Sunday, 20 September 2020

Tether


Earlier in the year, Anna Knowles and I were exchanging some songs and books and stuff. This turned into a pen pal song writing project and we soon ended up with a little album of short songs, which we sent to some of our friends as a gift. Then all of a sudden we were presented with an opportunity to make the songs available for a useful purpose. Unfortunately the original plan didn't work out, but we had everything ready so we're making them available in a name-your-price kind of way.

Two lovely friends, Grace Denton and Nicol Parkinson, lent some singing and other instruments two a couple of the songs.

This was a really nice thing to be able spend time on over the early summer. It never felt like the central focus of our lives – in a good way. It was just this nice thing that seemed to work really well with no pressure or ultimate goal in mind. 




Have a look at Anna's other really amazing bands, The Middle Ones and The Living End!

Thursday, 25 June 2020

solve et coagula

It's been a busy month and I've decided to make a roundup of some of the resources I've been sharing on other platforms as a blog post. These resources are centred around the theme of white supremacy and the Black Lives Matter movement. 


Recommended books
Angela Davis: An autobiography, Angela Davis
The N***** Factory, Gil Scot Heron
Black Voices, Anthology

On my book pile

Music
Game Over Vol.1, Karnage Kills

Two good articles compiled by Emma Falconer

If you're interested in educating yourself about racism but don't know where to start, put aside an hour two watch one of Jane Elliot's teaching videos, uninterrupted, to the end. There are no violent images, it all takes place in a classroom, everyone is safe. Let it shatter your shell and you will find that underneath is love.



Next Friday is my 331/3  Birthday and I felt like doing something noisy to celebrate the evening before on the Ware Arts Lab Instagram...



'2020' is devised as a follow on from the improvisation '08/08/11'. 

Yes it will be pretentious.

A recorded version of this improvisation will be made available on pay-what-you-can basis, with all proceeds going to Herts BLM.

Racism is built into our society and culture. I sensed this a little when I was a teenager and tried, ineffectually, to struggle against it as a young white boy who did not understand and did not feel it was appropriate to ask questions. The last attempt I made at 'cyber activism' of any kind was 2017 and I deemed it to be a failure and decided that any activism on my part should not be conducted on social media. I was convinced otherwise at the end of May when protests erupted in the USA in response to the systematic murder of Black people in America and all over the world. I decided to use the techniques that had worked last time, and to ditch everything else (arguing with trolls etc.) More importantly, I listened to and amplified the experiences of Black people, rather that trying to arrogantly figure it all out for myself. I hope this is only the beginning. Apologies for bringing it back to myself in this last paragraph. I think it's important to share experiences of what has and hasn't worked in the past, so we can do better as we go forward.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

musical instrument project

This week I made a pickup for a musical instrument. I've always wanted to make a pickup from scratch. Electronics interests me but I'm not very good at it. I thought this would be a way to try and start to understand the principals better. As far as I understand, to make an electromagnetic field that is needed to generate signals to make sound, the copper wire needs to be tightly coiled around a number of metal cores, sandwiched between two pieces of non-conductive material and sealed off at the sides so that the tops of the metal cores are the only parts exposed.
used a hacksaw blade to cut up the back of a broken picture frame

items: copper wire, neodymium magnets, bolts,
back of a picture frame, hacksaw blade 

measuring. 4 strings is plenty.

cutting down the bolts (to about 3.5-4 cm).
the magnets connect to these ends.

tacking everything in place with hot glue

copper wire wound and sealed with hot glue

The pickup appears to be working but will probably need further insulation. I need to test it properly with some nickel or steel strings, which will happen as I build the rest of the instrument I guess...

Reading
Tales from Moominvalley, Tove Jansson
Art Sex Music, Cosey Fanni Tutti 

Listening to
Nothing Great about Britain, Slowthai
Never Work, Ariel Sharratt & Mathia Kom
Plastic Kettle, Stanley Brinks
Onward Aeropuerto, Susie Asado
Lvov in the Streets, Jack Lesser Lewis' Awkward Energy

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Klopotec



We'd been talking about recording some more Tiger + Panda songs and maybe taking a trip to do it, but plans changed and we decided to make this during our time indoors. 

I decided to do another livestream for the Arts Lab thing, this time with a really lovely set of songs by Vase. It was a nice evening and the internet added a really pleasant warble to the sound of the music. Sadly, the video seems to have disappeared so I've only got a couple of screenshots and photos sent in by people who were watching.



We made a little video collage playlist for the songs on Klopotec, made from little scraps we'd both recorded here and there.


Reading
Ulysses, James Joyce (finally really enjoying it)
A confession, Leo Tolstoy

Listening to

Thursday, 26 March 2020

going through boxes


Listening to 

I've been enjoying Emma Falconer's blog posts. There have been a few lately and they're always interesting. 

I started writing something new and painting angels with ink. It occurred to me that it'd be useful to refer back to my old diary for certain sections. I saw that there were quite a few pages left at the end so I've started writing in it again to help me keep track of the days. 

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Hidden Rivers 2011-2020

I think I mentioned that I wanted to blog in more detail about the items inside the Sea Glass box set. The title for Hidden rivers is borrowed from a song by my friend Olly Watson

The songs for this were recorded at various times over two or three years on a four-track cassette recorder. The one called Wrens was probably recorded first and is about my grandmother and her life as a young woman. Then there is one about the riots that occurred in the wake of the shooting of Mark Duggan by the police in Tottenham. The last one called honeymoon is about when F. and I got married and spent a couple of days and nights in Berlin. We saw our friend Daniel and went to our favourite places.













I made a whole booklet to accompany this – It was a collage of diary entries and doodles – but I wasn't happy with it. I was reading a a big collection of Aline Kominsky-Crumb's comics and thought they were so brilliant and that the perfect thing to accompany these [mostly] wordless songs would be a confessional comic. I started making it in about 2016 but kept re-doing panels and word bubbles. 

The cover and title was the last thing I decided. I had this brass-rubbing of a special plaque about a hidden river 'beneath your feet' in Kennington. The elements just seemed to fit together comfortably.

Reading
lots of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics I picked up at Ace Comics in Colchester. We went there to see the castle and priory and had a nice walk in the rain and a Nepalese meal. It was my birthday!

Listening to
In Memory Of Nikki Arane by Eugene Chadborn and John Zorn. I got this from the Cafe Oto shop, they provide a great space in London for a diverse range of contemporary artists, including a sympathetic space for touring greats who have often been sidelined and otherwise erased from mainstream history. They are a not-for-profit community interest space and would love you to sell you something to enjoy at home while you are not able to visit them in person.

Island × 1 by Ana Da Silva & Phew. Purchased from my favourite record store Radio/ON. They currently have free shipping on standard delivery items(check there website for the most up-to-date information.

I haven't mentioned this yet but I've been trying to set up a little arts lab in my town. This Saturday (21 Mar 2020) at 7pm-ish, We're hoping to set up a live-stream, which people can join from their homes. It could be nice, who knows! I'll make some sounds and images, maybe you can join with your own?

This is a little video of the last one (note: next get together is digital only)

Thursday, 6 February 2020

sea glass

On the weekend I finished a project that's been hanging around for a while and I'm really pleased. I wanted to blog about it now for starters and possibly post some more details later on. It's a box set!





These boxes were about six year in the making (and one element of them was started nine years ago) The main holdup has been the lathe cut record 'hidden rivers' (name borrowed from Olly Watson), which went through several changes of artwork and title over the years as I just couldn't figure out what I wanted it to be. It ended up being accompanied by a laboriously-inked comic strip, which itself was rearranged and re-worded over a couple of years.

The project is kind of an exercise in futility. 'Sea Glass' was going to be the name of my solo music project but I never really did anything with the name and so the project sort of failed to happen. These remaining, interlinked artefacts are presented in a kind of casket, a monument to something that never really was.

contents
  • Hidden Rivers (2011-2020) – 8" lathe-cut record with comic strip booklet in lino-printed record sleeve
  • Birds like Waves – CDR album in folded A3 paper sleeve with hand-written notes
  • Life has been Good to me – two guitar improvisations on cassette tape
  • I am exploded – 32 page pamphlet of writing
  • A4 sheet listing some of the influences on the work in this box, plus a piece of sea glass
Some of these items will be distributed separately and some won't. There are five of these box-sets in existence and I plan to stock them in four friendly shops. So next, I'll put an email together to ask them.

I used to try to insist on completing projects as quickly as possible, preferably in one day, so that the urgency was kept in, along with the flaws. When I started something that I didn't go on to finish right away, I assumed it would never be finished. Lately though, I've found myself completing a few longer-running projects that I pick up and put down over the years and I've found a different sort of satisfaction in this. 

As a complete object, this is probably the most ambitious project I've completed since I was a student, and it has boosted my confidence that my current, even more seemingly-unending project might one day be finished too.