Summa: diary (October 16-21, 2023)
‘In the dark times, / Will there also be singing? / Yes, there will also be singing. / About the dark time’ (Bertolt Brecht (c.1930s).
October 16 (Monday). 6.00 am: Awake. 6.30 am: Writing. Those of us who wake in safety — with shelter, food and drink, sufficient health, and the time and resources — should work passionately at whatever our hands find to do.
8.00 am: I reviewed a cross-section of last week’s mixes and their relative loudness. Several tracks still required a modicum of attention. Otherwise, the mix could be finalised and the ‘writing-up’ period of the album begun. In academia, it’s incumbent upon the researcher to give an account of the projects they’ve undertaken. Each of The Aural Bible series of albums has a website dedicated to it. The account comprises a description and explanation of the context, aims, theme, methodology, and outcomes of the endeavour. At the very least, the process provides an opportunity both for a critical reflection upon the work and to bring closure to the project.
Yesterday evening, I watched Corrina Beltz’s biopic Gerhard Richter Painting (2011). I’ve not encountered a film that spent so long observing the act of painting. It was mesmerising and instructive. In comparison, the only film made of Jackson Pollock painting is just 4-minutes long. One of the many wisdoms from experience (principles from practice) that Richter shared to camera was this: On finishing a painting, it may strike you as being resolved … beautiful, even. But after a few hours, it begins to looks awful — fit to be painted over. Similarly, what you deem an unsuccessful painting initially, may grow in your affections over time. Therefore, do not rush to judgement.
October 17 (Tuesday). 6.00 am: Awake. 8.00 am: Studiology. A day for writing. I’m having second thoughts about the album’s title: ‘Paranormal Studies’. While mixing ‘O, Thou Disembodied Spirits’, I was struck by a phrase spoken by Beatrice Houdini at a final and unsuccessful seance held to try and contact with her dead husband, Harry: ‘It’s spirit communication’. This better sums up the essence of the album’s overarching theme. But, I shall not rush to judgement.
The trees surgeon came to rid the garden of an overabundance of foliage and branches: natural editing. Having evaluated the need, they went at it, chainsaw and trimmer (or whatever is the idiomatic equivalent for hammer and tongs). This is not a profession for the faint-hearted.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, hundreds are feared dead as a result of an Israeli airstrike (supposedly). ‘The horror! The horror!’
October 18 (Wednesday). 6.00 am: Wake.
6.30 am: Photo-research and writing. 8.00 am: Studiology. Fifth-draft adjustments in the light (the sonic ambience) of repeated hearing. Gradually, the order of the tracks, the logic of transition, and the album’s internal rhythm, are revealed. There must be a beginning, a middle, and an end; an opening, a centre, and a closing. The ‘introit’ and ‘extroit’ of the album will be the pair of plaintive melodion pieces called ‘Spiritual Airs of a Strange and Fantastic Character’.
11.00 am: Coffee and a catch-up (after a nearly two-month interregum) with the artist and educator Saoirse Morgan at the Arts Centre.
12.15 pm: I edged the writing forward. Concision and clarity; specificity and breadth.
October 19 (Thursday). 8.00 am: Studiology. For the first half of the morning, I made micro adjustments of one track to emphasise the upbeat of the drumming sample. 11.00 pm: I returned to writing for the remainder of the morning and afternoon. In the background, plumbers undertook the annual test the domestic boiler’s and radiators’ efficiency, and repairs arising.
October 21 (Saturday) Storm Babet had triggered an amber warning for the areas of Shropshire and the midlands. There were no trains leaving Machynlleth (to which I would’ve had to take a bus from Aberystwyth, due to the bridge replacement work) until noon (so I was told). But I was determined to get to London — for the third time this month — to celebrate my younger son’s engagement and see my elder son for the last time before he ships-out to foreign climes.
On arrival at Machynlleth station (by taxi), the Manager informed me that the noon train had been cancelled, and there was no likelihood of anything travelling the Shrewsbury, either by rail (due to the line being flooded) or road, in the short and mid term. An alternative mode of transport could not be secured due, I suspect, because all available coaches in the area being already deployed to shuttle passengers to and from Machynlleth and Aberystwyth during the maintenance period. A shuttle carried me back me to Aberystwyth. ‘Return to “GO”!’ I felt as though I’d been travelling since early morning, but without going anywhere. It was like a failed inversion of Frank Herbert’s concept of folding space: ‘the ability to … travel to any part of the universe without moving’ (Dune (1965)).