Those that follow me on Facebook and Twitter may have noticed I’ve become rather animated about politics these days. When I started my adventures as Cosmograf, I formed a firm opinion that it was best if musicians simply stayed out of political issues. I watched as some of my contemporaries clearly put their mark in the sand and pinned their party political allegiances to the mast, and I thought they were making a terrible mistake, dividing and alienating a potential audience when, it was all too difficult to get any attention at all for your music.
Someone posted on Facebook yesterday that if you weren’t completely moved by the programme that they had just watched, then ‘unfriend me now’…..I wasn’t moved by it all, so I did unfriend him…..not because I disagreed with him, but in fact because I was intolerant of being told what I should or shouldn’t like.
The invention of the Compact Disc format that we know and love today is dated to around 1980 when Philips and Sony settled on the ‘Red Book’ standard, specifying a 120mm optical disc containing 2 channels of digitally encoded audio, with 16bit values sampled at 44100Hz. The format could store 74min-80mins of music on a single disc which was almost double capacity of a typical long playing record.
I’ve decided to start writing more about audio because I’m endlessly fascinated by the whole thing and it helps me to cement my own knowledge in what I do in producing Cosmograf records and for other artists.
Every day is school day and I kind of think it is a responsibility to have some answers for those people that do see me as having some knowledge and expertise in this area. I’m also interested in the misunderstandings that a lot of people seem to have about audio particularly in the area of playback and the myth and legend that seems to come up when people start banding around file formats, bit depths and sample rates and maybe not understanding what those numbers mean. I don’t want to start a war with audiophiles, as we are very much on the same side in terms of caring about audio quality, but I do think there’s a clear disconnect between what we do in the studio and what people think we do in reference to what they hear on their hi-fi systems.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and I think a perfect time to turn your gaze inward at the world within, rather than the one outside.
I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery for a few years now following my own issues with mental health and I’ve learned a lot of things and talked to some amazing people about their views on what makes us all tick.
As many of you know I’m really into metaphors and allegories, it’s always a big feature of my music but I saw this in my other job today and it got me thinking.
I was dismantling this manual wind Omega watch from the 1960s and spotted that a previous watchmaker had scratched their name and the date under the ratchet wheel (you can just see it in the picture).
Now I’ve seen this kind of thing many times before and it’s common practice to inscribe the inside rear of watch case after a service, but not on the movement itself and especially where it’s been inscribed in such a hidden position. It’s completely obscured from view in every possible way and the only person that will see this is the next watchmaker that services the watch, in this case me. So why on earth would they do this? Well there’s only one reason I can think of and it’s some sort of marking your territory thing, a bit like when my dog has to relieve himself on every single lamp post on his walks. He’s leaving a message completely invisible to humans, to all the other dogs that this is his patch and I’ve been here… But even armed with this insight I’m still baffled…
I’m about to release my next album, a few weeks away now and someone asked me a great question recently which I think deserves a wider audience because I think the answer is relevant to any anyone that has ever presented any artistic endeavour to a wider audience. WARNING. This is a long rambling post so skip to the tl; dr below if you don’t have the time.
Are you nervous before releasing new music? (Thanks to Jean-Maurice Bicard for this great question)
This sounds morbid, but I think a great way to check how your life is going is to imagine yourself at the end of it looking backward to the point you are now…Are you heading in the right direction? And are you going to achieve all the things you wanted to?…Let’s face it there’s nothing you can do about changing anything from now to birth, but you can do a lot to change your life from your current position to death.
I’m interested in the concept of your mind being like a constantly broadcasting TV set. Your thoughts are like a drama playing out in your favourite film or soap opera. You start to feel anxiety as the danger surfaces or the monster appears suddenly from the shadows. You feel warm when your favourite character walks along a beautiful beach with a golden sunset and you feel the icy blast and loneliness when they are trudging through snow, desperately trying to reach some remote and dangerous destination.
I’m not really much of a spiritual person, so it does cause some resistance straight away when many self help solutions for anxiety and depression seem to point toward ‘spiritual healing’.
Rightly or wrongly, being an engineer by background has always forced to me to seek solutions to any problem, from engineering principles. I’ve therefore spent some time considering the notion that the thinking mind is much like any other complex machine, and hoping this might give me an edge in my own therapy with the fundamental principle being that you can’t fix anything until you know how it works…or at least know how it behaves when operated in a certain way.