Travelling ... slowly ...

Before the madness of releasing album number two really begins, it is time to take a (if I may say so, well deserved) break.  And what better destination than the White Isle ...

But rather than fly this year I've decided to take things a bit more downtempo.  Living in London means you are constantly rushing. Hurrying for trains, making appointments on time - I can't even walk down the street without feeling the need to overtake someone.

I'm also conscious of how much flying I've done in the past few years. Between visiting my family in Canada, jetting off to DJ in Sweden, and holidaying in India, my carbon footprint must be more like a size 12 dent.

So what better way to bring things down with a bit of slow travel. You don't need to fly to Ibiza - you can take a great train journey from London - Paris - Barcelona ... and then take the fabulous ferry straight in to Ibiza Town. No queues at Heathrow, no screaming children in departure, no annoying delays - instead I am hoping for a pleasant jaunt by rail, giving time to read the stack of books I've been saving over the past few months (including Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine).

All the info you need for your own slow travel can be found on the Man in Seat Sixty-One's website. Its a fantastic and easy resource of all things train travel related.  One man's hobby has become a revolution.

Oh - and slow travel also means no MacBook.
Back in two weeks ...


Things Can Only Get Better

John McCain is having trouble with the soundtrack to his campaign (reports The Independent today ...).  

This isn't surprising.  Even considering the importance of licensing revenues in today's dismal industry climate, as an artist you really need to be careful of how your music is used.  I can't imagine many musicians queuing up to get behind the Republicans.

We have also been very considerate when licensing our tracks to advertising, but there wouldn't be a chance in hell of convincing me to lend our work to a political party - even one that I supported. Product endorsement is one thing - but you never know when an ideology will turn sour.

Thanks to kel_ison for pointing out that, in fact, Take That were not responsible for New Labour's theme "Things Can Only Get Better" ... that was of course D:Ream.  What can I say - never blog late at night.


Summer Sounds Vol. Two - Unplugged

I was all geared up this weekend to continue working on a remix for great Swiss duo Division Kent when suddenly the power went out. Most of South London was left without electricity all day yesterday - is there anything to leave an electronic musician feeling more impotent than a power failure?

Thankfully summer had returned for a few more days ... to celebrate here are five more summer sounds - this time with an unplugged theme (well, sort of ... songs that aren't so reliant on the joys of synth ...)

Tears For Fears - Head Over Heels
The triumphant piano opening, the fabulous nah-nah outro - a true classic.

The Pixies - Here Comes Your Man
The beauty of the Pixies is that they were never predictable - every album was a hodge-podge of genres, languages, style - truly unique.  

Pet Shop Boys - Home And Dry
This track eluded me for several years, along with the rest of the Release LP. I remember seeing it on Top Of The Pops and not really understanding the direction that the Boys were taking.  When I finally heard it again several years later with fresh ears I realised its poetic simplicity - and now it sits high in my PSB chart.  A romantic song for summer.

Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way
Rumours is a fantastic album that includes so many classic pop songs (and the iconic sleeve featuring Mick Fleetwood's castanets...).  A great summer travel soundtrack.

Kings of Convenience - I'd Rather Dance With You
Erlend has one of my favourite voices - it is surprisingly versatile in application, working fantastically in both his acoustic work with Kings of Convenience and his solo electronic collaborations.  All of the Kings' work is great - this is their spunkiest sunshine anthem.


Logical Song

Nods to Wired for today's joy of pan flute logic.

There is a troop of Andes pan pipers in Stockholm who play ABBA tunes.  It is truly a treat. Every city in Europe seems to have a troop or two.  How do they get there?  Is there a South American cartel exporting the experience?  It is cultural imperialism on the most evil level.


DJ Culture

There hasn't been much capturing my ear musically lately.  But two events did catch my eye today - namely the visit of two of my favourites to London this weekend.

Jori Hulkkonen is at Satellite 31 (at Egg) on Saturday 7th June.  Jori of course did a fantastic remix for our Ebb release - "I'm All Made of Music" ... I have yet to have the pleasure to experience his DJ sets but the rest of the Gaymonkey crew are big fans.  Jori's fantastic new album Errare Machinale Est is out now on FComm - Ebb has returned the favour by appearing on the track "Forgive Me Father For I Have Synth".  Genius.

And one of the dons of all thing electronic Fran├žois K is at Fabric - naturally, on the same night. It never rains but it pours ...  

We forget sometimes how lucky we are to live in London - where on any given night you might get the opportunity to experience brilliance.  The flip side of the coin is that we make ourselves too busy to appreciate such joy ...


The Polyartists

Couture died today.

Yves Saint Laurent was obviously a huge force in fashion.  Reading his obituary today I couldn't believe that he took over from Dior when he was just 21 years old.  Truly a talented man.

One of the most fantastic aspects about art is when brilliance inspires even more brilliance. YSL's most iconic piece is of course the Mondrian dress.  The dress is memorable not because of its homage to the great paintings that precede it, but due to the way the designer interpreted the landscape of Mondrian into his own work.  It is not a pastiche, but something that stands as a success on its own.

This weekend I discovered some new work by Gerhard Richter - a series of six paintings titled Cage (1-6).  The identically sized paintings dominate a single room of the Tate Gallery, each realised in a similar style of smearing paint horizontally across the canvas. The work is inspired by Cage's music and his Lecture On Nothing.   They seem to have a sound of their own - colour fighting to get through the noise of the layers that smother from above.


Cage was himself inspired by art, keeping the company of artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenburg (who also recently past away) - Rauschenburg's White Paintings were a direct influence on Cage's signature piece 4'33".  I find these connections fascinating - they form a road map to our cultural history.

Literature is perhaps the more commonly accepted cousin to music, but for me the visual arts have always been the most inspirational, capturing emotion far beyond the written word - having the ability to motivate and push you to constantly strive for more within your own work.