I don't think it's so much about that I want the listener to experience exactly what I do or imagine the same things that I do when they hear a track or an album that I create- I just want them to feel something! To imagine something! To maybe even hear a similar voice inside them that says, "Hey, I resonate with this!" or that helps them find their own, unique voice and story.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
Oh man. A huge role. Maybe the biggest. It means so much to me to have friends that are into art in the same way that I am- even if their medium or style is completely different than mine. I have a lot of close friends who do folk music, or singer/songwriter stuff… I suck at that! But we can get together and talk about our music and passions in a way that only other people who are in love with the Muse the way we are can understand, you know?

It's also awesome to have such a sweet community of guys who are into the same music that I am. The internet is great for that kind of stuff. You start listening to someone, and you like their music, and then you tweet them, and then maybe you join a Facebook group or something with other musicians and, look, there they are, posing on the same threads and everyone's talking and learning together, and then maybe you record a track together or go on tour or whatever… That's just a cool thing that happens now, in this age where artists don't really rely on the old gatekeepers- corporations, studio execs, etc- like we used to. It's turning into a more personal, relationship and community driven market.

That's one of the reasons I've chosen to give my album away for free- I want to believe that people who really care about the art, who have a desire to see an artist succeed, will support that person or that art because they care about it. It becomes a community in itself- not something like Justin Beiber fans or whatever- but people who care about the community being built around something that they care about or even love. Maybe that's a little idealistic, but I think that's the way the music and art industries are going to survive: we all take ownership of those things that we love and support them, whether financially, or by sharing that stuff with your friends, or whatever. I think that's the future.

7) What is next for what you do?
Well, like I said, I'm in the process of moving. Hopefully I'll be able to set up a nice space where I can work on my stuff once I get all settled. I've already started the conceptual process on the next few projects, and so we'll see where they go. I'm also in talks with a few people about some very cool collaborations, so look out for those. In the meantime, I'll be blogging over on my website, and probably making some youtube videos, too. I like to do those things!


Thanks Dave! You can keep up with all of that's going on with Dave and his "Naal" project on his website ::

I've embedded the Bandcamp player below to let you hear his album ... please check it out ... and check back here soon for some thoughts on it from me.


Loving ... the illustrations of Neil Gower

I know you are not meant to judge a book by it's cover ... but this cover of William Golding's "Lord of the Flies" really caught my eye when I saw it on Saturday in one of our local charityshops.

The illustration is by graphic artist, Neil Gower ... whose portfolio is simply stunning and very inspirational.

His book covers are simply first class ... but then so are his other illustrations:

His Illustrated maps are vivid, fun and useful ... and travel-related graphics are eyecatchingly gorgeous.

I really like the cut of his artistic gib ... and will be on the look out for more of his work.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Two recent releases on weareallghosts

The second in the Dronescape series ... a drone from Cousin Silas ... and ...


"Times Escape (wag_rel016)" by Scott Lawlor


Twenty one releases to date. This is something I am very proud of.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Loving... Fluttery Records

I recently reviewed two albums for This Is Not A Scene that came from the same label - Fluttery Records - and I've been given the honour of reviewing two more releases from their catalogue: |**| Gate and How Come The Constellations Shine.

I will post my thoughts in due course but I would not be jeopardising anything by saying my initial impressions are very favourable ... but then I think this is, in part, due to the quality control exercised by Fluttery.

Fluttery Records is an exemplary independent label that focuses on the kind of music I love ... Post-rock, Ambient, Experimental, Electronic, and Modern Classical.

I cannot recommend the music in their catalogue highly enough ... it goes beyond music to review, this is music to cherish.

Two more reviews over on This Is Not A Scene

"How do you define great? This is a question that has been circulating around and around in my head like an airplane waiting to land. 
For me, great has longevity … it is something that lasts the test of time. 
It is also something that you can and do come back to … again and again. 
For me, Gorecki‘s Third Symphony is a great piece of music. It has served me well over the years I have owned it. I keep coming back to it. It has become my friend. 
These are the exact same feelings I have for “Small Years” by Ana Never – this is a great piece of music … something I have returned to again and again over the week or so that I have had it to consume..."

"Instrumental rock genres like Post-Rock and Math Rock are very special to me because they cross so many boundaries and hold something I really treasure – variety. The ebb and flow … the light and dark … the soft and hard … the quiet and loud … the slow and the fast … all play their part in keeping my fickle mind in check and my hands away from my iPod. 
One band in particular gets this variety like no other and that is Arms of Tripoli – a Post / Math / Instrumental rock outfit from Los Angeles that consists of members from various LA based bands, including Signal Hill, The Lights From Here, The Half Mantis Group, and Naked in the Dark. Their EP, “all the fallen embers” is something very special indeed.../" 

It's slow death

"If we all reacted the same way, we'd be predictable, and there's always more than one way to view a situation. What's true for the group is also true for the individual. It's simple: Overspecialise, and you breed in weakness. It's slow death."
Major Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell

Loving ... The inspirational iPhone art of Sam Sweetie

My friend and colleague, Sam Sweetie, is one of the best iPhone artists out there. Her Instagram feed ( is a continual inspiration. I really want to work with her on an album cover or two from weareallghosts in the future.

In advance of this collaboration, I thought I'd share some of her work with you. Please check her work out on Instagram ( and, if you decide to follow her, tell her I sent you.

Please note: All photos are reproduced with permission.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Loving... 'The Pelican Project'

While researching an idea for an album cover, I came across Things Magazine's The Pelican Project. An online archive of Pelican's bookcover designs from the 1930s through to the 1980s.

The screengrab above highlights some of the fascinating designs produced in the 1960s.

I was particularly taken with "The Rise of Meritocracy" by Michael Young from 1965.

All in ... if you like bookcover design or design in general ... then Things Magazine's The Pelican Project is well worth a delve into.

I feel a whole new nerdy obsession / collection coming on.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Loving... "The Ocean Inside" by Max Corbacho

Music has a special place in my life. It has the power to inspire ... the power to encourage and build up in ways the other arts cannot. It is accessible. I can experience poignant moments of joy and beauty in the most unlikely of places ... all I need is a pair of headphones, a music-player and the right music.

It has to be right. If the wrong song were to be played, my inspiration will be taken to places I do not want it to go or am ill prepared for at that moment in time.

This is why I love ambient electronic music so much. It consistently takes me to a place of inspiration ... a place of rest and relaxation ... a place of peace and of beauty.

I'm not decrying other styles of music. Cacophonous sounds have there place ... Bolt Thrower have their place in my life and on my music-player. But their style takes me to a different place - a place of energy and movement - rather than a place of peace.

I say all this because I am currently in a place of peace. I am writing this in a very busy Starbucks in Glasgow with the music of "the ocean inside" by Max Corbacho playing on my headphones.

The coffeehouse is teeming with life. Italian Juventus fans are passionately debating their victor over Glasgow Celtic the night before. The bustle is intoxicating and yet I am at peace - inspired by the utterly delightful and deeply immersive soundscapes from Corbacho.

This demonstrates the power of the music presented by Corbacho - layers of synths that lap around the listener like waves of the sea ... waves of sound that enthral me ... waves that remind me of the simple pleasure of standing barefoot at the edge of the sea ... the water lapping at my toes. There is nothing quite like that feeling ... and Corbacho has expertly crafted his music to remind us of it.

This is music for the head ... music that creates a mental sanctuary from all the busyness that life represents. It affords a time-out that only the best soundscapes can ... one that fully immerses and engages the listener ... allowing them to let go.

The tracks are expertly blended so that "the ocean inside" feels more like a longform drone rather than a set of disparate tracks. For many this is the best of both worlds ... cohesion without the commitment of a single sitting.

Even so, some of the tracks are meatier than others - "towards the bottom of the ocean" (track 8 of the 1st CD) weighs in at 29:31 and "deeper into the ocean" (track 6 of the 2nd CD) comes close at 24:08. The whole recording clocks in at 148 minutes. I find this is remarkable.

In fact, I find the whole release remarkable. It stands out from the ambient set in terms of duration, quality and melody. As such, I would heartily recommend it.


Seven questions ... with Jeffrey Ericson Allen aka Chronotope Project

When I received the album "Chrysalis" by Chronotype Project aka Jeffery Ericson Allen I was intrigued ... the music spoke of something more ... something deeper. So I reached out and asked him my wee blog interview. I was not disappointed with what he had to say:


1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jeffrey Ericson Allen, though as an ambient music composer, I identify myself with the moniker "Chronotope Project". "Chronotope" is a term I've borrowed from literary criticism to refer to the intersection or identity of space and time; it is an apt descriptor for my work in ambient music. My musical background is fairly diverse and includes extensive classical training (as a cellist and pianist), improvisation in small acoustic music ensembles, performance both in the classical and new acoustic jazz areas, and composition projects for theater and modern dance. I have also been a recording engineer since the mid 1980s, and developed considerable expertise in the use of audio recording technology. While I made my living as a librarian and professional storyteller for many years, I have now retired from these pursuits to devote myself exclusively to composing and recording ambient music.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
I have just completed a commission for a modern dance piece (to be performed at a local community college later this month) that is inspired by the sounds and atmosphere of the Balinese gamelan, though my texture is sparser and is set in an ambient atmosphere ( I am also exploring the relationship of contemporary ambient music to certain features of late medieval European music, including the use of drones, modal melody and parallel harmonies. I typically work on three or four new pieces simultaneously, letting them cross-pollinate one another and rest. While I tend to have lyric and melodic elements in most of my pieces, a new composition I am mixing this week, which I have titled "Deus Ex Machina," deals almost entirely with texture and atmosphere until the very conclusion of the piece, in which a bi-tonal harmonic chorale descends--as if from Heaven--to dispel the misty atmosphere that builds up for most of the piece. Actually, I think this is one of my best pieces of work to date--but these things are hard for an artist to gauge himself.

3) Who inspires you?
I am inspired by so many people, including, but not exclusively, other composers. Some particularly potent musical influences these days are Erik Satie, Brian Eno, Gustav Holst, Bruno Sanfilippo, Maurice Ravel, Alio Die, John Cage, Vir Unis and the twelfth century visionary Hildegard von Bingen. This is not to say that my music particularly sounds like any of them, but that when I hear their music, something resonates inside of me, and I feel moved to create my own work. There are many others, certainly, but these composers feel like special mentors at this point in time.

Because my Buddhist faith and practice are not separate from my work as an artist, I am deeply inspired by my meditation practice and by the spiritual teachers who have so generously shared their teachings and experiences with me, which at the moment includes the British Vipassana meditation teacher, Heather Martin. I go on silent retreats she leads periodically at the Cloud Mountain Retreat Center in southwest Washington, and I find that as I learn to grow in my practice of mindfulness, I discover new dimensions in my music. I am also inspired and renewed by the deep silence of the forested retreats. All music needs the breath of silence as its lover and companion, and ambient music, which I love for its spaciousness, needs particularly to be grounded in silence.

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
The painter Mark Rothko, for creating works that live and breathe and have a deep musical resonance.

- Name place that has inspired you.
The Oregon coast, where I find solace and renewal, where I can be held up by the ocean's ancient rhythms and drink in some of the most refreshing air on the planet. One day there is worth a long vacation for me.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
My cello, an instrument that has been my companion and given me so much joy for forty-five years. My present cello was made by Gottfried Raabs, which is a lovely synchonicity, since my given name, "Jeffrey" is an English version of Gottfried. The cello feels like an extension of my body--it's grounded with the endpind, and rests at the center of the chest, so when I play, it's like getting a "heart chakra" massage.

4) What drives you to do what you do?
Gratitude, primarily,for the great beauty of this world, and for the selfless mentoring of all my teachers and benefactors, who have made my spiritual and musical life possible. Having reached an age at which every day is a gift or a bonus, my work as a composer is an expression of gratitude for life. I only hope I can give back some portion of the enormous generosity from which I have benefited so much. When I am making new music, I feel that I'm fulfilling something or in some essential way expressing my true essence. I am most myself when I'm making music.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Deep peace and contentment, first and foremost, and the appreciation and sensual enjoyment of ordinary experience. Mystery, not so much in the "transcendental" sense, but in a sense of curiosity and awe in the experience of the present moment, the miracle of awareness itself. For me, nonduality can be expressed in music much more successfully than in words which have an inherent quality of "this-and-not-that;" in music, you can have "this-and-that" simultaneously. A related quality is that of emptiness, by which I mean not a void or absence, but a great fullness and a deep knowing of the interconnection of all seemingly separate entities--in other words, dispelling the illusion of individual existence or separateness. Since music has been so helpful to me in discovering and experiencing all of these values, my deepest desire is to create music that might be helpful to others in discovering them in their own inner lives.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
Since the kind of music I am doing now is such a solitary pursuit, seeking out a community of fellow composers and listeners has become vital to completing the cycle of creation--communicating and sharing my work with others, and listening with respect and full attention to the work of my fellow composers. The internet has made it possible for me to connect with people from all over the globe who appreciate this artform. I have found other ambient music composers to be humble, sincere, and willing to share musical, technical and other knowledge. My fellow artists on the Relaxed Machinery label are extraordinary exemplars of a spirit of camaderie and mutual supportiveness. I appreciate and respect them all very deeply. I have also discovered and appreciate reviewers and bloggers who have a passion for the music, and who give generously of their time and expressive skills to help discover and promote the music. Finally, I've been connecting with many individual listeners, who are so appreciative of what we do, and who affirm the value of our work. I have to say that in my years as a performer, I rarely had this degree of connection--even though audiences may have been physically closer. There is something very personal and intimate on both sides of ambient music--creating it, and hearing it. Now I feel that whenever I compose something, it is always done for "one person," even though that may be many listeners. It goes back to my understanding of emptiness--creator, creation and creature are one in the same, and so--in my world--are composer, music and listener. There is an implicit deep community in participating in this cycle on every level.

7) What is next for what you do?
I have another complete recording ready to go (working title: Moontide), for which I will be seeking commercial label support. (Like most musicians I know, I would of course to prefer to spend more of my time creating music than promoting or distributing it.) This year, I am also hoping to re-release Solar Winds on the Relaxed Machinery label. I'm always working on my musical and technical skills, so I'm looking forward to exploring sound design with a number of my electronic instruments and programs. One instrument that plays a significant role in the music of Chrysalis and Solar Winds is the Haken Continuum Fingerboard, an extremely expressive synthesizer with a soft, continuous playing surface. This subtle instrument requires its own kind of playing technique, and I'm working on deepening my skills with it. Finally, some new music is evolving that will include more extensive engagement with acoustic instruments, primarily the cello--which is, after all, my primary instrument. I'm looking forward to a very full period of music creation. All of that, and continued work on a book I have started writing on the craft of ambient music composition, a sort of work in progress that chronicles my own growing knowledge of this craft, and which I hope to expand with the experiences of some of my fellow ambient music composers.


Wow. Thank you Jeffrey. I loved "Chrysalis" when I heard it. Have a listen below to hear why:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Loving... "Chrysalis" by Chronotope Project

If it wasn’t for the music given to me to consider reviewing, I could easily get caught up in all the music submitted to my netlabel. Don't get me wrong, I love to listen to all the music I receive for waag - it's just that you need to cleanse the palate everysooften so that you can approach what you love with renewed vigour. This is why I love to receive music from folks to consider listening about. Not everyone makes it but those that do ... do so because they've caught my attention.

"Chrysalis" by Chronotope Project aka Jeffrey Ericson Allen on Relaxed Machinery is one such album. It captivated me from the get-go ... it intrigued me and aroused my senses like a deeply intoxicating fragrance. In fact, I would go so far as to say his ambient soundscapes are like a fragrance - they pervade and enhance any physical space and bring with them a positive and uplifting presence. The sounds presented enhance the listener and his/her immediate space. The sounds build up everyone who hears them and I, for one, am really grateful for this.

There is an effervescence to tracks like the opener and title track - "chrysalis" - it moves and evolves ... dancing into the subconscious of the listener ... giving them something to focus and fixate on. It really is captivating ... a swirling movement of ambient sounds and tribal percussion. It is a pleasure to behold and to be held by this enrapturous music.

The soundscapes presented within the 72 minutes of this release are all similarly captivating ... "l’avenue du ciel" (the second track) is more atmospheric ... opening with a drone before presenting a deeply hypnotic synth that counteracts the joy of the opening track with a sense of the melancholic. The juxtaposition is electric and oh so delicious ... especially when the track shifts gear around the 4 minute mark with the introduction of ethnic percussion and a slightly more trance-y aesthetic - it is still melancholic but with some drive and movement. Movement that is further encouraged with the introduction of a field recording of flowing water. Whilst this is a wonderful addition, it is not for the weak bladdered.

Track three - "Trance-Missions" - is also wonderfully expressive with a real sense of vitality and movement. At 25:36 it is in no hurry to expressive itself ... instead it takes it's own time to grow and become - an act that I found utterly captivating and thrilling to witness.
When a subtle beat is introduced around the 5 1/2 minute mark, the anticipation is palpable - "where will this track go?" is the question on my lips. The introduction of a sequencer around the 7 minute mark helps to answer this by building a heady rhythm to follow. It explodes around the 11 minute mark into something decidedly hypnotic and all-encompassing. Truly brilliant. It does calm down in the later stages of the track ... but by that time the intended effect has been experienced and enjoyed ... sheer, unadulterated joy. Brilliant, truly brilliant.

The penultimate track - "reflecting pool" - is a truly immersive experience with a field recording of a pool of water underpinning some seriously lovely harmonic atmospherics and windchime-like percussive sounds. I find this track deeply relaxing.

The final track is stunning - "Eternity's Sunrise" is an aural delight. The use of the guitar is such an other-worldly manner whilst underpinned with an utterly delightful synth drone is just breathtaking.
The way the track builds from these initial moments with deep percussion and the wailing of such longing on guitar is truly marvellous. This is the soundtrack to an unseen film and I want to see the film!

This is a great track on a great album. An album I am captivated with and will, without doubt, treasure for a long time.

My sincere thanks to Jeffrey Ericson Allen for sending me the album to listen to. Please take some time to listen to it in the embedded player below … and do what you can to support Allen with this project:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Loving... Vegan Black Metal Chef

I'm not Vegan ... although I drink Soya milk for health reasons (possibly more the health of my nearest-and-dearest considering what happens when I do drink milk with lactose in it) and I'm not really into Black Metal ... the nearest I get is Wolves in the Throne Room ... but I did find this video very entertaining from Vegan Black Metal Chef.

It kind of says it all on the side of the tin ... these are Vegan recipes presented in a Black Metal style ... and I, for one, find them fantastic. I may even try their Pad Thai.


"Silas & Friends volume 1 (waag_rel015)" including artwork by Basil & Adam Howie

This evening, over on weareallghosts, I just released a wonderful album from Cousin Silas & his friends. If you love ambient soundscapes as much as I do, you will love this album. 14 tracks of atmosphere! It doesn't get much better, in my honest opinion.

The whole theme of the album (and the series) is cooperation - Cousin Silas working with his friends in partnership. So followed suit and brought in two friends - Basil and Adam Howie - to assist with the artwork. In essence, Basil provided the clouds and Adam did the rest. I think he did splendidly considering my remit to him was ... "Something Yes ... something Roger Dean."

Included with the Bandcamp release are three wallpaper versions of the artwork ... in 1600x1200, 1900x1200 and 1920x1080.

Use the player below and take a wee listen. If you like what you hear ... and see ... then please download the album. It's 'pay what you want' and that does included £0. If you do take it for £0 then please, please tell your friends and display the wallpaper ... when someone asks about it and trust me, they will ... please send them our way!


PS ... Adam's artwork can be found here >> >> if you like what you see then maybe you could support him by buying a print or a tee?


As you can see from my tweets above - displayed in reverse-chronological order - yesterday involved waiting.

When I heard about the Mailbox app ... I was intrigued. I liked the company's other app - Orchestra - and was eager to see how their approach would transfer over to email. I signed up and got my download information ... and then waited.

I then noticed ... on Thursday, I think ... that the app was in the Appstore. I downloaded it and was instantly faced with the realisation their deployment was unusual ... and that I was going to have to wait to get my hands on Mailbox.

As you can see by my tweets above, I'll probably get access to Mailbox NEXT weekend.

2013-02-09 14.21.06

For lunch, Olly and I took the we'ans to TriBeCa ... a fab wee American-style cafe on Dumbarton Road in Glasgow. It is a fab place but way too small and a victim of it's own success at peak times like lunch on a Saturday.

We waited in the cold Glaswegian air for 30 minutes for a table-for-four. We could have eaten yummy Japanese food over at Ichi Ban or gorged ourselves at an Indian buffet in the place a couple of shops down from TriBeCa but no ... we wanted to eat there.

And it was worth the wait. The atmosphere in the cafe is wonderful - warm and bustling - and their bacon and egg bagels are first class. I'd recommend their 5-egg omelettes too. Had one of those previously and they looked divine on the plates of the other patrons.

These examples of waiting made me think. We don't really wait anymore these days. Well, we wait for trains, parcels from Amazon, and for shows to come on the telly ... but, for the most part, this is the day and age of instant.

We want an app now. We want our food now.

Regardless for the reasons given for the wait ... we see it as a delay ... as an inconvenience ... as a problem.

But is it?

I love what Nando's do. They give you a pager and let you get on with your day. 20-30 minutes is only a drag if you've got nothing else to do. With the pager, you can go and browse the shops nearby ... using the time more productively than simply waiting (albeit reading a book instead would be even more productive).

If the Mailbox app was designed to alert me when it was ready then I'd be fine with that ... I'd let it be and get on with my life ... but instead it demands my attention - I have to dip in regularly to see how the numbers have improved - and that's where the annoyance comes. Every time I look at the app I am reminded that I do NOT have it yet. It's effect is counter-productive. Instead of keeping me informed it riles me up ... like the messages I receive when on-hold to a call centre. Afterall, if my call was THAT precious to them, they'd employ more folk to respond sooner.

Mailbox talk about their willingness to scale their operation correctly. I get this and appreciate scalability this is a priority for my friends but that seems weak, somehow. I realise Google did the same with Gmail ... but they are not Google. If they wanted to scale it correctly then (a) they wouldn't have generated so much 'press' and (b) they'd charge for it ... that money being used to buy sufficient servers.

Personally, I think they are angling to be swallowed up by Google. They will demonstrate a product that Google will find irresistible ... Google will snap them up and incorporate the features into Gmail. I guess we'll see.

At the end of the day, I hope their approach to release doesn't backfire on them. That the hype DOES live up to the wait. I really do hope so. That's why I haven't deleted the app like others have ... I can wait.

Maybe that's the point? To teach us to wait. The internet has created an instantaneous culture where access is as important, if not more so, than ownership. It has exacerbated the culture of 'fast' ... that of fast food ... and taken it to the next level.

Waiting creates the sense of anticipation ... the sense of longing ... but with this anticipation and longing comes the fear that whatever it is we are waiting for will not live up to our expectations. The food in TriBeCa could have sucked yesterday. I didn't ... it was lovely ... but it COULD have and if it had we'd have been disappointed ... more so than if we'd just walked in off the street.

Waiting intensifies the disappointment. I hope Mailbox doesn't disappoint.

That said ... are we disappointed less in this instantaneous culture? I don't think so. I think we write things off quicker ... delete the app and not even bother to write a bad review ... we just move on. Is this a good thing? Possibly.

I guess the answer to this whole thing is to be mindful about what we consume ... to seek trusted recommendations and be prepared to wait for that special something that is truly worth waiting for.

Like the bagels with bacon and eggs in TriBeCa.


Saturday, February 09, 2013

Spending the day in Byres Road & the Hunterian Museum

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I haven't told a story with pictures for a while ... so here goes ... all photos taken with my iPhone5.

The we'ans are off for 'half-term' and both Olly and I are off too. We couldn't get away but we're still making a wee weekend break of it.

We decided to take the we'ans to the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow today. We saw it briefly last October when we caught the Rembrant exhibit that was on - that day we went to it thinking it was where the exhibit was being presented only to discover it wasn't - and vowed to go back ... it looked stunning.

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After a walk along Dumbarton Road and a visit to the Salvation Army Charityshop there (where I picked up 3 Tolkien books - 2 of which I didn't have) ... we headed up Byres Road.

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We popped into a number of really cool shops ... including a CHAS charityshop that was nicely focussed on quality 'vintage' clothing at reasonable prices and the OXFAM Bookshop (where I nearly bought Spanish copies of 'The Two Towers' and 'Return of the King').

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After a nice wee donder we headed back to TriBeCa ... walking passed Bar Gallus on our way.

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TriBeCa is a fab wee American-style cafe that sells some seriously wonderful 5-egg omelettes and pancakes to die-for. Their bagels are first class too and worth the wait.

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We don't wait for many things ... but TriBeCa was worth the 30 minute wait we had ... but only just - Ichi Ban's noodles got very tempting after 20 minutes in the cold Glaswegian air!

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TriBeCa is a fab place but is too small and was, in many ways, a victim of it's own success. We will be back ... but not at lunchtime on a Saturday.

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After lunch we headed to the Hunterian Museum for a look around.

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It truly is a wonderful place ... packed full of Hunter's collection of medical specimens as well as fossil remains, artefacts from the Antonine Wall, and some interesting hands-on science experiments.

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It is well worth a visit ... albeit maybe not if the sight of 'things in jars' freaks you out.

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We rounded the day off with a visit to our collective favourite coffeeshop - Beanscene across from the Kelvingrove Museum. I had my first London Fog made with soya milk ... I liked it.

The rest of my photos are available here on Flickr.

Thanks Olly ... today was one of those days that enriches our lives! Good times.


Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Loving... "137 Books in One Year - How to Fall in Love with Reading"

My friend Kevin D. Hendricks has released a book on the Kindle entitled ... "137 Books in One Year - How to Fall in Love with Reading".

It is a love letter to reading. Hendricks is trying to remind everyone he can about the wonder that is reading ... and he does a really, really good job.

He places an emphasis on forming the habit of reading ... and suggests ways in which folks can read more ... whilst on the loo or in a queue ... or during the ad-breaks. This is a habit I am trying to recapture ... thanks to Hendricks.

I highly recommend it ... and it is free until Thursday, 7th February.


Monday, February 04, 2013

Loving... "Whispers Fall" by Cousin Silas on the Free Floating netlabel

One of my favourite artists has released a heartbreakingly gorgeous series of ambient electronic soundscapes over on one of my favourite netlabels...

Cousin Silas recently released "Whispers Fall" over on Free Floating and I was able to resist temptation ... waiting until it was released to pick up a copy and, in essence, fall in love with the music presented.

I have a deep love for Free Floating and believe Silas has done Brad proud with this release. It is exquisite. The five tracks say so much in their combined 80 minutes. Trust me, this is one powerful release. One that I cannot recommend enough and will be featuring heavily in the next circumambient podcast.

Have a wee listen below and download the album for free:


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