What a year. What. A. Fucking. Year.
It’s the last day of 2020, and with the turning of the year, comes that moment where nostalgia typically swells, and hopefulness pokes up its little bright head above the winter snows. Except, this is 2020. Surely, 2021 can’t be worse, can it? There’s no snow yet, at least not visible here, in my little lockdown room. But, is that hope peeking out? Maybe. Maybe.
I’ve been one of the lucky ones. I, and my family, and most of my friends got through the year. Many didn’t, but we did. I had work. Many didn’t, but I did. I even managed to play a gig. Many didn’t, but I did. I heard a lot of music, and even made some myself, which I’ve now consolidated under the banner of Kosi Records here. I didn’t use the lockdown like I’d hoped I would, but who did? It was soul crushing, but here we are, on the brink of 2021, and so there it is…hope.
In all this, there have been things that have delighted and sustained me.I climbed mountains, I hiked, I ran and rode almost 1000 Kilometers.
I watched a lot of online concerts, my favourite of which was the Folk On Foot Festivals, especially the second one, where O’Hooley & Tidow & their baby Flynn stole my heart, and the show. I listened to hours of The Old Songs Podcast, where I discovered Burd Ellen. I made a series of long form interviews called “The Ashen Asks” with a bunch of great musicians over on my YouTube Chanel, was that in 2020? Wow. Seems forever ago. I watched Piers Cawley grow a community around weekly swapping of traditional songs on his YouTube Channel. I worked on the audio of a film by Andrew Leach and Alec Bowman called Overheads. I remixed some other people’s songs in my own style, and I mixed an album for Jon Wilks, whose humour, patience and friendship has kept me company through the dark days of winter, via the wonders of WhatsApp. That should hit the shelves in January, and I can safely say you won’t want to miss that one.
Another upside of the year was that Bandcamp.com introduced Bandcamp Fridays, where once a month they waived their fees to help artists, so many of whom have lost income to the lockdown. There was a lot of noise and a lot of buzz, and it got overwhelming at times, but it was also fun, and I found many new artists, some of whom I’ll list below, and of course you can buy their work even if it’s not Bandcamp Friday, I know they’ll appreciate it. These, among many others, were my soundtrack to the year.
What will 2021 hold? Who knows, but l can’t help marking this arbitrary moment in time by peering closely at the snow, just to see if there’s anything poking through.
My Bandcamp soundtrack to 2020, in all its joys and sorrows, as eclectic and changeable as my mood, and like the year, in no particular order.
Live For Ever by Bartees Strange.
The Land is A Sea In Waiting by Pefkin
Access Denied by Asian Dub Foundation
A Formless Mass Of Chaos by Stephanie Merchak
Cabin Lights Off by Myles O’Reilly [Indistinct Chatter]
EP1 & EP2 by The Magpie Arc
The Isolation Sessions by Piers Cawley
Five Stages by Hilliat Fields
Silver Came by Burd Ellen
Seascape by Billow
If You See A Rook on its Own, it’s a Crow by Elle Osborne
Inversions by Belinda O’Hooley
I Don’t Want to Let Go, but I Need to Let Go by Whetman Chelmets
One by Ian Arkley
Sweet England by Jim Moray
Historical Record vol 1&2 by Josienne Clarke
Sing To God Vol 1&2 by Cardiacs
Dark Turn of Mind by Iona Fyfe
The Fiery Margin by Alasdair Roberts
Loss by Adzes
Fjældmark/Wintarslāf by Fjældmark and Wintarslāf
Pėdsakų lede nepalikus by Algis Fediajevas
Argonauta by Aisha Burns
To The Chaos by Tragical History Tour/Order of the Wolf
Moribund Kingdom by Spectral Child
Temporary Antennae by Caïna
Dawn by Kuyashii
The Salted Air by Nadine Khouri
At The Sound Lab by Electroscope