20 November 2018

20th November

Dear Santa,

For Christmas I would like to consistently sing on pitch when performing live!

Yours truly, Sonic Maps

(P.S, I made a late-autumnal/Christmas warm-up mix, it's over here, as are a few other things):

6 September 2018


80s Sarah Records vibes in 2018? What?!

25 August 2018


One overcast Sunday afternoon which seemed suspended in an atemporal limbo, I discovered Hopelessness.

In the morning I had felt incapable of doing any work, and I knew I had somewhere to be. But a train journey to London wouldn't quite do it, and neither would the 'walk around the block' which usually helps me clear my head on these kinds of days. I thought of the nearby forest which was a 16-minute drive away, and knew that this was what I had been looking for.

As I neared the forest and trees loomed on each side outside my space shuttle, I realised I had missed seeing a landscape obscured by natural obstructions rather than man-made ones. It felt strange that somewhere, somehow, there were still thousands of miles of virgin forest in the world, long stretches of green on the map that had been unexplored.

I was drawn out of my thoughts by the silence: the song I had been listening to had just ended. This silence gathered like a thick cloud of smoke and hung heavily. For a second I stared mutely out at the tops of the trees, at the faint autumnal sun which had been exhausted by a two-month long heatwave.

 And then the cloud was rent apart by a bubbling, primordial chord, accompanied by a disembodied voice. Pain-ridden, it pierced the cloud, and soared up and over the trees and engulfed everything in a protective womb of sound:

 'How did I become the mother of this son? / The face and mind and hands of virulence?'

The womb was cold inside, the force of the voice sent goosebumps along the whole body and had a paralysing quality.  Distant explosions went off in the background, kept at bay by a guilty conscience, as the voice sang on:

I don't care much about you
I don't give a shit what happens to you
Now we blew it all away
We blew it all away
How did I become a virus?

And then a gospel-like choir intervened; it attempted to chant away the hopelessness,  the guilt, the explosions. But instead the sins and vices gathered at the very front, in the form of a heart-crushing beat.
'HOW DID BECOME A VIRUS?' the voice sang over the now parenthetic choir. A swarm of cybernetic ants gathered behind it and spread out on all sides, unable to escape the pounding. 

'Hopelessness,' reminded the choir. 'HOW DID I BECOME A VIRUS?' the voice roared once again. Then they eased, exhausted like the faint sun shining through my window; the parasitic swarm died away.

'Hopeless -- ' chanted the voices one last time, before breaking off abruptly. I pulled up into the car park of the forest; I had come back to reality, but now reality was different.


I live in a town which is closely linked to Alan Turing's life. One of the first pieces of public art commemorating him is just a few miles from where I live. His work has always fascinated me, and I even spent my last birthday at Bletchley Park - I still have the annual ticket. I must remember to give the place another visit in the next two months!
Anyway -- I heard this lovely song on a French radio programme dedicated to Alan Turing this evening. I can't believe I've never heard it before. I'm a big fan of the chorus vocals, and the outro makes me remember being 16 and playing with my first synth in a sunlit room for the first time in my life (oh to go back there) ...I'm convinced that if it wasn't for Alan, synthesizers and computer music would not have developed as fast as they have. 

4 July 2018

The quietest shade of loud

I can't believe it's taken me 21 years to find this. It feels like it will be responsible for my slow gentle death some day... SO beautiful.

12 April 2018

Fifteen Minutes To

Claire’s early music is something so visceral, so completely mindblowing— listening to it is an exorcism  of sorts. She takes out you innards with her voice; she banishes the demons. You feel that your foil, this imperfect body, is utterly arbitrary. You can leave it, right here and right now; other worlds await you. You want to see them, you want to see them now.

I don’t know what it is, WHY it is; I don’t  know why even the thought of Fifteen Minutes To sends shivers down my spine, why it never, ever, fails to make me cry as if I am crying for the first and the last time. I don’t know. And I suspect Claire didn’t know any of it either. She was a conduit for the mystery, sitting in her dark room in Montreal at fifteen minutes to midnight (or was it 4.45 am?),  receiving celestial harmonies, discovering the chord progressions of the otherworld, letting the melancholy, the utter madness of being in the world take auditory form... She sat back. Fifteen Minutes To was complete.

She forgot about it for several years. Other things were happening, big and glorious things. And then something reminded her: a voice whispering in the darkness. The voice whispered in her ear that it would not go away until the song was no longer a secret.

And so, she shared it with the world.

1 March 2018

You were there for me when I was in trouble

Driving my dad to the airport in today's weather was an ordeal, but a sweet one. As I made my way through snowy constellations, I listened to How To Dress Well, and thought of those who 'were there for me when I was in trouble'....