Alan Morse Davies

Alan Morse Davies

Life is full of reappearances and memories. Several months ago, I disappeared from some of your social media radars. No worries, I wasn’t ghosting you, but various issues of real life came up, both with difficult and enjoyable aspects. The difficult ones have disappeared, probably different ones will reappear, and the wonderful times still remain.

Long before that one of my favorite musicians Alan Morse Davies intentionally disappeared from the free music scene. Everything on Archive.org vanished. This was his gig, I get it, everyone has got to do what is best for them at the time. His album Amusement Park Phases on 4–4–2 Music has been one of my favorite albums since it came out in 2007 and if the netlabel scene has some classic albums this would be one of them.

Over the last five months, I have been downloading and listening to lots of music. Lots. I’ve listened to over 300 albums with even more unlistened to. It gets daunting sometimes. 

As I was gearing up to write some more reviews, Alan quietly released some new work on his netlabel At Sea Music. The first was Recovery Songs. These three ambient tracks are laden with sweeping synthesizers and beautiful church-like vocals. The album feels like a requiem, but instead of death, the songs, guided by the album title Recovery Songs, point to a rebirth, “it is full of quiet joy” as Alan writes.

Alan Morse Davies’ “David”

The second release is a compendium of work that Alan completed between 2011 and 2013. How to Contact God When He’s Out of Cellphone Range is vastly different, most ambient and others out rightly experimental, but it is the loneliness of being an expatriate, a Welsh man living in Hong Kong, that ties these works together, whether it is “Ffarwel i Gymru” in this album or “Under Cardigan Bay” on Recovery Songs. Though I enjoyed the ambient works, I was more drawn to “The Adams Life Insurance Company”.

Alan Morse Davies’ “The Adams Life Insurance Company”

I’m back and, more importantly, Alan is back. We both have things to do. The free music scene will always continue to have reappearances, but hopefully we will always have the music. Alan has also released a work with Dave Seidel entitled Porch, Rain, Thunder back in March 2016.

Title: Recovery Songs
Netlabel: At Sea Music
Release Date: May 2016
License: CC BY-NC
Download mp3: zip

Title: How to Contact God When He’s Out of Cellphone Range
Netlabel: At Sea Music
Release Date: May 2016
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Download mp3: zip

The Black Crwth Player and the Wolves

Alan Morse Davies recently wrote about Amusement Park Phases:

I count this as one of my major achievements. I’m not dead yet but I think I may be remembered for this.

I think he is absolutely correct that it was a major achievement, but five years later Davies is still putting out fantastic work. As I wrote back in May about Submarine Time, some of Davies’ best work is being produced 25 to 30 years into his career. Absolutely exceptional when you think about that.

Davies’ July release, a collaboration with Gillian Stevens called Y Crythor Du a’r Bleiddiaid, continues his extraordinary work of late. Comprised of Anderson on crwth and some field recordings of Anderson playing the crwth in a cave, their partnership has produced an ambient album that is gratifying as well as beautiful.  If you are a musician who produces ambient music or just a fan, stop what you are doing and listen to Y Crythor Du a’r Bleiddiaid − this is what ambient albums should be.

[mp3j flip=”y” track=”Coedwig – Ogrof@http://www-tracey.archive.org/download/AMD_GS_Crwth/CW1.mp3″]

Artists: Alan Morse Davies and Gillian Stevens
Title: Y Crythor Du a’r Bleiddiaid
Netlabel: At Sea
Release Date:  21 July 2012
Download mp3: zip
CC BY-NC-SA

‘My Body had Blended with the Ocean’


Alan Morse Davies has been making music for some 30 years which is more than a lifetime for many readers of this blog. I’m far from proponent that good music is made by those who have been around for a while, some musicians’ best work is in their early years and then continues down hill after that. I don’t know if it is a loss of inspiration or just the inability to get out of one’s creative rut, but his the million dollar question for any artist whether painter, author or musician. Somehow Davies has found the answer, though my money is on that he would be unable to explain how he has been able to make new and creative work so far into his career.

His latest release on his netlabel At Sea is the two-track ambient album Submarine Time which is sourced from a 1970s French release, 100% Trompette. Water metaphors are always plentiful and often overused when describing ambient music using words such as wash, wave, submerge, drift, etc. There is a reason for that as these words aptly describe the sensation of being immersed in a beautiful ambient work such as Submarine Time. As Spalding Gray wrote in his wonderful but foreboding Swimming to Cambodia, “My body had blended with the ocean.” That is what great ambient music is suppose to be like and this is what Submarine Time accomplishes.

[mp3j flip=”y” track=”Submarine Time 3@http://archive.org/download/AMD-SubmarineTime/ST1.mp3″]

Adrift

Alan Morse Davies - Svalbard

I first came across Alan Morse Davies back in 2007 with the release of Amusement Park Phases on 4-4-2 Music which is quite simply an extraordinary work. Since that time Davies has been releasing his work on his own netlabel, At Sea. Davies’ first work of 2011 is the hour-plus Svalbard. This exquisite ambient album uses several variations of bagpipes, a shawm, and some 78s which Davies heavily processes to create some beautiful ambient soundscapes. I imagine that such a tender work like Svalbard will get plenty of plays by me throughout the year and beyond. Now, it’s time for me to listen to Amusement Park Phases again.

Alan Morse Davies – Halvmåneøya