October 14, 2022 § Leave a comment
Just how much time I spent working on this album is indicated by the fact that Klee, my younger cat, who barely entered the studio in the more than 2 years since I adopted him and Sol, ended up settling in almost every day over the past couple of weeks.
Given that this is my 8th album it should have come as no surprise to me that when I “finished” it on the night of 28th September – and by this I meant: the songs had been rendered in what was supposed to be a final mix, ready to be mastered – I would still have some tweaking to do. But for some reason I assumed that this time, there would be less tweaking around, probably because this album is instrumental, and my doubts during mastering on my last 4 albums often revolved around vocal mixes.
However, the album contains 22 different tracks, making up 6 “suites” made up of various movements, which is a lot of music to “handle” by any standard, and was a nightmare to tracklist, since I also had to take into account vinyl side lengths, and take care not to split the suites over two sides.
It also holds a sort of inner tension due to the fact that it contains an extremely varied palette of sounds, moods and emotions, corresponding to the “concept” underlying the album (our perception of reality), but coming from a setup reduced to the bones: the @moogsynthesizers Grandmother going into either the MF-104M delay or the @soundgasltd Roland RE-201 Space Echo. What this means sonically is that there is NOWHERE TO HIDE when it comes to flaws in the recordings themselves.
This weekend I will write 2 technical posts to let you know how I dealt with the problems that were uncovered thanks to the first master. It was exhausting but every single minute was worth it. Because yes, mastering can do incredible stuff to audio, but no, it can’t do miracles. A little like a great home designer won’t be able to hide the mould and uneven surfaces on a wall, no matter how exquisite their taste and the fact you budgeted for high quality paint. In other words: it is my job to give a high quality sound to start with, and when I fail… I have to find solutions
September 4, 2022 § Leave a comment
For many reasons I don’t play many shows (I even made – then reversed – a decision to stop playing live altogether last year), and what this means is that playing live becomes even more loaded with significance and potential consequences. When you play a lot (by my standards, 30 shows a year qualifies as “a lot”, especially if you play outside of Europe, and is what I used to do back in the mid-2000s), you get into a groove from a technical point of view, and if a show doesn’t go particularly well, you just move on to the next show, or can remember the last show not so long ago that did go really well. But when you play just a handful of shows, you have to rehearse a lot more, and if it doesn’t go well, it can immediately bring to mind thoughts such as “Why do I even bother? So much work and the fatigue of travelling, for such an uncertain result?”. Thankfully, the reverse is also true, and both the London show @kingsplacelondon in March and the Madrid show last Sunday really made me feel like playing live is worth all the effort, both for the happy sonic moments that happen and that are different from studio work because of sheer volume and venue acoustics, and – of course – for the human connection. I am able to enjoy the latter aspect even more now that I finally – after almost 20 years of doing this on my own on 90% of shows! – got a Swiss-knife-type assistant: David @furvoice @mutabor_music acts as my roadie, tech assistant (helping me set up the gear, giving feedback during soundcheck, packing it all again after the show in a mad rush), merch person, all rolled into one. It has been a game changer and I am so grateful for your help David 🙏🙏🙏!
My deepest thanks to you the audience members ❤❤❤, @lacasaencendida for having me for the third time, Andrés Noarbe @discosrotor for inviting me twice, 📷 @lamarymanson “Implosion-Explosion”, @wesmaga “The Tunnel and the Clearing”, @galanpop “Gazing at Taurus – Santa Eulalia”, @marylamanson “Gazing at Taurus – Night Sky Rumba” and the new untitled song. As always, the sound from mobile phones on mobile phones is what it is, but headphones or an amp help! :-)
September 2, 2022 § Leave a comment
It’s Bandcamp Friday (my Bandcamp is here), and because I have a lot of albums, I decided to make a list of what’s available, since it can get very confusing (even for me). If you are relatively new to my music, I recommend the amazing Bandcamp Daily feature on my whole discography last year.
BIG REMINDER: MY BANDCAMP SHIPS FROM THE US ONLY. To have your record shipping from EUROPE, please buy from the THRILL JOCKEY SHOP (list below): Bandcamp is great, but even more money goes to the label and to the artist via label shops.
There are a few digital rarities on my Bandcamp (I especially recommend the A Flame Variations EP, commissioned by Moog to mark the end of production of Moogerfoogers, back in 2018), but I’ll focus on physical format here.
A word on my 2000s output: due to the legal action I had to initiate to terminate my contract with The Leaf Label earlier than the planned term, there are now very few copies of those albums left, since there was an order for remaining stock to be destroyed. If you buy the few copies now being redistributed by Thrill Jockey, you know the money ends up in my pockets. Not so sure about the other copies still out there.
All cassettes released by @beacon_sound are now sold out.
The Tunnel And The Clearing: gold V, CD
A Flame my Love, a Frequency: blue V, CD
Captain of None: black V, CD
Les Ondes Silencieuses: black gatefold V
Colleen et les Boîtes à Musique: black V
The Golden Morning Breaks: black V
Everyone Alive Wants Answers: black V
THRILL JOCKEY SHOP – ships from the US *and* Germany (*NOT* THE UK) , except where stated:
The Tunnel: gold V, black V, CD
A Flame my Love: blue V; clear V only from Europe, CD
Captain of None: black V, CD
Les Ondes: black gatefold V
Colleen et les Boîtes: black V
The Golden Morning: black V
Everyone Alive: white V, black V
Also available today is the last collab I accepted back in 2014 (if I remember well) and which has only been released now as part of The Home Current’s The Singles 2015-2019 compilation on Woodford Halse. The Home Current is my dear friend Martin Jensen who co-ran the label Second Language at the time of release of The Weighing of the Heart and also introduced me to birdwatching (he worked for BirdLife International and at Rainham Marshes at the time), which changed my life. I’m on kalimba into MF-104M Analog Delay duties on this one!
As always, massive thanks for your support 🙏🙏🙏❤❤❤
August 31, 2022 § Leave a comment
I will do another video post about the show on Sunday at @lacasaencendida , I am overjoyed with how it went, but first cannot resist sharing the new song I premiered at the end of the show, in a race against time: Movement II and Movement III of the 3-part still untitled song that will most likely open my 8th album, Le jour et la nuit du réel, which I’m recording right now (out next year on @thrilljockey).
I have often been able to play live one or two songs of new material ahead of album releases, and it is always such a special moment, a way to cheat on the (now unbelievably) long wait between an album’s recording and its release.
For me this is also always slightly crazy because I typically shift gear and/or method between albums, and this was definitely a bit risky on Sunday because 1) the song was just a few days old 2) the night before the show – literally – I had to work out appropriate levels on my mixing desk so that it would sound as close as possible to the studio version I had just recorded 3) it is REALLY hard – even in the studio – to get the 3 rhythms that make up the “inner beats” of the song to interlock properly and at the right speed: they depend on the @moogsynthesizers Grandmother Arpeggiator rate, Modulation LFO rate, and MF-104M Analog Delay time – none of which can be preset, and a millimetre change on the pots makes a huge difference. Even the way I strike the keys and the exact timing for the chord changes have an impact (and the beautiful thing is that it always sounds slightly different because of this). I nearly lost my concentration when the 10 pm bells started ringing against rhythm and the wind grew stronger!!!
I included the soundcheck videos as you can hear the 3rd part of the song much better.
🙏🙏🙏 to everyone @lacasaencendida, Andrés Noarbe @discosrotor for inviting me, @maryjoarnanz for taking such good care of us, David @furvoice @mutabor_music for once again being my amazing assistant on this show, and @jmattack 📷 Mvt I, @betacam 📷 Mvt II and @furvoice
📷 soundcheck for capturing these moments.
August 21, 2022 § Leave a comment
HEAD FULL OF ECHOES… CLOSING THE CIRCLE OF THE TUNNEL AND THE CLEARING WITH MY FAVORITE STILLS FROM THE DOCUMENTARY.
I have always wanted to share more stills from @luistorroja ‘s documentary and somehow never got round to it, and now that the doc is 1 year old and that I’m deep into recording my 8th album Le jour et la nuit du réel, it feels appropriate to close the circle of that particular album (even though I will still play it live).
I love how Luis managed to visually translate the intimate nature of the relationship I ended up developing with my machines over the course of making The Tunnel and the Clearing. I can’t really think of a more truthful portrait of me than a superposition of my face with a tape loop repeating sounds, because for better and for worse, that’s more or less how my brain and my whole self have always worked with thoughts (I find it revelatory that tape is recorded, played and erased by “heads”). And I do feel that my instruments are like friends and bandmates, that I’m not actually alone making music in the studio, but rather am accompanied by them, their special beauty as well as their quirks and occasional failures.