Listening to the final version of the Interspaces album (before mastering) in the heat and bustle of Paris, after having finished everything in the tranquility and bloom of Finland. It strikes me that the record exists exactly between these two worlds and landscapes: there’s a refreshing heat, bustling tranquility, serene noise, horizontal and vertical variations; a certain timelessness of something with a long history; celebration, contemplation and complexity of all things life. (yet I wish I could take a dip in that still, fresh lake while enjoying the heat and sounds of the city) Can’t wait to share this record with the world X
On new albums, music industry and post-music
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!
Sharawadji out now
The latest album of mine, Sharawadji, will be available on all the major music streaming services on Fri 11 February. The album is currently available on Bandcamp where the release includes additional artwork and high quality download.
Here are a few photos of some of the locations where the album was recorded (I have lost most of my photos to broken harddrives over the years). Had a little nostalgia trip while going through these, and it reinforced my view that a piece of music is indeed a lot more than the end product: it’s the whole process and journey that goes into making it (that’s why AI can never replace music made by humans: it can of course make music based on its own processes and journeys, but never replicate the human experience…).
New album out on 1 Jan 2022
My new album Sharawadji will be out on Saturday 1 Jan 2022.
I know it’s an unusual release date: new releases are often unveiled on Fridays, and rarely early in the year. But this is an unusual release (at least for me) – and I feel the characteristics of the music fit the idea of “something new”, celebration, breaking habits. It’ll be initially available on Bandcamp only, appearing on all the other streaming services later in January (the exact delivery date is yet to be set).
I’ve been listening to the mastered version of the album for the last couple of weeks now – and I cannot believe how amazing it sounds! Even my mastering engineer was enthusing about how much he enjoyed working on this album (and this is a guy who masters records for a lot of the global music stars, including my inspirations like Brian Eno and the late Jon Hassell, the inventor of Possible Musics). He really did the most amazing job, making this colourful, diverse album sound like one unified experience as if all the tracks were actually created for this album originally*.
Paris was the city where I first got an idea for a kind of global, genreless and borderless, possible music – and here I am, 26 years later, making exactly the kind of music I’d imagined while sitting on the Pont des Arts all those years ago and listening to this wonderful Malian musician perform with a badly distorted amplifier. The fruit ripens slowly indeed (as the Indian saying goes).
Have a wonderful and relaxing holidays!
* One of the tracks was started with a dear friend of mine back in London in 1996, and I still remember the moment he played an updated version of it over the phone while I was standing in a telephone booth in a warm Amsterdam night: I’d never heard anything like it before, and the novelty and energy of his drum patterns pulsating down the line made me so high – well, higher than I already was. It was then, in that booth, that I realised the possibilities of (electronic dance) music were way vaster and way more imaginative than what our (techno) culture at the time promoted and favoured… it made me also realise there was so much more potential in this world if we just try, as my friend had just doubted his abilities as music producer before my departure; alone in our flat and with all the time and space around him, he’d discovered his talent and passion…And now I’m really happy that a new version of this track found its way onto this record: a sonic memory of those youthful experiments back in the day, carried through the decades and infused with (even more) youthful experiments of today.