Without further ado: a very Happy New Year to all of you reading this, and may 2012 be a better year than you dare imagine 🙂
I was wondering whether to make my first post a list of New Year resolutions, but I felt I did a pretty poor job with those I made for 2011, so I’ll “take a raincheck” on that for now if you don’t mind. That said, I’d like to devote this post to just about the only NY resolution I came close to fulfilling…
…and here is the proof: a first look of the cover of the album I challenged myself to complete during 2011, and which is due for release this Friday (6th January). It is entitled “Lifecourses”—I am perhaps rather too keen on album names which can be taken in multiple ways, and I’ll leave it to you to work this one out for yourself (though I’ll leave you one clue: a “course” is a pair of strings on an instrument like a twelve-string guitar or mandolin).
You’ll have got a taster of the album cover if you happened to visit my Bandcamp site (where the album will be released) within the last week or two, when I changed the pages’ look and feel to reflect the cover design. The photo is one of mine—you may recognise the subject as St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, UK, taken from the beach at Marazion. Cornwall is one of my favourite parts of the world, and if you feel that this album captures any of the “atmosphere” of the county in any parts, I will certainly not mind…
So, how would I describe “Lifecourses” as an album? Well, it is entirely instrumental, and for the most part based around six- and twelve-string acoustic guitar, albeit with some electric and electronic “embellishments” and a couple of uses of loops. If you’re wondering about the album’s overall “sound”, I have created a page at BagCheck listing the albums which I feel influenced the development of “Lifecourses”, but I would name-drop the likes of Anthony Phillips, Mike Oldfield, Bill Frisell and Daniel Lanois, as well as the guitarists David Cooper Orton and Robert Illesh.
In short: I feel that “Lifecourses” would appeal to those who like acoustic guitar (for the Ant Phillips fans: there’s a fair amount of twelve-string guitar on the album!), ambient music (in the Brian Eno/Harold Budd/Daniel Lanois sense of the term) and the kind of desert-y ambience you find in much of Lanois and Frisell’s work.
I realise that may not give you much to “go on” (!), so until the album appears at Bandcamp (and you get the chance to listen to the tracks on-site), try the following “tasters” from the album’s development:
- “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”: an early mix of this piece for two electric lap dulcimers (the final mix will be the “free” download from the album).
- “The road to the cove (early interim mix)”: this is just the twelve-string acoustics and two of the solo electrics, and is missing both a whole section and the string arrangement, but it still points the way to the final version, which I think is my personal favourite track on “Lifecourses”.
- “Ridgeway (early mix)”: I released this as a late inclusion on my Bandcamp album “Waiting On The Hill: An Anthology 2000-2010”. The final mix on “Lifecourses” has been refined and a couple of new elements added, but this early effort gives a good indication of the new album version.
As mentioned in passing above, “Lifecourses” will be released (initially, at least) exclusively as a paid download via Bandcamp. The site accepts PayPal, and gives you the choice of audio format that suits you best (320k MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis and others); furthermore, a printable PDF-format CD inlay is included in the album download package. I have bought a number of albums via Bandcamp, and have been impressed by the quality of their site and the content they sell.
As well as looking into selling the album via other outlets (particularly the likes of iTunes and/or CD Baby), ideally I would like to make “Lifecourses” available as a physical CD. With the costs for even a short run of CDs, it really depends on the demand for one, so I would very much like to hear from people interested in a 5-inch shiny disc of the album 🙂
So, four days to go, and then all will be revealed (well, regarding the new album, anyway)—in the meantime, why not head over to my Bandcamp page and have a leaf through my back catalogue? I still have some ideas for additions there, and no doubt you’ll get to hear of those in due course…