There has been a lot transpiring in my musical life, enough that I haven't thought about writing in a while. Not the kind of seismic or cataclysmic happenings that require a real assessment of What Everything Means, just the kind of gradual and largely wonderful goings on, mostly internal and invisible from the exterior, that require constant navigation and presentness.
One thing to happen since I last wrote: I played a show at Baby's All Right, opening for The Weather Station, which was very fun. They work so well together as a unit. Tamara Lindeman's voice continues to take on new complexity, and her band is so restrained and devoted in their support of that voice--it's inspiring to watch. Mostly the show was fun to play as a sort of reunion with so many city folks that I like. There's a bittersweetness to this, which is that with so many people to see and talk to in a short amount of time you never get enough time with any of them. I don't remember feeling this way as much when I lived in Brooklyn, but it wasn't because this wasn't a problem--it's just that living in closer proximity to all of those great people creates the illusion of seeing them more often. In reality I only keep in touch with them a bit less than I used to. I'm trying to be better about this this year.
My only real New Year's Resolution was to read more books, and already I'm finding that difficult, as my current work often keeps me at my desk late at night when I might otherwise be reading. I might as well have made a resolution to make this a year of experimentation, as I have been in a spiral of trial and error with my own music, one that continues to yield interesting results but that offers mainly conflicting and enigmatic hints at a substantive way forward. My most recent inspiration has been the transfixing synthesizer music of Laurie Spiegel. I was amazed to find, after coming away from listening to her for hours and strongly feeling that she had begun to use synthesis as a folk instrument, that she actually regularly puts forward similar ideas in the interviews that she has given over the years. One technical issue that I have been grappling with in my own music is, after writing a lot of fairly complicated and polyrhythmic string arrangements, I fear losing the precision that I have in my head in the vagaries of human performance. This is a problem that I feel like I can potentially solve by combining string instruments with strictly programmatic synthesizer music, and I am excited by the possibilities of this. Every time I feel like I am closing in on a new approach, I discover something else that leads me in a similar but altered direction. Because of this, I have decided to put a stop to live performances for a while so that I can experiment without the punctuated expectations that I put on myself when preparing to perform for other people. My last performance in the current configuration happens in a little over a month, on Sunday, March 20th. After that, I don't know when I will be ready to perform again, but when I do, the shape that the performance takes may or may not be fundamentally altered.
I wrote an article ostensibly about the seasonal Spotify playlists I have been making for the Italian website Ondarock, which you can read here in both Italian and English (they were nice enough to translate it for me). I don't talk much about the musical selections I have made--it's more just about figuring out how to listen to music in an age of unlimited supply. I'll write something else about the music itself when I have completed this year (so far the playlists for Fall and Winter are complete, and I think the contrasts will be much more apparent when all four seasons are accounted for).
Finally, I have been lucky enough to be working on music made by or for several other people, none of which I can really discuss right now. What I can say is that I am starting to really enjoy working as a mixing engineer, and I think I'm pretty good at it and have a long way to go in improving and learning. And I am also thrilled to be taking on relatively small commissions for incidental music for other people. It's partly so exciting because it forces me to take musical risks that I don't ordinarily have the opportunity to take. We'll see how things develop.