November 13, 2017

When interior decorators work, they can often spend far more time preparing than finishing a room. Layers of old wall paper, going back decades sometimes, have to be teased apart until the base wall is cleared for preparation. The older the layer, the harder it is to remove. Rather than scrape off the earliest layers aggressively, the decorator patiently soaks them until the paper is softened and malleable, and the old paste loses its adhesion. Thereafter, holes and cracks in the walls are filled and the room’s surfaces, sanded evenly. If walls had feelings, the latter would be a painful, if necessary, part of the process. Thus, to begin a new life, the redundant and unhelpful parts of the old need to be removed, piece by piece. You can’t just paper and paint over them. The good decorator will remove the residue of the past cautiously, caringly, consistently, and, in time, completely. There’s a tradition in the decorator’s craft wherein the master and apprentice signed and dated their work on the prepared wall before commencing. Unlike the painter’s autograph, the decorators’ identities were eclipsed by the work that they undertook on top of it. I like that idea.

8.30 am: Off, in the biting cold, for a PhD Fine Art tutorial at the Old College. 10.00 am: I walked from the promenade down the stone steps towards the shoreline to record the sea at low tide for a foreigner abroad:

Here was a place where I could think, look outwards and towards, remember, and rejoice.

10.20 pm: Homebase. Admin had accumulated over the weekend. I’d not be able to return to the studio with an easy mind before dealing with it. 11.30 am: Into the still cold studio:

I wanted to reassess ‘The Silences’ (and the title too) and resolve the premature climax at the beginning of the piece, based upon convictions arising from an unfocussed audition, Friday evening. By the close of the morning, the piece was a few minutes shorter; the harmonic track, a little more assertive throughout; a single climax at the end, asserted; and the tail-off, shortened. Altogether, the piece had more dynamic punch. 12.30 pm: I returned to several other ‘resolved’ tracks in order to either confirm my previous conviction or repent of them.

1.4o pm: I wanted to test whether, what I refer to as, the ‘jazz loop’ (due to its rather ‘cool’, laid back, finger-clicking beat), and the more hwyl-like musicality of some of the extracted samples, could be integrated in a single composition. The first trial went well. The spoken text took on a rather confident swagger. I was back in R R B V E Ǝ T N Ƨ O A territory, mapping text samples to a rhythmic spine. Familiarity can be both comforting and unnerving at one and the same time. I don’t wish to go where I’ve already been. But, by the same token, I recognise that a degree of repetition is of the essence of one’s habitual ‘style’ or manner of working. I would have to walk a tight-rope, and balance between two possibilities, while trying to remain upright and not to rule out either. (This is the dominant motif of my life, presently.)

7.15 pm: At evening, I began nailing the texts to the spine, on and off the beat. The words are spoken, but I have to treat the speech as though it was sung. Out of doors, in the background, I could hear the sound of the annual Monday fair, which will take place on this day of the week for the next three. My brain has learned to mask sounds that aren’t emanating directly from the monitors. Every so often I’d scuttle around the house putting together bits and bobs in readiness for my cultural excursion tomorrow morning.


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