Oh look!!! Just what I didn’t ask for: a U2 album

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“While you were out, we packed your fridge full of chicken nuggets, you didn’t mind, did you?” – U2 and Apple try new marketing manoeuvres with creepy undertones.

Isn’t it funny how one little thing can change your attitude to the way you live your life? Apple and U2 have just done this for me.

U2 released their 13th studio album this week at this years big Apple press conference and they had something special planned. The two money making engines colluded to give all apple users U2’s 13th effort for free.

Sounds like a nice gift doesn’t it? In fact it reflects real gifts very well, you know what i mean… when your Nan knits you a woolly cardigan you don’t want and thrusts it into your hands. You just fake a smile as best as possible and accept that you will palm it off to someone later on.

It is a little creepier though, isn’t it? This album is automatically added to your apple music library. To return to Nan’s gift: It is more like your Nan telling you that you’re already wearing her woolly cardigan (queue screaming in self realisation).

Some people might be happy about this, but it made me look at my music library and wonder who it actually belongs to. I have spent so much money on music and built this quite obsessively organised library. I get quite picky about artwork and track edits. To think that Apple have decided that it is acceptable practice to thrust this album into my music library seems like a strange action (from a company currently being scrutinised about security on celebrity icloud accounts).

This is about privacy. I built my music library over years. It includes CD rips, itunes files and purchased mp3s from elsewhere. I paid for all of it. Have I foolishly believed that I own this system and have control over it? This veneer is now washing away. The moment Apple decides they can extend their influence by integrating U2 freebees (I don’t want) into my music library is the moment I wonder whether Apple (and others) have too much control over my life.

Ironically, this news comes as I am researching different means of digitally distributing my own Grasslands music. How amusing it is for me to be worrying about who has control over my own music, while other peoples music is forced into my life.

U2 probably see it as a friendly gesture and a nice promotion for their inevitably profitable gigs, but it just seems like a strange bending of economics to me. Is the advertising industry getting so desperate that they will literally just force things into our hands and onto our PCs? Just think of the same situation in another economic medium: “While you were out, we packed your fridge full of chicken nuggets, you didn’t mind, did you?” This is not ‘supply and demand’, this is ‘establish a demand via bombardment’.

Apple might want to think about retaining a trusting relationship with their customers and not abusing it. We are individuals. We like different things. We use Apple services in different ways. We don’t all want a U2 album. We certainly don’t want to be reminded of how little control we have over this music we have collected for years.

And as for U2… I wonder if the band will be happy if I creep into their houses at night and install my Grasslands EPs on their ipods?

Aberystwyth, Hills and Grasslands

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Aberystwyth is integral to the story of Grasslands. The general idea for the story was established while I was drunk in the Castle Hotel. This drunken discussion took place long before I decided to record music for the story instead of actually writing it.

Some of my own experiences of living in Aber also colour some of the songs. There is more than a hint of my experiences working in Safeway/Morrisons in the song Ambient Groceries.

It is always nice to return to Aberystwyth to see old friends (including old band mates from my former band The Small Dog Club).

It was particularly interesting to return so soon after finishing the recording of my second EP. My thoughts of the story were still quite heavy on my mind and I couldn’t help but see why I have spent so much time writing about hills through these songs.

Most people that visit or live in Aberystwyth know that Constitution Hill is one of the more famous hills in the area. It is located on the northern edge of Aberystwyth and includes a Victorian funicular railway. Although it is in easy reach of the town, it is quite difficult to see from most of Aberystwyth. Not like Pen Dinas.

Pen Dinas is found on the southern edge of the town and dominates the landscape. The flattened top of Pen Dinas is indicative of a complex history of hill fort structures that stood over the valleys from the Iron Age onwards (for more info click here).

This was the sight I was met with most mornings. Looking through the window and seeing this hill looking down at me. The Wellington Monument standing prominent in the centre. Although the monument isn’t really described within the story, I can now see that without Pen Dinas there would be very few tracks on Grasslands. It is referenced in one song on Time To Think. It is also referenced in at least three songs on my new EP: My Folks Prefer The Clone.

I had the opportunity while staying in a B&B to relive why I wrote the song ‘The Things I See Outside My Window’.

 

Coming Soon in 2014: My Folks Prefer The Clone EP

Things don’t always go to plan. When I finished recording EP1 in 2011 I thought I would leap straight into recording EP2, but life and saltmarshes generally got in the way.

My Folks Prefer The Clone (Cover)

Now having learnt to play the drums over the past 12 months, and had some moral support with developing drums from a certain Mr Armitage, I can happily say that all six tracks of EP2: My Folks Prefer the Clone are now recorded.

I now have the rather dull job of mixing the tracks and trying to get them to compete with modern super-loud CD mixes. So please hold on for a little longer.

While preparing for the eventual release of the EP, I have decided to take down all the preview tracks I have uploaded so far. This will allow me to sort out a more consistent mix for all the tracks.

To make up for the delay I have a few surprises…

The first is… tah dah!!! my redesigned blog which will allow me to keep you updated with proceedings and allow me to post random thoughts, inspirations and add some pictures. Please do subscribe.

The next surprise is a limited period preview of the opening track: First True Sight. This track is a chilled out bit of electronic goodness, that foreshadows some of the narrative stages to come in the proceeding songs (he winks to his writing friends).

Here it is:

Last but not least is the exciting news that I am also 6-7 tracks through recording a new album as part of a new electronic band called No Side Effects. Just incase you couldn’t get enough blogging action – No Side Effects also has a new blog. Check it out: nosideeffectsmusic.wordpress.com

- He wipes the sweat from his brow -

So I hope you all enjoy the new track and please, please share the link and help me out getting my music ‘out there’. The digital world is a tough one after all.

Speak soon

Tom