A Veritable Blog

Chris's Blog Archive: January 2022

January was a hard month. I felt very under the weather for most of it, and I could feel the beginnings of another bout of depression nipping at my heels, as you'll probably be able to tell from the tone of my writing below.

I'm continuing my routine of releasing a new full-length album of music for Bandcamp Friday each month. This one is the eleventh album that I've released in the last twelve months—the work rate which I have managed to sustain this year might seem mind-boggling, but you have to take into account the fact that making music is pretty much the only thing that's keeping me (reasonably) sane these days. This one's called Speechless. There's over an hour of instrumental music in fifteen varied tracks that feature everything from orchestras to Chapman Stick and nods to musical heroes of mine including Jan Hammer and Mike Oldfield. Best of all, it's a name your price deal, so you can get it for free. I hope that you'll enjoy listening to it.

My most recent commercial album Oneiric Tulpas is available on Bandcamp! You can also check it out on Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Tidal and all your other favourite streaming services. My previous album Beyond is also on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal and the rest as well.

My earlier albums Generator and Fort are also available at Bandcamp, together with a large collection of other music from me.


Well, I can report back on my initial experience with Songtradr, and quite frankly, it's been an absolute train wreck.

I've been checking my Spotify artist page regularly while waiting for the first album I've distributed through Songtradr to show up. Given that it's now two weeks after the release date, I got a little concerned, so I went to my Songtradr distribution page, and clicked on the "See this album on Spotify" button to see where it took me.

My album's on Spotify, all right. It's just that I've not been assigned as the artist who created it. There's another musician called Chris Harris out there, and my album now shows up in his discography rather than in mine. And this is despite the fact that when I signed up for an account with Songtradr, I had to supply them with my Spotify and Apple Music artist IDs.

And yes, I checked Apple Music. The other Chris Harris has acquired my album on his page there, too.

Tidal just lump all releases by anyone called Chris Harris on a single page, which doesn't help either of us. I've emailed them directly pointing this out, and suggested that they need to sort their listings out so that in the unlikely eventuality of either of us ever making any money from streaming our music, we each get paid the right amount.

I haven't checked the other streaming platforms yet, but I fully expect to discover that the same thing will have happened there; three mistakes is enough to establish a trend.

As a first impression of Songtradr's ability to look after my music business interests, things have really fallen flat. Once I'd calmed down a bit, I submitted a support ticket with them. I'm going to wait and see how that pans out before I risk releasing anything else on their platform, though.

I really am not very happy about this. As I commented on social media, I'm properly Clint-Eastwood-eye-twitch, capital-letters ANGRY right now.


I said in last night's Twitch live stream that I expected things to get rather chilly overnight, and I was right; the temperature sensor in the back garden recorded a low of -7°C. That's the coldest it's been here this winter, but thanks to the fact that I'd got a hot water bottle in bed with me, I didn't notice.

MICHAEL LEE ADAY (1947 - 2022)

I woke up this morning to be greeted with the very sad news that Meat Loaf has died. I never caught his act live, even though I have most of his albums; I can remember the first time I saw the filmed performances of Paradise by the Dashboard Light and Bat Out Of Hell from the album of the same name when they were broadcast on the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test, it was obvious that this was somebody who was going to make a significant dent in the history of rock music.

And he certainly did that. Bat Out Of Hell has now sold more than forty million copies. I might have to give my vinyl copy a spin tonight and raise a glass to his passing.


Freshly transplanted to a new service provider and with a significant makeover of code, the February Album Writing Month website is live once again in readiness for the beginning of the annual songwriting challenge where the goal is to write fourteen songs in just twenty-eight days. That's one piece of new, freshly-created music or one newly-crafted set of lyrics every other day for a month. It seems like an ambitious goal if you've never taken part before, but it's not impossible by any means. Because I'm me, and I get obsessed about this sort of thing, I regularly end up achieving a double FAWM and end up producing twenty-eight songs in twenty-eight days. Last year, my final tally (which included several collaborations with other FAWMers) ended up as thirty-two tracks. It would take you two hours and forty-five minutes to listen to them from start to finish. Like I said, I get obsessed about this sort of thing.

This will be the fourteenth year that I've taken part, and FAWM has become a high point of my musical year. More importantly, it has helped to sustain me through the dark days of winter and I have made lots of new friends from the four corners of the world as a result. FAWM is a global endeavour, and there's probably somebody near you who will be taking part.

So I hope you'll forgive me if the blog becomes somewhat fixated on my songwriting progress for the next six weeks or so. I plan on having a ridiculous amount of fun this year, and I will be trying to share that enjoyment with you, here on the blog.


I'm delighted to be able to announce that I supplied the opening track on a new compilation album of slothcore music which was released this week on Bandcamp. Slothcore is a genre of music invented by fellow FAWMer Candle and as the liner notes for the album explain, it's a genre of music that has been described as

"Very slow (like 20 - 40bpm), dirty and with long pauses to simulate naps. Perfect music for that overworked college or university student in your life."

Slothcore Republic also features work from my friends Sapient, Pipe Wrench, Tau Boötis, Toad Doctor, and Sirius the Cat.

Slothcore Republic

100% of the proceedings from sales will go to The Sloth Institute and The Sloth Conservation Foundation in Costa Rica in order to help with sloth conservation. Give it a listen and let me know what you think!


It's nearly time for February Album Writing Month to get under way once again. It's a songwriting challenge which sets you a goal of writing fourteen new songs—an album's worth of material—in the twenty-eight days of February. That's one song every two days. It's an event I've participated in every year for well over a decade now, and it's done wonders for my songwriting and compositional chops. The FAWM website should switch back into active service at some point this weekend. Yesterday, I revisited a song I originally wrote for last year's challenge and made a lyric video out of it, which isn't something I've ever done before. It was great fun doing something a little different from my normal daily musical routine. Here it is:

I'm really looking forward to FAWM this year. The event helps to get me through the dark days of winter and this year those days have felt like they're being particularly dark and gloomy.


I breathed a huge sign of relief earlier this week when the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) completed the main stages of its deployment with the sunshield fully deployed and tensioned, and the primary and secondary mirrors are fully extended and latched.

JWST is still making its way to the L2 Earth-Sun Lagrange point, and the commissioning activity has now switched to aligning each of the hexagonal segments of the primary mirror. It's a painstaking and minutely detailed procedure, with mirror position being measured to a tenth of a millimetre and thanks to NASA, you can track the progress of alignment in real time on the Where is Webb? page.

It's not the most exciting of things to watch, but the fact that it's being updated in real time from a spacecraft that is now more than three-quarters of a million miles away from Earth and cruising at a speed of just under a fifth of a mile per second is truly mind-boggling. As I type this, most segments are still 10.0 mm away from their final alignment. As the note on the web page says, segments A3 and A6 will be moved separately at the end of the alignment process, because their position sensors are read out in a different way.


Yeah, I know. I haven't blogged in over a week. I'm having a grim old time of it at the moment, to be honest. I still have yet to receive any news of any progress on getting my kidney problems resolved, and while I'm still exercising more than I was at this time last year, I just feel wrecked most of the time. It's not great. I'm in constant pain and I'll admit it's really left me feeling very down.

So down, in fact, that the release of my latest full-length album on Bandcamp—something that I usually celebrate, because it's pretty much the only thing boosting my self-esteem these days—went past entirely unremarked by the blog. Which is a pity, because I really like this one. Excursions saw me stretching my boundaries a bit and using different sonic palettes from around the world thanks to my burgeoning collection of VST plugins that use sampled instruments. Each track is intended to be an aural impression of a different part of the world, and while the results still sound like me, the album has a more adventurous and unusual feel that I'm really proud of.


I can hear such a change in my skill set when I listen to the first of those twelve releases (it was The Geometry of Sleep, if you're wondering) and then listen to Excursions. I'm beginning to develop a process for production that has significantly improved the results I get and I'm even beginning to feel like I'm justified in calling myself a composer these days. If I can sustain this rate of progress over the next twelve months, I will be a happy man.

Or at least—hopefully—not quite as down as I am at the moment...


There's still a thick frost on the back lawn as I type this. Last night the temperature dropped to -5°C here, and I can feel it. The heating is on.

No shopping trip for me today. Aside from the fact that I don't feel up to braving the shops or interacting with the real world at all at the moment, I'd rather just stay in and keep warm.


As I type this, the James Webb Space Telescope is just over 590,000 miles from Earth. The five layers of its sunshield have been successfully tensioned, which was one of the high-risk stages of the commissioning procedure. The sunshield (which will keep the observing side of the spacecraft cooled to -236°C when it begins observations) is now fully deployed, which means that around 75% of the mission risk has now been retired.

JWST is not out of the woods just yet, but I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw yesterday's status update.


I updated my installation of the free astronomy program Cartes du Ciel, a.k.a. Skychart a couple of days ago, moving from version 3 to version 4 (it had been a while since I checked for an update.) In doing so, I downloaded the first two volumes of the GAIA archive—roughly 8 Gigabytes' worth—and added them to CdC's database of the stars that it can display. I put the data on the C drive, because putting it on one of my other drives (which aren't solid state drives) seriously compromised CdC's performance.

At which point the display for my C: drive in file explorer turned red. I had less than 18 Gb free space left on the drive. Whoops.

My OS sits on a 250 Gb SSD. When I bought this "work" PC way back in the mists of time (October 2016, to be precise) that was about as big a solid state drive that you could get without spending silly amounts of money, but even so I made sure that I kept most of my stuff on the PC's other drives. To be honest, I'm impressed that I've managed to get away with using the original drive for so long. But it's time to upgrade it, so I've just ordered a 1 Tb drive which should arrive next week. I'm also in the process of doing a full format of the 3 Tb hard disc that I pulled out of my studio PC last month which was replaced by a 4 Tb SSD. The freshly formatted drive will be used to upgrade one of the older, smaller drives in this machine. When it comes to computers you can never have too much storage space.


The run of days where the outside temperature has been in double figures has come to a close. I was particularly enjoying things, because the huge hike in energy prices thanks to the catastrophe of Brexit has made me far less willing to switch the central heating on these days; you don't want to know how much my monthly energy bill is, and I think I'm pretty frugal about things. But last night the temperature dropped to -3°C in the back garden and even in the bright sunshine here at the moment, it's only 4°C outside—much closer to where things should be at this time of year.

Looking at the long range forecast, it doesn't look like there's much chance of getting snow down here this winter, though. "Unsettled" seems to be the prevailing theme. In meteorological terms that usually means that it will be wet and windy.


It's Saturday morning, and I've got the traditional New Year's Day concert from the Musikverein in Vienna on the telly, as I always do. It's Daniel Barenboim at the helm this year, and the orchestra sound superb as always.

I had a very boring New Year's Eve which was spent on my own. By half past nine I'd decided that what I really wanted to do was go to bed, so that's what I did. And after taking the last of my 12-hour painkillers I got the first decent night's sleep that I've had since Christmas Eve.

So here we are in 2022. What sort of year is this one going to be, I wonder? I suspect that most people will be setting their expectations pretty low after the last few years, but we'll see. I'm sure that we'll be getting an idea of its character soon enough. Before that happens I'm going to kick back and enjoy listening to the Vienna Philharmonic play some more Strauss waltzes...