The Islay Beefcast – Epsiode 05

“Was it Everything You’d Expected it to Be?”

Hey, you remember the Islay Beefcast, right? That podcast Murray and I produced several episodes of in 2011? No? Well, it’s back, even though we’re an ocean apart, thanks to the magic of Skype.

The Islay Beefcast logo

We’re going to be releasing this thing on an irregular basis. It’s just for fun, some honest chit-chat.

This week Murray interviews me about my time in Canada, and my poor life choices. We go a little deep on this one, and sometimes it wanders into uncomfortable territory. There was some stuff I was going to edit out, but I ended up editing it back in. It’s honest, if nothing else.

Apologies if the sound quality and presentation is not up to scratch, we’re still working on streamlining the technology.

Now & the Near Future

This week has been fairly crazy and weird as it is, but I’m also excited to announce to my several readers that after a year of making do with wordpress.com, I have returned to self-hosting wordpress. The site is still where it was before, it’s just slightly more swag, as the kids probably said five years ago.

As a result of the switch I’ll be able to give the site a proper refresh and design overhaul that it’s in need of. I’m probably not going to do a full custom theme or anything too elaborate, just tweaking here and there. I’m trying to improve my writing style, and that includes breaking up text with pictures. You know, making more compelling content. This will be an ongoing project of course, so I’ll tweak a few things, you know, experiment.

The move also gives me more storage space and flexibility, not to mention plugins for exciting content stuff that’s in the works (more on that soon).

The migration process was a little rough for an hour or so there, but I kicked the Internet a couple of times and it finally worked.

This is all secondary to what’s really happening.

Continue reading Now & the Near Future

I Am a Vegetarian

In the tail-half of 2014, I decided to try about being a vegetarian. In truth I had entertained the idea for a long time, but for whatever reason (an honest love of meat, for example) I hadn’t taken the plunge. Now I am, in fact, a vegetarian, and have not eaten meat since October 2014.

I am not a vegan. I still consume dairy, eggs, and honey, and I still wear wool and such. As a vegetarian, I simply do not eat meat, and try to avoid products made from dead animals, ie. leather. It’s okay though, I’ve never been a big fan of leather.

Food is fairly well-labelled these days with “suitable for vegetarians”. It’s a little annoying that there’s not a single standardised way to label this, so I do have to double-check a lot of things like cheese, but this is honestly not that big of a deal. Some things have a big V, some have a Vegetarian Society logo, some say “Suitable for vegetarians” in tiny writing. Regardless, if it is suitable for vegetarians, it will almost always say – and if it doesn’t, the internet helps. If I’m unsure, I say no.

I come from a family cheese enthusiasts. Cheese is a bit of a minefield for vegetarians thanks to animal rennet. I missed out on a lovely-smelling baked Camembert at Christmas.
I come from a family cheese enthusiasts. Cheese is a bit of a minefield for vegetarians thanks to animal rennet. I missed out on a lovely smelling baked Camembert at Christmas.

Continue reading I Am a Vegetarian

Domain

Just a quick notice to say that the old domain, timidelfdesigns.co.uk, will be going away March 13. Please make sure your bookmarks are up to date if they aren’t already: timidelfdesigns.com

Also, hilariously, my first domain, thegrotto.tk finally expires in 2016. As of today, that URL should forward properly. Again, check your bookmarks.

Cheers!

PS. More frequent posts coming soon, I promise.

The Spider-Man Cometh

This morning I learned that the once-preposterous mythical Marvel Studios/Sony Spider-Man agreement had been reached, the result of which is that Spider-Man is joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Fans have cheered this news. Me, not so much. Allow me to explain.

Me & Marvel

I wasn’t a Marvel comics nerd growing up. I casually knew about Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Iron Man, but I never read the comics. The comics I grew up with were the Beano and the Dandy. I used to love the 90s Spider-Man cartoon though, and as a result Spider-Man was certainly the Marvel character I was most familiar with growing up, and so I’m quite familiar with Peter Parker’s origin, his villains, his stories.

Continue reading The Spider-Man Cometh

Best of 2014: Top Ten Albums

So, it’s the end of 2014. Boy, what a nothing year that was for me. Oh well, onward and downward I suppose.

It wasn’t all bad, there was a ton of cool music to enjoy, so that’s something. I took a while working on this list, and there were a couple of late entries.

There are a few honourable mentions that very nearly made the list, notably Scott Walker + Sunn O)))’s highly anticipated Soused, and Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra’s Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything  both of which dropped-off after I got Grouper’s Ruins and Mamiffer’s Statu Nascendi. Neverthless these are also records I enjoy, and I’m sure if you asked me in six months, this list would be very different.

Anyway, enough nonsense, on with the list!

Continue reading Best of 2014: Top Ten Albums

Old Man Gloom – The Ape of God

The winter of Gloom is upon us folks. It is time for a review of the new Old Man Gloom album The Ape of God, I suppose.

Oh, did I say album, I meant albums! There are in fact two new Old Man Gloom albums, and wouldn’t you know, both of them are named The Ape of God. Which one do I like best? Well, it’s a bit of a toss-up at the moment, they both have their qualities, but I’d have to say right at this moment I like The Ape of God a little more than The Ape of God, but who knows, maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up screaming “I WAS WRONG!” I mean, I’ll probably do that anyway, but perhaps it’ll be about Old Man Gloom for once and not every decision I have ever made in my pitiful life…

Old Man Gloom feature in an informative and entertaining little documentary called Here is a Gift For You that you can watch below if you so wish:

Continue reading Old Man Gloom – The Ape of God

Album of the Year 2014 Longlist

Okay, I know it’s only mid-October, but it’s been a fairly cool year for music thus far, so I’m going to try and get a head start on a top five/ten albums list for the end of the year. I haven’t done one in a while, and I really don’t buy as much new music as I used to, but music is still a thing that I love beyond all reason. I may have forgotten some stuff, but this is just a starting point.

So, to start, here’s a quick brain-dump of the stuff I’ve really enjoyed this year so far that would likely make it to such a list.

  • Kayo Dot – Coffins on Io
  • Earth – Primitive & Deadly
  • Tune-Yards – Nikki Nack
  • St. Vincent – St. Vincent
  • Swans – To Be Kind
  • Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
  • Ben Babbitt – Kentucky Route Zero, Act III Soundtrack
  • Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything

Now here’s a list of forthcoming releases that I’m excited for:

  • Scott Walker & Sunn O))) – Soused
  • Old Man Gloom – The Ape of God
  • Mamiffer – Statu Nascendi
  • Ishraquiyun – Perichoresis

And the big wildcard:

  • Pink Floyd – The Endless River

Finally, some stuff I’ve not gotten to yet, that I really ought to in the next couple months:

  • Hiss Tracts – Shortwave Nights
  • YOB – Clearing the Path to Ascend
  • DAMA/LIBRA – Claw
  • Aphex Twin – Syro
  • Godflesh – A World Lit Only by Fire
  • Godflesh – Decline & Fall
  • Melvins – Hold it In
  • J Mascis – Tied to a Star

That’s it for now, we’ll see where I am at in December.

Independence

Later today, we the Scotch people all vote whether we want to continue as part of the United Kingdom. As something of a committed anti-Nationalist, you might be surprised to learn which way I’m voting (Yes). But what’s really important in all this is that until about a week ago, I was seeing rational debate and discussion, with isolated pockets of ludicrous propaganda from both sides. Then I woke up one day and my Yes friends are posting images of support from the likes of David Icke. Yes, David “the world is run by Reptilian Aliens, also I used to be a footballer” Icke. Then just outright lies and propaganda.

Thus began a spiral of hysterical shit-flinging desperation from both sides that I think just about everyone should be ashamed of. For the many of us who tried to be as rational and civil as possible, for those who stood firm while the shit hit them in the face. Shouldn’t we be proud? Maybe, but we all still stink of the same shit now.

And good work Nick Robinson and the BBC, you gave those rabid “unmistakable BBC bias!” people one good solid piece of unmistakable bias. Way to self-fulfil a conspiracy guys. Now we all have to put up with people calling for inquiries and ultimately your defunding if the No campaign wins.

Ah look, it’ll all be basically fine. I know it’s important and I know people are just passionate about their futures, and far be it from me to suggest that it’s all inconsequential. I’m just tired of the whole thing to be honest. But not so tired that I won’t hop on that train tomorrow night and take a 2.5 hour round trip just to put my X on a dumb piece of paper, that on some existential level doesn’t really matter to me.

I am voting Yes because I believe in a better future. That future doesn’t come tomorrow, or even in 5 years or 10 years. It’s an unending journey. Things will never be the way they should be, but every day we should try to get closer to that. When the status quo is untenable, when it drags our political centre further and further to the right, what choice do we have but to throw it out and start fresh? “But Paul, what about the cuuuuurrrrrrreeeenccccccy uuuuuuuuuniooooooon?” BLAH BLAH BLAH. Yeah, I’ve had those discussions and there’s all sorts of questions, but here, the night before, I just don’t care any more. The worst case scenario is still more interesting to me than whatever this boring-ass business-as-usual bullshit we’re living now is supposed to be. Here’s the big secret: ultimately, nobody really knows how anything works. Everyone is just making it up as they go along. The future is made up by people who are guessing. Some people are better at guessing.

In that part of my brain I call my heart, once I push that one other thing that’s in there to the side for a moment, all I really want is for the future to be better than the past. I don’t believe in utopias, or dystopias, I believe in the trying and failing and trying again, and I believe for the first time in my entire life that I could be a part of a nation that takes ownership of its future. I look forward to a future where I can say I am Scottish and feel pride, instead of just nothing.

That all sounds disgustingly romantic when I put it like that. Kind of weird considering the first chance I get to move to another country I might just take it, independent or not.

Vote Yes, vote No, Vote however you want, just please, vote for reasons that you’ll be proud of. And then, when this is all over, can we please stop flinging shit at each other?

Chattanooga

I have been trying, and failing, to write song-based music for a while, more seriously in the past few months. Aside from not having the time, energy or talent to make much of it, I keep falling back on that old Objective Strategy, honour thy mistake as hidden intention. Well, I wouldn’t say I honour my mistakes exactly, nor pass them off as hidden intention, but almost invariably the best music I’ve made is the result of mistakes, of starting with an idea, exploring too far, and winding up lost in the woods. Then I wake up in a pile of wet leaves hours later covered in millipedes clutching an idea with both hands, and I forget about what I was supposed to be working on in the first place.

A couple of weeks ago I was trying to write a simple leitmotif on piano in C# minor. This is the highfalutin way of saying I was clumsily mashing a tiny midi keyboard in C# minor with the damper pedal on, searching for something, anything usable. Then I switched to an electric piano sound. Then that noodling started to become cohesive in an exciting (but wrong) way, and before I knew where I was, I had drifted into something else entirely.

After some editing, stretching, harmonic processing, EQ, reverb etc, I found had an amorphous drone that was about 30 minutes long, in my lazy signature style. That’s a fairly arbitrary length. This thing could have been ten minutes long, it’d probably have had the same effect. But it’s not, because I’m an artist dammit! No actually, I kind of felt this one had a little more dynamic scope than some of my previous works in this vein and deserved more breathing room. Of course, part of me wanted to push Bandcamp’s time limit for uploaded tracks, which is around 28 minutes.

I dug through some old field recordings, found some cool stuff I got when I was on what should have been a steam train but was actually a diesel train, in the fine city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, avoiding my friends. Somehow that seemed to fit, so I edited that in at the front and back of the improvised drone, and all of a sudden I had a 27 minute song. It’s just that easy folks!

There are so many unfinished things that I should really work on, but I’m really good at finding reasons not to. Sometimes it’s more satisfying to fart out something in less than an hour that’s more enjoyable for me to listen to than the crap I’ve been working on and reworking for 4+ years. And this one turned out okay.

Anyway it’s on bandcamp now if you think that’s something that you might be into.