My favourite records of the year are always usually incomparable to anything else.

Arroj Aftab’s Vulture Prince is an incredibly beautiful record and my favourite of the year. It is gorgeously performed, arranged, I love the use of harp and it sounds unlike anything else I have heard this year.

The culture of music and other art forms for that matter often presents an issue where gatekeepers and curators require the status quo, music that is generic and averse to risk, but every time, the truly outstanding work often comes from the outsiders.

There is something to be said for the solipsistic nature that artists sometimes pursue their work and there is much to be admired from this process. To only zone in that which is what you truly want to do for your own vision oddly often manifests in itself the best results, because you are pushing your ideas forward in a way that is pure and uninhibited. It is also courageous and brave.

I love the later Talk Talk records and it’s so obvious that Mark Hollis had a total disregard for audience and just stuck to his vision. Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock were commercial failures at the time but the legacy of the former record is especially enormous.

Sure, things need to be tailor made to an audience sometimes and as a result you need to quash some sense of authenticity in that situation, but my taste steers toward the roads less taken or formed entirely anew. There are opportunities aplenty with the resources and technology we now have and instead of playing it safe and the same as everything else, I welcome those who take risks because, in the long term, risk is what rewards you in the quality of being unique.

‘Real’ music

What kind of conversation is this?

I’ve come across the odd punter now and then who has a conceived notion in their minds of what real music is, as if you can incontrovertibly distinguish one type of music from another.

What does real music even mean?

Not much in short, and to summarise music, it is a combination of frequencies and silence, either prepared, captured, controlled or even just observed. Beyond that, anything goes.

And to often, we are so eager to categorise things that we end up creating a tunnel vision of what we accept as real or not and in some ways missing out on the opportunity to engage with different versions of an art form. In many ways, we compromise so much and as a result, the things that dominate become watered down mediocrity.

I’ve had some people argue the toss with me that instrumental music isn’t as worthwhile as lyrical music.

How about dismissing the entire history of classical music or film music or jazz records with one notion?

Real music is a non-concept and merely a sign of dogma when it comes to taste. And if you find yourself making this argument, it might be you who is missing out on what’s available to be experienced.

And music like life itself, is experienced better without any prejudice.

The little details in sound

It’s been a while since I have written something. I’ve been wrapped up in my masters and whilst I’ve fallen out of the routine I set upon myself to write consistently this year, I have however been doing some exploring.

And composing for that matter too.

One thing that has been on my mind is how much time I spend on a seconds worth of sound…I’m talking hours, days, months and even years piecing this altogether in a carefully crafted way. Why!? Because the journey to get things sounding the way I want them to sound is the reward in itself. It’s of course nice when people hear it too.

I’m drawn to the little details and music that’s sophisticated in it’s detail. A unique and experimental production approach or a extraordinary level of rhythmic or harmonic language or a fascinating palette of orchestration or textures.

And beyond that is even more, the use of effects, the use of mistakes and incidental sounds, or things brought out within the frequency spectrum.

I’ve spent the last twelve months really delving into sound in a way I’ve never done before previously, and I appreciate sound more than ever.

And when we spend time listening to music, it can happen all rather passively, but it’s worth remembering that in an overwhelming world with so much going on visually, it might be worthwhile to immerse yourself in a musical piece, shut off the lights and really listen for there is many things you’ll likely discover if you zone in on it.