Sunday, 28 June 2015

Half Year Report

In two days time half of 2015 will already be gone and so it seems appropriate at this point to look back and see where I have been, musically and philosophically, so far this year. A glance at my blog record tells me I've written over 30 blogs so far this year, starting with my MUSIC MANIFESTO on the first day of the year. That particular blog was written still fresh from my entanglement in the writings of John Cage and one particular thing from it stands out. The sixth point of my "manifesto" is as follows:

Music is not about being bad or good. It is about having something to say or not.

I think that in the last 6 months I have come to believe that even more and it ever guides my creating and my listening. That manifesto carried in it a number of ideas about music being a form of story telling and I think I would hold to this belief (or be captured more firmly by this belief) than I was even 6 months ago. Since the beginning of 2014 and my albums BLUE and STATIC METAL which, in turn, gave rise to what would become the 13 part series ELEKTRONISCHE EXISTENZ (which then became the name for the whole creative project of my entire life, primarily in writing and music), I have been on a road in which my music became episodic and multiple. These days, if I was asked to write a single album, I would feel that it was a bit bare and exposed. Indeed, I have removed albums from my online store as they didn't seem to fit all by themselves anymore. My music this year has centred around three multiple part projects: Human/Being, that began with the album JEDEM DAS SEINE, the "Timeless" trio of albums initiated with the album ZEITLOS and the recent double album series of THE EXISTENZ EQUATION and THE EXISTENZ EQUATION II.

All three series this year have been high points for my music and I currently could not imagine the musical story of my life without them. And this, I think, is because I stuck to that sixth point of my music manifesto. The music can only be good and worthwhile if you have something to say. I think that I have always felt this creatively but it becomes ever more explicit. So much of what is created in this world seems either shallow, commercially motivated (often the same thing) or worthless. If I have any motivation at all in the music I have made it is to be about something and to express something. Now, of course, I can't make that the case for everyone. But I can make it the case for me. If it says something to someone else too that will have to be a bonus. And it seems as if maybe it does. I have had around 450 album downloads so far this year and well over 1,300 listens of my songs. My current catalog includes a couple of collaborations, SHIKANTAZA, a collaboration with a gorgeous vocalist from California named Valerie Polichar and a brilliant rock guitarist, Luke Clarke, who sadly died earlier in the year, and SPACE, part of my Human/Being project and a collaboration with Iceman Bob, someone who has also become an intellectual friend. As I'm not the most social of beasts these collaborations are to be noted since I am someone for whom the music is very, very personal. Fortunately, I'm happy with the outcome of both projects, neither of which simply sound like me, as they shouldn't.

In terms of the sound of my music there has been a pronounced change this year related to my listening habits. I have become explicitly influenced by two schools of German music from the 1970s, Berlin School and Kosmische. I've written about these before so I'll save you the duplication here save to say that currently I couldn't think of writing anything that wasn't encompassed by these descriptions. The longer format (I aim for songs around a  notional 15 minute length these days), developmental nature and sonic exploration of these forms seems tailor made for the philosophical and expressive types of music I want to make. 

And what of my themes? Philosophically, I have been fixated on human beings so far this year - and their particular form of being, human being. This is pointed up in the project, album and song titles and, as already explained, this is a journey for me. Things have always been very existential for me in life and they become more and more so. I feel very thrown into life, a life I often don't want or would give back. And so much of life for me is trying to understand what I was thrown into and trying to make some meaning out of it. My music and writing is my poorly articulated attempts at this. I can do no other and, if I was for some reason stopped from doing it, I would go mad. So its good for me when I make something that, listening back, I feel really hit some meaningful nail on the head. Such, for me, are albums such as THE INFINITE SEA and HUMAN/BEING X and ONTOLOGIE. In albums like these I can hear back very clearly the thoughts I was thinking and the understandings that I have come to in life. I read something earlier in the year that remarked that you would not write philosophy in anything but words because philosophy is an explicative practice that requires communicative perspicacity. Hearing albums such as these three I completely disagree. Music, something which communicates ideas, moods and emotions, can be philosophical, not least in the sense that, if allowed to, it can promote the activity of thought. At its best this is what my music does.

                 The 24 albums that currently represent my musical output online

And so as we stand at the beginning of the European summer and enter the second part of the year I wonder where things will go next. The truth about me is that I have always been very good at looking back - because I'm usually facing the wrong way in life, looking over my shoulder, observing where I have come from to try and understand where I am now. But I am absolutely terrible at looking forward. Indeed, I barely ever do it. Perhaps this is some kind of defence mechanism, afraid, as I am, to face the future. I occasionally get the urge to begin some grand project, perhaps a full length book or multi-media project encompassing artworks, music and text, but these fade because I am, firstly, very lazy and, secondly, guided always by a need for instant gratification. After getting on for 5 decades (Jesus! really?) it is very easy to fall back into the excuse that you cannot teach such an old dog new tricks.

But I am sure that I will continue to be a somewhat morose, melancholic, thoughtful man who finds the need to express himself in words and sounds. Indeed, increasingly, it seems clear that this is all I will ever be. It will have to be enough.

I would be delighted were you to sample any of my music, all of which is available for free. You can find it at

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