July 30, 2021 § Leave a comment
MEMORY GLITCH, OR THE THROWN AWAY AND FORGOTTEN CASSETTE PLAYER.In September 2017, I released “Organ Song 1995” on my Bandcamp: a song made in 1995 on a Bontempi Avril organ I got as a present when I was 8 (Christmas 1984). I wrote a text (part of a series entitled “A personal keyboard archaeology”) to accompany that one-off release, which was meant as a gesture of endearment for the song that enabled me to discover the power of production through simply slowing down the tape when playing the recording.
More than 20 years after the fact, I assumed that this must have been recorded with a cheap microphone on the 4-track Fostex XR-5 tape recorder I had gotten that same year. Mistake. Spending time here now at the house where I grew up, I unearthed the Fostex, and all of a sudden realized with absolute clarity that the song had been recorded prior to getting the Fostex, on the small, flat, rectangular tape player and recorder I used for years to listen to music, before I got my first compact hifi system. Which means that it wasn’t even recorded with a microphone. The player had a slow down tape function, and I just played it back that way. To the best of my knowledge (I’m being cautious now), there is no effect: I didn’t own effects pedals at the time, and think the depth of the sound comes purely from the sheer amount of slowed down organ noise + tape artefacts.
All of this is of course of very little importance, but I was struck by the fact that the seed of the Colleen project is even more simple and humble than I thought, and struck too that my memories could have been confused so easily, with me writing inaccurate information about my own musical history, all the while being convinced I was telling things reliably.This involuntary unreliability of memory and retelling strikes a chord with me on both a personal and family level and on a more global level, the world being what it is right now…
I looked for the tape player today, but it seems we threw it away some time ago… A shame, because I would have loved to re-enact that primal production scene…
July 29, 2021 § Leave a comment
Post written on 28th July.
I am not a nostalgic person. You will never hear me wax lyrical about the “good old days” (given I’m 45, I could easily be going down that road already). I do however increasingly recognize that some brief, lightning-like moments shape our lives forever. I mentioned in my 60s special mix last week for @jonivoid @ckutmtl that “A day in the life” was single-handedly responsible for me truly falling in love with music, understanding that this wasn’t going to be just another thing on top of other things I loved, like reading. But the Beatles shaped my life twice, though the second time was indirect, and happened exactly 30 years ago to this day.
On 28th July 1991, my parents, my brother and myself were coming back from a van trip to Norway – the farthest we’d ever gone. We stopped in Copenhagen for a few hours. I never went to big cities as a teenager, and in my small, boring hometown, had never been exposed to live music either. On that day in Copenhagen, two street musicians with acoustic guitars were playing Beatles covers. I stood transfixed. Begged my parents to stay for a few more songs. They refused. In my mum’s travel notebook (which enabled us to find out, yesterday, when I casually mentioned that this episode had happened “about 30 years ago”, that the exact anniversary was going to be today), the musicians and their effect on me don’t even appear.
A few weeks later, I gathered my courage and asked my parents if they might buy me an acoustic guitar. I was somehow convinced they would refuse, but they didn’t. In September 1991, lo and behold, I was the proud owner of a classical guitar, which is the one you can hear on all my recordings from 2005 to 2013. A guitar on which I immediately, spontaneously, started to compose snippets of songs, in a way that is totally in keeping with how I still work today. Getting close to that spirit of wonder with each new recording project is the only valid way for me to somehow connect with the past: not as an exercise in nostalgia, but as a way to try and capture the energy of love for something that is bigger than me.
July 21, 2021 § Leave a comment
So happy to share a 3rd mix (1 more to go!) for McGill’s University’s radio station CKUT in Montreal for the “If you got ears” programme at the kind request of guest-host Jean Cousin who not only makes music as Joni Void but also runs his own excellent Everyday Ago label and like me is a passionate listener and mix-maker. Mixes are time-consuming and after 3 hours of selection already (you can still listen to the mixes I made for NTS, Dublab and Dublab.es – all links in the mix section), I really had to think hard about what this new one-hour mix could be.. and as I always, I ended up being pushed to revisit the music I love and have sometimes forgotten, and feeling grateful for the chance.
So this is a 60s special. You don’t need me to explain to you how important and utterly unique that decade was for music. I personally truly fell in love with music as an art form (as opposed to something I loved listening to on the radio, but had no clue about it being a composed, performed and recorded artifact) when I first heard The Beatles’ “A day in the life”. If I had to choose one song that changed my life this would be it – in a very literal way since I credit *that* song and no other for making me want to make music.
The mix will be archived on the programme’s page straight after broadcast and later on the Everyday ago mixcloud.
60S SPECIAL TRACKLIST
Michael Yonkers – Tripping Through The Rose Gardens
The 13th Floor Elevators – Don’t Fall Down
Cold Sun – Twisted Flower
Red Crayola – Hurricane Fighter Plane
Silver Apples – Oscillations
The Electric Prunes – I Had Too MuchTo Dream Last Night
Love – My Little Red Book
The Factory – Gone
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera – Mother Writes
The Poets – Some Things I Can’t Forget
The Human Expression – Every Night
West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band – I Won’t Hurt You
The Troggs – Our Love Will Still Be There
The Zombies – Leave Me Be
Arthur Lee Harper- Open Up The Door
The Kinks – I Go To Sleep (Demo)
The Peep Show – Morning
The Factory – Path Through The Forest (Demo)
The 13th Floor Elevators – May The Circle Remain Unbroken
The Troggs – Love Is All Around
The Beatles – A Day In The Life
July 14, 2021 § Leave a comment
Due to the ongoing 10-day quarantine obligation for non-vaccinated-in-the-UK citizens entering the UK, we have sadly had to decide to postpone my 7th August show at London’s Kingsplace . We debated on whether we should announce a new date, but I personally pushed for no actual date to be announced, because what is the point of announcing a date when we have zero clue about what the future holds, since it is not just the Covid situation we have to take into account, but also the errr… how shall I put it… “bizarre” UK political decisions.
When I learnt I was going to be fully vaccinated several weeks before the show, I felt so good, as I naively assumed that this would exempt me from quarantine. Indeed, back in March when I had been offered the show, this was the first thing I raised with the team at Kings Place, but of course, we all felt fairly confident that by August, surely this quarantine would not be mandatory anymore, at least not for fully-vaccinated people…
It feels weird to postpone this show given it was going to be my final show for many years, if not ever (I know that some of you have missed this news, since you are leaving messages such as “Hope you come and play in X place one day”, so just so you know: I won’t play live any more after this show, which was the only one I accepted), but at this stage 1) I’d rather we were sure that we can fulfill the new date when we do announce it 2) I’d rather do this show next year and perhaps even get the chance to play 2 new albums 3) In the grand scheme of things, considering how prolonged this whole Covid situation is, and the much more serious ramifications it has for so many people… well I really don’t feel like adding to the ocean of already-existing complaints.
You can retain the tickets or obtain a refund, as you choose. Thanks so much in advance for your understanding, and see you in London AT SOME POINT
July 11, 2021 § Leave a comment
THE TUNNEL AND THE CLEARING DREAM TEAM… MEXICAN CONNECTION NUMBER 1: ANDRÉS GÓMEZ SERVÍN
I had been meaning to write these two posts for so long! I may make music on my own, but I certainly don’t release albums on my own, and for this record at one point I actually sat down to make a list of where my collaborators were working from, because I was so struck by the geographical expansiveness of it, and for sure the pandemic made this even more moving: I work from Barcelona, and Luis Torroja who made the press photos and the forthcoming mini documentary is just north of the city in Montgat, but Antony Ryan of Isan and Redredpaw Mastering who mastered the record (and always ends up giving me tons of super useful advice) is in Fredericia, Denmark; Thrill Jockey Records is based in Chicago, but the European head of operations Matt Fidler with whom I coordinate a lot is based in Berlin; and last but not least, for the first time in my music, Mexico added itself to this list, with the artwork and design being created in CDMX by Andrés Gómez Servín, and the animation video for “Hidden in the Current” created in Guadalajara by Daniel Barreto.
Working with Mexican artists was a huge discovery for me: I had no idea that the country harboured so much creative talent, and feel so lucky that I was able to ease into new artwork for my music with Andrés, whose output is very varied, but so coherent and subtle: among other things I am a fan of his amazing cyanotypes, as well as the books he publishes with his own publishing company Mixed Media Press!
Here are a few pictures of the original artwork (1, 3, 4), made with acrylic paint sprayed on Fabriano paper, which to me now represents the album so closely that I can’t imagine any other cover art for it, as well as the super limited screenprint edition (2), available from Chiquita Room (international shipping available): the texture of the paper is so amazing and I hate reflections from glass frames so much that for my own print I decided to go for a kakemono/kakejiku style by just hanging it in this way, and I love the resulting elegance.
THE TUNNEL AND THE CLEARING DREAM TEAM… MEXICAN CONNECTION NUMBER 2: DANIEL BARRETO
Few things are as inspiring as other people doing their own thing really well and with passion, even outside the field of art: there just is something incredibly attractive about visible passion, and when I encountered Daniel’s work, it immediately had that uplifting effect on me.
Daniel was kind enough to send me this timelapse showing a tiny bit of his work process for the animation he made for “Hidden in the Current”, using Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. This is only one of the many ways in which he animates, and his work encompasses different styles and media, so I strongly encourage you to take some time and enjoy his Instagram feed as if it were a permanent online exhibition.
Here is what I wrote for the video’s press release back in April:
I discovered Daniel’s work last year through Instagram when he started to follow my account: I immediately fell in love with the vitality of his art and his multidisciplinary approach, but it was his animation work (both the short animations that he generates for himself, often using his own excellent music, and a video he’d done for Y la bamba, which really moved me) that particularly struck me as unique, incredibly inventive, powerful and poetic at the same time.
I immediately sensed he would know how to translate the music of my new album visually, and his video for “Hidden in the Current” has surpassed all my expectations: Daniel has come up with a kind of vibrant, warm abstraction which is the perfect equivalent of what I try to do in my own music, and in the process has perfectly transmitted the essence of what “Hidden in the Current” is about. For me his animation takes the song to an even higher level, in which bodily sensations can be experienced and unconscious meanings uncovered.