All you cat lovers, remember all the millions of cats mewling through the world’s rooms lay all their hopes and trust in you, as the little mother cat at the Stone House laid her head in my hand, as Calico Jane put her babies in my suitcase, as Fletch jumped into James’s arms and Ruski rushed towards me chittering with joy.
William S. Burroughs, The Cat Inside (1986)
A little over a year ago, my friend Andrew Paine (of Sonic Oyster Records fame et al) and I jointly released a limited edition compilation album, The Continuing Saga of the Visiting Kitten. It came out on our conjunct of a label, Sonic Dust Recordings.
We promised at the time that all proceeds from this release would be donated to Cats Protection in the UK and I’m so pleased to be able to report that all copies of the album have been sold. After the deduction of manufacturing costs and postage charges, the net amount of £232 has been raised from sales of the album, a very pleasing figure given that there were only 100 copies of the album available and they were sold relatively inexpensively. With the use of Gift Aid for the charity donation, which adds an additional 25% to the amount, we’ve been able to donate a total of £290: wonderful!
Here’s a scan of the thank you letter from Cats Protection (click the image to open a bigger, more easily readable version in a separate window):
Andrew and I would like to thank all the cat-friendly artists who, in addition to the two of us, gave exclusive material for the album (texlahoma/Matthew Shaw, Richard Youngs, Space Weather, Alistair Crosbie and ILK); and can we also thank all those who were kind enough to buy it in the first place: we hope that, as well as the satisfaction of making a financial contribution towards the great work that Cats Protection does, you also found something of value in the compilation itself. You’ve made us very happy that we could make this donation! Thank you thank you thank you! My own cats, Hamish & Bob, two beautiful brothers who were rescue cats from Cats Protection, thank you, too, from the bottom of their kittyhearts.
And we’re talking seriously about curating a second volume to be released later this year, in a different format and with more exclusive material; felinophiles, stay tuned for more!
The final plug: if you’re in the UK, you can also make separate one-off or regular donations to Cats Protection here.
We’re only half way through January and already 2011 is shaping up to be a very busy and intriguing musical year for me. Here are the highlights, some of which are more definite than others.
• The new Fougou album, Further from the Centre of Disturbance, to be released soon on Greengage Sounds. Matthew and I also have another, ‘acoustic’ Fougou album, The Boleigh Working, ready for release, with new recordings planned for the fairly near future.
• A tape of short and melancholic synthesizer pieces for the Overland Shark label run from Kansas by Andrew Heuback. Almost finished, this is provisionally titled Suburban Electrification.
• One side of an hour long split tape with Grant Evans’ project Nova Scotian Arms for the Tranquility Tapes label.
• An album, on CDR and as yet untitled, for Susan Matthews‘ Siren Wire Editions label.
• An album, on tape and again so far untitled, for a new label operated by Jen Marquart and Cory E. Card from Rochester, NY, //cae-sur-a//.
• A new collaborative project with Eddie Keenan of The Driftwood Manor, provisionally called The Powder Tower.
• Further recordings with Alistair Crosbie and Andrew Paine as Space Weather; and I hope further recordings with both of them for collaborative projects.
And there are bound to be other things I’ve forgotten. More on all of these soon, I hope.
It’s been a busy week: today sees the release of a new Space Weather disc, The Weather’s Maiden, on our great friend Matthew Shaw’s Apollolaan Recordings. This is a little 3″ CDR with a single long track and I believe copies are moving fast, so get in there quick if you’d like one direct from the label.
Like all Apollolaan releases, it’s a labour of love, with beautiful, individual hand-painted sleeves in an edition of 60 numbered copies.
A nice little review of the first Space Weather disc, courtesy of Daniel Spicer, is featured in the new issue of The Wire (Issue 308, October 2009):
Space Weather is a different kind of collaboration entirely, the debut from an improvising trio with [Alistair] Crosbie playing guitar alongside Brian Lavelle’s synthesizer and Andrew Paine’s bass, making weightless space-Prog reminiscent of Ash Ra Tempel’s more dreamy excursions, such as “Traummaschine”.
Daniel also kindly featured Space Weather in his radio show, The Mystery Lesson (part 38), on 11 September 2009. The track he played was Copper Mountain.
I’ve been listening to the Weather tonight, and for a large part of this week in fact.
By that I mean I’ve been listening to the fruits of the Space Weather recording session last Saturday in Glasgow. The line-up was as it is now and ever shall be, amen: Alistair Crosbie (electric guitar), me (synthesizer) and Andrew Paine (electric bass guitar).
It was another excellent session, full of laughter and joyous camaraderie, and it makes me think that for all we strive to do our solo recordings on our own to the best of our abilities, there is nothing like playing good music with good friends. I begin to see why certain people hate all the faff of studio work and live to play live together, whether that’s in front of an audience or not. There are some moments and extended passages of real beauty in what we did at the weekend, and that’s down to the three of us doing more or less with what we have in front of us.
There were pieces from the session which were just beautiful: understated and contemplative, but slowly burning with that strange SW magic that infects the first album we’ve already done (the cover is image at the top of this post).
There are also moments of pure wonderment at how these tracks come across in their recorded form, when compared to how I remember us playing them. Did we actually do this? It seems hard to believe. But the actuality of the smiles on our faces as we played them, and the memory of those smiles now, are the greater rewards in all of this.
One of the pieces essayed on Saturday was a long floating instrumental, which reminds me quite a bit of the work of a US group called Alien Planetscapes, who were stalwarts of the 80s home taper scene. They worked in a few experimental styles, but this kind of eerie space rock, with brilliant free floating bass (courtesy of Mr. P), was the kind of thing they did best I think.
One more session like last Saturday’s and we will have a second album to contend with before the first is even out. It makes you think…