Monday, September 30, 2013

What I listened to in September 2013 ... and July - September 2013

September 2013 ... and ... July to September 2013

Highlights include Bruno BavotaOceanus, Shigeto and 65daysofstatic in September ... and Audrey Assad, Oathless and Human Pyramids in the last 3 months.


Three recent releases on weareallghosts

First up ... we have "Tales of Space Exploration 9-16 (waag_rel031)" by Brother Saturn ... with artwork by Adam Howie:
"I hear real progression in these tracks … Miller is growing as an artist and as a musician … creating truly beautiful ambient soundscapes that speak of travel, desolation, loneliness, and the yearning of home … wherever or whatever home may be."


We then have a collaboration between Jack Hertz and Cousin Silas entitled "the Quiet Forest (waag_rel030)" ...
The music Hertz & Silas have made here is the kind of music that holds that extra special added dimension ... theirs is the kind of music that transports the listener to far off realms and alternate realities. Field recordings underpin dark, eerie synths to create the soundtrack for one or more Lovecraftian dystopias. “South Wind”, for example, reminded me so much of “At the Mountains of Madness” that I was compelled to reread Lovecraft’s classic story.


Lastly we have three tracks from Toaster ...
I am delighted to welcome Toaster to weareallghosts with “Mourners (waag_rel029)” ... a collection of 3 ambient soundscapes that showcase, dare-I-say, his mellower side ... a collection I totally dig and have wanted to share with you for a while now. Whilst “Mourners (waag_rel029)” isn't as frenetic as some of his self-release music is, it still holds true to his truly independent and uniquely individualistic vision. Todd makes music that he himself wants to hear and as a fan of that kind of intention, I am totally onboard.


Please support independent music.


October's Wallpaper

October's wallpaper features a photo I took at Glasgow's Botanical Gardens on Saturday morning. I took it using my iPhone5's panorama feature then sized the various photos in Photoshop. As such, they are all slightly different.

Glasgow's Botanical Gardens is a magical place and I would recommend you visit there when you can. Until then ... have this photo on your device to remind you.

Enjoy. Usual flavours are below. Please let me know if you like a wallpaper for a device not mentioned below.


iPhone with Calendar + iPhone without Calendar

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Seven Questions with ... Alex and Rob from Oceanus

Photo by Lauren Brett ... used with permission.

"Sirens" by Oceanus was a breath of fresh air when I heard it ... it is:
"... one of the most varied and imaginative I've heard in a long time. There are moments of shoegaze ... full on rifftastic rock ... frentic metal ... bloodcurdling vocals ... and even the ebb and flow of post-rock. There are also moments of moving ambience and of sheer melodic beauty."
I felt it appropriate to catch up with Alex and Rob ... and ask them my 7 questions. I'm delighted that they could respond ... and respond, they did!


1) Who are you and what do you do?
We are Oceanus, once we were five now we are two. Alex handles guitars and vocals and Rob largely handles bass and production. Without wanting to sound too arrogant we write music predominantly for our own amusement and then just hope people enjoy it.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment we're just waiting to see how our first album Sirens is received, has been a long time coming and is finally out in a few days. After that we'll think about writing another if/when the inspiration takes us.

3) Who inspires you? 
- Name an artist who has inspired you
Neige of Alcest is probably one of the artists that has inspired us most for creating this album, both musically and also for the fact he does so much of the studio work by himself or with a very small number of musicians. After Oceanus as a 5 piece touring band dissolved we just sort of decided "we could do that".

- Name place that has inspired you
As contrived as it may sound the ocean is a place (if you can call it that) that has inspired us most, maybe more specifically the fact that we've generally lived near coastal locations. The 'oceanic' sound that we've tried to create has been influenced quite a bit by that.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you
Tricky question, in the simplest terms the "thing" that has inspired most is merely the enjoyment of writing music. It's something you can easily forget about doing, and find yourself writing music because for some ridiculous reason you feel you "have to". The reason anyone initially picks up a guitar, or a bass, or a kazoo and writes music is purely for fun. Or to get laid. Maybe not with the kazoo.

4) What drives you to do what you do? 
Starting to sound like a broken record but the only thing that drives us to do what we do is the fact we enjoy doing it. Eventually it'll be the cocaine and ladies of the night, but for now just the satisfaction of writing music is what drives us.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I don't think we ever write looking to express any values as such, it's pretty obvious from some of the tracks we're trying to create different atmospheres. But lyrically we're pretty ambiguous really, so the words are open to interpretation. Maybe it leaves room for the listener to bring their own values to. Sorry if we're starting to sound unbearably pretentious, difficult not to when writing this kind of music.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
It's been a while since Oceanus was a live band, so in many ways we're starting again from the beginning with regard to getting back into any kind of community. We're hoping at some stage to put a live band together to play a few venues at some point.

7) What is next for what you do?
Next we let Sirens settle, see if people like what they hear and then think about writing something new. We've got a few ideas knocking around.


"Sirens" by Oceanus is now available over on Hawkmoon Record's Bandcamp page. Have a wee listen below:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Two videos from "Innocents"

I'm getting really excited about Moby's new album - "Innocents" - and wanted to share the videos of two tracks from it that I've heard and loved.

I particularly like Moby's choice of guest vocalists - Cold Specks and Mark Lanegan.

... and while I was at it, I thought I'd share this fantastic video for 'The Day' which features the delightful Heather Graham.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Shigeto's Studio Session

Studio Session: Shigeto from NPR Intern Edition on Vimeo.

I recently reviewed Shigeto's "No Better Time Than Now" over on Echoes And Dust ...
"This is my kind of future jazz. A heady blend of beats and keys. A particularly special blend that I, for one, cannot get my fill of. Shigeto’s unique approach to his music - polyrhythmic percussion underpinned by the sweetest of electric piano or bass sounds - simply melts my heart and leaves me wanting more."
... and wanted to share this video that I spotted on Vimeo ... it features Zachary Saginaw aka Shigeto in his studio.

I found it fascinating ... and would heartily recommend you take 4mins out to watch it.

I'd also recommend his album!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Loving ... "Light & Gravity" by Sima Kim & Saito Koji

"Light & Gravity" by Sima Kim & Saito Koji

... is a delight piece of music. It is a longform ambient drone that ebbs & flows with the most delightful of languid lilts. It is one of those pieces that not only drifts along but encourages drifting in the listener - the lilting, repetitive nature of the piece is mildly hypnotic & rather compelling - it provides some mental respite by gently imposing a different rhythm on the listener ... a slow, steady to & fro that I, for one, found really relaxing whilst commuting to both Glasgow and Leeds recently.

I would highly recommend this piece & feel it really demonstrates the quality of product coming from Gavin Catling's "Twice Removed Records" micro-label ... which one of my fave labels at the moment (in fact, it has been for some time).



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A couple of nights near Huddersfield

240813_ Cousin Silas in situ

This post is long overdue and my apologies to those involved that it has taken me this long to write about the experience.

Back in late August, I had the privilege to go and stay with Cousin Silas for a couple of overnights. The trip conveniently coincided with a business trip to Leeds ... so I was able to nip over from Leeds to just outside of Huddersfield in deepest, darkest Yorkshire and stay with Silas.

With Silas for the weekend were two of the nicest blokes I've met in a long time - musician and film geek, Kevin Lyons, and painter and music-fan, Ade Hodges - who, along with Cousin Silas, filled my time with music and film; sci-fi and books; bacon sandwiches, pizza, and curry; in what was one of the nerdiest weekends I've had in ages.

The commonality in the room was astonishing and whilst there is an age gap of possibly 10 years between me and the chaps ... it certainly wasn’t apparent as we laughed the night away.

I can't express how much fun I had. It's not everyday pulp sci-fi cover art and 70’s prog rock come up in conversation ... certainly not in my household ... so this was a pleasure ... a simple, pure pleasure.

For example, we talked about the difference between progressive music and “capital P” Prog Rock ... and how Kraut Rock (both Berlin & Dusseldorf Schools) and Jazz Fusion could so easily be encompassed by a more liberal use of the word progressive.

We also talked in depth about “Tales of Topographic Oceans” ... one of my fave Yes albums ... and, in particular, the third track - “The Ancient” - and how Kevin hates it. It's strange to hear it from someone else’s perspective. Fascinating, in fact. I don't agree with Kevin’s opinion regarding it ... but really valued his insight.

I really loved the commonality of the group ... how, for example, they knew who ReDsHiFt were ... a band I thought only my friend Robert and I knew about. I felt like I was part of something rather than the weirdo sitting close to the edge.

What I also loved was the opportunity to learn ... that feeling of sitting in company that I could learn from ... and learn I did. I learned about the DIY self-publishing sci-fi zine scene of the late 80’s ... and was guided towards new sci-fi and weird fiction writers to check out ... even coming home with a few copies to read.

People talk about the negative impact of social media but here was, most definitely, the positive ... the barriers were broken down ... there was no ice ... we could talk and share with reckless abandon and I, for one, loved it.

We never really achieved what we wanted ... to record, package and release an album over the weekend ... but what we did achieve was worth far more than that ... we built strong bonds of relationship, friendship and fellowship ... bonds that will last a lifetime.

During that weekend I realised that, more than anything, I wasn’t alone in my nerdy loves ... and that was a great feeling.

I look forward to the next gathering and hope some of the dreams we dreamed will start to become a reality.

I’ll share the two main dreams with you sometime soon ... but, for now, they will stay between the four of us ... although knowing Cousin Silas, he’s already forgotten them.

My thanks to Kevin and Ade for their company and their friendship ... and my sincere thanks to Cousin Silas for his generosity, kindness, and all the gifts that filled an already full suitcase and backpack.

Until next time, chaps.


PS It is important to note that Kevin, Ade & Silas did *finally* record some music ... and I look forward to releasing it on weareallghosts in due course.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Loving ... “Sirens” by Oceanus

I'll admit to a little trepidation when I approached “Sirens” by Oceanus ... an album due to be released on one of my fave indie labels - Hawkmoon Records.

This anxiety was due to two things:
1) I have no idea what post-metal is ... and
2) I wondered if it would be something I would dig to the same extent as their other releases.

I bit the bullet and put on “Sirens” ... I can honestly say I've not looked back since. I still don't know what this post-metal thing is that Tom Honey spoke of ... but I do know that this release is one of the most varied and imaginative I've heard in a long time.

There are moments of shoegaze ... full on rifftastic rock ... frentic metal ... bloodcurdling vocals ... and even the ebb and flow of post-rock. There are also moments of moving ambience and of sheer melodic beauty - the opening 42 seconds of “Nautica”, for example - these moments really highlight the musicality of Oceanus aka Rob Honey from Damn Robot! & Alex Fawcett from Arboretus ... they can't hide behind the fuzz afterall. This is the kind of variety that makes “Sirens” a very interesting journey for a listener like me ... a bit of everything and everything executed so very well over its 7 tracks and 41 minutes.

The first three tracks are the three parts of the title track ... "Sirens" ... a wonderfully progressive journey in its own right ... from beautiful ambience, emotive guitars & delightfully wistful vocals; to frenetic metal, chunky guitars and energetic percussion; all while retaining a central theme ... these three tracks are an excellent introduction to both “Sirens” as an album and Oceanus as a band.

From there we move to “Nautica” ... a progressive track that features tremendous melody, chunky riffs and some blood-curdling screams ... vocals that do genuinely grow on you. I'm not a big fan of these kind of vocals ... I'm more of a Death Metal fan rather than Black Metal ... but these vocals work in the context of the whole because of their sparing and intelligent use. By the point we’ve reached in the album, Oceanus have already proven they can sing ... this is simply an extra flourish ... another string to their bow, so to speak.

What I love about “Nautica” is around the 3:46min mark ... when you think the track is over then the delightful melody comes back to the fore and there is some seriously gorgeous eBow action on the go. I just love that bit ... it is something beautiful indeed.

The fifth track - “Ora” - is more metal-orientated from the outset ... with some big chords ... before the arpeggios start with scaled-back guitars and those wistful shoegaze vocals appear. The ebb and flow of this track is a delight ... moving gracefully and with ease between soft and hard, quiet and loud; Oceanus really demonstrate their abilities on “Ora” ... they are skilled and this is apparent.

The sixth track - “Theta” - is a short track that demonstrates Oceanus’ experience with more abstract, ambient soundscapes ... field recordings are morphed and manipulated over a steady percussion ... synths play softly ... giving the listener some respite before they plunge into “Waves” - the final track on the album and the longest at 11:40mins.

“Waves” is a belter of a track ... grungy guitars are played over a medium-paced tempo ... before a more melodic expression is found and those wistful vocals make another appearance.

In many ways, Oceanus have saved the best to last ... bringing their most imaginative and progressive track to the listener at the end. I see “Waves” as the culmination of an epic journey ... one that fades to a delightful nothing at the end.

“Sirens” by Oceanus is a belter of a release and will happily reside in the collection of most ardent post-rock fans. Fans of Hawkmoon Records will also appreciate the nuances of sound and the care that has clearly gone into crafting this record.

Recommended ... although I still don't know what post-metal is.


“Sirens” by Oceanus will be available from Hawkmoon Records’ Bandcamp site from the 30th September > < Until then, enjoy a mix they've created:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Playing catch up with the releases on my netlabel

First up we have "Some Hollow Lullabies (waag_rel025)" by emptywhale ...
From the opening refrain of "The Boy Who Could Hear Colours" through to the closing of "Seeking Reason" I am captivated by the care and attention emptywhale has poured into this release. His piano playing is exemplary and his use of sound to convey an atmosphere is simply remarkable - it is dark and brooding … almost Lovecraftian in suggestion.


We then have the eighth instalment of Cousin Silas' dronescape series ...
I have grown very fond of these longform drones and consider them an utter treat to listen to … and I hope you will enjoy the eighth instalment as much as I do!


The next release is "Good Friday (waag_rel026)" by Stephen Briggs ...
I really connect with Stephen's music … it have connected with it since the first time he let me hear the start of what we now call 'Good Friday (waag_rel026)'. He is a talented musician and a genuinely beautiful human being … someone who gives generously from the deep well of his soul to all who know him.  
 I am honoured to know him and equally honoured to release 'Good Friday (waag_rel026)' on weareallghosts. We always have room for inspired improvisational ambient music. His is a powerful music … a music that comes from all that dwells within him. It is fascinating to listen to.


From there we move to another of Cousin Silas' dronescapes ...
I really love this drone ... I love the tone of this piece ... the atmosphere ... the sense of peace it leaves with me long after it is finished. I love the subtle harmonics that twinkle like stars.


After Dronescape 009 came "Seconds (waag_rel027)" by Kevin Lyons ... a lovely chap who I recently had the pleasure to meet ...
I hope you will enjoy this album as much as I do. I find Kevin’s music to be very visual and take great pleasure in letting my mind wander through the landscapes he paints with sound. It was a pleasure to meet him and it gives me great delight to support and encourage his musical endeavours through weareallghosts.


From one top bloke to another ... one of my musical heroes - Shaun Blezard aka Clutter with "Sunset at the Yacht Club (waag_rel028)" ...
To consider, therefore, that I am able to release an EP of his on waag is a dream come true … the circle is now complete, so to speak … and what an EP it is. I have caught myself wondering what I was listening to when listening to the preview copy … then experiencing a mixture of shock and pleasure when I realise it was an EP destined for my wee label.


Lastly we have the 10th instalment in Cousin Silas' dronescape series ... which is, possibly, his best yet ...
I have to say I agree with him … but then I have spoken before of how his dronescapes just seem to get better and better … especially the wee details and flourishes that he adds to keep his listeners engaged, something I had noticed.




Monday, September 02, 2013

September 2013's calendar / wallpaper

I haven't uploaded the photos I took back in the first week in August when Olly and I visited the small Scottish village of Culross. We had a great time and I'm not really sure why I haven't posted them ... I think they maybe a bit blurred.

Anyway, the Palace in Culross is awesome and its garden is particularly special ... it is Scotland at her best. This photo was taken from the garden and was suggested by Olly.

Enjoy. Usual flavours are below.


iPhone with Calendar + iPhone without Calendar

Sunday, September 01, 2013

What I listened to in August 2013

No real surprises on here ... I am particularly taken with Audrey Assad's new album - "Fortunate Fall" - and also Stray Theories' latest - "Those That Remain" - both excellent additions to their respective canons.

What this doesn't show is all the music I've bought and listened to on CD ... Low, Brad, Michael Kiwanuka, Teen Daze, Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama ... to name but a few. I also picked up some albums from Cousin Silas including a couple of his old albums plus two from Klaus Schulze ... loving me some Berlin School!



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