Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Where have I been?



You don't hear from me for a whole month and then I turn up with fifty-something fave albums of 2014 ... where have I been?

I work in projects and on the last weekend in November we implemented a new system. The implementation went well (I was on call that weekend) but once the system was in place we experienced a number of issues that really affected performance. I've been working, as part of a team, to rectify this situation.

In addition to my day job ... I've been out and about as a photographer:



I was privileged to photograph the Salvation Army in the West of Scotland's Annual Carol Service at the City Halls in Glasgow (link) ...



... the dedication of Nathan Laird at Airdrie Salvation Army (link) ...



... and Airdrie Salvation Army's Annual Carol Service at the Town Hall in Airdrie (link).

I also released some new music on my netlabel: weareallghosts ...



"Curious Warnings (waag_rel060)" by Kevin Lyons (link) ...



"Tales of Space Exploration 25 - 34 (waag_rel061)" by Brother Saturn (link) ...



... and four instalments in a series celebrating an 'ambient Advent' from Simon Slator.







(link) + (link) + (link) + (link)



I also released a podcast - a guest mix by Michael Gaida - over on circumambient.



So yeah ... it's been a very busy period for me. I haven't had the time to write and, to be honest, I haven't had the desire. I lost the 'want' ... and that really hurt.



I was able to celebrate Christmas with my work colleagues (most of my 'gang' are pictured above) and was able to see the third instalment of THE HOBBIT with my family ... all of which counts.

Anyway ... I hope normal service can be resumed. Thanks for sticking with me.

Tx

My TOP FIFTY-ISH Best Albums of 2014



Over on makeyourowntaste.com I was asked to list my Top Ten favourite albums of 2014. Unfortunately I was unable to limit my list to Ten … so I went with Fifty. Since then I’ve thought of a few albums I missed off the list.

This is my TOP FIFTY-ISH Best Albums of 2014 … I haven’t split the list into genre or whether the album was self-released, on a net-label or a major player … I also haven’t listed any albums from my netlabel: weareallghosts … as that wouldn’t be fair.

Here we go (albums in BOLD were missed previously):

"A home for you" by Good Weather for an Airstrike
"Absence" - Gargle & Bosques de mi Mente
"Asleep Versions" - Jon Hopkins
"Awake" - Tycho
"Building Nothing, Laying Bricks’ - Evolv
"Chronos" - Andrea Carri
"ClarOscuro" by Bruno Sanfilippo
"Distant Satellites" - Anathema
"Dogma" - Gespenst
"Fall, Rise" by Richard Ginns,
"Falling Sun" - Chihei Hatakeyama & Good Weather for an Airstrike
"A Forest of Fey" - Gandalf's Fist
"Gemini Gemini" - Jennie Abrahamson
"Ghost Stories" - Coldplay
"The Ghosts of Pripyat" - Steve Rothery
"Glasshouse" - Northcape
"The Healing Seasons" - Canopy
"Hibernation" + "Random Forest" - Random Forest
"I Did That Tomorrow" - Tess Said So
"I Never Learn" - Lykke Li
"In Between" - Row Boat
"In Each and Everyone" - Polar Bear
"Interstellar OST" - Hans Zimmer
"It's Nearly Tomorrow" - Craig Armstrong
"Leaving Stations" by Zenjungle
"Lost in the dream" - The War on Drugs
"Love Lost in a Storm" - Panoptique Electrical
"Movements for an Absent Mind" - by Darren Harper
"My Family goes on without me" - Caught In The Wake Forever
"No Mans Land" - Tommy Guerrero
"Nomawkish" by Diamond Gloss
"Oscillator" - The Atlas Amp
"Opening" - Christopher Willits
"Pacific"  + "Sierra" - The Echelon Effect
"Petrichor" - Harnes Kretzer
"Under The Skin OST" - Mica Levi
"The Secret of the Sea" - Bruno Bavota
"Seeds" - TVOTR
"Sibir" + Bonus Tracks - The Gateless Gate
"Spaces" - Nils Frahm***
"Sparks" - Imogen Heap
"Standing on the edge of decay" - Cousin Silas*
"Stereoscope" - Max Greening
"Starting Over" - Summer Effect
"Syro" - Aphex Twin
"Tales from Urban" - Zenjungle & Tunedin52
"They Flew in Censored Skies" by Sleepstream
"This is all yours" - Alt-J
"This is for our sins" - Lowercase Noises
"Tomorrow's Modern Boxes" - Thom Yorke
"Transit" - Orbit Over Luna
"Twilight Kingdom" - Lisa Gerrard
"Variations on the Celesta" - twincities.
"Warpaint" - Warpaint
"We Held Our Breath Until Our Hearts Exploded" - Beneath The Watchful Eyes
"We never left" - Stray Theories
"Your Empire, In Decline" - Hessien**

NOTES
*I designed the cover for this release.
**The Hessien album is not released until Jan 1st, 2015 … but I was given it in 2014 and its a cracker, pure and simple … and just had to be on this list.
***"Spaces" is from 2013 ... but I discovered it in 2014 ... so, you know, I think of it as a 2014 album. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What I've been reading in the last week ... 23/11/14



I am a well documented Moleskine nerd and their latest product, announced via the awesome Coolhunting, made me squeal:
"Moleskine's latest collaboration happens to be with Adobe, and the resulting Moleskine Smart Notebook and accompanying Creative Cloud app make it easy to turn work on paper—made with any implement of choice—into JPG and SVG files for use in Illustrator and Photoshop."
http://www.coolhunting.com/tech/adobe-moleskine-smart-notebook

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"On Spotify, music consumption is “frictionless”—a favorite word of Ek’s. In tech terms, we’ve gone from a world of scarcity to one of abundance. Nothing is for sale, because everything is available. The kind of calculations you make on iTunes, such as “I like this song, but not enough to buy it,” don’t matter. It is a music nerd’s dream, which may be why the user population on Spotify tends to lie outside the mainstream. On Spotify, the Pixies’ top songs have about four times as many streams as Neil Diamond’s biggest hits."

Spotify: Friend or Foe? 

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"Recent survey data from Cambridge Sound Management revealed the impact of noise on productivity, which will likely come as no surprise to those of us working in open offices. The survey revealed nearly 30% of office workers are distracted by coworkers’ conversations."
The not so silent office productivity killer

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"This is why the Taylor Swift affair is a genuinely dangerous moment for Spotify, which is used to artists including Adele, Coldplay and Beyoncé “windowing” their new albums: keeping them off streaming services for a few months after release to maximise sales of CDs and downloads.  
By removing her entire back catalogue, Swift has generated a new discussion about whether albums should also be windowed between the free and premium tiers of services like Spotify. Her music remains available on premium-only rivals like Rdio, Napster and Apple-owned Beats Music."
The future of music sales is here. So how CAN the artists make it pay?

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Big love and respect to Brad for this ...
"And so as it came time to prepare for the annual Free Floating Christmas compilation, all|is|calm, I thought that I would end this “In Hindsight” year with silence. No new music. No bustle of collecting new tracks and auditioning them. No designing artwork."

all|is|calm 2014 – a truly silent night

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"Throughout the day, we face a number of decision points about how to spend time. Too often we approach these decisions passively, as if our hand were being forced, our free will compromised. Let me add one caveat: if you have young children, a brutal commute or juggle several jobs to make ends meet, you are exempt from everything I write in this piece. You are truly busy."

The Cult of Busy

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"Shazam searches are just one of several new types of data guiding the pop-music business. Concert promoters study Spotify listens to route tours through towns with the most fans, and some artists look for patterns in Pandora streaming to figure out which songs to play at each stop on a tour. In fact, all of our searching, streaming, downloading, and sharing is being used to answer the question the music industry has been asking for a century: What do people want to hear next?"

The Shazam Effect

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"There's a real reason why there's a vinyl renaissance," John Vanderslice said. "There's a lot of people who are having an amazing listening experience. It's not false."

Inside the vinyl revival: Facts, fiction and rock 'n' roll

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"Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" video, posted to YouTube in June, is nearing 300 million views. So, what did the singer do for an encore to her No. 1 hit? She got a brand, an ad agency and social influencers involved."

An Ad Agency Made Meghan Trainor's New Video, and It's Great - 180LA and HP team up on 'Lips Are Movin'

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"After spending over 62 total hours comparing turntables and measuring their performance using $30,000+ worth of equipment, we’ve determined that the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB is the best turntable for most people. It is highly adjustable, has a built-in phono preamp for hassle-free setup, sounds great out of the box, and even has a built-in USB port if you want to digitize your LP collection. It’s also very speed accurate, according to our tests."

The Best Turntable for Casual Listening


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Sunday, November 16, 2014

What I've been reading in the last week ... 16/11/14



"The Hemingwrite is designed like an old-fashioned typewriter but does also manages to keep some modern technology. It has a 6-week battery life so its perfect if you write better away from civilization, ample memory, instant on so no time is wasted on booting up, and a high contrast screen so it’s easy to read in daylight or at nighttime. It also has WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, allowing it to connect to Google Docs, Evernote, and the Cloud. The best part of all is that stylish old-school look and feel of a typewriter that completes the writing experience."
I really like the look of the Heamingwrite ... read more over on PSFK or Hemingwrite

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Norway has a new passport ... and it is gorgeous!
Neue, a multi-disciplinary design studio based in Oslo, has given the Norwegian passport a minimalist makeover. The new designs have crisp, block color covers which come in white, red or turquoise. The pages reference the country’s stunning scenery and famous fjords.
Take a look over at PSFK

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"But when nerds figured out how to play music over the Internet, it rendered indie culture inert. The shift away from physical albums destroyed that mechanism of consumer individuation. When getting into a band became as easy as typing its name into a search box, particular musical tastes lost their function as signifiers of commitment. What you listened to ceased to be a measure of how much you cared and became a mere list of what you liked."
An interesting critique on streaming music that I can relate to ... music snob that I am.

Streaming Music Has Left Me Adrift - New York Times

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"The way that work looks, feels, and functions is in the midst of a dramatic shift. Every time we have gone through a major shift in work in the past, we have had to learn new skills to support it. We had to learn the work of agriculture. We had to learn how to work on an assembly line. We had to learn to use typewriters and fax machines. So the question now becomes, what do we need to learn that will help us thrive in this new world of work today and ten, 20, 30 years from now? From my experience, I see three of the main categories of skills as: problem solving, technology, and self-management."
The Three Essential Skills You’ll Need to Survive the Future of Work

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"Seen in New York, LA and everywhere in between, the Lumbersexual is bringing the outdoor industry’s clothing and accessories into the mainstream."

The Rise Of The 'Lumbersexual'

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“The best ideas start as conversations. A small change at the beginning of the design process defines an entirely different product at the end. At the start of the process the idea is just a thought- very fragile and exclusive. When the first physical manifestation is created everything changes. It is no longer exclusive, now it involves a lot of people.”

12 design secrets spilled by Jony Ive

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"I don’t think I’ve even heard more than three Taylor Swift songs, but the idea that artists are “insulting” or “greedy” for asking people to pay a relatively modest amount of money for their art is pervasive in today’s culture. People make these same claims about indie authors, bands that can’t afford a tour, and struggling illustrators. I’ve seen people proclaim that midlist novelists who can’t even make a living off their books are “greedy” and “evil” for asking more than 99 cents for an ebook. I’ve seen readers who admitted to pirating every single A Song of Ice and Fire book say that George R. R. Martin “owes them” a quicker publication date and that he should essentially give up all his hobbies and other projects until he finishes his next book."

Taylor Swift and the Myth of the Mean Greedy Artist

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The world's most beautiful metro stations - in pictures

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"Christopher Lee has precisely one line in the recent trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, but his little cameo was an unsurprising winner with fans. And, apart from reinforcing that stuff is always better with Chris Lee, it also sparked a surprising amount of speculation about Saruman’s intentions in desiring to confront Sauron alone."
When exactly did Saruman fall?

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Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits

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"Introversion is more about how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. So extraverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched on and their most capable when they are in quieter, more low-key environments."

10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World

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How to Debug Your Brain and Build Better Habits

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Enjoy ... Tx

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Seven Questions with ... Phoenix York



Every-so-often I receive emails from musicians looking to be featured on my predominately ambient music podcast circumambient.  I am always on the hunt for new music to feature so when I received an email from Phoenix York ... I checked out his music.

I was impressed with York's latest album - "Godspeed Phuong" - it is a wonderfully deep and engaging piece that keeps the ADD part of my brain entertained with numerous layers of sound. I found it deeply intriguing and found myself sucked in, immersed in the waves of synths and occupied by the glitches and found sounds.

I was so intrigued that I wanted to know more about the creator ... so I asked if York would undertake my wee blog interview. I'm delighted to say he did:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Phoenix York, I am a musician before anything ... I play the piano and guitar. I temporarily earn a living for now as a freelance IT specialist.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on my next album using some euroracks (without sacrificing the melodic content), and a guitar.


3) Who inspires you? 
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
David Sylvian... tremendously.

- Name place that has inspired you.
The Greek Islands

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Unpredictability in art.


4) What drives you to do what you do? 
This is a delicate question ... possibly a desire to converse with the universe through my music.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Nonconformism and tolerance.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
I believe the environment i.e. community I live in yields a direct impact on my creativity.


7) What is next for what you do?
Complete my next album and prepare a live show.

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"Godspeed Phuong" by Phoenix York is available now over on Twice Removed ... I highly recommend it and will be featuring tracks from it in future episodes of circumambient. In the meantime, have a wee listen below:



Monday, November 10, 2014

Loving ... "The Ghosts of Pripyat" by Steve Rothery



Over on Make Your Own Taste I have posted some thoughts on the Steve Rothery show that I attended on the 5th November with my brother-in-law, Colin, and my nephew, Euan, at Oran Mór in Glasgow.

I didn't really know what to expect from "The Ghosts of Pripyat", the instrumental guitar-orientated album that Rothery was touring ... but I was impressed:
"Let me digress for a minute. The album, The Ghosts of Pripyat, is an utter delight, an instrumental guitar-oriented neo-prog extravaganza with more than enough moments of ambient guitar to keep someone like me enthused and engaged. The album has atmosphere and a heartfelt authentic quality, factors I always look for. Rothery is 100% himself on this record, and that kind of authenticity translates well through the songs presented. Yes, Steve Hackett and Steven Wilson feature on the album, but this is most definitely Rothery’s album."
Read more here ... http://makeyourowntaste.com/2014/11/06/concert-review-steve-rothery-in-glasgow-november-5-2014/ ... then have a wee listen for yourself:

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Photos from the Centenary Celebration for Airdrie Salvation Army's Brass Band



I was privileged to be asked to take photos at the Centenary Celebration for Airdrie Salvation Army's Brass Band, especially the Official band photo (above) with all the past and present members who performed later in the evening.

It was a great night and I was pleased with the shots I was able to get with my Canon 70d. I'm really loving the camera and hope to be able to do more with it in the days and months to come.



The remainder of my photos are over on Flickr > LINK

Please take a look and let me know what you think.

Tx

What I've been reading in the last week ... 09/11/14

I wanted to share some of the articles I've been reading over the last week or so ... give you something to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon ... nothing too heavy or political, just meaningful articles that I found inspiring in some way.

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"It doesn’t take a marketing genius to see where Starbucks went wrong with its foray into the Australian market. Rather than building an organic demand for their coffee-flavoured syrup slushies, the chain bombarded potential customers with multiple store openings over the space of a few months. The premium prices and questionable customer service didn’t help much either."
This Is Why Australians Hate Starbucks

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25 hidden features from iOS 8, Apple’s new operating system

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"It is my experience that the more positive habits you have in your life, the more emotional happiness you will experience. Instead of telling you things you should do to increase your emotional satisfaction, I’ve created a list of bad habits you should try to correct."
22 Habits of Unhappy People

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Ten tips for a better work-life balance

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Ten easy steps to happier living

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"Part exercise craze and part mass party, breakfast raving – of which Morning Gloryville is said to be the original – is the new way to start the day, especially for people in their thirties and forties who were part of the original rave generation of the 1990s. The monthly event, which began in London last year, is spreading like wildfire. It is now in 14 cities across the world, from Sydney to San Francisco and Brighton to Bangalore. A monthly Liverpool rave begins on Wednesday."

Wake up to breakfast raves – they’re a healthy way to start your working day

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"In short, people with A.D.H.D. may not have a disease, so much as a set of behavioral traits that don’t match the expectations of our contemporary culture."
A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D.

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"an insidious perversion called normality is on the rise, and the normality perverts are coming for all of us. They want us to look the same, dress the same, and stare into the camera with our hollow, smiling eyes."
The normality perverts are coming for us all

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10 Great Coffee Shops for Design Fans

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"But as I talked to podcasters, they told me that the biggest reason for the podcast renaissance has nothing to do with the podcasts themselves, or the advertisers funding them."
What’s Behind the Great Podcast Renaissance?

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Saturday, November 08, 2014

Seven questions with ... Pascal Normand aka 18 Seconds



Lately I haven't been posting as often as I used to due to a combination of busyness (work + life + running weareallghosts) and a need to recharge the old batteries. I guess I've been looking for inspiration to write.

The thing is with inspiration ... sometimes you have to stop looking and let it find you! Case in point is the music of  Pascal Normand aka 18 Seconds ... a lovely chap from Montreal, Québec, Canada; who plays the most delightful ambient guitar. He got in touch to say 'hi' and to tell me about his music. His EP - "When the fog dissipates" - is a delicious mix of guitar and atmospherics that reminds me, at times, of a less frenetic mid-period era Radiohead. It really grabbed my attention and inspired me to write again.

Normand knows his way around a guitar and this shows, he can go from jingly to fuzzy with ease ... and in doing so, he creates wonderful instrumental tracks that engage the listener. They certainly engaged me.

Anyway ... as is my want, I asked Normand if he'd consider answering a few questions. I am delighted to say he agreed.

Please Note: Normand asked me to say that English isn't his first language. After reading his response I hope you are as ashamed as I am that your 'second language' isn't *that* good!

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Pascal. I am passionate about music. I don’t make a living playing music, but I do it because I love it and it allows me to use my creative side. As long as I can remember, music has always been a big part of my life. I remember when I was a kid, listening to hair metal bands on my yellow Sony walkman and playing air guitar. LOL! Seriously, I don't think you can describe who I am without talking about music. So now, as a hobby, I like to compose and record my own music. It's really a DIY thing where I do everything: I write my music, record it, mix it and publish it. Hopefully, I had some help on my first EP for mastering and to put together the cover.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I am working on my second album. I released my first EP last year, and now I can't wait to put some new music out. When I look back, I am not totally happy with my first EP. I mean, I'm really happy I have finally put out some of my music, but there are things I wish I had done differently, or taken further. So now I know I have to make it better than what I've done previously. Since music is a hobby for me, I don’t have the luxury to do it full time. Which mean that I can’t really work on too many project at the same time. So right now, pretty much all the time I have for music goes towards the next album.


3) Who inspires you?
That is a very difficult question, unless I could write over a million words. As a musician, there's no doubt music is a big inspiration. And in many different forms. So there are many different colors in my musical landscape.  I listen to a lot of different stuff, and somehow it all inspire me in one way or another. But I am also inspired by the people in my life, such as my wife. She is a big inspiration for me.

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
It’s hard to name just one. I guess I would say Sigur Rós. Their music is so unique, so beautiful. I would probably have to name Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead as well. He definitely is one of my favorite guitar player, and he really influenced me as a guitarist. And I could go on and on…

- Name place that has inspired you.
I find Montreal to be a really inspiring city, and for many different reasons. First of all, it’s got a very active musical scene. There are a lot of great bands coming from here and being surrounded by so much artist and creative people is definitely inspiring. But aside from that, I like all the different cultures around here. All the colors, the smells, the savors, a true ode to life.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about “things” that inspire me are the tools that I use to make music: my guitars, my amps, my pedals. I guess I am a bit of a gearhead. LOL! But just having a new piece of musical gear often inspire me to just sit there in my studio and play.


4) What drives you to do what you do?
Pleasure. Pleasure and passion. I don't know exactly what drives me. I just feel that I just could not stop.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I don’t think there are specific values I want my music to express. However, there are some values like love and justice that are very dear to me. So I guess, somehow, it must reflect a bit in what I create.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
Inspiration. Help. Support. Mutual aid.


7) What is next for what you do?
Music, music, and more music. As I told earlier, I am working on my second album and I’m really excited about it. I would also like to do some new videos, whether it’s a music video for one of my song, or some more loop-based songs like I did in the past. It’s not totally clear right now, but one thing is sure is that in the coming weeks, I’ll be focusing my efforts on my new record.

I'd like to finish by thanking you for reading this, and for your interest in my music. That means a lot to me.

Pascal

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Thank you Pascal!!!

Have a wee listen to his EP - "When the fog dissipates" - below and, if you can, give him a couple of bucks ... I want to hear more from him and want to encourage him to keep going, keep creating.


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

November's Wallpaper



November's wallpaper was taken at Chatelherault Country Park in Hamilton, Scotland; it's on the path towards the Green Bridge (walking anti-clockwise). It is a lovely walk and utterly delightful when enjoyed with great company ... for me, it was my family.

Usual flavours are available below.

Tx

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iPhone with Calendar + iPhone without Calendar
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Monday, November 03, 2014

What I listened to in October 2014 ...



First off ... the random names - Arwen, Female Voice, and Sam - all come from "The Lord of the Rings - the Musical". It really is a great listen ... as I wrote over at Make Your Own Taste > http://makeyourowntaste.com/2014/10/26/the-music-of-middle-earth-part-2/

That aside, the highlights in October were discovering Lisa Gerard's haunting solo album from August ... new albums from Thom Yorke and Craig Armstrong ... and the ambient guitar delight that is Steve Rothery (guitarist from Marillion).

Oh and Polar Bear should have won the Mercury this year ... imho.

Tx

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Journey by thatgamecompany



I recently purchased a PS3 for the family. My intention is to get the family gaming in the livingroom again, especially Olly who used to be an avid gamer.

I obtained a list of games from my friend SDA at work, games that met rather specific criteria: family friendly (i.e. no excessive violence), 2D for Olly, reasonably easy & intuitive gameplay, and an awesome soundtrack.

Top of his list came Portal 2, which i have yet to explore. Next on his list came "Journey".



I picked up Journey while at my local Public Library and began playing it last Thursday. I was, quite simply, overcome at how awesome the game was .. I was stunned!

Journey looks fantastic, as you can see by the stills included in this post ... thatgamecompany went all out to make an expressive work of art. The developers sought to evoke in the player a sense of smallness and wonder, and i think they achieved their goal. All i could think about was the Cyclopean architecture of HPLovecraft’s "at the mountains of madness" ... the space is both big and otherworldly, and is both unsettling & deeply engaging too.



Journey sounds fantastic too, as you can hear from the embedded player at the bottom of this post ... the soundtrack was composed by Austin Wintory and features Amy Tatum (flute/bass flute), Charissa Barger (harp), Rodney Wirtz (viola), Noah Gladstone (serpent), Sara Andon (flute), Lisbeth Scott (vocals), Oleg Kontradenko and the Macedonia Radio Symphonic Orchestra, and at the heart of it all, cellist Tina Guo.

As Wintory notes on the soundtrack's bandcamp page:

"I often say that my music isn’t music until a musician has gotten their hands on it but never was that more true than with this score."

Such truth in these words. Their work is first class, pure & simple. It makes the game all the more magical & engaging whilst working well on its own. It is on a par with the soundtrack to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" with Guo playing the part of Yo Yo Ma. If you have a fondness for the cello or music with a particular mystical Eastern ambience then this is once album you need to own.

The game itself is rather straightforward to play. It doesn’t contain any violence or spoken dialogue. There is mild threat in places but that’s is easily overcome by staying out of the way of the big beasties.



You can play with another player too but not in the conventional manner that we’ve become accustomed to: in Journey, a character appears & journeys with you. You can’t interact with them & only find out who they are when the end credits role. This interaction is included to teach collaboration & working together, and is a really nice touch.

I really enjoyed playing the game & whilst i completed it in a couple of hours, it is worth the investment in both time & money.

Someone referred to it as a pilgrimage & i cannot think of a better phrase to use. Journey is a beautiful, wonderful experience; one i would highly recommend.

Tx


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Loving ... "Odes" by Vangelis and Irene Papas



I'm not sure why this works for me ... but it does!

I think it's the otherworldliness of the album - Vangelis' superb electronics and Papas' vocals make it an extraordinary experience ... something from somewhere else ... it is not something I would normally here in Motherwell and that makes it very special indeed.

Tx

Sunday, October 19, 2014

circumambient 025 (guest mix by MAKE YOUR OWN TASTE) is now live



The latest episode of my podcast, circumambient, is now up on Mixcloud.

circumambient ... is an exploration into all-encompassing and immersive music ... and in this instalment we turn the controls over to Allister Thompson from Make Your Own Taste, a blog that covers an astonishingly wide variety of music;

His curated mix alternates between ambient instrumentals and songs, as he explains below:

“When I was younger I used to make mixed CDs like this, in which I interspersed beautiful songs with ambient pieces to create a nice experience for myself; this mix operates on the same principle. When a song has a truly beautiful, moving melody or lyric, the ruminative experience it creates is exactly the same as that provided by a piece of tranquil ambient music. Hopefully this mix provides you with a couple of hours of peace.”

Dive deep!

Tx

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Please Note: This is a Mixcloud-only mix.

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Tracklisting can be found on the Mixcloud page or over on circumambient.co.uk

Friday, October 17, 2014

asip is on a journey through ambient music

"I’ve seen a few articles over the past few years detailing the best ambient albums, the state of ambient or the return of ambient, and whilst they’re often very positive for the genre, the artists and every other person involved in making this type of music, I can’t help but feel a bit empty after reading them. 
These articles rarely scrape the surface of a genre that has never gone away, and will probably never “make a comeback” but instead, the genre continues to evolve. Ambient music will always remain a sub-culture of many popular music styles out there, or more to the point of this article, be the hidden undercurrent that’s helped inspire many other styles of music.../"

Neither scene nor heard: a journey through ambient music

Ryan over on astrangelyisolatedplace has written a marvellous essay on ambient music that is well worth reading, bookmarking then reading again.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

An introduction to Polyphonic Overtone singing by Anna-Maria Hefele



I can't stress how utterly fascinating I find Anna-Maria Hefele's Overtone singing ... watch this video and be amazed.

Thanks to Wolfgang for the heads-up.

Tx

Thursday, October 09, 2014

God Only Knows ... from BBC Music



I'm a big fan of BBC's Musical output and am rather taken with this version of the Beach Boys classic "God only knows" featuring, amongst others, the master himself - Brian Wilson (pictured).

What I really appreciate is the short 'making of' that the BBC have put out with this video ... it adds a wee bit more to the video by allowing us a small insight into their production.

Enjoy.

Tx



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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Loving ... "I did that tomorrow" by Tess Said So



Cinematic is becoming one of those words that is overplayed. Like psychedelic, it has a tendency to be overused in the furious machinations of wannabe music writers. I am very guilty of this.

However, when it comes to "I did that tomorrow" by the creative partnership of Australian musicians Rasa Daukus and Will Larsen aka TESS SAID SO, it is an apt and fitting title.

Their debut album, on the wonderful Preserved Sound label, is a cinematic treat: warm, engaging & wildly expressive - "I did that tomorrow" should be the beloved soundtrack to a highly regarded cult film . Indeed it has a timelessness that points to and belongs with a cult film, the kind of film that acts as a Shibboleth in certain circles.

"I did that tomorrow" is piano-based neo-classic expressionism at it’s best. The haunting, evocative, and, at times, energetic piano makes for a very pleasant listening experience.

However, when it is partnered with some truly exceptional percussion, the album comes alive. Together TESS SAID SO create something very special idea.

The second track - "sometimes never" - is a prime example of how exceptional the percussion is and how  ’alive’ this recording is. It is a prime example of how very tight TESS SAID SO are as a unit.

The jazz influence is very apparent with flavours of avant-garde & the expressive soundtrack-jazz of Morricone obvious to the listener. The use of a glockenspiel on "Trace" in conjunction with other percussion really sets this notion of & develops the cinematic feel of the recording. This feeling carries through with "planted this to imagine" albeit with the introduction of electronically manipulated field recordings providing a delicious layer of ambience.

The experimentation with an ambient undercurrent continues with the haunting "Seven Suns", where the piano comes to the fore & is underpinned with the most energetic percussion. I'd love to see this track performed live, it must be a real treat!

Other highlights include the lilting, late-night vibe of "Directly Not Now", a piece that retains a real sparkle thanks to the percussion presented ... and the upbeat "the Snap Beans aren't Salty" with its unstoppable drive and wall-of-sound.

All in, I really enjoyed "I did that tomorrow" by TESS SAID SO and would highly recommend it to anyone with a fondness for the piano or vibrant, percussive, jazz-inspired music.

Have a wee listen below and, if you, can ... please do your bit to spread the word.




Friday, October 03, 2014

What I listened to in September, 2014 ...



Three things jump out at me as I look at this list:

1) The "House of Cards - Season 1" soundtrack by Jeff Beal is a brilliant soundtrack ...
2) Now that I have "The Sound of Silas (waag_CDr001)" on physical CD, I've listened to more Cousin Silas but less digitally ... and
3) The new Aphex Twin album "Syro" is a cracker!

What are you listening to?


Loving ... "Chronos" by Andrea Carri



To say I am enamoured with the music of Andrea Carri would be an understatement ... I am utterly besotted with his particular blend of melodic solo piano & neoclassical expression.

I've had his new albums "Chronos" - for a wee while now & am captivated by the ease in which Carri presents a melody. From the opening track - "Time" - to the final bars of the closing track - "Dopo un tax colt one viene un altro" - I found "Chronos" to be a delight: an easily accessible, melodic delight to be precise. The tracks presented - 11 in total - are modern day lullabies for the iPhone set.

Carri's piano-playing is effortless and it is in this effortlessness that he excels. Tracks like "la vie delle sette torri" are where he makes it all seem so easy and that, for me, is the sign of a truly talented artist. "Chronos" is an unhurried, uncomplicated expression that points to a place where time tends to slow and graceful, and elegant playing is highly valued.

What's more, when Carri broadens his sound, such as on "Present", you get even more beauty ... this time with layers of ambient guitar & bubbling synths. Whilst this is the sign of a talented musician, it is also evidence of someone who is intent on bringing beauty into this world and Heaven knows we need all the beauty we can get!

Carri does get more 'experimental' near the end of the album, with tracks like - "Music is Eternity" - featuring heavily the violin and cello from Carla Chiussi & Emanuele Milani respectively ... and "Future" with Jarre-esque soundscapes to complement the piano. These experiments are the gravy on the pie ... and something I would readily welcome more of.

Other guests that are involved on this recording include Roberto Porpora on electric guitar and sound effects, Francesco Mantovani on synth and pad, and Perry Frank on lap steel, soundscapes and visions ... together with Carla Chiussi Emanuele Milani ... and Carri himself they make "Chronos" something very beautiful indeed!

I am besotted with "Chronos" & would highly recommend it. Have a wee listen below:


Thursday, October 02, 2014

circumambient 024 ... now available on Mixcloud, iTunes or direct download



circumambient 024 is now up and features music from five artists that have really spoken to me recently with their vibrant, engaging soundscapes - Row Boat, Stray Theories, Cousin Silas, Canopy & Panoptique Electrical.

For more > http://www.circumambient.co.uk/2014/10/circumambient-024.html

October 2014's Wallpaper



This photo was taken under a bridge over the Clyde on the Broomielaw in Glasgow. It was taken with a 50mm prime lens on my Canon 70d whilst on a photosafari with photog chums from my work.

Usual flavours are available below.

Tx

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Presenting ... "The Sound of Silas (waag_CDr001)" by Cousin Silas



Over on weareallghosts.co.uk I've shared some details on the first physical release on my wee netlabel:

The first weareallghosts physical release features photography by Oleg Tishkovets in a beautiful fold out digipack created by Brin Coleman (aka Bing Satellites) for scramsons.co.uk
The music on this double CD was mastered by Tim Jones
The first CD contains remastered 'classics' along with a brand new mini dronescape whereas the second CD contains approximately 70 minutes of brand new music. 
On the inside Kevin Lyons waxes lyrical for the liner notes, giving us food for thought on his pal Silas. 
The physical copy will contain a weareallghosts badge and a postcard with a download code to a remix album with tracks revisioned by Jack Hertz, Kevin Lyons, Bing Satellites, Shane Morris and Ade Hodges. This remix album is only available via this CD. 
This is the first time we have released a CD so please, please be patient. We aim to get the CDs in the post as near to release date as possible. 

When you pre-order the CD, you get 5 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it's released on the 29th September 2014.

Packages will ship on or just after the 29th September too.

There will only be 100 made ... and I'm pleased to say we have pre-orders for 54 so far. The CDs are £10 + Postage & Packing (which varies depending on where you live).

Here's a wee sneak peek at the CD:







More details, including some more photos of the CD packaging, are available over on weareallghosts.co.uk



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Seven Questions with ... Ryan Vanden Heuvel aka Canopy



Its been a pretty crazy week over in Scotland with the Independence Referendum taking up everyone's time and energy ... to add to that I have been working on the first CD release on my netlabel, weareallghosts.

As such, it came as a welcome surprise to receive an email from Ryan Vanden Heuvel, the chap behind "Canopy". Whilst I am new to his music, I can honestly say his music arrived exactly when I needed it to arrive ... more on that later.

I asked Ryan if he'd answer a few questions ... I am delighted to say he agreed:

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1) Who are you and what do you do: 
My name is Ryan Vanden Heuvel. I'm a 22 year old multi-instrumenatlist obsessed with music, and that is not an understatement. Not a day goes by without music on my mind in some form or fashion. I write and release my material under the project name of "Canopy" which I started doing close to about a year ago now. Over the past year I have written two full length albums, one of which was released today and I am already wanting to write another...


2) What are you working on at the moment? 
Well I just released my second album, "The Healing Seasons" literally today so technically nothing at the moment, but if I could be working on something, it would be my third album. That is going to have to wait as I am still in the process of promoting my second release!


3) Who inspires you? 
That's a good question but not a hard one at all. Many people inspire me but to narrow it down a little I would say first and foremost my friends, family and immensely supportive girlfriend. I would not have been able to find the strength needed to deal with the many tribulations of being and independent musician if it weren't for all of them. For that I consider myself both blessed and humbled!

- Name an artist who has inspired you. 
Again there many who inspire me from various corners of the music universe but I have two in mind that have pushed me to continue writing music even if it isn't good. Andy Othling is top of the list. Andy is the brains behind the one man ambient instrumental project, "Lowercase Noises" and he did it all by himself... I found Lowercase Noises last year and was instantly blown away mostly because he started the same way myself and many other independent musicians do, with no one and nothing. Looking at his self driven success has inspired me to work hard and be open to learning something new every day.  My second biggest motivator is Tycho. If you don't know who Tycho is, look him up, right now. That is all I have to say. I am particularly a fan of how he writes and produces his music, it is enchanting, beautiful and crisp all at the same time. I don't think he could ever make a record I would find to be bland or distasteful.

- Name place that has inspired you. 
I used to travel a lot with my family growing up so there are a number of places that come to mind. However the west coast stands out among the rest as the biggest influence. The western culture is one that I value, not to mention the vast amount of site seeing available. If I could choose a place to go to right now, some where along the grand canyon would work just fine! The world is a beautiful place if you look at it just right, we are very lucky.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you. 
Life. Plain and simple, we only get one. There is beauty everywhere  and in everything but not everyone will get the chance to see it, sadly. My vision of beauty lies within music and I don't ever take that for granted. Everybody dies but not everybody lives.


4) What drives you to do what you do? 
The ability and need to create. Like my grandfather who I have dedicated this release to, I always need to be busy doing something. Creating, working on a project, perfecting something...It never ends but I love it. Creation serves as an outlet for me and a good one at that seeing as anything goes really.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express? 
Absolute and total freedom to say and do what I want. There is no right or wrong way to make something, art is art is art I like to think. The best part about it is that literally anyone can do it! I encourage anyone with a creative spark to go out and make something, it feels wonderful!


6) What role does community play in what you do? 
Community plays a huge role. Without ears to listen to my music, who would know about it? I write music for myself but also to connect with others who may enjoy it too.
My end goal is to write music that I know how to write and share it with as many people as I can just because my heart for music is so big. I put little effort in caring for sales and money, ego boosting feedback or popularity. It really is, all about the music.    


7) What is next for what you do? 
Looking forward, in time I hope to start work on a visual album. Like I said before, art is art is art. Music, film, painting etc. are all kind of smudged together in my eyes and I would love to bring another dynamic to my music. Maybe I'll travel and film the world, who knows I just take things as they go.

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Thanks Ryan ... I'm a big fan of both Lowercase Noises and Tycho ... and can definitely hear their influence in your work. Thank you for sharing!



Vibrant and head-noddingly engaging ... I found "The Healing Seasons" to be welcome relief from a tough week. Canopy's sound is a wonderfully now version of electronica-inspired instrumental post-rock ... a unique version filled with electronic textures and expression ... so now, in fact, I could have easily been persuaded that this was the latest act from Ghostly International. It's not, unfortunately, but it could have been ... very easily.

Taking cues from Tycho on the more upbeat pieces ... such as the closing track - "Later on" - with its pounding beat, synths and delayed guitar ... or "1988" with its upbeat electro vibe ... the music presented here is a ray of sunshine on a grey day.

Canopy can play the guitar. This is evidenced on "Daybreak" with a guitar run that simply overtook me and had me air-guitaring in rather awkward places. He also knows his way around synths too and knows how to incorporate field recordings and vocal samples in a way that adds to the overall feel of the track ... the third track - "tray" - with its ocean waves and 'scientific lecture' vocal sample is a prime example of this.

I was very impressed with "The Healing Seasons" by Canopy and would highly recommend it, especially for folks who love upbeat, engaging electronica-influenced post-rock.

Please check Canopy's music and support him as best you can ... check out his music and a couple of videos he's created to back his release:







Saturday, September 13, 2014

Seven Questions with ... Chris Corrado aka The Atlas Amp



It's been a hard week ... but I'm getting back into things again. I'm seeing the light again in all these unexpected places.

One such place is in the music of Chris Corrado aka The Atlas Amp ... he gave me his latest EP - "Oscillator" - recently and I've found tremendous solace in it. I am very impressed with it and found it both vibrant and engaging. It reminds me of all the reasons I fell in love with the post-rock genre ... and why I love artists like Lowercase Noises, Orbit Over Luna, and The Echelon Effect. Corrado is up there with these tremendous musicians ... and I would highly recommend you check it out.

Anyway ... I asked Corrado to complete my wee blog interview. I'm glad he agreed ... this is what he had to say:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Chris Corrado and I´m a guitarist, composer and producer. My main instrument is the guitar but i also try to explore the spirit of every other instruments that crosses my way. My main project is the Ambient / Post-Rock project The Atlas Amp. From time to time i write songs and am on the road with 2 other indie-rock bands. Further I love taking pictures with old analog cameras and I also love to do field-recordings, which i often use in my songs.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
i am writing new songs for a (full length) record which i will release next year in spring. another bigger project is to build up my new homestudio. i have moved to another city 2 months ago and it takes some time to get all the stuff sorted… further i have plans to record new ambient-guitar live videos for my youtube channel.


3) Who inspires you? 
Name an artist who has inspired you: 
...the norwegian band Motorpsycho is still one of my biggest influences. it´s not only the music but also the „band of friends“ thing and their strong and passionated believe in music. really friendly and humble guys. to me they are the epitome of the today overused term „independent“.
another musician who inspires me ever since is Vangelis. I love his ability to create huge compositions around simple melodies.  

...and some bands and musicians who inspired me lately: Bibio, Do Make Say Think, Jon Hopkins, This Will Destroy You, Instrument, Neu!, Boards of Canada, the early The Appleseed Cast … i could name more here but that would go beyond the scope of this format. but i can say for sure it´s always the same thing for me: if an artist has depth and a vision, he immediately got my attention.

Name a place that has inspired you: 
Always the coast… but in particular: The south of England and the Algarve. i love the mind-clearing atmosphere of wind, rocks & waves and the clear horizon line.

but also studios and rehearsal rooms inspire me to get creative. i love the feeling to be surrounded by instruments.

Name some "thing" that has inspired you: 
going to live concerts!!!


4) What drives you to do what you do? 
There are many moments in life that automatically create melodies or sonic atmospheres in my head. especially when i´m in nature and my mind calms down from the distortion of the everyday life. it was like that ever since i can think. to me music is somehow aligned to pictures and emotions. my aim is to transform these emotions into music, to tell a story. in the past i often did this with lyrics in the songs, today i do it more the instrumental / ambient / post-rock kind of way… i want the listeners to get lost in my music.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
it´s hard to bring my music in association with values when i think about it. sometimes it´s just fun to i.e. test a new instrument or a new technique that leads to a new song idea. most of the time i don´t put a specific value into the songs. each song lives it´s own live… but if i should name a value that let´s me do what i do i´d say: passion.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
no community, no interchange… i love how todays communication platforms have radically changed the way i can stay in touch with all the people. as i started The Atlas Amp i immediately had an audience. with my other band projects in the past the radius of communication was fairly small… email here, telephone there from time to time... i love how the community feeling „exploded“ with twitter and other communication platforms. "we can learn to grow together“, thats it for me!


7) What is next for what you do?
in some days I´m going to Corsica for one month. just nature and the coast. After that i´ll start recording the first songs for the new record.

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As I said above, I found Corrado's EP to be both vibrant and engaging ... it helped me forget myself for a while and gave me an escape from my day-to-day. From the opening ambience of "Sonora" to the closing bars of "Time & Time" it is deeply immersive with a wide variety of sounds and samples creating the most delightful of soundscapes.

For me the highlight of the EP was the track - "Readyready Irdial" - with the number stations sample and delightfully melodic guitar work. It really grows in intensity ... I found it uplifting, especially when the bass and drums come in to complement the guitar. It is a thing of utter, unashamed beauty.

But then the rest of the EP is too:

"Sonora" with its delightful melody and moments of sparse acoustic guitar ... or "Vega" with the field recordings of flowing water underpinned by acoustic guitar, irregular piano and distant percussion; that grows into a powerful wall-of-sound that delights the heart.

"Dandelion" with more field recordings, a delightful wall of ambience and a slow, melodic guitar that simply melts the heart ... before the tracks broadens out with bass, drums & some shoegaze guitars ... or the final track - "Time & Time" - that opens with the sound of a lonesome ambient guitar and then is quickly accompanied with an acoustic guitar. The layers of sound on this track is amazing ... there is a real sense of warmth and craft about it.

All in, I would highly recommend this EP. Take a listen below to hear why:



Sunday, September 07, 2014

Pippin ... gone but not forgotten



Pippin, my loving Cairn Terrier, died on the morning of Wednesday, 5th September; she was only 10. She died in Olly's arms after midnight as we tried in vain to get her to the emergency Vet in Charing Cross, Glasgow; She was diabetic and we believe she died as a result of her long-term illness, an illness we were regimented against and did everything in our power to fight. As such, her passing came as a great shock and has hit our family hard.

One thing we've been able to take comfort in (other than our friends as the REM song goes) is the photos we have of her. I want to share some photos of her, including the last photo of her to be published (directly below).

Cherish your loved ones. We really don't know how long we have with them. Make sure they know they are loved and don't take them for granted. And take lots of photos ... lots and lots and lots!

Tx





















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