When helping to set up the label Irregular Patterns, along with exploring the more challenging aspects of music genres, I (for my part) wanted to find a home for the classic rock song. Those carefully crafted songs from bands such as early R.E.M, dare I say early Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, as well as Tom Waits, etc.
Songs, which are not over not produced, still rough around the edges and don’t layer guitars over guitars for no good reason. An artist prepared to explore the fragility of human life, along with its beauty and absurdity. The journey led me to Andre Levy and his band Paper Fishes.
Borrowed Time is taken from the forthcoming album, Instant Happiness, which is neither instant nor happy. The album, which I have been lucky to hear prior to release welds together tales of humanity and family tensions, set in a Damien Jurado-like love of Americana, lo-fi rock, folk and barroom ballads.
The death of Levy’s father and their strained relationship casts a long shadow over the album. The tracks ebb and flow across musical genres with little attempt to hide the scars and resentments between father and son, or the regrets and disillusionment of Levy and his brothers. This is all brutally exposed on their ironically titled debut LP. The album pulls no punches from the opening track Vanishing Point to the finale Borrowed Time.
Ideas that lay dormant evaporate into the ether of well-meaning intentions (what-ifs). The constraints of the pandemic lockdown also freed up time and space to revisit and explore my long list of what-ifs. Hidden amongst them was the concept of Irregular Patterns, albeit the idea did not have that name. That came much later. I’ve been fortunate, very fortunate, to enjoy a life that has allowed me to work in the creative areas I love. Music and live performance.
Having experienced first-hand the struggles many of my musician mates were facing even before the onset of pandemic lockdowns, given the ongoing imbalance in revenue share from streaming. Even the more experienced musicians came with stories of being ripped off by various business interests from shifty managers, record companies and the constant ask to perform for nothing. The foundations to one of our greatest exports to the world, music, are increasingly threadbare, wallowing in exploitation.
A chance discussion with a local musician, Gavin McClafferty, brought the focus, vision and grit needed to move these ideas from concept to delivery. Irregular Patterns was born, not just a record label but a creative hub formed around the artist. In less than one year, we sit on the brink of IP issuing its first release, developing a roster and release schedule for the remainder of the year. The help, input and encouragement, so far, has been humbling, to say the least. Whatever this journey brings, I will be forever grateful.
I’m not going to repeat what you can access and read here. The manifesto for IP is the foundation. Being the change we want to see in the music industry is our essential, faltering first step. The journey has not been easy; in fact, some obstacles have needed to be knocked down. More importantly, it was the leap of faith, risk-taking, and realisation that we are in the happy business after all.
I recently re-discovered a box of old cassette tapes, which I either made or exchanged between my friends when I was around 16/17 years old in 1977-1979ish. Now digitalised and uploaded here they provide an insight into the late 1970’s DIY punk scene. The tracks here, I’m guessing have not surfaced for a long time and include several bands from my native north-east — most, if not all I had seen live. Where a better-known group is featured, I have chosen to add a less-known track. As you will imagine sound quality is a little ropey at times, but please enjoy 45 minutes of noise recorded at a time when the internet was far from a concept.
29.10.18: As I’ve said previously about Lensmen that they are one of the best bands on the independent music circuit at the moment. I finally got to see them perform live Monday evening. A fair collection of vagabonds, strays and inquisitive minds are here tonight to witness them perform which is surprising given its a bitterly cold Monday evening outside. Lensmen are providing the headline set under the SongSmith event, which promotes new and emerging Bristol talent. Its a really solid performance, brooding bass, synths and beats hovering below twisted storytelling that grows in confidence as the set progresses. For those who prefer their music with intelligence then cast your eyes and ears in the direction of Lensmen. You will not be disappointed in my honest and humble opinion. My previous write up with links to the Lensmen’s music, future dates and adventures can be found here.