In case the blank screen cometh, one must have written down what one has done.
In writing this very paragraph, my computer spontaneously reset – a bad combination of a cracked copy of Microsoft Word and an aging MacBook, and now I must struggle to again find those words from ten minutes ago. But that’s the whole point. At some juncture, we will be reset too, and if we’ve done things, then isn’t it worth leaving those things behind for others to discover for themselves? I wonder if the caves of Lascaux echoed to a similar discourse.
And sometimes, in order to go forward, one has to look back. Respect the backlog. Those folders of unmixed audio files, and Logic arrange pages that still need automation tweaks and crossfades applied to them. Acknowledge their power over how one goes about the present and the future. Documenting the past allows me to do this. It comes in the form of the records I have produced – and some still waiting to be finished – and also in the entries, photos and clips of audio that have littered this blog over the last eleven years.
I foreswore music in 2013 after an intense decade under its bonnet. However, things of a musical nature kept leaking out, spread thinly over three years. Where once there had been a flood of rehearsals, gigs, recording sessions, musical partnerships, there was now a trickle. That was part of the plan. The field had to lie fallow after a long time spent going about things in the wrong way.
But every now and then, something would get saved to the hard disk, and in a way I found that reassuring, to know that it hadn’t left my nature altogether. This is a recap of that time, and some of the musical things that happened during it. Even though there hasn’t been a lot happening, that which did happen has been important. Embracing live recording using a stereo pair mic set up, finding a new way to produce live in the room, working with found sounds in collage arrangements, designing soundtracks to the cues and cuts of the film edits, working within a brief, playing music purely for fun and nothing else, attending all that London has to offer musically, from high brow concerts by Jonny Greenwood and Asian Dub Foundation at The Barbican, to queuing for The Proms at The Albert Hall, to reggae club nights at The Scala, to minimal Berlin techno at The Egg, to Terry Riley’s In C performed by an orchestra I can barely pronounce. Coming home for two week sabbaticals, and finishing the past. Honouring the living, and the dead.
At heart I am an archivist. I see the value in documenting things. So that others may experience them, but also so that the author can move on. Recorded media looks back, at something that now stands still, viewed forever in retrospect.
That is not to say that I don’t also respect the power of live. Its job is to ground us in the moment. To bring to life things from the past, and give clues about what is to come. To lock author and audience together in something shared and spontaneous and unique. Often in a freezing cold warehouse in the middle of February, with deafening treble and spilled wine on the floor. The kind of happening that makes people say: “I guess you had to be there.”
One form looks back, the other is in the here and now. Both are required to move into the future. They need to balance each other out. Then you can walk into a clean room, freed of all the weight, of all the responsibility, to do this stuff the justice it deserves.