AdFi – FREE album out NOW!

AdFi is a side project of Adam Fielding, focussing primarily on using 80s/early 90s-type sounds.

The AdFi album is a collection of music compiled from three EPs, each produced & released under a variety of anonymous guises between 2012 – 2013.

A couple of years ago, I was – as I often am – writing an awful lot of music for various people and purposes, and found myself wanting an outlet that I could work on between projects. A fun project, solely for the purpose of acting as an additional creative outlet. No expectations or pressures. After settling on a very particular palette of sounds with which to work with, I ended up writing an EP and continued working on my more “serious” projects. This was back in 2012 – before I started writing tunes for Pieces, which served as a more open creative melting-pot of sorts.

After leaving this EP for a while, I thought it’d be a fun experiment to release it anonymously. I didn’t want this project to become associated directly with me, so I kept it completely separate from my regular work and released it under the name “AdFi” – hardly a particularly cunning pseudonym, but without referencing it myself I figured it would go by mostly un-noticed. I figured that having it connected to me in any way would take a lot of the fun away from working on it, and would force myself to impose expectations on any future material (should I choose to write any). I got a pretty nice little response from this first EP, and found myself re-visiting this idea over the next year and a half.

As an aside: interestingly, once I had decided to release AdFi, I noticed someone had made a fan-video of one of the tracks from the first EP, Mondial. I thought that was pretty neat!

Over the life of this project I ended up releasing a total of three EPs. For the second and third EPs I dropped the “AdFi” name and went with something else as, at the time, I was thinking of using the AdFi name for yet another project. That didn’t pan out, hence my decision to go back to the original AdFi name for this album release. Are you still with me? Good.

Even after the completion of these three EPs I had no intention of having this particular set of music associated directly with me, and I left it open to allow me to continue writing more music. After about a year or so of not writing any new AdFi material, I decided the time was right to compile the three EPs into one single album’s worth of music and finally associate it with my own name. I certainly wouldn’t say that the project is “dead” or anything that drastic, but I felt as though AdFi had come to a logical conclusion and this seemed like a rather nice way of wrapping things up.

While trying to get people to listen to the AdFi EPs I must admit that I put out some rather pretentious descriptions of the music, and played on the whole anonymity angle a bit more than I probably should have. This project was always intended to act as a fun creative outlet, and enabled me to channel some of the ideas and feelings that have inspired me over the years into short creative bursts. I would never wish to impose a definite “this is what the album is supposed to represent”-vibe, but the sounds themselves certainly gave me a pretty heavy nostalgic hit. They reminded me not so much of the 80s – although there certainly was a sense and awareness of that (I’m a little too young to really get all genuinely nostalgic about the 80s!) – but of the early to mid-90s (and possibly even a little later), back when I was listening almost exclusively to VGM and tracker tunes which, interestingly, tended to make use of samples not dis-similar to the palette of sounds I chose for AdFi. A lot of the seemingly obscure song titles reference very particular distant memories for me, though obviously the whole thing is very much open to interpretation if you so fancy.

AdFi was particularly interesting for me because I’m so used to working on projects quite openly. AdFi was the total opposite of that – a part of me did feel that I was being a little deceitful to everyone interested in my music, which was certainly never my intention. Being able to finally release this material and associate it with my own name is actually a huge relief to me.

AdFi taught me a lot about the importance of having a creative outlet open for experimentation and personal creativity, and – due to the nature of it never intending to be properly released – I think it’s a surprisingly personal album. While it might not necessarily be for everyone, I hope that some of you get a kick out of it, in much the same way as this year’s Neffle releases.

The AdFi album is available right now, for free, from Bandcamp. You can download it in the format of your choice here.

Merry Christmas/holidays/religious or non-religious celebration/occasion of your choosing!

Something for Christmas – coming soon, 21st December

adfi-christmas

…but what could it be? Well… because I’m feeling all festive and that, here’s a cheeky listen to what to expect.

Neffle

Neffle is a collaborative project created by Adam Fielding and Tom Pritchard. Neffle was recorded in a series of jam sessions, using an array of step sequenced analogue synthesisers and drum machines.

Earlier this year, me and my good friend/partner in crime Tom Pritchard decided it’d be an excellent idea to hole ourselves up in his studio for a week, and record as much music as was humanly possible. We had no idea whether this idea would work or not, but we set to it regardless and isolated ourselves from the outside world. After an incredibly inspiring week of recording using a variety of analogue synths, drum machines, and effects, we ended up with a huge selection of music.

The original plan was to compile our favourite material into one album, or potentially an album and an EP. After sifting through the vast selection of recordings we decided that the best thing to do would be to compile our music as two full-length albums, each with a different feel to it. So that’s what we did.

It gives me great pleasure to present the fruits of our week-long collaboration/social isolation/sometimes co-op Halo sesh: Neffle!

While being very different to my usual output, Neffle represents a very particular moodset and, aided by the spontaneity of recording, is a remarkably honest collection of music. Due to the nature of the live recording process, there is no micro-editing, no obsessing over every minuscule detail, no ridiculous production wankery: just a selection of steadily evolving, hypnotic ideas put to disk. We decided an October release would be best due to the heavily autumnal feel of the album, and I’ve got to say… I think it suits the current climate incredibly well. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

The artwork for both releases was very kindly provided by Charlotte Davis, whose photography is well worth a closer look. Cheers Charlotte!

You can download both Neffle releases via Bandcamp.

October compositions

Wow. I’m still quite overwhelmed by the response to Pieces. Thank you so much to everyone who has checked it out over the past couple of months, it really means a lot that it’s been such a popular release… especially given the experimental nature of it’s release! So far it looks like the audiophile master hasn’t been a massively popular choice (though, I must admit, I suspected that would probably be the case), but I’ve been overwhelmed at the response to choosing to release it as a PWYW compilation. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought it through Bandcamp, and I hope you’re enjoying the bonus tracks!

Anyway, I thought it’d be a good idea to let you know what I’m planning on doing this month. October has been a pretty special month for me over the past few years, and I plan on continuing this semi-tradition this year. But first, a little background.

In October 2011, I started working on a few ambient re-workings of existing tracks. I continued working on new tracks in a similar style once I’d re-worked three tracks. These tracks became And All Is As It Should Be, which was then released in 2012.

In October 2012, I wrote a large collection of songs that would later form the backbone of Pieces. A lot of these tracks were picked up for production use, and a lot of these tracks were used on Pieces. Two of these remain unreleased (last time I counted!), and I’m sure they’ll make an appearance at some point.

In October 2013, I wrote a few songs that… erm… I’m keeping to myself for now. I don’t want to sound cryptic, but I will say that they formed the foundation of what I’m hoping will be a future release. I also wrote some more tracks for Pieces.

And this year, I plan on writing lots of short ideas, similar to what I did back in 2012. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them, and I have no idea what style they’ll take. So far, it’s going in a direction I hadn’t anticipated… which is great! Who knows where this idea will take me.

And this is the first track. Wish me luck!

Pieces: Out Now!

Pieces it out now! Did I mention that it’s free? Grab it now, you fool! :D

“Pieces” is a compilation of previously unreleased works by UK-based musician & producer Adam Fielding, written & recorded during 2012-2014, and released in August 2014.

The main free release of “Pieces” is available to all to download in the format of their choice.

Following directly on from both “Icarus” and his work for TV, film, and commercial use, “Pieces” is an exploration of Fielding’s eclectic range of influences and inspirations. While maintaining a consistent aesthetic throughout, “Pieces” retains an incredibly earnest and varied impression of Fielding’s writing & production styles, resulting in a collection of music that is as honest as it is diverse.

From the euphoric, post-rock tinged opening of “A Call To Action” through to the moody, introspective electronic workings of “Sleepless”, organic instrumentation combines with precise electronics to offer listeners a memorable melodic experience combined with lush atmospheric production on a truly epic scale.

Pieces is available to download now in your format of choice. Everything that you could possibly want to know about this release has been covered already, but I’m still open to the idea of writing more articles related to its creation.

And with that… I would like to take this opportunity to say a HUGE thank you to every one who pre-ordered Pieces! Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy it!

Next stop… album 4. Ho ho ho ;]

Propellerhead Reason 8 announced! With a nice “Pieces” surprise!

’nuff said – Pieces is out tomorrow!

Pieces: Everyone likes free stuff

So, Pieces is out in just over a couple of weeks, and you’ll be able to download it for free. I’d just like to take this quick opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered the extended/audiophile versions so far – your support genuinely means a great deal to me, and I’m looking forward to sharing the extra goodies with you all.

Name Your Price, eh?

Name Your Price, eh?

So – on to the topic at hand: all of my larger independent releases so far have been paid-for releases, so why the sudden change with Pieces? And, for that matter, why on earth am I now offering my previously paid-for albums as pay-what-you-want offerings? Yes, I’ve released free EPs and singles before now, but not albums. Why the sudden change of heart?

Well, there are actually a few different reasons as to why I’m doing this – but I’d like to preface this by saying that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with releasing albums with a price attached, or for free, or however an artist wants to release an album.

Pieces is my first independent release in about four years and, frankly, I thought it’d be fun to try something new! I’ve released free EPs and singles in the past, but I’ve always been a bit wary of releasing what is, essentially, a free album. In some regards, the very nature of Pieces is a bit of an experiment because it’s not what I would typically classify as a normal album (as I’ve detailed previously), so I felt a little safer in the knowledge that it could all blow up in my face. I have attached a monetary value of zero to this project, and I am going into it with every expectation that I won’t make anything from it. Before now, I’ve seen artists and content creators release material using a pay-what-you-want model, only to turn around and get pissy at customers because they aren’t paying enough for their material. As far as I’m concerned, that is an absurd stance to take, and if you expect everyone to pay for a release then you should damn well attach a monetary value to it! In essence, by putting out Pieces as a PWYW release I am removing any financial expectations from it. I fully expect to make nothing off of this release, and the fact that people have pre-ordered the extended version so far has already surpassed my expectations, and I am hugely grateful to anyone who has chosen to support me despite there being absolutely no obligation to do so. That’s amazing, and – in a way – has already validated this experiment, in my eyes.

Secondly – and this relates directly to my re-pricing of Distant Activity and Lightfields as PWYW releases – I want people to listen to my music! I don’t want to get in the way of that. If people want to listen to an album, then you’d better believe that they’re going to find a way to do so, regardless of whether they want to pay for it or not. I could talk about the ethics behind content piracy until the cows come home, but my number one aim is for people to listen to and enjoy my music. I’ve never made a lot of money off of album sales, and I’ve never released an album in the hopes of making a quick buck. In a sense, re-pricing my earlier output is my way of putting my money where my mouth is – obviously I’d love it if people would continue to choose to support my work financially, but I don’t live in a fantasy land where I expect to live off of album sales alone. There are plenty of people out there who manage to do just that, and I applaud those individuals. It’s bloody hard. I just want to make my music available to as many people as possible, so it’s my job to let people download it easily and in their format of choice. Conversely, my releasing my music essentially for free is not a declarative statement that I believe people should feel entitled to have whatever they want (content wise) for free. I don’t agree with that. But, with regards to my own music – it’s my personal decision, not some kind of bold statement.

Thirdly – it’s a digital-only release. As I said before, I don’t expect to make anything off of this, and it costs nothing to release an album on Bandcamp. That’s awesome. I have zero overheads in that regard, and while Pieces took a hell of a lot of effort and time to put together (as every one of my releases has), I’m in a pretty financially neutral position from the get-go. I decided to release Pieces through iTunes, Amazon, Spotify et al because, once again, I don’t want to impose any kind of barrier to people who want to listen. Because my option in terms of releasing a free album via those services is restricted, I’ve decided to release the extended version through those services. Obviously, I’d much rather people choose to support me via Bandcamp but, again, I don’t want to get in the way of people listening to my music. Unfortunately, releasing music through iTunes costs money, but it’s really not a huge amount, and that’s a cost I’m happy to swallow.

I know it sounds like a giant cliché, but I am not putting out albums to make money. I release music and work in other fields related to audio to that end, and it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to release solo material without having to make any compromises. I do, however, feel that this was compromised slightly with my most recent label releases, but that had more to do with personal psychological issues than anything else – I wasn’t working to a deadline, and I was pretty much free to do whatever I wanted.

With all this talk of separating music from financial value, though, I feel as though it would be remiss of me to suggest that I think my music has no value. If that were the case I would have stopped writing music a long time ago! As you’ve read, there are lots of little reasons as to why I thought this would be an interesting move, and none of those bear any relation to my own personal views on my musical output.

Ultimately, I stand by every single one of my releases and, though there are always things I would change about them in retrospect, they represent very specific periods in my life… and that’s something I would never want to interfere with, and it’s something I feel incredibly grateful to be able to share with people… well, not only that, I feel incredibly grateful that there are people out there who would want to share in that.

Regardless of whether you choose to support Pieces financially or not, I sincerely hope that some of you out there enjoy it and connect with it in one way or another. That’d be neat.

Pieces: What’s in a name?

Pieces is a strange collection of songs. You may have noticed that I haven’t really been referring to it as an “album” over the past couple of weeks wherever possible (though, it’s always easier to label a collection of songs as an “album”, so now and then I take the easy route!), and there’s a very deliberate reason for that.

"Pieces v1.0"

“Pieces v1.0″

In my eyes, an album is something that was written & arranged to take the listener on a very deliberate journey – a collection of songs that follow a specific theme, or a deliberate series of themes, designed to complement each other. Where some people may refer to certain album tracks as “filler”, in my view it’s much more important whether such tracks work in the context of an album taken in its entirety than as stand-alone tracks. It’s along this way of thinking that I didn’t refer to And All Is As It Should Be as an album for a very long time; AAIAISB was more of a collection of selected ambient works, and while I can now say with absolute certainty that it has a strong journey-esque feel to it, it was certainly never written with a particular goal in mind. AAIAISB started life as a series of ambient re-works of existing tracks because I thought it’d be an interesting exercise, and it was something I found myself completely absorbed in once I got going. The aesthetic came as a natural extension of what I was doing, but it wasn’t a deliberate choice from the offset… but as a result of that naturally evolving aesthetic I feel, in retrospect, as though it’s earned the right to be called an album.

Pieces, on the other hand, was written over a much longer period of time than And All Is As It Should Be, and it certainly wasn’t written with any particular aesthetic in mind. I started working on Pieces one night back in August 2012, and it all came about from not being able to sleep one night. You get no bonus points for guessing which track I started writing that night (spoiler alert: Sleepless), but I wrote it and realised that I had no home for it. I was putting the finishing touches on Icarus, and it didn’t fit in with the rest of those tracks… so I held onto it. That was the start of a pattern of holding onto disparate tracks that wouldn’t fit in anywhere else, with one big exception.

In October 2012 I decided I was going to go to town and just write as much music as I possibly could. Regardless of whether I thought an idea worked or not, I was going to write loads of music and deal with it later. I ended up with 17 tracks at the end of the month, and I was incredibly happy with how the experiment turned out. In the months leading up to that (and somewhat thanks to my experience with writing Sleepless) I’d been working on refining my workflow in Reason. I had a very particular palette of sounds to work from (a lot of my own patches & techniques, and a lot of sounds by Tom Pritchard), and I found the chilly late-Autumn atmosphere particularly inspiring. I was experimenting with Blocks in Reason, and my Propellerhead Artist Feature was filmed around the time I was working on these tracks. Of those 17 tracks, only 5 made it onto the final version of Pieces, but two of them made it into my Artist Feature (if you’re interested in hearing those, they’re still on my Soundcloud page, and can be listened to using the player below). The rest found their way into the hands of various production agencies & music libraries, so all of them found a home. I was worried about breaking up that collection of songs for a long time, but it was definitely the right call. While they still stand as a lovely personal time-capsule in a similar vein to AAIAISB, I am much happier with the finished version of Pieces than I was with those tracks in isolation. The title of the project comes from this particular run of tracks, but feels much more relevant in the context of the finished article than the original 17 tracks.

That said, I continued writing odd songs over the course of the next year and a half, and it was only in late 2013 that I realised that I had a pretty hefty selection of songs without a home. I listened to them all, and I was surprised at how well they all sat together. A few songs had originally been written with album 4 in mind, so those sat well together. I’d written a few tracks around Sleepless, and I wrote a chunk of material during that particular October. I’d also written a couple of more post-rock inspired tracks after putting out the debut Civil Protection album. Here were four disparate collections of tracks that were all written to sit together in small groups, all thrown together to see what would happen… needless to say, I was very pleasantly surprised!

So, while I might not refer to it as an album in the strictest sense, that doesn’t mean I’m not happy with it as a complete work… and, for all I know, I’ll probably change my mind somewhere down the line. I’m already starting to feel that it has a pretty solid aesthetic quality to it, and it seems strange that these totally unconnected works would fit together like they were always supposed to. In that sense, I can’t think of a more fitting title for this particular project.

I guess the pieces came together, but I guess it’s up to the listener to decide whether they fit or not.

Pieces: Where’s the CD version?

After my last posting about the audiophile master, it might seem a little strange to some that I’m not releasing any kind of physical version of Pieces. Surely, if there’s a version of the complete work that’s catered towards people who want to listen in a dedicated listening environment, it would make sense to put out some kind of physical release?

A fond memory

A fond memory

First up, I know there are plenty of people out there who prefer physical media over digital releases. I totally get that, especially in the case of vinyl – doubly so given that vinyl masters often offer the best way to listen to an album in an environment designed for listening. However, as I pointed out in my last post, this point in particular has nothing to do with the release medium whatsoever. I’m not a vinyl aficionado, but I still buy a lot of CDs. There’s something about the first listen ritual and checking out the artwork and any liner notes (if there are any).

Having said that, if I can’t get my hands on a CD copy of an album I particularly want, I have no qualms with downloading a digital copy… and that’s something I’ve found myself doing more and more recently. Strangely though, more than a few CD releases are comparable in price to their digital download counterparts (especially when you factor in additional costs for lossless versions – a practice I’m not particularly keen on), so for the marginal extra expense in cases like that I’m much more likely to go for a CD if possible. From a completely vain point of view, I also like to keep my music on a shelf so people can see what I’m into. To me, having that kind of thing on display is much more aesthetically pleasing than a bunch of files on my computer.

In short, I’m neither for nor against physical media at this point. Like I said, I’m not a vinyl aficionado, but if everyone were to suddenly stop selling CDs tomorrow and instead offered lossless digital versions of all of their music at a reasonable price instead, I don’t think I’d lose a whole lot of sleep.

None of this really explains why I’m not releasing a physical version of Pieces though and, predictably enough, it all comes down to numbers. Well, two sets of numbers, at least.

Firstly, I only had a pretty small run of CDs of both Distant Activity and Lightfields made in the first place. Icarus and And All Is As It Should Be were completely out of my control as both were distributed exclusively by Distinctive Records & Lost Language Recordings. I still have a few Distant Activity discs kicking about, and I have more than a few Lightfields discs still. The sales of downloads vs. CDs in the case of these two albums is incredibly one-sided in the favour of downloads, outside of pre-orders. I don’t have a huge amount of marketing clout (read: I have no marketing clout), and I have never been under any illusion that my music is going to suddenly become a cross-over best-seller. That’s not why I write music and put out albums, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be in a position where I’m able to write music and make noise for a living without being entirely dependent on album sales. CD sales have declined massively for me over the past three years or so, and now it’s at the point where I feel like getting a CD run put together would be a complete financial waste of my time. Unless there’s a sudden run on physical versions of my existing releases, I don’t see myself putting out another CD release again. Anybody who is able to read this article is probably more than likely to have a sufficient internet connection to be able to download my music. The important thing for me is to put out my music at a comparable standard of quality to a CD release wherever possible, which is why – when possible – I’ll always try to make my music available in lossless formats as well as lossy formats. The financial incentive is gone, and I’m no longer as bothered by the need to have a physical release as I once was. Been there, done that.

Secondly, there are three versions of Pieces. Which version would I even put out? I could put out a physical version of the main album itself, which would be kind of pointless as you can download it for free. I could put out a physical version of the extended edition, but then what about the audiophile version? I could include that as an extra disc, but then it’d be at a lower quality than the actual downloadable release version (the downloadable version is released as 48khz/24-bit files). And even then, why would you want an extra disc with the exact same music on it? I don’t think I’ve ever bought a double-album that featured the exact same music on both discs – I’ve bought a couple of albums with instrumental versions available on a separate disc (which is something I took on board with the digital releases of instrumental versions of Distant Activity & Lightfields, and is a trend I plan on continuing with future vocal works), but never with the exact same material on both discs. I’m sure that such a thing exists, and if anyone has come across a good example of such a release then let me know!

From the point of view of my own vanity, I’d love to keep putting out physical releases. I still remember holding my first Distant Activity CD, and holding something that I’d put so much work into in my own hands. But I’ve got to be realistic, and – especially with Pieces – I don’t think it’s the right call.

That’s my take on things. Maybe in the future I’ll think about putting out a vinyl release of my next album or whatever I do, but honestly I just don’t see it being either financially viable or practically relevant any more. If I started taking my solo music live, I’d think about it (but that’s a topic for another time). As it is, though, I’d much rather put that effort into writing music, and releasing it in a variety of formats and versions to suit the actual listening experience. There are things I can experiment with in the world of digital distribution that would be much more costly to try out with physical media, and that seems like it should take a much higher priority over my own brief personal satisfaction.

Distant Activity & Lightfields now PWYW

I’ve gone a bit mad and decided to release Distant Activity & Lightfields as Pay What You Want albums over on Bandcamp, starting from the princely sum of “nothing” if you so choose.

I have no idea how long I’ll keep them like that until I come to my senses, so it’s probably a good idea to take advantage of this before I change my mind.

Enjoy!