(2012) The Art Trip: The Music of Art Pepper
My roles: Production, arrangement, acoustic bass
Other artists: Alan Barnes, sax; Craig Milverton, piano; Nick Millward, drums

This project made me realise there was a creative glass ceiling in a mainstream jazz setting. An implicit hierarchy can be observed throughout the jazz sector, which assumes that a horn player or singer will lead the ensemble, with piano or guitar next in line, then bass or drums. As a result, it was very difficult to increase my profile. Although I had initiated and produced the project, promoters wanted to arrange performances through the sax player and would often say as much. It would also regularly get billed as Alan Barnes with the Craig Milverton Trio, further reinforcing the hierarchy view that rhythm section members are unimportant. As a result, I started my creative exploration of disrupting this pervasive mindset in different ways.

(2014) Pointless Beauty: A Lonely Vigil
My roles: Production, composition, cover art, bass guitar, vocals, drum programming, effects
Other artists: None

My first solo album of compositions / improvisations based on using the studio as a tool for transformation. Stylistically ranging from ambient to rock and electronic, this is when I decided to focus on bass guitar rather than double bass. Being able to completely remove the original digital sound in favour of a transformed one through effects pedals completely changed how I thought about using my instrument, and the music I could make with it. The material is largely multi-layered, making it difficult to reproduce live.

This is the first time I used one of my photos for an album cover. Although there is minimal enhancement of the image, I felt the late-night London bus captured a sense of isolation and loneliness – which has become a recurring theme in my work.

(2015) In Winter
My roles: Live production, improvised bass guitar, effects

Other artists: Naomi Hart, improvised paints

A collaborative cross-discipline improvisation recorded live with no overdubs or editing. This was when I really started to explore how meaning can be codified non-verbally through abstract activity. Because the language for doing this is very different in each medium it encourages curiosity, as you attempt to hold a spontaneous dialogue. Interactivity across media is important to me when working with other disciplines, and it was especially liberating to treat sound purely as a textural language without common structures.

(2015) Snow Giants: UN
My roles: Co-production, co-composition, improvised bass guitar, effects, vocals
Other artists: Mike Outram, co-composition, guitar, effects; 05Ric, co-production, co-composition, drums, vocals

A one-album project created from a one-day improvised studio session. Recorded materials were subsequently structured, edited and overdubbed to create a Zappa-esque prog-rock album. It became evident that this was too complicated to reproduce live, but was useful in highlighting the differences in practicality between an intricately detailed studio album and a live experience where things need to be simpler.

(2017) Pointless Beauty: After & Before
My roles: Production, composition, arrangement, cover art, bass guitar, effects, vocals, keys, drum programming
Other artists: Neil Yates, trumpet; Mike Outram, guitar; George Cooper, keys; Mark Whitlam, drums

The first major group project under my own name as sole composer / producer. The title is a summation of my experience leading up to this album, and my desire to move into a fresh way of looking at how my music could be conceptualised. Although I approached this album as a studio project, I gave much more thought to how it could be reproduced live. This prompted me to start working with Ableton.

This is also when I began structuring my albums as a narrative whole. My goal was to guide a listener from beginning to end with a range of shifting moods that would encourage curiosity. The rising popularity of vinyl was a good reminder of the value in considering a two-act structure, so in the middle there’s an interlude to allow mental processing time for the listener. After & Before leans into many styles: ambient, Latin, prog-rock, jazz and electronica. This is my second cover art design: the mini‑USB stick in the head of a teaspoon draws on the contrast between the album’s enormity in terms of data size, effort and life experience and its minimal physical presence. Appearance and substance are distinct and separate. The rear cover is a semi-improvised collage of the front image, as a nod to my working process in producing the album. I wanted it to be convey a mood but not get in the way of delivering the text information.

(2018) Biophosmos: The Music of Chick Corea
My roles: Production, arrangement, cover art, bass guitar, effects
Other artists: Joe Northwood, sax; Tom Berge, keys; Jon Clark, drums

In an attempt to produce something more acceptable to my network of mainstream jazz promoters, I recorded this tribute to Chick Corea. I approached the arrangement and production as if I had written the tunes myself, applying my own aesthetic and with specific attention to how it could be reproduced live. This features mainly Latin-American music with some nods to rock, ambient and nu-soul.  In live performances sax, bass and keys all adopted use of effects to enhance the more typical acoustic sound – these were generally simple spacial effects (reverb / delay) rather than truly transformative in the way that I now hope to move towards (glitch / pitch shift / filters / distortion etc). I also started introducing Ableton for the first time to trigger additional loops and samples that could give the illusion of transforming the ensemble through an extended sound world not possible acoustically or achievable spontaneously.

(2018) Pointless Beauty – Outer Planets
My roles: Production, cover art, improvised bass, effects
Other artists: None

I challenged myself to create an ambient album using only bass guitar and effects. This was a new way of working: focusing entirely on the sound variety possible from four-string bass guitar to capture and maintain audience focus. The idea of bass as only a supportive low-frequency instrument within an ensemble is entirely displaced in favour of an open approach to texture and note range. There are two tracks with composition based on longform harmonic structures, recorded as eleven sequential layers, no edits. I found dynamics, tension and release naturally occurring through a process of sonic accretion as I responded to what had gone before with each new layer. I designed the cover art by processing a photograph of the light and shadow of oil on water in a saucepan. The resultant impression is of craters on the surface of an alien world.

(2019) Biophosmos / After & Before Tour
My roles: Tour management, production, promotional materials, video recording, arrangement, cover art, bass guitar, effects, Ableton
Other artists: Joe Northwood, sax; Tom Berge, keys; Jon Clark, drums

The name recognition for Chick Corea, and adding high-profile jazz guitarist Ant Law to the lineup, resulted in a short tour around seven venues in the South West. The first set included most of the Biophosmos album, and the second set most of the Pointless Beauty: After & Before album. Audience reaction was extremely positive towards my compositions. I used Ableton to add click tracks with loopable zones, allowing for variable solo lengths, and to trigger additional soundscapes. This was technically demanding. Musicians adopted traditional ensemble roles for their instrument with enhancements, rather than roles actually being transformed. The exceptions were sections of my bass performance, as I’ve been developing role transformation over a long period, and some drum triggers for ambient pitched tones.

(2020) Pointless Beauty – Solace
My roles: Production, composition, cover art, improvised bass, effects, vocals
Other artists: Jesse Molins, guitar; Jon Clark, cello; Jim Rintoul, double bass; Emmy Broughton, harp; Helen Sheppard, vocals; Kevin Buckland, bass, effects; Ruth Molins, flute; Sophie Swainger, violin

Finding ways to work together during the Covid 19 lockdowns resulted in new and different collaborations. This is one of my favourites. An improvised piece made from 10 layers. Each musician recorded their part remotely with a simple brief to guide their interaction, emphasising patience. As each new layer was digitally delivered I would listen, reflect, edit by cutting or adding effects and reflect again. In this way the piece grew organically and cumulatively. My goal was to allow space for each new voice to feature in some way without dominating the existing musical conversation.

(2020) Pointless Beauty (featuring Sarah Kiaer) - We Too
My roles: Production, arrangement, composition, cover art, bass guitar, effects
Other artists: Sarah Kiaer, words, vocals

In another lockdown collaboration, Sarah Kiaer (aka Zara Zeahorse, mindfulness practitioner) sent spoken affirmations and I wrote rhythmic and ambient loops as backing. With permission, I took one of these and created an additive composition using bass and pitch shifters. I edited the vocal to have spoken chorus-like refrains and, within a ten-minute format, added another musical layer for each repetition of the affirmation. The result was an unusual blend of meditation and music akin to electronic folk.

(2020) Pointless Beauty - Self Image
My roles: Artist, curator

I was invited to exhibit my digital art with the theme of ‘self-image’ at the online Delany-Lucia gallery. I’ve long felt a tendency to disguise myself in images and eye contact tends to make me feel uncomfortable – traits apparently associated with ASD for which I’m awaiting diagnosis. My art tends towards the abstract, and making pieces helps me to reflect and process strong emotion. The output represents the conclusion of a thought process rather than working towards a specific goal.

(2021) Pointless Beauty – Outer Planets II
My roles: Production, cover art, composition, improvised bass, effects, manipulation of found sound
Other artists: Naomi Hart, creative prompts

My second fully ambient release was a commission for multidisciplinary artist Naomi Hart. Initiatated as a sonic assistant to her own creative process for the installtion 'Shell', it also developed a life of its own. Based on some outline concepts from Naomi, but without knowing what she would eventually create, I made an album that could both be appropriate for her needs and also stand in its own right. I created an aural narrative, imagining a river gradually becoming more industrialised and polluted as it moves towards the ocean for 'The River, Becoming'. The 'Ocean, Returning' moves in reverse, but concluding elsewhere, starting from a polluted environment that is gradually cleansed. It's always a joy to collaborate and this was an intriguingly unusual way to do it. The above description is my journey in creating this music. Naomi Hart, for whom the work was created, has entirely her own narrative and creation to convey.  View 'Shell' by Naomi Hart by click this link

(2020) Pointless Beauty - Self Image
My roles: Artist, curator

(2022) Pointless Beauty – Hearts Full of Grace
My roles: Production, composition, arrangement, cover art, bass guitar, effects, keyboards, drum programming
Other artists: Gary Alesbrook, trumpet, flugel; Ant Law, guitar, effects; George Cooper, keys; Jon Clark, drums

My most recent album ranges through rock, ambient, Latin, soundscape, fusion, jazz. I worked on presenting a narrative, emotional arc to guide the listener. In some soundscapes, identities are sufficiently blurred for it to be unclear which instrument performs which role, or where roles disappear entirely. For instance, keyboard synth bass frees the bass guitar to become a transformed melody instrument, or drums detach from a rhythmic role to provide texture. There are further sections where the focus is on a whole-ensemble dialogue rather than a traditional accompaniment and featured soloist dynamic. This is a studio-produced album that will require careful arrangement to perform live.

The artwork is all mine. I've moved from a representational to an abstract artistic perception over time. The images are manipulations of long exposures of light leak through a door fram while swiftly moving a digital camera at uneven intervals during the shots. The three I chose are, to my perception, abstract suggestions of portals derived from a literal, real world, portal.

(2020) Pointless Beauty - Self Image
My roles: Artist, curator

(2017 - ) Animation and video
My roles: Production, digital art, video editing, music coordination

For the last six years I’ve been experimenting with video techniques to present live performances and frame studio releases. I’ve also used simple animation techniques with sequential distortions of my digital art. Moving into interactive live video manipulation seems a logical step in bringing my interests in music and art together into something new and compelling.

Click on the image to play an example of the audio from the first track on my Hearts Full of Grace. The visuals are original animations of digital art created with Snapseed, manipulated with Glitch Lab (on my phone) then stitched together over audio in Vegas Pro. Visually it’s purely for experimental purposes and I would continue to work on the structural and dynamic shape to tie it meaningfully to the audio for a final piece.

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