Monday, 9 January 2012

Letter to a Musician

[Here's an edited copy of an email I sent to someone whose music really fascinated me when I found it...]

Dear Musician X,

I recently discovered your first two albums. I want to pass on my appreciation of them.

I don't know how specifically your music is to do with the area you're associated with in your online bio but, if it is, you have a fascinating take on it. It's also the area where I used to roam as a teenager, and I've often returned to it imaginatively. My own first album probably reveals a darker take than yours on what is the psycho-geography of my childhood. However, it is a delight to find your albums.

I admire the way you've stuck to a particular way of doing things, and a particular combination of elements, even though the result is some quite long tracks in which change accumulates slowly. You have some beautiful, clear sounds (guitar, trumpet?) chiming out there at crucial points – for me that effect is very like an object or a light becoming clear in fog or mist – but you've been brave enough to make the moments of clarity as important as the ambience.

The support text for your second album is interesting. I see your geographical reference point is on the south coast of England. However, there is still something in your sound-world that reminds me of moorland, woods and conifer plantations leading down into valleys: the topography that I will always associate with Greno Woods, Wharncliffe Side and the drop down into the strange hinterland of railway lines, old bomb craters and quarries, around British Tissues in Oughtibridge (in the 1970s). I wonder if we're both interested in re-imagining earlier experience, and representing that process within a topography? The phrase about songs containing characterisations and re-enactments is something I could have written about my own work.

Emotionally, your second album puts me (now) in mind of the west of Ireland, with which I have a more recent association, and in which I have found new creative sources. There's something Van Morrison-like in the structure and build of some of your pieces ('Inarticulate Speech of the Heart' period). One of your tracks reminded me that I have some extended recordings of hundreds of ropes-against-masts in a windy Dun Laoghaire marina that I have yet to use. There are so many models for structure in music...

It would be funny, now, to learn that you live in Vancouver and your music is entirely a work of imagination onto which I have projected all these associations! No matter. Congratulations on two great albums.

[...Musician X did not reply].