My new album Interspaces is now finished. Hooray! However, I decided to postpone its mastering and release until after my forthcoming “holiday” (always somehow working) in Finland: I want to listen to it against the stillness and freshness of rural Midsummer nights, with my senses quietened and reoriented from the hustle and bustle of Paris, and make any final adjustments if needed; I’ll be also finishing my other album Earth Variations while there, in the same pastoral immersion.
I’ll be working in the very same room, with the same view over fields and forests, where I made my first serious electronic compositions 28 years ago (one of those pieces almost made it onto Interspaces!). Until recently, I’d thought this would be a fitting place to finish these two albums as, for quite a while, I’d been feeling that Interspaces and Earth Variations would be my final works and then I’d quit music, move on to greener pastures like writing – and what a more poignant place to bring my adventures in music and sound to close than the one where the journey started.
Music is a strangely intoxicating and invigorating substance, however, and once you’ve discovered something through it, it’s difficult if not downright impossible to quit. Ideas, inspiration and curiosity keep flourishing, even if your work continues to be ignored by music industry and media year after year, release after release; once you’ve realised that music and music industry are actually two very different and separate things – the former is about creating possible worlds and reimagining the society; the latter is about obsessing over profits and social media hype – none of that industry fuss matters anymore and you’re able to work with greater abandon and scope. In fact, you might be onto something as critic and music historian Ted Gioia illuminates in his recent and poignant, yet solacing essay Is Old Music Killing New Music?: the real progress in music happens now outside the music industry – record companies, media, playlist algorithms etc. – because the latter is no longer interested in innovation, in discovering new sounds and nurturing new talent. “New music always arises in the least expected place.” Personally I have no problem with any of this (I listen to old music more than new stuff, yet I couldn’t make old-sounding music myself because composing for me is a way of researching and understanding the evolving world) – although it’d be great to have some kind of structural support for this emergent new sonic art happening in the margins – and perhaps we could say that music, especially Pop Music, existed happily until its demise around 2010, and now we have something new for which we haven’t found a better name and suitable function yet.
So, on my small plot of land, I recently began to get a sense of what kind of music I want to develop next (it’ll focus on words and voices, listening and performativity, new yet subtle globalities), putting my retirement from music on hold. Meanwhile, Interspaces will be out sometime in June/July while Earth Variations will be released in August/September. Have a great end of the week!