Seasons…

We’re now in what feels (occasionally) like Spring. There’s life in the trees again; the birds are singing; my eyes are streaming from the tree pollen and there’s certainly a bit of warmth to that sun now. So, where are we?

Well, the 365 project is still on, helped in no small part by the return of “easy mode”. Easy mode is where it doesn’t get dark until after I’ve finished work. Sure, I’m still walking the same loop near enough, but at least I can see where I’m going.

The highlights

Rather than bore you with the run-of-the-mill account of each month, I’ll provide you with the edited highlights of the first four months instead.

I’ve had a few keepers since the beginning of January, but I’ve yet to put them up on the store. I’ll hopefully get to that over the next couple of days. Still, if you fancy a shower curtain or a phone case, you know where to look. (shameless plug…)

One complication of doing two 365 projects back-to-back, during a time when I rarely leave the village is that everything feels really familiar. I did expect this, but boy have I painted myself into a corner.

Music

At the end of last year I might have suggested that I’d like to get back into music again. I assumed it might be playing it and that I might have acquired another guitar. It’s April and I’m still not strumming away again, but a Youtube rabbit-hole or two has led me into the (shock, horror) murky world of HiFi.

No, I didn’t expect that either. I’d have been the first to call snake-oil on the idea that one USB cable might sound different to another, but here we are. Truth be told, I still think most of that is as daft as the wine-tasting world’s flowery language to describe grape juice locked in a dusty cellar for months.

However, I’ve found a few very entertaining and somewhat relaxing channels that talk about the subject of HiFi components and headphones that are as far removed from current affairs, pandemics and war as you can get.

The upshot is, I now have a USB DAC, a pair of open-back headphones and a Tidal subscription. I’m not sure how to feel about it. 🤣

I’d been using iTunes for many years, which eventually morphed into Apple Music. It mostly met my needs, but over the years my account had become so full of clutter –albums I started listening to but lost interest in, with no easy way to just delete everything and start again. The other problem with Apple Music is that it doesn’t play well with others. To get the best out of it you need to just use Apple products, but I occasionally use Windows, Plex and I generally like to keep my options open. Tidal works with most streaming boxes, integrates well with Plex and the Windows application isn’t quite as awful as iTunes is.

Most importantly, Tidal is effectively a clean slate. Something I can fill with the music I actually like right now.

So, what’s playing?

The first few months of this year have been quite good on the music front. I’ve acquired a few more CDs –albeit mostly ones I used to have and had sold a few years ago.

There were some new ones though. Tears for Fears released their excellent new album “The Tipping Point”. If you are so inclined, have a listen to Rivers of Mercy at track 8.

One big surprise came from another Flickr user who put me onto the Oh Hellos. This is an indie folk band from Texas, formed by siblings Tyler and Maggie Heath. They released four EPs between 2017 and 2020 –Eurus, Zephyrus, Notos and Boreas and they’re excellent. That has probably had the most play since January.

Other news

So, I talked briefly before about removing myself from social media again. Whilst I still have my accounts, Facebook is deactivated and Twitter is uninstalled. It feels good not being on them at the moment and I recommend it to anyone.

Yes, they can be good, but the detritus has a habit of rising to the top. If you have a hobby or interest, you’ll soon find the less desirable part of it all up in your feed without you really needing to go looking for it.

I think that’s all I have for now. Until next time…

001/365 - Once more, with feeling

October…

Another month has gone, but we’re closing in on the end of 2021. Time seems to be flying by these days, but taking a photo each day does at least provide a bookmark for each day that passes.

October is usually the time when the temperature drops, the rain starts to get a bit excitable and the fungus starts to grow from every rotting piece of wood it can find.

The fungus…

I suppose we had better get this out of the way. There was a lot of fungus to be found.

One downside with October is that the nights draw in really quickly, which isn’t helped by daylight savings time on the last day of the month. The first of November saw sunset arriving at just after 4:30pm, which means I’m going to have to rethink how I get the last 60-ish photographs for the year.

On the upside, the forests are full of various shades of brown and red.

Music…

I’ve done a lot of listening this month, with Tool making up a large part of that. Tool are one of those bands that have long had a cult following, but for so long I couldn’t quite figure out why.

Tool are best described as a progressive metal band, but to do so may make you think of Dream Theater or Porcupine Tree. They’re not like that. Dream Theater are undoubtedly a talented bunch, but musically they’re far too cheerful to be compared to Tool. Tool are dark; basslines are dirty, prominent in the mix and their videos are disturbing…

So, I’ve acquired most of their albums on CD this month, including Undertow, Ænima, Lateralus and 10,000 days. I’ve not picked up their latest one yet (Fear Inoculum) because they’ve yet to release the CD on its own –it comes with a book that I don’t really have a use for.

Now I think I can finally say I understand what all the fuss is about. Yes, they’re pretty awesome.

Speaking of awesome, Mastodon released a new album at the end of October, called “Hushed and Grim”. It is one of those rare gems that is consistently excellent from start to finish. However, there are some standout tracks in “More than I could chew”; “Teardrinker” and “Eyes of Serpents”.

Mastodon are one of those special bands that features many lead vocalists, but the clean vocal in the song above is that of Brann Dailor, the drummer. Brann’s an incredible drummer, but he does what he does whilst singing at the same time.

His voice contrasts nicely with Troy and Brent, who also share vocal duties. They’re amazing, but Hushed and Grim is an excellent album that is perhaps a little more accessible than their earlier works.

Apparently, in November there’s a new Black Label Society (Zakk Wylde) album coming out, so that’s something to look forward to. Speaking of November, better get on with it, I guess…

274/365 - Nostalgia

A Perfect Circle – Disillusioned

A Perfect Circle were a band I regretfully failed to give a proper airing. They emerged in the early 2000s when “new metal” was starting to hit the mainstream. However, unlike a lot of other bands that were around at the time, A Perfect Circle seem to have aged far better than most.

This track is on their 2018 album “Eat the Elephant” and is a standout track in a largely solid album. Why I’m sharing it here is because the video is particularly relevant for the times we are living in.

Despite being more “connected” than ever, as a society we are arguably further apart than at any other time in my life. Pictures on a screen are not a substitute for a real connection.

Social media platforms may have started out as a means of connecting people, but they have gradually transitioned to an advertising platform that gets between you and the people in your life.