As I recover from the flu that wiped me out for a week, forcing me to bed and teaching me new tricks on how to simulate a power drill with a headache, I decided it’s time to commit to my late new year’s resolutions.
Not long ago we were all raising our glasses to a hopefully more rational 2017, as the previous year proved science and reasoning are not worthy of people affection. A few days later Trump has been sworn in as POTUS and Brexit becomes the rough reality to face.
To console myself from the madness of the world and domestic socio-political situation I invested in a MIDI controller, specifically an AKAI MPK Mini MK II. Do not fear. I am not planning on dropping my other hobby and my commitment to the MindAperture facebook and Instagram pages proves it.
But discussing music production with some associates of mine it occurred to me that I enjoyed this activity in the past and decided to channel part of my creative drive into the kicks, snares and basslines.
My main objective for the year is to finish my PhD. Thesis and code are at a good point and just need more work done but this should take no longer than 6 months. On the other hand, the side projects are now two and include growing MindAperture, which at the moment orbits on 400+ followers on Instagram, and starting to play around with some simple track. Getting my hands dirty with the simplest setting of the MPK Mini and Garageband and see what comes out.
On a more traditional note, my other new year resolution is to read a book per month. I am currently reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. Seeing how the author’s academic work strongly influenced my research I decided it was the right time. Potential futures updates will be on my opinions on the books, editing techniques learnt on Lightroom or the latest promo release.
[Disclaimer: Read the following if you are one of those folks living a good 80% of their life with earphones buried deep in their ear canals. Keep reading if you, like me, are forcefully imposing your music tastes on your powerless neighbours. But please stop reading if you are an extremist. That is, if you believe your musical genre is the only one worth listening to. This is no post for musical-monotheistic fundamentalists.]
It is healthy and reasonable to listen to both old and new classics. We all indulge in binge listening to our favourite Johnny Cash, Joy Division or Fleetwood Mac for hours.
Having established this, it is only right to keep searching for more. And if the search is genuinely enjoyable then why not search full time?
To keep an open mind is not an overused and demeaned mantra of our generation. It is a law of nature.
When I first set foot on British soil I could have had no idea how much I would fall in love with the music scene of one of its finest cities. Sheffield talents have been blossoming since and I keep letting the waves of energy and creativity of this city wash over me in a blissful joy. Here I found a microcosmos of artists and live performers. I kept discovering the countless venues ready to host newborn local bands as well as established touring foreigners. Graphic artists embellish the streets with the finest graffiti. This is the perfect combination for nurturing hard working talents, an impressive fertile ground indeed. Musicians don’t fear competition, the frequent open mic events are tempting and the atmosphere is always relaxed and collaborative.
I started supporting local bands when I was still a student by purchasing my very first EP, a band from Exeter called Naomi. I have posted one of their song at the beginning of this blog. I literally wore out the CD and decided to switch to their digital version, keeping the physical copy as a token of appreciation. Some sort of relic. Since then I’ve been pleasantly surprised by dozens of other artists. What really strikes me is the never settling variety of genres. This journey of discovery is so entertaining, I can’t help but give in to the constant stream of invitations to join this or that event and show up to yet another venue. Listening to the supporting bands, the headliners, the DJs. Getting to know the people orbiting around them and appreciating their opinions and ideas.
I happened, I don’t deny it, to attend poor performances. But, to be fair, who cares? When the statistics are so skewed in favour of good music and nice people, the risk of spending a couple of boring hours is nothing at all. Considering I will be doing so with the most interesting people anyway completely erases any possible doubt. And this brings me to the second part of this post: friendship. We all know friendship is such an important ingredient in the recipe of life happiness. It is often taken for granted. But I am grateful for the disinterested, even selfless, relationships I managed to establish. And yes, music definitely played a role in this. A gang of likeminded individuals will manage to pull the best out of the dullest night outs.
I decided to take a picture to celebrate my personal collection of musical artefacts. Every day these little friends pour ethereal food into my brain through my side openings, also known as ears.
Sometimes it is sweet funky honey, other times I’ll be having psychaedelic brain food. When I want energy and realism I indulge in my big unhealthy dose of blues rock. If I am all about the feels I’ll let my thoughts drift away to melancholic bittersweet melodies. No doubt this selection will look insignificant to the most avid collectors but it is nonetheless an excellent starting point.
I found unconditional happiness on this little big planet. I surprise myself with a big grin on my face, strolling down the roads and finding no reason to be upset even when the rest of the world is snapping madly at me. I found balance thanks to this chaos. To distil a formula for a thorough musical enjoyment was my intent. This heartfelt blog post is my best attempt. Please let music inspire you and your life companions.
[In the photo, top: Postcards by Fran Wyburn and the Indigos, Glossolalia by The Sky Moguls, Autumn in Eden by Isembard’s Wheel.
Centre: Somos Lobos/Odmieńce by Baba Naga, a signed poster from The Downtown Roots last gig, Wet Nuns homonym album.
Bottom: Naomi’s EP (the one I was referring to in the post), Stay Dry, Stay Warm by Steve and the Sea, Ain’t no Fool by Ross Connor and The Sound of the Baskervilles by.. well, The Baskervilles.]
A couple of weeks ago me and my friend Andrea (a relatively famous Italian film critic) were at the S1 Artspace (S1 Artspace Facebook Page) in Sheffield.
We’ve attended an experimental arts event.
As the main description on the booklet summarises very well, “A long walk to grimethorpe is a project that is made up of two complementary parts: a new piece of music for brass band. And a documentary film that explores both the creation of that piece and the cultural context within which it emerges”.
The first part of the performance is a short movie that focuses on Joe Snape’s inspirational walk. The creative music composer embarks on the 20 miles long journey, that will bring him from Sheffield to Grimethorpe. He is equipped with a set of technical devices that will allow him to record the sounds along his trip. The equipment is mounted on a tuba. Yes, a tuba. That cumbersome musical instrument made of brass, to be precise the largest of the brass family.
The documentary deals also with the musical heritage of South Yorkshire. Joe has to reach Grimethorpe in time for the evening rehearsal of the world famous local band, the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
The film alternates scenes of the actual walk with interviews to the components of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band and archive footage of brass bands from Yorkshire. The director serves a skillfully stirred mixture of english humorous jokes, wet atmospheres, nostalgic retrò hints and changes of perspective. This results in an enjoyable and stimulating metaphorical trip where music is the link that connects past to present, passion to creativity, Sheffield to Grimethorpe.
What is really interesting about this formula is that the film, as shown, was not yet complete. Experimental director Ismar Badzic filmed the performance itself. The audience reactions both as a whole and individually. The viewer takes part in what will be the ultimate result of this creative process.
Part 2 was performed live, by the University of Sheffield Brass Band and by Joe Snape himself. A powerful mixture of recordings from the nature along the path and a series of brass pieces inspired by the walk. The results were overwhelmingly effective. The HD video shown, together with the music performance, projected the audience into the journey. The viewer could savour the stimuli in what really felt like a first person experience.
The atypical way of recording environmental noises, with a microphone fitted into the pipe of a tuba, exalted those subtle vibrations proper of nature sounds.
Joe Snape makes things with sounds. These are always for listening to, and often also for looking at.
His work straddles idioms from storytelling with homemade electronics to analogue A/V with incandescent light bulbs. Recently, he has performed his work at De Melkweg, Amsterdam; ACUD Theater, Berlin; Cafè Oto, LondonL Wonder Site, Tokyo; and The Kitchen, New York City. Joe studied music at the University of Cambridge, Oxford, and California, Berkeley. You can find more at http://joesna.pe
Ismar Badzic is a British-Bosnian director inspired by real life. FAscinated by the emotion derived from the interaction between people and the world around them, he seeks to capture true moments with cinematic elegance. Ismar has built up a rich and wide reaching body of work. A number of his short films and documentaries have been nominated and screened at festivals including Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (2013/2014), Mountain Film Festival, USA (2013) and London Short Film Festival (2014). Ismar is a finalist philosophy student at the University of Sheffield. You can find more at http://glovesandglass.com
Mr.SuicideSheep never lets you down.
Enjoyable voice, nice lyrics, this is officially one of my favourites tracks while working… I should set up a playlist for work music.
Well done Jaymes Young (btw this track is not on his Spotify)
Here we are, starting a blog *again*.
As you will have noticed, the layout of the entire website changed. The blog is now embedded in a scrolling, colorful template.
This should be a more enjoyable layout for mobile devices users as well as old fashioned desktop/laptop addicted.
I will do my best to make the contents enjoyable as well.
As a prompt start I am suggesting an electronic relaxing track. It fits perfectly a really interesting video about the universe seen as scaled in powers of 10.
Music by Gas (Mat Jarvis)
Original Video by Charles and Ray Eames – POWERS OF TEN © 1977 EAMES OFFICE LLC