Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A lesson in listening from my old record player

Last night, as I sat with my headphones on listening to Boards of Canada on my old record player, I realised something wonderful about vinyl: it gave me the time to truly listen to & care about the music.

I listen to a ton of music each & everyday ... when I'm walking to work, commuting to work, working, walking to grab a coffee, during coffee if I am sans companion ... I could go on. Music is the soundtrack to my life.

There is, however, a fine line between it being the music and "the Muzak" of my life. When music becomes sonic wallpaper then it has failed ... or, should I say, I've failed as the listener to fully comprehend what it is that I am listening to.

Sometimes I think music is too readily available ... it's ubiquity is both a strength & a weakness - it is the most accessible artform but it can be taken for granted ... we can zone it out when it becomes too familiar like a radio tuned to a commercial station or when Spotify is churning out the hits on shuffle.

Sometimes we use music to drown out other sounds, like the hustle and bustle of our environment. When it is used like this then it becomes something other than what it was intended to be.

Music should be heard and for it to be heard we need to listen ... not just hear ... but truly listen.

The thing is, listening takes time. For us to listen, we need to ensure that the music is the primary activity in our heads.

Hearing ... music or a podcast or a radioshow ... sits nicely as a secondary activity. It can be ’on in the background’ whilst we do other things. This is the closest we get to the myth of multitasking ... hearing whilst simultaneously doing.

However for us to truly listen, it means the music comes into the foreground ... and for that to happen we need to give it time.

Digital music gave us many benefits ... the ’your whole library in your pocket’ idea, for example. But while we’ve gained with one hand, we have been lost, like some clever Faustian pact, the sense of time and of ritual. Music becomes little more than an activity that's done with other activities rather than an activity in itself.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't digital music’s fault ... but it is a phenomenon that is exacerbated by the easily accessible nature of music.  Something I am all too familiar with as the founder of a netlabel.

One such element is the ability to skip tracks. This has, in turn, led to the purchase of individual tracks. With vinyl and, in particular, LPs ... you are stuck with what's playing for the 15 - 25 minutes duration. This can be a bad thing - we can all name tracks on LPs that are there as filler ... but it can be a good thing too because, for that 15 - 25 mins, the music is your main activity ... you are there to listen.

When you give yourself the time to listen, I honestly believe the music displays a new radiance.

I’m not one of those vinyl purists that claim a record has a better sound than a CD because I don't have a top-of-the-range hi-fi. It is certainly better than low-rate MP3s ... although all my music on my iPhones is 320kbps and I don't really notice the difference. I'm not as interested in the sound as I am the expression. Music is someone’s expression & this expression deserves my attention. It also deserves my consideration ... something that manifests itself through the ritual of care that vinyl depends. I see playing a record like a modern day ’tea ritual’. The care given rewards me with an optimal experience. Nerdy, I know, but that's the way it appears - love the vinyl & it loves you back.

Taking this time & expending this care has paid dividends. "Music has the right to children", an album I've owned since ’98 in mp3 & CD, sounds fresh and new on vinyl. Not solely because it's on vinyl but because I've taken the time to listen to it.

Music deserves our time & attention. Vinyl is one way to impart that care. The whole ritualisation that comes from this care & consideration ensures I give it my full attention. This is the way it should be, in my opinion.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Loving... Event Horizon by Chronotope Project

I'll admit something to you, if I may? I love what I do. I love listening to music. I love that I am entrusted with some people’s music & asked to give some thought to it. I don't take this role for granted and appreciate all the music submitted to me for consideration ... even if I cannot get to it, I do listen to it.

There are some folks whose contact brightens my day ... I love it when I get a note through from Gaving Catling over at Twice Removed or a mail from John Koch-Northrup at Relaxed Machinery. They both represent tremendous creativity & I am proud to be entrusted with their work.

I also love getting mail directly from the artists themselves and I have come to appreciate the mail from folks like Jeffrey Ericson Allen aka Chronotope Project. Email from him points to a good day ahead simply because I love his music.

"Event Horizon" by Chronotope Project on Relaxed Machinery is my kind of awesome: ambient soundscapes with a Vangelisian approach to percussion & sound effects. The pictures he paints with sound are simply phenomenal.

Just short of 1 hour in duration, "Event Horizon" is the demonstration of someone at peace with their form of expression ... yes, there are moments of evident progressive experimentation; but, for the most part, this release is the work of someone at the top of their game with little left to prove. It exudes a confidence that is deeply reassuring to me as a listener ... a reassurance that is doubled by the fact it is released on Relaxed Machinery. There are no gimmicks or ego-stroking flourishes on here ... just something beautiful. But then that is my expectation.

What is on here is sheer beauty refined and defined into sound. From the opening refrain of "Akashic Love Songs" to the dying moments of "Unwinding the Dream" ... this is my kind of ambient.

I don't have the words to hand that will allow me to effectively describe the music on "Event Horizon". Expressive cinematic musical journeys comes closest, I guess. Ericson Allen's use of synths, guitar, loops, field-recordings and an extensive use of ’world’ percussion helps to narrate these expansive journeys ... giving form to something formless - a feeling ... the feeling of peace ... of grace  ... of serenity ... and, most of all, the feeling of travel and of the journey itself.

I particularly like the sound pictures shaped for the second track "Arecibo" ... in particularly the percussion that flies in and out of the present consciousness. It reminded me, in particular, of Vangelis’ soundtrack for "Blade Runner".

I've been touched by "Event Horizon" and am so grateful to Jeffrey Ericson Allen for sending me a copy. I would highly recommend it to anyone with a love of cinematic music ... either through ambient or the soundtrack genre.


Released 18 October 2013
Written, produced and mixed by Jeffrey Ericson Allen
Mastered by Peter James
Images and Graphic Design by Steve Brand

Saturday, October 26, 2013

99% Invisible's latest kickstarter campaign

I love the 99% Invisible podcast and am proud to back their kickstarter campaign for funds to turn the show into a weekly event ... I say 'event' because it is truly brilliant and always look forward to the next episode.

I would heartily recommend you check out the podcast ... and, if you can, support them in this campaign.

For more information ... go here >>


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Loving ... "Hospitality for hope" by Stylusboy

From the opening chord of "the lantern" to the dying moments of "hold your hand", "Hospitality for hope" by Stylusboy is 33 minutes of sheer unadulterated upbeat joyfulness ... one that delivers on the promise made in their earlier EPs.

Their sound - acoustic guitar, percussion, double bass, keys, mandolin and even glockenspiel - works so well with the male vocals of Steve Jones & the female vocals of Rachel Grisedale. The emphasis placed on both melody & harmony is something I greatly appreciate. This a fab, feel-good new-folk album ... one that may not break new ground but more that makes up for this perceived lack of innovation with great instrumentation, truly heartfelt vocals that are presented with such a sense of feeling, and an honesty of expression that is both rare & a pleasure to hear.

Stand out tracks include the two from the recent EP - "the lantern" and "love’s tale" - both of which are, simple put, an utter delight.

Others tracks of note include  "closer" with lilting melody and delicate harmonies, and "be the first" with it's toe-tappingly infectious upbeat percussion & rich guitar-orientated wall-of-sound.

I've really enjoyed listening to this album & would highly recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in new acoustic folksongs.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why I love the Regarding Henry OST

I recently obtained the "Regarding Henry" soundtrack via a friend in the States. I have been searching for it for ages but it is out of print and ridiculously expensive in the UK. I was able to help my friend out with a UK-only purchase & he returned the favour, something I am extremely grateful for.

I wanted this CD for three reasons:

1) Hans Zimmer's score with Bobby McFerrin’s beatboxing / scatting nonsense is utterly beautiful.

2) Olly & I share a love of this utterly beautiful music ... and we don't often share the same music.

3) I bought the album on cassette in the early 90s and have such a warm regard for the album as a result of the memories associated with it.

Back in the early 90s I was a voracious music fan ... I listened to a ton of music. This was pre-internet so this music came from a number of physical sources: my own purchases, gifts, borrowing from friends, and borrowing from the local library. I would give anything a listen & was the worst friend for borrowing a CD or tape & then sheepishly returning it 3/6 months later. Yes, I was *that* guy.

What I was very fond of doing was raiding bargain-bins. I found a whole host of great music in bargain-bins. I wasn't bothered about following trends and, as such, these bins were ideal for me. Nothing was off limits except for cheesy pop: metal, disco, synth, acid jazz, dub reggae and soundtracks ... especially soundtracks.

I would pick up an album for a couple of quid & listen to it obsessively ... over & over & over again.

It was around this time that my love of instrumental music developed, partly as a backing to my studies - music helps me find my flow & soundtracks were particularly effective in this regard ... they still are.

I found the "Regarding Henry OST" in the reduced section of Our Price in Hamilton in 1992. I may have paid less than £1 for it on cassette.

I had no expectations for the music. I hadn't seen the film and didn't know what to expect musically ... I wasn't as familiar with Han Zimmer’s music as I am now.

I had a hunch it would be good but didn't know. I was not disappointed. In fact, I'd go so far as rate this album in my top ten fave albums of all time ... along with the likes of "Pet Sounds", "Takk", and the "Bladerunner OST".

Zimmer's soundtrack to "Regarding Henry" is 39 minutes of sheer joy ... enhanced by the jazzy vocal nonsense of Bobby McFerrin. This is what Heaven sounds like to me: keys, synths, percussion, some strings and some beautiful bass guitar, and one of the coolest men ever going "doobie-doooo-dah" every-so-often.

I purchased this album in the early days of my relationship with Olly ... and have a warm, fuzzy memory of it. I don't think we’ve seen the film more than a couple of times (it's a good film) ... but, for us, it wasn't about the film ... it was as if Zimmer had soundtracked our lives: I was the "walkin’ talkin’ man" and when we got together it was as if we were in "the Ritz". Silly, I know, but great music does that to you ... and keeps doing it to you!

I haven't listened to this album properly since before Miriam was born ... and yet the feelings I associate with it are still as fresh as they were back in the day. This is the power of music!

So when folks like Thom Yorke complain about Spotify devaluing music ... this is a little bit of what he means. I don't know that people have the same value for music as they did ... maybe I'm wrong (trust me, it happens) but ownership along with ’the hunt’ and the serendipitous moment of discovery all come together to make something beautiful indeed. You owned the music in more ways that actually ’physically’ owning an LP, CD or cassette ... it became part of your narrative.

I love this soundtrack & am grateful to my friend for obtaining it for me. I truly hope you hold an album with such high regard as I do Hans Zimmer's "Regarding Henry OST".


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Record Bags: Original Peter's Utrecht DJ bag + three others

I subscribe to the newsletter from Jonny Trunk's Trunk Records ... and on Friday past the newsletter contained a link to a new endeavour from Trunk's ... Original Peter.

Obsessed by the need for the perfect DJ bag ... Trunk and Ed Griffiths (the man who started decided to create one themselves.

They have three bags on offer ... one for 7" singles and two for 12" albums. The one I'm most interested in is the Utrecht - the larger of the 12" bags.

According to the bag's blurb ...
"...Named after the World’s Largest Record Fair, this bag has a gusseted design that allows it to take at least 40 LPs, maybe more if you like them tightly packed, or 50-odd disco twelves. The dimensions of the bag do not give you an accurate impression of just what this bag is capable of carrying; when not full of LPs it makes a superb and sizeable day to day bag, easily capable of dealing with a combination of LPs, bike lock, gym kit and more. One of our customers has told us this is the first bag he’s found that is great for LPs but is also big enough to carry his 17" Mac Book Pro with ease."

I has the following dimensions ... 15 in (38cm) x 16 in (41cm) x 2 1/2 in (6cm) ... and is deliberately bigger than a 12" record to keep it pristine.

I also love the leather strap at the bottom of the bag which is there to protect the spines of the records. That's a nice detail!

I really, really like this bag ... but ... and there is ALWAYS a 'but' ... its £225. If you have that kind of money then I doubt you'll find anything better ... and it is made in Britain, which is always a plus.


When sniffing around the Original Peter site ... I found a link to Brady Bags, the company Trunk & Griffiths used to create their bags.

I had a look at what they have on offer ... and they have plenty on offer for people of discernment. Their Denmore bag ... a "messenger style" shoulder bag ... is made from a triple-layered waterproof canvas with a bridle-leather trim and brass fittings.

The Denmore's dimensions ... 16ins x 15ins x 3ins ... work for records with a depth 0.5" deeper than the Utrecht.

It comes in at £140 and has an interesting outer pocket for all those small bits and pieces.

Whilst ferreting around ... I also came across their 'Carryall' tote ... which has dimensions that are near-perfect for record hunting (14ins x 14ins x 6 ins) ... taking more records than the Utrecht.

I really like this bag but it lacks a couple of features that may be, for some, a showstopper - it lacks the flap to protect the contents and a shoulder strap.

However, at £105 ... it is a more affordable choice.


Last up ... we have the larger version of the bag I currently use ... the large Manhattan Portage DJ bag.

Made of 1000D Cordura, sized at 15" x 13" x 6" or 19 litres of space, and costing £59 ... this is another credible choice for a record hunter.

I have the medium version of this bag ... picked it up in Inverness in 2006 and have never bettered it.


So that's me ... what do you use when you go record hunting?


Loving ... the bookcover archive

I'm not sure if I have posted about The Bookcover Archive or not ... but it is certainly worth another post. It is a massive archive of Bookcovers for a really inspirational visual treat.

What's more, I particularly like the search criteria - you can search by Designer, Photographer, Illustrator, and even Typeface.

Search, for example, for the Typeface Akzidenz Grotesk and you get this ...

I really like this archive and, whilst I doesn't seem to have any Tolkien, it is certainly worth a bookmark.




Their blog >> << is well worth a read too. A fascinating read on all things books and bookcover design ... that said, it hasn't been updated in 2 years. Booo!!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Recent releases on weareallghosts

"Mighty Skies (waag_sng004)" by Fragile Faith is a wee free download of late 80's indie guitar / synth pop ... given to me to release from an ex-colleague.


Our FIFTIETH RELEASE is the second compilation of collaborations from Cousin Silas and his chums ... truly exceptional.


We then have two truly brilliant longform ambient dronescapes from Cousin Silas:

Described by Brian Bourassa as ...
"A very mellow calming drone with not so frequent melodic accompaniments. More simplistic than recent dronscapes, yet not any less effective."


Described by Brian Bourassa as ...
"Seems to me that after countless listening sessions of twelve releases of these dronscapes I should be made an honorary second "cousin" of Cousin Silas! But, then again that would make for a very large family!

Yet another compelling dronescape by the master himself.
Cousin Silas = Dronescape, Dronescape = Cousin Silas!"



- Tx

Enough ... a Playlist for Grace

I noticed a post on Facebook this morning where Johnny Baker spoke about a playlist he had curated for Grace.

"... the theme of bread, Elijah, lack of rain, enough."

There were a number of tracks that I wasn't familiar with ... so I pulled together some of the tracks into an Rdio playlist (below). There are a few tracks that are missing ... they include:

  • "Spirit Fade" by Kwabs
  • "Without You" by Lapalux
  • "Portrait Gallery" by Luke Howard
  • "Held" by Holy Other


- Tx

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Five 6Music live sessions coming up this week

It's been a busy few weeks for me ... and I finally have some down time to look forward to.

I'm off work this week coming ... along with Olly and the we'ans ... and am hoping to take things easy. BBC 6Music are doing their best to help me chill with five very special live sessions to look forward to.

From Poliça on Monday to the mighty Sigur Rós on Friday ... my DAB radio (and iPhone) will be locked on 6 between the hours of 10 and 1.

For more ... go here >>


According to the 6Music Live website ... you can WATCH the gigs via the 6 Music website ... or via the BBC Red Button from any BBC television channel.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Sign Painters ... official trailer

SIGN PAINTERS (OFFICIAL TRAILER) from samuel j macon on Vimeo.

I really like the look of this film ... but, unfortunately, I missed the screening in Dundee in September. Next showing is in Leeds on the 9th of November.

About the project...

There was a time, as recently as the 1980s, when storefronts, murals, banners, barn signs, billboards, and even street signs were all hand-lettered with brush and paint. But, like many skilled trades, the sign industry has been overrun by the techno-fueled promise of quicker and cheaper. The resulting proliferation of computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering and inkjet printers has ushered a creeping sameness into our landscape. Fortunately, there is a growing trend to seek out traditional sign painters and a renaissance in the trade. 
In 2010 Directors Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, with Cinematographer Travis Auclair, began documenting these dedicated practitioners, their time-honored methods, and their appreciation for quality and craftsmanship. Sign Painters, the first anecdotal history of the craft, features the stories of more than two dozen sign painters working in cities throughout the United States. The documentary and book profiles sign painters young and old, from the new vanguard working solo to collaborative shops such as San Francisco’s New Bohemia Signs and New York’s Colossal Media’s Sky High Murals.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation

Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation from Kevin Taylor on Vimeo.

With a breathtaking collection of unique photography, Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation takes the reader on a tour of the most visually stunning and important products produced by the world's most innovative company — Apple®. Follow Apple's journey through a photographic collection of their most important desktops, portables, peripherals, prototypes, iDevices (iPad, iPod and iPhone) and packaging. 
Iconic uses vivid color and detail to document Apple's journey in design, form and function — and looks back at over 35 years of Apple innovation. Four years in the making, the author captured over 150,000 photos of nearly every product Apple has made, including rare prototypes and even packaging. Complementing the photography are forewords and essays from an impressive group of luminaries, commentators and influencers in the Apple community. See the progression of more than three decades of product design that has made Apple the brand it is today.

Wow! This book looks amazing ... my thanks to Stuart for sending me the link.


Two split releases of note ... Umber / Drops + Apta / Row Boat

First up we have the split between Umber & Drops ... a truly delightful four-track release that features Umber's trademark laid-back approach & Drops' jaunty feel-good soulfulness.

Whilst the split is noticeable (as it should) their styles really complement each other ... bring an overall acoustic-guitar vibe to the EP.

The EP opens with "Clemence" by Umber ... a delightful downtempo piece that is underpinned by acoustic guitar ... then overlaid with further guitar and (I think) accordion or melodeon. These layers really work for me.

Next up is "Too Far Far Away", again by Umber, which follows a similar path as before but with the inclusion of some glockenspiel to further enhance the sound.

Both tracks demonstrate the talent of Umber ... and would be well suited on a ’single’ release on their own. However, we have the added joy of two tracks from Drops.

"Flying Colours" is a celebration of life in all it's fullness. It features a field recording of a bustling market that underpins a jaunty beat and equally jaunty guitar riff. In addition, the acoustic guitar is an equalising force that levels everything out. I really loved this track from the first listen ... it just screams life and a full, vibrant life at that. Lovely!

The last track - "Together" - has a similar vibe. It is an utterly engaging wall of sound with some subtle guitar drones, glockenspiel & vocal harmonies included in the mix.


We then have a split entitled "Fracture" from Apta and Row Boat … out on the 8th of October on Bottled Imp.

Where this split is different from the Umber / Drops EP is that both Apta and Row Boat have remixed the other's original track … so you get one original track each and a remix.

Apta kicks off with a track called "Slowly, Home" … a delightful slow-burner that builds up before his trademark electronics kicks in. I am seriously biased towards Apta's music … and this track demonstrates why: a post-rock expression that has an ebb and flow that really captivates me … that sits nicely with Apta's choice of instrumentation.

We then have Row Boat's remix of "Slowly, Home". In this remix Row Boat manages to capture the essence of Apta's original whilst putting his particularly ethereal spin on it … retaining Apta's vibrant melody. It is an utter delight in a very post-rock manner … not better than the original but definitely on an equivalent footing. Its like Apta but with live instrumentation rather than synths and electronics … I especially love it when the drums kick in!

From there we move to Row Boat's original release - "Kämpaglöd" - a driving, vibrant, head-noddingly upbeat post-rock wall-of-sound that simply captivates me … as most truly cinematic music does. I particularly love the melody played on what sounds like a melodeon … as well as the immersive percussion that gives real breadth to the piece.

Up last is Apta's remix of "Kämpaglöd" … where, again, something new has been created that references the original but takes its own direction. The track is more melancholic in places but counteracted with meaningful glimpses of Apta's vibrance: skittering percussive elements, crunchy beats, repeating electronic motifs; Apta really makes this track his own whilst retaining the spirit of the original.


What really spoke to me with both splits is the creativity and imagination on offer … independent music has never sounded so good!


Saturday, October 05, 2013

Seven Questions with ... Bruno Bavota

Earlier today I posted some thoughts on  “La casa sulla Luna” by Bruno Bavota. I found the album utterly captivating. In fact, I referred to it a 'my kind of lovely'.

As is my way, I wanted to find out more about the person behind such beauty ... so I asked Bruno if he'd answer my wee blog interview ... he kindly obliged and this is what he had to say:


1) Who are you and what do you do?
Hi Thomas and good afternoon. I’m Bruno Bavota, a modern classical composer , a man who tries to find love by music.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working at my third album “The Secret of the Sea”, that will be released on March 2014 for Psychonavigation. New album will be different from “La casa sulla Luna”, I’m working on ambient sounds surrounding piano.

3) Who/what inspires you?
First of all my inspirations comes from all things that happened to me day by day: love, dreams, tears, smiles. So in my music you can find all my deepest emotions, my heart and my soul. Artists that inspires me are Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, Balmorhea, Ludovico Einaudi, The National ... they are also my favourite artists.
Naples, my town, his first place that inspires me, i’m linked with the sea in particular. Sometimes i ride my bicycle to go near the sea and play my acoustic guitar or read a book, alone…unfortunately I can’t bring my upright piano with me! ☺

4) What drives you to do what you do?
It’s really simple, I believe that if i find myself in a place without music, I’ll be in a wrong place. People hurry so fast in their lives and often they don’t remember why we live, why we cry, why we smile. Music is my naturally link with existence, so I’m naturally do what I love to do and I hope I can live for the music and by music.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Simply my heart Thomas, I believe I must give the real myself to people who listen to my music.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
Community is wonderful, every day some people send me messages and talking about my music. Now I can reach people worldwide and hear stories and how music can change people’s lives. I feel my fans here to me and often they are my strength.

7) What is next for what you do?
In the end of October I’ll fly to Iceland to be part of Iceland Airwaves 2013, a wonderful music festival and I’m really so glad to play in a wonderful festival in a one of most beautiful place in the world. I’ll have 5 gigs round Reykjavik and really, I can’t wait!


Thanks Bruno! I've included the flyer for your shows below. I hope to go to Iceland for this festival one day ... anyone want to pay me to go???

Two posters I designed for church events

I thought I'd show a couple of posters I did recently for my church in Airdrie.

First up, we have the Corps Anniversary (above) ... an evening of music and song featuring, amongst others, my very own Miriam.

We then have a poster for Harvest (below) ...

I really appreciate the opportunity given me to make these posters ... and hope they brighten up the hall, if nothing else.


Loving ... La casa Sulla Luna by Bruno Bavota

I'll be honest, I always get a wee bit nervous when I receive an email from a PR person asking me to review some music ... I'm not sure why and, in the case of, "La casa Sulla Luna" by Bruno Bavota my anxiety was completely unjustified. This is due to "La casa Sulla Luna" being an utter delight.

Bruno Bavota is a talented pianist who creates utterly delightful piano-orientated compositions.
These compositions are split in two: solo piano or piano with strings ... both styles really, really work for me ... this is melodic neo-classicism at its very best.

I can't really downplay this album ... I have been captivated with it from the first few bars & have had it on my iPhone & stereo regularly since I received it from the anxiety-inducing PR person.

The opening track - "Amour" - is an upbeat, vivacious & wonderfully melodic solo piano piece that really captures the spring in the step of someone in love. It really sets the scene for the remainder of the album.

The next track - "L’uomo che rubï la Luna" - is a delightful midtempo solo piece. Similar vivacious with an elegance that demonstrates  Bavota’s touch.

Following on we have the delightful piano and strings (cello & violin) of "Il ditto si muove sul vetro app". This track is a great example of melodic neoclassicism ... a warm & engaging piece that gives me a thrill every time I hear it.

The fourth track - "C’ä un cinema laggió" - starts of as another delightful solo piano piece ... a piece with a rather pronounced cinematic quality. It feels like it belongs on the soundtrack one of the late Nora Ephron’s romantic classics. It then changes near the end with the introduction of the cello ... where the piano becomes the accompaniment for some seriously heartfelt strings.

"Seguimi, amore" brings more solo piano to the listener's ear ... it is a piece that grows in stature and intensity over its 3 minute life ... again demonstrating Bavota's deftness of touch.

"Buongiorno, buonanotte" is a gentler piece, a piece that highlights the power of melody ... with cello includes to underpin this melody.

The seventh track - "Cielo blu notte" - is a more melancholic piece with the piano & a deep, growling cello working together to express Bavota's mood.

"Il sole di Domenica" is a wonderfully piece that starts of gentle then grows in tempo. It is something beautiful indeed ... reminiscent of the great pianists of old.

The penultimate track - "Arrivederci signora Luna" - is sheer class ... a gracious melody that is so appropriate for Signora Luna. It has a lullaby  quality that is heartbreakingly gorgeous.

The last track - "Ghost Track" - was recorded live & has the atmosphere of Bavota's creative space. It demonstrates all that's great about the piano-playing on the release - powerful yet graceful, full-on yet reserved, warm & melodic, accessible & captivating, truly enthralling! It is a fitting end to a very special release.

I would highly recommend "La casa Sulla Luna" by Bruno Bavota. It is my kind of lovely ... and if you like piano and strings, it may be yours too!


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Seven Questions with ... Mark Wardale aka Row Boat

"Ett" by Row Boat is one of my recent *secret* pleasures ... an album of intense beauty that I bought and kind of don't want to talk about because I worry I may spoil it somehow. I know it is silly but ... it makes sense to me too. I want to keep "Ett" pure ... untainted by the expression of my opinion.

Row Boat aka Mark Wardale is a recent friend ... he's connected to Apta ... and I am glad to have made his acquaintance.

As is my want ... I asked him my wee interview ... this is what he had to say:


1) Who are you and what do you do?
I am Mark Wardale and I'm a songwriter, composer, producer and also go under the pseudonym of Ambient/Post-Rock artist 'Row Boat'.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I've just started to write a new EP to follow up the recent release of my album 'Ett'. It's going to be a more ambient style EP as I'm looking at a Winter release (for me that's when my ambient side comes out!)

3) Who inspires you?
I can't deny that my biggest inspiration to date is Sigur Ros.  The way the these guys create sounds and atmospheres from literally nothing is incredible. You almost feel like your say next to them watching and feeling every note being played. Although some of the most inspiring work for me is Frakkur AKA jonsi from a few years back. My music is I would say 50% inspired geographically. I was interested in Scandinavia since about 16 when I started learning Norwegian. I don't know why, but I felt drawn to it. The landscape, the food, the people and of corse the music. There was something very liberal about Scandinavia and there is alot of respect in being creative. I'm also inspired by my family. My wife is of Swedish decent and that has helped fuel the Row Boat music to what has been achieved so far. Now we have a little boy in the mix which changes your perception and outlook on life hugely. I'm very proud of this part of my life and I try to convey this within my music.

4) What drives you to do what you do? 
Passion. Without it, I'm pretty sure that any success made in life is impossible. I certainly don't do what I do for money, but for pure love for the music and what it stands for. The style of music I write and listen to is driven by the respect that most of us look for, and the musicians I have had the pleasure of meeting or working with take pride in the creative rights they have been given and the people they touch by what they write about.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I would say its more about expressing emotion. I always look at ambient and post-rock music as an open book with blank pages. Of corse you have to have an idea of what your message is, but I would prefer the listener to hear the music and evoke an emotion that relates to there own story in life.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
I think that there is a very close relationship with the community of writers and listeners within this genre of music. It's very unique. I don't believe there is anything else like it out there. You can reach out to a society or community in a different part of the world and still connect with them on a very personal level without even knowing their background. It's not always about lyrical content, it's about a connection through chords and notes.

7) What is next for what you do?
Next up is a collaboration between myself and the very talented Apta called 'Fracture' which I'm extremely honoured and proud of. Its due out in October though Bottle Imp Productions who have been extremely supportive with the release. We decided to get together to remix each others tracks and see how it would turn out. We're both really happy with the process and its quite different to anything out there at the moment.


Thanks Mark ... I've heard 'Fracture' and can confirm - it is very good indeed! Until then, however, here is "Ett" for you to listen to:

... and yes, I know ... it is something beautiful indeed.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Dunfermline Live Music Festival 2013

One of my colleagues at work shared this flyer with me today ... Carolyn is one of the organisers for the 'Dunfermline Live' music festival and thought I may be interested in some diverse grass roots Scottish music.

Whilst there are a number of bands I am not familiar with ... one particular gig really interested me: The Lost Map records showcase with The Pictish Trail, Rozi Plain, and Monoganon. Their collective lo-fi psyche-folk is my kind of thing ... and their gig at PJMolloy's on the 18th October looks like it will be a belter.

Take a look at the line up >> here << and if you are in the area, pop round and check out some grass roots talent.



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