After a two-year frenzy of composition and recording activity, the dominant theme of 2022 was resting and recharging. As mentioned in my blog Tibetan Return: Melencholia and Comfort Music, I somehow or other got burned out, and needed a break. It ended up lasting six months – and feeling like forever.

Cover for eyes cast down album Visions of Old Souls.

Photo (c) 2021 by Jennifer New.

The year started off with a high point: the New Year’s Day release of my remix compilation album Visions of Old Souls. Then, in the first two months, I finished composition of several pieces for the tribal double-CD Carving in Shadows, and wrote and recorded my guitar part for the final piece of my duo album with Chris Russell. Business as usual…

And Then, Something Just Kind of … Broke

After the Long Pause, new ideas began surfacing in September. I’ve become increasingly attracted to the idea of creating longform pieces, and was especially interested in trying a minimal one.

So, leaving Carving in Shadows to brew some more, I started working on this. As often happens, it quickly gathered Too Many Elements, so I set it aside for later cherry-picking, and started another project.

This one involves three guitars (6-string, 12-string and fretless), all played with EBow throughout (I also used a slide with the 6-string). I recorded four loops of each, then added a bass synth pulse and occasional airbrushed synth pad. Good old NI Absynth!

Forthcoming eyes cast down album Carving in Shadows - part of front cover

Photo (c) 2013 by Steve Roberts.

The writing and recording was all done before I knew it and, after a magical session which saw these clips arranged into a structure, there it was: my first longform piece! After four weeks of tweaking to get the arrangement and processing just right, it was a 66-day gestation cycle.

The music is minimal, strongly atmospheric and breathes well, with lots of open spaces and bits of silence throughout. It is especially suited to low-volume, repeat listening. The title, Tears for a Numinous Realm, had patiently waited several years for its music to appear.

(Hey, if I was more of Frank Zappa fan, I could’ve called it The White Page!)

The album artwork is a wonderful photo from Kati Astraeir, a kindred spirit and powerhouse artist with whom I’ve wanted to work for years. I’m thrilled to join the long list of musicians whose albums are graced by her work.

I’ve submitted the album to my Label of First Choice, and have high hopes for a physical CD release.

Two days after Tears was completed, I returned to the earlier, overloaded longform project and ported its best bits over to another new project, a groove-driven longform titled Et In Arcadia Ego. (One could say it’s high time I used that title, as I’ve telegraphed it for my entire career…) I have the artwork already: a stunning meld of two photos from Visions of Old Souls photographer Jennifer New.

Classical composition took a back seat this year, with just a few ideas being tentatively approached.

Part of writtn notes for symphonic guitar quartet After the Sun by Greg MoorcroftI’m Ready… I’m Ready For What’s Next

Carving in Shadows remains over 80% finished, but will have to wait a while longer. It’s past time that I finished “typesetting” the score for my CD-length symphonic guitar quartet After the Sun, which was composed – in four weeks – in early 2020. This needs to be properly published, so I can seek a brave group of guitar players to perform and record it.

Tears for a Numinous Realm has served to rekindle my enthusiasm, so I’m really excited to see what 2023 holds. The best-laid plans at this point involve finishing the After the Sun score and the Carving in Shadows album, and moving forward on Et In Arcadia Ego. So, like 2020, ’23 could see several releases.

Thanks for your listening and support, and all the best for the New Year!