March 25, 2019

I flee, but it follows.

8.00 am: A communion. I’d lost a nose-pad from my glasses, which required a trip to the opticians. The day blossomed:

9.30 am: Back at homebase, I addressed emails that required immediate attention and prepared the studio to resume work on the phase-one mix. I began the first of the noise-centred group of compositions. ‘Spittle and Ground’, which had been designated for inclusion in the ‘Blind’ [working title] suite, had very good stereo separation but the centre ground was rather spare. As such, while the sound was perfectly acceptable when heard over monitors, the left and right channels felt too remote from one another over the headphones. I made a monaural version of the stereo track to occupy the space and, then, in another attempt, boosted the bass content of the middle channel. I’d need to review the two solutions before making a choice.

News of Scott Walker‘s death seeped into social media during the morning. Walker’s music had a huge influence on many musicians who were trying to break the mould of contemporary songwriting. In this respect, the albums he made from the 1990s onward were as ‘far out’ as any composer had pushed the genre in the twentieth century. The music was demanding to the point of difficult at times, frightening at others, and profoundly melancholic. He was a loner (solitudinous) who’d little interest in his works’ reception. That attitude required great courage and self-confidence. He helped me to understand how noise and lyric can be interpolated, and to bear the prospect that a composition may take a very, very long time to resolve.

Scott Walker, Bish Bosch (2012)

Shortly before lunch, I toyed with the idea of introducing the spoken text to Christ’s miracle of healing a blind man with spit and clay into ‘Spittle and Ground’ (That’d been the original intent.)

1.40 pm: I put off the mixing process temporarily and returned to composition, taking as the source: John, Chapter 9. I’d two sets of New Testament records. The same disc from each was on the turntables, with a view to manipulating them simultaneously and in parallel. I’ve tried and failed to pull-off this before.

As a preparation for composition, and as a gesture of respect, I played the opening track from Walker’s album collaboration with Sun O))): Soused (2014). I worked with the discs through the afternoon. If there wasn’t a spark of something by the end, the endeavour would be abandoned. By 4.00 pm, my overwhelming conviction was that the existing track, comprising clicks and scratches only, was too complete to be improved by any addition.

At the close of the afternoon, I listened again to some of last week’s mixes, modifying the stereo field as necessary. I’m always learning. The essence of the task is the construction of space, both horizontally and in depth.

6.30 pm: Eventide:

Once more ’tis eventide, and we
Oppressed with various ills draw near;
What if Thy form we cannot see?
We know and feel that Thou art here.

(Henry Twells (1823–1900), ‘At Evening When the Sun Was Set’)

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