I haven’t produced a 2013 sampler. Every other year, I seem not to put together a compilation of the calendar’s musical creativity here, and I think this may be the sort of natural rhythm of things. Either that, or I’m just periodically lazy.
Last year looked like a very productive year. Splendid projects that produced some of my own favourite work, such as 80 Bells with Steve Hollingshead, or Adventures Into The Monochronium with Hazel Evans, made for a lengthy and eclectic 2012 annual sampler. 2013’s edition would have been much smaller. Yet I think it was no less a significant year for Momo at all. Not one jot.
For one thing, there were many jottings. Whisking away the lovely first lady of Momo to some languid cicada-scritched heat in the spring, I returned from a manfully committed stretch at a local taverna with a sketchbook full of all the missing bits of the new LP. Moses-like, I’m sure. Wild eyes. Humous in the beard.
Since then, I’ve been wheeling in musicians to the studio to capture brilliance in a number of musical forms – featuring a notable two days with Patrick, Reuben and David blowing the roof off my work space and blatantly charming our ears and our company, as well as an efficiently fun ride-out at Basement Studios with Mr Adkins – and shaking down the tunes I have come to know rather too well that may form the outline of my creative reputation in 2014. The results have had me sweating with some joy long after the longest consistently sunny summer in contemporary British memory.
All this, however, is done in the ignominy of one’s own little room. Especially when you get to the decidedly unglamorous and almost depressing job of editing multiple takes of sessions into some semblance of a decent spot of engineering – no one sees you doing this. They’d only wonder why you’d inflicted the isolation and backache upon yourself.
When you add into the mix the need to be around rather a lot for my lovely wife during the sunshine months as she recovered from a ludicrously significant spot of skeleton enhancement, and a jolly engaging project or two on for Momo:typo to help buoy the trumpet fund, 2013 slipped past fast, with almost no live appearances by a certain bad-haired south coast musical joker and his lively band.
Almost. There was one significant exception to the absence of shows this year. As you well know. Phonicon. Featuring a show closer that not only saw a first cover from Momo:tempo, but opened a whole new family of amigos in the West Country – thanks most especially to Simon and also Lee, who welcomed me and the gang in with broad grins of encouragement. Not sure I can thank them and their tribe of creativity lovers enough for their involvement with Momo this year. Well, I know I can’t. I have a whole new gang of chums who have filled my head with, among other things, a renewed low-level obsession with Doctor Who.
I should say, that this one show at the Phoenix Arts in Exeter wasn’t quite the only public airing, it being a year of a number of daft witterings on the wireless too – not least of which Simon and Lee’s show on Phonic FM, as well as others I’ve popped onto the bottom of the Paparazzo pages. It is always a slightly mystifying pleasure to be invited into people’s creative worlds and asked about me, as you might imagine, and I’ve met some very nice folk with audiences in 2013.
There have also been some nice moments of musical creative for different things during the year, aside from the forthcoming LP. Notably, Momo’s contribution to Moozikk Volume 3, Origins, thanks to the kind invitation of Powdered Cows’ own Martin Roberts – who’ve had their own interesting year in music for sure – as well as a whole little musical world created in the autumn for a new TV project, which I’ll be sharing more about in the new year. A cute taste of this can be found in The Haunted Segway – a goulish tango that will forever remind me of fugging about in a lab coat past the van der Graaf generator at Meetdraw 19.
And, of course, on Christmas Eve, I was able to share preview mixes of some brand new LP material – namely the new single, Conspiracy, part I and part II. Lord knows if these are my unwisest and least commercial moves of my ignominious career to date. No idea – can’t see sense for loving them.
These herald what I’ve been most essentially up to behind closed doors – working towards the release of the new album from Momo:tempo. And as I type, I know what it sounds like. It sounds very nearly finished and and very nearly awesome. I think. If you like that sort of thing. Which I do. Very much. And as the first few months of the new year unfold, you will have increasing opportunity to judge for yourself, with lots of new music soon to be leaked, dripped, dropped and downright sloshed at you.
And in case you missed it, here is a teaser of what may turn out to be the most infamous of all the new tunes on this particular forthcoming selection.
Evidence I am still alive after all?
Now, on the last day of the year, after a week of familial travel and hugs and hanging and eating and warmth, I am mostly feeling rather sober. Soberly grateful for having a roof over my head and people I can share things with and logs I can throw on the fire during stormy weather, and times of actual healing that really do sometimes just get handed to you. To say nothing of also having good creative daydreams to pursue still, to keep my soul warm.
We are still living in worrying, difficult times for many of us. The levels of inequality around the world this Christmas seem as helplessly staggering as ever they have done, and ever-more close to our own front door it seems. As if they ever weren’t. Ordinary people in various parts of the Middle East, Africa and central America especially find themselves trying to lead normal lives in abnormally horrific circumstances, while ordinary people here in Bomo struggle to find food and shelter. Exactly what are we celebrate as the winter solstice and Christmas roll past?
As 2014 knocks at the door, my profound gratitude for the food, love and comfort I and my wider family have been able to enjoy together is weighed with a renewed sense of sober responsibility to find new ways to share and serve in the coming twelve months. How can we help each other do this, I wonder? How can we find new ways to connect our lives to others?
But as the midnight chimes ring in a quiet personal new year’s day here, they will also find me with an undiminished belief in the need to keep looking for reasons to celebrate, and ways to make a joyful noise. For if the place to do this isn’t in the very face of heartbreak and fear, I don’t know where the jolly hell is. This is surely the rhythm of life.
Much love to you and anyone you’re lucky enough to have somewhere near you as the new year opens up. Thanks for all the ways you’ve connected with me and us this year, and helped make our lives worth living to the full.
Ciao for now,