Hello, my name is Kenton Hall. This is my little corner of the SoundHive newsletter, where I intend to write, pending legal proceedings permitting, about the recorded output of, amongst others, the extraordinary musicians who have crossed the SoundHive stage. Due to the way in which I am wired, there will likely also be tangents; some of these will be amusing and some of which I will clearly find amusing but may be the result of an unattended head injury.

The reason I have chosen to write about the recordings available from your favourite artists and/or arch-nemeses is because I know from painful experience exactly how much work goes into making them and, this may be the most important part, promoting them.

It’s goddamn horrific.

There is so much music available to us these days and we have become accustomed to consuming it in a manner that takes every song in the world, flings them onto a never-ending playlist and then feeds it to our ears at random, like a sonic tombola. Which is fine, I’m not an old man shouting at the sky just yet. But it has corrupted the art of listening to music as the artist intended. In the order the artist intended and for as long as the artist intended.

I know what you’re thinking. This ‘artist’ sounds like a bit of a nag and, frankly, you’re tempted to delete them from your Mid-Tempo Pop for Hailstorms playlist. But, but… you don’t fall in love with someone if they run up to you, talk for three minutes and then run away again. Well, maybe you do but your therapist has some thoughts on the matter.

You grow to love artists by spending time with them. Taking a journey with them across the span of a record or a career. Your favourite song might eventually shift from the world-conquering single that everyone knows to the two minute mandolin ballad, buried on side 2, that charts their relationship with a pet otter.  Or, for that matter, the odd little B-Side to the aforementioned single, performed as a duet for chainsaw and kebab.

I’m a fan of the album as a concept. I know there are those who believe most albums to be two good songs surrounded by filler, but that only happens when the artist isn’t that great to begin with or is under a contractual obligation to release an album every quarter despite having been in a coma for two out of the three months. The rest of us, for better or worse, put albums together painstakingly. We worry about the ebb and flow of the experience. We fit batches of songs together like puzzle pieces. We think and say pretentious things about ‘themes’ and ‘resonance’.

And we know that not every song is a single. Sometimes a three minute pop song is a thing of beauty and grace. But other thoughts and stories require longer or weirder forms in order to be told correctly.

Never one to waste an opportunity...

This is the first newsletter, so I am, of course, going to take the opportunity to promote my most recent record, Idiopath. Head over to https://kentonhall.hearnow.com to discover the many ways you can experience it. Streaming, CD, Vinyl, Wax Cylinder and Modern Dance Extravaganza being some of the formats on which it is and isn’t available.

My collaborators and I worked for a very long time to make the record, which contains 36 original songs. And then we invited 36 guest artists to cover the songs for a companion album. It was, to be honest, a ludicrous plan. Just brain-twistingly insane.

But we did it anyway. Because the story I had to tell, that I was motivated to tell, needed all of those songs. They all exist in their own right and I’m grateful if you listen to ANY of them. But if you really want to know what I was trying to say, you need to, over the course of months if necessary, start at the first track and listen through to the last. Possibly while cradled in the bosom of a lover or over a nice cheese board.

If making it was hard, however, then bringing it to the attention of the people who might enjoy it was functionally impossible. And this is something every artist faces. You sweat and toil and scream and beg and break and bleed over your songs and then you put them out into the world to, very often, not be heard. It’s not even a case of them being underappreciated. They just don’t get to the ears in the first place.

Them Megadeth Deepcuts...

Most artists have a fanbase waiting out there. Even if your music consists of accordion renditions of Megadeth deep cuts, there is an audience for it. On a planet of 8 billion people, you don’t even need that many of them. Most artists could subsist on 3000 people willing to spend a tenner a year on their wares. You wouldn’t have a pool to drive your imaginary Rolls into, but you’d have a roof over your head and you could make the next thing.

So how do you find them?

The answer is: fucked if I know. I’m certain, however, that the journey involves being creative, persistent and shameless. And ensuring that you don’t become lazy and cease making good stuff for the people who have rocked up.

We’ve spent so long consuming music in a haphazard fashion, guided primarily, as far as I can tell, by TikTok videos of dancing cats that I think we forget that MOST musicians, even those we love, aren’t rock stars. They aren’t making millions. They’re making music.

So, that’s my mission statement. In each of these little pieces, I’m going to send you in the direction of some records I think you should listen to and, preferably, own.

Starting with mine.

Idiopath – Kenton Hall & The Necessary Measures. I particularly recommend the triple vinyl as it will clear some space in my garage.

Omniopath – All of those songs re-interpreted by some extraordinary artists, all much more talented than me, which means you no longer have the excuse that you hate my face, my voice and the way I spoke to your second cousin last Christmas.  

Until next time:

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