November 13, 2020 § Leave a comment

I am about 2/3 of the way done on recording my new album, so yesterday I took advantage of a daytrip to see a friend in a small coastal town to “public-transport-test” (the roadtest version of people who don’t drive! 😉), then “stare-at-the-sea-test” the finished and unfinished tracks as mp3s with my Urbanears headphones.This is a ritual I’ve always had when making albums, trying to put myself in the position of an imagined listener, but since I’m still the one who created the music, I approach it with equal parts dread, equal parts excitement: by that stage I have already carefully listened and decided on final take(s) – spoiler: I haven’t managed to record every song in one take as I was hoping I would – and made a rough mix, so theoretically there shouldn’t be any terrible surprises, but these kind of listening conditions have a way of removing detail and making salient parts jump out, so it’s definitely a moment of truth.

I was a bit worried about issues of tempo: I don’t know if it happens to a lot of composer musicians, but it’s sometimes really hard to determine what is the most fitting tempo for a song (I typically start with slower tempos when I first create songs, but that’s often because I’m actually still learning the instrument I’m using!). With this album it’s been particularly tricky as the tempo is sometimes purely marked by the way I play the keyboard with the Space Echo doing its own magic on top, which means that if I’m nervous/overexcited I do tend to go too fast (in much the same way an artist will play faster live). But the Elka Drummer One also sounds pretty different depending on speakers and headphones : obviously my Blue Sky nearfield monitors are my point of reference, but even then, because my studio is so tiny, the subwoofer placement is what it is, and moving in that tiny space hugely changes my perception of the sound, which in turn – pretty amazingly – changes the perceived tempo.

In any case, I think my face says it all: the test surpassed my hopes.

photo by Luis Torroja


November 2, 2020 § Leave a comment

2006 was a big year for me : I got my viola da gamba, recorded Colleen et les Boîtes à musique, in summer learnt that I had been granted at the last minute a one-year sabbatical from my teaching job (which led to my resignation the following year), in November went to Japan and totally fell in love with the country, and in December recorded Les ondes silencieuses! I had a big obsession at the time with John Coltrane and listened to a lot of sixties music… Saw The Innocents for the first time…As for This Heat, their first album changed my life when I first heard it in 1995 and still sounds way ahead of its time (released in 1979 and recorded even earlier than that!) …And I still love that Blue Rondos song soooo much – every single instrument sounds so right -long live Joe Meek’s legacy!!!
A big thank you to Luis J.Menendez for commissioning this mix for his La Noche Inventada radio programme!

Harry Partch – Two Studies On Ancient Greek Scales

The Innocents – O  Willow Waly 

Sibylle Baier – Tonight

Chet Baker – Grey December 

Half Asleep – Morning Dust – Soon

Anne Briggs – Fine Horseman

Medicine Head – Next Time The Sun Comes Round

The Index – Rainy Starless Nights

Mississipi John Hurt – Frankie

John Lee Hooker – Rock House Boogie 

John Coltrane – My Favorite Things

This Heat – Horizontal Hold

Broadcast – Black Cat 

Carole King – He’s A Bad Boy

The Blue Rondos – Little Baby

Photo from EME festival, Setubal, Portugal, 7th October 2006, by Rui Minderico: my first time playing the gamba live!

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