Do you know what I like about Sunday morning? Getting up when I want to and not when the alarm clock says I must. ‘Waking up when I want to’ would be better but the cats usually have other ideas and I don’t mind really. We laze warm in the bed, gaze out the always open window at the trees in the garden and ponder the day ahead.
Small rituals make up most of the rest of the day. Rituals we complete not because they are demanded of us but rather because we enjoy them; they mark the day as special and are always for us.
Grinding coffee. Letting its aroma steal through the house. Eating breakfast when I’m actually hungry. Eating it in the kitchen, not because I’m in a hurry but because I want to. I like the kitchen. Doing this listening to Sleepy Sunday, the weekly mix by Elm Records of tracks new and old but all resolutely Sunday morning. Rituals.
So starts Sunday. Sunday I live the Quiet Life.
Sweep the flagstones in the kitchen. Feel their worn surfaces through the broom. Ritual.
Draw a hot bath and soak through a podcast or two. Adam Buxton (he’s a man) and his ramble-chats or Josie Long’s excellent Short Cuts, ‘documentary adventures in sound’. Ritual.
I use up the week’s remaining vegetables; cubed, tossed in oil and rock salt, roasted. Ritual.
I go for a walk through the woods or along the canal. Or not. All my choice.
Or I might read a book. Or not.
But I do listen to music. Ritual.
But a particular type of music. The Sleepy Sunday mix may be out of my control, but I know I’m in safe, Sunday-friendly hands. James knows what he is doing. I’m prepared to let him share something unknown. Also, I’m usually pootling about so I’m listening and enjoying but not totally listening.
By the afternoon though, it’s time for some total listening. But it has to be Sunday Afternoon music. Something quietish but not insubstantial. Something to get lost in. Emotional but not draining. It’s actually quite a tricky balance to get right.
This week, to my delight, there were two absolute stunners to revel in; Schachmatt by Sven Laux (Whitelabrecs) and Gray Acres by Gray Acres (Sound In Silence).
Gray Acres is the brothers Tasselmyer presenting a dreamier version of their work as Hotel Neon. Distinctive, beautiful drones, processed guitars, field recording and – as it’s Sunday and I’m feeling well-mellow – piano. Introspective, peaceful, perfect Quiet Life Sunday afternoon.
Schachmatt is a German term which apparently means something that ends or is finalised as in the last move in chess; checkmate. Again, it’s a melancholy feast of quality listening and the cats and I love it.
But today Schachmatt isn’t the last move.
Tonight, I am doing something new. Tonight, I am spending the evening, now all our old rituals are played out, forming a new ritual. Tonight, I will be recumbent on the sofa, lights off yet curtains drawn, listening to the latest mix instalment from The Exquisite Pain series on Mixcloud. In their own words, “We present fortnightly (Sunday) melancholic mixes for night owls, loners and silent drifters, lasting between 30 and 60 minutes. We play anything from whispered vocals against frail acoustic wanderings, to palatial electronic flutters with a classical influence. We invite a range of guests we both admire and respect in their chosen creative field to supply a mix for each broadcast.”
Now on week four, each one is a winner. I’m particularly fond of the latest by Brian Housman of Stationary Travels. I think the hash-tags say it all: #late night #sad #indie folk #ambient #ambient sleep drone atmospheric electronic
And that done, to bed.
The physical editions of Schachmatt has, as it the way of all things Whitelabrecs, sold out but you can still download it. And you should.
Gray Acres is still available (just) in a choice of lovely editions from the Sounds in Silence bandcamp page. Get both.
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