Nick Southall, who wrote an excellent, award-winning article called 'Imperfect Sound Forever' in the now defunct Stylus Magazine many years ago, currently writes a blog called Sick Mouthy. He's come up with an interesting idea called Music Diary 2012, which basically involves documenting what you listen to for a week, paying particular attention to the circumstances of the listening experience: where we are, who we're with, etc. Seeing as I write a music blog I've decided to get involved – and here's my first day, Monday 7 May 2012.
I write the occasional music review for Luna Kafe and [sic] Magazine, which is handy when I spot an album I fancy – I can write to the label or artist, tell them I'll write a review, and hey presto, more often than not I get emailed a download link. Now, this is normally fine – I'll listen to the album a few times, pen a review, email a link to the label or artist, and everyone's a winner. However, sometimes I download an album, listen to it a few times, then I simply can't think of what to write about it. Or, I might write something, it'll get published, and then I'll regret having been quite so blunt in the review because I've offended one of the musicians involved (which happened with a recent Luna Kafe review). In the case of De La Mancha's The End Of Music, I'm having the former problem. I downloaded it a while ago, gave it a few spins, and now the record label are asking where my review is... I haven't written it yet because I can't think of what to say. I don't love it, but I don't hate it either. What the hell do I say about it? I re-listened to the first half on my iPod while out walking this afternoon, during my daughter's afternoon nap. Let's just say it's growing on me. The airy quality of many of the songs is well suited to strolling under an overcast sky. Review coming soon...
My 18-month-old daughter Holly loves music. If she likes an album, she goes quiet and listens intently, beatboxes along if there are prominent rhythms, or dances elegantly. I tend to listen to Nils Frahm's Felt at home, in the afternoon. Every time I put it on, Holly smiles and sways from side to side, especially to the gorgeous first track, 'Keep'. Today we listened to Felt while I made a very complex vegetarian dish called tempeh and millet loaf. The interweaving piano parts are beautiful and it's currently my album of choice for quiet, reflective listening, especially while cooking. Unfortunately, today I stuffed up the timing of the recipe. The loaf needed an hour to cook by the time Holly's dinner was due, so I ended up cooking her a decidely substandard omelette so she could eat, have her bath and get to bed in time for me to watch Masterchef. I think the lesson here is that Felt suits moments where there are no deadlines; just leisurely, reflective activity. And my cooking style is far from leisurely and reflective now I have a daughter.
Given the choice, I like to listen to albums all the way through. Unfortunately, being the parent of an 18-month-old means this doesn't happen very often. I did listen to other stuff today – a couple of tracks off Tycho's Dive, some stuff by Wizards of Time and Elisa Luu that's coming out on my label, Hidden Shoal – but it was playing in the background while I wrote emails and surfed the net, so I didn't really pay much attention. I also like to listen to music on headphones, in bed, before I fall asleep, but tonight I started reading The Incomplete Tim Key and found myself laughing so hard at the following poem that listening to music would have felt like an anticlimax to the day:
Poem #1193 'For My Passengers' Sake'
There was a gap in the track and the train was heading right for it.
The driver noticed and hated it.
He threw down his sandwich and sprung into action.
He tried to jump out of his cabin and throw himself into the gap to act as additional track
so the train could keep going.
This obviously didn't even come close to working;
His back was ripped to shreds and the train bounced into a forest.