Shred

In the late 80s / early 90s I got it in my head that I wanted to be a guitar god. Thankfully I woke up and realised that I was absolutely useless at playing guitar and went back to listening to those who could play. Today I don’t listen to much guitar music but nearly 30 years I can still appreciate the talent that many of these players have.

Marty Friedman and Jason Becker were two of my favourite players, along with Bucket Head, Paul Gilbert and Steve Vai. Jason Becker is one incredible human being. For over 20 years he has lived with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and has continued to live life to the fullest and make music.

 

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Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney is one of the most gifted musicians to have graced our planet in the last 100 years. His music has been diverse, inspirational, humane and uplifting. He continues to make great music in both pop/rock and classical genres.

My favourite McCartney song is of course BlackBird and my favourite McCartney album is Flaming Pie – which I feel captures him in his relationship with Linda and life just perfectly !

 

A World of Ambient Sound

Way back in the early 80’s my mother was into animal sounds and new age music. She had a couple of tapes with whale songs and in 1981/1982, I thought that was pretty cool. Little did I know then that my mothers love of new age music would help inspire me to explore a world of sound and music !

Today sound and ambient sound in particular, fills the internet and people are recording and sharing anything and everything that you can imagine ! I find several things inspiring about this. First, for the first time in human history, we can make audio maps of our world – both maps of human sounds and maps of natural sounds. Second, we listen to anything that tickles our fancy and in so doing let our imaginations run wild, conjuring up whatever our minds wish to see and experience. And finally, we now have endless sources of sound for sampling and using to create new music.

What a wonderful time to be alive ! Imagine what it will be like to be a digital archaeologist in the future and the wealth of sound that we and future generations will have recorded and created, as part of an overall aural portrait of our world !

 

Fence Music and Harmonic Whirlies

I’ve been guilty myself of creating a Barbed Wire Fence Symphony (called of course Barbed Wire Fence Symphony) and whizzing pipes to make strange sounds. And while this music is unlikely to interest many people, it sure is fun to make. And it raises that unanswerable question – What is music ?

 

The Presidents of the United States of America

The Presidents of the United States of America were an Seattle threesome – Christopher Ballew, Jason Finn and Dave Dederer (Andrew McKeag replaced Dave in 2005) who formed in 1993. The Presidents of the United States of America were one of the coolest bands on the planet in their hey day ! I think their first album was the best but all their albums have something special. PUSA band members have each pursued their own side projects and those are well worth exploring as well. PUSA arose out of Grunge scene and ironically, were a wonderful antidote to Grunge.

 

Moondog

Moondog (Louis Thomas Hardin) was a one of a kind ! A self taught blind Avant Garde  / Experimentalist / Jazz composer and musician who performed on the streets of New York and influenced musicians like Philip Glass and Steve Reich. If you want weird and unusual but interesting, melodic and engaging; look no further than the legendary Moondog.

 

La Monte Young

When you trace the roots of minimalist, electronic and drone music back to their 20th century roots, 2 names often come up – John Cage and La Monte Young. La Monte Young was a pioneer in the use of long repetitive tones and convoluted long distance melodies. His music has influenced artists as divergent as Dylan Carson (Earth), John Cale,  Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Brian Eno, Jung Hee Choi and I think we can safely say Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Philip Glass. I feel the best way to appreciate La Monte Young’s music is to turn it up loud, turn out the lights and lie down.