DESIRE, Miss Machine

This is immense. A beautiful stormblown warzone. The song of machines in the desert. I’ve listened to it three times in a row.

Daniel Johnston

This was the first Daniel Johnston song I ever heard, played to me by Marie Javins, who knew him. This was way back in the 90s, you understand. Daniel Johnston, who in many ways was the most perfect pop song writer of our generation, died last night.

And, to prove that point about Johnston as a pop song writer, here’s one of his songs arranged and performed by M Ward.

SING AS THE CROW FLIES, Laura Cannell & Polly Wright

This is absolutely exquisite.

SING AS THE CROW FLIES is the debut vocal album by composer/performers Laura Cannell and Polly Wright. Re-voicing the voices of the lost, forgotten and hidden people who have lived, worked and loved through the centuries, through the seasons, through the air and in the Marshlands. 

Sing as the Crow Flies is a set of nine vocal tracks re-voicing the rural landscape, surrounding reed beds and marshes on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Growing up either side of the River Yare, with a common love of the area, Laura Cannell & Polly Wright are musicians, composers and creators with deep roots in the marshes and traditions of this rural area…

Frustrated by the lack of women’s voices in the rural landscape writings of East Anglia and further afield the duo decided that if they can’t unearth the voices of the past they can take now as a starting point and add their own voices, the voices and experiences of living and working in rural surroundings in the 21st century, not always harking back but being present now. 

It is entirely improvised, and immediately put me in mind of both plainsong and the modern looped vocal cascades of Julianna Barwick. It is strikingly beautiful. And, as an Essex boy, it seems to me to fit precisely the atmosphere of the borderlands north of me.

My day has been relentless already. This slowed it right down, and made me sit in place and watch the clouds as they drift along the coast from here to there. I am so happy to have found this.

ICELANDIC TAPES, Günter Schlienz

“… this is “journey music“ in a literal sense. Schlienz and his partner Hanno Braun actually recorded the piece in the loneliness of Iceland’s high plateaus, nearby active volcanos and in the midst of stony deserts – hence the title…”

It plays like archive telemetry from a 1970s expedition to another world.

It’s also available on cassette, but I would have paid real money for a CD release.

nimiia vibié: Jenna Sutela

Aspiring to connect with a world beyond our consciousness and our planet, nimiia vibié sounds the interactions between a neural network, audio recordings of early Martian language, and microscopic footage of extremophilic space bacteria. Here, the computer is a medium, channeling messages from entities that usually cannot speak. However, it is also an alien of our creation. 

Drawing on nimiia cétiï, Jenna Sutela’s project on machine learning and interspecies communication, the record manifests a more-than-human language. This language is based on the computer’s interpretation of a Martian tongue from the late 1800s, originally channeled by the French medium Hélène Smith and now voiced by Sutela, as well as the movement of Bacillus subtilis, an extreme-loving bacterium that, according to recent spaceflight experimentation, can survive on Mars. The bacterium is also present in nattō, or fermented soybeans, a probiotic food considered as a secret to long life. Beyond Bacterial-Martian culture, or Martian gut bacteria, the project attempts to express the nonhuman condition of computers that work as our interlocutors and infrastructure. 

(from the statement on the Bandcamp page for this wonderful thing)


I fell in love with Elegi’s VARDE years ago, because how can you not love a record that starts with the sound of someone digging a grave in packed snow? So I’ve been filling in gaps in Elegi’s catalogue. The CD of this arrived the other day, and I’m just getting around to playing it tonight. It is a magnificently devastated sound, and has been haunting the office marvellously tonight as I sit here and think about the past and the future.