So Below is a live performance piece for a chapel or resonant space, with the option of using various instruments. It was first performed in 2019 at the Glasgow University Chapel, supported by Cryptic, and with Maarten Vos on cello.
The setup is for an array of speakers around the space, with the sound moving through the room. It is performed in the dark, or as near-dark as can be achieved, and the focus is on the sound rather than the performance. This recording has been adapted to stereo.
The aim is to tap into a certain atmosphere – an atmosphere that is always present but which we are usually too distracted to notice. There is nothing new in this – all sacred and most traditional music has always followed the same idea. Anonymous audience feedback from the night bears this out – my mum’s one will be in there somewhere but I don’t think any of these are from her….. :
“Completely absorbed. I was swept away in my own story”
This is the second volume of work created from the research into music and sound’s role in healthcare that I conducted as part of an NHS Music Fellowship in 2018.
Again, the focus is largely on ambient and beat-less music, that helps induce a state of calm or reflection. One of the few universally measurable effects of music in a healthcare context is the reduction of the stress response, so important in improving the body’s ability to heal itself. Many other facets of music obviously affect people in widely different ways, and what one person may find cathartic, another may find deeply depressing.
There are some commonalities amongst traditional cultures however, with certain scales associated with feelings of calm and passivity, and I have used some of these here.
The album will be on Bandcamp only for the first few months to raise money for NHS charities. Once it goes to streaming it essentially makes no money, but that’s another conversation. For today (1st May) it is also worth much more as Bandcamp are waiving their fees, so I’d encourage anyone who was interested to buy it today especially.
For the last few years I have beenÂ working increasingly away from the dancefloor under my own name, and soaking up more varied influences. Other World Music will be a series of albums reflecting my explorations in these new fields, part electronic, part acoustic, and exploring facets of sound and music such as psycho-acoustics, modal formsÂ and variousÂ other approaches to modern composition.
Other World Music Vol.1 is the first release on my new label of the same name, and represents a bit of a crossing point in some ways, as is nearly always the way when setting a new course.
The release is digital and cassette, and can be bought from my Bandcamp, although the digital release on its own can be bought from all the usual places. The cassetteÂ comes with a free download version and is housed in a nice handmade lino-print sleeve with a tracklist card. If you would like it signed, just ask at checkout on Bandcamp. It is limited at 100 copies.
This year I will be writing and releasing more music as Alex Menzies. Music that is more personal and not so easily categorised.
To this end I have a new website dedicated to my composition work under my own name, which will also serve as a hub for new music released this year.
There will be several releases this year in digital formats from the usual places, with a solid format LP featuring a ‘best of’ selection at the end of the year.
Also coming out this month is the score I wrote for the BBC’s Order & Disorder programme in 2012, now getting a release through Ricardo Donoso’s new Kathexis imprint. It’s under my real name and is released on 24th April.
You can pre-order the translucent blue-green vinyl on the Kathexis webpage, and you’ll get the digital album for free.