Since composing Charivari, which by the way still needs a companion piece to make a publication, I've been sidetracked by lens-based activities. I really do find photography and experimental film-making compelling but have struggled to gather align these emerging practices with the ideas that drive my musical work. But eventually you find a way, an interest in form, environments, ecosystems, evolutionary complexity, layers of sound, layers of meaning, a properly scientific experimental mindset underpinned by a research-driven methodology.
Photography led me (back) to landscape practice on the one hand and the world of objects and human culture on the other. Landscape practice, which in my case fundamentally involves a lot of time walking around local forests, rivers and moorlands, led me to a fresh appreciation of a strand of film-making, story telling and mood-setting that had always appealed to me but which I'd never pursued seriously. This being the eerie, the unsettled, the genre of folk horror, the tales of M.R. James and Nigel Kneale, old BBC ghost stories, the wyrd, deeper understandings of the complexities of the English landscape and rural culture in film and literature. I find contemporary understandings of English landscape fascinating and I'd love to share my reflections sometime on the perspectives of a new generation of film-makers. Closer to home, here in the Borders, I'm caught up in the tangled web of 'difficult' landscapes, the weight of human history, the historical ballads, patterns of land ownership and uses.
It took me several years, ever-emerging, to understand the grammar(s) of film-making and of the kind of films I wanted to make. Throughout that time I rarely worked on sound design, arguably my strongest suite. I couldn't put imagery and sound together successfully (according to my definition) until I'd grasped the difficulties of shooting and editing moving imagery. Shooting films in forests on your own for example can be a messy business and there's no easy or logical way to establish a workflow (a useless word used mainly on YouTube instructional videos). I do have some background in understanding film sound, partly through a strand of my doctoral research where, broadly speaking, I examined possible parallels between film sound, photography and field recording. So here I am again working with recorded sound in both field and studio. The microphones and headphones are dusted off and it's almost time to start composing again. It would of course be wonderful to actually perform some music, but there is currently no local or regional platform for experimental music where I live and trying to break into the numerous cliques, cults and gatekeepers of the new music scene is a thankless task. That needs some work.