Summa: Diary (May 24-30, 2023)

Message reads:Discovered, Uncovered, Ashamed, Confessed, and Repented (Lacrimosa) [an Undoing]; Assurances, Resolve, and Forgiveness (Pie); [an Undertaking]; Transparency, Scrutiny, and Accountability (Libera Me) [a Parole]; Disloyalty, Bitterness, Hurt, and Vengeance (Irae) [“Sin will find you out”].

May 24 (Wednesday). Having returned from a weekend away, I was sill recovering from a stomach distemper but nonetheless fired-up. 8.00 am: Advisory emails and other administrations. 9.00 am: I reviewed the two EVP-orientated, and the first piece from the ‘Creed’ [working title] suite, that I’d begun developing over the last few weeks. 10.30 pm: Coffee with a fellow sound practitioner, Dr Dafydd Roberts, at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. He was delayed by an unforeseen work commitment, so I took-in the Cysytlltiadau Naturoil/Natural Connections exhibition while waiting.

I always sense that in conversing we do business. The scope of our discussion was unusually broad today. However, we also focused on the question of: How much equipment does a sound-musician (what want of a better term) need to perform live? ‘As little as possible and as much as necessary’, was my penny’s-worth. For there’s a limit to what one can carry (at my age) and assemble with more than fair chance that it’ll all light-up when switched on. And if it doesn’t, then, one ought to be reasonably confident that the cause of the hiccup can be discovered and rectified quickly. We need to be not only artists but also our own roadies and technicians in this business. Personally, I wouldn’t attempt on stage what I can achieve in the studio. For one thing, the rig would be too complex to set-up and unwieldy to play. Nor would I aim to replicate an album-set live; the outcome would be either inferior or very different. Rather, I’d endeavour to deliver something that’s distinctly performative and arises out of the limitations imposed upon me by a pared-down array.

May 25 (Thursday). 7.30 am: A communion. 8.00 am: Admin … on a delicate matter. 8.30 am: Studiology. Having stood back from the sound work for several days, I returned with a very clear sense of how the compositions distinguished themselves one from another while, at the same time, coalesced. ‘The Singing in the Air’ suite is one of several project clusters about paranormal sounds that are likely to constitute the next album. In this respect, the album will be successor of Noisome Spirits (2021). The Harry Grindell Matthews material may provide the basis of a notional performance-based project.

10.30 am: I returned to Aberystwyth Arts Centre for a coffee with the artist Saoirse Morgan, who took me on a bespoke tour of the Hydro Psyche exhibition. Her knowledge of marine biology illuminated aspects of the work on show that weren’t self evident. Understanding changes perception.

12.15 pm: For the remainder of the afternoon, I began developing two sound works, in parallel, based on the theme of angelic choirs.

May 26 (Friday). 7.00 am: A communion. 7.45 am: Admin. 8.30 am: Studiology + a second cup of tea. I plundered the aural bible archives for recordings that might provide a background to the two angelic choir compositions which are currently in development. I alighted upon a short piece captured on top of the Arael mountain, Abertillery, at 2.00 pm+ on June 6, 2001. Against the insistent gurgle of the digitised version of a poor quality cassette-tape recording can be heard the sounds of aircraft overhead and traffic in the valley below. I conceive of these compositions as though they were inadvertent recordings of the phenomemon made on lo-fi equipment. They’ll be fabrications of the real, in other words. In my opinion, most recordings of EVPs that claim to be real and really fakes. Thereafter, I bounced from one sound project to another while regularising their folders’ structure. I’m, now, like a circus plate-spinner with all my plates gyrating on poles at the same time — watching for the wobbles.

12.00 pm: A dental appointment, to check on the extraction that I’d endured a few weeks ago, followed by a shopping spree for domestic and personal items. 1.00 pm: Some of the School of Art’s staff gathered on the Promenade for a ‘welcome home’ lunch with one of our former, beloved, and long-serving secretaries (and her husband). ‘Just like old times’, someone reflected. Three of our number will soon be retiring. The School is entering a new and challenging period in its long and distinguished history.

May 27 (Saturday). 8.15 am: Promenading. The weather was ideal: warm, crisp, and breezy. I took a hot chocolate and a yoghurt slice at The Hut, and looked seaward.

9.15 am: A review of the days that have been. I looked over the Grindell Matthews material with a view bringing the project in line with the other compositions that’ll comprise The Aural Bible VII release. The Matthews piece will be called ‘Angel Clothed With Cloud’ (a title adapted from Revelation Chapter 10, verse 1). In 1930, Matthews invented the Sky Projector. It enabled him to project images onto clouds, including one of an angel. (Four years later, he’d be ensconced in a fortified house and laboratory, named Tor Clawdd, in the Black Mountains, near Swansea.)

11.30 am: Back to the first piece from ‘Creed’ [working title] — which will be ‘spun’ next week — along with a composition that combines samples from ethnographic recordings of putative paranormal phenomena, which has yet to find either a theme or a direction. Which means that I’m at liberty to play fast and loose with the material — to break the plate and stick it back together, over and over again. Post-lunch — one Farley’s Rusk and cup of tea. ‘DO NOT DUNK RUSKS, John!’ A madeleine de Proust moment … guaranteed, every time.

4.30 pm: I left-off my broken-plate composition in a condition of partial resolution and promise. I closed the afternoon with a little email exchange with artist friends who needed a sounding board.

May 29, 2023 (Bank Holiday Monday). 8.30 am: A communion. 9.00 am: Having suffered another bout of whatever I’d gone down with a week earlier, and rested most of Sunday, I returned to the studio where I reviewed Saturday’s yield. This composition will hardly exceed two minutes: neither longer nor shorter than it needs be. In tandem, I began a piece based upon sung tongues (glossolalia). Some examples of the practice — which is, in essence, an improvised melody and lyric comprised of Hebraic-sounding syllables — are captivating, and sound otherworldly (by design, I imagine).

May 30, 2023 (Tuesday). 8.30 am: Administrations and preparations. 10.30 am: Studiology. Sometimes, what appears to be straightforward is puzzlingly difficult to achieve.

2.00 pm: Coffee and a professional exchange with Dr Julian Ruddock in my former office at the School of Art. Staff are emerging from an intense period of assessment at the close of an exhausting academic year. A Summer period in which research activities can be prioritised lies before them.

I walked the floors of the upper studios and the double gallery to view the undergraduate exhibition and postgraduate show. As a former painting tutor, I tend to see this medium before all others as I move from one picture (and one student’s world) to another. There were a number of brave examples on display, including a suite of exquisitely rendered abstractions.

See also: Intersections (archive);  Diary (September 15, 2018 – June 30, 2021)Diary (July 16, 2014 – September 4, 2018); John Harvey (main site); Instagram.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed