Category Archives: Fine Art

digitalDIZZY – MERZ Funder

merz-crop-edit-2k

The absolutely huge MERZfunder compilation was released on Friday 28th October. 114 original tracks by some highly creative individuals & bands, many pieces made specifically for the project. As well as offering two tracks, one with Peter Wullen, I was very honoured to be asked to put together some cover artwork for this.

The piece took specific reference from the many collages of Kurt Schwitters, whose Merz Barn in Langdale is the point of this fundraing project. More about the Barn can be found in a previous post HERE. The project is a digitalDIZZY production, an independent net label and promoter of all things anarchic and free thinking. Kudos to Ruby Black and the Devotional Hooligans.

Here’s a small selection of pieces by Schwitters that informed my cover design.

The MERZunder is on Bandcamp now and for a small number of 5 British Pounds it can be yours.

There is a huge diversity of music here. Most of the featured artists also have their own Bandcamp or Soundcloud page.

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UPDATE: Press Release

MERZfunder press release
31 October 2016

It is 100 years since the Dada movement first rocked the art establishment and paved the way for every oppositional and groundbreaking cultural force that followed, from surrealism to pop art, situationism to punk. Yet in the recent BBC celebrations of the anniversary, no mention was made of Kurt Schwitters, the man seen by many as a major force in and beyond Dada – and the only one to leave a lasting physical legacy of his work in the UK.

MERZfunder brings together more than 100 musicians and experimental noise makers to raise money to support and preserve the Schwitters Merz barn in Cumbria. This was where Schwitters made his final Merzbau installation, a sculptural collaged wall, which he worked on in the last years of his life, walking five miles each way from his home in Ambleside to get there.

The MERZfunder digital download – available for a minimum donation of £5/€6/$6 at merzfunder.bandcamp.com – comprises 114 exclusive tracks, delivering more than 10 hours of Schwitters-inspired creativity. Contributors include:

The Astronauts
V4V (Charles Hayward/This Heat)
Ob
NIk Turner’s OUTRIDERS OF THE APOCALYPSE (Hawkwind/Inner City Unit)
Geoff Leigh (Henry Cow/Warrior Squares)
Richard Youngs
Rapoon
Neil Campbell (Astral Social Club/ Vibracathedral Orchestra)
Hagar the Womb
Band of Holy Joy
The Shend (The Cravats/Very Things)

Money raised will go towards the rebuilding and shoring up of the Merz barn at Elterwater in the Lake District, which was damaged by one of last winter’s storms.

Kurt Schwitters was an outsider everywhere – not just as an exile in the Lakes, in London, in Norway, but also in Germany, where the Berlin Dadaists wouldn’t let him join their club because he broke their rules as well as everyone else’s. That inspired him to develop his Merz style of artwork, which he applied to poetry, performance, and abstract expressionist sculpture, collages and installations.

Schwitters was an artist in exile for most of his life, and he worked wherever he was. He ended up in a barn in the English Lakes. This was a working building that was not designed to house an internationally important artwork. It has not weathered well, and is now buckling under the onslaught of age and climate change. It was the last place of work for one of the world’s most influential artists and it continues to inspire others today. For that legacy to continue, the barn needs to be made sound.

That’s what this MERZfunder is raising money for. Please pay what you can to help make this happen – and, as a bonus, treat your ears to a wealth of wonderful sounds created by 100+ of us who want to thank Kurt Schwitters for showing us that creativity is about finding the artist within each and every one of us in whichever medium feels right, the more primal and abstract the better.

https://merzfunder.bandcamp.com/releases

NOTES

As one of the originators of the cut-up collage technique, which he applied to sound, poetry and 3D installations in his famous Merzbau projects, Kurt Schwitters inspired countless others to explore their creativity outside the confines of the fine art tradition. Think Brion Gysin, William Burroughs, David Bowie, Lydia Lunch – all gave a nod to Schwitters for setting them on their path.

Kurt Schwitters was an outsider everywhere – not just as an exile in the Lakes, in London, in Norway, but also in Germany, where the Berlin Dadaists wouldn’t let him join their club because he broke their rules as well as everyone else’s. His creativity wasn’t bound by the values of the art world, his work never belonged in galleries. He had built Merz installations inside an ordinary house in Hanover, and when he had to leave them there (there was no place for ‘degenerate’ artists in Nazi Germany), he found somewhere else to make his mark: inside a cold, dark, little barn, buried in the most awe inspiring natural landscape. In the last years of his life, he walked five miles each way through those breathtaking mountains and valleys to get to his wall from Ambleside and make Merz.

The MerzBarn Langdale is under the care of the Littoral Arts Trust, which encourages artists inspired by Schwitters to continue his legacy by working at the site. http://www.littoral.org.uk / https://merzbarnlangdale.wordpress.com / @MerzBarnLangdale

The Schwitters Wall was cut out of the barn in 1965 and taken to the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle, where it remains part of the permanent display. https://hattongallery.org.uk

For more details, contact digitalDIZZY through Facebook or email: algonne@hotmail.co.uk

And to close this post and great video & sound from Sequential

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Wave:Line:Form:Curve:Repeat

The following is reposted from my Glove of Bones page and illustrates some recent visual work.

I hope you find something of interest here.

Wave Line Form Curve

I recently produced a set of images which started with screen grabs from ‘Glove of Bones’ film which you can enjoy all over again HERE.

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These had a certain degree of random selection, having taken 20 or so across the four main sections of the film they were whittled down into a set that had some visual connection but as stand alone items appeared fairly abstracted. Taking their source and shape they were allocated the a shape designation which lead into the digital Lino Cut accompanying image.

These were then ordered and conjoined with drawn & collaged elements over the top of large digitally printed base images.

There is no particular narrative and the naming is really no different from descriptors one might use when making a sound peace, quieter, scratchy, more bass, etc and I’ve built the pieces in the same process/structure as I would if building four sounds that were intended to be heard in sequence. Of course aspects of self, personality and approach work their way under the skin of the pieces.

The final pieces have been scanned and digitally reproduces as art prints on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper. The prints can be reordered, moving No1 to position 4 for example without destroying the continuity.

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The Commonality of Strangers – Mahtab Hussain

Mahtab Hussain

I don’t share posts here that relate to work very often. This does in that the artist concerned is someone I assisted with printing services over the last few years.

Recently, in my view, we saw our society step back from the open, inclusive country it had been developing towards over the last 30 years. It happened quickly, fuelled by a divisive referendum, with much public opinion informed by, to be completely frank, blatant, manipulative lies.

Over previous years I have been very pleased to work with the New Art Exchange in Nottingham, producing printed materials for their many diverse exhibitions. One particular show was produced by photographer Mahtab Hussain. This work has a great relevance to the current debate. Much of the below is from the press release and his website.

I received the following from Mahtab earlier and would like to share this first.

“Over the last 5 days I have been heart broken by the rise of hate, xenophobia and racist attacks that has taken hold of the British public. Britons voted to leave the European Union, steering the UK on a course of uncertainty, and critically, effecting the fate of those who have chosen to make the UK their home. It seems to be open season for migrant communities as hate crime has increased by 50 -55% in less than a week of the referendum result and I for one cannot sit around waiting for our ‘so called’ leaders to settle down the public.”

Mahtab Hussain

Much of the work for the exhibition was shot around Hyson Green in Nottingham, I lived in the area for the best part of ten years, it’s also where the New Art Exchange is based. The area demonstrates the best of what a multicultural society can achieve. The many cultures, religions and ethnicities live side by side. Many coming in from overseas gravitate to the area, contributing and striving for better futures, before moving out into wider areas and making way for new visitors.

“The Commonality of Strangers addresses the impact of multiculturalism in Britain today and humanises the migrant’s story, demystifying who these individuals really are, while confronting the viewer with the reality of their experience and why they came to live in the UK.

These stories tell of people escaping from poverty, persecution, violence and personal tragedy. What unfolds is a collection of images which challenges stereotypes and assumptions in a current political environment in which immigration is a major issue. Hussain hopes that in bringing these individuals to the fore and allowing their voices to be heard, this series will empower minority cultures by giving a deeper context to their existence in the UK. In turn, Hussain is asking the viewer to consider the commonality of mankind’s wants and needs whilst emphasising that the veneer of everyday life can easily veil the immense struggles and deeper contexts in which people live, and have lived.

The Commonality of Strangers serves to contextualise and humanise the migrant story, urging viewers to move beyond widely held stereotypes, assumptions and scare mongering tactics used unashamedly by politicians in the Brexit campaign.

Commissioned by New Art Exchange 2014/15.

Education, awareness, tolerance and truth are the best tools available to undermine the appalling and increasing incidents of racial abuse which this deeply faulted referendum has bought back to the surface of our society. As in the 1970’s & 1980’s creative endeavour can be a positive force to shame those that feel suddenly empowered by the darker elements in our political system.

Visit the New Art Exchange here http://www.nae.org.uk/

More about the artist here http://www.mahtabhussain.com/

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MerzBarn – Fundraiser

Kurt Schwitters and Hilde Goldstein outside the Merz Barn, c. 1946. Photo © K und E Schwitters Stiftung, Hannover

Kurt Schwitters and Hilde Goldstein outside the Merz Barn, c. 1946. Photo © K und E Schwitters Stiftung, Hannover

I have noted here previously an association with the wonderful digitalDIZZY net label. They have released two of my musical pieces and have been kind enough to include my schizzle on two of their great compilations.

Well there’s another one forthcoming which I’m more than happy to get behind. Please forgive the following copy and paste content, but I hope you’ll get the point.

From Wiki:

Kurt Hermann Eduard Karl Julius Schwitters (20 June 1887 – 8 January 1948) was a German artist who was born in Hanover, Germany.

Schwitters worked in several genres and media, including Dada, Constructivism, Surrealism, poetry, sound, painting, sculpture, graphic design, typography, and what came to be known as installation art. He is most famous for his collages, called Merz Pictures.”

For my part, having an interest in graphic design, collage, printmaking and surrealism, I took quite an liking in his work when at art school.

“Schwitters first visited the Lake District on holiday with Edith Thomas in September 1942. He moved there permanently on 26 June 1945, to 2 Gale Crescent Ambleside. However, after another stroke in February of the following year and further illness, he and Edith moved to a more easily accessible house at 4 Millans Park.

During his time in Ambleside Schwitters created a sequence of proto-pop art pictures, such as For Käte, 1947, after the encouragement from his friend, Käte Steinitz. Having emigrated to the United States in 1936, Steinitz sent Schwitters letters describing life in the emerging consumer society, and wrapped the letters in pages of comics to give a flavour of the new world, which she encouraged Schwitters to ‘Merz’.

In March 1947, Schwitters decided to recreate the Merzbau and found a suitable location in a barn at Cylinders Farm, Elterwater, which was owned by Harry Pierce, whose portrait Schwitters had been commissioned to paint. Having been forced by a lack of other income to paint portraits and popularist landscape pictures suitable for sale to the local residents and tourists, Schwitters received notification shortly before his 60th birthday that he had been awarded a £1,000 fellowship to be transferred to him via the Museum of Modern Art in New York in order to enable him to repair or re-create his previous Merz constructions in Germany or Norway.[58] Instead he used it for the “Merzbarn” in Elterwater. Schwitters worked on the Merzbarn daily, travelling the five miles between his home and the barn, except for when illness kept him away. On 7 January 1948 he received the news that he had been granted British citizenship. The following day, on 8 January, Schwitters died from acute pulmonary edema and myocarditis, in Kendal Hospital.”

Merz Barn Eltewater

The Elterwater Merzbarn is at the centre of this project.

This from Merz Barn Langdale

“The Merz Barn project is an outstanding contribution to the understanding of contemporary art, not only in this country but in the world-art context. It has taken great care and work to bring this to fruition. It speaks enormously well of Cumbria and of us as a nation, and will undoubtedly be a focus of interest for decades to come. To think that it will crumble away for the sake of a modest grant speaks very badly of the Arts Council’s priorities, especially in the more remote parts of England. I do hope this will be reconsidered.” Email from Lord Bragg, 10.6.14

The Merz barn building still stands much as Schwitters left it in 1948. Located in a remote woodland in the heart of the Langdale valley in Cumbria, NW England it serves as a symbolic connection and poignant memorial to the spirit and tenacity of the artist who worked there. This project is about the recovery, documentation and restoration of Kurt Schwitters‘ last Merzbau project; the Elterwater Merz Barn, and the international fundraising campaign that is intended to pay for vital restoration work and sustain the development of the project in the longer term.

This brings us directly to the project. This from ‘Merz Funder

“Over the past three years we’ve been visiting the beautiful Elterwater Merz Barn in Cumbria (last creative home of the mighty Kurt Schwitters)using various devices to capture field recordings(outside the barn) & using these to create live soundscapes(inside). On our arrival last week we discovered that the whole site has been severely damaged in recent storms, which is devastating news as the merzbarn receives no arts grant or regular funding. SO we need your help to raise monies and awareness about the final home of uk dada! Ruby/lamorna/Joy/exp ct!”

So for all of the above reasons, I’m very pleased to offer ‘Merzquito’ to the project. This was produced with content by Belgian sound artist Peter Wullen. A happy accident of coincidence, his word assemblage / text/talk poem about a mosquito, reading about Schwitters internment on the Isle of Wight at the end of WWII, and the launch of the Merz Funder project.

I’ll confess to having a couple more lined up and some musings on visual materials. Its great to inspired by a project. I hope some readers here will feel the same. Contribution is everything.

Some vital links here

Merz Funder on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/Merzfunder/

Merz Barn Langdale https://merzbarnlangdale.wordpress.com

This from A-N https://www.a-n.co.uk/news/kurt-schwitters-merzbarn

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#TDM – The Drone Machine Project

The followings is reposted from the Glove of Bones project page. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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TDM

From the beginning of my swagger into music production of some sort or another the term ‘Drone’ has been in the room. A friend of mine, Mark Ward had started to make ambient music and through this I found the frighteningly good natured and creative community of diverse independent musicians through FaceBook groups, Sound Cloud and Bandcamp net labels. There are people out there making 8 hour compositions, terrifying field noise experiments, dreamy piano / synth / guitar pieces, industrial noise and experimental drone.

Drone (or protracted monophonic/harmonic sound) has occupied a place in music for millennia. From a wet finger circling a wine glass to bagpipes and the sitar, the hypnotic underpin of many musical forms is the drone element.

In contemporary music artists like Sunn O))) and Steve Wilson (as Bass Communion) use sustained repetition and volume to affect an audience at a level other than just song structure & lyrical content.

Following the modern trail back you get the Velvet Underground and Modern Classical composers like Terry Riley, Steve Reich & Phillip Glass.

Further into the obscure there are artist from Dada, the Beats & Avante Garde using pure sound to impact their audience.
A little before the New Year I came across Tony Conrad and the group that formed the Dream Syndicate
In particular the link between a sound experiment and an artefact had resonance.

The Long String Drone is discussed in this article and for some unknown reason the device struck a chord with me.

Tony_Conrad_Long_String_Drone_GB_W

Digging a little deeper the sound produced from these devices cemented the fascination.

Add to that the incredible process & construction behind the work of Ellen Fullman and I was intent on having my own device.

My approach to scale is somewhat limited by domestic circumstance and budget and overall you could say I’ve given an organ transplant to a guitar. I am, as always lead by a Voodoo notion of connection to materials, history and activity. The resulting artefact is almost exactly as I imagined with the added advantage of being functional.

The intention was to build something with a physical presence that took it away from being a guitar, that it would be a functional electric device whose sound could be manipulated, that as an object it would have an ascetic of its own, and that to best of my ability it would be constructed from the ground up.
Most of the ‘guitar’ elements are exhumed from a cheap Strat copy from the local Cash Convertors, the main body is a 1.4M long piece of Oak which the very kind Alan from Custom Frames supplied and routed to my design. The project has come together far quicker than I imagined it would and bar some minor cosmetic intervention its working. Below you can see a gallery of the development process.

The creative applications for this elaborated plank are slowly coming together. I’m hopeful that I can acquire more analogue sound effect devices but that wanders into a whole new world of practical dilemmas. I’ve had one small experiment with the machine which whilst casual and unplanned, I found exciting to produce. The drone element of this is a single unedited production. the sound artefacts that are added are to colour in the narrative (a non specific walking story). This is #TDM 01.

I hope you join me for the further adventures in drone, coming to this page soon.

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Captain Beefheart, cut up poetry and the inevitability of death.

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After the very sad death of David Bowie recently I’ve been pondering on process, influence and the awful inevitability of all that creativity and effort reduced to dust, blabber & smoke.
Quite famously Bowie used the Dadaist Cut-Up technique to form lyrics taking as his direct influence William S Burroughs. The process has more recently been used by Kurt Cobain and Thom Yorke.

Another notable exponent was left field American artist Don Van Vliet, mainly know by his nom-de-plume Captain Beefheart. A friend of mine often cites the Captain as “One of only two post-1945 musical geniuses (the other being Miles Davis).” I’ve often taken issue with this bringing in Zappa and others a counter argument, but I’m increasingly persuaded by his argument.

Van Vliet passed away in 2010 following several years of illness with MS. During his retirement from music he lived in the desert of California in quiet solitude with his wife and mainly engaged with the production of exquisite and primal painting in the Abstract Expressionist style.

Is work can be seen on his website HERE

But back to the poetry. The following was included in the exhibition document Stand Up To Be Discontinued in 1993. Its evident his health was declining from his reading.

– Fallin’ Ditch

When I get lonesome the wind begin t’ moan
When I trip fallin’ ditch
Somebody wanna’ throw the dirt right down
When I feel like dyin’ the sun come out
Stole my fear ‘n gone
Who’s afraid of the spirit with the bluesferbones
Who’s afraid of the fallin’ ditch
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bones
How’s that for the spirit
How’s that for the things
Ain’t my fault the thing’s gone wrong
When I’m smilin’ my face wrinkles up real warm
When I’m frownin’ things just turn t’ stone
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bones
When I get lonesome the wind begin t’ moan
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bones

– The Tired Plain

The bra was white and yellow elastic
and held to foam cones
the corners triangular shaped
pyramid
three edges made one point
starfish and embry boards
triple D cupped and poked to a point
the main character was composed into a bow
that broke first in the front
and equal on adjacent sides

American cowboy was approaching on a collision course
– his hands groped outstretched three digits triangular
to the front nail a line was drawn from the middle
finger to the knuckle of the index finger across
the middle finger onto the third –
creating a perfect arrow
with an imaginary point

– Skeleton Makes Good

There’s so many things
to feel and see while you’re awake
they’re just out of reach
out of grasp
yeah out of reach
and just as many, maybe more
the minute that you sleep
so I got to throw my preach
skeleton breath
scorpion blush
I have a crush on your skeleton
watch out unsuspecting stranger
you’ll fall off the log
headfirst into dreams
end up screaming
this will comb the wolf
and that will comb the fog
what will peen the rain
what will preen the hog
oh you mean earth
and hell over you
and laugh at your tire tracks
if you get up
skeleton makes good

– Safe Sex Drill

The child
held the old T.P. roll
carefully
thoughtful
not to misshape
the hole

– Tulip

It could be
a tremendous black upside-down tulip
it could be
a black fishes’ tail
it could be a day, artistically crimped
and buoyant
in its taped together way

– Gill

Bub & Gil
Bub & Gil
Bub in India
Bub & Mat
Bub in the wool
Bub in a rug
Indoor Bub – Bub in stitches
Glass Bub – Bub in rope
Bub in jail
Bub in tent
Bub in pale
Bub on springs – Bub’s brakes
Bub in pyjamas
Bub’s party – with Gil & Mat & Bub in stitches
Erect Bub
Gill’s pill
Perfumer

To close, here is the Captain in full musical wonder.

The following documentary is also and engaging watch.

Don Van Vliet January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010

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YSP & Hepworth Wakefield

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A couple of weeks ago I had a random day off work with no commitments that couldn’t be ignored. The weather wasn’t entirely clement but with an intention to do something I’d hoped to do all summer I took a ride up the M1 to Bretton and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. There are 500 acres of open country park which hosts some of the most important modern sculptures by artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Anthonys Caro & Gormley, Eduardo Paolozzi, Elizabeth Frink, Jaun Miro, James Turrell, Ai, Weiwei, Lynn Chadwick, Marc Quinn, Julian Opie & Richard Long.

A steady walk around the grounds takes upwards of 3 hours with the enticement of another artefact in the distance to keep you going. I had hoped to take some ‘proper’ photographs but the light was flat & grey. The best results came from Hipstamatic using a near monochrome fine grain high contrast film.

This first set of pictures are all YSP. Highlight for me was the James Turrell Skyspace which only the experience of it justifies. The Turrell pieces are more commonly known in the wide open spaces of North America but this construction in an old Deer shelter on the estate is graced by the noise of crows and our steel skies. The 20mins I spent there was fortunately solitary and all the better for it.

James Turrell - Skyview, YSP

Click on a single image to open the gallery view.

The gallery spaces are used for temporary exhibitions and currently they have work from artist Bill Viola – not an artist I was previously familiar with. One of his large digital projects was also placed in the Chapel on the estate. This was a stunning piece relating to Ascension & Recension. The short film below gives a flavour of the work but its better seen and experienced with scale the artist intends.

After exhausting the collection at YSP (and my legs) as I was in the area I went over to the Hepworth Wakefield. This is wonderful contemporary art space built to place and celebrate the work of Barbara Hepworth and host temporary exhibitions. Its a surprisingly expansive space with numerous galleries. The current show by Enrico David was defiantly worth a look but the numerous Hepworth pieces and reproduction casts contributed to an engrossing view. This is the gallery view…..

Follow the embedded links for more information about both places.

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The Rain in Space

Dub From Another Planet

 

It’s been a little while since I’ve been able to sit down and indulge a little self promotion. In that time I’ve managed to finish two new songs. Both are in some way the result of finding new apps and web resources. So what follows is a brief explanation of the content and the process.

Dub From Another Planet.

This comes two new discoveries. The first is an iPad application called ‘Launchpad’ from Novation. The Company produce midi keyboards and pads to connect with your device (although I just used the standalone app). The app gives you a number of ‘genre’ styles (Drum & Bass, Hip-Hop, Trance etc) from which the one I’m most familiar with is ‘Reggae & Dub’. I have history with the music of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Dennis ‘Blackbeard’ Bovell and artist like Eek’A’Mouse, MackaB & Ini Kamoze. The app use a grid format with columns of tracks and within that numerous loops and effects which you can play live and record into the app.
Around the same time I started playing with that NASA made available some free to use sounds that have been recorded from electron telescopes and other sources. These include the sounds of Quasars and galaxies. They are quite fascinating and, like looking into the embers of a fire, its easy to find patterns in the chaotic static. The whops and squeaks are all in this case of extraterrestrial origin. Its incredibly fascinating stuff.

You can find more of those here: https://soundcloud.com/nasa

I’ve used sounds from NASA, the dub track and a fair amount of processing through Audacity & Garage Band. And this is the result.

Whilst I’m a little less ‘down’ with some of the other genres in Launchpad the flexibility of timing and adding different loops makes this an endlessly entertaining and creative tool. Whilst I’m more likely to investigate ‘Trance’ my son seems to think ‘Dubstep’ is the way to go.

Gustave_Doré_-_The_Holy_Bible_-_Plate_I,_The_Deluge

Shortly Before The Flood

The second song which came to fruition really quite quickly is a mass of rhythm & percussion loops. The main loop that acts as the foundation is a reverse of copied/constructed digital version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘When The Levee Breaks’. Its running a little faster and doesn’t include any of the lovely fills that a real drummer would use, and its backwards…. The other loops are all from GarageBand and also includes some ‘Rev’ freebies (I think i would enjoy Rev but its a bit rich for me).

The theme of course derives from the base loop but as this sequence as been in many ways informed by our Norfolk adventure earlier in the year I took into mind the sound of rain on a caravan roof. There’s nothing like being in a caravan in a serious storm. The rain fall is amplified and the only thing keeping you from lightening shock is a couple of rubber tyres.

The dripping rain sounds (like a leaking roof resolved by kitchen pots & pans) are from sampled and processed guitar noises. The electrical storm at end is feedback and stretched chords.

It sounds exactly like this and I’m still quite taken with it.

My feature image for this song is a Norfolk picture with a section of a Gustave Dore illustration for Noah’s Ark. Always had a fondness for a good engraving.
I was uncertain of the title for a while but it is what it is. Its a little close to ‘Here Comes The Flood’ and any other number of deluge (love that word) related tunes. I’m happy with it whatever the weather.

The one thing I’d like to add to this the on-line mastering application Landr. I’ve used a few device to try and balance & equalise tracks but as the input is often variable it’s been problematic to avoid those sonic shocks when sequential tunes leap around in volume. Landr seems to solve this and the (free) MP3 out put is really good. For a monthly fee they offer WAV files. In my view I think they should run accounts and charge per track. Their monthly fee for four WAV files is fair but you would need to be consistent to need this. And I’m anything but consistent.

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You Don’t Believe In Witchcraft, Do You?

The Necromancer

Taking a small cue from the current season of Halloween, I’d like to introduce my latest tune. I’m often on the side of not providing deep deconstruction of creative pieces but as I’m only going to skirt around the broader themes and add some rough background and some treats.

Before I start wittering on, this is the meat and bones of the post. A new song, a long song, and one I’m quite pleased with for its continuity and its formation.

In a quick answer to the opening question, no, I don’t. I’m sure there are folk who would intentionally mystify their activities to gain favour, power and money but I doubt they are truly dangerous or possessed of otherworldly powers. Of a more fatal type historically have been those ‘gifted’ with a skill to spot a Witch and claiming of a divine right to persecute and punish any that slip outside of their sphere of control. A nasty business from both sides and sadly perpetuated today across many communities. Fear in the unknown is a powerful persuader.

The mythology of witchery is pan-continental and with extensive history. Folk stories exist from ancient Greece, China and across Europe. Africa and its vast diaspora embrace it and continue to use its power throughout Africa and the West Indies. It’s endlessly occupying in the darker sides of life and bleeds out into fiction of all types. From schlock pulp, comic books, magical realism and beyond we love witchery in all its forms.

Since I was a 11-12 year old staying up with my Dad to watch Hammer movies I’ve always loved the horror genre. I’m less inclined to watch some of the contemporary gorefests that arise. The sense of mystery and the unseen is far more powerful. Along with the ‘Wicker Man’, ‘The Devil Rides Out’ the classic Dracula/Mummy/Werewolf movies I’ve had a long appreciation for ‘The Night of The Beast/Demon’. As it wasn’t readily available I bought an import VHS copy about 10 years ago. More recently I found an import DVD copy.
Now it’s even on You Tube?

Its a brilliant cross over UK/USA production made in 1957. Lots more about it here. It’s interesting to me in that it proposes the relationship between belief in outcomes and how belief can lead outcomes. The original story was written by M.R. James, an historian and academic who wrote several ghost stories. Apparently a new film version of this particular story has been proposed.

My song uses as its lead in an exchange between the two main characters of film – Dr. John Holden, the American rational psychologist and Dr. Julian Karswell, the professorial academic with a leaning towards the dark side. A far more well known use of text from this film is found in Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds of Love’….Its in the Trees! Its coming!…

For your further enlightenment, this is the film in question. Its a wonderful thing.

Sonically the tune progresses in a simple linear way – Introduction>Consolidation>Expansion>Proclamation>Disintegration. Most of this achieved through layers of rhythm and increasing distortion, I did want to include something nailed to reality and was inclined to find a real Witch.

 

Like the fictional Carswell in the movie, Aleister Crowley was an historian & academic. He was a great self promoter and was variously known as the ‘The Great Beast’ and the most evil man in England. In more recent times he has been further mythologised by references from Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ian Gillan and any other Satanic referencing Rock/Metal band.

Many years ago I borrowed ‘Magik in Theory & Practise’ from my local library with one or two strange looks. Its a lengthy and mainly unreadable book that serves in many ways as a diary of Crowley’s onianism and its outcomes. Crowley travelled widely and assisted many archeological expeditions in the mediterranean, south America and China and was undoubtably committed to research and comparative cultures. He was worldly and well informed as well as being somewhat deviant in other areas. Its proposed that during the early years of the Second World War he worked with MI5, along with Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl & Dennis Wheatly producing mystified disinformation for Nazi opponents – it was even suggested that he came up with the popularised ‘V’ for Victory sign.

In the song , during the middle section I’ve used a recording of Crowley intoning a ‘prayer’ about America. One of the main edifices of Witchery is presentation, intonation…. ‘giving it some scary’. Crowley achieves this better than most. There’s a touch of the William Burroughs about it.

This is the recording I used for the song.

The song use a number of processes and apps. Mainly produced using Garageband with added Rev loops. The main guitar was my Eros Les Paul copy (£45 in 1985, nice pots) recorded in Amplitude. I guess I had some God Speed You Black Emperor In mind, or maybe Swans. I’m consistently surprised these things turn out without being completely discordant.

I’m working on that though.

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The Loke (Revisited)

Loke Brushes 04

Closing the circle on the previous post here. Taking the motion blur pictures into the Brushes App on iPad and what can only be loosely described as drawing over the pictures, then exporting the actions from the drawings into .mov files, slowing them down and then splicing them together to make a short animation.

Loke Brushes o3

The process is much like that that goes into creating the music. It’s aim and intention is very open. It doesn’t have an end point or desired conclusion. I might make an infinity gif next time and rather than bookending a song with a fadein/out to join them up, work on perpetual repeat. I wonder if theres an app for that?

Loke Brushes 01

This is the finished piece.

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