Double Feature! The Sentimentalist / Twenty Thirteen: A Year In Brief Review

The Sentimentalist

On new year's eve, my friend Mark told me that I was a sentimentalist because I was annoyed when our group failed to enthusiastically recognise the passing of another year. Instead of the traditional roaring cheer followed by mild contemplation and a general sense of warmth, the new year was met with us looking up from our game of scattergories, exchanging glances, and sarcastically murmuring 'woo' [here, again, we see another example of a long sentence]. I chided our collective apathy only to be chastised by the Mark who ejaculated, "Who cares about new years? it's like Christmas; who fucken gives a shit?". Although I wouldn't necessarily categorise myself as a sentimentalist, I do believe that recognition of certain points/objects in time is sometimes a truly important thing to do (even if only inwardly).

Transient

What is the good in having a thinking brain if we can't pause for a short time to celebrate such occasions as Christmas, new years and birthdays? If these small landmarks of sentiment in our otherwise cluttered existence went unnoticed then our hearts-that inherent wound in us all-would begin to heal over and our lives would become very cold indeed. Like the inevitable demise of our universe; everything would begin to fall apart, our years would start to blend together with everything eventually tending towards the same temperature. We would become stagnant and bitter, nothing truly catching our attention. Nothing stopping or changing. This is when people become old before their time. Occasionally I've seen this behaviour in myself and I don't like it at all.

"But I live every day to its fullest and don't need stupid bi-yearly reminders", says the disembodied voice of a happy construct. Bullshit! Everyday effort gets boring. We forget. We need reminding occasionally of the things around us. "But everything is pretty much pointless. These things are just stupid, meaningless pieces of trivia, there is no reason to be happy", says the happy construct's emotionally disturbed evil twin. Jesus Christ! Stop with this would you! There is such a thing as balance you know? You are allowed to feel happy about things if you create your own god damn meaning.

And I mean, come on! Us on our tiny home survived one more full rotation around a stupidly large ball of hydrogen without hitting anything, being invaded or destroying ourselves. This is cause for at least some celebration as our unstoppable race through the cosmos goes unnoticed pretty much every other day of the week.

Actually, you know what? I am a sentimentalist and I don't believe that is anything to be ashamed of. It means I actually place importance on certain moments or objects in time. Completely self-indulgent and subjective, possibly misguided at times, but at least I can allow myself to feel something. And yes, I admit that some things for which we feel a sense of warmth or nostalgia are silly, but they are uniquely us, they form a key part of our internal landscape. Unlike a machine for which each tick of the clock is as stale and uniform as the last, I am human. Time is a vital and fluid concept for me. It can be long or short depending on my mood or how much focus I place on it. I can imbue inanimate objects with life and personality just by being me. And that's nice.

* * *

Twenty Thirteen: A Year In Brief Review

In 2013, I discovered time travel. "But how?", I hear you cry with obvious exasperation. Well, I have no idea, but I am sure that it was no more than ten minutes since I was last sat here, on this neglected blog, summing up 2012. And it's interesting, because I talked about time travel last year as well. Ha.

So, how was your year, Callum?

I don't really know, to be honest. I think it was ok, but it never felt like it got going at any point. Right from the beginning things started to feel a little stagnant and cyclic. 'Protracted' is a good word to describe it actually. I think many people found 2013 to be this way, and I wonder why that is? Everything felt a little drawn out with no definite landmarks or events truly rearing their heads to annoy or delight me. But oh well. I guess that happens some times. I am looking at it as an 'incubating' year (what does that mean?).

Oh ok, sounds depressing. Did you generate any creative output?

Let me get this straight - it was by no means a bad year, just a strange one. I finished From Earth To Sky which I was truly satisfied with. It felt great to complete something with which I was so contented. This happened in February and I didn't really know what to do with it after its completion. I got it duplicated and I was quite happy with how the packaging turned out, I just shouldn't have printed so damn many of them (apparently people don't like cd's any more). It was something I needed to do I guess: to make it legitimate (tangible) in my own eyes. Self releasing is not something I will ever be doing again. It is a waste of time unless you know people, have a fan base or have enough money/drive to promote yourself. I just couldn't be bothered pushing this thing which I regret a little. I played it to my friends and they really liked it (I am happy about that, because they are damn harsh critics). They told me that I should launch it, so I took longer than I should have to do anything about it. It got me thinking about performing the kind of music I make live and how much I dislike it (I ended up creating a 45 minute set). I almost considered just putting on a copy of the album instead. The launch was at The Waiting Room in October. I Am Not A Nihilist supported me and I covered my venue hire costs. It was a lovely, intimate evening, but I don't think it did anything for the album. People just don't give a fuck unless you are on a label and have someone validating your creative ejaculations. Lesson learned.

I also submitted a new track to a compilation put together by local label Duskdarter. It was fun and refreshing to just play with no concept or rules (although a concept did arise naturally).

Mark and I recorded (in Mark's house or 'Grange Studio') the Curlew album in Q1/2 and it was great to get that done. We were really pleased with the results. The process of mixing is still under way and is a bitch of a thing because there are so many damn long songs! Watch out for a 2014 release eh.

What else? Well, Fine Goods was pretty slow this year, but I did manage to create a nice little promo video for LCP. I also did my first wedding video which was a great learning experience (and hopefully turns into a money making experience). I took photos, many of which I am very happy with. I feel that artistically I am closer than ever to achieving the type of images I want to capture. A few months ago, my friends and I started a weekly photo competition in which we would each submit a 12x8 print addressing a particular theme (I have been to officeworks more than I would ever have thought possible this past year). The exercise reinvigorated my love of photography and has made me want to pursue it again, even invest in some new equipment. A good outcome indeed.

Skylight

Something I have realised that I need to work on is being able to communicate what my art is actually about. I guess I need to really solidify this for myself first and increase my confidence in what I do to develop this ability. This may be an unachievable goal, but I am super tired of not being able to explain myself to people and falling into the default position of self deprecation and cliches. Maybe I should start taking my practice seriously and develop some kind of a functional rationale to work with? Good plan!

What did you do for money?

I worked a reasonable amount (it is quite amazing to think how far I have come actually) mainly in the first half of the year, however. Things started to slow down for TR in Q3 due to some unforeseen (by me anyway) structural changes, so I found myself with more time on my hands than I would have liked. A tad frustrating, but we overcome. I plan on diversifying my income in 2014 and look forward to a new year of potential money making ventures (lol).

Is there anything else you can think of?

Let me think. Well, I was made to feel a sense of childish wonder by re-watched the entire Star Wars series and reading the first book in the Thrawn trilogy. Got an RME Fireface UCX (which is amazing) because my 8pre started to smell like burning. Had some great cinematic experiences including Blue Jasmine, The Dance Of Reality, 100 Bloody Acres, Gravity (in 3d and 2d lol), and some others I can't remember because they were probably substandard. I started reading Murakami's 1Q84 a few months ago and it is wholesome, fantastical and delicious.

That doesn't sound like such a bad year?

You know what? You're right, it was actually an alright year upon reflection. Maybe I just wasn't engaged enough with what I was doing?

But what of the future?

You mean 2014? Oh I plan on travelling nationally and internationally, working on FG content, releasing at least one album, taking photos (and possibly doing something with them), diversifying my income, not worrying so much, doing things, leaving the house on a regular basis, building a new production PC, promoting myself a bit etc... I think 2014 will be a good year and I aim to fill it with interesting stuff.

Wow, so much self-indulgent bullshit that no one is actually going to read! Are you ok with that?

Fuck off.

So long,

Callum

From Earth To Sky

 
FETS front cover WEB

Here it is. My second album, From Earth To Sky, unleashed to the world.

This is what I wrote for its press release:

"There is a lot of love in this music. And a lot of loneliness. From Earth To Sky is about transit and transformation, fear and entropy, joy and infinity and stagnation and life and death and healing and pain and creativity and process and sex and yearning and many other things. There is no grand concept or academic rationalisation behind this work. It is an essential purge of feelings and ideas which I can not put in to words.

While the album is centred around improvised structures, the themes and environments which are explored were chosen consciously. It is a challenging and dynamic ride which you can interpret however you desire. It was created between the middle part of 2010 and January, 2013. The album should be listened to loud, in a quiet (preferably dark) room, alone or with company, on a system with good bass response."

I create music that I want to hear. My audience is me. I find these sounds highly evocative and they are a true expression of my internal (and external) landscape. I hope that you approach this album with an open mind and let it envelope you as completely as possible. The environment in which this album is listened to will vastly change the listener's reaction. It is best perceived in the open air on a stereo system of reasonably quality. Headphones are fine too, but ipod ear-buds (and the like) are highly discouraged. Night-time is best. Turn up the volume and off the lights. Be yourself and let yourself go.

It is true - I am hugely proud of this work and it does say more than my mouth ever could.

This is my biography for the skerreks project should you care to read it:

"The name skerreks is nothing more than a palindrome, but it signifies my approach to my purely sonic practice quite appropriately. skerreks is intended not to force any particular ideal down the throats of its audience, but instead provide a framework on which a person can hang their own stories and images and impressions. I use sound like a guide though your own consciousness, forcing you to be yourself and think your own thoughts.

The nature of this project could be described as 'minimal', 'maximal', 'concrete', 'ambient' or 'electronic', however it is none and all of these things. In a live and produced setting, skerreks offers you a diverse bath of writhing, morphing sonic texture in which you can do what you wish. Ultimately, this is about experience. It is about creating personal and meaningful experiences through sound."