Sunday, 16 January 2011

Navel gazing alert

I suppose if I see myself as anything, it's as a thinker. I don't mean as an intellectual - whenever I have moments of that, I get a bit scared and go for the comfort of crassness instead - but rather, as a very reflective person.

Which has its strengths and weaknesses.

At the moment, in some ways, I think I'm trying to fight against that. Maybe I feel more comfortable defined in such a way (as a reflector, or whatever), but I'm better off when I'm actually doing stuff.

When I'm doing, I'm less likely to get anxious. The flip-side of this, is equally true (when I'm anxious, I'm less likely to get doing), and far more toxic.

My aim, lately, has been to think a lot less about the music that I'm working on, and just to do a lot more of it. One of the barriers that I put up for myself happens to be when I have really good ideas - the barrier being that it's far harder to put an idealised construct into practice from scratch, than it is to arrive at something good from an hour or two's messing around with actual sounds and processes, and therefore have something tangible to work with in the first place.

Of course there's a balance to be struck between such polar opposites, but at the moment it's definitely falling on the side of actually getting on with it and seeing what I can come up with, rather than have the best music ever going on in my head, and being paralysed by the sense that I'm never going to be able to adequately transcribe it.

So - what I've been able to come up with in the last few weeks is

a) a mixture of rubbish and of semi-interesting stuff which is hardly likely to go anywhere, at least in its present form

b) a few things which sound pretty good to my ears, but which need direction and focus

c) a couple of things which I'm really, really excited about.

The point is, a), b) and c) are all tangible. They all exist in some external sense, as opposed to just being in my head. All there to be built on, ignored, ripped apart or finely tuned accordingly.

The last couple of weeks, I've been putting the hours in on all this stuff. As often as not, that will mean a few hours of getting precisely nowhere. But it's still a few hours of doing, of engaging, of responding to these tangible things on some level. Such that at a certain point, something will click and will enable me to push things further on or take a different and potentially more interesting avenue.

Right now, I'm feeling - and I don't know if this is the right word, but it'll do - rather militant about all this. Working on this stuff is my escape, my nourishment, the ear-to-ear grin on my face when things are taking shape - and I'm feeling intolerant to the tendency to put my own barriers up to it. I'm feeling alive to a combination of volume, texture, repetition, layering, sculpting and happy accidents, random interventions and anything which keeps the process going.

The last couple of nights, after a couple of drinks, I've listened back to some recordings of the last few gigs I played - all relatively few and far between - and I've thought, shit, I'm actually ok with how that sounds.

This year is, I'm sure, going to be a tough year (given that I found last year to be one of the toughest I've had). I intend to make it a better year regardless, by way of the above.

That feels like a bold claim. I'll see what I can do in that respect, because doing really is the operative word.


Zhoen said...

Nothing wrong with "intellectual," implies intelligence (which is good) like being able to think is fine, since the world could use a bit more thoughtfulness.

Some thought comes through action, thought of the body, experimentation. To keep from being sucked up into one's own orifices. Balance.

Reading the Signs said...


trousers said...

No, I don't mean to imply any negative connotations to "intellectual", Zhoen (not that you're necessarily suggesting that I am) - my comments about getting scared etc were meant to be more tongue-in-cheek than they probably appear. But I just wanted to emphasise the difference, in terms of being reflective rather than intellectually rigorous.

I love the second part of your comment - pithy, and spot on!