Stoneygate: Sleepwalker

I love this review! “You could end the beginning of the Korea war just by handing Kim Yong Un my headphones.”

Musiker

I cannot say much about your music. Despite I paid my full attention to it. There are barbiturates like Thiopental. No, I´m not talking about the death penalty injection. I´m talking about a narcosis. Your music worked like a barbiturate on me. I forgot space and time, as if I was mentally ill. I walked up and down my apartment with my headphones on. I think, this is the definition of “chillout”. But I´d never imagined what kind of power your music has on me. Take the case others feel like me. You could end the beginning of the Korea war just by handing Kim Yong Un my headphones. Isn´t it amazing? Love, Mister Tetzentheil ❤

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Oh *$&@, it’s got swearing on it!

This post is purely personal opinion.  I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about why I don’t typically like songs with swearing in. I don’t think I’m a huge snob… I’m not terribly bothered when people use the occasional swear in normal speech. Well, I might be a bit shocked if it was the vicar doing it, I suppose, or my mother. But normally if I hear something when I’m out and about, I’d just think of the swear words as being part of the person’s everyday vocabulary and mentally translate, without considering the words’ literal meaning.

 

I get the argument that art needs to reflect life, and in real life lots of people swear. Most, maybe, in the UK, where I live. It’s not like I never use any swears myself for emphasis either, when I want to make a point and underline how something makes me feel. I’m not ruling out ever using strong words for making a point in my music, even. I just don’t like there to be swears in the music I listen to, as a general rule… it seems unnecessary, usually.

Part of the issue is that listening to music creates a kind of personal space. Swears in music can feel like a violation of that boundary. Another reason is that I pick up language and absorb it like anything. If I surround myself with foul language, it’s bound to seep into my mental vocabulary, even if I don’t verbalise it. I’d prefer for the strongest language to not get in that far, even, and with music I have an abundance of choice about what I can listen to. Why choose something with swears in?

Music, to me, is a beautiful form of art, as well as being a means of expression. I feel that some swear words are particularly ugly, especially the f-bomb. Given the choice, I prefer to listen to something that reflects my idea of beauty… I don’t automatically reach for the off button the instant there is a swear, but will do if there are lots of them in a short space of time.  If a song is littered with swearing, if it is intended for the swearing to help get a message across, in my view, the song loses impact.

Some songs seem to get away with having the odd swear in. I can’t think of a good example off the top of my head, but, like film violence, if it’s not gratuitous, if it makes sense in the context of the story that is being told, or is done in a humorous way, I can stomach it. I was thinking Fairy Tale of New York might be a good example, but when I checked the lyrics, I found the Pogues hovering over the fine line of using strong insults and coarser language without actually swearing. You might disagree and conclude that they cross the line with some words. It’s a close call.

On the other hand, I object somewhat to cleaned-up versions of songs for the radio, if a version that is available to buy is not going to have the expletives deleted, e.g. if it’s going to be the version on the album. I heard and liked the Ce-Lo Green song Forget You on the radio, but was disappointed when I heard that it was a clean version of the song and discovered what the ‘real words’ were. Some people got caught out buying the ‘non-clean’ version on the basis of radio-play, as well, and were even more disappointed than I was, as I understand it from the grapevine.  I’m not sure what Ce-Lo Green did with his album, but I would feel cheated if I bought an album based on liking a cleaned-up single and then the version on the album was a different version of the song I liked, with expletive non-deleted lyrics. It would mean they were a different artist to who I thought they were. It would almost be a betrayal.

Apparently there is already technology available that would allow you to bleep out offending words, when it works.  Apple also have a patent on software with a similar aim. No problems of course with instrumental music…

Spring Gardening & A Blackbird Update

Today was Easter Monday, a Bank Holiday in the UK, and I felt oddly inspired to get out in the garden, soak up some vitamin D, and get vicious with the pruning loppers.

I think I’ve said it before but I really am NOT a gardener…  My garden is more about trying to stop the weeds and fast-growing plants from completely taking over than anything truly creative.

One of the lovely things today was that the bluebells were out that I’d sown seeds for and forgotten about until about 3 years afterwards.  They weren’t a surprise this year, but are one of my favourite spring plants.

It was actually colder than it looked for most of the afternoon, which meant I managed to keep working for 3 hours rather than the single hour I had thought about doing. Just as well, as the weeds (i.e. most of the garden) were really starting to take off, dandelion clocks and flowers everywhere.

Trying to Banish the Buddleia

There are several self-seeded elder bushes that I want to eventually take out as they smell weird, grow super-fast and grow into trees, plus a buddleia that self-seeded itself in the patio several years ago.

I’ve been trying to make the buddleia disappear ever since it arrived, but unfortunately, the more you hack buddleia back, the more it grows, so I’ve been entirely unsuccessful in removing it thus far. It’s not all bad, buddleia attracts bees and butterflies, but there are already two more in my garden.

Today’s efforts with the patio buddleia were more brutal than earlier attempts, and eventually involved a hacksaw and re-homing dozens of snails, to try and cut it as close to the ground as possible…. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the slabs up and dig it out, then, before it has a chance to grow back. (Don’t hold me to that one….)

The garden feels a lot bigger for cutting the unwanted bushes back, and feels like it could be a pleasant place to sit out now, if I do some more work to tell it who’s boss.  Preferably this week, body permitting…. it may protest after today’s efforts, though.

Blackbird Update

During my tea-break, my friendly blackbird came and sat in next door’s tree, bringing both Mrs Blackbird and Blackbird Junior. The whole family landed about two metres from my head and didn’t seem particularly bothered that I was there. I was also able to confirm that the squeaky-wheel sounds I’ve been hearing from the tree are from the resident blue tits.

Niagara & Album Progress

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Fountain in Lincoln Arboretum. (I’ve never been to Niagara Falls, so have no photos of it that I own the copyright for).

Earlier this week, battling a migraine, I tried to take stock of what material I have for Albums 2 & 3 and get myself a bit more organised towards getting these both out of the door.

Album 2 is a ‘fake filmscore’ based on a book that is quite well known in the UK. It needs another track mixing then all tracks mastering, one of the trickier parts of the process for me, that could delay its release. It’s looking like it will be 35 minutes long, unless I have some last-minute inspiration for a further track or add any bonus items. (Either one of those scenarios could happen at this stage – I’m planning to get a significant portion of Album 3 ready before I release Album 2.)

There’s already quite a lot of potential material for Album 3, but the styles are rather mixed, so I could need to prune it back drastically to make it a coherent body of work, and I may, therefore, need to write some more new tunes to make it hold together better. There is a huge amount of work that still needs doing on most of the tracks for Album 3: many are in just the early stages of production and some are currently just a loop of an idea.

When the migraine had subsided, I finalised the lyrics & I put down guide vocals for another new song Thieving Autumn^. This song has been in the writing stage since about September last year. I was really pleased with how the vocals went and may even use them as the final vocals with a few tweaks, if I’m not satisfied with how a ‘proper’ recording goes using a condenser mic.

I’ve been arranging a new song that I’m calling ‘Niagara’ this afternoon, and recording some vocals – it has gone from being just a snippet with the main ideas in to a full demo. It’s not easy to sing this one in tune all the way through (I have failed thus far) so I’ll need to practice it a lot more to get the required level of pitch control in the parts that are going wrong.

I also realised today that I have another couple of songs I forgot to include on my list of potential tracks for Album 3. Ooops! With the work on Niagara today, that brings the total duration of the demo tracks to 1hr . It’s starting to look like I could end up with more than an album’s worth of material. There seem to be a couple of different overall genres which don’t necessarily complement each other. Basically, it’s 70s influence and indie-folk-electronica versus 80s synthwave and its progeny. It’s not clear how it will pan out though (no pun intended) as the draft playlist I created doesn’t clash as violently as it threatened.

^Thieving Autumn was provided as an instrumental exclusive with last month’s email news.  If you’re not yet on the email list, sign up so you don’t miss out! I only send one email out around every month or so. With definite emphasis on the ‘or so’.