11 August 2014

No Revival

So after years of nothing appearing on these pages because I had nothing productive to contribute, I have a vague idea about a creative project. Something to keep my mind active, something to channel my energies into, engage me and get me to hopefully enjoy a resource I have on tap but so often overlook.

The idea is simple: listen to my entire music library one album/collection at a time. Really listen. Then write up thoughts, reviews, emotional fallout, kittens... whatever happened in that time but in a coherent and intelligent way. Simple.

It works on two levels.
  1. to force me to listen to the music I own, much of which has sat unplayed
  2. To get me to positively engage with an activity, rather than passively waste my evenings being bored, lonely, tired, or listless.
It's not a small project. My library contains 1555 albums/collections according to Windows Media Player; 16,000+ tracks and 47 days worth of runtime. It's quite a varied library; there are some strong themes, but it spans many genres. Somewhere in there I would hopefully generate the odd interesting review. Were I to make it through, even with a moratorium on buying anything new it would take me a year or three to complete. That assumes that I was able to a) get going and b) keep going to the end since it's over 3 at 1 collection a day. Granted, some are small enough that multiple could be shot through in an afternoon, but that's still a daunting thought.

So what order to do it in?

I don't want to go by artist because that means too many long runs of the same musician all together... and getting bored or tuning out is the opposite of the point. I suspect therefore that I would go alphabetically by album. That also ends up in long runs of the same thing (or at least one such... and 356 folk songs in a row might break my brain as well as kill interest in the idea) but allowing myself the liberty of switching out if I hit such a run mitigates that. New purchases may need to fit in somewhere too. Rigid planning is not the route to the finish line here.


The question is, in this digital, post-product age, why albums? Easy: they serve to break up tracks, easily categorise what has been done and what is to come. They also work as conceptual groups, to draw links between. And frankly they're also how I tend to buy; I'm rooted in the physical still and I like my library of discs - they allow me to play things in the car (except where those discs are dying, like my CDR of Orange Dirt County by Pip Dylan). But mostly its the categorisation thing - keeping track of progress.

I'm still uncommitted to the idea - I've not begun a review, a listen or spoken to anyone about my plans for my spare time, but the thought is growing on me and I have set up a blog for the purpose. I suspect I'll start - not least because by using WMP's alphabetical album listing I have a favourite up first (easily guessed if you know me; or stated in the blurb for the new site) - but then run out of steam in the first 10 discs or so... unable to find the right mental space to commit, like with so many other things.  We'll see, eh?

But it won't revive this pile of junk. If it goes ahead, it'll have its own blog and separate space at http://wiltml.blogspot.co.uk/ just to clutter up another little corner of t'internet with my garbage.

10 February 2011

Posts I Should Make...

Why Plot is a Dirty Word

The Trouble with Wanting to Win

Fucking Media Crushes

Snowed in by Admin

I Need to Sleep to be Creative

On Never Following Through

Those Half-Developed Ideas that Should be Awesome... if Only They'd Get Done.

I Need More Storage!

The First Valentine's Day That's Good for Anything (and not for that)

18 December 2010

13 December 2010

I'm broke...

But not destitute.

I bought a house. Exchanged contracts today, complete a week on Wednesday.

Job done.

12 December 2010

Today is one of those days

As soon as I woke up this morning I knew. I knew today was not going to be a good day.

My mind got stuck in certain loops of thought, ones I would rather not visit right now - or indeed ever. This has been followed up by everything I try to do failing, and technology failing and my thought spiral getting worse not better.

Today is not supposed to be like this. I had a pre-exchange meeting with my financial advisor yesterday, to dot the i and cross the t of my mortgage offer. All of which means that tomorrow, when I go to see my solicitor, I should be able to sign contracts and arrange transfer of funds to get to the point of exchange. The putative completion date is 22 December - I should feel excited, looking forward but from the very first moment of wakefulness that has been ruined.

Fuck.

02 December 2010

I feel as though life has kicked me in the nuts...

Repeatedly. And then punched me in the gut for good measure.

I might be getting better - no, really - but hope is a bitch, or in the words of Nick Hornby, sung by Ben Folds:

"You know what hope is?
Hope is a bastard;
Hope is a liar, a cheat, and a tease.
Hope comes near you; kick its backside.
Got no place in days like these.
" - Picture Window

Hope is fled now, but it leaves a vacuum that only time can fill. And a sense of loss, that something broke that may be irretrievable.

I'm on the verge of buying a house. It's a nice place, not too far from work, not much needing doing and nearer friends. It'll be my own space, I can spread out, dedicate rooms to functions of living and generally improve my home life. It's exciting, almost exhilarating - I'm truly looking forward to it. With any luck, by this time next week I will have exchanged contracts and everything, all set for a completion date before Christmas.

Yet the excitement, whilst there, is distant. Instead I have the same old worries rattling around my brain - the ones I have never managed to banish, despite trying to accept them, despite trying to deny them, despite willing them away.

OK, its only natural to be disappointed at rejection. I know that I am better for it, for having taken the chance, than had I cowered from it and watched it go sailing by. It's less natural that one such incident should plunge me headlong back into the self doubt that has me convinced that this lovely new house (or any other) will never be filled by anyone but me. I'd like to say it's less convincing this time, but for all that I keep a kernel of hope inside me that prevents the blackest of nights, I also possess the pessimism of of a true cynic, so it is just as bad as ever.

More temporary though, I hope. Counselling is on the horizon; an opportunity perhaps to address this self doubt, self deprecation and self delusion. A chance, maybe, to build some confidence, to find things that work for me, to learn how to express myself in person like I am able to in text. A moment, perchance, to be able to say things myself rather than relying on other people's music and lyrics as above.

But right now? It seems awfully fitting that the snippet posted above comes from an album entitled "Lonely Avenue" - as I'm living there, new house or no. I'm at my lowest ebb for a long time. I keep landing on my feet, but the ground beneath them is about to give way and the worst thing is I did most of the undermining myself.

30 November 2010

My fears were unfounded

Despite significant wobbles, England pulled together and ended up snatching a domineering draw from the jaws of defeat.

But what is clear is that my studious not listening on Saturday evening (well, early Sunday morning) must have contributed to the good second innings showing. I simply must not listen to another ball, and the series is in the bag...

Superstition is a strange thing!

25 November 2010

Oh dear, here we go again...

The first over of the 2010/11 Ashes and we're already 0-1.

I think I'll go to bed and save myself the hassle.

17 November 2010

Adrift on a raft in the river of life

Whilst life passes by on the banks.

So something has happened that prompted me to write again, however briefly. Yesterday I broke a long duck - and it broke me back, albeit in a nice and polite way and overall much more.... pleasantly than expected. However it was expected.

I'm no good with life, I'm no good with people, and occasions that make me interested in other people are few and far between. Yesterday I grasped for a branch to maybe pull myself a little closer to the shore where everyone else seems to hang out and have fun, knowing full well it would likely pull out of my hands as the current swept me by. This may not sound significant but even two months ago I would have foregone that slight chance at rescue, accepting my fate and preserving the skin on my hands.

However the whole situation put me in mind of Bryan Lee O'Malley's excellent Lost at Sea - a comic about an 18 year old girl that sums up this 30 year old man far, far better than it should. I have a sudden burning desire to read it again, but my copy is back in the UK and I won't be able to lay hands on it for another 5 days. The title alone rather sums up life in my head - I can't see land or anyone else, let alone make contact, and previous attempts have been so disastrous I have more or less forgotten how to try. You should read it too, it really is excellent. Everyone has been there at one time or another. Cogent criticism escapes me now, but as someone who has, by a certain way of thinking, been 18 for 12 years that is only to be expected.

So titling at yesterday's windmill was a success of sorts, despite the inevitable failure. Rebuilding takes time - time I may not have, but time I have to try to find - the isolation alone is killing me, an acute pain with chronic duration and one I have never managed to overcome, despite building some pretty formindable walls.

Rambling now, not making sense - much like the thoughts in my mind and the inevitable self-destruction that comes with my innate over-analysis. I'm trying to do, not think; to not regret and to be better for it. I'm failing at first, but practice makes perfect, right?

Right?

07 May 2010

I am a ball of conflicting emotions...

My life is so dull that nothing ever happens, yet this leaves me all turned about: rarely do truly bad things happen, but equally neither does anything genuinely good (everything, it seems, has complications).

I want to run and correct my mistakes, yet also to cringe and hide from them until they are finally forgotten. I want to be elsewhere and yet never go there again. I want to pack up and move on but want, too, to cling on to the last vestiges of memory.

I hate my weekends yet want them to last forever. I lack for things to do but need the dead time to recover. Most of all, I want to be able to sleep - on the basis that if I were more rested then things would look brighter. Two incredibly disturbed nights sleep on and I'm a wreck - angry, sad, tearful, apathetic and hopeless.

I'm back in the rut, and sinking into the soft mud of the tread so any view over the side is fading fast.

And a shitty election result doesn't help.

25 April 2010

What the hell is wrong with me?

I have never believed in love at first sight, yet somehow I appear to have left my heart a continent away with a girl I hardly know, and who is far too young for me, a month ago and it still burns to my core.

I fluffed my lines at the time, and I accepted that - my bad, typical and expected, annoying but live-able with. I did not expect the desire to persist over 2 weeks after I left, knowing that I will not hear from her or see her... for a long while at least, if ever.

The wrong idea can go a long way, and this flame deosn't feel ready to die, however convenient that would be. I'm hostage to my own fallability here, my own weaknesses. On the one hand I want to let it go, pragmatically sensible and prudent, especially given the hopelessness of the situation. On the other I dearly want to cling to the one thing of late that has made me feel alive until the impossibility is confimred (as opposed to sitting at 99.99% recurring).

I need help.

01 January 2010

My favourite albums of 2009

So apparently I bought 50.7 hours of music released in 2009; 49.9 discounting re-issues, and 43.3 discounting compilations and best-ofs (but not disounting Aidan Moffat and the Best Ofs).

My top 10 albums in some kind of order were:

10. Jon Boden - Songs from the Floodplain

Second solo album from Bellowhead frontman Jon Boden - I've seen it described somewhere as folk tinged apocalyptica and its a description that fits as it is both bleak and full of influences from his folk roots. Boden is one of the most charismatic performers I've ever seen live and this does bleed through into his recordings too.

9. James Yorkston and the Big Eyes Family Players - Folk Songs

One of the albums I was really looking forward to last year - so much so I bought the special edition on pre-order, twice by mistake! (I gave one to my dad who is also a fan, but I am listed twice in the list of pre-orders included in the packaging). Didn't quite live up to my lofty expectations, but Yorkston is a genius performer and it's still a fine collection of tunes.

8. Regina Spektor - Far

The first Spektor album I bought (since picked up a few more) - there are some very strong songs on this release. I assume given she was amongst LastFM's top 40 most played artists of the year everyone else knows more about her than I do!

7. Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

Apart from the ridiculous space-filling insect noise repeat at the end of the disc this just blew me away on first listen. May have lost a little lustre on repeated re-visits but Case's voice and the haunting melodies she pairs it with remain a symbiotic partnership that rewards attention.

6. The Leisure Society - The Sleeper

A really charming little release that I owe LastFM for. Tracks like A Short Weekend Begins with Longing and The Last of the Melting Snow have a genuine warmth and appeal to the softer, less cynical side of me.

5. Jon Hopkins - Insides

Hopkins is dificult to describe. I loved Opalescent, was less taken with Contact Note, love some of his production work. Insides is a strong work, less accessible than Opalescent but worth the effort in the end. Wire alone could almost have got this album into this list - probably my favourite track of 2009.

4. Emmy the Great - First Love (bonus tracks)

Missed all but 5 minutes of her at Indietracks in the summer - big mistake that I would rectify if it were possible. Deliciously painful in places but a high quality piece of work nonetheless, even if I do have to be in a limited range of moods for listening to be viable.

3. Julie Fowlis - Uam

Voice of an angel, traditional music at its finest. I can't say too much more about Fowlis without understating.

2. De Rosa - Prevention

Thought for a long while that this would be my album of the year, but I have found as the months have ticked past that I do not return to it as much as I did. Still a staggeringly good album from a band that split up a month or so later. Fragile yet robust, far more polished than their debut (Mend) but without losing their edge.

1. The Phantom Band - Checkmate Savage

The album I have most often re-visited last year - took over from Prevention in November/December as the #1 because I feel it has more longevity. A mixture of dark, brooding sounds and happy-clappy choruses that make me want to bounce around like an idiot - it shouldn't work, but it just does. Magnificently. Scottish indie at its finest.

===

What's odd about this list, from my perspective, is that two albums from favourite artists of mine that I would have had as dead certs for inclusion do not make it (King Creosote's Flick the Vs and Malcolm Middleton's Waxing Gibbous). Those two, and the list above (the top 3 and Yorkston) indicate a strong trend towards Scottish artists in the past 12 months.

I was tempted to include a Jazz release from left-field (Andy Sheppard's Movements in Colour) but felt it would be for the sake of diversity rather than quality - though I like it a lot, it's not received the same attention of the above in terms of plays or thought. Other honourable mentions go to Andrew Bird (for Useless Creatures more than Noble Beast) and Mercury-nominated Sweet Billy Pilgrim (for Twice Born Men).

15 October 2009

I keep feeling...

As though I really ought to write something.

Problem is I have no idea what - or even what format. My brain is atrophying without use and could benefit greatly from some linguistic working out, and my creative side is craving release but...

Application has long been the problem.

22 September 2009

The stupid things we find challenging that others find easy

Are a constant source of annoyance, self-beration and anxiety. Things we know are simple but struggle with every time they raise their head.

Fucking telephones.