We spoke to Craig about his latest album I Am Revolting, his approach to music and advice for young musicians.
Tell us more about the new album, what direction it has taken and how it formed? Where can people pre-order and find more info?
The album is called I am Revolting, it is intended as an allegory of our navigation of the digital age - as the lines between physical selves and digital anima become blurred, we are overwhelmed with the exponential growth of information & consensus reality crumbles as our individual reality tunnels and ideologies become increasingly radicalized.
Within this uncomfortable junction of human and machine, live recordings of acoustic instruments and field recordings are pulled apart and transformed by homemade digital and analog technology before being reborn into new forms
The album was meticulously crafted over a period of 5 years during which I also taught myself to design and build audio electronics - all of the microphones and production equipment used to facilitate its Recording, Decomposition and Recomposition are homemade.
I have tried to strike a balance using simple repeated themes (to give the listener a solid base of reference to abstract from) that are then twisted and manipulated in many different directions simultaneously (as you see in online meme culture) often ending up in complete information saturation.
I chose the title ‘I am Revolting’ as I wanted the album to simultaneously encompass the collapse of consensus reality where everyone regardless of political ideology has been (in some sense) radicalised and feels they are pushing against the established order as well as the individuals encouraged self loathing of the our physical selves as we fail to live up to our projected highly curated digital anima.
This all sounds very conceptual and dense - ultimately it's just vibrating air molecules.
I hope you enjoy it.
The full album is available now (12/12/2020) in the physical form of a Pink Concrete Brain USB drive (I like this as it reflects the weining hard scientific materialist idea that human consciousness is purely a result of physical brain chemistry & our current metaphors for understanding of this being based on the functioning of computer systems) and will be available on digital platforms from 12/02/2021.
I have also recently built my own vinyl lathe and will be releasing limited edition lathe cut vinyl records of the single and the album.
You can buy it from my bandcamp page - www.craigscottslobotomy.bandcamp.com
And my website - www.CraigScottsLobotomy.com
The Album features :
Joost Hendrickx and Craig Scott - Double Drumkit
Sam Bell - Batta Drums/ Congas
Michael Bardon - Double Bass/Cello
Johnny Richards - Piano
Oliver Dover - Clarinets/Saxophones
Matthew Tiffany- Violin
Lawrence Marshall - Trombone/One Man Band/Ukulele
John Sculley - Trumpet
Matthew Cliffe - Flute
Craig Scott - Composition, Decomposition, Recomposition, fretted/less Guitar and everything else"
Tell us more about your passion for "machine music" and how it developed?
I come from a jazz/improvised music background as a guitar player but started to focus more on recorded music over around 7 / 8 years ago, seduced by the access to a vast sonic palette, exact control over the minute detail and the permanence of creating work in this way.
I became interested in manipulating and transforming recordings of improvised acoustic sources and the sense of the uncanny produced when blurring the line between something that is perceived as ‘live’ or ‘real’ and something that is perceived as a studio fabrication or post production ‘illusion’.
While exploring ways of manipulating recorded material I became interested in the unique characteristics of different analog and digital recorded mediums which led me to become mildly obsessed with decay and degrasion characteristics in both the intended function and malfunction of these audio devices.
I started to hack effects units, reel to reel/cassette/cd players and any other cheap/free sound altering paraphernalia I could get my hands on to expand the sound palette available and became particularly drawn to the inconsistencies/malfunctions of these mediums that gave them so much character when compared to digital software recording/processing.
At the start of recording this album (I AM REVOLTING) I initially started to build my own microphones and analog post production equipment to remove the financial/time barrier of having to pay for studio time. This became another rabbit hole of exploring/expanding my palate of hi-fi analog studio quality gear - i have since built clones/designed variations on Valve/Solid state preamps, Compressors, Eqs/Filters, SS/Tape delays, Spring Reverbs, Various Saturation/Distortion/modulation units & Condenser/dynamic & Ribbon Microphones. All of the audio from this record was recorded and processed using this homemade equipment.
Over the past 2 years I have been building and composing for self playing computer controlled acoustic instruments including percussion, stringed instruments, a toy piano, and some other new instruments i have created. I was drawn to this as an extension of the feeling of the uncanny mentioned above where all the sources are acoustic yet there is an unnatural/inhuman consistency and precision as they are controlled digitally via MIDI. I have also been combining these instruments with computer controlled malfunctioning reel to reel tape machines and CD players.
It's a slippery slope, stay away from soldering irons kids.
You can see these instruments & compositions on my website here:
What advice would you give for a young musician wanting to get into the improvised/avant-garde sound world?
First of all I would like to state that I don't think I am a suitable role model for anyone; let alone young and impressionable musicians but since you asked here are some things I've learnt (mostly the long way round - which I wholeheartedly condone) along the way…
This list will be full of contradictions, but energy is created from friction and any mental map is constructed using a binary of mental flagpoles planted - in ‘reality’ everything exists on the continuum somewhere between - there is no absolute loud or absolute silence, everything is relative. To my taste all good (affective) art exists in duality / the tension between seeming contradictions.
There are no objectively right or wrong ways to do anything and anyone who tells you otherwise has mistaken the map for the territory (the most extreme example of this is the fossilisation of tropes by the time they reach academic institutions - if you want to be a different fish stay out of school.) I've often found the most interesting results have come when I feel like I don't know what I'm doing and I'm exploring something new. Once my mental map of how something functions becomes too rigid or defined it starts to feel like painting by numbers and the original energy/life force is sucked out of it.
Once something feels like it's stagnant, push it until it breaks, persevere with it until new life grows from the stagnation - this will serve as a reminder that the model was your own illusion in the first place.
Try to find ways of removing any obstacles that obstruct you from creating & create within your means. Don't wait around to be gifted large funding opportunities or label support ect - you will likely be waiting a long time. If the idea is good translate it the best you can within the means available to you.
An (maybe extreme) example of this is why I taught myself electronics and built my own studio gear so I didn't have to rely on borrowing equipment from other people or having to pay out for studio time every time I wanted to record something - none of this would have been possible otherwise.
If you're using commercial software/hardware push it until it breaks - to an extent the medium is the message (the music will sound like the gear). Everyone is always banging on about ‘workflow’ nowadays, the more user friendly something is the more of the groundwork/parameters have been hardwired into it and the more similar all the music created from it will be.
Don't take yourself too seriously but take what you do seriously - arrogance and insecurity are the same thing. Don't get twisted and jealous about other musicians appearing to get more attention than you - competitions are for horses and this isn't a race it's a dance. Persistence is 90% of the challenge - to get up everyday and maintain belief in what you're doing and do it. It's pretty normal to feel like a god one day and a misguided fool the next, accept this and ride the wave - the reality is probably you are both.
Try not to lose the feeling that music gave you when you were first seduced by it as a child and try to maintain the mentality of childlike play within everything you do. Also find ways to make your work exciting and enjoy the process because there is no end goal - enjoy the journey. Establish rituals/routines for working.
Try not to become seduced by trends, fashions or the prospect of money - if you're never in fashion you will never go out of fashion, try to invest/dedicate yourself to what feels sincere to you/ what truly excites you. Also with social media being such a large and invasive part of our current existence be careful not to pour all your creative energy/ideas into throw away/under developed ‘content’ just for that next dopamine hit - try to invest yourself in larger meaningful projects that you will want to stand by and will stand the test of time. Use social media and don't let it use you - its algorithms fundamentally function on eliciting negative emotional reactions from its users to increase engagement and its stock price.
Don't be afraid to reach out to people (even people you consider your musical heroes) for help or advice - this is something that social media is very good for, and if your working within leftfield/on the fringes artforms the likelihood is they aren't out of reach and will be friendly and supportive.
Try not to become too insulated within groups who have similar tastes to you/ become elitist/purist, try to understand what turns other people on about music you dislike - how they are hearing things and what it means to them and why - but don't forget these are still just your projections - also collaborate with people who have very different tastes, energy will come from the friction between your outlooks. Try to find synergetic relationships between influences - where the result is greater than the sum of the two parts.
All is mind. Music doesn't exist outside of your mental conception of it, outside it's all just vibrating air molecules.
Don't believe anything completely, I don't completely believe anything that I've just finished writing and neither should you but I hope some of it is useful.