Got it on tape..

I bought a new ‘boombox’ today, as my old tiny one is starting to wear out. You can hear it on tapes, that weird slowing down when a tape is being stretched. As a cassette collector with OCD tendencies, I want to make sure my tapes stay in good condition.

I’ve loved having music on tape since an early age, my favourite Christmas present when I was 12 was a bright blue Sony Walkman. I was into electronica then, with lots of Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre. Oh, and hip hop too…

I got through so many Walkmans in my youth, wearing them out on a regular basis. I loved making mix tapes, and taping new albums from vinyl, so they stayed in pristine condition. I carried on making mix tapes up until a few years back, until I had a big clear out and got rid of my tape collection, which I now regret. I loved having music on tape, loving the sound you can only get from cassette.

A couple of years back, I got into a few record labels, namely Riding Easy and Strange Famous, both of whom release amazing music on vinyl and cassette. I bought a tape from Riding Easy, the amazing Red Desert, and then starting buying tapes from Strange Famous, starting with B. Dolan’s ‘House of Bees Volume 3’. I tend to get obsessed with record labels, tending to collect most of their output. Strange Famous are really generous when they send out orders… I have been sent extra tapes, stickers, posters and badges when receiving packages from them. Stuff like that just makes me love a label more.

So coming full circle, I am starting to build up a tape collection again, and have a Sony to play them on, not a Walkman, but a boombox. Here’s to plenty more releases on cassette, and having a decent collection again, keeping my tendencies in check!

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Taking a leap…

I’ve taken a big leap into the unknown today, and had my first ever zine published. It’s the first  time I’ve actually paid to have my work printed pin this way with the aim of selling it to the public.

Not only have I had Milk Stains printed, but I have launched an Etsy store to sell it too! I don’t want to bombard you with plugs for my wares, as that’s not what this site is about. There won’t be masses of posts pleading with you to buy my stuff, but I’m darn proud of what I’ve done.

You can go to the store here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/549942511/milk-stains-issue-1?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=milk%20stains&ref=sr_gallery_1 

I plan on making more zines in the future, and my second one is already planned out, but for now enjoy the heavy metal kitty mayhem that is Milk Stains issue 1!

A fanfare for harmonicas… 

After struggling with depression and anxiety this morning, I planned to spend some time this evening playing my harmonicas, just seeing where the music took me.

My default setting for the harmonica is the blues, I mean, harmonicas just make me think blues straight away. Most of my favourite harmonica players are blues musicians, and slow blues and heavy rock seem to be the kids of sounds I make.

Making music is great therapy, whether alone or with others. Playing music gives me a great lift, and the upset of this morning was blown away like autumn leaves whilst I came up with riffs and solos today. I am much calmer and happier now.

I came up with a couple of pieces this evening, one a more rolling bluesy track, the other riffing on my favourite composer, Aaron Copland, and his wonderful piece ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’. Copland is a family favourite, our mum loved Copland, and we played some of his ‘Appalachian Spring’ at her funeral earlier this year. Copland also scored the 1930s film version of John Steinbeck’s masterpiece ‘Of Mice and Men’ (another of mine and mum’s favourites – I still have her copy). Lots of connections.

I plan returning to ‘Fanfare’ later, blending Copland’s score with a bluesy touch, but for now, here is my first take, I hope you like it…

https://soundcloud.com/ruke-622656462/fanfare-in-g-take-1 

A meditation on fishing…

I spent most of yesterday at the pond I ‘found’ two years ago. It’s a lovely spot, surrounded by trees, and quite overgrown. The vegetation surrounding it means that when you’re in there,  you can’t be seen from the outside, making it a palace of solitude.

Managing to get up early yesterday (oversleeping is an issue at present), I got down to the supermarket and tackle shop to pick up supplies for the day. It was so nice to be by the water I the early light, and to fire up the stove to cook breakfast. Bacon and beetroot rolls with coffee cooked outside taste so good. 

Setting up my rod for float fishing, I cast out with bread crust to try and catch some fish off the surface. I might as well not bothered, as I fell asleep, and snoozed through the whole morning! 

Waking around midday, I sparked up the stove for another brew, and recast my rod. Bingo! I had caught a small Roach, no bigger than my hand, but it was my first fish of the year, and I smiled as I unhooked it and released it back into the water. I packed up shortly after, and headed home, planning to return later in the day.

Returning that evening, I switched spots, casting out towards the centre of the pond, where the fish were congregating. After a few casts, I caught another Roach, again, no bigger than my hand, but the hard work was paying off. Throughout the next few hours, I caught three more Roach, all around the same size. 

Whilst I was at the pond, separated from everyday life, I was completely in the moment, all that mattered was watching the water, looking at the spot where the bait was, and seeing the fish knock at it, trying to dislodge it from the hook. It’s the first time in a long while that I have been so at peace, and disconnected from everyday worries. All that mattered was being there, surrounded by nature, enveloped by greenery, with clear blue sky above.