Tel Aviv – an exploration in miniature

Portrait of the Dutch Governor of Trincomalee by John Bogle (1780) from the V&AMonday sees the release of my new album Tel Aviv. I thought it would be worth sharing a little bit about the the project and what is unique about it. The essence of the album is perhaps best encapsulated in galleries 90 and 90a of the Victoria and Albert museum in South Kensington. Surprisingly it was only after conceiving and completing much of the album that I discovered the work in these rooms, but the discovery and its timing felt really poignant and poetic.

After making the observations of Spring described in this earlier post, I decided to write a series of miniature songs to reflect the tiny scale of much of the early signs of new life I was witnessing. These songs were to be complete compositions in there own right, not just fragments, but fully formed; just on a smaller scale to what is usual for me. I also felt that these smaller pieces should all run together to form a coherent whole – that rather than a collection of songs, this was a suite of six short movements that make up an expansive musical journey.

I also wanted to reflect the current times we are living in, where the battle for the attention of a listener is fiercer than ever, not just in terms of the vast amount of music that is more accessible than ever, but also the way it is experienced. Playlists and 79p singles have largely sidelined the traditional album to second place, with listeners also getting used to hitting shuffle so that two songs in a row by the same artist is now often considered a ‘malfunction’ in the system!!

The idea with Tel Aviv was to make a micro-album, a body of work that had the same dimensions as a regular album, just on a smaller sale. Rather than EP which traditionally has less songs than an album, the songs of Tel Aviv are also shorter in length giving for me a more substantial feel than previous EP’s I have released; thus referring to it as a micro-album. This also mirrors some of challenges of being succinct that we have become used to through the micro-blogging portal Twitter.

Further than that, by the means of reduction in terms of the individual song lengths, I wanted this to be an exercise in expansion of listener’s attention span and expectations. Tel Aviv is the equivalent of a 15 minute long track, (which is much longer than the usual length of most contemporary songs), but has the diversity of six individual but interconnected compositions, each with their own sound and imagery to hopefully keep the listener engaged throughout.

So back to the V&A: galleries 90 and 90a contain a series of botanical prints and portrait miniatures. These artworks in their own way represent the meticulous detail and craft of documentation and miniaturisation – both of which are expressed in the budding and blossoming that literally spring up at the same time every year. These are some of the themes that inspired the story of Tel Aviv and I look much more forward to hearing your own stories of what Tel Aviv inspires for you…Strawberry and Emperor Moth  Le Moyne de Jacques Morgues (1568-1572) from the V&A

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