November 8, 2022 § Leave a comment

I can’t seem to smile today as my thoughts are stuck on the passing away of Mimi Parker of Low. I knew her and Alan a little bit on a personal level, and had been listening to them since their first album in 1994. Over the past couple of years Alan asked me several times to open for whole European tours for them, which I had to turn down as I could not have coped physically or mentally with their intense schedule, but of course I always felt immensely honored that he did so, and it always felt surreal too. I finally said yes when he asked if I would open for the short run of shows they were supposed to have in Spain last week, since this was close geographically and only 3 shows.
There is no logic and no comfort anywhere in this kind of news. The only positive I can think of is that her voice, drumming and songwriting skills are forever embedded in the records – and that as an extra, the stellar performances they *always* gave will also stay in our memories. As a musician, their shows always made me feel like rushing home to get better at what I do.
This past couple of years, whenever I receive bad news and am reminded of the closeness of death and illness, I think of 2 things: the people I love and music-making – on the same level. I had a serious health scare earlier this spring and one of my first thoughts was “But I want to keep going with synthesis”. It almost shocked me to see that this had become such a priority for me on a global human level, not just a musical one.
I have been on holiday for 2 weeks now and was thinking of forcing myself to go on a creative break, since I’ve been making music almost non-stop for 2 years 1/2 now, but frankly, considering none of us know for how long we are on this earth, I feel the best use of my time is music-making.
For the 20th anniversary of my Colleen project I was planning on posting about each one of my albums in the runup to the end of the year, so I’ll start today in an in an effort to lift myself up, starting with my second album.

The Golden Morning Breaks, 2005, The Leaf Label, artwork and design Iker Spozio.

DIY was the name of the game for the making of my second album: almost nothing was recorded in a traditional manner, and in hindsight I think that contact miking in particular gives the album its distinctive sound. Possibly my favourite album of mine with Captain of None.
Recorded in my living room in the flat I had moved to in spring 2004, in Paris’s XV. Prior to that, my only experience of recording instruments had been on a Fostex 4-track-tape recorder around 1995-96.
By 2003 I had started to build a musical instrument collection, prompted both by my desire to play instruments live and by my obsession with instruments of all kinds, preferably acoustic, the weirder, older and rarer, the better. I finally had money of my own through my English teaching job, so could start said collection and buy looping pedals (Boss Loopstation RC20, Line 6 DL4) and delay pedal (Akai Headrush). I “sort of” taught myself to play the cello over the course of a few months.

1 Summer water: classical guitar, cello
2 Floating in the clearest night: guitar
3 The heart harmonicon: glass harmonicon belonging to and recorded by my friend John Cavanagh in Glasglow (19th century glass glockenspiel – see photo)
4 Sweet rolling: zither
5 The happy sea: toy synth (not pictured; Casio? bought at LIDL, given away), wooden recorder (live show pic 6 March 2003; thrown away due to stinking of mould from the severe dampness I had in my former studio in San Sebastián), glockenspiel
6: I’ll read you a story: music box (pressed against the guitar’s body, close to the contact mike), guitar
7 Bubbles which on the water swim: cello, guitar
8 Mining in the rain: toy gamelan, rain falling on the windowsill of my living room.
9 The golden morning breaks: ukulele
10 Everything lay still: windchimes, cello
Guitar, zither and ukulele recorded through contact mikes. Cello through Schertler pickup. SM57 for other instruments. Everything going through the RC20 used as a preamp of sorts.
Delay primarily Akai Headrush, with all other FX  being Acid built-in plugins.
Pedals daisychained into cheap Behringer mixing desk, into cheap M-Audio 2-input soundcard.
Edited on Acid DAW.

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