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October 2020 Archive
31.10.20 > Halloween Katie Bite: Spellbound
31.10.20 > Remind Me To Forget (Goldene Henne 2020)
Beautiful performance of "Remind Me To Forget" by Katie and Zurab in Leipzig, Germany last night. Prepare to melt into your sofa...
30.10.20 > Katie Conundrum No 6: Halloween Special!
Unscramble the letters to reveal the title of a Katie track.
29.10.20 > Seven Second Challenge 17
Nice easy one for Halloween! Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.
Seven second challenge: intro 17
Ghost Town (Pictures)
28.10.20 > Party Invite!
If Twitter is your thing then you'll want to clear your diary this evening because Katie has invited you to a party! How she spoils her fans! The idea is everyone listens to Album No. 8 at the same time and as it progresses Katie will Tweet stuff about it. Because it's a party, even though we're all apart, I'll still be in the kitchen because that is the only place I can handle parties. I'll be sat next to a box of wine and a plate of cheese and pineapple cubes on cocktail sticks, hoping nobody saunters in and tries to strike up a conversation (it'll scare the cheesy wotsits out of me if they do seeing as how I live alone...)
If you don't do Twitter then I don't really blame you but please don't gripe to Katie about it since it is hardly her fault and you can still participate in spirit by starting to play Album No.8 at 6pm.
27.10.20 > Playlist: Halloween
I can't believe we're in Halloween week again already. Mind you, after this nightmare of a year a few ghouls and zombies roaming the house might be a welcome distraction. But an even better distraction is my Katie Halloween Playlist, still one of the finest selections of spooky songs you will find. Okay, the songs aren't that scary I know, but the titles should get you into the spirit of witchy mischief. And this time we are already under Katie's spell again with Album No. 8 having left us all in a kind of trance. To that end, I've added "Voices In The Night" to the Halloween playlist, which you can now find on Spotify. In fact, you don't even have to find it because I'm a top egg and have arranged it so that if you click the little Spotify logo below it will take you straight to it. If that doesn't make you want to carve your own face in a pumpkin I don't know what will.
26.10.20 > AYMHM 8: Gach Sgeul - Every Story
Another album you may have missed...
There are two type of people: those that can't be doing with songs in a foreign language and those that are open-minded about them and enjoy the air of mysticism they bring. If you consider yourself among the latter then stick around and see what I've brought you today, otherwise you may as well scuttle off and bake cup cakes or grout the bathroom tiles or something.
Julie Fowlis is a Scottish folk singer. Now, there are a few of those about, granted, but the reason I love and respect Julie is she sings mostly in Scottish Gaelic. I'm a passionate believer in keeping minority languages alive. Whenever a language dies, humanity loses something. Languages are beautiful and amazing inventions to be celebrated and treasured rather than taken for granted. The songs in Gach Sgeul (Every Story) are a mix of traditional folk songs and beautiful ballads but it is that Gaelic language that gives them an added dimension. It is one of those languages that looks an utter nightmare if you see it written but lends itself beautifully to singing—it floats around in your mind like fairies dancing in silk shawls. Julie's pure voice lulls you into a fantasy land that is all beauty and magic and for a while you can forget all about the real world. Now, it was probably wise for her to avoid singing these songs in English; from what I can gather they are, like many traditional songs, often about less glamorous things than you might imagine. In your mind you may think she's singing about undying love for a handsome prince or something when in fact she's probably on about her cat having worms. Fans of Enya will be more familiar with the sound since she sang several songs in the Irish flavour of Gaelic, which is very similar, and it is one of the reasons her music had such an atmosphere of mysticism.
Whilst many of the songs here are of a slow, dreamy tempo, watch out for track 10, "Puirt-À-Beul Set: Fodor Dha Na Gamhna Beaga" (yeah, don't bother trying to say that). The last minute or so is an utterly astonishing display of vocal dexterity. Heaven knows how she's breathing. I'd love to see her perform that live because it is the sort of thing that makes audiences explode.
Listen to Gach Sgeul / Every Story on Spotify via the link below:
25.10.20 > Katie on Sunday Morning Live
We are getting spoilt a bit at the moment as Katie continues to do the rounds on UK television shows. This morning was a particular treat as she appeared on BBC Sunday Morning Live for an interview and then a live acoustic performance of "Remind Me To Forget". And what a truly spellbinding performance it was: nuanced, heart-rending, immaculate. One of the things that constantly blows my mind about Katie is the way she can perform a song live, on her own, just as effectively as in the studio with a full-blown orchestra. When you listen to the astonishing arrangement on Album No. 8 it is hard to imagine how Katie could sing the songs just with a guitar and not lose something of that rich soundscape; it is an incredible testament to her skill as a performer that she was able to do exactly that. If anything, this version was even more powerful, with the stripped back arrangement mirroring the vulnerability in the lyrics. What a privilege it is to be able to witness performances like this. It makes up in part for the cancelled tour, though it is bittersweet in that it reminds us what we have missed. Catch this magical moment on BBC iPlayer while you can.
24.10.20 > Lyric Card: Feels Like Home
23.10.20 > It's Official! Another Top 10 Album!
Congratulations to Katie on her 8th consecutive Top Ten studio album. She is now just 2 behind Kate Bush's UK Female record of 10. What an amazing achievement, and deserved success. AN8 stood at number 3 in the midweek but other chart entries knocked it back to number 7 — still higher than Secret Symphony or In Winter managed.
23.10.20 > Album No. 8 - An Instant Classic?
We’ve had our sticky paws on AN8 for a whole week now. Many of you, like me, were gobsmacked from the very first listen. I put my thoughts about it down at great length the other day but after a few more sleeps I decided to step back a little and see if I can make some sense of the bigger picture.
My first impression remains intact–that Album No. 8 is an instant classic. I’m already calling it a masterpiece; note though, that I’m not calling it Katie’s masterpiece–it may be that for the time being, but she is far from done with us yet and in another twenty years AN8 could be fighting it out with another five or six gems so we’ll have to wait and see. Nor does it take anything at all away from the constant wonder that is In Winter, which has made itself a home in my heart that it will never leave. That said, AN8 really does feel like Katie has moved to another level. She has been brave enough to put her own lyrics to all the songs, and they are *special*. As a wordsmith rather than a musician, lyrics have always been more important to me than the tune. That is because the artist is telling you something in their own words as opposed to sharing the thoughts of another. If you like, they are tweeting rather than retweeting. A good melody is icing on the cake whereas the lyrics are the cake itself. And on this evidence, Katie is the songwriting equivalent of Mary Berry.
The new official album charts are released later today and Album No. 8 is currently placed at number 3–Katie’s highest placing since Pictures hit number 2 in 2007. Her last gold record in the UK was The House in 2010, with Pictures the last to go platinum. I definitely expect AN8 to go gold, and eventually platinum too if there is any justice in the world. At the end of the day though, sales figures aren’t what define a classic album. It is all about having a special place in the hearts and minds of the fans and with Album No. 8 Katie has nailed that.
22.10.20 > Katie Conundrum No 5
Unscramble the letters to reveal the title of a Katie track.
21.10.20 > Katie Bite: Heading Home
20.10.20 > Review: Album No. 8 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really know where to begin with this. I’m supposed to be a writer but Katie has left me lost for words with her new album (though only temporarily, I warn you). I had high expectations of it simply because I know how much her music means to her, how studiously she approaches the whole process, and how insanely talented she is. Even so, she has exceeded every one of those expectations and left my jaw so firmly on the floor that I’m wondering if the Earth’s gravity has suddenly doubled. So, without further ado, let me try to dust myself down and articulate my thoughts on this immaculate collection of flawless compositions.
A Love Like That
If you’re going to write a statement album to showcase your songwriting talents then why not open with something that sounds like not merely a Bond theme but a template for a Bond theme. “A Love Like That” is so good it needs to have a Bond film made for it–and with a title like that perhaps it could be time to introduce the first female Bond? It only takes a few bars for you to feel like you are slinking back into your cinema seat as the curtains unveil. The dramatic and classy orchestration tell you you’re in for a cracking adventure. Katie’s vocals sound like crushed velvet, sultry and sophisticated. The curly-haired teenage girl of Call Off The Search has gone, replaced by a woman of the world that knows how to make the best of her talents. As the sumptuously arranged orchestra swirls around her she grabs you by the throat and softly seduces your ears. She only loosens her grip at the end of the song when she leaves you crumpled and gasping on the floor as she saunters away “doodling” to herself. And listen carefully to Katie’s carefree doodling–you’ll hear the odd staccato burst of five repeated notes which is reminiscent of the start of “The Man With The Golden Gun”. This stuff isn’t just thrown together you know–producer Leo Abrahams has a wonderful feel for sound textures that only a strong background in Ambient music can give you, and he has collaborated with Brian Eno who is one of the best in the business. What a strong opening to the album.
A complete change of tone for “English Manner” but the fact the transition is so smooth and seamless from “A Love Like That” tells you all you need to know about the skilful production on this album. This track is one of Katie’s strongest ever lyrics–mystical, whimsical and raising more questions than it answers. It’s one of those that you could choose to interpret simply yet clearly has hidden layers if you want to dig deeper–one for the fans to discuss their conspiracy theories about deep into the night. I know I’m going to make Katie feel a bit uncomfortable now but some of the lines here are Dylan-esque. “The dresses billowed with fear and lust” and “you’ll see some good if you extend the trust” would not look out of place in a song by his Bobness. Mind you, I guarantee you the late, great Sir Terry Wogan would have been poking gentle fun at the line in-between those two “she handed me a cloudy glass and then said”, given his penchant for misheard lyrics, since it really does sound like “she handed me a cloudy glass of Lemsip”.
Leaving The Mountain
This track is so beautiful you can hardly bare it. I’ve never really understood why Katie hasn’t trusted her own lyrics–she wrote “Faraway Voice” as a teenager, and tracks like “Spider’s Web” and “I Cried For You” not long after–but frankly, on the evidence of this album, she can never again question her ability with words. Her lyrics are a level or two above most other songs in the charts. “Leaving The Mountain” is a case in point: she doesn’t merely tell a story, she paints pictures in your mind, evocative images filled with nostalgia and longing. The music here is suitably dreamy too. The song may be about Katie’s childhood memories of a trip with her father in Georgia but it stirs childhood memories for me also. Just the opening soaring flute puts me in mind of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”, which is one of my earliest musical memories, and as a lover of mountains I’ve bought into this song by the end of the first line. This is exceptional music.
An aptly-named track. The tempo rises again and it feels like getting out of bed in the morning, taking a deep breath as you wonder how to face the new day, then throwing open the curtains and seeing beautiful sunshine and blues skies flood into your life. In fact, the melody is somewhat deceitful in the feelgood-factor it sweeps you along in since the lyrics are bittersweet with reflective verses sandwiching the more upbeat chorus. This is where Katie’s peerless ability as an interpreter comes to the fore–you automatically believe what she says so you don’t need minor keys and melancholic chord progressions to feel the sadness. When she sings “it’s so tempting to give up now when the air is getting colder” you get her meaning. The craft that has gone into these songs is awe-inspiring.
Voices In The Night
The sax intro to “Voices In The Night” takes you by surprise. Then Katie starts singing and almost instantly you are transported to some classy jazz lounge; you can almost see and smell the twirls of smoke from Gitanes cigarettes mingled with the woody alcohol of Jack Daniels. Once again we are seeing the sultry Katie in the red velvet dress from “A Love Like That”, only this time James Bond is sat in a dark corner watching, drops of blood on his lips permeating his Martini. If you’d asked people at the time of Call Off The Search to predict what Katie would be doing two decades later I think many would have had something like this track in mind.
Maybe I Dreamt It
It’s almost two years since I first heard this track, when Katie teased us with it on her 2018 Tour. The audience instantly knew they were witnessing something special, so much so that they were giving a standing ovation before Katie had the chance to deliver the final line after waiting in bemusement for thirty seconds or so. On the album version, the gap before that final line has been greatly reduced, perhaps to try to prevent people from giving standing ovations to their record players. Interestingly, the Gori Women’s Choir aren’t involved with the album version despite featuring strongly in the live performances. I don’t know the reason for that but this is a song that will deliver however Katie packages it, as demonstrated by her lockdown performances of it on her sofa just accompanied by Zurab on guitar. An acoustic version is included on the Deluxe edition CD.
(If you want to read Katie’s beautiful words on her inspiration for this song, the German choreographer Pina Bausch, then click on the Social Media link in the right-hand panel where I’ve pinned her Instagram post.)
Oh my. What a peach. This is something truly special. It begins with plaintive piano notes from Leo Abrahams that put me in mind of James Horner’s “Portrait” for the Titanic soundtrack, which is appropriate because Katie then proceeds to paint a beautiful portrait in your mind. She may be singing about Batumi, but these words will resonate with everyone for whatever home means to them. If I have even the slightest scintilla of criticism of Album No. 8–which I don’t, really–it would be that the Gori Women’s Choir only appear on one track. Thankfully, it is this one, and when they gently kick in here the hairs on the back of my neck are off. For all that is awful in this world, it is music like this that makes you determined to fight till your dying breath to make it a better place. I’m pretty much in pieces before the end of this song but the heavenly chiming of a church bell in the background during fadeout simply finishes me off. In fact, I’d probably have closed the album out with this one since it takes me a while to compose myself after hearing it. A masterpiece.
Your Longing Is Gone
Yet another seemingly effortless track of aching beauty. I say “seemingly” because although Katie’s vocals put you in mind of a swan serenely gliding along a glassy lake you just know there’s a whole lot of frantic paddling happening under the water. And there really is a lot going on here. The orchestration, arrangement, musicianship, writing and engineering is all of the highest quality, as it is throughout this extraordinary album. This song puts me in mind of the easy-listening heyday of the late sixties and I could easily imagine Burt Bacharach writing this and Dionne Warwick trilling out “too good to be true”. I’m beginning to wonder if the whole album is too good to be true; perhaps it contains subliminal messaging that will turn us all into Katie’s zombie servants. At this point, I wouldn’t even care.
Okay, back to that smoky jazz lounge. It’s 2am, the place is almost empty. James Bond is now dancing slowly with the improbably beautiful Russian woman he knows will attempt to assassinate him next day but not before they’ve both retired to the hotel room to do things best left to your imagination. The song they are dancing to is “Airtime”. As soon as she’s done, Katie heads back to her flat, climbs out of the smoky red dress and takes a long luxurious bath whilst reflecting on life and love. The only thing missing from this scenario, for those of a certain age, is the image of her devouring a Flake whilst the phone rings unanswered in the background and a lizard scampers across the floor. But she can relax now, knowing her sultry red dress has done its job for another day. Pure class.
Remind Me To Forget
And so we come to the final track of the album. It is the morning after. Katie is stood cradling her cup of herbal tea and gazing out of the window at the gently falling autumn leaves. Her life is changing and she’s thinking of a bleak winter ahead yet comforted by the thought of the colourful spring that will be right behind it. The lyrics here are clear and honest–no hiding, no deliberate ambiguity, just the cold reality of a relationship over. It’s a song that may bring a tear to a few eyes yet it is underpinned with that sense of hope that the past is gone and the future is there to be written.
There isn’t a weak track or “filler” on Album No. 8. It is brimming with quality from start to finish. History will declare it to be a masterpiece, but history is always slow on the uptake; I’m declaring it a masterpiece here and now. Whatever lyrical demons Katie may have been fighting must surely now be banished forever and I look forward to hearing more of her dreamy words in future. This is exactly the album I’ve been hoping she would make but I was unprepared for it to be quite this good. Had there been one or two tracks I felt were not quite up to the standard of the others I like to think I’d have been brave enough to rate it 4.5 or even 4 stars, but as it is I can’t find any fault and I have no fear of accusations of bias in awarding it the full 5 stars. I’m tempted to give it 6 and to hell with convention.
Favourite track: Heading Home. I can imagine what it’s like being asked to name a favourite child now, but I only had to hear this song once to know it would never be out of my head again as long as I live. Georgia is my spiritual home and this track will take me there instantly whenever I close my eyes.
19.10.20 > Live Performances for BBC Radio 5 Live
A couple of beautiful live performances for you to check out from Katie and Zurab for BBC Radio 5 Live. She sings "A Love Like That" and "Your Longing Is Gone" and sounds sweet as a button. If buttons are sweet. Perhaps a chocolate button. Anyway, you get my meaning. You know the rules by now—click the pic to toddle off and have a look.
18.10.20 > Katie on Channel 4 Sunday Brunch
Katie was one of the guests on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch show this morning. The mish-mash of chat show and cookery show sprawls on for 3 hours but you have to be vigilant because Katie is interviewed right at the beginning, then appears half-way through for food and chat, before closing out the show with an achingly beautiful performance of "Joy", accompanied by her brother Zurab. As always, Katie comes across as articulate, intelligent and just the loveliest person you could wish to meet, or in other words, she was just being herself. Catch it if you can on the C4 web site.
17.10.20 > Katie Bite: Heading Home
16.10.20 > Finally! Album No 8 Is Upon Us!
The wait is over at long last! Today is officially the best day of a pretty wretched year. For the past few months, Katie has been throwing us lifelines to keep our heads above water but finally the actual lifeboat is here to rescue us all. If you don't know what I'm on about then perhaps one of us has been experimenting with dubious substances. I expect all fully accredited Ketefans to either be already holding their copies of Album No 8 to their bosoms with no intention of loosening their grip for at least a week, or waiting on their doorsteps ready to snatch it out of the hands of their poor postman, who might well prefer to be confronted with a rabid Rottweiler. It seems rude to turn away guests but seriously, if you haven't already ordered Album No. 8 then I would kindly urge you to stop reading this nonsense immediately and get yourself over to a website that can actually sell you a copy. Trust me, it will be the smartest purchase you have made all year, and yes, even smarter than that pair of solar-powered heated underpants. I won't say thank me later because you'll be too busy being blown away by Album No. 8, so by all means thank me now. You're welcome.
15.10.20 > Track Notes 109: Too Long At The Fair
Too Long At The Fair
The second song from "The Secret Sessions"—four bonus tracks added to the special edition of Secret Symphony. It's a lovely track written by Joel Zoss. Although it appears on his 1975 self-titled debut album it was initially recorded three years earlier by Bonnie Raitt for her second album Give It Up. By now it should probably go without saying that Katie's version is gorgeous; I guess in that sense you could call Katie predictable—seems like every song she covers turns out gorgeous. Perhaps one day she'll surprise us all and make a recording that is a bit meh, but I really wouldn't hold your breath on that one. The thing is, she climbs inside a song and wears it like a onesie.
Nothing to watch sadly, but if you haven't got the Special Edition of Secret Symphony then you can at least listen to it on YouTube (but please know that I'm looking at you disapprovingly right now)
14.10.20 > Ketevan
A couple of years ago I wrote a poem that had a verse for each of Katie's seven studio albums. It was in danger of becoming outdated, but I'm not having any of that, oh by jolly no! So, to celebrate Album No 8, here is Ketevan—now nicely balanced and with a new graphic.
Click for bigger version!
13.10.20 > Katie 1 Dolly 0
Well now, what do you know? Dolly Parton has just released a new album and the Daily Mail has absolutely mauled it, awarding it one star. Yikes! Then they set their sights on Katie 😱 and guess what? They gave Album No. 8 four stars. Back of the net. I'm sure she'd have got five stars but for the fact that music critics have had their star-awarding glands surgically altered to max out at four. However, if you want to see what a *proper* review looks like I advise you to pop back here in a few days...
12.10.20 > Seven Second Challenge 16
Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.
Seven second challenge: intro 16
I Think It's Going To Rain Today (Call Off The Search)
11.10.20 > Katie Bite: Your Longing Is Gone
10.10.20 > Supporting BBC Children in Need
Katie, as always, is getting behind the BBC Children In Need campaign. Her message is simple and clear. So take a good look at that lovely smile, accept you can't say no to it, and then toddle off to the BBC Children In Need website to find out more and see how you can get involved too.
10.10.20 > No Need To SHOUT!
Katie's recent raw rendition of Lennon's luscious "Love" reminded me of something I’ve heard her say on more than one occasion: that she wishes she had a stronger voice. I’ll be honest, I just don’t get that at all. You are reading these words right now precisely because she is who she is. In fact, that’s why this whole web site exists. Let’s get one thing absolutely clear: if Katie had been a ‘shouter’ like Adele then I may still have liked her music but there is no way it would have *reached* me; it wouldn’t have connected with me on a meaningful level. When you have frayed nerves or little hope the last thing you want is someone yelling at you. You need a quiet, reassuring voice to make you feel everything will be all right. The Katie that helped me was like a guardian angel whispering in my ear. And I know for a fact I’m not alone in this. Had she been a bottle-shatterer or woofer-wobbler she wouldn’t have enriched my life and made me vow to enrich the lives of others. AAK would not exist. The tools she has been given are perfect for her; they are all she needs to craft beautiful works of art that help so many people around the world. If I could change one thing about her I wouldn’t. And I sincerely hope Katie, that if you ever get to rub the magic lamp you’ll ask the genie for peace, love and happiness for all and forget about a tonsil upgrade.
09.10.20 > Lyric Card: Kozmic Blues
08.10.20 > Katie Conundrum No 4
An easier Katie Conundrum. If you don't get this one I may have to smack your botty with a rolled up takeaway menu.
07.10.20 > Track Notes 108: Feels Like Home
Feels Like Home
A song from a musical "Faust" by the legendary songwriter Randy Newman. The show was based on the classic book by Goethe, one of those that people like to claim they've read but haven't, about God and the Devil. I haven't read the book, nor have I seen the musical but I have heard Katie sing this track and it is quite difficult to see how it ties in with any of that, other than to say, as ever, Katie's version is heavenly. She has such a knack of making songs punch above their weight—this is a pleasant enough little ditty but Katie turns it into something achingly beautiful. I'm beginning to think there's no song she couldn't improve. Except maybe "Gangnam Style".
You shouldn't be surprised that pickings aren't that rich on YouTube given this is a track that only appears on the bonus edition of Secret Symphony. But if you are a fan of soppy romantic "Burns effect" images of hearts and kisses, well then, have I got a treat for you. This appears to have been uploaded by a German fan who has decided to rename the track "Feelings Like Home". Somewhat disappointingly though, Katie doesn't actually sing that.
06.10.20 > Katie shares Love for Lennon At 80
Last weekend BBC Radio 2 aired some special programmes under the banner of "Lennon at 80", to mark what would have been the legend's 80th birthday. These occasions are always poignant reminders of what might have been and when you look at Bob Dylan, who is about to turn 80 and is still releasing wonderful music, you can't help but sigh about what John might have given us in the 40 years since his senseless shooting.
As part of the programming, some artists were asked to record versions of Lennon songs. Katie recorded "Love", and you can watch it on YouTube by clicking the pic below. Although this is unrelated to her incredible imminent new album, Album No. 8, it fits in beautifully with the vibe of her new songs and makes a lovely little coda to the four singles she has released recently prior to the album arriving next week.
Lennon's take on Love was plain and simple, hinting that we can overthink it and make it more complicated than it needs to be. "Love is love." Of course, it does help when you have found 'the one', which in Yoko he clearly had, and we all know that his message is an idealistic one and most of us still find love hard to come by and even harder to hold on to. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't all be striving for a world where love is all you need. Katie shrewdly doesn't mess too much with Lennon's original; as always with her covers she climbs inside the song and finds out how it works so that when she sings it you believe every word she breathes. Her performance is stripped back and raw, sumptuously supported by a "home orchestra" which includes bass player Tim Harries moonlighting on piano. Yet, though it is a faithful rendition of Lennon's version, it is subtly different: Lennon may sing it a with plaintive simplicity but he is clearly singing from within the rosey bubble of love, whereas you feel Katie is singing with the pain and numbness that results from seeing that bubble pricked. Yes, we are all getting blown away by her new songs, and rightly so, but this is yet another reminder of what a phenomenal interpreter she is. Breathtaking.
05.10.20 > Katie Bite: Your Longing Is Gone
04.10.20 > AYMHM 7: Koyaanisqatsi
Another album you may have missed...
Koyaanisqatsi is a remarkable film from 1982 that contains neither dialogue nor narrative. The word itself is from the Hopi language and means “life out of balance”. The film is a series of scenes, many in slow motion or time-lapse, that depict images of the world, from natural scenes of beauty to large-scale industry and city-life. It’s such a powerful work, a visual poem that will make you stop and think about the world. Because there are no explanations you are left to form your own conclusions, though at the most basic level it is just saying look how beautiful the world is and look how we are destroying it. Some may find parts of it depressing but I also find a lot of hope from it: just the fact that films like this are made demonstrates that humans are gaining awareness of their relationship with their planet, and in the near 40 years since the film was made that awareness has grown, so much so that now we really are beginning to wake up and think about the damage we have done and what we can do to repair it.
And so on to the music. The soundtrack to Koyaanisqatsi isn’t a soundtrack as such—it is actually a proper Philip Glass album written to be a fundamental part of the film. It isn’t background music, incidental to what you are seeing, rather it is an integral piece of the overall experience. As such, the album stands perfectly strong on its own feet as a powerful musical experience, whether you have seen the film or not. If you have seen the film, then listening to the music will always bring the images to your mind.
Glass is not everyone’s cup of tea. His composition style is regarded as ‘minimalist’ but personally I don’t care for that term—it suggests there is little going on, like in ambient music where you might hear a bell chime every few seconds over a quiet background of low strings. This is anything but that; there are moments of serene beauty for sure, but also many lengthy passages of energy and urgency that resonate perfectly with the message that we have to act quickly to save what we’ve got. The album starts with a suitably brooding and foreboding Hopi vocal before Glass’s trademark use of simple structure and heavy repetition grab you by the ears and hold you rapt for the next hour.
Although I have watched Koyaanisqatsi many times over the years it is the album I turn to again and again. To me, it remains as fresh and exciting as the day I first heard it and it remains a constant source of inspiration. If you have never heard it then I urge you to: the Spotify link is below. Better still though, try to watch the film first since it will add such a rich layer of context to your appreciation of the music.
Listen to Koyaanisqatsi on Spotify via the link below:
03.10.20 > Signed Artcards with Album No. 8 LP
How would you like to own a little bit of Katie? Well, she's been signing artcards for the LP package of Album No. 8 which means she has touched them which means they now contain a few of her atoms. Or ex-atoms. Good luck actually finding them, but at least you know they're there! To get your set of free Katie atoms just pop along to her store and order the new album. By a stupendous piece of luck, if you click on the pic below it will take you right there. If only everything in life worked like that...
Here's a little suggestion for you: why not print out this pic and keep it with your art card when it arrives? It'll be additional provenance for the value of your Katie atoms. You're welcome.
02.10.20 > Lyric Card: Kviteli Potlebi
01.10.20 > Serendipity
Serendipity. Such a beautiful word. Not to be confused with serenity, another beautiful word, but the added 'dip' is all important. Serenity is “the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled” and there can surely be few better states to be in. Serendipity, on the other hand, has no such grand ambitions. It merely refers to a chance occurrence, a happy accident. And I for one happen to be a great believer in the unknowable mystery behind serendipitous moments—in particular, those that involve the paths of two people crossing in a way that is beneficial to both and when the timing could hardly have been better.
Since this is a site about Katie there seems no better example of serendipity to cite than that of her performing her song “Faraway Voice” in front of a small audience that just happened that night to include Mike Batt. The rest, as they say, is history. We can never know how things might otherwise have turned out. What if Mike had been caught in traffic and arrived too late to see her? With her talent and determination, chances are Katie would have made it anyway but perhaps via a more arduous route and in a different musical direction. Perhaps the next evening Pete Waterman may have witnessed her singing and set about turning her into the next Kylie. We can discuss till we are blue in the face whether or not everything that happens to us is down to an endless succession of random events or whether everything unfolds precisely as it is meant to. It is a moot debate for we can offer no definitive proof for either argument. Although I have a scientific mind I also accept that there is much about the Universe that is beyond the capacity of the human mind to comprehend. It is my belief that we meet the people we need to when we need to. I don’t mean the people you encounter on a daily basis like the woman behind the counter at the post office that sells you a jiffy bag. Our timelines are so intricately woven that we will briefly cross with thousands of others in our lifetimes without any significant impact upon our overall trajectory. But every now and then we may just wander from our chosen path and find ourselves at a dead end, or worse still utterly lost deep within a dark forest with no idea how to find a way out. I am speaking metaphorically of course, and in reality we may not even be aware that we have gone astray. It is in these moments that someone usually magically appears in our life from nowhere and says something or does something or shows you something that can have a profound effect on you and gently nudge you back towards the right path or guide you out of the dark forest and into familiar territory. You may be completely aware of it and see it as a revelation or life-changing moment, and be forever grateful to the stranger for their timely help. Equally, the help may manifest itself at a subliminal level and you may remain completely oblivious to it—you may end up back on the right track without even realising you had ever deviated from it. And the stranger may quietly drift away without you knowing they had ever come to your aid.
So who are these amazing people that serendipitously influence our lives? Are they guardian angels? Guiding souls? Is there a more scientific explanation? Perhaps the 90% of our brains we don’t use once had some kind of empathic and telepathic ability that our development of speech and language has rendered redundant but on some small level can still guide us towards each other in a way we can only consciously regard as pure chance. After all, if the pea-sized brain of a swallow can guide it six thousand miles from Africa to the same cottage roof in the heart of England year upon year then imagine what humans *should* be capable of. I don’t have the answers to these questions. All I know is I’m grateful that in this magical world you could live half a century and then tomorrow an absolute stranger could profoundly change the course of your life. I have learned to look out for these occasional encounters with people I was “meant” to meet. Whenever someone new appears in my life I sit back and assess where I am and where I’m going and if I’m happy. Then I try to work out if the new person has changed anything. It is a fascinating exercise, and I can think of at least half a dozen examples of people that have appeared in my life over the past few years and helped or influenced me in significant ways. I am now heading in a completely different direction than I was a decade ago and I am happier than I have ever been. I just wonder what might have become of me if those people hadn’t wandered into my life at exactly the right moment. Serendipity, I don’t know what you are but I love you.
01.10.20 > Seven Second Challenge 15
Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.
Seven second challenge: intro 15