David Sylvian: The Sound Atlas

Posted by in Culture, Design, Music, Travel

Writing anything at all about David Sylvian is extremely difficult. So much has already been written and a new level of vocabulary is required, perhaps words that don’t even exist. A body of work that is manicured, stark, at times terrifying (think Tallow Moon or The Rabbit Skinner) and strangely engrossing. It’s often said Sylvian has provided the soundtrack to one’s life so herein lies my personal history (though I hope it is identifiable to you the reader). I should add this is a long read some 9,000 words or…read more


Boom Crash Opera: Crazy Times in Ordinary Heaven

Posted by in Culture, Music, Record Cover Design

HEY-HEY, HEY HEY HEY! 1988, I was young(er) and Australia was having a birthday. To celebrate we (in the UK) sent our DJ Simon Bates to cover it. More importantly he played the new clutch of Aussie bands that were aiming for international super stardom after INXS. There was Wa Wa Nee, Big Pig, Noiseworks (I had no inkling it was Jon Stevens singing) and before I knew it my next musical crush were on. ‘Hey Hey, hey hey hey!’ ‘WOW, what was that!!?’ My 17 year old self was sent…read more


Alphaville: From Germany with Love

Posted by in Music, Record Cover Design, Travel

BROTHERS IN ARMS *This blog contains affiliate links. So you’re young though not necessarily forever young. You’ve got a great singer who can sing and write songs in English. You’re signed to WEA. Your first single is massive, you have the world at your feet, everything seems to have fallen into place with considerable ease and then… this happens…  …and as the ultimate nose rub they’re on the same label and would in time prove bigger in your own country. But band comparisons are nothing new; U2/Simple Minds for example….read more


Dating the Page

Posted by in Design, Publishing

‘There has never been a Kelvin Hayes overview like this before. Together with international collaborators, Hayes curates a 30 year odyssey in poem, artwork and photos as well as a personal timeline. Some of the images have been retouched especially for this project and have never been seen before. Design features from previous works have been incorporated and new artwork created to embellish the mood of favoured releases such as NOTATE.’ BACKGROUND For a few years now I’ve been busy piecing together the 30 year overview ‘Dating the Page.’ Despite much…read more


Populating Polytown: Mapping the Spiritual Nineties and the Geography of Sound

Posted by in Culture, Music, Record Cover Design

THE GEOGRAPHY OF SOUND Not all nineties music was Brit-pop and grunge. The early to middle years saw many artists renew what their forefathers in the late sixties had tried to do; alert the masses to an age of hope and optimism, thus spawning a common new age spiritualist thread on recordings from Seal’s début to Wendy and Lisa’s ‘Eroica’ to Rain Tree Crow and Sylvian/Fripp’s ‘The First Day.’ Even Kenny Loggins was in with his earthly observations on 1991’s ‘Leap of Faith’ while Toni Childs did similar with her…read more


Steve Hogarth: Here There and Everywhere

Posted by in Culture, Music, Record Cover Design, Travel

WHO IS THIS GUY? The late eighties were, as I’ve most likely said elsewhere, a time of discovery. Now in the age of Wiki we can look up anyone of interest and know all about them in moments but back then it was all detective work, piecing together fragments of information.  For those of us music junkies or audiophiles who took time to read the sleeve notes, certain names appeared. I can’t remember which one went first, it could have been The The, it could have been Do-Re-Mi and it…read more


House of Many Faces

Posted by in Book Cover Design, Publishing

WELCOME TO THE HOUSE Teach English and travel the world! Yeah we’ve all seen the adverts but what is the reality? Usually treading with extreme caution. This one has been difficult to birth due to my business with the blog, nevertheless two years late it is finally time to unleash this latest instalment of my peripatetic life on the world. Written over several years in China and South East Asia, House of Many Faces, continues on from 2012’s Year Amid Winter. Having survived Istanbul, a move to Bangkok is thwarted…read more


Nomad 20

Posted by in Book Cover Design, Publishing, Travel

DOWN BUT NOT OUT In 1933 George Orwell released a seminal work called ‘Down & Out in Paris & London.’ This book detailed life for Orwell – a naïve young man on the road doing odd jobs and living in backpacker style residences of the day.  I did not read it until well after writing Nomad. When I did it was astonishing how remarkably similar our lives had been, a good 60 years apart, the odd jobs and living arrangements (and indeed the public lovemaking he encountered) were still very much in…read more


The Nordic Theory of Everything

Posted by in Book Cover Design, Culture, Publishing

CHINESE DREAM VERSUS FINNISH DREAM In 1997 I had the option of doing my masters degree. Swayed by peer pressure I chose not to and this has proven to be a big mistake (one of many). In China for example, a masters would have provided work in a proper university (rather than the colleges calling themselves universities). A feat I achieved only once and by fluke. The difference in how a teacher is treated in a real university was certainly an eye opener eg trips to spas and private chalets!…read more


Eno: Some Suggestions (in Plain English)

Posted by in Culture, Music, Record Cover Design

This blog was originally published on the eve of 2018 which marked the 70th birthday of Brian Eno. It occurred to me that while he is often spoken about, written about and admired, there wasn’t really a generic overview of best bits; solo and collaborative, which as you may imagine is a formidable body of work, so here’s my take on things both sonic and visual. *disclaimer – this is just what I like, it is near impossible to cover everything he’s produced.  FRIPPERY ON ALL FOURS The first four Eno records are…read more

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