Please do not be put off by the black or grey screens. There are videos there, even if it doesn't look like it. Just click 'em! I dare ya!
Proxima-B (Forthcoming 10th Album)
At work on the 10th album, as I slowly collect together the ideas into something coherent, I thought it would be fun (and useful) to finally work out how to post actual videos (as in, crafted videos, not live selfie phone kind of things) in Instagram. While I still think it would be useful, it is far from fun. At least, not the uploading to Instagram part. Making videos is always enjoyable.
One problem I’ve had is that Instagram seems to repeatedly crash my phone if I try to open it, so I’m already limited by what I can do on the platform because I can only do what’s possible from a desktop computer. The other problem seems to be that no matter how many knots I tie my little video into with however many helpful programs and services, it’s still never quite acceptable… you get the codex right, it’ll baulk at the file size. Re-sizing to scale down the file size makes it baulk at the picture size (and annoys me, because I think it’s a nice thing to look at in its proper size and format…. Get those things right, and then it doesn’t like the bitrate or some other damned thing… So anyway…. since I’d wanted to try getting some actual video into Instagram (because for the past year, I’ve had a music page in there, but no videos, nothing people can click on or hear, it’s annoying and kind of dumb — don’t even get me started about non-clickable links in there…) I got the idea to make a test video, and to use the intro song (Proxima-B) to the new album I’m making as a kind of taster-teaser to give folks an idea of what this album might be about. Well, that was the fun part. I added in some samples from a 1980s Emergency Broadcast System test — which used to terrify me as a kid — that I’d sought out for a bit I did in one of the radio shows. Anyway! Long story short… I'm still a little irritated as I post this. It’s up in Facebook now, and also on Pinterest (because why not?). I'll stick it up in the Youtube channel sometime soon when I feel like it (probably tomorrow as it's late right now as I hammer this out here) … but more importantly, it’s also right here! Thank you for finding it. Please enjoy it.
Il Canto Degli Italiani (Italian National Anthem)
While I was keeping Voodoo Radio alive during some severe malfunctioning of their broadcasting software, I was also gearing up to start writing my 10th album. The constant interruptions to fire off shows on time interfered with the mental space I need to work happily. We were all in a very strict lockdown here in Italy because of Coronavirus / Covid 19, and it was, pretty ironically, also the "Festa Della Liberazione" So I made this. It's no accident that it's visually related to one of the Mecha Robot Future WOW! promos. Anyway, it's a thing I did during lockdown. Please enjoy it.
Let There Be Light Videos
Spacegoat vs the Algorons (Attack of the Algorons)
I try to make at least a couple of videos for every album as they are released. It’s a strange experience because on the one hand, I enjoy creating them, but on the other hand, my channel in Youtube lives in a dark dusty corner that the Almighty Algorithm rarely comes anywhere near. And this is pretty much true… well, everywhere, and for everything. It’s amazing that you’re even here reading this now, to be honest (so thank you for that, gentle reader). Social media “musts” like Facebook do their best to keep even the people who subscribe to the page from seeing any of the posts, and it can be pretty frustrating. So there’s on the one hand, this great outpouring of filmic enthusiasm and work, and a great joy in creating visuals outside of my own head for the music, and on the other hand, the sure knowledge that it’s probably only going to be seen by a handful of people. Most of my “real-life” friends have no interest in what it is I do, so not even they bother to click links or watch this stuff, let alone (Gods Forbid!) do anything helpful like share them.
That’s fine, I guess. The joy of making the things themselves is actually pretty enormous, and I wind up with these oddball visual realisations for my songs that bring me a sense of … I guess it’s accomplishment, pride in creating something, doing something only I would ever do. At the same time, I never want it to feel stale or by-rote, so I try to approach each video with something fresh and different enough to keep the process from ever getting stale to me. When the time came to make some “promotional videos” to try to publicise the release of Let There Be Light, I was feeling that the formats I’d already kind of fallen into were getting a little bit dull, doing the same thing I’d done before. I wanted a challenge, and to express the feeling and theme of the album in some way that wasn’t just “some more music videos”.
The whole idea of Let There Be Light is that the mythological expressions of human life and experience have a certain unity and continuity across civilisations and time. Recurring symbols, concepts and themes born again and again have passed down through myriad human civilisations, either through direct contact or by springing up independently through what Jung termed the Collective Unconscious - a repository of archetypal imagery within the physiological structure of human brains as common to all humans as is the sun in the sky. We form these into different ideologies, philosophies, and eventually codify them into religions, carving out special rules, taboos, social roles, castes, social order (and the justifications for inequality and injustice that all of this implies) together with a thousand other Important Delineations that ultimately result in decay and demise. But the mythological impulse never dies. It loses coherent expression and organisation, then resurrects itself in another form appropriate to the civilisation it serves, and (eventually, again) winds up with its own distinct delineations and generally a priesthood to guide it. Don’t believe me? Ask your doctor! Ultimately however, the religions - the delineations we create - tend to prevent and obscure (in doctrine and the social mores borne of doctrine), the direct apprehension of the experiences the mythological impulse points to in the human experience of life on this planet in the first place. What's more, they tend to obscure the understanding that ultimately, we're all expressing the same feelings, impulses and longings again and again throughout time and across civilisations.
While I know that “no one listens to albums anymore” I still like the idea of taking a musical look at all this stuff as a whole, and from the perspective of someone who’s made an avid lifelong study of it, yet who remains very much a product of these times, and of the handful of "cultures" that formed me. Making a couple of videos in the usual way didn’t really feel like a fulfilling way of bringing something visual to this project, so I got the notion to make one huge “promo”, and to challenge myself by making a little film (with a script, complete with "bad dubbing" and everything) instead. Spacegoat vs the Algorons is the result. Is it a perfect mythological representation of my intentions in making the album? Of course not! Was it fun to make? Hell yes. Please enjoy it.
As I finished recording this one, I found myself wondering at the melancholy it expressed. It’s a dirge. I often say that all this music arrives to me as electrical impulses through the Aether, and while that’s all very humorous to say, it’s also the closest way I can find to describe my experience of it. Sure, they’re my own ideas that I hear in my head or dream in dreams, I do know that. But there’s something inexpressibly mysterious about the whole process that always excites me. When I start a new album, I don’t always know what it’s about. I let the music come to me as it does, I receive it, and write it down and start making it, recording it the way I hear it, and only then, a few songs in usually, do I start to get a picture of what it wants to express. I don’t know if that’s what it’s like for other people, but that’s exactly what it’s like for me. So when stuff like this one comes out, I wind up wondering what it is I’m receiving. This one felt like an impending sense of mass tragedy. A lot of death, maybe. It unnerved me a little, seeing it the way I do.
I named it Desert Waves vaguely in reference to that poem “Ozymandias” by Shelley, which I've loved ever since I first read it as a child:
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
As I was wondering (besides my own peculiar views on modern civilisation) why such a thing should come out just then, I heard the news about the big fire in Notre Dame Cathedral in France, just when some other very interesting things were going on in France, too. You know, back when governments were passing measures to prevent congregation of crowds and forbidding the wearing of masks in public....
When I was younger, I had a friend, an old French lady called Jeanne-Louise, the widow of a diplomat who used to shake her head sometimes during our long conversations and say “The Revolution in France, it is far from finished.” So I wound up making this video for Desert Waves, and sending it out over Youtube with a message to the People of France, “Please, do not lose heart”.
Desert Waves was not written because of, or for, the event at Notre Dame, but as this event happened to have coincided with the recording of this song, and because I already knew, at this point that the new album that became Let There Be Light was a "religious" study, I made this video. I know a lot of people got incensed about the general shock and sadness expressed about the fire afterwards, saying it was nothing, just some white men's old building burnt, etc., and while I can see where that comes from, at the same time, I've always had kind of a fondness for cathedrals. They are, to me, impressive pieces of architecture and decoration with peculiar regional expressions, constructed with a unified goal by hundreds, maybe thousands of artisans and craftspeople over maybe a hundred or more years. Yes, they are religious monuments, but I’ve always experienced them as very much more a testament to the skill and lives of the individual people who built them. Especially the gargoyles. Across centuries, you can smile with the artisan who put those creatures on the roof, or the bas-reliefs of very recognisable human types doing very timeless human things on the outer walls, and feel a little of the lives and hearts and (often subversive) intentions of the individual artists who made them and who, though nameless, endure the sands of time through their works and still speak to us directly today. You can't really say that about something like The Washington Monument or most other secular constructions. As far as I'm concerned, any loss of this kind is still a loss no matter what kind of classist or racist tinge you want to use to dismiss it.
I still don't fully know what prompted Desert Waves to come through as and when it did.