We started recording this at the very end of 2008. It was inspired by Silent Hill, Jimmy Eat World, and And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead’s song Source Tags and Codes, which has the lyric:

You picked me up and we went for a drive
into the stained glass cavern of the night.

Adam’s vocal was perfect, as usual, but then something on the muted TV made us laugh. We got another take but I left the laughter in. I originally programmed really hectic drums, as I’d been listening to The Most Serene Republic a lot. Some of it sounded good but I couldn’t get it just right. Tweaking the timing and velocity for each hit was so laborious I ended up leaving it alone, fiddling once every few years and eventually dumping the drum track for a more spacious mix. In the meantime, my band recorded an uptempo rock version at the Rich Bitch studio in Birmingham. We called that Air on the Radio. Check it out below, it sounds quite different with Jon’s nailgun drumming and airtight rhythm with Paul on bass.

Anyway it’s good to finish these things, even if it does take nearly eight years.

Here’s the Distant Signal version:

People Are Guitars playlist

I’ve cobbled together a playlist for People Are Guitars. I started recording these instrumental tracks in Cornwall, which is where the title ‘Do Nothing Beach’ came from. Except I couldn’t do nothing and started playing around with two new toys: Ableton Live and a Fender Strat. I tried to play some sparkling arpeggios like you hear on early Jimmy Eat World tracks.

We’ll see what happens next. I have a few new songs to record and am thinking about stripping back production in the next release for a sparser sound overall. You can see that direction on some of these tracks, though ‘When Feelings Attack’ definitely maxes things out. More Uffmoor Woods Music Club tracks can be found on SoundCloud. Thanks for listening!

Improv 2

Another improv in a slack key. C wahine tuning: CGDGBD. Named ‘Holidays’ by J repeating that word as I jammed with the ideas. The book propping up the iPhone is Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach.

Improv 1

Trying out a new idea where I film guitar improvs – and that’s all there is to it. This one’s in C wahine (CGDGBD), a slack key guitar tuning. I’m playing quietly to avoid waking the family.

Boy Scouts Never Die

Here’s a new track intended for People Are Guitars, the instrumental release I’ve been working on. I think it’s finished but there could be some rearranging to do. Feedback welcomed.

The painting is Henry Mosler’s The Lost Cause (1869), on the American Civil War.

Takagi Masakatsu, Akira Kosemura and the beauty

I love Takagi Masakatsu’s music. I don’t know much about him but, as far as I can tell, he travelled the world asking people to sing or play one melody, ‘The Light Song’. Hopeful piano riffs mix with childrens’ choirs, found sounds and scratchy processes. If I could sum up what I know of his music in one word, that word would be ‘playful’.

Sometimes Masakatsu’s music seems too straightforwardly happy, sentimental, simple in tone and texture. But there’s a sadness in the happiness, and vice versa. One new year’s eve I remember listening to a Dntel record in a backroom of a party. An acquantaince entered the room and said “I don’t know whether this music makes me feel happy or sad.” Wild times! A lot of the music I like has that kind of ambivalence. It’s a trait Masakatsu shares with Akira Kosemura. Their music can be uncomfortably direct in its evocation of beauty. Kosemura’s Twitter bio describes him as a “composer for capturing the beauty”. No need to say of what, I suppose. That simple ambition leaves traces of its hidden depth everywhere. Ambiguity arises. As the notes decay they leave an impenetrable silence and simplicity becomes the most unfathomable thing of all.

In any case, Takagi Masakatsu’s music isn’t always easy to listen to. It’s filled with ideas and sometimes weird cacophony, like breathing sounds or semi-musical noise. This is pretty strange, for example. Who has the right to say whether such choices are the result of a composer adding texture, trying to be ‘experimental’, or satisfying an unknowable itch of self-expression? The same is true of Kosemura’s Polaroid Piano. A sound like tree branches clawing the roof of a cabin persists throughout the entire record. It’s a unifying effect, as if you really were in that cabin while the piano played start to finish in one take.

Whether intended or not, the use of sound effects has a particular purpose and effect. It makes a recording definitive, specific, beyond the reach of notation. And when sound effects become part of the music, music itself becomes a sound effect. All that mesmeric tinkling is suddenly specific and incidental. Like everything else, it’s a ‘one off’ captured in a world which, as one of Masakatsu’s album titles tells us, is so beautiful.

Takagi Masakatsu links

Takagi Masakatsu’s Soundcloud.

Takagi Masakatsu on Spotify.

Takagi Masakatsu - Niyodo

Akira Kosemura links

Akira Kosemura’s Soundcloud.

Akira Kosemura’s Polaroid Piano on Spotify.

Akira Kosemura - Polaroid Piano