Loveletters From Beneath The Waves (2018)

After taking brief dips into ambient waters on other albums, this is my first attempt at a focused collection that fully completes itself as an ambient cycle. I think of these pieces as “sound mobiles”, as a way of describing the happy accidents that occur when their seemingly unrelated elements gently collide, bounce slowly in zero gravity and dissolve into some new, unexpected & momentary sonic shape. Loveletters From Beneath The Waves is another of my albums I can listen to often – I can certainly recommend it as a very relaxing bath soundtrack.

My oldest son Cooper ( had lent me his Electro-Harmonix Key 9 keyboard-simulation pedal to experiment with. These pieces are composites of many spontaneous guitar improvisations I recorded with the pedal during one week in July, and which were later given “the treatment”, as Brian Eno liked to describe the exhaustive hours of sculpting the raw sounds into textural space.

Everything you hear on this recording has been played on guitar. The only exception is the final track, Raga: Sunrise In The Valley, an improvisation I had recorded in 2007, playing a friend’s handcrafted octave mandola. After giving the original recording “the treatment”, the music seemed to sit comfortably with the ambience of the other tracks. One piece turned out far too long (even by my standards), so I sliced it up and reversed all the tracks, to form the ethereal Reflection I – V suite. Reflection III makes me think of eerie mermaids from Venus:

A couple of themes emerged in tandem as I created these pieces. I had just read the excellent science fiction novel Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke, and the galactic atmospheres & deeper philosophical themes of the book were still resonating in my thoughts. The sounds I was finding in the recordings seemed to reflect something of the book’s effect on me. The tracks Childhood’s End and Narcosamine Dream are direct references to the book, but the whole album has a prevailing atmosphere of fluid space that describes how the book stretched my thinking.

Another theme was submersion, the liquescence of things, floatingness, dreams & the inner realms, a synaesthesia where sky is ocean, space is fluid…..the feeling of lying on your back, muffled deep underwater, gazing upward toward the surface, to the skin of a world unfathomable and beyond reach. In researching some antique maps of our Moon, I discovered a lunar ‘lake’ that gives Lake Of Forgetfulness its title.  Iosphere has a NASA recording of the sounds made in space by the Sphere of Io, one of Jupiter’s four moons.  Liquis was named after a planet I invented for the album.

Immersing myself in this music also became a kind of swimming inside myself, in the wordless ineffable depths I so often struggle to share with the people I love the most – the people with whom I most want to share these places. And so each tune in the making became a liquid loveletter, bubbles spiralling gently up to the world above the waves…to my family….

The cover image is an abstracted detail from an underwater film my daughter made when she was quite young – she strapped her GoPro to the underbelly of her kayak and filmed the shallow coastline at Eggs And Bacon Bay.