2012: A Musical retrospective

Before I started the list of things I’d done in 2012, it felt like a year of not much happening… I mean, I’d put out three new albums, but all three of them were actually recorded in 2010 and 2011, so only the mixing and mastering took place this year (actually, given that Believe In Peace was released on January 1st 2012, all the work on that, even uploading it to Bandcamp, happened in 2011!)

But the list looked a little more impressive. So here it is, by month:

January – as I said, Believe In Peace came out on Jan 1st, to an amazing reception. Given that it was a free improv from a gig in an art gallery, I half expected it to be a bit ‘marginal’ in terms of my ongoing catalogue of work, but it’s become many people’s favourite album of mine, and is certainly one of my own favourites. Half of the album got played on Late Junction by the amazing and lovely Fiona Talkington, and it had some v. favourable reviews.

January continued with a trip out to California for NAMM and a v. busy lil’ house concert schedule, including shows with Julie Slick, Michael Manring and Daniel Berkman. All the shows were recorded, and the ones with Daniel Berkman will be released VERY soon, with the Michael Manring one later in 2013…

February’s high point was a lovely time at the London Bass Guitar Show, doing a masterclass/performance, recording a couple of videos with Dave Marks, and putting my brand new Markbass amps through their paces. I even managed two gigs in one day, playing at the bass show in the morning, then racing up the M1 for a duo gig with Otto Fischer in Derby in the evening!

March saw my laptop get stolen, and with it went the recording of the gig with Otto (…I could’ve released four albums this year!) – the outpouring of support the followed the loss of the laptop was amazing (my headphones were also lost and not covered on the insurance, and were replaced by friends on twitter within an hour of me announcing they’d been stolen!)

April saw the launch of one of my favourite ever music projects – Torycore. Along with Lucy and Chris, we put together an avante garde extreme/sludge metal rendition of George Osborne’s horribly toxic budget speech – an experiment in matching the malevolence of the words with a suitable soundtrack. It was epic, scary, horrible and cathartic, and hailed by the people who saw it as a “v. important thing”…

May was the month when I FINALLY relaunched Beyond Bass Camp in Birmingham, which was then repeated at irregular intervals throughout the rest of the year. More of that to come in 2013! I also found time to remaster and re-release 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything – since I’d released the album a year earlier, my ‘skills’ as a mastering engineer had improved a heck of a lot (after this, I managed to do Iain Shepherd’s online mastering course and learned even more!) so I redid it and put it up again…

June included a really enjoyable house concert in Redcar, in the North of England. The lovely host happened to be a videographer, so I was able to make a little demo video of my Markbass amps there too.

In July, Torycore played Latitude – our noisy, angry sludge in a theatre tent, and apparently the local Tory MP showed up while we were playing. Score! It was also the month when I tried a new format for Beyond Bass Camp, doing a looping-centric class for any instrument. It was a real success, and I hope to do it again soon.

August means Edinburgh, and even though I was up there with the British Council for an unrelated job, I had time to fit in a  Torycore house concert, for which we won the Arches Brick Award (which means gigs in Glasgow in 2013!) Lobelia played a storming set at Greenbelt, which I guested on.

September was a busy month, which featured a couple of gigs opening for Dave Bainbridge & Martin Nolan from the band Iona – we played some trio improv material on each of the gigs:

I was invited to speak at a Euro/Arab music conference in Cyprus, which was a real privilege and a great chance to meet and swap ideas with some incredible musicians from all over Europe and the Arab world.

September also saw the long awaited release of my (first) album with Mike Outram, Invenzioni – I’m SO proud of this album, and was really glad at how well it was received.

October – was a lot quieter, but I did manage to fit in a two-day weekend Beyond Bass Camp course that was a big success. Also, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of its release (and the Level 42 tour I was on at the time), I remastered and reissued Not Dancing For Chicken.

November was knee-deep in music college masterclasses, which makes me very happy – it’s such a privilege to get to share ideas and some inspiration with music students, this time mainly at the British Academy Of New Music and various branches of the Academy Of Music And Sound. My other talk during the month was for the UKTI at a music industries day, on a panel on alternative models for artistic careers, and a bit of a Q&A… Finally, as a bit of surprise to me and everyone else, I released an album of music with Andy Williamson called Nothing Can Prepare – released to raise money for Andy and I to play some gigs next year, which we did, so that’s good! Oh, and Lobelia and I finally played our first proper Birmingham gig, 15 months after moving here, at Tower Of Song.

And we’re into December, which, like the other gaps in the year, was full of non-music work, with the British Council (I’ll blog about all of that at some point soon, cos it’s been a really interesting year of non-musicky-stuffs.)

So there you have it – three new albums, two remasters, a bunch of really interesting gigs, some awesome teaching and lecturing times. A pretty good year of musicking.

2013 will start with another trip to California and the first of two albums with Daniel Berkman is imminent, with an album with Michael Manring to follow, more stuff with Mike Outram, a new album with Catherine Marie Charlton and a new solo album as soon as I can get round to it!

Thanks for all your support through the year – it means a whole lot, and the ongoing encouragement that your enthusiasm, kindness and patronage brings is a great motivation. Much love to you all. Let’s move onwards and upwards. x

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