Winter Music


If you’d like some music for the dark nights (& days) that’s not so “traditional”, try these albums:

More album recommendations welcome!

Virtual Choir 4 from Eric Whitacre

Unexpectedly awesome. When he described it (“synths”, “pop feel”) it sounded like it might be a step down from the previous 3, but it’s actually very good.

And congratulations to Tim for his first VC performance too!

Tina Dico at Union Chapel

Tina Dico at Union Chapel, originally uploaded by webmink.

We had an evening out last night in London at Union Chapel, an excellent venue for acoustic gigs. We saw & heard Tina Dico, who has a wonderful voice and writes strong, reflective songs.

Not Risk But Trust

In her warm and enjoyable TED Talk, Amanda Palmer ends with an exceptionally important comment.  She says (at 13:08):

I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is how do we make people pay for music. What if we started asking, how do we let people pay for music?

As Neil Gaiman says, her talk is about much more than just music. Palmer says earlier (at 11:29):

For most of human history, musicians, artists they’ve been part of the community,  connectors, and openers not untouchable stars. Celebrity is about a lot of people loving you from a distance; but the internet and the content we are freely able to share on it are taking us back. Its about a few people loving you up close and about those people being enough.

When Palmer speaks of Celebrity, she’s describing an artists view of the industrial-style society —  a society of mass centralised production and physical delivery. That industrial society had a natural scarcity that allowed monetisation by control of the pinch-points of production, delivery and payment. The sheer volume focussed through narrow pinch-points created opportunities for massive wealth. But Palmer is speaking a heresy here; she speaks not of unbounded wealth, but of sufficiency. Something has changed.

While plenty of opportunists are trying to grasp the effects of the Internet as if they were just another artefact of an industrial society, a few — like Palmer — are conducting brave experiments to determine new models that embrace both the human connection that arises from a mesh of peers and the scale that the Internet draws together. Palmer says (at 12:01):

So a lot of people are confused by no hard sticker price; they see it as an unpredictable risk. But the things I have done – the Kickstarter, the street, the doorbell – I don’t see them as risk. I see them as trust.

You can see why the winners of the 20th century industrial society hate this. Corporations can’t trust and models that embody trust are largely unavailable to them. If Trust is the key, it’s the brave experiments that are the future.  The successes among them are not the few making industrial volumes of money but the ones who are able to sustain a life that’s rich and enough.

Those experiments succeed to the extent they embody a reliance on humanity — reputation, influence, trust. The Internet, along with the collapse of control-point-based capitalism, are propelling us to a place where we need a new approach trading control for influence. Social business, whuffie, reputation economy, singularity; call it whatever you want, but it’s just about real enough to see its outline now.

A Real Love Song

For Valentine’s Day, here’s a song about real love.

That’s Who Are We Fooling, by Brooke Fraser and Aqualung.  Amazon UK will give you £1 to buy any track if you have a Facebook account and tell them your favourite today (assuming you’re in the UK).

Body As Instrument

Fascinating video of Imogen Heap explaining her “gloves” – actually a set of instrumentation that detects body position and gestures and provides haptic and visual feedback to the performer.


Be Still With Me

Imogen Heap’s new song is probably the best so far on her gradually-emerging new album.


Personally I’m ready for some “still” time.

Eric Whitacre Interview

I missed this interview by Bob Edwards when it was first posted – full of personality and insight, worth taking the time to listen to the whole 45 minutes.

Iona Tour – Last Gig


Iona In Action At The Brook


We went to hear the last concert of the Iona tour Sunday night. It was a tremendous evening of music with gorgeous soundscapes enfolding intelligent, thoughtful yet emotionally dynamic lyrics performed perfectly. Iona are still delivering on the rich promise of their music after more than 20 years

Iona remind me of a Turner painting, capturing the experience of awe and grandeur with their sound without wasting energy on simplistic caricature of the ideas involved. Band founder Dave Bainbridge admitted to being a prog-rock fan when challenged by an audience member mid-set, and indeed Iona’s musical style has always verged on prog-rock without quite reaching that extreme, cutting things short enough to reach the bliss without hitting the boredom.

I chatted with Dave last night and asked him about his decision to make the band’s best-of album available as a free download. He told me that the goal is to build the mailing list and fan-base. I’m always delighted to find a band that takes responsibility for its own affairs rather than trying to blame “pirates” (AKA fans you’re not serving properly, in the main) so this seems a worthy goal; go sign up for the list and get their (magnificent) album “Treasures” completely free of charge.

That “taking responsibility” also extends to their new music. The best way to get their new album “Another Realm” is to visit their web site, where there’s a full-function international shop that as well as selling CDs also offers audiophile-quality digital downloads. It’s on Amazon too, of course, but I also respect a band that’s looking after itself online this well.


♫ Eric Whitacre at Union Chapel

We went to this one-off concert with composer and conductor Eric Whitacre at Union Chapel in London last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. This official video is just about the whole concert. Enjoy!


If you liked that, buy the album “Water Night” (it’s available in the US too)! I’ve had it on continuous play since it arrived on Monday.

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