When the spiritual and the carnal are at odds, inevitably one must yield to the other.
‘No Snow … still!’ We’re often hard done by in Aberystwyth. The town catches the edge of the Gulf Stream, which raises the ambient temperature along this part of the coast by about 2°C – enough to keep the faint falls from accumulating. 8.15 am: A communion.
8.45 am: A little browsing. Wisdom, from a fellow diarist and guitarist:
A sense of the future becoming closer, more present and available. A continuing reflection from yesterday: if I wish to change the world (as it might once have been expressed), I have to become a better guitarist. That is, I can’t change The World, but it is possible that I change my world – by continuing to refine my practice, currently and specifically my guitar playing; with the confidence that this will support the work of those around me, and in King Crimson (Robert Fripp, Diary (January 22, 2019)).
Many of my heroes – artists and musicians, principally – are fifteen to twenty years old than am I. None are merely ticking over. Rather, they’re vitally engaged in their craft, bettering their practice, asking more of themselves, and pushing the boundaries of their discipline. As Lawrence Binyon wrote of the fallen of the First World War, so it can be said of those most committed of practitioners: ‘Age shall not weary them’. I want to be like them in twenty year’s time, if God spares me.
9.00 am: Studiology. The day began with a photo-session. One of my PhD Fine Art tutees, who paints medicine, had noticed that the orientation of the pills in their packaging is different in each case. (There is, of course, a finite number of permutations for fourteen units, each with two possible values (red up or white up).) No doubt this is due to the rather arbitrary way in which the dispenser fills the plastic moulding. As a consumer, I’d not noticed. For I experience the pills one sheet at a time:
Having listened again to ‘Whetstone/Cormorant’, I pondered whether the voice track was either necessary or still too ‘figurative’. On the recordings, the detonation is proceeded by a countdown spoken over a rather reverberant and distorted Tannoy system. This needed to inform my conception of the voice more. I listened, and listened, sternly, critically, and disapprovingly:
Every half-second was scrutinised, track by track. Through a combination of multiple reverberations washes and sever lo-fi compressions, the character of voice in my ears began to sound like the one in my head. ‘Accept no substitute’, as some brands advertised in an earlier generation. Only then was I convinced that the voice belonged in the composition. In the battle between the art and the artist (and there’s always one), I was winning again.
1.00 pm: Cold, hungry, lunch, hot:
2.00 pm: A final run-through, making adjustments to the vocal track. After that, the other tracks making up the session were revisited. Noise need not be noisy, untrammelled, and raucous. On the contrary, it may be as equally nuanced, controlled, subtle, and engaging as any melodic sound. I know when I’m closing in on the resolution to a piece: it’s then that the most dramatic and courageous changes are made.
3.30 pm: ‘From the top!’ Finally, I tweaked balances before laying it aside. 4.15 pm: I began preparations for the next composition: ‘255’. In developing a suite of compositions, two imperatives have to be reconciled: 1. All the pieces must have a strong family resemblance; 2. Each piece must have a unique identity. Back, then, to hardware:
7.30 pm: An evening of further processing of source samples, in readiness for the new composition, and the anticipation of a late-night mixing session.