Summa: Diary (June 10-16, 2023)

‘You’re going to reap just what you sow’ (Lou Reed, ‘Perfect Day’ (1972)).

June 10 (Saturday). Aberystwyth. 8.00 am: Ambulation. I could still smell the smoke from yesterday’s woodland fire near the quarry at Parc Natur Penglais. A fire engine had remained stationed on Infirmary Road overnight. I took the old path down Queen’s Road, across the Promenade (engaging the detail, rather than the prospect, of the landscape), stopping-off at my habitual watering hole for refreshment, and returning home via the town centre. It was already getting very warm. We need rain, and soon.

9.15 am: I listened again to the sound compositions that had been developing since my return from Holland. Ideas are consolidating; a corporate identity, emerging; and the prospective album’s concepts and themes, clarifying. I’m a little troubled when old processes for transforming sound sources come back into play. Especially at a time when I’m attempting to break new ground, methodologically speaking. Repetition is problematic, because its both characteristic of an artistic style and a possible indicator that the artist has run out of new ideas. (‘So watch out, boyo!’)

1.30 pm: An afternoon of odds ‘n sods: diagnosing an old and dead power supply unit; facing-down a box of unlabled MiniDiscs, with no idea whether there was anything of importance recorded on them; changing my Apple password; and populating a Spotify playlist. I choose songs that (quite apart from their intrinsic quality) remind me of places, times, people, friendships, loves, experiences, and moods associated with my past, and still have the power to uplift, inspire, comfort, and touch the mind and heart.

June 12 (Monday). 8.00 am: A communion. (‘No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’) 8.30 am: So, I plough on. At this time of year I look back to my beginnings, via the Image Diary. It’s hard to imagine how I’d remember the past in the absence of photography.

10.30 am: I took the road eastward through the churchyard to the next village for a long-overdue tea and conversation with one of my former PhD Fine Art students. We’ll not always meet like this. One day, the necessities of life will remove one of us far from this place. Friendships are loaned to us for a season.

1.45 pm: I returned to ‘The Singing in the Air’ suite of compositions. The second piece reminds me of Luigi Cherubini’s sacred choral work. (‘Cherubini’ is the Italian for ‘cherubs’: ‘one of the unearthly beings who directly attend to God, according to Abrahamic religions’.) Some months ago, I was listening to his Requiem in C-minor (1816) often. Evidently, it’s now part of my audio-ideolect.

As the sea mist drifted inland, distant thunder could be heard in the south-easterly skies. I was reminded of the sound made, in the mid 1970s, by the large Ryan lorries that carried coal waste from the collieries to nearby tips in Blaina, Monmouthshire, as they unloaded.

June 13 (Tuesday). 5.00 am: Arise. (I wanted to make the most of this day.) 6.00 am: Ambulation. The town was silent. Few seagulls stirred. A watering hole was already open. ‘A hot chocolate (without cream) and an almond croissant, please’. The sea; becalmed. Happy, content, and thankful. A sense of closure, and of new things arising.

9.00 am: Studiology. I continued work on ‘The Singing in the Air’ suite, while counting the years.

June 14 (Wednesday). 6.30 am: An Ambulation (with communion) through the cemetery, up and down Plasgrug Avenue, and home. (One of my lockdown routes.) Yesterday evening, I listened to a blog entitled Ghosts of Glamorgan. It featured an interview with the Welsh folklorist Bethan Briggs-Miller, who has a particular interest in the history of paranormal. This morning, I struck-up a Twitter conversation with her about the acoustic aspect of anomalous phenomena.

8.00 am: Studiology. The morning was devoted to shaping-up the third piece from ‘The Singing in the Air’ suite. None of the compositions have been nailed down. They’ll remain open to development until the final album track is drafted. This will allow each to benefit from innovations and methods developed in the course of making the others.

2.00 pm: Back to the first line of the ‘Creed’ [working title] project: ‘God’. Presently, I sound as though I’m orchestrating one of the UK’s recent thunderstorms. 7.30 pm: An evening readying a new phone to replace the one that went through the washing cycle some months ago. (Sigh!)

June 15 (Thursday). 7.00 am. A trip switch on one of the house’s three fuse boxes had tripped sometime after 4.00 am. (Sigh!) The upper-hall lights were darkened and the kitchen, strangely silent; (the fridge-freezer no longer emitted it’s reassuring background hum). 8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Writing and admin catch-up. 9.00 am: Studiology. A review of the past few day’s output. ‘Simplify. Be confident of sufficiency. Make less do more, John. And try not to be distracted by the ‘Partygate’ report’ (which was published at 9.00 am).

If a course of action requires you to deceive and hurt others by either denying or concealing the truth, then, it’s plain wrong. You must acknowledge, abandon, and repent of it, whatever the cost to your own happiness, security, reputation, or advancement. And ‘the truth will out’. That’s a fearful prospect:

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. 

Luke 12. 2-3.

In contrast, at the vigil held in Nottingham to respect and grieve for those murdered in the recent attack, selflessness in the cause of the community, solidarity, conviction, honour and decency, and a determination to do what’s good, upright, and necessary, were conspicuously abundant.

1.45 pm: A jaunt to the National Library of Wales (which I can see from my study) to retrieve boxes containing some of my CD releases, which the National Screen and Sound Archive won’t be marketing in its new incarnation. Alas, my work no longer falls within its remit. The upside is that I can now take full responsibility for sales and promotion.

2.30 pm: I made small but no less significant tweaks to ‘The Singing in the Air’ suite before returning for the remainder of the day to the profoundly dark, awfully loud, and appallingly noisy sonorities of ‘Creed’ [working title].

June 16 (Friday). 6.15 am: Arise. 7.15 am: A communion. 7.45 am: Writing. 9.00 am: Studiology. The ‘Creed’ [working title] suite’s first piece begins with five seconds of silence: representing the nihil, or nothing, that was before the beginning, into which God spoke, and out of which everything came forth. This is followed by a colossal ‘bang’ — like the nuclear bomb detonation at the start of ‘Wisdom in Better than Weapons of War’ (2019) — constructed from the word ‘one’.

Dead Sea Scroll (Fragment 4Q7), showing the opening lines of Genesis, Chapter 1 (300 BCE to 100 CE).

The series of explosions evoke an inconceivably vast landscape: the universe at the moment of its conception. 11.00 am: Pause. A return to compositions that, I suspect, are 85% resolved. 2.00 pm: Back to the rig, in order to finalise the modulation of one last word in the first piece’s vocabulary: ‘Almighty’. The greater part of the sound generations are never used. In my experience, for every twenty samples created, only one or two may be useable. However, I’d not arrive at them without having first produced the eighteen or more others.

4.30 pm: Close-down, tidy-up, and preparations for my younger son’s return home to celebrate this week’s anniversary and Fathers’ Day.

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

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