Getting there – a Summer update

I’m currently in the midst of one of those frustrating but exciting passages of time – one in which lots has been happening but it’s not yet all ready for presentation – and my knack for taking on more projects than is wise reaches critical mass as summer arrives, and my music students go on holiday. So here, in what WordPress tells me is my 50th blog post, is a quick rundown of what I’ve been doing and what’s coming next…

Venusian

I got involved with this ambient/trip-hop group quite a few months back and, after some writing, recording and gigging, we’re making a push to be more enterprising about the project. On my part that means treating it as a more direct output for some dark experimentation and improvisation, such is the band’s overall intention. When I first started playing bass with John and Yash (Venusian’s founders and sole members for several years) I think I was being too ordinary with it, treating the instrument with hesitation whilst limiting myself to being a side-member of the band as I worked the final stages of Glossom at the time. Now I’m breaking out the violin bow and effects to help make Venusian be the success it’s capable of, and we’re currently working on the next album. At the time of writing our next gig is on the 11th August at Next To Nowhere social centre in Liverpool. If that sounds like your cup of tea then have a read of the new Venusian page on my Portfolio and follow us on Facebook.

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Venusian promo shoot – L to R: John Sharma Pearson (Keys, Beats), Alex Cottrell (Bass), Adam Roberts (Saxophone)

Neverbody

In my post-Glossom world I quickly found an instrumental band-shaped hole that needed filling and obsessing over. The result is Neverbody, a new trio I formed with ex-Glossom drummer Gareth Dawson and musician + good friend Andrew Bailey who takes up the bass. I don’t have a whole lot to say about it right now as we’re in the process of writing enough material to make a live set (4 tunes down so far), but it has been taking up a fair bit of time and, like Glossom, it is proving an effective outlet for stretching my capabilities (and fingers) as a writer and performer on the guitar. So far it is sounding less jazz and more prog. More on this when I have it…

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Sneak peek of Neverbody at work in the practise room

The ambient project

Over the years I’ve put together a fair number of electronic and orchestral soundscapes that have never got any closure. Some were sketches from soundtracks I was working on at the time, other were just bits of fun that never got completed. I sort of mentioned this in a blog post rounding up 2016, but it still floated around in a ‘done-when-it’s-done’ holding pattern because I just didn’t want to slap a bunch of sounds together and call it an album. And it is still floating around like that really, but I have been working on making it a more consistent, cohesive collection of tracks and intend to set up a whole new alias to release the kind of material that doesn’t have any other home in my output. I want to go into more detail in a separate post, but the reason I’m doing it is because lots of small, curious moments in everyday life cause me to bank ideas and short recordings that sometimes are later expanded into full on explorations. I’m certain this is true of many artists in many mediums, but for me that has so far manifested itself in a minimalist/ambient kind of way, and it dawned on me as a terrible waste for these ephemeral dittys never to see the light of day, even if the end product exists only for personal satisfaction. To echo the above, more on this when I have it…

Film score, the website, and more

I also started working with a local director to put together a score for their short film. We had a lengthy and spiriting conversation in our first meeting about support (or a perceived lack thereof) for funding and building a community around grassroots narrative film in and around Liverpool. A surprising thing I would have thought, considering that it’s apparently the most-filmed city in the UK outside of London. We’re in the early stages at the moment but I’m hoping to share more about the film and its maker soon.

The website has undergone a bit of pruning and updating, mainly adding new projects to the portfolio and adding a bit more emphasis to my work as a guitar player. I’ve also updated a lot of images so that they load faster. Meanwhile, there are some rumblings about The Little Mermaid – the storytelling performance with the Liverpool Players – getting a show overseas, but again I can’t say much more until things are confirmed.

Right, I’m done being a tease. Bye for now!

Pure Psaltery / Video Jam @ Bury Art Museum / future projects

I took a very pleasant trip to Bury Art Museum on Thursday with a good friend of mine, where I performed Brébeuf once more – my live psaltery score to Stephen Broomer’s short film for Video Jam. I’ll admit that, when I first wrote the score, I felt strangely detached from it and took great effort to develop the composition into a performance. Having now performed Brébeuf twice, the preparation involved has slowly encouraged a stronger connection to the piece, and I think Thursday’s performance went a lot smoother as a result. It was, at the very least, a more faithful following of the intended dynamics and tempo. Once again, Video Jam put on a brilliant night of sound and vision, but sadly a late start had me dashing for a train so I missed most of the other performers – suffice to say that what I did catch had me feeling very flattered to be included. Well done to all involved.

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Textbook Studio provided some stylish programmes for the night.

In other news, I recently released a small sample pack called Pure Psaltery. As the title suggests, it’s a modest library of 101 samples recorded using the psaltery, featuring chords, melody ideas and sound design. With it being my first attempt at such a project I decided to give it away for free (you can read more and download it here). I also received some great advice from a couple of sample production library companies and hope to release some even better sounds for you fellow music-makers to use in the future. If some of my Pure Psaltery samples (or should that be psamples?) do creep their way into a track you’ve made, then send it my way! I’d love to hear it.

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Free psaltery samples – how could you say no?

What else is next? My showreel could do with an update, so expect some new music to that end through the next few months. Glossom are working on some new tunes that will hopefully be released as live videos. There might be a video game soundtrack or two on the way soon as well, but I can’t quite talk about that yet… Until next time!

Video Jam at Bury Art Gallery

Brébeuf and my live score for psaltery is going to be performed once more at Bury Art Gallery on 18th February! If you missed it at Manchester Jewish Museum in November last year then now is your chance to see it at this brilliant free live event.

Video Jam will be bringing together some of their favourite live scores from their catalogue of previous events, and I’m very flattered to be included. It is part of the European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC) conference 2016.  The programme will be as follows:

– 2 Koi Karp scoring ‘Untitled (YMA Sumac Waiting)’ by Graeme Cole. First performed at Video Jam at Title Art Prize 2013
– Mary Stark and Chaines commissioned piece ‘Film as Fabric, Thread and Lace’ for SPACES tour 2014
– O>L>A scoring ‘I, Dismantled ‘ by Paul Daly. First performed at Video Jam at The Whitworth re-opening 2015
– HORRID scoring ‘The Time That Remains ‘ by Soda Jerk. First performed at Video Jam at AND Festival, Liverpool Cathedral 2013
– Alex Cottrell scoring ‘Brébeuf’ by Stephen Broomer. First performed at Video Jam at Manchester Jewish Museum 2015

Hope to see you there!

 

Brébeuf – hear my score with the film

I have finally got round to recording my film score for Stephen Broomer’s ‘Brébeuf’ which was commissioned by Video Jam and performed at Manchester Jewish Museum on the 12th November 2015. If you missed the performance, then now is your chance to hear what it sounded like – enjoy! You can read more about my score here and here.

Tablet of Destiny Kickstarter – my first feature length film

(Originally posted 17th May 2014)

 

I’m working with director David Wilks on ‘Tablet of Destiny’ a new scifi chase film about an ancient, globe-trotting conspiracy – the Black Knight Satellite.

It’s my first chance to work on the soundtrack for a feature length film, so I’m really hoping this kicks off! It’s literally just started so please consider pledging and supporting us – thanks.