Thought I’d do a diary entry as it’s been a few months. It’s a rather wet and windy November afternoon and I’m looking out onto the same street I was looking out at when I recorded Purlieu, Vacuum Road Songs, Canal Seven and the bulk of Leaf Pass. This all ties in with my completing an album that in many ways marks a return to the album format I was working with back in those days; it’s almost a return to the Second Thought modus operandi. After diving headfirst into folky acoustic music four years ago, I’ve been making small steps back towards this direction. Following on from this July’s Ambifauna – which had the amorphous soundscape of old but still retained the 45 minute album format – my new record reaches out over nearly 75 minutes.
The album took eleven months to put together, and has been through more incarnations than I can actually remember (titled Street Gardine, Hypogeum, Chrysalism, among others). At one point it was an airy, field recording-heavy record (most of which turned up on the Anxiety EP); it’s been through various directions since then – at one point almost entirely beatless ambience, at another quite rhythmic and lo-fi – and only one track remains from the original version of the album, which is pretty heavy going even for me. For quite a long time I didn’t think it was ever going to be finished and this was the cause of a higher number of “I’m never making music again” moments than normal.
And then something changed. I started really getting into vaporwave. Interestingly, I’m not the only person who’s said they’ve found vaporwave has rekindled their love for music and/or music making. Notably HKE wrote about it on his blog. Anyway, I started playing around with making my own vaporwave stuff and eventually began to put some ambient and new age-tinged tracks together, and suddenly I realised these pieces were the perfect fit for the album I’d been working on for months. Over a few weeks I put together half an album and weaved it in with a handful of older tracks and out came what I’d like to think is one of my strongest albums in a very long time. It’s called When I Look at the Sky I Know it is Different and contains thirteen tracks. All being well it’ll be out on a really good label in the new year.
Alongside that there will be three EPs which are more traditionally vaporwave sounding, either earlier experiments with the sound, or tracks that closed out the recent sessions after the album was complete. What I really like about vaporwave is the variety and the community. Unlike several other music scenes I’ve found online, people are really keen to get involved, chat, share music and collaborate. There’s little in the way of elitism or snobbishness. And whilst a lot of people have the image of it being nothing more than ‘80s pop songs slowed down and looped, the name refers to such a huge range of stuff, from the dreamy ambient of t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 to the dubstep-influenced HKE, the groove of various vaportrap artists, the almost Daft Punk sounding Saint Pepsi, the fucked up mixtapes of Pursuing Paradise etc. etc. etc. The great thing is that people are into all of this. There’s none of the ridiculous box ticking niche nonsense you often find with other styles – so many approaches of ambient, yet each seems to have its own set of labels and fanbases. For someone like myself who struggles to sound the same over the course of a track let alone an album, it’s refreshing to find a place so welcoming.
Anyway, I have a refreshed sense of creativity that I’ve almost accidentally stumbled across after years of not being quite sure where I was heading. You can hear some samples of my new pieces on my Soundcloud. I’m happy to be properly moving forward again.
Lately I’ve been listening to a fair bit of ‘60s psychedelia, particularly The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, and discovering various obscurities through YouTube. Nmesh and t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者’s new split on Dream Catalogue is fantastic, and I finally have a copy of the second 2814 album on tape, so that’s been on the player quite a bit. And the new Chvrches.
Since Second Thought ended I’ve been fairly quiet on the updates front, choosing to just pop up with the occasional bit of news every now and then. This entry has been a bit bulky but I’ll hopefully be writing less, more regularly, in the coming months.