Monday, April 28, 2014

Loving ... "variations for the celesta" by Twincities

"variations for the celesta" by Twincities is a truly magical experience. From the opening sounds of 'prelude in E major' to the closing reverb of a bell on '(sings)' I was gently held under Fletcher McDermott's spell.

When you consider all the tracks were based around recordings of an old celesta that McDermott personally made and that approximately 80% of the audio on “variations for the celesta” is originally from the celesta, it is easy to consider why one would become so easily entranced.

The soundscapes presented on this, the first release on the fledgling microlabel "eilean rec." from Mathias Van Eecloo of Monolyth & Cobalt, are stunning. They bewitch the listener with their subtlety and effortless grace. It seems ironic how utterly effortless these tracks sound considering the effort McDermott has actually put into them ... but they are. The music seems almost natural as if it is an expression of the natural world, an expression that just needs to be found and heard.

No single track stands out to me on “variations for the celesta”  because all the tracks work together to form a body of work that is simply magnificent. Through the exemplary electronic manipulation of the sounds, the listener is given an immersive body of work to rest within and experience.

And I think this is the key to the magic of this album, it needs to be experienced. While “variations for the celesta” can and does work well as 'background music' it deserves so much more ... it deserves the listener's attention. Like all the best magic tricks, the listener needs to suspend their disbelief and allow themselves to be enveloped. This is headphone music of the very best sort, it deserves attention and rewards this attention with some of the very best ambient soundscapes I have heard in a long, long time.

Highly recommended.




1. prelude in E major 03:03
2. evenings wait; the morning’s break 07:59
3. early ferns 04:08
4. the sun looks quite ghostly when there’s a mist on the river and everything’s quiet 03:46
5. faint whirs of the smallest motor 03:55
6. they carried teapots and tiny gas canisters 01:30
7. a ship’s bell (sings) 05:06
8. the weight of the frost on a branch 05:59
9. and the guitar plays war hymns 06:23
10. (sings) 06:22

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Loving ... "A good land, an excellent land" by Tiny Leaves

I'm not entirely sure what prompted me but I picked up "a good land, an excellent land" by Tiny Leaves ... I realised that I didn't have it and wanted to hear it. I had the album on my iPhone thanks to my Rdio subscription and it was one of the few albums I missed when I killed my sub.

I did a Seven Questions with Joel Pike aka Tiny Leaves last year (link) but never followed it up with some thoughts on the album ... so I thought I would after Pike kindly upgraded my purchase to include the CD as well as the download (thanks Joel!)

"a good land, an excellent land" by Tiny Leaves features some exemplary neo classical soundscapes ... with Pike playing piano and guitar on all 8 tracks, Susie Shaw playing cello on 5 out of the 8 tracks, Marianne Windham playing double bass on 3 tracks and Rob Wilson playing violin on 4 tracks. Shaw's cello is particularly haunting ... as Mark Wardale mentioned to me this morning when commenting on the above photo in my Facebook feed.

I would go so far as to say the whole album is haunting ... certainly in the way that it stays with you long after it has stopped playing.

It opens with 'beginning' ... an atonal droning introduction that subtly shifts into chords from all four players. It is a marvellous start to the album ... that moves to a piano, cello and violin track entitled 'speaking of things as yet unseen' ... an elegant track with the most exquisite of melodies, one that lightly dances upon the listener's conscious and entices them to listen like a Siren of old.

From here we move to 'my hand in yours' where Pike goes it alone ... just him and his guitar at the start - a remarkable slice of ambience ... with layered guitars and reverb - before Pike's piano melodies come in to liven the mood.

'Weight / Wait' - the 4th track - is an altogether more rambunctious affair and pleasantly so ... it is a track that brings all four players together again to create a rather joyous expression with a refrain played on the cello and mirrored on the violin. It changes into a more reflective piece about half way in ... which shows the talent and restrain of Pike as a composer as well as a player.

'Minuet' is a delightful cello and piano piece with hints of guitar in the background ... the rivalry between the cello and piano for supremacy is a delight to observe, they toy with each other for the uppermost place and, in doing so, work together to make the track come alive.

From there we then slide into 'Abraham' ... a gorgeous piano-only piece that is simply alive with feeling. Watch this to see what I mean:

Tiny Leaves - Abraham from Andreas Theophanatos on Vimeo.

The penultimate track - 'a good land, an excellent land' - brings the team back together for one final joyous outing ... and what an outing it is. A bright, vibrant, upbeat piece ... full of life and energy. It has an almost folky refrain coursing through it's veins from the violin that is foot-tappingly exciting. As is Pike's want, the train changes around the 1:45m mark to become more introspect and restrained. This is both disappointing and a delight ... but, knowing Pike, nothing happens by chance and as the violin and cello begin to accompany the piano, you know the energy is still there. This track is an utter delight and a worthy holder of the album's name.

The final track - 'leaving' - is a sombre affair ... just Pike, his piano and the space between the notes. It is an eloquent ending to the album.

"a good land, an excellent land" by Tiny Leaves is an exceptional neo classical expression from an exceptional musical talent, one I would highly recommend. Have a listen below and do what you can to support independent music.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Some photos from my recent Easter break

Last week I was off with my family for our Easter break. The weather was kind to us ... so we managed to get out and about.

I've posted a whole heap of photos over on Flickr > < and I thought I'd share a few on here in no particular order.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

An interview with Amon Tobin

I love the music Amon Tobin creates. He is a true visionary and, as such, I found this interview fascinating.



((My thanks to Micah Templeton-Wolfe for the heads up!))

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Loving ... "a home for you" by Good Weather for an Airstrike

It's 7:15am on Easter Saturday & I am on a train bound for Glasgow so I can participate in Record Store Day 2014. The sun is in the sky as I depart from Motherwell station. I am listening to "a home for you" by Good Weather for an Airstrike, Tom Honey's ambient music project, and I genuinely cannot think of a more appropriate album to listen to.

"a home for you" by Good Weather for an Airstrike, released on Honey’s Hawkmoon Records label, is a tribute to the recent birth of his twins ... and what a fitting tribute it is.

"a home for you" demonstrates a real progression as an artist and is possibly Honey’s best work to date. It features 55 minutes of inventive, imaginative, soulful ambient music. These are heartfelt soundscapes, tracks that speak of not only Honey’s love for his craft but his subject matter too ... the overwhelming, obsessive love that considers the small details as well as the big picture.

From the use of a field recording of heartbeats from the twins’ scan as percussive layer on the opening track - "Lungs" - to the sound of the seashore on "a song for Libby" ... real care has been poured into this record.

"Awaiting your arrival" is a deliciously floaty track that just oozes anticipation and is simply gorgeous as a result. As is Honey’s collaboration with Inachus - "Breathing" - a lullaby of sorts, it moves from a floaty ambient piece to present the most delightful of melodies about half way through. I want this melody on a music box to give to my wife! Yes, it's that lovely.

Whilst Honey's obsession with the seashore is not for the weak / full bladdered, his use of these field recordings on "clutch" is inspired, providing a fitting connection from "a song for Libby" and allowing the album to flow to - "Tides" - a piano-orientated delight that opens with a cascade of notes before the synths arrive to gild the listener’s ears with audio gold. "Tides" is wonderfully euphoric and hope-filled, with a fragility that demonstrates the impressive use of dynamics.

"The slowest journey" should be apt for an early-morning train ride into Glasgow but, for some reason, this train is rattling into town. It is beautiful introduction to the closing song but shouldn't be overlooked. Sequenced synths create a heady, hypnotic wall-of-sound that is simply divine ... an exquisite sound that is over way too soon ... but one that leads to the 15 minute opus "Welcome home".

"Welcome home" is an ambient masterpiece ... a floaty, dreamy synth longform drone soundscape that could have easily stood alone as a single-track release ... but then I have a particular fascination for longform drones.

All in, "a home for you" by Good Weather for an Airstrike is a brilliant release & well worth checking out. I said earlier that this may possibly be Tom Honey's best release ... as I listen to the album again on my way out of Glasgow (after a successful RSD outing) I am convinced ... this IS Honey’s best to date ... and a promising indication of what's to come.

Well done Tom & congrats to you & your wife on the birth of your twins.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Two powerful ambient releases for Good Friday

Recorded one year ago (but released in July) ... "Good Friday (waag_rel026)" by Stephen Briggs features 160 minutes of deep, dark improvised ambient music ... in keeping with the mood of that dark day.

As I said in the release notes...
To say this is an expression of Briggs' faith would not be entirely accurate … this is an expression of more than his faith … it is an expression of his humanity and his experience … and I am grateful for this whole-of-self expression. It inspires me.
"Good Friday (waag_rel026)" by Stephen Briggs is available for 'pay what you want' over at my netlabels' bandcamp page ... take a listen below:


Released yesterday, "Without Sin (waag_rel047)" by Matthew VandenBrook is a sub-60 minute longform ambient piece that works for Good Friday. While it wasn't necessarily intended for Good Friday I have received remarkable inspiration from this piece as I have walked my own, personal Lenten journey.

As I say in my notes...
It is a dark, brooding piece of longform ambient music that threatens to break out into glorious celebration at any moment. It has a sense of anticipation that I find infectious ... it draws you in as a listener and carries you along with the thought: 'what comes next?' ... there is a percussive sound, for example, that could be soldiers marching ... there are voices that appear as if they are on the wind ... there is a tolling bell near the end ... it is a fascinating journey.
"Without Sin (waag_rel047)" by Matthew VandenBrook is also available for 'pay what you want' over at my netlabels' bandcamp page ... take a listen below:


Loving ... The Vinyl Factory's YouTube channel

I really like the videos The Vinyl Factory produce and thought I'd share a few of my faves ...

First off ... The Vinyl Factory talk to four of the Secret 7" designers who have created sleeves for this Saturday's Record Store Day 2014 edition.

We then have this video about record hunting in Hawaii ... it is a journey into Hawaiian music culture and utterly fascinating.

This look inside the Numero Group is fascinating too ...

... as is this look inside Jack White's Third Man Records.

I suggest you bookmark this link - - and get digging.


Seven Questions with ... Fletcher McDermott aka Twincities

I recently got an out-of-the-blue email from Fletcher McDermott aka Twincities. He shared with me his new album - “variations for the celesta” - and spoke about his journey from FutureRecordings (post) to Eilean Records.

According to McDermott, the album is a concept piece of sorts ... all the tracks being based around recordings of an old celesta he personally made. Somewhere around 80% of the audio on “variations for the celesta” is originally from the celesta although it would be hard to tell that after his delightful electronic manipulation.

When I got this email I did 3 things ...

1) Look up 'celesta' in wikipedia: A celesta is a struck idiophone operated by a keyboard - it looks similar to an upright piano (four- or five-octave), or a large wooden music box (three-octave) ...
2) Ask for a download having being totally intrigued by the possibilities of McDermott's album ... and
3) Ask if McDermott would agree to completing my wee blog interview: I want to know more about the person who can make an instrument from which to make such utterly beautiful music as the music on  “variations for the celesta” ...

Fletcher McDermott agreed to points 2 and 3 (don't tell him about #1) ... and this is what he had to say with regards to #3:


1) Who are you and what do you do?
my name is fletcher mcdermott. i’m 24 and from long island, new york. i make music which generally ends up with an ambient/electroacoustic sound, but i have no rules about that in my writing. i’m more about my process than needing the final product to sound like a particular genre.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
i’m already deep into the follow up to “variations for the celesta”! i had a small handful of pieces i was working on while writing variations that couldn’t end up on there because they had nothing to do with a celesta. i also had a few ideas that had been started as compilation pieces but ended up feeling as though they weren’t right for that type of release (songs for compilations are tricky, sometimes things that work beautifully in the middle of a full length would end up leaving a horrible representation of your sound on a comp).

sometime in march while variations was being mastered i was looking through files and realized i had 10 or so songs that were all nearing completion and had some similar vibes going on. i guess more directly i’ve been working on getting these songs from various places to come together and have an “album sound”. i’m big on albums sounding like cohesive pieces, not just a collection of works. once these are sounding how i want them i’m going to get to work on some string arrangements and then they’re slated to be released sometime later this year!

3) Who inspires you? 
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
- Name place that has inspired you.
- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.

inspiration is a tricky thing. i’ve always loved this style of music but i think it was hearing Max Richter’s “infra” for the first time that made me really want to sit down and make it. even though his work doesn’t sound much like mine at all in the end, something about the blending or noisy electronic/staticy elements with lush acoustic sounds just felt like something i wanted to do.

i want to say my studio constantly inspires me. i’m a bit of a gear nerd so something about being surrounded by beautiful equipment on all sides just opens something up. i didn’t have a “proper” studio to work in up until a year or so ago so that change has been huge in effecting the way in which i write. previously everything was so scattered i’d have to unpack/setup whatever piece of equipment i wanted to use individually and record it sitting on my bed, then pack it away again and work on it via headphones. now a have a decent sized, dedicated room with recording gear, amps, synths, buckets of pedals and my piano all setup and ready to go for me. i never would have finished this album without that environment to work it.

4) What drives you to do what you do? 
creativity? desire? i don’t really know what to call it but not playing music just doesn’t feel right. there hasn’t been a time in my life that i wasn’t making music in some way in the last 10 years so i’m not really sure what life without it would even feel like anymore! i’m sure i wouldn’t like it though.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
it’s hard to ask non lyrical music to impart any “values” onto people for me i guess? if it is going to leave you with something i hope it’s positive. if not, then i’m more than happy to just be the soundtrack to a small chunk of someones day, whether it consciously is there with you or just floating in the background.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
up until very recently i wouldn’t have know how to answer this, but in the last little bit of time i’ve found a large network of like minded, supportive artists who i’m glad to be connected to. i’m hoping to expand those bonds more over the next year or so as i go full on into releasing solo material again and hopefully figure out/start playing live again. it’s amazing how much the words of someone whose music you love can mean mean when they tell you they love what you’re doing. i’ve had that experience several times in the last few months with both mathias (Monolyth & Cobalt) who runs the label variations is released on (eilean rec) reaching out to me to be his first release and a handful of artists whose work i’ve been following closely for years who happened to listen to my album and contact me. it’s been pretty surreal.

7) What is next for what you do?
if things keep working out, hopefully more albums, more writing, more music. i really like churning out a constant stream of stuff so i hope i don’t have to slow down anytime soon.

i’d like to start playing live again soon. i haven’t done a solo performance in years and i’m not quite sure how i’d perform my new material really. i don’t want to hide behind a laptop screen so i’ll have to work out some interesting ways to play things without bringing a whole studio setup out with me.

i have a few possible collaborations in talks right now that i’m hoping can begin producing material by the summertime.

i’m hoping to get into some soundtrack type work sometime soon. i’m on the lookout for projects. i feel that type of work is something my style of writing is particularly suited for so hopefully i’ll get to fully try my hand at it in the near future!

other than that i’m always looking for what the world throws at me. the terrain of music is pretty constantly changing so who knows what new stuff might be happening in the next few years!


“variations for the celesta” has already sucked me in ... and I will bring some thoughts on the album in due course.

What I will say, for now, is the music is utterly beautiful and I am in awe of someone like McDermott who can do what he does. Music needs talent like his and kudos to Eliean for picking up and supporting this release.

Have a listen below and do what you can to support independent music.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Loving ... The Secret of the Sea by Bruno Bavota

"The Secret of the Sea" is a truly exceptional album from Italian pianist Bruno Bavota. It is a captivating experience, one that takes the listener to a place of sheer, unadulterated beauty.

His piano playing on this album is truly first class - technically brilliant but with a tone & approach that focuses of melody & feeling rather than solely virtuoso expression.

This level of expressed feeling was something I had come to expect from Bavota after being beguiled by "La casa sulla Luna" last year. There is more, however, within "The Secret of the Sea" ... take the opening track as an example: "Me and you" features an electric guitar / piano duet that is so utterly glorious that I asked to use in on my recent podcast - circumambient_011. It has a post-rock vibe to it that just blows me away. It opens "The Secret of the Sea" so well with the drifting ambient guitar & piano-driven melody.

The third track - "the man who chased the Sea" - features an acoustic guitar / piano duet that is similarly lovely. It has an euphoric feel to it ... it builds in intensity and feeling through its 4m27s duration ... with the introduction of subtle percussion adding to the overall effect. A sun-riser of a track, if ever I've heard one.

"The Secret of the Sea" is a treasure trove of an album, filled with real gems like the ones mentioned above & others like "Constellations" with its subtle guitar & upbeat piano-led melody ... or the exquisite grace of "If only my heart were wide like the Sea" with some seriously gorgeous acoustic guitar playing intertwined with Bavota's signature piano.

Tracks like "Les nuits blanches" & "Plasson" where it is just Bavota's piano are also utterly precious. He has true skill & these tracks demonstrate this without him shouting from the rooftops with twiddly runs or more notes than necessary. His singleminded focus on melody is exemplary & these tracks prove this point extremely well.

The stand-out track, for me, is  "the boy & the whale" with the field recording of the ocean as backdrop to a truly elegant melody played on the piano. It is simply gorgeous & mesmerising all at once.

The music contained with "The Secret of the Sea" is up there with some of the best neo-classical expression I have ever heard. It is utterly captivating & a delight to consume.

My thanks go to Bruno Bavota for recording something this good & letting me in on it before it was release. "The Secret of the Sea" will be high on my "best of 2014" without any doubt?.

Put it this way: "The Secret of the Sea" deserves to be huge! It should be used as incidental music on the BBC. I want to see an Osprey catch fish in slow motion and in HD with a song like "the man who chased the Sea" as it's backing.

If you enjoy piano-led melodies and neo-classical soundscapes then you will love "The Secret of the Sea". I do.

- Tx

"The Secret of the Sea" is released on Monday, 21st April on Pyschonavigation.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Epic Rap Battle: Nerd vs Geek + Good Mythical Morning

My eldest daughter turned me onto this video from the chaps behind 'Good Mythical Morning' ... Rhett & Link. I proudly connected with the Geek ... and really, really liked some of the ideas presented.

Now ... if you are not familiar with 'Good Mythical Morning' then can I please recommend you watch this video. It had me hooked on their brand of crazy.

Recommended viewing. Thanks for the heads-up Dayna!


Soaked in Bleach

20 years after Cobain's apparent suicide "Soaked in Bleach" looks really interesting.

Check it out.


(Thanks to Roy for the link)

40 Days of Enough ... Day 33 - "Holst's The Planets" by Concertgebouworkest, Amsterdam & Neville Marriner

Olly bought me this LP in late November, 2013. She picked it up in East Kilbride for 50p, knowing it was one of my fave Classical pieces.

Holst's "The Planets" is an exceptional piece of atmospheric music ... it moves from the raucous and moving ... to the gentle and pastoral.

It is possibly the best 50p my Olly has spent on me and I cherish it.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

40 Days of Enough ... Day 32 - "Abort" by Tribe

I have "Abort" by Tribe on LP, CD AND cassette ... oh and I have it on MP3 too. It is a fascinating album from 1991 that both Olly and I really enjoy.

I picked the LP up for £3 from the Oxfam in Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow late last year when I started collecting records again. I couldn't quite believe my luck when I spotted it.

As for whether vinyl is best ... I guess that's down to personal choice ... but it works for me.


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

40 Days of Enough ... Day 31 - "Songs in the Key of Life" by Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder is my Elvis. He is a creative genius who never stops giving through his music. I am particularly taken with the five LPs he recorded in the early to mid 70s.

"Songs in the Key of Life" is simply breathtaking ... it is future soul that must have sounded other-worldly when it was released because, quite simply, it sounds other-worldly today.

I think it is the only album I have that has been preserved into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress ... they called it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

I picked up the LP and accompanying EP on vinyl at a record fair in Glasgow for £7. I then was given a copy by my colleague and friend Carol. I gave this copy away to a fellow vinyl-loving colleague.

It doesn't get much better than this ... and while I intend on getting the other four LPs from Wonder's truly great period ... this will remain my favourite.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

40 Days of Enough ... Day 30 - "Abbey Road" by The Beatles

I love The Beatles.

It's as simple as that. I love them. I discovered them later in life ... sometime after 2000 when I picked up their "1" CD in a charityshop in Gourock (near the awesome Flava coffeeshop).

Late last year I got given some records by my dear friend and colleague Carol. She had cleared her loft and wanted me to have her hubby's record collection. I was instantly drawn to The Beatles LPs ... of which Abbey Road was my fave (it was a toss-up with the White Album).

I love this record ... it puts a smile on my face each and every time I play it. It is utter genius.

I also love this record because it came from Carol. She's an awesome lass and I have many fond memories of working with her. I was grateful that she thought of me rather than putting the LPs on eBay or something.


Monday, April 07, 2014

40 Days of Enough ... Day 29 - "Abraxas" by Santana

I love progressive music. I use this term because I believe it encompasses more than just 'prog rock'. Progressive music includes the Kraut Rock, Berlin-school Electronic music, and even Tropicália as well as the psychedelic soulful sounds of Santana's "Abraxas".

"Abraxas" is air-guitar heaven. It mixes Latin rhythms with bluesy, soulful guitar to makes something so very special. I have had this album on CD for nearly 20 years ... it was a gift from a friend who is no longer in my life ... but only recently picked it up on vinyl.

It was on my list of most wanted albums. I never thought I'd find it when I went hunting in Edinburgh with my friend Robert ... but I was delighted when I found it for £5 in 'Unknown Pleasures' on the Royal Mile.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

40 Days of Enough ... Day 28 - "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield

I was given this copy of "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield by my ex-colleague and dear friend Laura van Weegan. Just like Shaun Blezard, Laura sent me through a parcel of seven LPs ... music therapy to get me back on my feet.

I love "Tubular Bells" to be able to associate it with such warmth, generosity of spirit and kindness blows me away. It is a remarkable piece of music ... and probably my first introduction to the world of progressive music when I heard it many, many years ago.

It still sounds fresh to this day ... well, maybe not 'fresh' but 'timeless'.

Thanks Laura!


Friday, April 04, 2014

40 Days of Enough ... Day 27 - Leonard Rosenman's soundtrack to "The Lord of the Rings"

I love Leonard Rosenman's soundtrack to "The Lord of the Rings". It is deeply emotive and rather dissonant in places. I can trace back my love of orchestral and 'out there' music to this album.

I had it as a teenager on vinyl. Sadly I can't find said copy nowadays ... but back in the late 80s it was a treasured piece of music from an equally treasured film.

I bought it on CD with Christmas money after I decided to cancel my Rdio subscription. It was in my Rdio collection and one of about a half-dozen albums that I genuinely missed. I don't think I paid more than a few pounds for it on Amazon ... it was from a charity seller, if my memory holds true.

I still want it on vinyl but can wait.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Loving ... Lucid by Matt Stevens

Monday saw the launch of Matt Stevens latest solo album - "Lucid". I've been privileged to have a copy for a wee while now and am amazed at the creative expression that is presented therein.

"Lucid" IS a Matt Stevens record. It features his trademark weird timings & polyrhythms, multiple layers of guitar-based sound, and his delightful "what comes next?" presentation that keeps me on  my toes as a listener and a fan. It is a wonderfully inventive, progressive, boundary-pushing example of a creative guitarist who just gets stronger with each release, either on his own or with his fantastic band - The Fierce & The Dead.

"Lucid" features contributions from a number of other artists ... including Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson), Lorenzo Feliciati (Naked Truth), Charlie Cawood (Knifeworld), Jem Godfrey (Frost), vibes player Jon Hart & violinist Chrissie Caulfield ... Kevin Feazey & Stuart Marshall from TFATD also contribute, most prominently Marshall who’s drumming is always a pleasure to hear.

But for all their additions, "Lucid" remains a Matt Stevens album. There is nothing quite like it and I, for one, love that about this & his other releases.

"Lucid" is a rollercoaster of a musical ride ... one minute you are on the up, the next you are banking hard at a 90 degree angle going round the bend ... hard, caustic guitar one minute, beautifully elegant acoustic guitar the next. I love it and after 42 minute duration of "Lucid" I was strangely satisfied. I attribute this to Stevens’ ability to combine multiple ideas into a single track & ensure all these ideas work together. This is his skill.

From the mid-paced, methodical rock of the opening track - ’Oxymoron’ - to the delightful acoustic sounds of ’A Boy’ ... "Lucid" doesn't fail to delight. It is packed with the kind of innovation that is so easy to soak up. Stevens’ inventiveness isn't off-putting either ... "Lucid" is an easily accessible album for newbies as well as long-time fans, which is down to Stevens as a person as much as it is down to the music he creates. There is a genuine warmth that shines through all Stevens does.

It seems unfair to pick out key tracks as the whole album does ... as a whole ... stand out. However, at a push, I would bring your attention to  ’The Other Side’ with the jaunty interplay between Stevens’ guitar & the pipa (played by Charlie Cawood) ... and the progressive epic ’The Bridge’ with its big guitar sound, Caulfield's violin, pounding percussion from Marshall & Feazey and a heartbreakingly poignant solo guitar.

Matt Stevens makes the extraordinary sound everyday and the challenge for him will be to maintain this momentum & keep creating such exception soundscapes. I know he is more than capable of this & look forward to "Lucid" solidifying in my conscious as a highlight of 2014.

Before I go, it would be amiss of me not to mention Carl Glover's excellent cover. It's the kind of cover you can stare at for a long time.

Have a listen to 'The Bridge' below & if you like what you hear please support this exceptional British artist so he can continue to make exceptional independent music.

"Lucid" was released on the 31st March and is now available to buy from Burning Shed and Cherry Red ... iTunes too. Sadly no Bandcamp, however.


40 Days of Enough ... Day 26 - "Yes" by Yes

I received "Yes" by Yes as a gift from Shaun Blezard ... he sent it with 4 other LPs as a wee 'pick me up' while I was off my work.

This album a belter of an album ... it features the original Yes line-up of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Peter Banks, Tony Kaye, and Bill Bruford ... and while this isn't my favourite line up, it is still a coming-together of some exceptional players.

The LP means more than the music, however ... as a gift it is priceless. I will always be in Shaun's debt ... and hope, one day, to buy him a pint to say thanks!


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

40 Days of Enough ... Day 25 "Fauré Requiem" by Paris Conservatoire Orchestra

This record was purchase on the same hunt as "2001 a space odyssey" ... I picked it up fro £1 from the Oxfam charityshop in East Kilbride.

I bought Fauré Requiem because of my love of 'sacred choral music'. I'm not an opera fan ... but I love sacred choral music and this is one piece that I am deeply fond of. There is something deeply spiritual about it and while this piece isn't as overtly Christian as some of the other Requiems ... it still moves me as a work of exquisite beauty.

Not bad for £1.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

40 Days of Enough ... Day 24 - the soundtrack to "2001 a space odyssey"

My obsessive hunting does pay ... and this belter, in MONO may I add, was found in a charity shop in East Kilbride in-between Christmas 2013 & New Year 2014 ... while I was ill with whooping cough. I don't think I knew how ill I was as I walked about the mall in EK obsessively hunting for vinyl with my new record bag over my arm. It cost me 50p.

The soundtrack to "2001 a space odyssey" is an acquired taste ... with moments of genius (Johann Strauss II's best-known waltz, "An der schönen blauen Donau" (On the Beautiful Blue Danube)) interspersed with totally 'out there' tracks (György Ligeti' "Atmosphères").

Delighted to have it in my collection and this record does sound better than the CD version ... for some strange reason consider it is mono.



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