"What's Inside?" - Recording and Isolation

Sometime in 2002, in the olden days before Bandcamp and GarageBand and YouTube, on Long Island, New York I encountered a phenomenon which turned me into a true believer. That is to say I first understood what it meant to be an artist for life: you know, a Navel-Gazer.

I'd just attempted home-recording for the first time, over a period of several weeks preceding the incident. I was using a Tascam 8-Track Portastudio borrowed from a guy named Jeff Weir, at "the Maddhaus" which was this place in Philadelphia where I lived with some friends. The cellar of the Maddhaus - with its cavernous ambience - became the home for all my musical instruments along with anything else that made a sound: kitchenware, bicycle horns, clock radios, big vats of water... nothing too imaginative although it seemed so to me at the time.

At some point during this period I travelled up to Long Island to visit my family, where I happened to take along one-and-a-half cassette tapes full of this "ma…

Matt Atkins & Adam Kinsey: Lowercase

My next interview is with Matt Atkins and Adam Kinsey who are going to talk about a recording called Lowercase. I've had an interview with Matt in mind since the inception of Navel-Gazers - he's a prolific recording artist with an obvious dedication to the medium, and his discography left me with a lot to choose from! I considered A Garden of Solitude - which I'd also recommend to listeners - before eventually settling on this interesting electronic collaboration with Adam Kinsey. Adam, whose distinctive modular textures will be familiar to many of our readers, is quite a thoughtful and cerebral guy so I think Matt and I are both keen to hear what he'll have to say! For the uninitiated, 'Lowercase' is an excellent introduction to either artist so please listen and read on.

AC: First off, the title of this album 'Lowercase' is obviously intentionally ironic (that L's capitalised!) but was personally relevant to me for another reason: three of the inte…

DiscountGnostic: Sponge Dreams

My next interview is with Chris Hill aka DiscountGnostic who is going to talk to us about Sponge Dreams. Although it's a short recording - 26 minutes in total - 'Sponge Dreams' got me thinking of all sorts of things I'd like to talk to Chris about at the moment. Many of our readers know Chris Hill as a live improviser and event organiser - he also moonlights as a painter, sound archivist, contributor to The Fortean Times, scholar of esoterica and arcana, connoisseur of the "shaggy dog tale" and grand-webmaster-general of the crypto-discography known as DiscountGnostic which we're going to learn more about in this month's Navel-Gazers. Is 'Sponge Dreams' the entryway to this dark and nebulous realm? What's the way out? Let's see what Chris has to say.

AC: Firstly thanks, this is well-timed! In this "isolation" period I'm grateful for a discussion on just about anything of substance and I'm especially happy to talk about…

Support for Small Venues in London

As everyone knows, the amazing venues for live improv and experimental music in London have currently shut their doors and gigs are cancelled due to the pandemic. Double bummer!

I'm sure these places could use some support in order to stay afloat. Some are soliciting donations on social media so here's a short list of those landing pages in one place for reference:

Horse Hospital
Hundred Years Gallery (and fundraising compilation on Bandcamp)
Iklectik (and fundraising album on Bandcamp)

Here are some equally great venues which are not yet actively soliciting donations as far as I can tell, but I'm sure they would welcome your support if you get in contact!

Intimate Space
New River Studios

Here are some bars and such which are not used exclusively for gigs (and not necessarily soliciting donations either) but who host live improv and experimental music on a frequent and/or recurring basis. It would be a shame if anything happened to these places - I'm not as su…

Vincent Carr's SUMIC: Rekindled

My next interview is with Vincent Carr who is going to talk to us about Rekindled. Vince is an independent recording artist and composer who was my only regular collaborator throughout my years in Oxford. For anyone who's been following Navel-Gazers, Rekindled will seem an anomaly - this is an album of compositions with distinct melodies, rhythms, and even a few lyrics! like all my favorite recordings it's also a musical artefact with a substance of its own, percolating somewhere underneath the surface of the sounds and enduring after repeated listens... in fact if I had to choose one album to send up into a space capsule, it would be tempting to disorient the aliens with White Fog or slides but I would most certainly choose Rekindled. There's an amiable humanity to this music which seems to endear itself to most listeners - I'd encourage everyone to listen along to Rekindled as I speak to the man behind the music (that is, the SUMIC) Mr. Vince Carr.

AC: Firstly I know …