2021 week five

Managed to run every (week)day this week. Good stuff. The weather turned a bit this weekend, so instead of running just went for some longer walks. Saturday’s walk took me through Chinatown, which was a little busier than the surrounding streets, and I enjoyed the sight of strings of lanterns being put up, presumably for the lunar new year.

I made another recording of church bells – luckily not an uphill run away as with the others, and the results were very pleasing. It’s the second time I’ve found myself startled by the first hit – at the moment I go to churches that I don’t know for sure have striking bells, and of course I don’t know the precise second they will strike. So I stand and wait around the hour and then suddenly it begins, usually much louder than I had anticipated.

It’s also the second set of bells I’ve captured now that (at 12 o’clock, anyway) follow the 3-3-3-9 pattern that I don’t believe I’ve ever noticed before. I know I now need to read up on church bells or striking clocks/chronometers to understand the significance. It’s fun learning this stuff ‘by accident’.

This was also a nice one as, after the bells died down, the nearby birdsong picked up again. The new recording is up at /audio (St Anne’s and St Andrew’s).

I realised that me going out recording church bells has a number of similarities to short wave radio listening: it’s about going out somewhere and experiencing something ephemeral yet somewhat predictable or repeatable. It also has a bit to do with the local atmospherics and conditions.

Made another thing in Garageband which, I think, owes something to Wilco’s Reservations. That’s up at /audio, naturally. It’s called Shannon. We played board games on Wednesday night and listened to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born and it had been too long since I’d heard both. So, so good.

I nuked both my phone and my iPad this week – the former was something I’d been meaning to do for ages as Android systems do slowly fill up with crud over time, and I’m guilty of occasionally adding apps that run background services to help with one problem or another, but it does all add up. And the iPad is a similar situation: it’s an older model with just 16GB of storage, of which the system takes up about 6.5GB. Now that I’m mainly using it for Garageband I have wiped it and left it only with that and the Minimoog Model D app and it all runs a bit happier and with plenty of storage headroom. It still chokes occasionally, helpfully ‘optimising playback’ for a few seconds before continuing. Better that than crashing, though.

Watched Nils Frahm’s concert film Tripping with Nils Frahm this weekend which was bloody lovely. His music is wonderful – a mixture of incredibly intricate piano with layered synths and electronics – and it was just nice to watch a concert film that puts you right in the thick of it. It was performed in the round so the crowd is always just off behind Frahm as he plays. I was captivated by the clouds of mist above the audience’s heads and reminded of that strange occurrence when many warm bodies gather together to watch a performance. I hadn’t thought about that in ages.

And the venue – Berlin’s Funkhaus – is really interesting. I found a great tour of the facility by Sound on Sound on YouTube, which includes some fascinating characters explaining the way the building was designed with the acoustics first and foremost. I highly recommend it if that sounds like your thing.

Tripping with Nils Frahm is exclusive to Mubi – if you want to watch it you can start a free trial using my Mubi referral code if you like.

Not much else to report this week. The rhythms of the weeks in early 2021 are a touch repetitive, but if it means repeatedly being able to do things I enjoy then I can’t complain. Nagging thoughts of ‘I’ve just realised I’m a bit bored of all this’ or wondering when I might see the sea again do feel a little bit selfish. But they creep in nonetheless.

Finally, the robin taste tests continue. Robin definitely appears to prefer mealworms to chopped almonds. Picky sod. But a new addition of (delightfully named) Buggy Nibbles are going down a storm.