For someone who's been playing music for many, many years it's surprising how little of my work has made it onto vinyl/tape/digital format. Here are those rare moments, captured for future generations to enjoy.
Since 2017 I've been releasing my solo synthesizer recordings under the name Renmei.
For Christmas 2015 I bought myself three little Korg Volca synthesizers, a mini keyboard and some bits & bobs to wire them all together and to let me record the resulting creations onto my computer. Rather than revisit the painstakingly measured compositions of my younger days the plan was to have fun, bash ideas down quickly and move on to the next thing, to focus on the creativity rather than the creations.
Eighteen months later my confidence had grown to the point of buying a 'proper' synthesizer and although the Volcas remain at the heart of my instrumental setup I feel that it's time to mark the end of the 'Volca tunes' experiment, and to judge it a huge success! Over one hundred tracks have been recorded (and survived quality control culling) and although my keyboard skills remain rudimentary I've impressed myself with the outpouring of ideas and the ease I've developed with the compositional process. And it has been lots of fun.
The mid-2000's were not my happiest years but in the midst of all the gloom I started
creating ambient soundscapes, loosely structured pieces with lots of room for
improvisation and intended for live performance rather than recording. Three of them made
it to a live audience, of which Lifeline was the longest
and most adventurous. Sadly none of the performances were recorded.
This recording was a one-take, real time run through while the piece was still being developed. I play electric guitar through several effects pedals.
The Festival Band
I played Balkan folk music from the mid 1990's to the late 2010's but almost exclusively for dancing - we were regularly filmed but the audio quality was never good enough to stand on its own. One exception came when Rory O'Connell, Bill Henderson & myself, at the time members of The Festival Band, were invited to record a track for a dance compilation CD. This was the result, Syrtos Pileas.
In the mid 80's I was the proud owner of a Korg M1 synthesizer and an Atari ST computer which, with a couple of MIDI cables and clever software, enabled me to build up multi-layered compositions with just my own two hands and lots of patience. Two of those pieces finally made it onto CD (about ten years later) with the release of Angelus, my first commercial release.
Angelus uses a sampled human voice
Waterfall is a sort of 'chamber piece' constructed from a violin
Beyond the River
This LP was a compilation album, made up of tracks from local bands in the Reading area. At the time I was playing synthesizer with St. Vitus Dance and we contributed the soulful ballad I've Been Used. For some strange reason the record industry failed to pick up on our unique sound and we (like the other bands involved in the project) spent the next few months trying to sell the 50-odd copies we were obliged to buy.
I've Been Used
My first visit to a 'proper' recoding studio was with DAN to make a demo tape of four songs. Sadly fame was to elude us. I played a Roland 101/102 synthesizer and started the drum machine.
In the late 1970's I managed to borrow a MiniMoog synthesizer and over the course of a day, with the aid of a reel to reel tape recorder that could 'bounce' tracks and let me multi-layer my playing on top of itself, I improvised Gotniari. The primitive multitracking meant that there was no way to go back and remix or edit parts and made the earlier ones grow fuzzy as they were bounced over. The playing is very dodgy and it goes on way too long but I'm amazed that with my total lack of musical training it came out as well as it did.