Scene and heard

While visiting Bidgee Studio in Griffith recently, Kristin Hersh observed that “A scene is something there isn’t much of these days, geographically anyway.”

It prompted me to think about the musical scenes that I'm involved with, particularly the Ninja Tune Forum Remix Chain and the Disquiet Junto and Naviar Records' projects. The latter two might be based in the US and UK respectively but, like the Remix Chain, draw on a community of musical producers from across the world.

What each offer me are creative prompts to produce music and other recordings. For example, the Remix Chain pushes me to find a new way to interpret the work of another producer. These remixes of a remix of a remix of a remix etc. are released under the label Shinobi Cuts, which is a reference to the Ninja Tune label's forum that brought us together.

The Disquiet Junto often offers a new technique and sometimes these are ideas that I would never explore without the prompt. For example, the recent project proposed by Monome’s Brian Crabtree called 'layered sameness' is an idea that I would've have dismissed well before trying it out.

The idea of recording nearly a dozen takes without a metronome and then layering them together would've seemed unlikely to have produced the lush and shimmering result that I got. I liked it so much that I used the idea again the following week when recording music to accompany the hum of my fridge.

In contrast the Naviar Records projects are often less prescriptive. Their principal proposal is to respond to a haiku shared each week and this usually is a deadline for me to record whatever riff I've been jamming on each week. Sometimes I come up with something directly responding to their prompt but mostly I am just prompted to record.

It can be surprising to hear the results. For example, this week the haiku seemed to have such a sense of foreboding that I spent a little while finding the right minor key chords to convey something approximating the poem shown on the right. You can hear the result below.

So I was surprised to hear the incredibly upbeat response from another participant that's embedded below. It was the sort of unexpected result that made me feel a lot less self-conscious about the rock songs I'd recently recorded for Naviar projects, given that so many participants post droning ambient pieces.

Like the musical scene in Boston described by Hersh, each of those I'm involved with offer supportive communities. They demonstrate that the internet has a role in overcoming geography to bring together people with mutual interests. It's something I observed more than 20 years ago when I first started exploring the online world and it's great that sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp, as well as Youtube, provide tools to share content like music and video.

Otherwise living in regional Australia would be a lot less interesting for me.