What's pappin'? 




The Next Station

Today marks the launch of the first ever sound map of the London Underground. Brainchild of Oxford-based composer/musician and crazy sound collector genius Stuart Fowkes, The Next Station takes field recordings from all over the Tube and juxtaposes them with original music composed by people from all over the place - including me!

I'm so happy to be involved with this, even though I didn't have a lot of time to spend on it (I actually laid down the basic track in three hours, and then spent about another hour or so tweaking the mix, so it was pretty rushed); but it was so nice to be writing some of my own music again, after spending so much of the last three years writing about the wonderful music of the Langās and Māngaṇiyārs from Rajasthan. I have even cobbled together a quick video to go with the tune, which features some footage from a train journey through the desert between Hamira village and Jaisalmer. Check it out, and see if you can 'Find The Gap':

Stuart was very kind to let me have a crack at his brilliant sound recording of a typically delayed Circle Line journey from Mansion House to Canon Street - right in the thick of the City - and as soon as I heard it, I knew I could have some fun with it. The concept for my piece came from a moment on the original field recording where the all-too-familiar sound of some strange, digitally disembodied man warns us: “Mind the gap between the train and the platform edge”. At the moment when he utters the first syllable of the first word, the train makes a weird sound – possibly air escaping from the brakes – and this coincides with the man’s voice, giving the illusion that he has said “Find the gap”.

Using this idea of escape as my starting point, I created an atmospheric backdrop of sounds that sit behind the full length of the original recording (5 minutes and 5 seconds), slowly building towards a journey that takes the passengers, not to Canon Street, but away from the chaos and alienation of the city, and finally back to a more soothing natural environment. If you get a chance to have a look and a listen, I hope you like it; and anyway please do take the time to check out Stuart's website for the project. I love it so much, I put the link in twice.


Back in the saddle

Ahh... My first gig since way back at the beginning of June... I've been sitting in front of a computer screen since then - and I CANNOT WAIT to submit my thesis next month. This lovely bit of musical relief for me comes courtesy of our pal Satinder, who's organising a Hip-Hop night at the Amersham Arms, just south of the river. Check it out:


Help Fiji to recover from Cyclone Winston

Besides being home to some of the heaviest waves on the planet, the beautiful Pacific island nation of Fiji was recently hit by the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in the southern hemisphere, Cyclone Winston. Entire communities have literally been blown away. Estimates vary, but there may be as many as 51,000 left homeless in the wake of the storm - perhaps more. Many children were swept out to sea and people are having salvage their relatives’ bodies from the wreckage.

Shamefully, the UK government has not yet provided any aid. As a commonwealth nation which still bears the Union Jack on its flag, Fiji should get help from the UK. Australia, New Zealand and France have thrown their weight behind the effort, but not us. A petition has started to get this matter debated in the UK parliament: I hope that those of you who are UK citizens (or happy to pretend that you are) will click on the link and add your name to the petition.

Additionally, our pal Harry runs a volunteer organization in Fiji called Think Pacific. They are now a major part of the relief effort supplying aid packages, evacuating islands and (eventually) helping with the rebuilding process. You can find more information here: and if you are willing and able to go one stage further and donate to the cause, then go for it.
Vanuinui vinaka to all XXX

PhD: The Final Frontier

Yes folks, it's coming up to the business-end of this monster task - one that has dominated the last five years of my life. I have often likened the PhD process to making an attempt on Everest: even just getting to Base Camp can be a substantial mission in itself; and, for some time, I found myself stuck there in the cold, watching and waiting for the conditions to be right for an ascent. Now, I'm somewhere high up on the North Ridge, all alone in the middle of the Death Zone, with stormy weather closing in. There's no going back down - the only way is up!

I get another one of these for my final season as a research student at SOAS:

And I'll also be helping my PhD supervisor, Richard Widdess, to teach one of his BA Music courses this year. Coupled with my continued research consultancy work with SOAS Marie Curie Research Fellow and fellow Cure fan William Tallotte, along with the excruciatingly detailed work that remains to be done on the thesis, my hours continue to be filled with the stuff of crazy music analysis. However, once the PhD is submitted (my draft has been approved, so this should be within the next few months, all being well) then I will make some time again for my own musical creativity. I have seventeen album projects waiting in the wings, and my musical mind is filled with all kinds of new visions - so look out!