Friday, June 27, 2014

Seven questions with ... musician Danny Clay



According to Danny Clay's Bandcamp page, he is:
"...a composer and sound artist from Ohio, now based in San Francisco, drawing upon elements of American folklore, genealogy, art education, children's theatre, improvisation, digital media and everything in between to make music."

Clay has a new recording on Mathias Van Eecloo's excellent Eliean Rec. label. It is entitled "Archive" and is well worth a listen.

Mathias Van Eecloo caught up with Clay recently and asked him my wee blog interview ... this is what he had to say:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Danny Clay. I create situations in which sounds are made - either by myself or with friends, in a concert space or in a classroom.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
A piano solo that will be played in the middle of the woods and accompanied by kid-invented sound sculptures.


3) Who inspires you? 
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
I'm inspired by anyone who takes the initiative to make something, and likes it enough to share it with people. (I'm a sucker for cassette tapes.)

- Name place that has inspired you.
A small cemetery deep in the woods of rural New York, where my oldest known relative is buried.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
The phrase “if you can’t get out of it, get into it.”


4) What drives you to do what you do?
A want/need to connect with people without words, in a more visceral way.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Patience, kindness, love, compassion - those would be great.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
I’ve learned everything I know from other people, although sometimes it’s hard to admit that. without people to share ideas with, I don't think it'd be possible for me to grow.


7) What is next for what you do?
To keep following threads, and staying afloat!

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"Archive" by Danny Clay is available now to download from Eliean Rec. If you like glitchy, organic ambient soundscapes then it is well worth checking out ... have a listen below:



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Seven questions with ... musician Nicola Fornasari aka Xu



When Mathias Van Eecloo contacted me to see if I would review the latest work on his Eliean Rec. label I jumped at the chance. The music coming from his wee label is truly on the cusp.

As part of our conversation I asked Van Eecloo if he'd speak to Nicola Fornasari aka Xu and Danny Clay to see if they'd be up for answering a few questions ... I am delighted to say they agreed.

Here is what Nicola Fornasari aka Xu had to say:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Nicola Fornasari, I was born in 1977 and I produce music using many aliases. Xu is my solo project (http://xu-substance.bandcamp.com), but I'm also part of the following projects:



2) What are you working on at the moment?
Eilean Rec. just released "Mountain meets Butterfly".

By the end of June the new Twyxu record will be available on Laverna (http://www.laverna.net). Actually the record is already finished but we are currently working on a teaser video.

As Xu(e) we're mixing some brand new songs for the "haiku" series on Subterranean Tide (http://www.subterraneantide.com).


3) Who inspires you? 
In everyday life, and not only from an artistic point of view, the answer is definitely my daughter Viola, who now is three year-old.

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
Despite my current musical style is quite different, I've always been inspired by Coil, in particular from their drone records, or even by Stars of the Lid.

Currently I find extremely challenging artists such as Steve Roden, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Machinefabriek, Wouter Van Veldhoven and Oren Ambarchi inspirational.

In addition, among the classics, it is impossible not to mention La Monte Young's Theatre of Eternal Music / Dream Syndicate.

- Name place that has inspired you.
I feel very in tune with the water element so I find the proximity to the sea very positive, both on my mood and from a creative perspective. The sea eternally speaks...

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
I find some eastern mysticism very close to what I intuitively feel about reality and about also the secret world inside of us, in particular Taoism and Buddhism. Art has often been influenced, not just aesthetically, by these concepts and therefore I find it normal that this happen even for me.


4) What drives you to do what you do? 
I have not ever asked myself why, but I think the main motivation is also the simplest: because I love music!


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Not cold and mathematical experimentation but a more spiritual and personal dimension.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
I'm not particularly involved in social networks and the people with whom I work are close friends and like-minded individual, so I'm led to think of them as a kind of sect and not so much as a community.

In the last period I have to admit though that I came in contact with beautiful people interested in my work such as Harry Towell who released an EP by La Petite Vague on his Audio Gourmet (http://www.audiogourmet.co.uk) and asked us to participate in the compilation "Earthtones vol. 2" on Tessellate Recordings (http://www.tessellate-recordings.com).

More recently I (virtually) met Mathias Van Eecloo who produced my CD "Butterfly meets Mountain" on his awesome label Eilean Rec. (http://www.eilean-records.com).

So in this respect I am extremely honored to be a part of this community and I hope that these collaborations are becoming more frequent and productive in the future!


7) What is next for what you do?
In recent months I've accumulated a lot of recordings of improvisations as Xu and I wish I had time to dedicate myself to the playback and mixing. Definitely in the pipeline there will be a new La Petite Vague record and perhaps a couple as Xu(e) soon.

In addition, we are also working on a third Twyxu record.

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What a busy person?! I am astounded that so much creative expression can come out of one person. Have a wee listen to  "Butterfly meets Mountain" on Eilean Rec. to get why I find this album so utterly fascinating ...



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Seven questions with ... Mathias Van Eecloo aka Monolyth & Cobalt



Mathias Van Eecloo aka Monolyth & Cobalt is a new inspiration to me. I have known and loved his music for a wee while now ... but it is through his Eliean Rec. label that he has touched me the most. It truly is, as his Bandcamp page says:
"...a sound map transcending our borderless world and the perception of sounds."
The music his wee label releases is exemplary ... it is probably one of the best organic, electroacoustic ambient music out there.

Eliean Rec. has two new releases out - Butterfly Meets Mountain by Xu - and - Archive by Danny Clay ... while I have been listening to these releases with the intention of writing about them in the near future, I thought I'd see what made Van Eecloo tick. This is what he had to say ... and note, Mathias' English is far better than my French:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
Linked to the music area, I was (and I'm) a music geek listeners in approximately all kind of sounds, except maybe house music and that kind of stuff.

Then, I begun in 2008 to play my own sounds on some electronic devices and all my instruments.
It was the first steps from my solo project Monolyth & Cobalt.

I learned by myself. It's certainly the reason about my prolific discography.

I try, I test, I experiment, then I record. that's all !

Actually, I try to be more discreet (it's not easy..) or at least to be more selective on what I propose or will propose in a near future..In parallel, I run a little independent label, at home, Eilean Rec. since April 2014, and I come back to my geek passion to listen and meet some people. not in real, sure, but it's stay really nice and good.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
- Eilean Rec. ;)
- try to be concise for this interview !
- and sure, a lot of thoughts in mind for some works in progress.
in solo, in some parallel solo projects, and in some collaborations too.
I like a lot to play with some other music artists. share and try.. and see what happens..


3) Who inspires you? 
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
Definitively not easy. a lot. some writers, some filmmakers, some artists and performers, some musicians… Ok. I try to be concise !!!

Writer : Henri Miller

Filmmaker : Gustav Deutsch

Artist : Joseph Beuys

Performer : Chris Burden

Musician : my favorites must be around 100 on some thousands. it's not a joke.

Ok, let's say these 5 first in my life some years ago, around my 18 years old. so 18 years ago.
it could be maybe like "my roots" which give me the desire to play  :
Oval, Tony Conrad with Faust (Outside the dream Syndicate), Zoviet France, Muslimgauze, and
Nurse With Wound (album : soliloquy for lilith)

- Name place that has inspired you.
not easy again. I loved to travel and I love to do it each years when my budget is not too low.
so, I love and try to go far away.

good for the mind, the heart and the feelings.

Asia is certainly the part of this world that I like the most. I went across over there several time. Indonesia too.

I will keep these 3 other places : 
- Glencoe in Scotland, when I saw it the first time of my life. each time I come back over there, I'm like at home in these mountains.

- Ihlara Valley in Turquia. certainly linked to the other place just above. I like horizons and vastness of the territories. it make people humble.

- A temple in Cambodia around 12 years ago. my first time in Asia. It was around the city of Battambang, it's certainly "Prasat Banon" Temple. It was really high, and I stayed some few hours alone. and I played finally with a Jew's Harp and some few Buddhists students were sitting near from me to listen. they were intrigated.. it was really nice and it's again today a strong memory for me.


- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
All elements. especially like I said huge territories. and the sea.
I live near the sea now since 3 years.
So, I'm near from my perfect condition to living peacefully.


4) What drives you to do what you do? 
My instinct is my best partner. so : improvisation.

Play, record and stop. then share.

Certainly one of the most grateful thing in every art expression.

Let the thing live by itself..


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Love. it seems stupid say like this. but it's not. I love to learn. I love to play. I love to share. I know myself in this way too. and I learn by the others too.

With time, words are boring and tiring for me. my words, the people words, my way of life has been changed when I moved from the big city (Paris) and today I like again to speak and communicate and all but finally we speak a lot for nothing (especially about art !!)

So, music is one of the nice way to communicate, like a lot of art expression - it don't' need to speak. it's already a language.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
A lot. although I said speaking is boring. I don't think really this. I'm finally a person who like to meet, share and create with people.

So a lot. but for example I always think that the social network are really not good for our minds but I spend some hours sometimes on it. I'm sure like a lot of us. It's necessary to find the good balance.
the balance between the loneliness and the sociability.

Social networks can be some possible nice bridges to built some projects and meet some people in music or art. but, then, it's necessary to move and work. if not, it's like a pollution for the creativity.


7) What is next for what you do?
I will go to sleep now. it is 4.40 am ;)

More clearly : stay focus because I'm always like hyperactive and I'm tired ! but it seems to be on the good way, near from my 40 years old in 4 years,I think I will stay a child but more calm.

Eilean Rec. for the 7 next years, if all go fine (yes, there is already the final date for the label..if all the project go to the 100 final releases) and monolyth & cobalt certainly more works on Ottö Solange, and some collaborations where I would love to take my time and give my best. I will try, and we will see.

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Over the next couple of days I will feature interviews with Xu and Danny Clay ... and showcase their respective albums. In the interim, please take a wee trip over to the Bandcamp page of Eliean Rec. and familiarise yourself with their awesomeness:

http://eileanrec.bandcamp.com

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Loving ... 'Pacific' by The Echelon Effect



When Dave Walters aka The Echelon Effect release a new album, I listen. I have grown to trust Walters' musical expression as something special & happily purchase what he has on offer, usually without listening first.

’Pacific’, his latest offering, is no different. I have obsessed over it and had it on repeat since I was given an advanced copy earlier in the week.

Whilst the sister album, ’Atlantic’, was in keeping with Walters' musical excellence, 'Pacific' is more. It's as if he’s taken his best and, against all the odds, made it better.

From the outset of ’Two Continents’ with its spoken-word poetry and deep, growling bass anyone familiar with The Echelon Effect will know they are in for a real treat, something that will exceed their already high expectations. The percussion, the driving almost-tribal percussion, adds an utterly breathtaking sense of urgency to this track that will stun newcomers and experienced fans alike.

From here, ’Pacific’ simply grows in post-rock flavoured eloquence.

’Visitors on the bow wave’ features a truly immersive backing built on backwards-percussive samples and a synth melody which underpins the complementary melody played on guitar & glockenspiel. It is a truly immersive wall-of-sound that seems to get deeper with each subsequent listen.

’North’ is an utter delight, exemplary track on an exemplary album. It builds gently with Walters trademark wall-of-sound: wailing guitar, keys, big beats, glockenspiel & the most delightful melody. This is The Echelon Effect as we know him & it put a massive smile on my face when I immersed myself in it’s ebb & flow, soft & loud ... lovely.

As is the remainder of the album. ’Pacific’ is a delight from start to finish ... 64 minutes of pure post-rock flavoured joy.

One track of note is the final track - ’Garden Highway’ - a 9 minute epic that could be used to describe both The Echelon Effect's sound and all that is brilliant, in my opinion, with the post-rock genre. It is a slow builder that just grows in both elegance & stature from its rather melancholic downtempo beginnings to something wonderfully cinematic and euphoric ... with anthemic vocals in the later half of the track. This is a sunriser track of truly epic proportions & a fitting close to what is an exemplary album.

Dave Walters has done it again. I cannot recommend ’Pacific’ highly enough and cannot wait to see what Walters has up his sleeve with his announcement that he's now working on The Echelon Effect 'live'.

- Tx


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

circumambient 018 ... for your listening pleasure



circumambient 018 ... (right click your mouse and choose "Save As" to download the Podcast)

"...celebrating the oceans of sound that surround us!"

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circumambient, my podcast, is an exploration into all-encompassing and immersive independent music. I've been lax in posting on here and thought I'd start again.

In this instalment we feature a number of musicians who have caught my attention recently - folks like Northcape, Eyes Cast Down, Chelytherium & Arche - along with a couple of artists on my own netlabel - William Spivey and Christopher Alvarado. We also feature some mesmerising field recordings from Sawako.

Please support the artists featured by buying their music and spreading the word.

Dive deep!

Tx

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or via iTunes ... please subscribe to catch all the episodes.

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Tracklisting
00:00:00 - Circumambient theme by Cousin Silas
00:00:42 - Field near the airport by sawako ... taken from "island light" - self-release
00:02:10 - As the morning breaks by A Day For Strange Birds ... taken from "the sound between the noise" - self-release
00:05:17 - Glasshouse by Northcape ...  taken from "Glasshouse"  - sunseasky
00:10:07 - Intercession by William Spivey ... taken from "Glimpse (waag_rel051)" - weareallghosts
00:17:28 - Radiant Perception by Eyes Cast Down ... taken from "Divinations" - self-release
00:26:48 - coming back  by sawako ... taken from "island light" - self-release
00:27:53 - Morning Mist / Sky Blue by Chelytherium ... taken from "Natural Light" - self-release
00:40:40 - Perpetual Motion by Christopher Alvarado ... taken from "Creation By Inertia (waag_rel052)" - weareallghosts
00:48:23 - Oort Cloud by Chronotope Project ... taken from from "Dharma Rain" - self-release
00:56:21 - Still by Arche ... taken from Projections - Invisible Agent
01:04:04 - Only Falling... Never Flying by Felixdroid  - previously unreleased
01:17:20 - rain flow  by sawako ... taken from "island light" - self-release

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Links



















Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Seven questions with ... musician and visual artist Craig Blackmoore



Craig Blackmoore makes powerful, innovative and evocative electronic music under his pseudonym Blackmoore5050.  I have only swam in the shallows of his music and intend on diving deep. I am, however, particularly fond of his drum 'n' bass-orintated album "Happy Accidents" ... it really works for me ... something different from my usual sounds.

Blackmoore recently answered my seven questions for creatives ... this is his response:

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1)Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Craig Blackmoore and I am an experimental electronic music producer, photographer, and visual artist from Detroit, Michigan. If I had to pick which one I am most passionate about, it would definitely have to be music production. I've been producing music since 2007.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
Music wise, I am working on 2 projects that will be released by Kaleidoscopic Label under my artist name Blackmoore5050.  Both are currently untitled. One project is an experimental psychedelic EP that tells a story and features some very interesting sound design and talented vocalists. The other project is an industrial electronic EP that features a more familiar electronic sound with a twist. It has heavy dubstep and glitch music that strays away from the commercial stuff.

In the visual art world I am working on a series called The Glitch Trials. It's an abstract series that focuses on the beauty of glitched images. The Glitch Trials is definitely something worth checking out and will be released very soon on my personal website cblackmoore.com.


3) Who inspires you? 
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
One musician that really inspires me is Amon Tobin. His music is so raw and creative. The sounds that he makes and manipulates take me away to amazing places. The musician ESKMO also inspires me in the same way.

-Name place that has inspired you.
My home city, Detroit, really inspires me. The suburbs around Detroit too! It's such an old and historical city that has so many beautiful elements. There's an international border, so many fresh, new, and hip places to explore, there's always an event going on, so many ruins and abandoned areas to explore, amazing street art done by artists from all over the planet, tons of music, so much culture, and so many people with stories!

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Old technology inspires me. Old televisions, vinyl records, cassette tapes, movies, cameras, trains, just about anything. It all makes me think perfect imperfection. It's like that technology was created to make life easier for people and it was perfect in it's prime! But today we can identify so many flaws in it. Vinyl records are too big, old TV's are too heavy and blurry, old cars aren't fast or safe enough.


4) What drives you to do what you do? 
I love to create things! It's my twist on life and reality. Art and music is a way for me to express myself and speak my mind freely. On a song I can say whatever I want and people will listen. I can express my emotions and feelings through sounds, frequencies, and melodies... and the listeners will feel it too. With visuals I can show the world what is beautiful, attractive, and ugly to me. They don't have to understand it, just experience it.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I would like to express that you are capable of doing just about whatever you want to do. You can be whoever you want to be. You can believe whatever you want to believe. Everyone lives in their own personal version of reality and you create your own reality.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
Community plays a big role in the creative world. I am always looking for other artists and musicians to work with, start projects with, perform with, anything. Music and art brings people together.


7) What is next for what you do?
I'm really not sure. I plan to keep creating and sharing and promoting. Hopefully it all pays off . I want to build a strong team for Kaleidoscopic Label and create something that really inspires and motivates people.

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Thanks Craig. I wish you well in your endeavours.

I've embedded "Happy Accidents" for your listening pleasure ... if it's your thing then please support Blackmoore by buying his music:


Monday, June 16, 2014

Seven questions with ... Stephen Johnston from MINIONTV and Wired to Follow



MINIONTV and Wired to Follow are two of my fave post rock bands ... and Stephen Johnston is in both of them. Whilst MINIONTV haven't released anything new since 2012*, Wired to Follow are following in their footsteps and currently putting out some seriously great EPs jam packed with cinematic post-rock soundscapes.

I am glad to have made Stephen's acquaintance and intend on supporting his music in any way I can ... including a wee interview on the ol' nanolog.

This is what he had to say:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Stephen Johnston and I make music in instrumental bands Wired to Follow and MINIONTV.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on the debut Wired to Follow album. It’s a long process but there might be a few remixes and special releases along the way.


3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
So many people inspire me but as I’m a pretty big David Bowie fan (I’m listening to Station to Station as I write) I’ll choose him. I suppose it’s his longevity and creativity; every move is conceptual.  His 'Berlin Trilogy’ are three of my favourite albums of all time.

- Name place that has inspired you.
I’ve always wanted to go to Japan but never had the chance to visit. There’s something about the way it juxtaposes nature with technology that really gets to me. We try and emulate that in Wired to Follow by marrying electronic with analogue sounds.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
For this I’ll pick my favourite film, Blade Runner. It’s the only film I’ll return to each year. The visuals, soundtrack, the morality tale; it’s all there and seems to get better with age.


4) What drives you to do what you do?
I literally couldn’t imagine what else I could do that'd make me as obsessive, passionate and desperate. I love the Fight Club quote "This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time" because it reminds me that life is a race and you have to fill it with things you’re proud of before you hit the end.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Music can still be an art form and conceptual, not just musical fast food.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
I used to run quite a few band nights which was great for digging into the social scene and putting on really cool bands. Through that and playing MINIONTV shows we were able to meet like-minded people which really helped spread the word.

Lately and especially in terms of Wired to Follow we’re a bit more reclusive and appreciate the disconnection as it's giving us a lot more focus.


7) What is next for what you do?
I think we’re going to get MINIONTV back together to play a couple of shows which will be a lot of fun. We’ve had a year out while people were having babies etc and I can’t wait to play live with those guys again.

After the Wired to Follow album is done we’re going to continue working on more releases.

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Thanks Stephen. I, for one, would love to hear MINIONTV live ... and can't wait for the Wired to Follow debut album after really enjoying EP 1 & 4 (will get 2 and 3 when payday comes).

I've attached the latest releases from MINIONTV and Wired to Follow for you to listen to. If they are your cup of tea then please support the bands by buying their music.

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* UPDATE ... I erroneously said MINIONTV last released music in 2010. I was talking nonsense, it was 2012 with 'The Last Projectionist'. Ooops. Sorry about that!

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Loving ... the Song Exploder podcast from Hrishikesh Hirway



I am an avid fan of Roman Mars' 99% Invisible design podcast and this week they featured another podcast - Hrishikesh Hirway's Song Exploder.

To say this is my kind of podcast would be an understatement!

I'll let the 'about' do the talking ...
"Song Exploder is produced and edited by me, Hrishikesh Hirway. Over the years, as a musician with my own project The One AM Radio, I’ve done remixes for other artists, and every time I would hear the isolated tracks for their songs, I found it fascinating. Inspired by that, along with a love of editing and stories about problem-solving and creativity, I decided to try and make this show.
Basically Hirway gets really cool musicians to talk about one of their tracks ... musicians from bands like The Postal Service (above), The Album Leaf, Garbage, and Poliça. He even gets Jeff Beal to discuss his theme to 'House of Cards' which is really cool.

Hirway asks the musicians to play each layer of the track and talk about what went into the making of it ... for The Album Leaf, for example, Jimmy LaValle takes apart “The Outer Banks” ... a song he recorded in Iceland with members of Sigur Ros ... and discusses the use of glockenspiel, violin, and Moog synth on the track. It is fascinating.



Song Exploder is now on my iPhone ... and I would heartily recommend you grab it too, especially if you are a musician or essentially a curious so and so like me.

Tx

http://songexploder.net

Seven questions with ... ambient musician David Gerard



I'll admit to being happily blown away by the response I've had to my 'seven questions' ... this wee interview has opened so many doors and introduced me to so many wonderful creatives.

Case in point is David Gerard, an ambient musician whose work I was not familiar with until I received an email from him. I did my due diligence and I really, really liked what I heard.

David's music is fascinating. He's been doing what he's been doing for thirty years and in that time he's learnt his craft ... and it shows. I hope to work with him in the near future on a retrospective mix of his work for 'circumambient' ... and there is also the possibility of a release on 'weareallghosts' too. He is someone I want to work with.

Here is what he had to say in response to my seven questions:

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1) Who are you and what do you do?
I am an ambient/electronic musician and composer, who has been recording since 1984. Wow - seeing that in print makes me feel really old (!) My first original composition was “A Piece Of The Desert” back in 1984. I performed it along with some other stuff at The Knitting Factory in NYC, where I was living at the time. I currently reside in Massachusetts, where I moved in 1992.

I did not begin commercially releasing material until 2004, surprisingly enough. Since then, I have recorded sixteen albums - fourteen as a solo artist, and two as part of an electronic ensemble called Elysium.

I am blessed to be a regularly featured artist on ambient/electronic stations on SomaFm internet radio, as well as having my compositions appear on labels ranging from Wayfarer Records to Sounds4Good Recordings.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
I am juggling three works-in-progress: one is a musical collaboration with my friend, guitarist Phil Wyman. We recently had our piece, “Before I Wake” included on the electronic compilation, “Album In A Day, Vol. 8” released by BFW Recordings (founded by ambient musician Brin Coleman); an ambitious series called “Music For Planetariums”, partly inspired by the legendary “Hearts Of Space” recordings.

I recently connected with musician/composer Kevin Braheny (who now goes by the name Kevin Braheny Fortune) - he had some nice things to say about “Braheny’s Comet”, a track I composed for Elysium's debut, “First Light” in 2007. As his work was always an inspiration to me, I felt gratified and affirmed by his praise; the third project is to remaster and release “At The Edge Of The Earth”, an album I recorded for Wayfarer Records, which was ultimately rejected. I think it is among some of my best work, and the positive thing that came out of being “dumped” by the label was it taught me a valuable lesson about being true to your artistic vision, even if some folks don’t seem to get what you’re doing.


3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
My “inspirations” (if that’s a word I am forced to use) are pretty varied. Two of my biggest inspirations might surprise you: John Cage and Jaco Pastorius.

I had been following Cage’s work for some time, and in the mid-80’s, I was fortunate enough to meet him at a concert which featured his work at NYC’s Town Hall. There was a reception afterwards, and I got the chance to talk to him at great length about what I was doing - being in the embryonic stage of my career, I had a lot of questions, and wanted the benefit of his wisdom. He was probably the first person I respected who reminded me that you cannot concern yourself with how your music is perceived or received by the folks who hear it - you need to be true to yourself.

That sentiment was similarly echoed by the legendary jazz bassist, Jaco Pastorius. I saw him in concert at the Tribeca Five And Dime around or about the same time. We had a discussion at the bar between sets, and we just connected on so many levels. During the course of our brief friendship (he died sadly in 1987, at the tender age of thirty-five) we talked a lot about the creative process - he affirmed to me that whether I was self-taught or a graduate of Julliard didn’t matter - what did matter was the passion and commitment I brought to making music.

Another artist, though not a direct influence on my work has been Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Co. Around the time of my third release, “Bremsstrahlung”, I was listening to Pandora and heard their piece “Ceres Motion” and was completely blown away. Later, learning their backstory (including being recognised as the very first electronic music ensemble), I was driven to reach out to group member David Borden. I sent him a couple of my CD’s, and asked humbly if he would give me some feedback. Not only did he really like the stuff I was composing/recording, he told me many of my pieces reminded him of the early work that he and fellow musicians Linda Fisher and Steve Drews had done in Bob Moog’s legendary recording studio in Trumansburg, NY. That was just weird - I had never heard their music until 2006, yet my work reminded him of theirs? It took awhile for that to sink in. Since then, I have become very good friends with him and Steve Drews, who wrote the liner notes for my 2009 CD, “Rubaiyat” - that title was a riff on Tangerine Dream’s 1975 album, “Rubycon” - those guys are an admitted influence.

Other influences range from Eberhard Shoener and Jean Michel Jarre to Bill Nelson, David Sylvian and Keith Jarrett.


4) What drives you to do what you do?
In the beginning, I was driven by a health scare in 1994 - I was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and given eighteen months to live. After the shock of that ebbed, I realized on a visceral level that time is a precious gift - I began asking myself, “What will my legacy be?” That is when I returned to my music, and made a serious commitment to put it out there in the world - I had stopped pursuing my passion for some time, and was worried I could not revive that creative urge. Thankfully, a friend gave me the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. Usually, I find such self-help / spiritually informed books a little too new-agey for my sensibilities, but at that point, I felt I had nothing to lose. In the end, “The Artist’s Way” allowed me to jump back into composing/recording, and help dissolve my apprehensions.

I also began reading “Spontaneous Healing” by Dr. Andrew Weil. I made some serious dietary and life changes, and turned my health around. While I do have some minor issues, I am in good health and thankful for the second chance.

These days, I am less “driven” to record as I am motivated - I don’t approach my work with any less passion, however. Music is my gift, my calling, and my legacy. And I still continue to be amazed when I birth a particular piece of music - part of me says, “Gee, fourteen albums later, and you haven't run out of things to say?" I know that I am a conduit for whatever unseen forces are working through me, and have learned the art of getting out of my own way.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
That’s a tough one to answer. I honestly don’t think I want my creative process to necessarily reflect any “values” per se: what I hope is that the expression of my creativity either inspires or transforms people when they listen to it. I have been told by many holistic practitioners that they use my music to provide ambience for massage, acupuncture and the like, and I am honoured by that. I would also hope that my story serves as an inspiration that it is never, ever too late to express your own creativity, and I would impress upon everyone to find that one thing you are passionate about, and pursue it for it’s own sake - most likely you will find a way to make it profitable, but that is not the end goal. Boy - it’s taken me awhile to get that, but now I do.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
I am very supported and affirmed by the ambient/electronic community I have become friends with: David Borden and Steve Drews, Michael Brückner, Kevin Braheny Fortune, Scott Solter, Boreal Taiga, Jonathan D. Haskell, Klaus Schulze, Brin Coleman, Jack Hertz, Cousin Silas, Win Bent, Daniel Prendiville, Robert Scott Thomson, Holland Holmes, Gareth Whittock, Jack Robertson, Wiliam Edge, etc.....far too many to mention them all. As a community, we share ideas, music, philosophies, techniques, etc. David Borden, for instance, turned me onto Ableton Live - every recording from “Moog Opus No. 1” onward has utilized Live to a large extent - frankly, I credit Ableton Live for allowing me to be as prolific as I’ve become in terms of recording, producing, and releasing my work. That’s just one example of how the ambient family I have created for myself has enriched and inspired me.


7) What is next for what you do?
Recording, releasing new material, doing some concerts, and finally releasing a fourth anthology of my poetry. Though I am reminded of John Lennon’s famous line (from “Beautiful Boy”):

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” 

Regardless of what I do or where I go,I try practicing being centered in the present moment- I haven’t exactly mastered that yet, but it is always dancing in my subconscious. Actually, the times that I achieve that unequivocally are when I sit down to write a piece of music. I am totally in that moment, and immersed in what I’m doing. That’s when I know with absolute certainty what I was put on this Earth to do.

----------

Thanks David! I really do hope we can work together in the future.

David has a Bandcamp page that needs your attention - I've embedded a track for you to have a wee listen. I would ask that you check out his music and, if it's your thing, please support him in his endeavours.




David is also on iTunes - http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/david-gerard/id115224359 - and SoundCloud - http://soundcloud.com/ambientism ... check him out.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Seven questions with ... artist Sheleah Nahshon



As mentioned in my earlier post ... I am really taken with Sheleah Nahshon's artwork. Whilst talking with her I asked if she'd like to answer a few questions, seven in fact ... I'm delighted to say she agreed.

This is what Sheleah had to say:

----------

1) Who are you and what do you do? 
I am Sheleah Nahshon... I am  playful creative explorer who plays within the realms of photographic and digital art, sound and crystals... and my great love is being a mother to our son Phoenix.


2) What are you working on at the moment? 
I am working on a deck of cards which can be used for inspiration contemplation and reflection they are fractal based in there designs... I am organizing a gathering called "Awaken the Global Heart" which will be a day of community gathering together in a space of love sharing and celebration..And I am collaborating with my beautiful partner Simon (Symatic Star) and Christopher Alvarado on an album plus various other albums with Simon.


3) Who inspires you? 
I am inspired by anyone who is true to themselves... I love Rumi's divine poetry, Terence Mckenna's inter dimensional perspectives, Ani Choying Drolma's compassionate heart and voice... so many awesome beings!!! like my beautiful family: Simon has being a very empowering influence inspiring me to stay true to my passionate heart and express myself fearlessly... and our son Phoenix inspires wonder and curiosity about all of life mysteries... he is pure joy!!!


4) What drives you to do what you do?
I can't help myself it's my nature I have a creative temperament... I have to create... It's my flow state meditation with creation.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
An open mind and heart; harmony, love and joy; dance with life in the sea of unlimited possibilities.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
I envision that through the creations of sound and image a sense of interconnection with the mystery of life is inspired and experienced.


7) What is next for what you do?
Looping. Comparable to layering imagery I love looping for similar reasons, you get into a flow state trance with layering soundscapes...I will be looping drones of my crystal and Tibetan bowls with voice.

----------



Thanks Sheleah ... keep creating amazing pieces of art like your recent cover for Christopher Alvarado's album - Creation By Inertia (waag_rel052).

- Tx

Loving ... the artwork of Sheleah Nahshon



As the saying goes:
"When life gives you lemons ... make lemonade."
Friends of my netlabel - weareallghosts - may recognise the name Sheleah Nahshon. She was responsible for the artwork on our latest release from Christopher Alvarado - "Creation by Inertia (waag_rel052)" (see above).

When creating the back cover artwork I managed to spell Nahshon's name wrong and had an early morning panic attack following the release as I sought to rectify my mistake. To be fair, both Nahshon and her partner Simon Walsh were absolute gems about my error.

What came of my mistake was a new found acquaintance in Nahshon. She's a cool lass who creates some really lovely artwork that I wanted to feature on here:



"Knowing"



"Anja"



"Star Seeds"

I find Nahshon's work intriguing ... it has an initial 'wow factor' that stops you in your tracks which is followed by an intricacy that has me gazing in wonder.



Galaxy Cluster Abell 520 (HST-CFHT-CXO Composite)



Galaxy NGC 1512 in Visible Light

When you compare Nahshon's work to some of the photos obtained by the Hubble Telescope then you see where I am coming from.

There is an otherworldly nature to Nahshon's work that just gets me every time.

I hope to work with her again ... and, if I do, I promise to get her name right.

-Tx

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gilles Peterson on Mr Porter



One of my fave DJs - Gilles Peterson - is featured in a video over on Mr Porter. In the video he talks about his love of vinyl and his record collection.
The "physicality, ownership and artwork" of records inspires the Swiss-French producer - who is fresh from completing his latest album in Brazil - to offer hefty sums for certain gems, such as the £1,000 he's prepared to pay for Mr José Prates' Tam Tam Tam! (and may yet ask Polydor to reissue). As he shows us around his collection, he digs out a Sun Ra sleeve and describes it as a "Matisse". Another - a record made especially for Pope Jean Paul II - "should be in a bank".
Enjoy. Tx

http://www.mrporter.com/journal/journal_issue169/2


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Seven questions with ... Michael Duane Ferrell aka musician Elian



It is a small world. You don't need to be Kevin Bacon to be connected. It turns out that Emily Loren Moss Ferrell, founder of the Subterranean Tide netlabel, is married to the musician Elian aka Michael Duane Ferrell. I don't know any other husband and wife 'teams' in the experimental . ambient community and, being familiar with Elian's music, I took the opportunity and asked if Emily would put in a good word for me ... I'm glad to say she did ... and this is what Michael had to say:

----------

1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Michael Duane Ferrell and I record music under the moniker Elian.  I’ve released music for Home Normal, Rural Colours, Richmond Tape Club & some others in the past.  You can stay up to date with my work here:  http://elianmusic.wordpress.com/


2) What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m composing material for a new solo album that I hope to put out after the New Year.  I also have a follow up album coming out on Home Normal later this year, hopefully in October.


3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
I’d have to say Ingmar Bergman.  The psychological and surreal natures of his films, as well as their visual and poetic beauty have always been a huge source of inspiration.

- Name place that has inspired you.
As a child, I always loved visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  My family and I now take yearly vacations there in the Summer time.  It always takes me back to childhood.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’.  I first saw it as a kid and hands down, this film influenced me as an artist more than anything else I can think of.  Mostly it was the haunting score and all that great Ligeti – it shaped my taste for “dark” music at an early age and it’s something that’s always with me.


4) What drives you to do what you do?
Nothing more than a need to be expressive on a personal level.  I’ve always been able to accomplish that with sound better than any other medium.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
The value and importance of individuality.  The value of looking beneath the surface and discovering a world you didn’t know existed.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
I’ve started to realize how the local community is as important as the global, so I’m trying to be more active in the local music scene here in Richmond, Virginia.  The global community is typically only accessible to me online and I hate being on the computer, so I tend to be very bad at global networking.  Having said that, I believe it’s important to be active in whatever community that fosters your voice, so I’m trying hard to be better at this.


7) What is next for what you do?
Hopefully, continue to make and release music that I feel good about while continuing to explore the endless possibilities of sound.  Thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak with you.

----------

Thank you Michael. I totally agree with your sentiment about the local community and wish you well with your new albums.

I've embedded two of Elian's releases - on Home Normal and Rural Colours - please do what you can to support Elian's work.

- Tx






McDonald`s GOL! FIFA World Cup Brasil 2014



My thanks to Johnny Laird for the heads-up to this video ... it is sooooo much fun and while it is an advert it does convey something of the fun and joy of the beautiful game.

I am looking forward to the World Cup and especially I am looking forward to watching the games with a few friends.

-Tx

Monday, June 09, 2014

How to Tie a Bow Tie with Jesse Tyler Ferguson



I really fancy wearing a bow tie at work (when I *finally* get back to work) and was looking into how to tie them on YouTube.

When Wil Wheaton says this is ...
"the very best How To Tie A Bow Tie video I've seen on the Internet, and I've watched a lot of them"
... I listen.

I love Jesse Tyler Ferguson from "Modern Family" and found this video up to his usual hilarious standard. It also has a message.

Enjoy.

- Tx

Seven questions with ... experimental musician Utu Lautturi



I recently received an email from Utu Lautturi from Finland ... a self-confessed 'newcomer' to ambient / experimental music ... offering his music to me for my ambient music podcast circumambient. He had listened to the mixes uploaded, enjoyed them and wanted to be a part.

To say I was flattered was, well, an understatement. Lautturi has an EP on the Greek netlabel Etched Traumas and has actively contributed mixes to a number of sites (SoundCloud). He is my kind of creator.

As is my way, I asked him to answer my wee blog interview ... and I'm delighted to say he agreed. This is what he had to say:

----------

1) Who are you and what do you do?
In universal terms I'm a magnesium flare in a hostile universe, trying to make the most of my miniscule place and time in the shared sun.

In mundane terms I am Utu Lautturi from Finland, a newcomer in the field ambient/experimental scene. I'm a single, MGTOW - father of three beautiful children and have a day job as a primary school teacher / youth worker.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on my debut full-length album Nielu, which will be released through Pale Noir later this year.


3) Who inspires you?
Whoa, inspiration comes from such a wide spectrum of stimuli, art and life in general.

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
If I'm forced to name one artist I feel overwhelmingly inspired by at the moment, music-wise it has to be Phil Elverum (The Microphones, Mount Eerie). The depth of emotional currents in his music are absolutely awe-inspiring. But as a visual artist I feel compelled to mention Zdzislaw Beksinski. His evocative visions are constantly looming in the root of my consciousness.

- Name place that has inspired you.
I am inspired by any large natural area unspoiled by humans but my soul has two homes, one atop a high cliff by a small lake in Nuuksio, Espoo (Finland) and the other by the raging rapids at the foothills of The Alps in Le Tardoun (France).

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
I'm going to interpret "thing" quite freely now. One thing that has a huge effect on every aspect of my life is the devastating picture of the future of humanity in regard to a warming climate, the annihilation of natural habitats and the indifference of people to REALLY act upon it. No one really knows what will happen in the next century but if we, the high-end consumers of industrialized nations, continue on our path of leeching off the biosphere it's quite safe to assume there will be more wide-spread suffering and distress than at any previous era in history. I know, life is now, and I am incredibly privileged to have won the lottery being born in Finland, and I'm enjoying it to the max - but at the same time I try to raise consciousness of things that matter to me wherever and whenever I can.


4) What drives you to do what you do?
I have quite a bit of mental issues because of my neurological composition, history and the choices I've made (not a good idea to start heavy psychoactive substance abuse at a young age, haha). So in essence, music and visual arts have always been a natural means to stop serious self-harming, to confront and/or escape my problems as well as a way to keep some degree of sanity that will allow me the freedom I value. I've dipped into the world of a mental institution and it's the last place I ever want to end up again. Of course I love beauty and exploration as well so it's probably a combination of necessity and adventure. But I certainly never thought anyone would be interested in what I do!


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Deep question, man...what values? What do I value? I value freedom of expression, breaking the rules and attentive creativity. I value explosive tidal waves of emotion set against a serene, meditative environment. Solace in the extremes. Then there's my all-encompassing love of nature and it's dynamics...hard to say, though. I really never put that much thought into what I want to express. It's more a question of how the need to express becomes satisfied.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
I've played and performed in several bands so it's always been important for me to share the musical experience. After most of my band projects ended I was stranded for a while but then found some awesome artists through the internet. Regarding my solo music community plays a HUGE role. The different DIY circles gathered through and on the internet are very important to me. I've discovered such a wealth of amazing artists and visionaries through places like SoundCloud, Ambient Online, Relaxed Machinery and a host of blogs, tumblrs and whatnot. It is rewarding to share thoughts, comments, opinions and techniques. Most people I have contact with are doing music for music's sake and not for fame, money or anything like that. I think the fact I've been part in producing more than 20 collaborative tracks with 14 artists from around the globe in the past year alone speaks for itself. I deeply offer thanks and praise to all those who've shared this path with me. It's all very creative with no pressure. I can assure you, without the support of these communities I would not have been able to continue producing music and, well to be honest, keep on living.


7) What is next for what you do?
Next I'm leaving to a forest festival here in Finland where I'll take part in a Shibari performance.

----------

Thanks Utu for your candour ... it is appreciated.

Korpinkorva by Utu Lautturi is embedded below for your listening pleasure. All musical and vocal arrangements are by Utu Lautturi with acoustic guitar improvisation on 'Kevään syö veri' by Antti Silventoinen and spoken word on 'Näin lähden' by Jaakko Huotari. It is an eerily dark and dissonant journey but one that ultimately rewards listeners.



Saturday, June 07, 2014

Seven questions with ... ambient musician Craig Miller aka Chelytherium



Word-of-mouth is a wonderful thing ... connections are made through conversation ... shared interests are identified and supported. We are all stronger together rather than alone.

Ambient musician Craig Miller aka Chelytherium contacted me after speaking with Andy from A Day For Strange Birds ... he thought we should connect and I am so grateful to Andy that he did. Miller's music is my kind of ambient and I look forward to featuring his music on circumambient and here on the ol' nanolog in the near future.

Anyway, as is my want these days, I asked Miller if he'd like to answer a few questions ... I'm glad he said 'yes'.

----------

1) Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Craig Miller, I make ambient/experimental/drone music as Chelytherium.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
Mostly I'm working on promoting the new album, and looking for more gig opportunities. And as ever, I've got a few demos of songs that I'm working on. I'm also in a couple of other bands, writing very different styles of music.


3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
Whenever I hear new music that I enjoy, without even thinking about it I'll try to learn from it, and find techniques and ideas that I can apply in my own ways. Quite a recent major inspiration for me is Tim Hecker. The way his music feels quite formless, and expansive, and the way different layers drift over one another has been a big influence on some of the sounds I've made with Chelytherium.


- Name place that has inspired you.
The area I live in has some beautiful scenery, and wooded areas, that always manage to get my creativity going. Also taking trips to Scotland, and visiting the Peak District, and seeing the scenery in those places gave me plenty of ideas. Being in nature in general has been a big influence on the album, which I guess is obvious given some of the titles.


- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Travel always seems to inspire me, whether it's just going for a walk, or a drive, or a long train journey. It gives you time to let your mind wander, and get glimpses of different places.


4) What drives you to do what you do?
Initially, it was just wanting to try something new, to play the guitar in different ways, and to do music entirely by myself just as a learning experience. Then when I was going through tough times, I got into ambient music, and wanted to play songs that would calm me down, get out some emotion, and take my mind somewhere else. Since then, I've loved making this style of music, and I love seeing where the inspiration for a song will come from.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
I don't tend to have any sort of underlying message I'm trying to convey, but I do hope that people can take different things away from my music and apply it to their own experiences. It always seems to come from the simplest idea or emotion, and then take on a life of its own.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
I'm actually really impressed, and really grateful, that I've found a community of musicians that are willing to offer advice and help each other out. It's inspiring to follow their work and see them trying out new ideas, and to be able to chat to musicians with a bit more experience than yourself. I hope I can return the favour at some point.


7) What is next for what you do?
Ideally, playing live a lot more. Continuing to write, and take my music in new directions. I've already got some ideas for another thematic collection of songs, so I'll be working on those.

----------

Thanks Craig!

'Natural Light' is the debut album from Chelytherium and is based on the theme of peacefulness and power found in nature. It features five utterly compelling soundscapes and is recommended for all ambient lovers. Have a listen below:


Friday, June 06, 2014

Levi's Commuter videos by Instrument



I found these videos for Levi's Commuter while browsing through the work of Instrument, an independent digital creative agency in Portland, Oregon.

I really like the Levi's Commuter product and found these videos ... which are, in essence, adverts for the product ... utterly fascinating.

They are short, snappy, to-the-point and portray an alternative aspirational lifestyle.

Enjoy

- Tx







For more ... http://weareinstrument.com/work/featured/commuter-2013

Unusual Spaces from PBS Digital Studios



I am currently off work with my second 'secondary infection' resulting from catching whooping cough in December. Currently my movement is restricted due to narrowed airways and asthma-like symptoms ... which means I've been doing a lot of sitting about.

I hate just sitting about. I hate being unproductive ... and whilst I've been reading and listening to music ... I've also been gorging myself on documentaries, travel shows and cookery programmes.

One documentary series that I've enjoyed is from PBS Digital Studios and is entitled 'Unusual Spaces'. It is only 2 episodes deep ... but it is fab.

The first episode looks at the transformation of the Berlin-Tempelhof Airport in Berlin ...


Berlin-Tempelhof: The Mother of All Airports from PBS Digital Studios on Vimeo.

... and the second looks at the movement to reuse an abandoned rail tunnel in Philadelphia and create a public space similar in concept to the High Line in NYC...


The Abandoned Railway below Philadelphia - UNUSUAL SPACES no. 2 from PBS Digital Studios on Vimeo.

I really love these ideas and hope they become a reality. Berlin and Philadelphia are two places I want to visit with Olly. I've been to Philly and would love to take her there. I've never been to Berlin but do think it looks amazing.

One day.

Tx

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Loving ... "Dharma Rain" by Chronotope Project



I am a huge fan of Jeffrey Ericson Allen - the Oregonian composer, cellist and electronic music recording artist who works under the name of Chronotope Project.

His particular blend of progressive ambient music is a real delight to me and I've taken a real shine to his latest album - Dharma Rain. It features three longer-form tracks that have an Eastern feel to them.

The first track - Dancing Wu Li Masters - conjures up exactly that: Dancing Masters. The backing music is wonderfully rich, heady and percussive; it swirls in the conscious and provides a suitable setting for the main melody - a haunting, lilting, almost melancholic melody that I find both poignant and uplifting. The piece is interspersed with small symbols and has a decidedly Eastern feel which is both familiar and otherworldly. I loved this track from the moment I immersed myself in it. It is exceptional.

The second track - Oort Cloud - is more of a 'traditional' ambient soundscape. It is atmospheric and deeply contemplative. It builds over it's 8 minute duration with the addition of sequenced electronics, a subtle melody and the gentle suggestion of an acoustic guitar. This is the Chronotope Project I have come to know and love, and this track is a welcome addition to their canon of work.

The third and final track, and title track - Dharma Rain - is the longest of the three tracks, sitting nicely at just over 18 minutes in duration. There is an impression of moving water at the start of this piece ... it is part of the backing soundscape that underpins the most delicious of melancholic melodies, played on a synth but could have easily been played on a clarinet. Further sequenced electronics and percussion appear to further broaden the sound and add to the already rich wall-of-sound created by Allen. This is a truly immersive track that benefits from a pair of good headphones

I found Dharma Rain by Chronotope Project to be joyful and relaxing, exuberant and contemplative, hedonistic and introspective. Most of all is it an utter delight to consume ... and comes highly recommended.

Have a listen below and, if you can, please support Allen in his musical endeavours:



Seven questions with ... Allister Thompson from The Gateless Gate and Make Your Own Taste



I am proud to be part of a community of creatives who create content and support each other in their endeavours. Allister Thompson from Make Your Own Taste has been wonderfully supportive of my netlabel - weareallghosts - and I, in turn, have been very impressed by his Gateless Gate project.

I was delighted when Thompson responded to a recent request for creatives to answer my wee blog interview. This is what he had to say:

----------

1) Who are you and what do you do?
Allister Thompson from Toronto, Canada. I make music as The Gateless Gate (www.thegatelessgate.net) and write about music as Make Your Own Taste (www.makeyourowntaste.wordpress.com). By day I edit books, mainly fiction. I was a solo musical act, but I sometimes now have a piano-playing partner.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
Three releases:
A lengthy ambient concept album about Siberia (just finished and hoping to put out soon, possibly even with a label if I can strong-arm one). It evokes the landscapes of this giant, remote place, hopefully.
An EP based around a cover version of a song by Australian psych band The Church.
And an archival release of progressive rock songs I recorded under my own name when I was younger.  I also squirrel away at that blog, where I review and blab about whatever music tickles my fancy.


3) Who inspires you? 
Mainly my spouse, which sounds cheesy, but I aspire to be as nice and patient overall as her. Oh, and Mum.

- Name an artist who has inspired you.
Florian Fricke of Popol Vuh. He made beautiful secular spiritual music that uplifts the soul. I listen to Popol Vuh every few days at least. Tied with Steve Kilbey of the aforementioned Church. Still making groovy, interesting music after decades of greatness. We should all be so fortunate.

- Name a place that has inspired you.
A place I’ve never been: Central Asia. There’s just something so wild and mysterious about those crazy extreme landscapes and the history and the remoteness. I’d give up a important organ to go there. It even inspired my first pseudo-ambient album, Xinjiang.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Zen Buddhism. I wouldn’t describe myself as a dedicated “seeker” per se, but I think a lot (a lot!) and read a lot, and when I started reading intensively about Zen, it seemed to confirm most of what I already intuitively felt about reality and the meaning of our lives. Since then I’ve been a practitioner as devotedly as I can be.


4) What drives you to do what you do? 
The music is about just creating as much beauty as possible before I expire, and there’s nothing like finishing a piece, sitting back and realizing ‘Hey, I made that!’ Also, it’s true that you make the music you want to hear. I think of a kind of album that would be cool to me, then I go make it! If no one agrees or listens, so be it.

I write because there are so many deserving musicians who need a leg up. The online music world is now very crowded, as I’ve discovered when trying to promote my own work, and it’s very hard to get coverage. I’d like to think I help a little in that regard via the blog. Most musicians are very grateful for my efforts, except for the fairly successful ones, who usually ignore them.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
The beauty, tragedy, preciousness, and mystery of existence as a sentient being on this weird planet! Also that the mellotron is humanity’s greatest invention, after pizza.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
It didn’t play any role until I started the blog and started conversing with other writers and musicians, via Twitter, mainly. Before that I was a lone wolf with (lack of) success to match… While it sometimes depresses me to see how many talented people are trying to get their music heard and not having much success, it heartens me that a lot of us out there are supporting each other.


7) What is next for what you do?
Well, I wouldn’t mind a label for that Siberia-themed album! It’s pretty good, folks. But after clearing my decks, the next big things are my first album in years of songs with lyrics, which my wife and I will co-write. Sort of ambient pop. And my sister plays the harp well, so a harp-based ambient album is in the works. Then I may just implode.

----------

Thanks Allister!

I've embedded his Gateless Gates albums below for your listening pleasure ... please support him as best you can:










Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Seven questions with ... Snoqualmie Falls (Alicia Merz & Jeff Stonehouse)



I connected with Jeff Stonehouse recently after I spoke about Snoqualmie Falls' initial release ... we conversed on twitter and, me being me, I asked if he'd be up for answering a few questions. He went one better and spoke with his musical compadre, Alicia Merz, and they answered the questions together.

This is what they had to say ...

----------

1) Who are you and what do you do?
We are Snoqualmie Falls. We are based at opposite ends of the world and we make music that fills that space.


2) What are you working on at the moment?
We are working on our second album, which will be in a more conventional format than 'Dream Sequence' in that it will be comprised of a number of separate pieces as opposed to the long form. In a few months we will be releasing a 3 track, 10" EP on the Oscarson label.


3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
We come from different musical backgrounds, so it is difficult to think of one artist that inspires us both. But I guess Arvo Part would fall into that category. Basinski too.

- Name place that has inspired you.
Ngarunui Beach in New Zealand.

- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
The full moon in the star filled skies.

Our music is sometimes inspired by dreams, sometimes by life experiences, both happy and sad, but mostly by the natural world and the Universe we exist in. The chirping of cicadas in Tequesquitengo, the call of the Tui by the Waikato River, the rolling hills of the South Downs and the sound of rain in a forest.


4) What drives you to do what you do?
We love what we do. I guess that is what drives us.


5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
We just hope that people that hear our music are nourished by it, and take something positive from the experience.


6) What role does community play in what you do?
None really. Apart from the few lovely people that have helped and supported us along the way, we tend to work in isolation.


7) What is next for what you do?
We just want to carry on working together to try and bring a little more light and beauty into the world.

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Thank you both for your considered responses!

This is what I say about "Dream Sequence":
All in, "Dream Sequence" by Snoqualmie Falls is a soundscape that needs to be experienced as much as heard ... it needs to be felt ... and, given time and patience, it will reward those who experience it. It has rewarded me.
I highly recommend it ... especially for ambient fan who love their music longform. Have a listen below:


Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Loving ... the classic rock vibe of “if we never came down” by mylittlebrother


Every year my family go on a road trip. We’ve been holidaying in the UK for the last few years and tend to drive to where we are staying. We like to get out and about, and see the place we are staying in. Later this month we are off to Manchester and Liverpool ... and I cannot wait.

One ritual we have, as a family, is to get a CD from a charityshop and blast it during the trip. Previous CDs have included The Proclaimers and Duran Duran ... we also had a disco compilation for a trip to Fort William. The Circus by Take That, which wasn't from a charityshop, was also a fun sing-a-long album for a journey to Yorkshire.

I like The Circus’ classic rock vibe. It has bluesy, easy listening sound that has a broad appeal ... it's not too heavy and tends to have a sing-a-long vibe that helps with these long car journeys.

Other albums that come to mind that fit this criteria include “Free the Bees” by The Bees, the self-titled album by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Far” by Regina Spektor, and the seminal “Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys (which soundtracked a visit to Paris and her surrounding area a few years back).

I now have another album to add to this collection - “if we never came down” by mylittlebrother - self-released in April. I have a feeling this will be on the stereo when we visit Manchester & Liverpool (along with The Beatles, of course).

With “if we never came down”, mylittlebrother has captured the essence of good-time, sing-a-long, easy listening rock. It is a jaunty and delightfully upbeat journey with gentle acoustic moments such as the poignant “over the hill” and "paintwork" interspersed to provide additional colour.

Highlights include “my hypocritical friend” with it’s classic guitar vibe and immersive storytelling that draws you in, eventually leaving you wanting ... in a good way. The track has a reprise that is truly fab with really good vocal harmonies. I also loved “ if we never came down” with it’s fuzzy guitar and a chorus that would make The Bees proud ... or the instrumental “Slow Dance” that has a great Beach Boys vibe to it.

All in, I found “if we never came down” by mylittlebrother to be an utter delight. Yes it is not my usual fare but that makes it all the more special ... think of it as ginger to cleanse my palate from all the ambient, neo-classical and post-rock soundscapes I consume.

I guess the test will be when I introduce this album to my family on our upcoming road trip. I have a good feeling it will be elevated to truly ’classic’ status then.

Highly recommended. Have a listen below and, if you can, please support mylittlebrother by buying the album:



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