Two New Albums and My Anniversary Gig!

So, last week, I released my first ever best-of album. It’s culled from all my solo work between 2000 and 2013, and is a pretty lovely summary of what I got up to as a solo performer before I added the Quneo into my performance set-up and started to experiment with percussion and keyboard sounds.

The album was put together by two of my long time friends/listeners/subscribers, Tom and Mike, and their sleevenotes are on the Bandcamp page, so you can read a little about their thoughts on each track. Tom also provided the photos for each individual track, so if you go to the track pages on Bandcamp you’ll see those, or if you buy it and download the files…

Anyway, have a listen here:

Then Sunday was my 20th Anniversary gig – it was a deeply special show at my favourite venue in Birmingham, Tower Of Song. As part of the evening, I hosted pre and post show discussions about improv, which were recorded as part of the research for my ongoing PhD. What became apparent fairly quickly is that these weren’t ‘pre and post show discussions’, detached from the rest of the ‘event’ – they were the first and last acts of a four act play, ones that centred on conspicuous listening, and gave space for the audience to register their presence, preferences, gratitude, and anything else they wanted to talk about…

As an improvisor it was quite a profound moment, to have an entire audience talk about their anticipation of what was to come, about their reasons for being there… The permission to ‘do what we do’ comes from the audience – lots of people have theorised this, but I’ve never actually encountered it in quite such a clearly expressed form!

And what’s more, the first album from the gig is out today! The subscriber-only, 42 minute album is the whole of my first set, the solo one which preceded the Illuminated Loops set with artist Poppy Porter. That’ll be up next.

It’s been a really interesting year for music-making – The Arctic Is Burning is one of my favourite albums I’ve ever made, and ended up being a really fitting part two to Beauty And Desolation, despite that not really being the plan initially.  There have been two LEYlines albums (vols IV and V), four other live solo albums, Seeing Sound with Daniel Berkman (recorded in 2014!) and my most recent duo album with Pete Fraser, Restless got a public release this year.

But it’s been a year of solo experimentation, mostly. The explorations with field recordings have been a really inspiring addition to my sound, and have given me so much to thing about and experiment with. Perhaps I’ll do more with that in the new year.

I hope 2019 has been a good year for you – I know that politically it’s been a struggle for a huge number of people, and I’ve seen various friends struggling under the stress of the way things are going, but I hope that in the middle of that you’ve been able to find a sense of purpose, have some fun and explore ways to be part of the solution rather than buckling under the weight of the problem. Peace to you and I hope you get some time off through the festive period.

(top photo by Richard Hallman) 

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