Pedals, Pedals, Pedals (and pedals)

You might have noticed me banging on about pedals at some point recently.*

First of all there was the tentative first step on a road, surely, to YouTube stardom, in the form of this video talking everyone through the pedals I use in ‘time’ by Beats & Pieces Big Band:

Hot on the heels of this is the exciting (for me) news that this book has been published:

Written by Rob Thorpe, the book is essentially a guide to what pedal does what, how to combine effects, how to get certain classic tones and much more, including an interview with me about my pedalboard where I presumably talk way too much and have to get edited to make sense.

To continue the theme, I have a gig coming up on Wednesday where I shall exclusively be playing pedals (who needs a guitar right?). It’s the latest in a series of collaborations with the Vonnegut Collective, and the gig features Gemma Bass (violin), Gary Farr (trumpet) and Graham South (trumpet), all being processed by Norm Skipp (electronics) and myself on pedals. 8pm, Wednesday 6th March, tickets here.

(and pedals)
Oh, and where better to host a gig with such an abundance of pedals? A bike shop, of course.

That’s all for now folks, if you still want more pedals, here’s a video of me trying out a K.M.A. Astrospurt phaser that Rob lent me after doing the interview for his book.

*this opening sentence works whenever you are reading this.

New Releases 2019

I’m writing this from day two of the sessions for the next (fourth!) Sloth Racket album, in an amazing studio near Leeds, photos on Twitter as per usual. Anyway, I had two new releases out in January, both very different from each other, both I’m really proud of. Read on for the details…

First up is the new Beck Hunters album ‘Has It Been Found?’ – released on Discus* again, recorded by me and mixed by Alex Bonney. Beck Hunters is Mick Beck, Johnny Hunter and myself and we’ve been improvising together as a trio since about 2012 I think. Every time we play we managed to surprise ourselves.

And then, just a week later, came ‘Awakening’ by Nick Walters & the Paradox Ensemble. Nick’s first release as the Paradox Ensemble was way back when I was still involved in running Efpi records. Since then he invited me to join the band, along with a few others, expanding the line-up to 13 musicians, and the new record is out on 22a records. I’m told it’s number 3 in the iTunes charts as I type, but you can and should buy it from Bandcamp, of course. Or in person at the album launch gig at Church of Sound in London on 22nd Feb. This is my first time on vinyl, and my first release it a while that you can actually dance to…

Last but not least, while I’ve got you here, you might be interested in my pedals? I’ve been filming a series of me talking about how I use them in various Beats & Pieces Big Band tunes, mostly exclusively for our backstage subscribers through our Bandcamp page (a very valuable way of supporting the music!), but we put one on YouTube too, take a look here if you like.

Cheers for reading!



*coincidentally, it was Martin from Discus that first introduced me to the studio we’re in with the Sloths right now, the Chairworks in Castleford. We did the Storytellers record here too.

Four guitar albums on Bandcamp

So, I’m going on tour in November with Beats & Pieces Big Band and, for once, I’m not going to be driving! (apart from a tiny little bit). And, as much as I love everyone in the band, I’m already making plans for what music to load onto my phone so I don’t have to talk to them all the time. Here are four albums by guitarists that I bought on Bandcamp, and I intend to get stuck into them all during the week-and-a-bit.

Julia Reidy

I Saw Julia performing in London earlier this year, on the same bill as Sam Andreae. Her music, played on an unusually tuned 12-string acoustic, didn’t immediately grab me, but as the set went on I found myself increasingly drawn in. An inspiring microtonal exploration of the guitar, complete with some wall-of-noise stuff for good measure.

Lean Left

Recorded live in Italy, this set ranges from some quite subtle moments (track 2 ‘Moti’ features some explorations of small-sounds that sounds great in headphones) to the more aggressive repetitive approach you might expect from the Ex guitars on the album’s closer ‘Gada Ale’.


I’m cheating with this one a bit as it’s only going to be released as the tour bus rolls into Amsterdam, but I’m looking forward to hearing it whilst sitting next to a canal or two. DBH is a bit of a Manchester legend, and his solo music is equal parts relaxing and inventive. It’s a hit with donkeys too.

Parachute For Gordo

I saw these lot at Thinking/Not Thinking festival earlier this year (Ripsaw Catfish were playing too), and was instantly into their mix of post-rock, math, effects & good humour. I’ve just re-read the blurb and it turns out it’s all recorded live in single-takes which is cool in my book. A nice pedalboard work-out always goes down well in this house.

If you don’t believe me, I have bought all these albums. And you can check out a bunch of bandcamp releases with me on over here.

Hope to see you on the tour, not least because the Manchester date is a mini-festival and Article XI are doing a set too…

New Video. New Album. Some gigs!

I’ve got around to uploading one of the tracks from 2014′s Article XI live recording at The Vortex in London.  Which is nice timing as I can announce that we are (probably) playing a a gig in June.  I’m very honoured to have been asked by Cath and Dee from Lume to bring the band together once again for their one day festival on 26th June at I’Klectik Art Lab in London (interestingly, that’s the day after the Efpi festival, also in London where I’ll be playing with Beats & Pieces Big Band)

There is, however, a catch. Lume are in the midst of a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds for the festival, and it’s not going to happen unless they hit their target by 11th May. If you can donate, then please do, and even if you can’t, you’d be helping a lot if you can share the link with all your friends (especially that rich one who doesn’t know what to spend their money on…).


Sloth Album

Sloth Racket have got a brand new album coming out on Monday 2nd May to coincide with it. We recorded it at Limefield Studios near Manchester with John Ellis, and mixed it with Alex Bonney in London, and I’m really happy with it. Don’t take my word for it though of course, The Quietus called it “an agreeably spicy goulash of free improvisation, grungy riffs and bluesy themes”, but if that doesn’t convince you, you can hear for yourself and pre-order the album from our Bandcamp page right now!

And the tour to go with it…



In a few weeks I’ll be off to play in Canada for the first time, with a brand new group featuring the legendary Julie Tippetts, alongside the equally legendary Martin Archer, Peter Fairclough, Laura Cole and Seth Bennett. For several years now, Martin and Julie have been collaborating on studio recordings that have resulted in four albums (and they’re alright too, buy from Discus if you like). They were approached by the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV) to put a live band together and play the material for the first time ever in public, and I’m pleased to say they asked me!

Hopefully there will be some festival appearances in the UK and Europe before too long, but for now, maybe see you in Canada?

New Video and Gigs and Lots of Things

Morning all, a few things to update you on here.  Firstly, I’m playing with Sloth Racket TONIGHT in London.  If you happen to read this, go to The Oxford in Kentish Town from about 8:30.  Details on my Gigs page, where you will also find info about a Vonnegut Collective performance and some big band gigs.

Next, Beats & Pieces Big Band have a brand new video out.  Filmed live on stage at Ronnie Scott’s, with 15 GoPro cameras, all strapped to our heads.  I didn’t really believe Ben when he said it was a good idea, but it does look pretty cool/motion-sickness-inducing.  Check it out…

We’re also going to be on BBC Radio 3 tonight, with a live recording of that very same gig, so on your way home from the Sloth Racket gig, you can listen to Beats & Pieces on Jazz On 3.  Aren’t I good, planning your evening like this?

I also just spent a very enjoyable weekend recording new music for Martin Archer’s Storytellers, a brand new band featuring Martin and myself (obviously) alongside Corey Mwamba, Kim Macari, Peter Fairclough and Michael Somerset.  It was the first time I’d met Micheal, and the first time I’d played with Kim or Peter, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable process.  Lots of freedom, some loose themes, some defined structures, some less so.  I think the album is going to be a mix of our pieces recorded as-is, and some of Martin’s collage approach that he’s used to great effect before.  Check out his Discus Records for a whole host of his releases (and Beck Hunters of course).  Here’s a couple of photos I took, along with one of all of us.

New Records!

    All In

On Monday, the second Beats & Pieces Big Band album will be released into the world. This is actually the first second album I’ve been on, so that’s quite an exciting thing, and it’s nice to see it getting some good press already, with 4 star reviews in the Guardian and Jazzwise (where there’s also a three-page feature and interview with our glorious leader Ben Cottrell).

Have a listen here, and pre-order and so on.

There are also two launch gigs next month, with Manchester on 7th July at Soup Kitchen (cheaper earlybird tickets for £7 if you’re quick and you use the code “ALLINMCR7″ or buy it with a CD) and a return to Ronnie Scott’s in that London on July 8th.

    The Spirit Farm

And that’s not all! In the same issue of Jazzwise there is also mention of ‘The Spirit Farm’ by ‘The Spirit Farm’. In another four star review, Daniel Spicer writes that the album is “Full of unexpected textures and surprising sounds, the session convincingly proposes a 21st Century British Response to some of the challenges laid down by the AACM 50 years ago.”

The Spirit Farm is: Adam Fairhall on piano and other things, Christophe de Bezenac on sax, Dave Kane on bass, Johnny Hunter on drums, Corey Mwamba on vibraphone and other thing, and me on the guitar. We recorded this live last year during a day of improvisation in Crewe, and I’m really pleased with the outcome. Have a listen for yourself below and have a purchase of it from Slam Records.

Oslo + Stavanger

Last week I got to visit Oslo for the first time, thanks to Oslo Jazz Festival and Fiona Talkington bringing Beats & Pieces back together with Norwegian band Ensemble Denada.  We were very lucky to have the chance to work together for three days, building on our London Jazz Festival gig from November to put together a show that I think worked even better this time, with more integration (for example, my ‘Jazzwalk’ became a duel with Jens Thoresen – he won).  The next day I was able to catch a fantastic lineup at the Blowout! festival, held at Cafe Mir and featuring Trio Riot’s Mette Rasmussen and a whole host of other phenomenal players.  Bizarrely enough I ran into improv-photo-journalist extraordinaire Andrew Newcombe, so he’ll have some better photos on his site soon no doubt.

After that I travelled to Stavanger to catch up with saxophonist Inge Breistein and further our “Hunted By Weather” duo.  I arrived on the Friday and was fortunate enough for his landlord to offer a lift to a small festival about 50 mins drive along the coast.  Great vibe, a wide mix of music, free home-brewed beer on tap and stunning views.  Over the weekend we hung out, caught up, played a bit, and talked about synthesisers a lot.



Pretty much all last week was taken up working with Caulbearers.  We were working on our debut album, and halfway through the second day of rehearsals I was struck by how much I was enjoying myself.  There’s something about working intensively that brings out some fantastic results.  Having the opportunity to try things a bit differently, rather than the rehearsals being a quick “refresh” before a gig, meant that when we got the studio we all knew what was what and, more importantly, sounded great (in my humble opinion anyway).  Watch this space for details of releases in the Autumn.

I’m also looking forward to a similar experience with the Beats & Pieces Big Band in a few weeks.  As was announced recently, we’ve secured some funding from the Musician’s Benevolent Fund to spend a week locked away in Devon working on new material (the difficult second album starts here) and trying out a whole bunch of things that we never get the opportunity to normally, given how difficult it is to get us all together for longer than a soundcheck.  We’re also going to use the time to try recording in some different ways, to discover how we work best, which will be a great help for future sessions.

I count myself really lucky to be involved with groups of people who are all up for dedicating their time to creating music together, especially given how hard it is for all these musicians to make a living, and the extraordinary demands on time that freelance work brings with it.  And especially as I don’t think I could ever pick one band and one band only, I really am a big fan of immersing myself completely in one project for intense sessions like these.


Two New Releases

At totally different ends of the spectrum.

Out already is a compilation entitled “Crossovers“ on the Cronica label.  This is part of a project by Simon Whetham called Active Crossover as was recorded live last year as his exhibition toured the UK.  At the opening and closing nights, a series of musicians played improvised sets consisting of a solo-duo-solo, the “crossover” bits in the middle are what has been released here.  Mine is with electronic artist Igor Hax, recorded in Liverpool, June 2011.

And next up, out on Monday (12th) is the brand new debut album from the Beats & Pieces Big Band, entitled ‘Big Ideas‘.  We recorded it back in November in an intense three-day session with producer Tony Platt (he worked with Bob Marley!) in Livingston Studios (Bjork’s been there!), and it’s nice to see it reach the light of day.  We’re pretty excited as already it’s taking us all over the country on tour, and, more importantly, it sounds ace.