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Tuesday 24th July

July 25, 2012

I’m sorry, no post tonight. I am really quite exhausted after a couple of long tough days at work and not getting much sleep last night, primarily due to the horrible humidity that suddenly hit us yesterday after many weeks and months of rain. Tonight I sit and type this while close to just falling asleep here at the keyboard. i do have a virtually complete review of Michael Pisaro and Toshiya Tsunoda’s recent collaborative album close to being able to publish it, but quite frankly I don’t think I have the wherewithal tonight to do even as much as add the final touches to a nearly complete review.

It has been preying on my mind for a while about where to take this blog in the future, and this might be a fitting time to ask some questions. Obviously, writing here daily has a considerable impact on the quality of what I post here. This is something I always realised and have always accepted. While the general rule of thumb out there for most people is to strive for quality over quantity, I have quite deliberately attempted to force the quantity levels high, specifically so as to provide an outlet for music that perhaps wouldn’t have five hundred words spilt on it otherwise. I have written about the Pisaros, Rowes and Prévosts of course, and written about them a lot, but I have also found room for music that perhaps might not be read about so much without my efforts. I have obviously don’t my best to also try and keep the quality high alongside the quantity, but inevitably and understandably I hope, there has to be a trade off.

Reducing the number of times I write a week is something I have constantly thought about for the last three years. I am in no doubt that writing less frequently would increase the quality of my writing. The main reason I have shied away from doing this is that I do not manage to write about even two thirds of what I receive here as it is now, and reducing this percentage even lower would sadden me. Politically, and morally, while many would disagree I personally think it important to give a tiny glimpse of coverage to the lesser known musician as much as the more well known names. I worry about not being able to do this as much.

One idea buzzing around my head, which has been amplified a little this last week following Dan Warburton’s announcement that he will no longer publish the Paris Transatlantic reviews magazine is to widen The Watchful Ear out to a magazine style format and welcome in other writers, leaving me scope to write three or four times a week maybe, but also to bring in other voices. The end of PT is sad to me, and while I fully understand Dan’s reasons for stopping his work there, I think there is a need for music reviews still, and a music reviews site. New ventures in online publishing such as the forthcoming Surround site look like they will lean away from standard CD reviews. This is great, and that kind of more varied, creative music journalism is very much needed in this area of music, but I think while music is still “released” as a final product, be it on CD or as a download of some kind there is room for, and I think, a need for, reviews of the music.

So, taking TWE to some kind of post Bagatellen/PT site is one option floating around my skull, perhaps with a more personal blog from myself embedded within it. Another option is just to reduce the number of days I write here, perhaps to four days a week, regularly published on specific days. This option would remove the need for the admittedly pointless filler posts my current daily schedule demands, and probably wouldn’t see me write that many less CD reviews that I currently manage, which usually averages about four and a half a week.

So, I would appreciate people’s thoughts on this. Though my apologies if I don’t get to read them for a day or so as I am soon off to bed… I am certainly inclined to do something a little different with the site before too long, perhaps on my return from my annual break, which will be in September. In the meantime, here’s a picture I took at the weekend.

Comments (5)

  • Fergus Kelly

    July 25, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Whilst I always enjoy your reviews here Richard, I do think that you try and do too much with an already heavy workload, late hours and long journeys, which is not the best for the ol’ health in the long term. Your frequent reports of being under the weather are testament to that.

    Opening things up to other writers is definitely a good idea, both in terms of different voices/approaches, and taking some pressure off you. Failing that, you should definitely scale back the frequency of your reviews, perhaps two or three a week. Even if you were writing full time, you’d still be only able to cover a percentage of what’s out there. So, strike a favourable balance between health and quality (favouring the former, streamlining the latter).

    Similarly saddened to hear about PT – what’s the story there ?

  • Bob Burnett

    July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Your writings/reviews have led me to many new discoveries and I am grateful for your efforts. I find myself on occasion wondering how you are able to have new and thorough thoughts about what you are hearing and writing about. Do you find yourself listening from the perspective of listening or from the perspective of gleaning enough to write up what you’re hearing? I’d welcome a cutback or re-direction if it allowed you to not be burdened by the intense self-imposed weight to deliver so frequently and were able to feel comfortable with what you share.

    Thanks so much for what you do. –Bob

  • simon reynell

    July 25, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    I agree with both Fergus and Bob. While I have enjoyed the fact that there’s something to read on TWE every day, I also sometimes worry about your workload/health/energy and in the light of that think that 2/3 reviews a week would be fine.
    The idea of bringing in other writers on a regular basis to make a kind of daily PT is also attractive though. But then managing that project might take up as much of your time as TWE currently does, so you’d have to find a way of letting it roll on without you being constantly hands-on.
    Good luck with whatever you decide; it’s great to have had such a reasoned, open-minded, honest and fair perspective on this music for the past few years.

  • Richard Pinnell

    July 25, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks all three for the kind comments.

    Yeah, I am leaning towards taking the site to a four day week, without directly attempting to fill the other three days with anything, but if other people wanted a space to write reviews themselves then I could fit in regular guest posts easily enough, and its not much of a redesign to segment my regular drivel from other people’s writing so they don’t get confused.

    Basically, I do need to slow it down a bit, partly to try and make the writing better, but also to allow me to do other things with my life, like read books, draw pictures and be a better partner. I do wonder if I would actually achieve this, as I still really only write four or five reviews a week at present, but certainly the requirement to have to post some rubbish, every day is a self imposed restriction that probably doesn’t help anyone at all, unless they have an unhealthy interest in old concert flyers.

    I’ll decide soon and adjust the blog to fit where we go with it. Its worth remembering at this point that its all Brian’s fault in the first place… 😉

  • Richard Pinnell

    July 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Oh and Bob, I struggle to be able to answer your question directly. I guess I have just come to treat my daily life as one long reviewing session, so every time I am listening to something I am writing a review, or thinking about what to say about the music in my head. I often find myself listening to demos for Cathnor, which I don’t have to write about, and still find myself working out review structures for them, simply because I have subconsciously trained myself that way. I often wonder what it would due like to be able to just listen again without having to come up with something interesting to say about it!

    Fergus- there’s an interview with Dan W at the new PT that explains a lot of his reasoning for ending the site

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