So, the “‘Reader’s Digest’ version”: I completed NaSoAlMo 2014 (under the band-nom de plume of The Pattern Store), and the resulting album, “Moquettes”, is now available for download on Bandcamp.
Longer version: how do I feel it went?
In his sleevenotes for at least some of the mid-2000s CD reissues of his 1970s albums, singer-songwriter Peter Hammill begins his thoughts on each album with the following statement of intent:
With every album I hoped to do something new and to learn something. With every album I expected to make mistakes. Some of these. of course, were educational in nature.
Hammill then proceeds to ask himself (and answer) what those four items were for the album he is writing about. I thought I would have a go at this myself, with regard to NaSoAlMo 2014… and to my surprise, I found the four answers were quite closely intertwined.
A “band-pseudonym”… and the constraints which accompany it.
In the right scenario, an “exercise” such a “virtual band” can be rewarding and conducive to creativity.
I am not now convinced, that an intensive songwriting/recording exercise like NaSoAlMo or FAWM, is the “right scenario”.
Album “concepts” and constrained deadlines don’t mix… at least for me.
Well, there you have it in a nutshell.
On the positive side: I enjoy composing and recording, and usually find intensive songwriting challenges rewarding and involving, as well as finding that sometimes, they can generate songs and other material that might not come to exist otherwise. To an extent, this was also true of NaSoAlMo 2014, and overall I am pleased with a good part of the final output (you will be hearing some of this material again, I can reveal).
However, this particular exercise has shown me the risks of “strait-jacketing” myself into a particular musical or compositional style, especially when entering an intensive songwriting challenge. I have found that these “intensive songwriting challenges” only really work for me, if I give myself total freedom to go with whatever idea (compositional, stylistic, etc.) comes to me. Time is so constrained in these challenges, that I simply cannot afford to discard any ideas or other material, just because it does not “fit” the stylistic constraint(s) I have placed upon myself for the activity. In short: if it comes to me, I just have to “run with it”.
So, summing up: whilst overall I am quite pleased with “Moquettes”, I think that it succeeded almost in spite of the “virtual band” concept. Let me be clear: I feel my idea of a “band identity” orientated towards 60s-influenced, guitar-based “psych-pop” with an English flavour, leavened with what I’d call “anachronistic elements” (non-60s electronica, etc.), is a sound one.
One day, I’d love to make another Pattern Store album, which would be much closer to the original “vision” I have of the “band”, than I was able to produce within the extreme time-constraints of NaSoAlMo. The album “Moquettes”, I think, has ended up being a “fusion” of what The Pattern Store “should” sound like, and the kind of work I would produce under my own name for an intensive songwriting challenge.
However, when all is said, done, etc.: I think “Moquettes” is a rather good effort (if I say so myself), so do feel free to go and grab your download now 🙂