It feels like a very long time since I played music for its own sake. I was out on a bike ride with a friend who is also a subscriber who put it so succinctly like that, 'music for the sake of music'. Throughout the pandemic and then through my lymphoma diagnosis and treatment, music was very explicitly the soundtrack to a set of narratives, emotions, experiences - it produced some really lovely music, some music that is so special to me, but that association with a story means that for those who know the story, it has a whole other layer of meaning. That's the joy of making music for my Bandcamp subscriber community - they know the story, they can read the extra info about it, we can talk about what it means, what they can hear in the music of what I've described and what else they experience in it. So while all (my) music has stories and meaning attached to it, this last three years of music making has leaned even more intensely into the 'cinematic instrumental' notion that I've been using to describe what it is I do for a decade or so - soundtracks to the film of all the freaky shit that's been happening in the world and in my currently-cancer-free body!
Here, for the first time in a long time, I set about recording just a ton of new music to see what wanted to come out. All of this music was recorded in California, with my Elrick SLC fretted bass and using just the MOD DuoX for all the signal processing - not even a preamp between my bass and the processor. A really simple set up in terms of hardware, but one that features the most complex pedal board I've ever had - the MOD DuoX allows me to design a 'virtual' pedal board which is orders of magnitude more complex than anything I could ever possibly build with stand alone stomp boxes and wire. It's been a 7 year work in progress and is still ongoing, new sounds being developed all time time. You'll hear some of those innovations here, and also perhaps how the sounds change from track to the track - I get restless and from one day to the next will swap out aspects of the board!
And there are, of course, stories and influences through this work too. This music is, perhaps not surprisingly, really, really happy. The stuff that is gentle is full of peace and rest, the stuff that's more uptempo is pretty jubilant. I got to record it in a place that makes me really happy, and to reflect on just being able to be there after what's happened over the last few years - getting to visit the US again for the first time since January 2020 has been a huge treat this year. Getting back into playing live, travelling, having adventures. It's all there in the music.
The title - Time Stops - is from a recent interview with Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn. You should really read the whole thing, because it's brilliant - www.innerviews.org/inner/bruce-cockburn
- but the relevant bit is Bruce talking about what's unique about instrumental music: "I've always felt like there was a sense of space that went with instrumental music that doesn’t typically happen with songs with lyrics. If I listen to Bob Dylan, I'm thinking about what he's saying, as well as savoring the music and whoever's playing on the record. But if I listen to Japanese flute music or Bach, I'm not doing that. Rather, I'm allowing myself to be transported to wherever that music takes me. For me, that's often a kind of deliciously-wistful poignant infinity. There's a sense of that physical space almost. It's imaginary, but it feels physically combined with time stopping. If you're seriously listening to something, time stops. Those are the powerful effects I really notice with almost any kind of instrumental music."
So here we have it, Time Stops, vols 1 & 2, plus a third album just for subscribers - the three albums comprise every note I played across 4 days of recording. Nothing is deleted or missing from those four days of recording. Every note is here. I'm pretty pleased with how consistent this work is.