Joyously melancholic Thermoluminescence’s new album

Will (right) and Adam (left)

Will (left) and Adam (right)

Just a couple of kids jamming in bedrooms, Thermoluminescence have released their shockingly good ambient electronica album- TODAY!

Entirely self-produced and two years in the making, DISCODISCODISCODISCO is fantastic. “Joyously melancholic” is an apt description from a friend of theirs, and this strong album fearlessly juxtaposes amazing ambience, uplifting and catchy tunes and eerie yet calming ups and downs. I’d recommend it for a Halloween house or dinner party, rather than a club. The songs are so distinct they made me want to dance, hum, and concentrate at different times. I imagine their first live shows, planned for early 2014, will be epic and transportive, and they have a pop edge.

But, not that kind of pop edge. Adam has articulate views on the competitive nature of music a la X Factor: “The competition thing is just really ugly and weird. Pitting artists against each other,” he says, “A release from Sony and a release from EMI are going to be directly competing for sales if they’re released in the same week, and that’s really weird to me. Art really isn’t a competition, so to boil it down to number of sales, number of awards, and number of twitter followers is a bizarre way to approach an art form. We’re not really part of that whole thing if we choose to stay out of it.”

Adam Glasspool was originally doing alt rock music in bands when he developed his “stupid little side project to get rid of the more experimental music things I had in my head.” Unexpectedly, his second album, a free download, took off and he, and band mate Will Bowles, started to talk about record labels, “but we were worried about the level of creative control we could maintain,” he says.

“We have a pretty counter intuitive approach to how ‘big’ we want to become as a band. I can’t imagine a record label would be too happy with the idea of limited growth. So I hastily set up a record label – Poles Apart Records to release stuff on – just to make it official. We were thinking about the future too, especially in regards to control over our own music. Right now we can pick where we’d like to go for album number four and how long it will take us to get there.”

Thermoluminescence, made up of experimental 20-somethings Adam Glasspool and Will Bowles, are a band with a clear idea of where they want to go – and no further, if it means selling out their independence and passion. They are a fine – and sweetly humble – example of awesome art from today’s entrepreneurial creative generation, and my favourite quotation ever:

“The first step – especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, but not money – the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.” – Chuck Palahniuk

Thermoluminescence create music for the pure love of it, if I have judged the incredible, brave freedom of this album correctly. I like most songs yet every song is different, it sent chills down my spine, made me want to dance, and inspired me to work, all at once. My personal favourite is Stop Worrying – it simply had me grooving before I even stopped to appreciate its complexity and deft key changes and mood shifts. Round+Round has a music video on youtube today – watch it!

Adam admits he has evolved, from making “shitty dance music on my own” to a self-assured duo with Will with great music videos and plans for the live shows. “I know I’m more proud of this album than I have anything I have ever done,” he says.

Download the full album at  http://thermoluminescence.bandcamp.com and pre-order the CD with bonus music and full artwork exlusives for January 2014.

I’m going to their show – you coming?

Arts or technology: Worth a degree?

This five minute debate on technology vs. Arts degrees is weak on the side of the arts. Against Belinda Parmar, campaigning tech agency Lady Geek’s CEO, the Guardian art critic Adrian Searle often resembles a rabbit in the headlights. He says he couldn’t bear a world full of technocrats and I would like to develop that thought.

It is not just technology that is important, and it is certainly not the most important advance for society, despite the financial and career rewards at the moment. Logically, a world focused on developing technology leaves less room for the ideas, visions and – if you like – soul, behind them. Think human and machine: Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner: The Final Cut, or I Robot. Amazing films. I studied them at University and learned about the ideas and moral questions of technology. I wonder if you learn as much about the arts when you study technology.

Films that belong with the arts and the arts are where philosophy and how to live and morals are truly debate and grow, by the people who study, love and invest in the arts. Technology certainly does enhance the arts, but I say there is no point to technology without the arts. Study of the arts (and I don’t just mean through a University, of course) are there for that purpose, and that is what they are worth. Technology may well provide fantastic career options, but I gained an arts degree for the purpose of a career and to nurture and appreciate myself, the world, and the stories of life.

Scribblings of success

What can you do well in front of hostile strangers? What do you keep doing even when there is no room for you in that world?

There is no drive when it is easy. And it is easy to find fault with your work, but it’s not easy to stand up and be proud of what you’ve done when no one else understands and thinks much of it. Who do you choose to hang out with – and how can you serve these people? How receptive are they, to what you do? If they aren’t appreciative, what other groups of people might be?

Success isn’t about creating inherently good things. It’s about putting work in front of the harshest judges, to pitch and deliver your best and aim bigger and better than that, and do it now because what’s unrealistic now will be realistic later. Pain is a fire you grow through and where there is pain, there is growing up, and strength in the torn muscles, and when your comfort zone and your friends are no longer around, how do you survive?

Snippets from my play (1)

These are a couple of snippets that were taken out of the play I am writing “Life, Death and Journalism”.

It’s in the second-third draft stage and needs work.

Jack is a journalist encouraged to resign by his editor after his own existential crisis on the point of journalism, and these are some of his doubts.

 

“So why are we doing this? Isn’t life more important than the barrage of news and words about news and everyone trying to get their by-line to the story first – where is enjoyment and art for art’s sake and play in all this? No one has time to even appreciate how tough it is to write quality, perfect stories and a badly written story is just as good anyway, all those writers craft in their rooms and for what? There is no stage for the countless hours of practising writing, just more lonely writing, it’s not like the hours spent practising Jimi Hendrix in his bedroom to play the guitar. Music is more enjoyable to listen to than reading harsh news.”

 

                              It’s just words, endless, unnecessary verbiage

                        Erudite and intellectual articulation of issues

                        That no one has time for

                        I don’t understand why people would consciously choose

                        To leisurely read the handpicked most painful, deliberately provocative,

                        Stories of today’s messy and stupid humanity

                        Crafted into a product and broadcast to masses of people