Giving the bathroom a fresh coat of Dulux Something. Dedicatedly scraping the paint from a fireplace surround (it was once dried-mud brown; now behold, denim blue). Hanging wallpaper for the first time in either of our lives. Yay creativity! Amid all the tasks my partner and I have been doing to make our new home feel like *ours*, I realised I should probably make some time for music.
There are a few different approaches to making music about the natural world. Before lyrics even come into play, you could study creatures in the field, like Olivier Messiaen taking his little notebook to notate bird calls in the French countryside, and incorporate these into your genre. Word-wise, you could acknowledge how imperilled animals and trees are, as in the stunning ‘Where have the Sparrows Gone’ by Emily Barker, released today. Go the whole hog and (if inspiration and resources allow) produce a multimedia experience, with pieces about wider ecosystems – Bjork’s Biophilia included ‘Thunderbolt’, ‘Dark Matter’ and even (a less cuddly organism, this) ‘Virus’.
From these great breadths, I must scale my thought process down. Inherent in the above music, and common enough in art, there’s the response of wonder, appreciation, and existential questioning which comes fairly naturally to me. This response is pretty accessible – just as it drops behind a hill at night, the rays of our sun get scattered? There it is. Wrens appear between low-hanging branches and sing their guts out – there’s that childlike pause, childlike gladness.
You might know that I’ve been working on a record about creativity & nature! It’s called Flora and Fauna. As an aperitif, or the ‘Pringles before the barbecue’ as it were, here’s a piece that’ll cameo on the full album. I’ve been taking audio recordings of the sea, of rivers, creating software instruments out of samples I made in a forest (who’d’ve thought you could make drumming noises by hitting things with sticks!) and just loving how the growing world (plant life, recently fledged birds, amphibians) has given me therapy while the human world has been rather locked down.
It’s a miniature hymn to nature’s sheer variety. I don’t know why there’re more than, say, twelve types of flower and two types of whale. I don’t understand but I’m thankful.
As it’s Bandcamp Friday (buy music! Support artists! More money reaches them through that digital purchasing service than through most others, and a higher % on Bandcamp Fridays than on any other day), you can even buy and download this little overture to the record. It’ll appear thereon in a briefer form.
The album’s about creativity too. This ‘Cetacea’ piece doesn’t have a concrete meaning. But midway through recording, I found a different vocal approach if I imagined that simply by my naming of the animals, they would actually come into existence. Not the most original creation myth, perhaps.
You don’t get that sort of thing on Blue Planet II.