Below is a selection of some of the music that I have released and projects and collaborations that I have been involved in over the past few years. It ranges from gentle acoustic handpan and piano music to ambient electronica and experimental pieces. I release my more experimental and electronic stuff under the name 'Phorl', and am also currently working on new material for an EP with my wife Laura under the name 'Bellever'. All of my own music is self recorded and produced, apart from my first EP, 'Tsuchi Dango' which was recorded and produced at Big Red Studios by Josh Norton-Cox. I have also included some collaborations that I have done with some very dear friends.
All of my music is available to listen to and download exclusively on Bandcamp. I have chosen to distribute my music this way as I don't believe that many of the larger platforms, like Spotify, work in the interest of the musicians whose music they stream. I feel that Bandcamp offers independent musicians a fair deal and a great platform to distribute their music.
Phorl - Auditory Excursions of an Urge Surfer EP
This all started during the 1st covid lockdown with the track ‘Uji’. I love listening to electronic music but had never tried to create any of my own, so I decided to give it a go. I had become really tired of trying to create music that I though other people would like to listen to, so I let go and gave myself permission to just go with it and create for the sake of creating. It was a really liberating experience. Over the course of the past 2 years I have kept on starting a new track, getting really into it and then getting distracted andstarting a new one... again and again. As such I have dozens of unfinished pieces. So at the beginning of this year I tried to finish some of them to put out an album. It became really apparent that there is quite a divide in genres of music and it really didn’t all fit together, so I have decided to put out several smaller EP’s instead. The first one is heavily electronic based. I did use a few drum samples, however tried to create most of the percussion myself . I am really grateful to Spitfire Audio for their incredible LABS plugins and BBC Symphony orchestra suite that I relied heavily on in many of the tracks. I still have a lot to learn. The professional producers among you will, I’m sure, cringe at moments of this - I really have just relied on my own instincts - but to be honest I’m not to worried. I’ve got it to where I can at the moment by myself, and I’m sure as time goes on I will improve. At the moment I just want to put this out there so that I have some sort of closure and can move onto working on some of my other stuff that is only half finished. These tracks are not mastered, however if there is any interest in them then I will consider doing so. I hope you enjoy it.
Perseid - Video collaboration with Evan Grant (Seeper)
This track came about as I was experimenting with a new reverb plugin for my handpans (Blackhole from Eventide Audio). I loved the sound so much that I decided to base a whole piece around it. I got a bit carried away and it ended up being this huge, heavy and very complex piece involving lots of heavy industrial sounding synths and beats. Luckily I decided to take a few days off of it and when I came back to it I realised that all it actually needed was space and simplicity. So I stripped it right back to just handpan, piano and some ethereal sounding electric guitar and I think it sounds a lot better. For a long time I have wanted to do some sort of creative collaboration with my good friend Evan, and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity. I sent him the music and asked him to do whatever he felt would work with it. He rediscovered some footage that he had filmed in 2016 of ferrofluids and cymatics and created this beautiful video with it. I think it works perfectly.
Phorl - Siderial
This particular piece is a bit epic! It started as I was playing around on 3 handpans. I happened to be recording and liked it, but I wasn't playing to a click track - this became a bit trickier when I came to add all of the other bits. Anyway, its a bit different. All of the images and video are courtesy of Public Domain NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration footage and stock from Archive.org, including footage from the International Space Station.
Future Rust 2
When Lauri Wuolio (Aka Kumea Sound) invited me to submit a track for consideration for 'Future Rust Vol. 2' I was a bit blown away to be honest. Volume 1 was incredible, showcasing some of the most incredible handpan players in the world. I submitted a remixed version of my track 'Blackbird' and to my utter astonishment he decided to use it on the compilation. Truly an honour to be included on an album with players such as Dan Mulqueen, Connor Shafran, Nadishana, Mark D'Ambrosio, Hang Massive and many others. Check out Volume 2 and all of the other Future Rust releases on their Bandcamp page.
An Empty Space - Grief and Loss
This was a very special project indeed commissioned by Libraries Unlimited and funded by Arts Council England. Social musician, Hugh Nankivell, worked with 20 individuals and 2 groups reflecting on their experiences of grief and loss, and then wrote songs from each of these conversations. Myself and a wonderful musician called Emma Welton joined Hugh for the final phase of the project to practice and then perform these 22 songs in 5 different venues across Torbay. The whole project was incredibly powerful and actually really helped me work through grief that I was going through from the loss of my mum.
I wrote this special piece for my mum at her bedside in her last days with us.
The blackbird is a very important bird in folklore. It is a herald of transition in life, a messenger of the heavens and a symbol of the higher spiritual path.
This is not a sad piece of music, it is a celebration of life, love and family.
About 3 years ago I was playing my handpan in my lounge when my youngest daughter, Seren who was 2 at the time, came running into the room dressed as a fairy and started dancing around to my playing. I instinctively changed my pan to the vertical position and played to the rhythm of her feet and this piece was born. Below is a reworking of that piece. Originally it was just a solo handpan piece, as you can see in the video that I recorded in the Palm House at Torre Abbey with my friend Damian from Short Stop Video. I’ve added a second handpan part, WoodSmith Instruments stick dulcimer, djembe, cajon, a variety of other percussion and some synths, and my lovely wife Laura added a beautiful vocal too. Seren is now 5, and when I finished working on the music I asked her if she would like to dress up as a fairy (no encouragement needed!) and come into the lounge to dance along to her song. The video below is her hearing it for the first time, and my attempt at recreating the beautiful picture that’s been is in my head every time I have played this piece of music for the past 2 years. The heightened colour and slowness is intentional - this is how the memory plays back in my head. As a side note, whilst I was working on this I realised that a West African rhythm that I love called ‘Abondan’ fitted beautifully into the mix, so this is what I based the percussion part on (very much my own interpretation of the rhythm though). It was only later that I remembered that fittingly Abondan was played in times gone by to accompany children dancing for the King in Côte d’Ivoire where the rhythm is from (coincidentally also where the djembe that I am playing in this piece was made).
Harvest EP - Laura Forster
When my wife, Laura, was 7 months pregnant with our second daughter she recorded this beautiful EP. I joined her on handpan for the tracks 'Right way to fall' and 'Devotion'.
The Ambient Seasonal Collection - AstroRambler
I was honoured to be asked to collaborate with my good friend Pete Smith, AKA AstroRambler, for 2 tracks on his wonderful series of albums, 'The Ambient Seasonal Collection'. This really is a superb set of albums, which captire the essence of the seasons beautifully.
You can find links to more of Pete's non-musical projects on my 'Friends' page. He is a fantastically talented man.
Tsuchi Dango was my first EP, released in 2017. It is a collection of short pieces that evolved from improvisations in my first year and a half of playing handpan, with the addition of Japanese Taiko drums. I was very influenced by a book called 'One Straw Revolution', written by a wonderful man called Masanobu Fukuoka. His revolutionary vision and practice of natural farming, rediscovering and using ancient Japanese farming techniques is a radical and much needed alternative to modern intensive agricultural practices. Tsuchi Dango are one of the methods he used. The word essentially means 'Earth Dumplings' or seed bombs. Seeds are mixed with compost and clay and made into balls and then thrown randomly across the land. They germinate where the conditions are best suited for the seed rather than where the farmer chooses to plant them.So, I hear you ask, how does this have anything to do with handpan music? Well, this EP is the musical equivalent of a seed bomb. I am put it out into the world in the hope that others would take it and 'grow' it. As with a seed bomb, sometimes it will land in an unsuitable area and come to nothing, whereas at other times it will germinate and produce abundance. It may be a tiny sample of a tune, a whole track or even the entire EP. This EP is dedicated to the memory of Masanobu Fukuoka. All profits from sales of the digital copy will be donated to The Permaculture Association for the furthering of their work.