Welwala (break_fold)

break_fold is an electronic producer based in the North of England. He was a veteran of the 2000s touring circuit, but swopped bands, guitars and service station pasties for beats, delays and reberb in 2015. His self-titled third album was one of my favourite albums of 2020, and you can find it on Bandcamp and Spotify. Tim Hann (his real name) subsequently released two tracks in June 2021.

Welwala (his latest single/January 2022) is about seeing something from two different points of view. Structured around two contrasting synth lines with focus shifting between them, layered with an insistent drum track in a sequence that hints at narrative evolution. Source

It’s an excellent track (which I was fortunate to hear before its official release) and I’m also pleased to have Tim as a Facebook friend now.

Favourite Albums 2021

My listening to new albums has not been as comprehensive as I would have liked this year, but here are 24 great albums released in 2021 for your aural pleasure. I will write about the ones that are not linked to a post in the early months of 2022.

My standout favourite album of 2021 is Collapsed in Sunbeams (Arlo Parks).

All 24 of my favourite albums are listed below in alphabetical order of artist:

30 (Adele)

Collapsed in Sunbeams (Arlo Parks)

Happier Than Ever (Billie Eilish)

Young Heart (Birdy)

Submerged (Cousin Silas)

The Lockdown Sessions (Elton John)

Flat White Moon (Field Music)

Medicine At Midnight (Foo Fighters)

Senjutsu (Iron Maiden)

Apocalypse: Lifting of the Veil (Jack Hertz)

Flock (Jane Weaver)

Pink Noise (Laura Mvula)

Californian Soil (London Grammar)

Cinema (Ludovico Einaudi)

As The Love Continues (Mogwai)

Idiot Prayer (Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace)

Graz (Nils Frahm)

Immigrants (Nitin Sawhney)

Who Am I? (Pale Waves)

First Farewell (Peggy Seeger)

Bright Magic (Public Service Broadcasting)

More Signals, More Dreams (Puppy Bordiga)

Raise The Roof (Robert Plant & Alison Krauss)

Great Spans of Muddy Time (William Doyle)

This post is a work in progress which will be updated in the early months of 2022.

Albums that missed out in 2021

You can see my favourite albums of 2021 here, these are the ones that just missed out for a variety of reasons. They’re all good, but I had to draw the line somewhere.

Lost (Cousin Silas)

Riding on the Tide of Love (Deacon Blue)

Fear of an Obtuse Earth (Home Brewed Universe)

Consequences (Joan Armatrading)

Home (Rhye)

= (Ed Sheeran)

Surrender of Silence (Steve Hackett)

Under a Mediterranean Sky (Steve Hackett)

The Future Bites (Steven Wilson)

I Don’t Live Here Anymore (The War on Drugs)

Mars Perseverance (Various Artists)

Blue Weekend (Wolf Alice)

This post is a work in progress which will be updated in the early months of 2022.

Books Read in 2021

Particle Physics (Ben Still)

A Response to Grace (Stephen Poxon)

Thesaurus of the Senses (Linda Hart)

Ghost Stories (Henry James)

Lady Chatterley’s Lover (D. H. Lawrence)

The People’s Songs (Stuart Maconie)

15 Days of Prayer with Saint Francis of Assisi (Thaddée Matura)

Love Sonnets of Shakespeare

Arcadia (Tom Stoppard)

Matters of Life and Death (Philip M. Stuckey)

Dark Matter (Blake Crouch)

The Midnight Library (Matt Haig)

The Thirty-Nine Steps (John Buchan)

Lying (Sam Harris)

How to be Right (James O’Brien)

You can find me on Goodreads (click the link) and see all my 2021 books here.

Note: I’ve also read three anthologies and two yearbooks making a total of twenty.

This post is a work in progress which will be updated asap.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

A controversial reading choice perhaps, but a book that is far more than its infamous descriptions of sex, and one that is extremely well written. By comparison, I had to force myself to read page 2 of Fifty Shades of Grey before giving up, it was so badly written.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a novel by English author D. H. Lawrence that was first published privately in 1928 in Italy and in 1929 in France. An unexpurgated edition was not published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960, when it was the subject of a watershed obscenity trial against the publisher Penguin Books, which won the case and quickly sold three million copies. Source

The edition I read (above) had one section missing that is particularly explicit, but I only found out because I was occasionally reading from a different Kindle edition. It doesn’t really contribute much to the book, and it’s not for the easily offended.

Arguably, not his best novel, but a classic of modern literature nevertheless.

You can find me on Goodreads (click the link), and see all my 2021 books here.

Love Sonnets of Shakespeare

I love Shakespeare’s sonnets and post them regularly on this site, they are listed on this page or you can use the search box.

Naomi recently bought me this little book containing a selection of his sonnets, and I’ve just finished reading it.

I guess Shakespeare is best known for his plays, but it’s likely that his sonnets were what earned him the admiration of his contemporaries. Writing plays was the way to pay the bills, sonnets were the way to gain literary prestige. They were shared privately to impress, and were only later collected and published.

This book is an excellent anthology, with each sonnet presented on two facing pages, a lovely edition to have lying around to easily dip into.

You can find me on Goodreads (click the link), and see all my 2021 books here.

15 Days with Francis of Assisi

I’ve just finished this helpful devotional book, and I’d like to share it with you.

One of a series, 15 Days of Prayer with Saint Francis of Assisi aims to lead you (over fifteen prayer periods) to a place where prayer is possible. But, if you already have a regular experience and practice of prayer, to lead you to a deeper place, a more intimate relationship with the Lord.

The following prayer and reflective questions (which end each chapter of exposition) will give you a taste of the book:

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no one is worthy to praise your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to your creatures.

Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

How do ecological issues such as global warming, famine, air quality and nuclear detonations affect the quality of your spiritual life and the survival of our planet? Is it easier to find God in the beauty and harmony of creation than it is in the suffering and struggles of our dark nights? In the sufferings of the poor, the dying, the hungry? As you ponder the beauty of creation, what does this mean for your spiritual life? “Beauty will save the world” (Dostoevsky), what does this mean for you? Of all the elements (earth, air, fire, water) which is the one to which you most relate? Is death a sister or a friend for you?

You can find me on Goodreads (click the link), and see all my 2021 books here.

Ed Balls Day (2011)

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Ed Balls Day is a bit of fun, the stuff of nonsense, and this year (2021) is the 10th anniversary celebration. Basically, on 28 April 2011, Ed Balls (then a British politician) tweeted his name thinking he was entering it into a search box.

Since then […] every year Twitter rejoices in the madness of the internet gaffe and marks Ed Balls Day. Source

A simple mistake has made him the Patron Saint of Simple Mistakes. To his credit, he hasn’t deleted the tweet, it remains on Twitter in all its pomp and glory, although at the time he didn’t know it was possible to delete them.

It’s a day to look forward to, it’s a day to enjoy with family and friends, it’s a day to share with others. It’s a day that unites everyone. Whatever your race, colour, or creed, everyone can enjoy Ed Balls Day.

Some bemoan the fact that’s it’s become too commercialised these days, having lost its true meaning. So, however you celebrate, make sure it’s significant.

Yes, it’s a bit of fun, but at its heart is the positive affirmation of simple mistakes and a willingness to own them.

Don’t let perfectionism rule you!

Committing (at the start of 2021) to writing and publishing at least one blog post a day has reinforced an important life lesson. Don’t let perfectionism rule you!

Give everything your best shot, but know when to stop. Some things you can go back and change, at least I can go back and edit blog posts (for example). But some things you can’t, and you just have to accept that. It’s an important lesson to teach our children.

Perfectionists strain compulsively and unceasingly toward unattainable goals, and measure their self-worth by productivity and accomplishment. Pressuring oneself to achieve unrealistic goals inevitably sets the person up for disappointment. Perfectionists tend to be harsh critics of themselves when they fail to meet their expectations. Source

Perfectionism can (of course) be both positive and negative, but it often drives people to be concerned with achieving unattainable ideals or unrealistic goals, leading to a whole host of mental health problems.

We need to learn the lesson of Islamic rugs and knock the edge off our perfectionism. Flaws in Persian carpets are no accident:

In many handmade Persian rugs and carpets you will discover [a] deliberate mistake. Followers of Islam believe only Allah makes things perfectly, and therefore to weave a perfect rug or carpet would be an offence to Allah. The original deliberate mistake is usually made in the execution of the pattern of the rug and not in the dying of the wool or silk, and certainly not the quality of the weaving. Genuine deliberate mistakes in oriental rugs and carpets may be very difficult to spot and can be as subtle as a different colour used in a flower petal. Source

Finally, I hope you enjoy my eclectic and imperfect blog posts.