Music in strange times

In these weird times maybe you need some free escapist music?

Here’s are three releases I have up on bandcamp that you can get for free:

An Experiment Too Far is the best of my first ten years as a solo musician. Songs about alien outbreaks, ravenous sky-kraken, demons and ghosts, all for free. Much more relaxing than the real world.

Something Happened in Amersham is a live full band ep, recorded in a hurry last summer. I really like the rough, have a go, make some noise, nature of these recordings. Nice and urgent rather than polished and produced.

And finally, Racing Gravity is a collection of the rough demos I put together in February as part of the songwriting challenge February Album Writing Month. There are definitely not finished songs, think of them as sketches.

Do ever say something’s no good, when you really mean you don’t like it?

Do ever say something’s no good, when you really mean you don’t like it?
A friend of mine recently posted a video of a musician playing a ‘show off’ technical solo and asked whether it was really musical. 
Which got me thinking…
We all have a set of values we use to evaluate music. These values are ones you’ve learned, they’re culturally determined, they’re neither right nor wrong. But lots of people seem not to have realised this and instead talk as if their particular values are universal. 
Someone I know who really likes classical music, with its focus on harmony and melody, was happy to suggest that Stormzy might not be music. They didn’t just say they didn’t like it, they seriously suggested it wasn’t music. 
Someone else I know shared a piece of writing that surfaces every few months online. That piece suggests that modern pop music isn’t good because it doesn’t have complex harmony. When challenged, this friend asserted as fact that complexity and a sophisticated use of harmony were universal values that can be used to judge all music. 
These attitudes are, to put it mildly, totally nuts. It’s the same attitude that questioned whether jazz was proper music or said that rock n roll was inspired by the devil. You can use your values to judge whether you like something, but you can’t use them to say another form of music isn’t valid. 
That heavy metal guitar playing is too fast and seems obsessed with technique rather than playing a nice melody? Maybe rather than condemning it you should consider that the audience expects to hear stuff at that speed and are alive to the subtleties. Maybe you should consider the deliberate attempt in some heavy  metal guitar pedagogies to explicitly  follow on from baroque violin virtousos like Paganini, and how similarity to that style is a plus not a minus. Maybe, in short, you shouldn’t assume that your own values are relevant to judging how good the music is. 
You might dislike it (sounds like I might too), but so what? ‘I don’t like it’ is true, but it’s a pointless, narcissistic thing to say.  If you want to discuss whether music is any good, ‘Is the artist achieving their aims’ is the correct question to ask. 

14! 14! 14!

14! 14! 14!

After 12 years of trying I have finally succeeded in writing 14 brand new songs for February Album Writing Month!

Here’s the makeshift cover I made yesterday for the album of FAWM demos. Just put it up for my bandcamp subscribers. Might share it with the rest of the world next week. It’s the audio from the videos I’ve shared recently, but in handy streamable/downloadable form.

I really enjoyed February Album Writing Month this year. I think what clicked was the combination of:

-A permanent recording space in the form of The Nightmare Shed so I could get in and start making music every weekend without having to set anything up.

-The songwriting practice I put in over the Christmas period (these 14 songs are only about half those I wrote over the whole winter).

-Making a video for every song. Because I was singing and playing one guitar part live for every video, I couldn’t go back and perfect every line. So each song had to be finished pretty quickly.

Will I do a finished recording for every single one of the 14 songs? No, probably not. But I think the vast majority will end up as the finished article over the next few months.

In you want, you can hear all the songs over on youtube. Here’s the playlist: