Archive for the Inspiration Category

Albums That Have Eased My pain and Cooled My Soul in 2011.

Posted in Inspiration, Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by Gideon K

For anyone interested, I thought I’d make some musical recommendations for some music that has soundtracked the various ups, downs, ins and outs of the past 12 months or so. This is some of the music that has been playing non-stop for me and sustained me for long periods.

I was going to just post a list, since I thought it might be indulgent and vain to write about each of them. Then I thought it would just be lazy to make a list and leave it there without giving some brief reason for why I recommend checking this stuff out.

Also, I have linked clips at the end of each one, just click on em if any of them spark your curiosity.

These are not exclusively albums that have come out this year. I’m not a rock critic.

So in no particular order…

Twilight Singers Dynamite steps

Greg Dulli always comes up with something dark, neon-lit and hungry for me to dig in to. This has been a patch of narrow sunlight for me through dark clouds.

Listen: On The Corner

Yusufina – Anything and everything by my dear friend Yusufina.

When I first heard the music of this beast, I was bugging out, hair on end, huge grin on my face. It still works.

Listen:  La Generale!

Grinderman Grinderman & Grinderman 2

Obviously I’m a huge Nick Cave fan, but these, especially no.2 seem like a whole new colour in the Cave palette. More uninhibited in some ways. Family fun.

Listen: Heathen Child

Robi RosaMad Love

A beautiful girl turned me onto this album a couple of years ago. It has some fluid grooviness in it that I’ve needed this year.

Listen: California

Julee CruiseFloating Into The Night

A world of lush, velvety, sonic beauty to lose yourself in. Absolutely gorgeous.

Listen:  Falling

Nick DrakePink Moon

David Ezra got me listening to Nick Drake because the stark simplicity of this and the first album came up as references for how we were going to approach recording. I much prefer the directness of this to the orchestration on Bryter Later. The piano on the title track is perfect.

Listen: Pink Moon

Big Sexy NoiseBig Sexy Noise

HEAVY. The album I point people towards whenever they start talking about the Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration. This is MUCH better.

Listen: Gospel Singer

John GrantQueen of Denmark

I’m a sucker for darkness, sadness, romance, death and hope in songs. And minor keys. And songs about ice cream.

Listen: Queen of Denmark

Gil Scott-HeronI’m New Here

Even though at least half the songs are covers (albeit great ones), his own voice comes through. All you hear is one man talking to you about how life has been for him. Magic.

Listen: I’m New Here

BeckSea Change

Thanks again to David for this one. I’d overlooked it when it came out. The production is sublime.

Listen: Golden Age

NymphsA Practical Guide To Astral Projection

My continuing obsession with Inger Lorre has led me to this. Also this year I found an original copy of the Nymphs on vinyl.

Listen: Alright

Elliot SmithEither/Or + From a Basement on a Hill

Another guy I finally got round to checking out in depth this year. Everything that is good about modern singer songwriters – unique voice and worldview, individual style, quiet rebellion.

Listen: Ballad of Big Nothing

Sun Kil MoonAdmiral Fell Promises

Mark Kozelek has a unique sway with me. No other music can make me still, open and calm, if sometimes a little too sad. This album has given me alone time, no matter where I am. For that I thank it, and him.

Listen: Ålesund

Neil YoungTime Fades Away

I’m a huge fan of Neil’s ‘Ditch Trilogy’ albums, so it was time I got hold of this one via download. A snapshot of a man trailing defiantly off onto his own path.

Listen: Last Dance

Son House – Anything and Everything by Son House

This man is like a tree of music. He’s a whole place to visit, come back nourished, changed and experienced from.

Listen: Grinnin’ In Your Face

Miles DavisBitches Brew

Sonic freedom and relentless rhythm. There is nothing else out there quite like this to my knowledge.

Listen: Miles Runs the Voodoo Down

The CribsIgnore The Ignorant

This album is fucking brilliant from start to finish. There isn’t a single track I skip over when listening to it, and I’ve played it endlessly for the past 3-4 months. Sad, angry, defiant and rainy. A picture of England.

Listen: Cheat On Me

Kurt VileSmoke Ring For My Halo

I’d read about him, but I think it was a combination of the album cover and the title that made me give him a shot. Baby’s Arms won me right over, dragged me into the womb.

Listen: Baby’s Arms

MorphineThe Night

This one came in pretty handy too. I’ve had it for a while, but there was a few places this year where I kept reaching for it. Especially in certain situations… 🙂

Listen: The Night

I could go on… and talk about the Rival Schools album, or Love Songs For Patriots by American Music Club, but I have to stop somewhere.

I love music.

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(Watching) All the Lonely People

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2011 by Gideon K

 

Last week I was at a shopping centre and it occurred to me that it was a perfect opportunity to take an artist date that I’d been planning to do for a long while and had not gotten round to doing.

 

The idea I had was to go to some public place with a pad and pen and just watch people, but also to write down snippets of overheard conversation that caught my ear (stuff like “one of my kids goes 8 times a day” which I heard on the day in question), or to just imagine what people’s lives were like and try to figure out specific things about them just by observing them from a distance.

 

The venue for this ended up being an open-plan starbucks. You know the type where it’s just a sunken space in the floor surrounded by shops on all sides.

 

I don’t like starbucks, and their coffee sucks, but it was the perfect place to mingle with the beast.

 

I wanted to find a table to sit at so I’d be in close proximity to as many people as possible, but a combination of poor luck and judgement found me a seat between two tables of people speaking foreign languages I didn’t understand. On one side, an asian couple (Korean possibly? I’m terrible with languages but it didn’t sound like Japanese) and on the other, I couldn’t make it out. They could’ve been Spanish but I had no clue. It drove home how ignorant I am about so much in the world, and how I’d like to be less so.

 

On an unrelated note, I’ve been feeling this lately when walking through the park and wondering what the names of different flowers and trees are.

 

Back to my seating – to make matters worse, I sat down to realise I was in the direct line of fire for one of the speakers on the in-store sound system, getting blasted with yuppyish coffee shop tunes. To be fair the music soon got pretty good actually, but when Joni Mitchell was playing and I thought to myself – “She deserves more than this”. I’m not an elitist but I guess I feel irritated when great music gets ignored, even if it is necessary. Plus I suppose it’s preferable to hearing current Top 40 nonsense.

 

Then Van Morrisson’s Sweet Thing came on. Sweet Thing! In a coffee shop! Such sublime, intensely personal and beautiful music, just spread out like furniture or cheap incense from a stall in Camden market. I don’t know how people can just go about their business while a song like that is playing. Maybe that’s why the staff were so friendly? Such a good playlist.

I zoned out and couldn’t focus on people anymore.

 

I started swimming in my own thoughts and the people around me were just triggering different currents rather than me observing them. It seemed like that was the instinctual thing to do so I went with it. I can look outside another time.

 

I was writing down silly observations and ideas, like:

 

“The only thing I have against money is that the people who have it are so crass and unimaginative about what they do with it.”

 

Lots of off the cuff reactions and occasional judgements of my fellow humans. I actually felt strange and peaceful amongst these passing waves of suburban housewives, young worker drones, bored school kids and elderly couples slowly navigating their way around what passes for modern life, thoroughly confused and surprised at what any of it means or what they’re doing in it.

 

It felt a bit like meditation. Whereas most of the time with meditation you go as far away from people and noise as possible, and you close your eyes. This was like the flip-side of the same coin in a way. With my eyes open, surrounded by crowds I was having a similar feeling of awareness, of self, of place and time, and concurrently at the complete irrelevance and absence of all of that. How it’s all just a continuation of motion, flow, little droplets of life foaming up against rocks and sand. Everyone seeing everybody else’s mistakes and not their own. Pretty girls spending their looks and youth on their jobs working in the make up aisles selling stolen dreams and aromatic white lies.

 

Surrounded by the almost religious ritual of nurturing the appearance, the body via clothing, food, make up, perfume, scented toiletries and cleansing products – you know the drill, we all live in it.

 

As I scribbled down in my pad, in this context, hope is sometimes the denial or rejection of that inevitable decline of organism, the body working. Or maybe it’s just what happens when you realise that the soul is the winning horse, not the mind, the senses, the heart, the wallet.

 

Know what I mean?

 

Anyway, I also went out and did it today as well. I stopped into a little place for some fresh mint tea they had and sat and watched the people. Strangely, again I was sat listening in on foreign tongues (greek and Arabic this time), as well as being somewhat removed from the masses.

 

Perhaps I need to think this out a bit more and find some places which are more packed with people to watch and listen to. Hopefully one day they’ll make some sense to me.

 

 

Get Lucky

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2011 by Gideon K

Do you ever worry that inspiration will just dry up?

I sometimes wonder if each song will be the last I write, and I think everyone has that fear to an extent.

Even so, I’ve always got lots of started and unfinished loose writings around, rejected ideas because you’ve passed that point in time, or ones that have hit a dead-end of some sort. And even with good ideas that you haven’t gotten round to finishing.

For example, last month I knew I was going to be busy towards the end of it, so I figured maybe I should get all my blog post writing out of the way as soon as possible, and get stuck into some songwriting work while the coast was relatively clear.

My thoughts immediately went to the list of songs I’ve been working on but not finished, to the list of potential ideas etc, and to the list of blog topics that I tell myself I should get on to doing at some point (I can never say I have nothing to write about, or worry about that because of these lists) but sometimes the prospect of carrying on work on some mammoth project that has defeated you thus far, seems a little disheartening and you drag your creative feet to face it.

What I hadn’t counted on, and what I still try never to rely on, is momentary inspiration – a chain of thought, an incident, a perspective, a flash of something someone said – to give you an idea for something fully formed.

It continues to happen just as a consequence of being alive and being aware of things, and by doing so things tend to fall into your lap.

“the pain and confusion and the horror of

Life

Will not stop then

But continue,

Lavishly

 

Giving your electric IBM more and

More

To chew

And ponder” –  Charles Bukowski, ‘Celebrating This’

I’m always delighted when it happens and it makes me feel lucky that I was there in the right place, at the right time, with the right frame of mind to be open to receiving this golden nugget.

In this case, I happened to have a song triggered by something that was on my mind and had to come out, so I sat and wrote it and with in a few sittings in consecutive days it came out damn near complete, and without too much toil or sweat. A beautiful feeling.

The thing is, you’ll always get lucky every so often, and it’s nice to forget and be reminded that sometimes it gets handed to you on a plate.

“I get lucky sometimes…” – Twilight Singers – ‘Get Lucky’

 

The Sound of Modern Music

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2011 by Gideon K

Do you get fed up of hearing people say things like; “There’s no good music being made anymore.”?

I read something by a songwriter who was of the opinion that if you’re one of these people who thinks that music is over, or that there was some golden era that has been and things aren’t as good as they were then, you’re just living in a time-warp, stuck in the past, and your songwriting, art etc will reflect this.

If you have your blinkers on your style of writing will be dated, and not in a timeless way.

This idea both intrigues me, and resonates as having a lot of truth to it. you don’t hear anyone who makes their living as a musician today saying that ‘there’s nothing good anymore’.

It’s both defeatist and lazy.

Many people gravitate to music of certain eras, each formed usually by their own preferences and based around what hit them during their formative musical years, usually sometime between their early teens and up to their mid-20s – as this is when you are exposed to things for the first time, with fresh ears.

For example someone growing up in the 60s and never listening to music that was made after 1979.

As someone who views the past, present and future as one inseparable whole, I’ve never really bought into this idea that there has ever been, or will be a golden age of anything.

The point of this preamble is that in terms of view of craft, business, and competition, I think it is important to stay abreast of anything that’s going on. As a matter of military preparation, I need to know what’s going on.

It’s no good to say “everything sucks nowadays. No good music is being made…” unless you’ve gone out of your way to research and hunt down every possible musical avenue available and found nothing at all that you like.

So…..

I’m reaching out and asking for musical recommendations from the last decade or so.

  • Which bands have drawn a line in the sand between them and the past to any notable degree?
  • Which bands have done something that seems new?
  • Who has marked a turning point in modern song construction/production?
  • What are the greatest songs of the last decade by new acts?
  • What are the greatest albums of the last decade by new acts?
  • Is there anyone who has made some leap forward with music?
  • Who has really dug deep and found something dark and magical and unexpected?

For the sake of keeping on point I’m mostly interested in bands who are ‘new’ in the sense that they haven’t had anything released prior to the late 90s, but I’m always interested in musical recommendations generally.

I’ve been doing research of my own, and checking out bands that are really big but who I haven’t really listened to etc

There’s a beautiful saying:

“Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even for bands I don’t like, I’d like to know what people think is special and noteworthy about them.

So what do I need to hear?

What The People May Say…

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2011 by Gideon K

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve hardly been writing the past month besides the scribbling of ideas and fiddling around with loose verses etc and instead have been focusing on making use of the backlog of somewhat orphaned and homeless songs I’ve built up.

 

This morning I was thinking about a certain song of mine and how in the chorus I rhyme ‘dance’ with ‘chance’, but not the ‘Southern way’ – I phrase it so that it rhymes with ‘romance’.

 

This made me laugh a little to myself. Why?

 

It reminded me of an early experience in primary school. In North West London, people speak in a certain way, saying bath as if it was spelt ‘barth’. Both my parents are from ‘up north’ so we grew up in a house saying it without the ‘r’.

 

Anyway, in school somewhere around the age of 4, when reading out loud or putting my hand up to ‘ask’ a question, I spoke with a northern inflection and the WHOLE class, teacher included turned around to correct me on my phrasing and speech.

 

“It’s ARSK, not ASK!!”

 

My immediate reaction was – “No, it’s not”. Some innate part of me knew that they were all silly.

 

I wondered if there would be more situations like this in life.

 

In that moment, at age 4, I could see a gap between the place they were all coming from, and the world I saw, where one can say things however they damn well want, and all forms were acceptable.

 

Of course, I couldn’t have put it in to words like that then, but that seed stayed with me.

 

Two decades on, I’m sure you all know that these encounters never end, and if it’s not one thing it’s another.

 

Going back to that song, I guess I figured that

  • a) people might question or make an issue about my phrasing
  • b) It makes no difference whatsoever.

 

It’s the same now as it was then and always will be – people will try to correct you to make you more like them and less like yourself.

 

But you don’t need to take any action around it, just laugh and stay on course.

 

“If life has taught me anything it’s that 95% of the people are always wrong.” – Jack Nicholson, The Bucket List

 

The world is bigger, richer and more diverse than the school classroom.

 

Vive la difference.

 

 

 

Long live Jerry Sadowitz

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2011 by Gideon K

I went to see Jerry Sadowitz do a show at the Leicester Square Theatre the other night.

I don’t really keep up to date with the world of stand up comedy, only go to shows infrequently, but it has become a yearly ritual of my brother and I to see Jerry. We’ve been to see him play in London for the past 5-6 years I think.

What is it I love about this guy?

He’s so offensive an all fronts, such a full-on assault – that no one is safe. The only true equality – he’s not racist or sexist, he hates everyone equally. Nothing is sacred.

He’s fast, brutal and unrelenting, he goes through about twice as much material as other comedians. (That’s one of his jokes/rants).

All this and he is still kicking it, despite being banned from most of the larger venues and TV channels in the UK.

It’s not just that I think he’s the most hardcore guy in stand-up and has been for a long time, I come away feeling cleansed almost, refreshed. That nice rollercoaster feeling of having all your hairs stand on end.

I get off on proximity to that kind of flamethrower approach to art and performance that he has. I need to be near it every so often, like a reminder almost.

It gives me a sense of hope about humanity to know that people can BE as extreme and full-throttle as that and still survive in this world, without becoming bland or losing colour.

I have a theory about that kind of comedy too.

That assault on everything considered taboo and un-PC. It’s necessary to destroy it all. I hate political correctness; it’s a gross assault on our freedom of speech, thought and expression, and by liars and cowards.

The need to plough through and destroy that, to me, comes from a deep sense of disgust at the way the world in general handles the every day madness and brutality of our species and lives, that it’s not just the way these things take place, it’s the way that they are talked about by people, in the news. That kind of layer of deceit, the casual lies – just as offensive and deadly.

So this kind of scorched earth approach act is an attempt to level the field back to zero, to gain some realistic perspective. Outright rage is the only reasonable answer to it.

Just my theory.

I doubt Jerry would agree, but who cares?

Long live Jerry Sadowitz

‘They didn’t want to write. They wanted to succeed at writing’

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2011 by Gideon K

I’ve recently read ‘The Last Night of the Earth Poems’ by Charles Bukowski, one of my favourite poets. He’s pretty much the only one I’ve read that I can just pick up a book of his poems and read them front-to-back, without wanting to put it down.

One of the poems in there is called ‘between races’ wherein he describes an encounter with a guy who approaches him at the race track. The guy says he reads his stuff and wants to interview him, and is a writer himself.

Bukowki’s advice to the guy?

just pull up a chair

and sit down at your

typewriter

I think he’s right in so many ways.

He goes on to describe all the different ways these guys who talk about wanting to be writers get it wrong. The part that stuck out to me the most was:

they didn’t want to

write

they wanted to

succeed at

writing.

This is great. I love this because it encapsulates what I feel is the mistake of thinking ahead of the creative process while you are in it. Of not doing justice to the creative urge, tarnishing it unnecessarily, making it defective before the damn thing has even been born.

It is from this idea of ‘succeeding’, of ‘success’ that people censor themselves worrying about how other people might react, don’t say what they really think, try and dress something up in a different way, trying to second guess themselves. This is why so much of what gets put out there is such a pale imitation of the initial spark that caused its creation, rather than the blazing fire or cannon blast that each could be.

If you concentrate on digging up the treasure, you won’t have to worry about who you’ll have to sell it to when you wash up on the beach.

They’ll see you shining from miles away.

They’ll come to you. And you’ll be ready.