You have the right to the pursuit of happiness: good luck with that

Borrowing this title from a John Lurie’s painting that I love. It’s a sunny, relaxed morning in Brussels. Just had some coffee. I’m now listening to someone playing the cello nearby, through the open windows. There’s this mysterious cello player in the neighbourhood, but can’t locate her/him. I would like to express my gratitude for the beautiful sounds permeating the air, every now and then.

I realise I have been pretty quiet here and on social media over the last couple of years – obviously, the pandemic has taken its toll. Not only from the working musician point of view. Mostly, it’s been psychologically debilitating. In my case, with a drastic lifestyle change (moving abroad, new priorities, trying to start a new career in a new town in the midst of chaos, facing personal challenges, missing friends and familiar faces) which has left me drained out. It’s been difficult to find the will and mental space to sit down and write music, let alone play it (haven’t picked up the bass in a long time, as of now – except for a few remote sessions I had committed to).

However, there is a fire that burns still, deep inside, that warms me up occasionally and some beautiful things happen. I owe a big grazie to my friend Pat Mastelotto, for having helped keeping my musical spirit alive in 2020, and at the present moment too, with some exciting collaborations. First of all, he invited me to arrange a few numbers and play all sorts of things on The Romantic’s Guide to King Crimson, a compelling rework of Crimson’s material featuring his wife Deborah on lead vocals. A few months later, Pat approached me again, this time to help with the remix of a Steven Wilson song called Follower (from his latest album The Future Bites), that got released just recently.

Of course, a constant exchange of musical ideas goes on with my partner in crime, Julie Slick – sooner or later, you will get to hear a brand new EchoTest album.

I want to apologise, once again, with my Bandcamp subscribers for having discontinued the service so abruptly. That was the culmination of an extremely demanding, stressful time in my personal life. I’m still working on it, and can’t offer a substitute for that yet, but I will eventually – I will make it up to you. I just couldn’t focus on the subscription thing the way I wanted to. Lack of time, energy, creativity. There will be better times.

Some of you are aware that I have been working on a new solo album. I think it’s sounding great, and as usual, it features many of my good friends, a bunch of beautiful talented people. Julia Zenteno, with whom I had collaborated on the SOLS project, head of the Veintiocho Arte Colectivo in Mexico City, has been vital to the process, helping me a great deal along the road. She’s one of the main instigators behind the new material, which (as you can imagine) has been a long, long time in the making. So, thank you Julia. I don’t feel ready to share much information about the album yet (although, there is a new interview on YouTube, in Italian, where I talk pretty consistently about it, revealing some of the special guests involved). Also, you can gather some valuable hints from the picture attached to this post.

Last but not least, I’d like to write a few words about the passing of my dear friend and musical collaborator Andrea Gastaldello. I was devastated by the sudden news (Andrea had been battling cancer for a couple of years, but never told me), and his departure has left an unbearable void in my heart. He has gifted me with some incredible contributions to Small Music From Broken Windows. The House is as much a song of his as it is mine. It wouldn’t be the same without his piano arrangement. The same goes for The Things, a very special track for me. And I deeply enjoyed writing and performing with him as part of our duo band Fifteen Strange Seconds. He genuinely believed in what I do, and trusted me as a singer and lyricist. Most of all, though, I will miss his laughter, and hearing from him. It pains me that we hadn’t been talking much in the last few months – me with my own problems, Andrea going through hell. But the memory of having known him and having produced some great music together will remain forever.

2 pensieri su “You have the right to the pursuit of happiness: good luck with that

  1. Thank you for the clean, honest update on your life and music. I wish you luck in finding enough life security to continue with your musical practice as your inner fire calls you. These are unusual times, indeed, so stay positive and be kind when you can. Everyone is fighting a hard battle these days and that’s what music is for: To help boost morale? Or at least, to try and make emotional sense of the chaos and complexity of life.

    Yours in the music, Nicholas Croft


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  2. A late reply from me to this post… As one of your Bandcamp subscribers I have to say: Don’t worry, it’s totally OK for me. Art can be difficult to make, especially in these trying times, and I’m glad I was able to support you a little with my subscription.

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