Machines - coming March 1, 2013

Check out the cover art for my next album! I commissioned my extremely talented artist friend Kristian Purcell (who was also responsible for the artwork on Feather Hammer) for the photo and I couldn't be happier with the way it has turned out. I adore it so much!

Machines will be released by
Bigo & Twigetti on the 25th of February, 2013, and features guest vocals from Australian soprano Laura Wolk-Lewanowicz and the lovely Catherine Saumarez on Cello.

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"... and darkness came"

I was so chuffed and honoured to be asked to contribute a track to this amazing benefit compilation curated by Headphone Commute. It's a killer lineup of artists, featuring many personal heroes of mine (Clint Mansell! Hauschka! Nils Frahm!), who wouldn't be honoured to be in this crowd? The aim is to raise money to help people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy, with 100% of the proceeds being donated towards Doctors Without Borders and The Humane Society. It's a gigantic release featuring 87 artists and over 6 hours of gorgeous music; $10 = bargain of the year!



Here is info from Headphone Commute:

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… and darkness came

December, 2012
$10+ USD

Headphone Commute is incredibly proud and honored to announce a colossal benefit compilation, with 100% of the proceeds being donated towards two charitable organizations, Doctors Without Borders and The Humane Society, to help all those affected by Hurricane Sandy!

Available as a download via above link on
Bandcamp (320kbps MP3, OGG, FLAC, etc.), this digital release is sold for only $10 or more if you wish to donate towards our cause. The selection of tracks comes from some of the world’s top talent in ambient, modern classical, and experimental music.

Clint Mansell • Nils Frahm • Hauschka • Machinefabriek • Valgeir Sigurðsson  • Christoph Berg • Hummingbird • Simon Scott • Marcus Fischer • Peter Broderick • Black Swan • Rival Consoles • Lawrence English • Kate Carr • Ólafur Arnalds • Waves On Canvas • Maps And Diagrams •  Dalot • Good Weather For An Airstrike • Leah Kardos • Ezekiel Honig • Radere • Fabrizio Paterlini • Netherworld • Stephan Mathieu • Talvihorros • Pleq • Antonymes • Brambles • Clem Leek • Minus Pilots • Olan Mill • Ian Hawgood • loscil • Bersarin Quartett • Hammock • M.Cadoo • Jóhann Jóhannsson • Rafael Anton Irisarri • Helios • Mike Jedlicka • Christopher Willits • :papercutz • Dakota Suite • Kreng • Aria Rostami • Peter Prautzch • The Frozen Vaults • riverrun • pinkcourtesyphone • David Wenngren • offthesky • Autistici • Strië • A Bleeding Star • Kane Ikin • Sun Hammer • Roel Funcken • Wabi Experience • Another Electronic Musician • Scanner • Erik K Skodvin • Julien Neto • Absent Without Leave • Last Days • Stray Ghost • Trifonic • Marcus Fjellström • Gen Ken Montgomery • David Newlyn • Boy Is Fiction • SaffronKeira • Ben Lukas Boysen • Ex Confusion • Seth Chrisman


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Ruthless Jabiru

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Ruthless Jabiru, performing at the City of London Festival, 2011, conducted by Kelly Lovelady.

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Artistic Director and conductor Kelly Lovelady. Photo © Paul Talbot Photography


I'm so happy to announce that I have been commissioned for a major new work by Kelly Lovelady's all-Australian London-based chamber orchestra Ruthless Jabiru. Aiming for a premiere performance in London in March 2013, it will be a 15 minute piece for strings that abstractly explores themes of modern sensuality and sound. Here's a little snippet from my proposal that explains what I hope to achieve:

Focussing on a language characterised by texture, timbre and harmony, I would like to compose a continuous 15 minute work for string orchestra (Ruthless Jabiru) that abstractly explores ideas of modern sensuality, in particular aggressive feminine sexuality, and notions of power and control. Nothing timid or pastel here, nor will it be overly dark and morose, but a picture painted in vivid beautiful colours. I would like to tease out some ideas about the language that is implied by the contentious term "woman composer" and twist them around, subverting expectations. 


The string orchestra is the perfect ensemble to orchestrate with a view to pinching ideas from the realm of the studio composer/producer, where the sonic and timbral possibilities are so diverse and flexible, and yet from a sound world so well worn and timbral language so familiar. I want to play with compositional and sonic concepts that I commonly hear being exploited in studio based music production, but rarely in orchestral writing; ideas that relate to perception, psychoacoustics and the communicative power of timbre. Observing the internal listening process, which is coloured by context, and then trying to recreate that sensation externally in a concert hall. I want to try and emulate the throbbing compression effect of  "ducking" to play with sound priorities in a live performance space - perhaps turning tiny sounds into giants and the well known big sounds of a string orchestra into something very distant and small. Real and 'fake' reverberence to achieve illusions of distance and size. 


These are just some of the ideas I wish to play with, to add new colours to the tonal pallette in order to furnish and illustrate a (what will probably be quite dirty) story.

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Recording at Abbey Rd for Lonesound

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The wonderful graffiti wall out front.

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The Dark Side of the Moon console, a.k.a. MUSIC TECH PORN

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It should say: "On hearing an alarm, ignore the screams of your burning friends and colleagues. RUN to the second floor corridor and rescue the Sgt Pepper 4 track console. Ride it to safety."

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James helps James with those high notes.

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Incantation

I'm so happy to be writing about this, finally! I had full intentions of getting it done over the summer break, but the work got pushed back and pushed back by commercial things that I just couldn't say no to (gotta eat, etc). Never mind, it's coming together now, only a few months later than planned.

My next record for Bigo & Twigetti, which is still yet untitled but currently being referred to as "Machines", is a song cycle based on themes of technology, loneliness and the human condition. All of the texts have been taken from various spam emails that I have been collecting over the past few years, using the cut-up technique to find new combinations, meanings and narratives - an idea nicked from Burroughs via Bowie. I'm not wanting to give the world the impression that I spend all of my spare time pouring over every unsolicited email (bear with me), but over time a few messages that I've seen have caught my eye, seemed poignant; the random texts generated in a few created nice images and juxtapositions in my mind. Overall I was arrested by the notion of humans trying/wanting/needing to reach each other for whatever reason, and the kinds of things they will say in order to seduce, ensnare, or foster feelings of trust. What lengths we go to to be noticed.

These kinds of things:

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From here, and the resulting cut-ups, the cycle began to take shape; songs about intimacy and insecurity, greed, automation and screaming into the void. I could yap on about it all, but I think I'll leave that stuff for another time. For now, there's a little snippet from "Incantation" (still a work in progress, featuring the gorgeous voice of Laura Wolk-Lewanowicz) on the Bigo & Twigetti soundcloud:

http://soundcloud.com/bigoandtwigetti/leah-kardos-incantation-clip/s-3EBLR

More to come very soon, I promise. x

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Muso Magazine Feature

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Feeling rather privileged to have been featured in what turns out to be the very last ever Muso Magazine (August/September 2012 issue).

In the piece, Matt Evans fashions my blathering into what turns out to be coherent and interesting article, in which I appear to know what I'm talking about! Kudos to him! I talk in depth about Feather Hammer, my background and reveal some details about my next piano-centric release, the 'Three Preludes' EP.

If you can't find a printed copy, it's free to read online (I think you just have to register), or available to purchase via iTunes and the newsstand app.









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Lonesound

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Lonesound is the name of songwriter/producer James Ewers' new solo project; his wonderful EP "The Great Outdoors - Part One" was released at the start of the month (click the album art above to listen). I really love it, it's got touches of a few of my favourite things: a bit of Bruce Springsteen, Arcade Fire, even The Cure.

I've been a fan of James's work for a long while now, from way back in the days of his band My Luminaries, so I was very honoured when he asked me to play synth and sing backing vocals in his live band. It's been a very long while since I've played such loud music as part of an ensemble - most of the performances I've done recently have involved lots of multitasking with lots of technology, it's a lovely change of scene for me to sit back and play a supporting role. I'm definitely getting a kick out of it!

So there are shows you can come to - head over to Facebook and like the
band's page to stay on top of updates and such.

In the mean time, you should watch this video for the track "The Great Outdoors" and consider coming out to the next gig, which is free, in London this Friday!


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BJME article

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This month an article written by me appeared in the British Journal of Music Education, entitled "How music technology can make sound and music worlds accessible to student composers in Further Education colleges".

You can
access it online here, if you want to.

The abstract:

"I am a composer, producer, pianist and part-time music lecturer at a Further Education college where I teach composing on Music Technology courses at levels 3 (equivalent to A-level) and 4 (Undergraduate/Foundation Degree). A ‘Music Technology’ course, distinct from a ‘Music’ course, often attracts applicants from diverse musical backgrounds; it is not uncommon for a typical class to contain a majority that cannot read staff notation and have taught themselves to play their instrument. Sometimes the student's only experience of music-making prior to the course has been sequencing beat patterns using computer software. Potential students are drawn to music technology courses for many different reasons – perhaps their individual interests lie in sound engineering, acoustics, live sound reinforcement, computer programming or software application design. As a teacher of composing in this context, I am faced with a challenge: how to bridge the knowledge and confidence gaps that exist between students with more and less formal musical experience? I believe that music technology applications can help in this area, particularly with fostering confidence and motivation in less-experienced students. What follows is a student profile and a case study of one assessment task in composing, which will illustrate how such strategies can work."

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Feather Hammer put to bed, (and did you know I quite like kickass beats?)

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What a lovely send off for the Feather Hammer live project, I had such a great night! Felt honoured to be surrounded by so many friends from Bedford, not forgetting the hardcore group who travelled from London only to become stranded here due to rail replacement shenanigans and had to get a CAB back. For such efforts I hope it was worth it.

At the end of the Feather Hammer show, I performed some tracks from
You Can't Hide Beat, my Bowie covers EP from last year. I dedicated the songs - Sunday, Lady Grinning Soul and a new version of Heathen - to my dear departed friend Jim Hyde, whom I met on a Bowie fan site back in the late 90s. One of our last conversations was about how much he enjoyed the Bowie covers EP, so it seemed a fitting gesture to make although I very nearly dropped the idea the morning of the show; I wasn't feeling brave at all having not sung in public for years. Liz talked me back into it, and I'm glad I did it. I miss you Jim.

And here is a very cool thing; I've been sampled! During the DJ set after my show, Matt Greasley played this track and it took me a while to register it was even me. Mrs Properly from Uncle Bob's Records pillaged that hour-long ResonanceFM show I did back in September 2011 and found all the various words needed to proclaim my love of kickass beats. Who hasn't wanted to be sampled in a daft dance track? I love it!


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Home town show: 16th June, Bedford Esquires

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Finally, after an amazing run of performances in London, Matt Greasley and I are wheeling our Feather Hammer show into Bedford for one last go. This is it, the very last and final show and I'm so glad it's going to be a home-town gig... not least because I can party with everyone afterwards and stay out late and not have to worry about transporting my heavy piano and kit about on the London underground.

I've never played a show in Bedford before, I hope I can get the locals interested enough to come out for it. If you want to attend, you can RSVP here on the
Facebook event page here. I'm even thinking of dropping some My Lithium & Me tracks into the setlist, just for the sheer hell of it! Afterwards, Matt Greasley will be DJ/VJ extraordinaire spinning tracks and projecting weird video art throughout the wee hours. I can already feel this is going to be a super fun gig. The support acts are great too.

Entry is a fiver, pay on the door. x

http://www.electronica.org.uk
http://tomcopson.com
http://www.elizashaddad.com

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Happy recording times

The new album is very much happening and I am so excited to finally get some recordings down for it. Last weekend I went down to London's Premises studios with Laura (my amazing voice for this project) and fellow composer and Bigo & Twigetti labelmate Jim Perkins to get the vocal and keyboard tracks done.

I didn't manage to get any photos of Laura in action because I was too busy squealing with excitement at how amazing everything was sounding. She did such an incredible job, it almost pains me to make you wait to hear the results. I did, however, manage to get some photos of the delicious vintage keyboards I borrowed for the weekend. Total keyboard porn.

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I got the Rhodes stage 88 and the Wurly EP200 from Matt Snowball backline hire, whose service I can highly recommend. Totally helpful and reliable, and the high quality vintage kit seems to be lovingly maintained. Needless to say, I now need a Wurly in my life; if only to soothe myself to sleep each night with some gentle buttery chords.

A few days prior to these sessions, I was at Kool World studios in Luton with George Hinchcliffe (of
'Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain' fame), recording material for his new album (which I am producing). He brought along what I can only describe as an abundance of ukuleles:

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This little one, in particular, summons up strange maternal instincts within me when I hold it...
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Verklempt

I had such a lovely night at the National Portrait Gallery; it was the last London performance of my Feather Hammer show with Matthew Greasley and I must admit I was feeling a bit emotional by the end of it. The place was simply packed with beautiful people and wonderful artworks, I felt so blessed to be in the room and allowed to make such a racket. As I said to everyone on the night, my heart is full.

We were told by the NPG staff that we weren't allowed to take pictures in the space, but here are some sneaky ones taken by some audience members before they got told off for doing so.


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Sound check (photo by Liz Tray)

NPG1Sam Grinsell
During the show, taken by S
am Grinsell before getting scolded

NPG2Charlotte Noon
From the front row (photo by Charlotte Noon)

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Proud moment

Had a proud moment today when I received my copy of Pam Burnard's new book "Musical Creativities in Practice", and laid my eyes on the wonderful cover art by my good friend Kristian Purcell:

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... and an extra proud moment to see myself featured inside!

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Huge congrats to Pam, it's a fascinating and timely book - I am extremely honoured to have been involved. If you're interested, you can purchase a copy from Amazon, or directly from Oxford University Press.

Here's the lovely lady herself, talking about her research (she even talks a little bit about me at around 3 mins in. Also, notice the soundtrack used is "Core" from Feather Hammer thrown in for good measure! So chuffed!)



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CUBO on Deep Bleep

Check out this mix by Brazilian producer CUBO for Deepbleep.com - the last track (at 32.11) is a collaboration with Cubo and Ana Eliza Colomar that uses some takes from Feather Hammer's 'The Waiting'. I think it's just lovely.

If you can understand Portugese, check out a short interview from the man himself over on
deepbleep.com.br



00:00 | DIGIGARDEN (with Panais Bouki) – Chronos 01 | 2008
03:12 | PABX (with Estevan Sinkovitz) – Chuva [remix] | 2009
06:25 | CUBO – K7 Demagnetizer: It’s A Fine Day In The Hidden Place [mashup] | 2011
09:30 | NEUTRA (with Fernando de França) – Under Empty Places | 1998
13:15 | THE LAPTOP BOYS (with Panais Bouki) – “Wonder”, to Claudia Wonder [demo] | 2006
14:18 | CUBO – Cry feat. Dot Allison [remix] | 2008
17:40 | CUBO – Copal: Sétimo Sonho (with Astrid Hage and Gabriel Levy) [demo] | 2009
19:35 | CUBO – K7 Demagnetizer: Intro + Rolling In The Time [mashup] | 2011
23:06 | VISAVIS (with Panais Bouki) – Despedida | 2004
25:37 | PABX (with Estevan Sinkovitz) – Rádio [remix] | 2010
29:05 | VISAVIS (with Panais Bouki) – Degradê | 2005
32:11 | CUBO – Copal: Dia (with Leah Kardos and Ana Eliza Colomar) [demo] | 2009

And while you're listening to the mix, you really should feast your eyes on this wonderful art book that accompanies the project:

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SEQUENCE3

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futuresequence is a wonderful experimental music label and magazine that have been putting out these amazing SEQUENCE compilations for free download, sharing and promoting gorgeous new music, making the world a better and more interesting place by doing so.

I am so very happy to be included on their latest release
SEQUENCE3. It features a never-been-heard-before alternate version of DFACE (Practice This Video) from Feather Hammer.

Click here, or the gorgeous cover art to the right, to stream or download the whole 39 track release, it's beautiful. Or click below to hear my contribution.




Review and Interview with Headphone Commute

Here's a wonderful review of Feather Hammer by Headphone Commute. I was blown away by this bit:

"...Feather Hammer is an album that I wish I made. And that’s pretty much the highest praise I can give to any album. Period."



And here's an interview I did with them, too. Yay!


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"Composing the Curriculum" Symposium & Workshop at Cambridge University, 17th March 2012

I'm going to be presenting at this symposium at the Faculty of Education in Cambridge on Saturday, March 17.
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With help from friend and teaching colleague Mike Watkinson, who will be leading the creative workshop, I will be sharing and talking about some original music made by my students enrolled on level 3 and 4 vocational music technology courses at Bedford College. I'll be focussing on how technology can make sound and music worlds accessible to students whom have received little former musical training. I want to discuss various strategies in using technology to bridge the knowledge and confidence gaps that exist between composition students that are more and less experienced with music theory and performance.

Do you find that sort of thing interesting? Come along! I've been told the event is very much 'open'.

Click here for details on how to book your place.
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National Portrait Gallery, 20th April 2012

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Friday 20th April 2012 @ National Portrait Gallery, Friday Night Music / Late Shift Doors: 18.30pm Entry: FREE
RSVP HERE


Ok I'm really excited about this one! It's happening on my 33rd birthday*!

Once again I'm going to be performing with amazing video artist Matthew Greasley, and we'll be changing up the set, throwing in a few new additions. Best bit, it's free! Head over to the Facebook event page and RSVP, and pencil it in your diaries. :)


*I was born on the 21st, but it will be my birthday in Australia, where I was born, so that counts right?


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I Care If You Listen: Hanging Out With Leah Kardos At Steinway Hall | Hang #2

While in New York City last week, I had the great pleasure of finally meeting up with long time twitter friend and fellow composer Thomas Deneuville, who runs the great new music blog I Care If You Listen (which you should all check out immediately, by the way).

We got to hang out together at the gorgeous
Steinway Hall, in the Henry Z Steinway recital room. He asked me a few questions and I performed a slightly ropey improv around the themes from Feather Hammer's Katerina on a piano probably worth more than my house. Check out the video below.



Video + Editing + French accent: Thomas Deneuville
Opening animation: Daniel Thompson at DTWebart (http://www.dtwebart.com)
© 2012 I Care if You Listen

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Stuff from Shhh! Festival show

Some photos from the Shhh! Festival performance with Matthew Greasley from earlier in the month, taken by the lovely Magda Wrzeszcz (click here to see more photos and larger versions and you should also check out her amazing blog while you're at it):

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And here's a video (a bootleg! I've always wanted to say that!) shot by Charlotte Noon, in which I try and manage/remember all the bits flying around in Repeater, and occasionally stand about looking confused.



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Sonic Fascination

A while back I was honoured to be asked by my record label (Bigo & Twigetti) to come up with a playlist for February. It features a selection of pop, experimental and classical composers stepping over genre boundaries and borrowing from each other. It's also a celebration of studio composition; where the sonic elements, like timbre, texture and ambience, communicate ideas just as effectively as words, notes, harmonies and rhythms do. Have a close listen, be fascinated and enjoy.



Click here to listen to it via 8 tracks

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Rumour Cubes Album Launch 18.2.12

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I'm very happy to announce I will be supporting Rumour Cubes for their free album launch event in London on the 18th of Feb!

This info was taken from the Rumour Cubes' Facebook event page:

"We've just finished our album! It's called The Narrow State, and we're quite chuffed with it! It's not getting released til the 27th February 2012 (you can pre-order from http://rumourcubes.bandcamp.com/) but we're far too impatient to wait til then to play some of it live!

We will be supported by the simply wonderful Leah Kardos with second support to be confirmed: with free entry and a lovely venue, this is pretty much guaranteed be a great night! Hope to see you there!"



Saturday 18th February @ T
he Horatia, 98-102 Holloway Rd, N7 8JE
Doors: 7.00pm
Entry: FREE

Click here to RSVP

These guys are one of my favourite new bands at the moment. You should do yourself a favour and grab their EP from bandcamp, it's a free download and it's excellent. Also, check out this track from the forthcoming release 'The Narrow State', I just love it:
The Gove Curve by Rumour Cubes


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The Local presents Shhh! - A celebration of quiet music, art and film

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The Local in association with The Line of Best Fit presents:
Shhh – A celebration of quiet music, art and film

Saturday, February 4 The Gallery Cafe – Bethnall Green, London E2

RSVP via Facebook | Buy Tickets

from
The Line of Best Fit:

For the third year running The Local and The Line Of Best Fit are teaming up to present Shhh – an all day celebration of quiet music, art and film. Moving from our regular North London home of Cecil Sharp House to the more intimate surroundings of The Gallery Cafe in East London’s Bethnall Green, this year sees performances from Tiny Ruins, Tom Rogerson (Three Trapped Tigers), Mirel Wagner and the debut UK performance from Swedish troubadour The Tarantula Waltz.

Other acts include Felix, The Singing Adams, Anna Meredith, Rob St John, Leah Kardos, Hyperpotamus, Dog Ears, Fierce And The Dead, Alex Haynes, Stranded Horse and Our Feathered Embers.

In addition to this fabulous lineup, other attractions include a screening of a new film about David Thomas Broughton, plus various acts soundtracking silent movies by the artist Luke Drozd and an arts and music stall.

A limited number of early bird tickets are on sale now priced at £7.50. The event will take place on Saturday, February 4 at The Gallery Cafe which is located on 21 Old Ford Rd, London E2 9PL.

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I feel completely honoured to be sharing a bill with such an amazing line up! Like the premiere, I'll be working with video artist Matt Greasley again to present the music from Feather Hammer, and I think we might be performing our set from a little cinema space in the venue. Can't wait!

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Another review round-up

And still Feather Hammer is out there doing it's thing, finding its way into people's earholes and hearts. Here's some snippets from some of my favourite new reviews and mentions:

"If I had to pick only one word to describe this self-released debut album, it would have to be ‘captivating’. When I signed up for reviewing it, I was warned it’s going to be ‘a bit weird and tricky’. It turned out to be my own musical Rescue Remedy... "

- Echoes and Dust

"And yet for all its post processing and carefully crafted grooves and textures there emerges this amazingly heavy lightness to the whole recording. The craft and the ideas in this music run deep without overwhelming the sound. It's a startling quality and it's one that invites multiple listening to an expression that explores new directions in studio composition."

- Devin Hurd / HurdAudio

"It's obvious that the piano is the center instrument on this album, but it's the use of recording techniques and special recording effects that really make the difference."... "If it sounds fragile or unstable, that only underlines the solid quality of these compositions. I guess that's what makes this album such a pleasant surprise to listen to."

- Peter van Cooten / Ambientblog.net

"Engagingly listenable and attention-worthy, the cuts also work as ambient sound that tickle the brain when you don't even know the sound is there. Hardly invisible, each track is intricate and dynamic, reminiscent of David Bowie's "Low" album."

- Dick Mac (alive!) 2011 - The Year In Review


Amazing, right!? I continue to be floored by the response I've received since releasing Feather Hammer - to know people are out there listening it on their ipods or in their homes and enjoying/engaging with the sounds I made in my little bedroom studio is the best feeling ever. I can't imagine what could top that, maybe sitting in RAH listening to a symphony orchestra blow your face off with your own chord, but I'm a long ways off that ever happening. In addition to those awesome reviews and mentions, I also had the extreme honour of being included in some best of 2011/year end lists, mixtapes and podcasts. Click on the links to check them out; I definitely recommend downloading the mixes, there's so much great music out there to discover.

Headphone Commute’s Best of 2011 : Music For The Frosty Night When I Miss Your Warm Light

New Weird Australia's Releases Of The Year 2011

I Care If You Listen - Winter 2011 Mixtape

Chris McGovern/The Glass - My Year-End Picks for 2011

DFACE (Practice This Video) - Beautiful Song Of The Week (19/12/2011)

Headphone Commute/Ambientblog.org - PvC "stillness" podcast
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