2014 – my year in music

A lot changed for me in 2014 in the way I find new music. I gave up my radio show on BCB in the spring.  For 10 years doing that radio programme meant a lot of music landed on my doorstep, literally. Since the spring I’ve heard nowhere near as new music as I used to.   Seeing end of year lists, such as Sarah Lay’s favourite 100 albums of 2014, and Bleep’s top 100 tracks, made me realise just how much I didn’t hear in 2014.

Having said that, BCB invited me back for a one off show over Christmas, and I used that to air some of the tunes that did impress me during 2014. You can hear 17 of my favourites from 2014 now via Mixcloud:

I feel sure I’ve probably not yet heard some of my favourite albums of 2014. So, although I have done the obligatory top 10, I’ve only included 9, leaving space for that amazing LP I haven’t yet heard.

Favourite LPs of 2014 (alphabetical order)

A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos
Aphex Twin – Syro
Goat – Commune
Grouper – Ruins
Mogwai – Rave Tapes
Sun Kil Moon – Benji
The Twilight Sad – Everybody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Wildbirds & Peacedrums – Rhythm
? – ?

Favourite gig of 2014

Continue reading 2014 – my year in music

The sound of Wikipedia breathing

I recently found out what the internet sounds like, and it’s amazing.  Have a listen to the music made by live Wikipedia edits and I’m sure you will agree.

Hatnote - listen to Wikipedia
Hatnote – listen to Wikipedia as it is edited

I find this absolutely extraordinary, so very now in every way. This is surely the ultimate music of the digital age. It’s a concerto of knowledge.

Everyone with internet access can, and might, contribute to the performance at any one time.  Every listener’s experience will be unique, as is your own experience every time you go back to it. I have Comms2Point0 and Stevie Benton to thank for finding out about this, after seeing this Tweet back in February:

Ever since first hearing it, I wanted to play an extract on my radio show. Sadly I never got round to it, and was kicking myself for forgetting to include it in my final show.  However, I now realise I wasn’t meant to play it on air.  Had I done so, both me and my listener would have heard the same performance.  And that would have defeated the object.

Live sessions at BCB Radio

During my 10 years presenting Eclectic Mainline on BCB I had the pleasure of recording live (largely) acoustic sessions with some wonderful artists.

BCB Sessions

After I decided to give up the programme, I wanted to re-broadcast some of my favourite session tracks before leaving.  So, in my penultimate show on BCB I played 16 session tracks from  my archives.  You can hear the full programme on my Mixcloud page:

My method of recording a live session evolved over time until I ended up with a process that got the best out of the available resources. The microphones at BCB are only really suited for speech broadcasting, and the studios are not equipped for multitrack recording. But I managed to work round these restrictions. The microphones issue was easy to overcome, as I would borrow some from Wilful Missing.

I was restriced to recording in stereo, but I would hard pan the inputs, recording the lead vocal in the left channel, and all other instruments in the right channel. This effectively created a 2-track recording that I could later mix to ensure a good level on the lead vocal. But I needed to get a good live mix of all the instruments, and this wasn’t always easy because I was in the same room as the musicians. I couldn’t monitor what was being recorded without also hearing the ambient noise of the musicians in the room. Continue reading Live sessions at BCB Radio

10 Years on the Radio

It is now 10 years since I started presenting Eclectic Mainline on BCB Radio, and what a 10 years it has been.

10 Years on BCB Radio

While preparing for my anniversary show I looked back over what I have achieved, and thought to myself…

“S**t, did I really do all that?!”

Eclectic Mainline has evolved a fair bit over my decade at BCB.  From starting to get a healthy number of new releases coming my way through 2004, I then had a frequent flow of interviewees on the programme in 2005.  The December 2005 edition of The Big Issue In The North ran an article under the title of “The Spirit of John Peel lives“.  This cited my own programme as one of several on community radio stations that had a similar ethos to that of the late Peel. Discovering that article on Boxing Day was by far the best Christmas present I got that year.

2006 was a turning point for Eclectic Mainline, as I dipped my toes into the world of live sessions, and I had several session guests a year for the next 5 years.  I would say that those sessions made the years from 2006 to 2010 my purple patch on BCB.  In 2011, Laura Rawlings and myself were up against the big boys and girls of the radio world, as our live sessions won us a Radio Academy Awards nomination. Continue reading 10 Years on the Radio